|Wheeling, West Virginia/
|Slogan||Working For You|
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF/PSIP)|
|Owner||Nexstar Media Group
(Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc.)
|First air date||October 24, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||Two Radio Frequencies
(referring to AM and FM stations with same calls)
|Sister station(s)||WOWK, WVNS, WBOY|
|Former channel number(s)||7 (VHF analog, 1953–2009)
32 (UHF digital, –2009)
|Transmitter power||25.4 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WTRF-TV, channel 7, is a television station located in Wheeling, West Virginia, United States. Owned by Nexstar Media Group, WTRF is the primary CBS affiliate for the Wheeling-Steubenville, Ohio television market. The station also carries programming from MyNetworkTV and ABC over its digital subchannels (MyNetworkTV on 7.2, ABC on .3). WTRF's studios are located on 16th Street in downtown Wheeling, and its transmitter is based in Bridgeport, Ohio.
WTRF signed-on for the first time on October 24, 1953. Its call letters came from WTRF radio, which had signed on in 1947 on AM 1290 (now WLEJ) and FM 100.5 (now WBGI-FM). Those were sold off in the 1970s to help finance the television station. WTRF was originally an NBC affiliate but also carried some programming from ABC, splitting that network's programming with then-CBS affiliate WSTV-TV (now WTOV-TV). In 1979, WTRF became the area's first station to use videotape rather than film. For its first quarter-century on the air, WTRF-TV was the undisputed leader in the Wheeling/Steubenville market despite being well within reach of the much larger Pittsburgh market. As of 2016, the Wheeling/Steubenville market remains separate from Pittsburgh despite the very close proximity between the two markets as well as significantly overlapping signals between the two markets.
On January 7, 1980, WTRF swapped network affiliations with WTOV and became a CBS affiliate. NBC had struggled in the ratings for a number of years at the time and WTRF wanted a stronger affiliation. It also dropped the remaining ABC programs from its schedule. This was not as serious a problem as it appeared, since Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV was widely available in the area over-the-air and on cable. However, the switch backfired disastrously. While as an NBC affiliate, channel 7 had to contend with Pittsburgh's WIIC-TV (now WPXI), one of NBC's weakest affiliates, for network viewers, it now had to contend with KDKA-TV, one of CBS' strongest affiliates, as it was (and remains today) widely viewable in the area both over-the-air and available on cable. This, combined with NBC re-surging in the 1980s while CBS faltered at the same time, saw WTRF become a very distant second to WTOV in the local ratings. While CBS rebounded in the 1990s, WTRF has never recovered, with some viewers even watching now-CBS O&O KDKA-TV for CBS programming over WTRF.
Another factor in channel 7's struggles was ownership instability. From the early 1980s through the mid 1990s, it went through three different owners. Adams Communications bought the station from Wesray Corporation in 1987 but ran into financial trouble and sold most of its stations, including WTRF, to Brisette Broadcasting in 1991. Brisette himself was nearly brought down by financial issues and merged his group with Benedek Broadcasting in 1996. West Virginia Media Holdings bought the station in 2002.
Along with sister station WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, WTRF launched a new digital subchannel with ABC programming on August 1, 2008 bringing programming from that network back to the station. Previously, both the Wheeling/Steubenville and Clarksburg/Weston/Fairmont markets were served by WTAE as the de facto affiliate. WTRF has been digital-only since February 17, 2009. Before becoming famous on network television as Faith Daniels, Faith Augustine started her television reporting career at this station where she worked with her future husband, producer Dean Daniels, who also reported on the station.
On November 17, 2015, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it would purchase the West Virginia Media Holdings stations, including WTRF-TV, for $130 million. Under the terms of the deal, Nexstar assumed control of the stations through a time brokerage agreement in December 2015, with the sale of the license assets completed on January 31, 2017.
Out-of-market coverage and satellite availability
Despite its coverage issues mentioned above, it has coverage outside the market on cable. In the northeastern part of West Virginia, it is carried in Buckhannon in Upshur County, Beverley and Elkins in Randolph County and Flemington in Taylor County.
As of June 3, 2010, WTRF and its two digital subchannels are available on Dish Network. WTRF, including its MNTV and ABC subchannels, and WTOV are available on DirecTV as of November 23, 2010. Before then, Wheeling/Steubenville had been one of the few markets that did not get local stations on satellite. Residents living in the West Virginia side of the market, as well as Jefferson, Harrison and Tuscarawas counties in Ohio, got Pittsburgh stations on those systems.
While Belmont and Monroe counties in Ohio qualified to get the New York City and Los Angeles stations, West Virginia Media Holdings had long balked at signing waivers allowing viewers in those two counties to receive WCBS-TV and KCBS-TV from their respective markets. This rankled viewers in those areas because satellite service is all but essential for acceptable television in this area. Belmont and Monroe counties are located in a very rugged dissected plateau. Over-the-air signals are practically unviewable in this area, and cable service is inconsistent outside the larger cities.
|Channel||PSIP short name||Video||Aspect||Programming |
|7.1||WTRF-D1||1080i||16:9||Main WTRF-TV programming / CBS|
|7.2||WTRF-D2||480i → 720p||4:3 → 16:9||WTRF-DT2 / MyNetworkTV|
|7.3||WTRF-D3||WTRF-DT3 / ABC|
WTRF-DT2 airs a nightly 10 o'clock broadcast known as 7 News at 10, which competes with a similar newscast seen on WTOV-DT2 (until WTOV-DT2 joined Fox, the newscast was the only newscast offered at that time in the market, but the station was not the first to offer a 10 p.m. newscast; the first ran on WVTX-CD, which currently simulcasts WTRF's MyNetworkTV and ABC subchannels). The second hour of the main channel's weekday morning show is repeated at 7 on that subchannel. WTRF-DT3 simulcasts the weekday editions of 7 News at 6 a.m., noon, 6 and 11 p.m., with separate on-screen branding to denote "ABC Ohio Valley". Operator and soon to be owner Nexstar produces a half-hour evening newscast that airs at 5:30pm. The newscast, titled West Virginia Tonight, is broadcast live from WOWK's Charleston studios in high definition on all 4 WVMH stations along with soon to be sister station WHAG, and is anchored by Dan Thorn.
In addition, there is a public affairs program called Decision Makers. Hosted by company president and CEO Bray Cary, it airs on Saturday mornings at 9 and Sunday mornings at 8 on all West Virginia Media Holdings stations. In another arrangement between all of the company channels, weekend weather forecasts originate from WOWK's new facilities on Quarrier Street in downtown Charleston.
On December 29, 2011 beginning with the noon newscast, WTRF launched the first true high definition newscast in the Wheeling/Steubenville market (competing station WTOV upgraded its newscasts to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen in April 2009). This is also the first station owned by West Virginia Media Holdings to upgrade its local newscasts to high definition. With the upgrade came new graphics and a new music package (Aerial by Stephen Arnold); the news set remained the same, although with some minor changes.The weather graphics were still shown in the 4:3 picture format until February 2012.
- Channel 7 digital TV stations in the United States
- Channel 7 virtual TV stations in the United States
- Eck, Kevin (July 11, 2014). "Sinclair Adds FOX Affiliation to Wheeling-Steubenville Station". TVSpy. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- "WTRF MY OHIO VALLEY Starts September 1 - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville". Wtrf.com. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
- "Nexstar Buys 4 W.Va. TVs For $130M". TVNewsCheck. November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
- Consummation Notice, CDBS Public Access, Federal Communications Commission, Retrieved 1 February 2017.
- "Local Channels Lookup". Directv.com. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
- "Digital TV Market Listing for WTRF". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved August 5, 2017.