|Branding||WSLS 10 (general)|
10 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Working for You|
|Channels||Digital: 30 (UHF)|
(to move to 34 (UHF))
Virtual: 10 (PSIP)
10.4 Start TV
|Owner||Graham Media Group|
(Graham Media Group, Virginia, LLC)
|Founded||December 11, 1952|
|Call letters' meaning||Shenandoah Life Station|
(reference to original owner)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
10 (VHF, 1952–2009)
|Former affiliations||Both secondary:|
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
930 kW (CP)
|Height||592 m (1,942 ft)|
608.7 m (1,997 ft) (CP)
|Public license information||Profile|
WSLS-TV, virtual channel 10 (UHF digital channel 30), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Roanoke, Virginia, United States and also serving Lynchburg. The station is owned by the Graham Media Group, a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company. WSLS-TV's studios are located on Third Street in Roanoke, and its transmitter is located on Poor Mountain in Roanoke County. It is the third-oldest continuously operating station in Virginia, behind Richmond's WTVR-TV and Norfolk's WTKR, as well as the state's oldest station west of Richmond.
WSLS-TV first signed on the air on December 11, 1952 by the Shenandoah Life Insurance Company, after which the station was named (Shenandoah Life Stations). The station originally carried programming from all three major networks: NBC, CBS and ABC. Although CBS already had an affiliate in Roanoke, WROV-TV on channel 27, CBS allowed WSLS-TV to air several of its shows due to WROV's weaker UHF signal. WSLS-TV split ABC affiliation with WLVA-TV until 1954, when the latter became the area's sole ABC affiliate. The two stations also split CBS affiliation until WDBJ-TV signed on in 1955 and became the area's sole CBS affiliate. In the late-1950s and the 1960s, the station also aired locally produced programming, including Echo, Klub Kwiz (a competitor to WDBJ's Klassroom Kwiz), Ebb and Andy, Spectrum, Glen Howell, Cactus Joe, and Profile.
In 1969 WSLS-TV was purchased from Shenandoah Life Insurance Company by Roy H. Park for $7.5 million. After the purchase, the station's staff count was reduced from 120 to 50 for "budgetary reasons". Park had to sell off the company's radio stations in 1972 due to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restrictions on radio and television cross-ownership. In 1979, WSLS-TV became the first unionized television station in Virginia when the station's disgruntled employees join the BRAC. Reasons the employees cited for unionizing included the removal of profit sharing plans, medical coverage, personal holidays, cumulative sick leave, and a ban on socializing with other members of the local media. At the time, 46% of the employees made minimum wage or less, interns were unpaid, and only one individual made over $10,000 annually. By comparison, the other television stations paid their employees an average wage that was 30 to 40% higher and with more benefits. In its feud with the union, the station's management prohibited long distance telephone calls (inevitably to the union) and the posting of materials on the bulletin board by employees. Discussions between the station's management and the union degraded so much that eventually an armed guard had to be hired. Eventually, through union negotiations, the situation between the station's employees and management did improve.
By the late-1970s, WSLS was lagging behind its competitors in modernization, and lost its second place position in its market area to WSET. The station was criticized for having a primitive on-air look, an outdated transmitter, and reusing videotape often, which caused quality of the station's programs to suffer. A new transmitter was eventually dedicated in 1981. By the late-1980s, staff numbers at the station rebounded to 75 and viewership began to increase. In 1992 WSLS launched "The Spirit of Virginia" promotional campaign, emphasizing the station's new "down home" news philosophy that included more features and a stronger emphasis on soft, community oriented news. In September 1995, WSLS ended "The Spirit of Virginia" campaign and revamped the look and focus of the station, shedding the "down home" philosophy in favor of a more hard-news approach. In 1996 WSLS signed an deal with Grant Broadcasting, the owner of Roanoke's Fox affiliates WFXR and WJPR, to produce a 10 p.m. newscast for the Fox stations. The Fox 10 O'Clock News with Frances Scott and John Carlin premiered on October 28, 1996.
On January 1, 1997 Media General acquired Park Communications and became the station's new owner. The station was rebranded to match WFLA-TV, Media General's flagship station in Tampa, Florida. On April 14, WSLS re-launched itself as NewsChannel 10 during the 5 p.m. newscast. A new campaign called "10 Listens" was launched, which encouraged viewers to set up a "10 Listens Community Forum". Through the forums, WSLS's viewers communicated directly with its news anchors and management about concerns facing their community, yielding exclusive story ideas for WSLS and improved its image within the market. A combination of factors caused the station to eventually abandon the forum concept. In 1999, Media General began the process of renovating the WSLS studios in downtown Roanoke, moving the station’s news department to a larger newsroom on the first floor adjacent to the news studio. On October 1, 2015 the news sharing agreement between WSLS and WFXR ended when the latter launched its own in-house news department.
On January 27, 2016 Media General announced that it would be acquired by Nexstar Broadcasting Group in a deal valued at $4.6 billion. Since Nexstar already owned WFXR and WWCW through satellite exemptions and the Roanoke-Lynchburg market had too few stations to permit a duopoly, on May 27 Nexstar announced that it would sell WSLS, along with WCWJ in Jacksonville, Florida, to the Graham Media Group for $120 million. The sale was approved by the Federal Communications Commission on January 11, 2017 and completed on January 17.
Cable and satellite carriage
On cable, WSLS can be seen as far south as Yanceyville, North Carolina, as far east as Clarksville, as far west as Marion and as far north as Harrisonburg, Staunton and Snowshoe, West Virginia. Shentel Cable in Franklin, West Virginia dropped WSLS at some point in 2009. Sometime in the late 2000s, Comcast in Harrisonburg added WSLS to digital cable, which at one time may have been on the main tier cable lineup.
WSLS and all of the Roanoke stations are carried on DirecTV in Patrick County due to Nielsen placing the county in the Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem market. WSLS is also carried out of market for North Carolina DirecTV viewers in the counties of Caswell and Rockingham.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|10.1||1080i||16:9||WSLS-HD||Main WSLS-TV programming / NBC|
On digital subchannel 10.2 and Cox digital channel 110 is "WSLS 10.2 GO", which carries GetTV, a digital multicast network that broadcasts classic television programs; previously, WSLS-DT2 aired a continuous image of "Live VIPIR 10." On digital subchannel 10.3 and Cox digital channel 111 is MeTV, offering classic television series from the CBS Television Distribution, 20th Television and NBCUniversal Television Distribution program libraries.
WSLS-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 10, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 30, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 10.
The station currently produces 31 hours of local news each week (with 25 hours total Monday-Friday and 3 hours each on Saturday and Sunday).
In 1989 the station debuted First News at 5:30, which was solo-anchored by John Carlin and included live feature segments from a field reporter. The show was not popular at first, though ratings improved in 1992 when it was moved to 5 p.m. On September 21, 1998 it was moved back to 5:30, though returned to 5:00 in February 2002. In August 2004, WSLS added a 5:30 newscast to the existing 5 and 6 p.m. shows, creating the first 90-minute evening news block in the market. A half-hour 7 p.m. show was added in September 2009. The 1997 rebranding of the station's news operation as NewsChannel 10 coincided with the debut of "Storm Team 10". The "Storm Team" was created to give weather a stronger emphasis on the station and to emphasize that meteorologists were a team, with the title of "chief meteorologist" being dropped. The title of "chief meteorologist" would later be brought back with the addition of weathercaster Ros Runner in 2007. After the station's acquisition by Media General in 1997, several investments were made to improve the station's news coverage. One of these was the purchase of a satellite news gathering truck so that the station would no longer have to rent or borrow equipment from other stations for satellite live shots. Several departures in the late 1990s and early 2000s harmed the reputation of the station, including the firing of news anchor Dave Mellon and Chief Meteorologist Chuck Bell in 1999, the resignation of Sports Director Greg Roberts the same year, and the dismissal of evening co-anchor Barbara Gibbs in 2000.
A renewed emphasis was placed on local news in the early 2000s, particularly in the eastern and southern portions of the Roanoke/Lynchburg market. In the spring of 2001, additional news bureaus were established in Martinsville and Bedford, each with its own reporter and photographer. The Martinsville bureau was intended to cover Henry County, Pittsylvania County, Halifax County, and the independent cities that lied within those areas, while the Bedford Bureau covered Bedford County, Campbell County, Amherst County, and the independent cities of Lynchburg and Bedford. In 2004, the personnel from the two bureaus were moved to the offices of the Lynchburg News and Advance and the Danville Register and Bee, respectively, in an attempt by Media General to converge its newspaper and television properties as a single newsgathering entity. Between 2008 and 2012, coverage of these areas was maintained through shared content from its newspaper partners. When Media General sold its newspapers to World Media Enterprises in 2012, the partnership with WSLS ended and the station was forced to rely on its own resources to cover the eastern side of its market.
In 2007, the on-air branding was changed from the NewsChannel to "WSLS 10 On Your Side", with the station updating its set and graphics for the launch of high definition. In March 2010, WSLS replaced their weekday noon newscast with a live interview and variety program called Our Blue Ridge. In 2011, Jay Prater was let go from the station and Our Blue Ridge was itself replaced with Daytime Blue Ridge. The "On Your Side" slogan was dropped in 2012. In July 2013 former WSLS anchor John Carlin returned to the station as the anchor of its 5, 5:30, and 6 p.m. newscasts. On November 3, 2014 WSLS brought back its Noon news program with the launch of WSLS 10 at Noon, pushing Daytime Blue Ridge back to 12:30 p.m. Following its acquisition by Graham Media Group in early 2017, WSLS introduced new station graphics and a new music score and rebranded as 10 News, with the new slogan "Working for You." The station currently ranks third in its market for overall news and programing ratings and advertising revenue.
- "Nexstar-Media General: It's A Done Deal". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "Nexstar Clinches Deal to Acquire Media General". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "Nexstar Selling Five Stations in Four Markets". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
- Nexstar Broadcasting Group Completes Acquisition of Media General Creating Nexstar Media Group, The Nation’s Second Largest Television Broadcaster Nexstar Media Group, 17 January 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WSLS
- Where to Watch Me-TV: WSLS 10.3
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- CDBS Print
- "John Carlin returns to WSLS anchor desk". Retrieved 2016-08-28.
- p26 May / June 1975 issue of the Roanoker Magazine
- "Channel 10's Decade of Decline" p18 Holiday 1979 issue of the Roanoker Magazine
- "Lights, Camera, News!" p32 March / April 1980 issue of the Roanoker Magazine
- "Roanoke Media Comparison" p19 February 1988 issue of the Roanoke Magazine
- Page C-4, Roanoke Times & World-News on Thursday, April 27, 1978