Coordinates: 35°40′6″N 78°31′58″W / 35.66833°N 78.53278°W / 35.66833; -78.53278
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

CityDurham, North Carolina
BrandingABC 11 (general)
ABC 11 Eyewitness News (newscasts)
FoundedDecember 1953[1]
First air date
September 2, 1954 (69 years ago) (1954-09-02)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog: 11 (VHF, 1954–2009)
  • Digital: 52 (UHF, until 2009), 11 (VHF, 2009–2020)
  • NBC (1954–1956)
  • ABC (secondary 1954–1956 and 1957–1962, primary 1956–1957)
  • CBS (secondary 1954–1957, primary 1957–1985)
  • NTA (secondary, 1956–1961)
  • NBC (secondary, 1962–1971)
Call sign meaning
Television for Durham
Technical information[2]
Licensing authority
Facility ID8617
ERP45 kW
HAAT615 m (2,018 ft)
Transmitter coordinates35°40′6″N 78°31′58″W / 35.66833°N 78.53278°W / 35.66833; -78.53278
Public license information

WTVD (channel 11) is a television station licensed to Durham, North Carolina, United States, serving as the ABC outlet for the Research Triangle area. Owned and operated by the network's ABC Owned Television Stations division, it maintains business offices on Liberty Street in downtown Durham, with newscasts originating from studios on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh, as well as news bureaus in Chapel Hill and Fayetteville. The station's transmitter is located in Auburn, North Carolina. On-air branding uses ABC 11 as a station identifier, with the call letters taking a secondary role.


Early years[edit]

In 1952, two rival companies each applied for a construction permit to build a television station in Durham on the city's newly allotted VHF channel 11—Herald-Sun Newspapers (publishers of the Durham Morning Herald and the Durham Sun as well as the owners of radio station WDNC) and Floyd Fletcher and Harmon Duncan, the then-owners of WTIK radio. In December 1953, the two sides agreed to join forces and operate the station under the joint banner Durham Broadcasting Enterprises.[1] Originally christened with the "WTIK-TV" call letters, the station had to make a name change after the partners sold WTIK radio as a condition of the permit grant. Ownership chose WTVD and was granted the change, but they had to wait—the call sign had been used in the 1953 20th Century Fox film Taxi for a fictional television station appearing in the movie. At the time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allowed unassigned call letters to be used in fictional works for an exclusive two-year period, making them unavailable for actual broadcast use.[3][4]

Ten months after being granted its permit, on September 2, 1954, WTVD began broadcasting with a black-and-white film of "The Star-Spangled Banner", followed by You Bet Your Life.[5] It was originally a primary NBC affiliate, with secondary ABC and CBS affiliations. Channel 11 is the Triangle's oldest surviving television station, having signed on a few months after CBS affiliate WNAO-TV (channel 28). The station's initial studios were located in a former tuberculosis sanitorium at Broad Street in Durham, with a transmitter located atop Signal Hill in northern Durham County.[6][7]

WRAL-TV (channel 5), based in Raleigh and locally owned by the Capitol Broadcasting Company, debuted in December 1956 and took over as the Triangle's NBC affiliate, leaving channel 11 with only ABC. WNAO-TV ceased operations at the end of 1957 due to financial difficulties, and CBS moved its primary affiliation to WTVD.[8] During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[9][8]

On May 22, 1957, the station's original owners sold their interest in WTVD to Albany, New York-based Hudson Valley Broadcasting Company, owners of WCDA-TV (now WTEN), to form Capital Cities Television Corporation (predecessor of Capital Cities Communications).[10][11] Around 1958, WTVD built a 1,549-foot (472 m) tower at its present transmitter site in Auburn to increase its signal coverage for the entire Raleigh–Durham–Fayetteville market; at the time this was the tallest man-made structure in the U.S. That same year, the station first began broadcasting network programs in color, although it would not be until 1966 before the same was true for local programming.

After WRAL-TV took the ABC affiliation full-time in 1962, WTVD was forced to shoehorn CBS and NBC programming onto its schedule.[12] This was a very unusual arrangement for what was then a two-station market. The Triangle was, at least on paper, big enough even then to support three full network affiliates. However, the only other VHF license in the market, channel 4, had already been taken by National Educational Television outlet WUNC-TV. UHF TV broadcasting was not considered viable at the time. Not only were television manufacturers not required to include UHF tuning capability until 1964, with the passage of the All-Channel Receiver Act in 1961, but the available UHF frequencies were not thought to be nearly strong enough to cover a market that stretched from Chapel Hill in the west to Goldsboro in the east. This situation was similar to that of WAPI-TV (now WVTM-TV) in Birmingham, Alabama. However, unlike WAPI-TV, WTVD managed to find room for The Ed Sullivan Show, the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Although the market got a third commercial station six years later when a new channel 28 signed on as WRDU-TV (now WRDC), WTVD continued to "cherry pick" the most popular CBS and NBC programs for another three years, leaving WRDU with the lower-rated shows from both networks as well as NBC's news programming. In 1971 the FCC, intervening on behalf of WRDU's owners and in the interest of protecting the development of UHF, ordered WTVD to select one network.[13] Channel 11 decided to go with CBS full-time, allowing WRDU to become an exclusive NBC station (it is now affiliated with MyNetworkTV).

In 1978, WTVD attempted to expand its broadcast coverage to the Fayetteville area, which had been without a television station of its own for nearly two decades. Its studios were relocated to their current location on Liberty Street in downtown Durham on a parcel of land it shares with the Durham County Library; it also built its current 2,000-foot (610 m) tower in Auburn. A fire on March 4, 1979, caused extensive damage to the newly built studio building;[14] however, the newsroom and a number of other key components had been rebuilt within a month. By that time, much of WTVD's operations had returned to normal, although it had resorted to temporary setups during the interim such as holding the newscasts in one of the meeting rooms that survived the fire unscathed.

Switch to ABC[edit]

On March 18, 1985, WTVD's owner, Capital Cities, announced it was purchasing ABC.[15][16] Five months later, on August 4, 1985, WTVD traded networks with WRAL-TV and became an ABC affiliate.[17] At that time, WTVD and WRAL-TV joined the small list of stations in the country that have held primary affiliations with all of the "Big Three" networks. The transaction was finalized on January 3, 1986, making WTVD an ABC owned-and-operated station, the first network-owned television station in North Carolina. In 1996, The Walt Disney Company acquired Capital Cities/ABC.

On the night of December 6, 1991, a helicopter carrying a pilot and three WTVD employees from a high school football game in Wilmington, North Carolina crashed when an engine bearing seized, killing three of the four people on board.[18] Sports reporter Tony Debo, the only survivor, suffered a broken ankle; he was thrown free of the crash when his improperly installed seatbelt failed.[19] The National Transportation Safety Board report published a year later cited the pilot's decision to continue the flight despite a known engine problem.[20][21]

On April 30, 2000, a dispute between Disney and Time Warner Cable forced WTVD off cable systems within the Raleigh–Durham–Fayetteville market for over 24 hours during the May sweeps period. Other ABC stations in markets served by Time Warner Cable, such as New York City, Los Angeles and Houston, were also affected by the outage as well before the FCC forced TWC to restore service to those areas on May 2.[22] In July 2010, Disney announced that it was involved in another carriage dispute with Time Warner Cable which involved four ABC owned-and-operated stations (including WTVD), Disney Channel and the networks of ESPN. If a deal was not in place, the entire Disney cluster would have been removed from Time Warner and Bright House cable systems across the country. On September 2, 2010, Disney and Time Warner Cable reached a long-term agreement to keep the Disney family of channels on its systems. On August 31, 2023, Disney removed all of its channels, including WTVD, two other ABC-owned stations, and the ESPN networks, from Spectrum cable systems due to a carriage dispute, its first with the provider since 2010 when its predecessor, Time Warner Cable, was involved in a dispute with Disney.[23] On September 11, 2023, the stations and their sister cable channels were restored by Charter Communications (the parent company of Spectrum) after the company and Disney reached an agreement.[24]


Sports programming[edit]

WTVD airs select college football games from the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Duke Blue Devils and the NC State Wolfpack through ESPN College Football on ABC. As a then-CBS affiliate, WTVD aired the Wolfpack men's basketball team's upset of the Houston Cougars in the 1983 NCAA Division I men's basketball championship game.

News operation[edit]

WTVD presently broadcasts 48 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 7+12 hours each weekday, 4+12 hours on Saturdays and six hours on Sundays); in regard to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output of any television station in the Research Triangle market. For most of the last four decades, WTVD has been a solid second in ratings across the market, behind WRAL. This is in contrast to most of its ABC stablemates (including sister stations WPVI-TV in Philadelphia and KFSN-TV in Fresno, California), which dominate their markets' news ratings. However, WTVD is still one of the strongest ABC stations in the country.

An ABC 11 news crew interviewing Mayor of Raleigh Nancy McFarlane in 2012

As with ABC's other owned-and-operated stations, WTVD features forecasts provided by AccuWeather for the weather segments of its newscasts. It operates its own weather radar, called "First Alert Doppler XP", at its transmitter site in Auburn. WTVD has a fleet of regular news vans and trucks as well as a yellow Toyota FJ Cruiser which carries the name "Breaking News One". WTVD also has a helicopter for newsgathering, which it refers to as "Chopper 11 HD". WTVD has also began to implement a drone for newsgathering, which it dubs as "Drone 11".

Principal anchor Larry Stogner began working with station in 1976 and served as weeknight anchor from 1982 to 2015. On January 23, he announced his retirement after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;[25] ultimately passing away on October 3, 2016.[26] His co-anchor for much of the 1980s and 1990s, Miriam Thomas, abruptly left WTVD after nineteen years in November 2001. Notable former members of WTVD's news staff include musicians John Tesh and John D. Loudermilk, as well as former Good Morning America co-host David Hartman, ESPN personality Stuart Scott, and Nightline host Byron Pitts.

From 1973 to 1984, WTVD used the Eyewitness News brand for its newscasts, though its format was very similar to the Action News format pioneered by sister station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. The arrangement was similar to those used at WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York, and KFSN-TV. For a time, all three stations used the same theme song, "Move Closer to Your World", and a nearly identical opening sequence. WRAL was also using the Action News brand during that time period. It called its newscasts simply WTVD 11 News from 1984 to 1993. WTVD called itself NewsChannel 11 from 1993 to 2000, when it changed back to Eyewitness News. WTVD was among the last stations to use the Cool Hand Luke "Tar Sequence" theme in its broadcasts (which was also used on WRAL for a period in the 1970s). However, the station debuted the theme soon after the Capital Cities/ABC merger and retired it in 1993. Like sister stations WABC, KABC, and KGO-TV, the theme was used only in the opens.

On June 26, 2006, WTVD debuted a new primetime newscast for WB (now CW) affiliate WLFL (channel 22) entitled Eyewitness News at 10 on WB 22. This happened after WLFL's owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group, ended the controversial News Central format on its stations and shut down WLFL's established in-house news department. This newscast ran directly against the WRAL-produced 10 p.m. newscast on WRAZ (channel 50). On September 17, concurrent with WLFL's affiliation switch to The CW, the newscast changed its name to reflect its new affiliation. On April 21, 2008, WTVD became the second television station in the Triangle behind WRAL and the eighth ABC-owned station to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. The primetime news on WLFL was included in the upgrade. WTVD debuted an hour-long 4 p.m. newscast on May 26, 2011, to fill the void left by The Oprah Winfrey Show, whose long run in that time slot came to an end a day earlier.[27]

On June 27, 2022, it was announced on WLFL's social media accounts that WTVD would no longer produce newscasts for WLFL and a full hour and a half of The National Desk will fill the 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. time slot on WLFL, leaving once again WRAZ as the only local station showing news at 10 p.m.[28]

On September 11, 2023, WTVD, along with sister stations WABC-TV and WPVI-TV, launched an additional hour-long newscast at 10 a.m. which took over the time slot previously occupied by Tamron Hall. The newscast is co-anchored by John Clark and Barbara Gibbs with meteorologist Kwielyn Murphy. The broadcast will continue to deliver news in a traditional format, and will also allow more focus to be placed on local newsmakers, and further discussion on topics addressed on Good Morning America and Live with Kelly and Mark.[29]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

Technical information[edit]


The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Subchannels of WTVD[30]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
11.1 720p 16:9 WTVD-D1 Main WTVD programming / ABC
11.2 LOCLish Localish
11.3 480i thisTV This TV
11.4 HSN HSN

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WTVD discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 11, at 12:30 p.m. on June 12, 2009, the official date on 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 52, 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 11.[31] On September 23, 2009, the station filed an application to the FCC to increase its effective radiated power from 20.7 to 45 kilowatts.[32] Effective June 30, 2020, under the provisions of the FCC's spectrum reallocation program, WTVD's transmissions moved to channel 9, while continuing to display channel 11 as its virtual channel.

Out-of-market cable and satellite carriage[edit]

In recent years, WTVD has been carried on cable in multiple areas outside of the Raleigh–Durham–Fayetteville media market. That includes cable systems within the Greensboro, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, and Wilmington markets in North Carolina, and the Roanoke market in Virginia. On DirecTV, WTVD has been carried in Alamance County, which is within the Greensboro market.[33]

In the 1970s and 1980s through CATV, WTVD was once carried as far east as Wilmington and as far west as Mount Airy. WTVD was also carried on cable in Brunswick County, Greenville, Williamston, Emporia, Virginia, and Bennettsville, South Carolina.[34]


  1. ^ a b "Grant Proposed for Houston TV Co" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting Magazine. January 18, 1954. p. 56.
  2. ^ "Facility Technical Data for WTVD". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  3. ^ "WTVD—on 35mm" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting Magazine. April 19, 1954. p. 57.
  4. ^ "For the record" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting Magazine. June 14, 1954. p. 110. Note typographical error in reference: new call letters misspelled "WTDV (TV)" instead of WTVD (TV).
  5. ^ "WTVD(TV), KOVR(TV) begin operations" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting Magazine. September 6, 1954. p. 54.
  6. ^ "WTVD (TV) solves the housing problem" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting Magazine. October 4, 1954. p. 64.
  7. ^ Kaye Graybeal (August 1998). "North Durham County Prison Camp (Former)" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places – Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "At deadline [subsection: WNAO-TV to go black, joins WTOB-TV in Ch. 8 shift plea]" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. December 30, 1957. p. 10. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  9. ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films". Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956. Archived from the original on June 14, 2009.
  10. ^ "This week's receipts: $26 million" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting Magazine. April 8, 1957. pp. 31–32.
  11. ^ "FCC approves two sales" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting Magazine. May 27, 1957. p. 10.
  12. ^ "WTVD(TV) joins NBC-TV" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting Magazine. June 11, 1962. p. 95.
  13. ^ "Networks, V's balk at aid for UHF's" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. September 21, 1970. p. 40.
  14. ^ "6:00 Report". Eyewitness News. Durham, N.C. March 5, 1979. 00:30 minutes in. WTVD. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  15. ^ "Capcities + ABC" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. March 25, 1985. pp. 31–32.
  16. ^ "FCC approval of Capcities/ABC deal likely" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. No. March 25, 1985. pp. 33–34.
  17. ^ "In brief" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. July 15, 1985. p. 80.
  18. ^ "Three Die When Helicopter Crashes in North Carolina". The New York Times. December 8, 1991. Retrieved July 28, 2007.
  19. ^ "A Visit to Honor Friends". The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). December 11, 2001. p. 38. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  20. ^ National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Final Report (ATL92FA029), January 27, 1993, archived (PDF) from the original on August 20, 2021
  21. ^ "WTVD Eyewitness News at 5:30". WTVD. December 9, 1991. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
  22. ^ "MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER - DA 00-987" (PDF). www.fcc.gov. May 3, 2000. Retrieved September 13, 2023.
  23. ^ Weprin, Alex (August 31, 2023). "Disney Channels, Including ABC and ESPN, Go Dark on Charter Spectrum In Major Carriage Dispute". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 4, 2023.
  24. ^ Bucholtz, Andrew (September 11, 2023). "Disney and Charter reach deal, bringing back ESPN and ABC on Spectrum". MSN. Retrieved September 11, 2023.
  25. ^ Cain, Brooke (January 23, 2015). "WTVD anchor Larry Stogner announces ALS diagnosis". The News & Observer. Archived from the original on January 27, 2015. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  26. ^ "Larry Stogner, veteran ABC11 anchor, dies". October 6, 2016.
  27. ^ Bracken, David (May 20, 2011). "ABC11 to debut 4 p.m. newscast next week". The News & Observer. Archived from the original on March 12, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  28. ^ @thecw22 (June 27, 2022). "Programming alert:" (Tweet) – via Twitter.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ "WPVI and 2 Other ABC Owned Stations to Launch 10 AM Newscast". www.adweek.com. August 24, 2023.
  30. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WTVD
  31. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
  32. ^ "CDBS Print".
  33. ^ "SVTV Stations - the things you care that others won't". Archived from the original on May 2, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
  34. ^ "COALS Filings". fccprod.servicenowservices.com. Retrieved September 13, 2023.

External links[edit]