|Spartanburg/Greenville/Anderson, South Carolina/Asheville, North Carolina
|Slogan||The News Station|
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF)
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
7.3 ion Television
(sale to Nexstar Broadcasting Group pending)
(Media General Communications Holdings, LLC)
|First air date||April 29, 1956|
|Call letters' meaning||We're in SPArtanburg, South Carolina|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
7 (VHF, 1956–2009)
53 (UHF, –2009)
The WB (1995–1997)
DT2: RTV (2009–2011)
|Transmitter power||25.7 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WSPA-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 7, is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States. The station is owned by Media General, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate WYCW (channel 62). The two stations share studio facilities located on International Drive (near I-26 and I-85 Bus) in Spartanburg, which also serves as the master control hub for Media General's CBS-affiliated stations; WSPA maintains transmitter facilities located on Hogback Mountain in northeastern Greenville County (southwest of Tryon, North Carolina).
The station first signed on the air on April 29, 1956. It was founded by Spartan Radiocasting (owned by broadcasting pioneer Walter J. Brown), owners of WSPA radio (950 AM, now WOLI at 910 AM; and 98.9 FM). The station has been a CBS affiliate since its sign-on. Spartan Radiocasting bought several other radio and television stations over the years, and was renamed Spartan Communications in 1995. WSPA began broadcasting a 24-hour schedule in July of that same year, after previously having signed off during the overnight hours on Fridays and Saturdays. The WSPA radio stations were sold off in 1998, but WSPA-TV remained the flagship of the company until it merged with Media General in 2000. Prior to this, channel 7 was the last remaining locally-owned television station in the market. The station shared some resources with WNEG-TV (now WGTA) in Toccoa, Georgia while that station was co-owned with WSPA beginning in 1995; this included that station receiving the CBS affiliation for northeast Georgia. This arrangement was terminated after WNEG was sold to the University of Georgia in 2008.
Due to its transmitter location – just over 2,200 feet (670 m) above average terrain – WSPA has one of the largest signal coverage areas on the East Coast. WSPA's over-the-air signal can be received as far north as Blowing Rock, North Carolina, which has line-of-sight to Hogback Mountain despite being approximately 75 miles (121 km) away. However, WSPA is not carried on cable providers in that area.
On March 1, 2009, WSPA's original tower on Hogback Mountain collapsed due to a combination of heavy icing and high winds, hitting the main auxiliary tower as it fell. WSPA's digital signal was restored using a digital subchannel of sister station WYCW (channel 62); while the station received a replacement antenna on March 4, it was without its analog signal for one week after the accident. A new tower was activated in September 2009.
Prior to the March 2009 tower collapse, WSPA provided grade B coverage as far east as Charlotte. It appeared in the television listings inserts in the Charlotte Observer well into the 1990s. Before the arrival of the Carolina Panthers, WSPA was known to air a different NFL game than what aired on Charlotte's WBTV, giving Charlotte-area viewers a second option for NFL games. This was especially true when the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins played at the same time.
On September 8, 2015, Media General announced that it would acquire the Meredith Corporation for $2.4 billion, with the combined group to be renamed Meredith Media General once the sale is finalized. Because Meredith already owns WHNS, and the two stations rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson-Asheville market in total day viewership, the companies will be required to sell either WSPA or WHNS to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as recent changes to those rules regarding same-market television stations that restrict sharing agreements; sister station WYCW is the only one of the three stations affected by the merger that can legally be acquired by Meredith Media General either by maintaining the existing duopoly with WSPA or forming a new duopoly with WHNS, as its total day viewership ranks below the top-four ratings threshold. That sale was canceled on January 27, 2016.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|7.1||1080i||16:9||WSPA-HD||Main WSPA-TV programming / CBS|
WSPA previously carried a 24-hour local weather channel on its second digital subchannel, which was branded as "Storm Team 24/7". In 2009, that subchannel became an affiliate of the Retro Television Network. It was replaced with Me-TV on September 26, 2011.
WSPA-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 7, 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 relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 53, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era VHF channel 7.
Out-of-market cable carriage
In North Carolina on cable, WSPA is carried on numerous cable outlets in the western portion of the Charlotte market, such as Hickory, Morganton, Shelby, Lenoir and Taylorsville. However, WSPA is not carried on cable in the areas of Bakersville, Burnsville, and Spruce Pine, which are within the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market. Instead, WBTV from Charlotte and WJHL from Johnson City are carried on Charter Cable in those areas. Before the tower collapse, it provided grade B coverage as far east as Charlotte itself. It appeared in the Charlotte Observer television listings well into the 1990s.
Prior to the March 2009 tower collapse, WSPA's analog and digital signal was picked up as far north as Watauga County, including Boone and Blowing Rock. In fact, WSPA's signal often comes in better than the two CBS affiliates both available on cable, Charlotte's WBTV (even though Watauga County is part of the Charlotte market) and WJHL-TV in Johnson City, Tennessee. In the Boone area, WJHL's transmitter is only 28 air miles away, WBTV's is 65 air miles and WSPA's transmitter is almost 80 air miles away. Blowing Rock is 5.5 air miles south of Boone at the height of the Blue Ridge spine, with a greater line of sight to Hogback Mountain at about 75 air miles away. Despite how well the signal was picked up prior to the March 2009 tower collapse, WSPA is not carried on cable in Watauga County. WSPA used to be carried in the western Union County town of Weddington.
On cable in South Carolina, WSPA is carried outside the market in McCormick and Newberry. McCormick is part of the Augusta, Georgia market while Newberry is part of the Columbia market. In January 2009, it was dropped from cable carriage in Rock Hill, which is part of the Charlotte market.
On cable in Georgia, WSPA is carried outside the market in most of Rabun County, which is part of the Atlanta market. WSPA was picked up in the 1990s after Atlanta's longtime CBS affiliate, WAGA-TV, switched to Fox. The replacement CBS affiliate, WGCL-TV (formerly WGNX-TV), does not have nearly as strong a signal in the more mountainous areas of the Atlanta market.
Syndicated programs broadcast on WSPA-TV include Judge Judy, The Wendy Williams Show, and The Andy Griffith Show. The station also produces the talk and lifestyle program Your Carolina With Jack & Megan.
WSPA carries the entire CBS network schedule, however it carries only the first half-hour of Face the Nation on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. due to its carriage of televised church services from First Baptist Church at 11:00 a.m., the second half-hour is seen instead on WYCW; it also splits the CBS Dream Team lineup into two blocks: the final two hours of the block air on a one-hour delay on Saturdays (due to its weekend morning newscast and the Saturday edition of CBS This Morning) and the first hour airs on a day-behind basis after its Sunday morning newscast. It is also one of a handful of CBS affiliates that airs Let's Make a Deal at 9:00 a.m. instead of the program's recommended 10:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. timeslot in the Eastern Time Zone.
From the 1960s through the 1990s, WSPA had pre-empted several CBS programs; among them were children's programs within the network's Saturday morning lineup including the CBS Children's Film Festival, Muppet Babies (which was preempted by Jack Roper's Kidsizzle from 1991 to 1993), the final season of Pee-Wee's Playhouse and the animated series Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures.
It also pre-empted several of the network's game shows including Tattletales (from January to April 1982 with reruns of Carter Country, and then by The Beverly Hillbillies until September 1982; and again from September 1983 onward, after which it was replaced with the hour-long Breakaway), Body Language (which aired on WSPA from September 1984 to January 1985; but was preempted by Breakaway from June to September 1984; The $100,000 Name That Tune from January to September 1985; and Tic Tac Dough from September 1985 to January 1986), Press Your Luck (which was picked up by the station in 1984 shortly after contestant Michael Larson's record $110,237 win; and dropped in January 1986 after Card Sharks took over the 10:30 a.m. slot and replaced Body Language on the schedule; it was replaced with Tic Tac Dough and then by Love Connection from April to September 1986), Card Sharks (which aired on WSPA from 1986 until September 1988, when it was preempted by Wipeout; it returned to the station on March 6, 1989 where it remained until the end of its run), Now You See It (which was preempted by Love Connection from April to July 1989) and the final few months of Family Feud Challenge. The station also pre-empted Late Show with David Letterman for one week in the summer of 1998.
WSPA-TV presently broadcasts 31 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays and three hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). In addition to the main studios in Spartanburg, WSPA operates news bureaus located on Villa Road in Greenville and on South Main Street/SC 28 in Anderson. Media General maintains a Capitol bureau in Columbia on Assembly Street/SC 48, covering state government issues for the company's South Carolina stations (WSPA, WBTW in Myrtle Beach and WCBD in Charleston).
In addition to its newscasts on channel 7, WSPA also produces daily newscasts for sister station WYCW for two hours from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. weekday mornings and one hour at 10:00 p.m. seven nights a week. The station operates a news helicopter that is maintained by U.S. Helicopters Inc. of Charlotte and is branded on-air as "Air 7"; it features a gyrostabilized camera system manufactured by Flir Systems International that is outfitted with a 72 power zoom lens and a motorized two power drop-in extender. WSPA's newscasts typically place at either first or second place in most timeslots; The station won a Regional News Emmy Award in 2010 for its breaking news coverage, and its 11:00 p.m. newscast was nominated that year in the "Best Newscast" category.
The station's newscasts were known as Eyewitness 7 News and later 7 Eyewitness News until 1994, when its news branding was changed to NewsChannel 7. Among the notable former members of the station's news staff were Leeza Gibbons, Jane Robelot and former CBS anchor Susan McGinnis. In 1977, WSPA hired Annette Estes as anchor of its evening newscasts, becoming the station's first female news anchor; Estes left the station in 1987 to become the 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. co-anchor (alongside Carl Clark) at WYFF.
In September 1996, WSPA-TV began to produce a nightly half-hour newscast at 10:00 p.m. for WHNS through a news share agreement with the stations' then-owner Pappas Telecasting Companies; the news share agreement was terminated in 1999 (two years after WHNS was sold to the Meredith Corporation), when channel 21 launched its own news department that fall. On September 16, 2007, WSPA became the first television station in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market to begin broadcasting its newscasts to high-definition; the WYCW newscasts were included in the upgrade, which introduced a graphics package similar to that used at the time by Media General flagship WFLA-TV in Tampa, Florida.
Notable former on-air staff
- Leeza Gibbons - reporter (later host of Leeza and Extra, now co-host of America Now)
- Jane Robelot - anchor/reporter (later host of CBS This Morning; now contributing reporter at WYFF and founder of Carolina Zoom Productions)
In addition to its main signal, WSPA operates a network of 13 translators throughout the mountainous areas of North Carolina. Some translators have applications and/or construction permit to flash-cut from analog to digital, in which they would remain on their existing VHF channel.
|City of license||Callsign||Transmitter location|
|Mars Hill||W02AH||Middle Mountain|
|Beaver Dam, NC||W08BP-D||Busbee Mountain|
|Spruce Pine||W08BF-D||Woody's Knob|
|Black Mountain||W10AD-D||Allen Mountain|
|Bryson City||W11AN-D||Fry Mountain|
- "Media General Acquiring Meredith For 2.4 Billion". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media. September 8, 2015.
- Cynthia Littleton (September 8, 2015). "TV Station Mega Merger: Media General Sets $2.4 Billion Acquisition of Meredith Corp.". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WSPA
- Where to Watch Me-TV:WSPA
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Official website
- WYCW ("Carolinas' CW") website
- WSPA – Looking Back
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WSPA-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WSPA-TV