|ATSC 3.0 station|
|Channels||Digital: 18 (UHF)|
Local 12 News (newscasts)
|Owner||Deerfield Media |
(Deerfield Media (Cincinnati) Licensee, LLC)
|Operator||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
cable: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports South
First air date
|January 28, 1980|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|ERP||34.28 kW (STA)|
325 kW (CP)
|HAAT||314.3 m (1,031 ft) (STA)|
337 m (1,106 ft) (CP)
Public license information
WSTR-TV, virtual channel 64 (UHF digital channel 18), is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station licensed to Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. The station is owned by Deerfield Media; the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns dual CBS/CW affiliate WKRC-TV (channel 12), operates WSTR under a local marketing agreement (LMA). The two stations share studios on Highland Avenue in the Mount Auburn section of Cincinnati; WSTR's transmitter, Star Tower, is located in the city's College Hill neighborhood.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (November 2010)
As an independent station
On June 30, 1977, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a construction permit to Buford Television of Ohio, Inc., for a new channel 64 television station in Cincinnati, Ohio. WBTI signed on the air on January 28, 1980. It broadcast with one million watts of power and operated from studios on Fishwick Drive in the Bond Hill area; the station's original transmitter was located on Chickasaw Street.
During the early days of WBTI, it signed on at 10:00 a.m. and operated as a general-entertainment independent station until 7 p.m. each day. At that time, the station's signal was scrambled as it carried programming from the ON TV service, which provided movies, sports, and live events to viewers through a paid subscription and a decoder to receive ON TV programs. (Buford, which had planned a multi-city expansion into subscription television and even a national network of translators through its Residential Entertainment subsidiary, licensed the ON TV name from Oak Communications in the Cincinnati market and also would build STV operations in Chicago and Minneapolis under the brand name Spectrum.) Eventually, WBTI expanded its broadcast day by signing on earlier; the station began carrying movies and cartoons until 10 a.m., when the Christian Broadcasting Network program The 700 Club aired until 11:30.
The afternoon lineup consisted of movies, cartoons, and sitcoms such as I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show. Morning cartoons included Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo and Popeye. Weekends were heavily laden with classic movies and adventure shows such as The Outer Limits, The Wild Wild West and Bonanza. WBTI also began airing World Championship Tennis and Notre Dame football games. The weekly "Hollywood Gold" movies on Saturdays and Sundays were hosted by one-time theater operator and Hamilton native Fred Baum. who most recently owned the Holiday Auto Theater; Baum died in 2007.
In January 1981, the station added more sitcoms to its lineup during the week such as Mister Ed, The Addams Family, The Munsters, and The Beverly Hillbillies. ON TV programming expanded on weekend evenings, signing on at 5 p.m. ON TV ran for several hours each night usually ending around 2 a.m. On some nights, WBTI would resume unencrypted broadcasts and air general entertainment programs until it signed off. In August 1981, Buford Television changed its name to HEN Incorporated (its initials standing for "Home Entertainment Network").
On April 1, 1982, the ON TV service expanded to 20 hours per day. At that time, the FCC required that broadcast stations operate for at least four hours per day. The station ran New Zoo Revue at 8 a.m., Jimmy Swaggart at 8:30, The PTL Club at 9 a.m., The 700 Club at 10 a.m., and INN Midday Edition at 11:30. After noon, ON TV now made up the rest of the broadcast day. The station at that point went 24 hours a day. There was a short time in January 1983 when WBTI extended some afternoon programming from noon to 2 p.m. running the hour-long edition of The 700 Club and some other religious programs. That June, however, in a cost-cutting move, WBTI cut back its commercial programs to the 90-minute edition of The 700 Club on weekdays, with ON TV the rest of the day and weekends except for three further hours of religious programs on Sunday mornings. ON TV was beginning to face a tough road. After much delay, the Warner-Amex cable service QUBE became available within the Cincinnati city limits in early 1983, making ON TV less attractive to viewers. In October 1983, United Cable, which had acquired 80 percent of Buford's three STV operations, wrote down the entire unit and offered the systems for sale.
United sold 90 percent of WBTI in November 1984 to Channel 64 Joint Venture for $9.4 million, at which time ON TV had just 12,500 local subscribers (75 percent of which subscribed to adult programming), compared to 45,200 in June 1982. The station relaunched as WIII, "The Eyes of Cincinnati", on January 1, 1985; it restored a general-entertainment schedule, with ON TV programming being relegated to overnight hours only. With a mere 3,200 subscribers remaining and Oak shutting down its satellite feed, ON TV in Cincinnati ended on June 1, 1985, at which time WIII converted into a full-time general-entertainment independent station.
Channel 64 soon ran into financial trouble. In April 1986, the station almost went off air after United Cable, which had retained a 10 percent stake after the 1984 sale to Channel 64 Joint Venture, sued the other partners, who refused to accept funding provided by the company to keep the station going. In a proceeding that saw the appointment of general manager Stephen A. Kent as receiver, it was revealed that the station owed more than $175,000 to program suppliers and had less than $5,000 in the bank. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing soon followed; the lengthy battle, marked by conflicts between United and the other partners, as well as cable penetration in the market, hurt the station, which had to exit several programming contracts. Talks with several potential buyers, including the Home Shopping Network, continued; Gerald J. Robinson, owner of the Cincinnati Gardens arena, made an offer, but it was ultimately United Cable that won out, immediately reselling the station to a consortium that included itself and two other investors.
Under United, the station left behind its status as what Cincinnati Enquirer media columnist John Kiesewetter called "the IOUs of Cincinnati" and began to spend again on syndicated programming. However, the other investors opted not to buy the remainder of WIII from United Cable, resulting in the station—now with better ratings and reduced program costs—being put back on the market in August 1988.
United sold WIII to Cincinnati TV 64 Limited Partnership, under the ownership of Andrew Banks and Royce Yudkoff, in November 1989. Their initials served as the name for ABRY Communications. Soon after, stronger programming was added to include more recent sitcoms and better movies, and ABRY also invested in improved equipment. On September 15, 1990, coinciding with a total program lineup overhaul, the station changed its call sign to WSTR-TV and its on-air branding to "Star 64". In 1991, the station increased its transmitter power from one to five million watts at a brand new tower and transmitter site in Cincinnati's College Hill neighborhood. That tower would be known as the "Star Tower" and would eventually be home to several radio stations and other communications services.
Under ABRY's ownership, the station acquired additional syndicated programs; WSTR then became a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN) on January 16, 1995. In 1996, Sinclair Communications (now Sinclair Broadcast Group) acquired WSTR-TV (for $22 million) and KSMO-TV in Kansas City, Missouri, after already having purchased the remainder of the company's stations in 1993. In July 1997, Sinclair signed an affiliation deal with The WB, that resulted in a number of the company's UPN affiliates and independent stations switching to the network; WSTR became a WB affiliate in January 1998, while former WB affiliate WBQC-CA (channel 25) joined UPN.
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. On February 22 of that year, News Corporation announced the launch of a new "sixth" network called MyNetworkTV, which would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created to compete against The CW and to give UPN and WB stations that were not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates another option besides converting to independent stations.
WSTR-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 64, on February 17, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television (which was pushed back until June 12, due to an extension granted by Congress). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 33, using PSIP to display WSTR-TV's virtual channel as 64 on digital television receivers, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.
During the analog era, WSTR-TV operated a translator station in Dayton, W66AQ, on channel 66. This translator signed on in May 1981, rebroadcasting then-WBTI's ON TV service and other programming. When WSTR-TV subsequently gained network affiliations, Dayton had local affiliates of those networks as well. When WSTR-TV was a UPN affiliate, the network had a secondary affiliation with Dayton's WRGT-TV. When WSTR-TV was a WB affiliate, that network aired in Dayton first on WUCT-LP (now WRCX-LD), then on WBDT. When WSTR-TV became a MyNetworkTV affiliate, Dayton had its own affiliation on WRGT-TV's second digital subchannel, WRGT-DT2 ("My TV Dayton"). FCC filings indicate that W66AQ was silent by sometime in 2007. In 2009, after the digital television transition, Sinclair used the W66AQ license to broadcast a low-power analog signal in Dayton on channel 22, repeating its "My TV Dayton" programming. On June 30, 2010, W66AQ's call letters were changed to W22DE. Cincinnati's WCPO-TV moved its digital operations to channel 22 on December 8, 2010 (according to RabbitEars, this knocked W22DE off the air; however, W22DE filed for a license renewal with the FCC on June 3, 2013). (Sinclair surrendered the W22DE license for cancellation on May 28, 2021.)
WSTR seemed likely to become The CW's Cincinnati affiliate being a full-power station and WBQC being a Class A low-power outlet. On March 2, however, Sinclair announced that WSTR would affiliate with MyNetworkTV. The announcement seemingly opened the door for WBQC to potentially become the area's CW affiliate. Instead, the network agreed on April 19 to be carried on a new second digital subchannel of WKRC-TV (channel 12) forcing WBQC to become an independent station. With its new MyNetworkTV affiliation, WSTR adopted the "My 64" brand similar to most of the network's other stations. On September 21, 2009, WSTR reintroduced its 1990s brand, dropping the "My" branding in favor of "Star 64", while keeping the network's logo color and style scheme. This followed a similar trend with some other MyNetworkTV affiliates after the network became a syndication service.
On May 15, 2012, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox agreed to a five-year affiliation agreement extension for Sinclair's then-19 Fox-affiliated stations until 2017. This included an option, exercisable between July 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, for Fox's then-parent News Corporation to buy a combination of six Sinclair-owned stations (two CW/MyNetworkTV duopolies and two standalone MyNetworkTV affiliates) in three out of four markets; WSTR-TV was included in the Fox purchase option, along with stations in Raleigh (WLFL and WRDC), Norfolk (WTVZ) and Las Vegas (KVCW and KVMY). In January 2013, Fox announced that it would not exercise its option to buy any of the Sinclair stations in those four markets. On July 19, 2012, Sinclair announced that it would sell the WSTR-TV license to Deerfield Media (which in turn is owned by the principals of Manhan Media, which purchased WWHO in Chillicothe, serving the Columbus market, earlier in 2012) to comply with the FCC's ownership regulations following the acquisition of WKRC-TV from Newport Television; Sinclair continues to operate WSTR under a local marketing agreement. The sale was completed on December 3, 2012.
On July 28, 2021, the FCC issued a Forfeiture Order against Deerfield Media stemming from a lawsuit involving WSTR. The lawsuit, filed by AT&T, alleged that owner Deerfield Media failed to negotiate for retransmission consent in good faith for WSTR and other Sinclair-managed stations. Deerfield was ordered to pay a fine of $512,228 per station named in the lawsuit, including WSTR.
On August 16, 2004, WSTR established a news department and debuted a nightly newscast at 10 p.m. to compete with Fox affiliate WXIX-TV (channel 19)'s long-established prime time newscast. Known as WB 64 News at 10, it was part of Sinclair's centralized News Central operation based at the company's headquarters on Beaver Dam Road in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Although national news, weather forecasts, and some sports segments originated from News Central, local news and sports operations were based at WSTR's studios. It also aired The Point, a one-minute conservative political commentary, required of all Sinclair-owned stations with newscasts. Unable to get enough consistent ratings and viewership against WXIX, the station announced it would discontinue the newscast on February 24, 2006.
On April 26, 2006, WSTR entered into a news share agreement with WKRC. When the outsourced newscast began airing on August 21, this resulted in a CBS affiliate's news being carried on a station with a News Corporation-programmed network once WSTR joined MyNetworkTV two weeks later. The nightly half-hour broadcast was known as Local 12 News at 10 on My 64. WKRC announced its intent to move the prime time newscast to WKRC's CW-affiliated digital subchannel in August 2008. On August 4, 2006, WKRC began a simulcast of this program on WKRC-DT2 that was dropped from WSTR on August 22. Although the station's management expressed interest in partnering with another local station to produce a newscast, it now promotes syndicated shows. With WSTR now effectively a sister station to WKRC-TV, the prime time newscast was moved from channel 12.2 back to channel 64 effective January 6, 2014. On February 3, 2014, the Good Morning Cincinnati 7 a.m. newscast premiered on WSTR.
Notable former on–air staff
- Brad Johansen – sports director; weeknights at 10 p.m.; also host of Sports Authority (now at WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio)
The station's ATSC 1.0 channels are carried on the multiplexed digital signals of other Cincinnati television stations:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming||ATSC 1.0 host|
|64.1||720p||16:9||MyTV||Main WSTR-TV programming / MyNetworkTV||WLWT|
From September 23, 2010 to August 31, 2012, WSTR-TV aired TheCoolTV on its second digital subchannel. From June 30, 2014 to December 5, 2015, WSTR-TV aired GetTV on its second digital subchannel. On October 31, 2015, WSTR-TV began to air Sinclair's Comet network on its third digital subchannel. On December 5, 2015, WSTR-TV began to air Antenna TV on its second digital subchannel; moving GetTV to its fourth digital subchannel. The station debuted Sinclair's TBD network on its fourth subchannel on February 28, 2017, replacing GetTV.
|5.1||1080p||16:9||WLWT||ATSC 3.0 simulcast of WLWT / NBC|
|9.1||720p||WCPO||ATSC 3.0 simulcast of WCPO-TV / ABC|
|12.1||1080p||WKRC||ATSC 3.0 simulcast of WKRC-TV / CBS|
|19.1||720p||WXIX||ATSC 3.0 simulcast of WXIX-TV / Fox|
|64.1||WSTR||Main WSTR-TV programming / MyNetworkTV|
On September 14, 2021, WSTR-TV turned off its ATSC 1.0 signal and activated its ATSC 3.0 transmitter on UHF 18. The station's ATSC 1.0 subchannels were moved to other broadcasters for simulcasting, while WSTR became the host for the new ATSC 3.0 signals of WLWT, WCPO-TV, WKRC-TV, WXIX-TV and WSTR-TV.
As for WSTR's subchannels, WSTR 64.1 was moved to WLWT, while 64.2 and 64.3 were moved to sister station WKRC-TV, 64.4 was moved to WXIX-TV, and 64.5 was moved to WCPO-TV.
- Channel 18 digital TV stations in the United States
- Channel 64 virtual TV stations in the United States
- Miller, Mark K. (August 23, 2019). "Sinclair Closes $10.6B Disney RSN Purchase". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheckMedia. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
- FCC History Cards for WSTR-TV
- Hoffman, Steve (February 12, 1980). "Channel 64 Going Strong With Reruns". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. B-11. Retrieved October 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Here's Some New And Different TV". Cincinnati Enquirer. January 13, 1980. p. F-10. Retrieved January 9, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
- Rubenstein, Lisa (January 21, 1981). "Texas company wants new TV station in Binghamton". The Evening Press. p. 5-A. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
- Cannon, Angie (June 10, 1983). "WBTI Trades Free Programming For Profitable Cable Service". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. B-2. Retrieved October 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- Storch, Charles (August 27, 1983). "Spectrum TV up for sale". Chicago Tribune. p. 6. Retrieved October 17, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- Brinkmoeller, Tom (December 5, 1984). "Channel 64 Expands To 17 Free Hours In '85". Cincinnati Enquirer. pp. G-1, G-8. Retrieved October 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- "ON TV Pulls the Plug". Cincinnati Enquirer. May 7, 1985. p. D-10. Retrieved October 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- Smith, J. Frazier (April 25, 1986). "WIII-TV won't be off air". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. F-1. Retrieved January 9, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kiesewetter, John (May 13, 1986). "WIII files to reorder its debts". Cincinnati Enquirer. pp. A-6, A-8. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Kiesewetter, John (June 28, 1986). "WIII-TV executives win a round in court". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. D-10. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Newberry, Jon (January 19, 1987). "Ch. 64's outlook dims". Cincinnati Enquirer. pp. E-1, E-6. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Newberry, Jon (February 28, 1987). "WIII rejects pact with Columbia". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. B-8. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Newberry, Jon (July 31, 1987). "Robinson renews bid for station". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. B-7. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Newberry, Jon (November 19, 1987). "Sale of Channel 64 approved by court". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. E-4. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Kiesewetter, John (April 4, 1988). "Cable channels strut their stuff". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. D-6. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Newberry, Jon (August 18, 1988). "TV station up for sale once again". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. B-7. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- "Channel 64 sale pending". Cincinnati Enquirer. August 10, 1989. p. D-11. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Harrington, Jeff (January 22, 1990). "Boston owners trying to make WIII city's No. 1 independent". Cincinnati Enquirer. pp. D-1, D-4. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Kiesewetter, John (September 16, 1990). "New letters, new look, new lineup: Just about everything has changed at Channel 64". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. TV Week 2. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Hopkins, Tom (November 15, 1991). "Independent WSTR-TV boosts its power". Dayton Daily News. p. 10C. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
- "WSTR to join Paramount network". Cincinnati Enquirer. Associated Press. July 27, 1994. p. B7. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
- Garron, Barry (December 13, 1995). "Sinclair Broadcasting to buy Channel 62". Kansas City Star. p. F-6. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- McClellan, Steve (July 21, 1997). "WB woos and wins Sinclair" (PDF). Broadcasting & Cable. pp. 4, 8. Retrieved January 9, 2021 – via World Radio History.
- "'Gilmore Girls' meet 'Smackdown'; CW Network to combine WB, UPN in CBS-Warner venture beginning in September". CNNMoney.com. January 24, 2006.
- Carter, Bill (January 24, 2006). "UPN and WB to Combine, Forming New TV Network". The New York Times.
- "News Corp. to launch new mini-network for UPN stations". USA Today. February 22, 2006. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
- "News Corp. Unveils MyNetworkTV". Broadcasting & Cable. February 22, 2006.
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- Hopkins, Tom (September 16, 1980). "Cincinnati subscription TV station coming to Dayton". Dayton Daily News. p. 1, 11. Retrieved October 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- Schumacher, Bob (May 7, 1981). "News media get critical look". The Journal Herald. p. 43. Retrieved October 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Available Channels - Zip 45401". Retrieved 2013-07-13.
- "License Renewal Application for W22DE". Federal Communications Commission (See Section V, Question 2a). June 3, 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
- "LMS #148246 — Cancellation — W22DE". Federal Communications Commission. May 28, 2021. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
- "SBG Enters Into Affiliation Agreement With The CW Network" (Press release). Sinclair Broadcast Group. 2006-05-02. Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-05-20.
- Romano, Allison (2006-03-02). "Sinclair Signs On to MyNetworkTV". Broadcasting & Cable. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2006-05-20.
- "Old TV Star Returns To Channel 64". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Gannett Company. 2009-09-14.
- Sinclair Reups With Fox, Gets WUTB Option, TVNewsCheck, May 15, 2012.
- Sinclair In An Acquisition State Of Mind, TVNewsCheck, February 6, 2013.
- "Newport Sells 22 Station For $1 Billion". TVNewsCheck. July 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
- SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP CLOSES TV STATION ACQUISITIONS Archived December 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- "Forfeiture Order" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. 2021-07-28. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
- Pearce, Sara (2006-02-11). "Ch. 64 to drop local newscast". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Gannett. Retrieved 2006-05-20.
- "WSTR & WKRC Enter Into 10PM News Share In Cincinnati" (Press release). Sinclair Broadcast Group. 2006-04-24. Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-05-20.
- Kiesewetter, John (2008-04-18). "Channel 64 Losing News -- Again". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Gannett Company. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WLWT
- RabbitEars TV Query for WCPO
- RabbitEars TV Query for WKRC
- RabbitEars TV Query for WXIX
- Kiesewetter, John (October 12, 2015). "New Sci-Fi Comet Channel Lands Here Oct. 31". wvxu.org. Cincinnati Public Radio. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- "RabbitEars TV Query for WSTR". www.rabbitears.info.
- Kiesewetter, John (November 17, 2015). "Here's Johnny! Antenna TV's 'Tonight Show' Reruns Coming To WSTR-TV". WVXU. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- Kiesewetter, John (Mar 1, 2017). "GET TV Is Gone, Replaced By TBD". WVXU.org. Cincinnati Public Radio. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- Station Information – station information and a brief history