|Slogan||Greenville to Atlanta|
|Channels||Digital: 24 (UHF)
Virtual: 32 (PSIP)
|Subchannels||32.1 Heroes & Icons
|Affiliations||Heroes & Icons|
(Marquee Broadcasting Georgia, Inc.)
|First air date||September 9, 1984|
|Call letters' meaning||Greenville To Atlanta|
|Former callsigns||WNEG-TV (1984–2011)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
32 (UHF, 1984–2009)
|Former affiliations||independent (1984–1995)
This TV (2008–2010)
America One (2008–2011)
World (via GPB Knowledge, 2011–2015)
|Transmitter power||240 kW|
|Height||235 m (771 ft)|
|Public license information:||Profile
WGTA, virtual channel 32 (UHF digital channel 24), is a television station licensed to Toccoa, Georgia and serving much of the northeastern portion of the state. WGTA maintains studio facilities located on Big A Road in Toccoa, and its transmitter is located northwest of Camp Toccoa in northwestern Stephens County.
The station broadcasts programming from the Heroes & Icons, Decades, and Movies! multicast services. It primarily serves four counties in northeast Georgia that are part of the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market. The station provides at least secondary coverage to the extreme east-northeastern portions of the Atlanta market, including Athens, Gainesville and Braselton.
The station first signed on the air on September 9, 1984, as WNEG-TV (the call letters representing northeast Georgia); operating as a commercial independent station at the time, the station was originally owned by Toccoa businessman Roy Gaines and his Stephens County Broadcasting Company along with longtime local radio station WNEG (630 AM). Gaines felt that northeast Georgia received very little local news coverage from stations in the adjacent Atlanta, Augusta, and Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville markets, and launched WNEG in order to fill this void. However, the station struggled to make money, as there were barely enough viewers or advertisers in its primarily rural area for it to be viable. Virtually the only program that generated ratings on the station was the popular Billy Dilworth Show; it and WNEG radio's ratings were all that kept channel 32 afloat. Gaines campaigned tirelessly to have WNEG added to area cable systems, often buying antennas and offering technical assistance in exchange for adding WNEG to their channel line-ups.
Gaines ultimately gave up on trying to make the station viable in 1990, and decided to put channel 32 up for sale. However, he was unable to find any buyers until August 1995, when it entered into a time brokerage agreement with Spartan Communications, making WNEG a sister station to Spartan's television flagship, WSPA-TV (channel 7) in Spartanburg. Spartan bought the station outright two years later (WNEG radio still exists, but operates separately from and maintains different ownership than the former WNEG-TV).
Through the deal with Spartan, WNEG was able to gain an affiliation with CBS, restoring that network to areas of northeast Georgia that had lost access to CBS programming one year earlier, when longtime Atlanta affiliate WAGA-TV switched to Fox as a result of then-owner New World Communications's groupwide affiliation agreement with Fox. The new Atlanta CBS affiliate, WGNX (channel 46, now WGCL-TV), was located on UHF, and did not have nearly the signal coverage that WAGA had in northeast Georgia. Many areas of northeast Georgia were among the few areas where cable still didn't have much penetration. Spartan also beefed up WNEG's news department, and changed the station's (and by extension, its newscasts) branding to "NewsChannel 32", using a logo similar to the one that WSPA used from 1994 to 2001 (which was also used by another sister station, WJBF in Augusta, Georgia, around the same time period). WNEG and the rest of Spartan's properties were acquired by Media General in 2000. When WSPA and WJBF switched to Media General's standardized logo design, WNEG retained its Spartan-era logo.
On October 29, 2007, Media General announced that it was exploring the sale of WNEG. This was followed on June 25, 2008 with an announcement that the station would be sold to the University of Georgia Research Foundation, with plans to use channel 32 as a training facility for students in the University's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The University took control on October 15; at that time, CBS programming was dropped and replaced with programming from the America One and This TV networks. UGA moved the operations of WNEG-TV from its studios in Toccoa to the university campus in Athens in the fall of 2009, and also added more locally produced programming. As a result of WNEG dropping CBS, WSPA now serves as northeast Georgia's default CBS affiliate, while WGCL became the exclusive CBS affiliate for the Atlanta market.
Among the syndicated programs acquired by the station after the University of Georgia took over operations included reruns of Degrassi: The Next Generation and Family Feud (the latter of which had aired on MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYA-TV (channel 40) for seven years at the time of its move).
On December 23, 2010, UGA announced it would enter into a programming partnership with the Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission, which would provide programming from Georgia Public Broadcasting to WNEG, with most of the content coming from its GPB Knowledge subchannel. The university subsequently filed an application to the Federal Communications Commission to convert the station's license to non-commercial status; UGA cited a reduction of advertising dollars, resulting from the economic downturn and the loss of the station's CBS affiliation. The station also announced its intention to change its call letters to WUGA-TV. On January 6, 2011, WNEG announced that it would undergo a staff reorganization, with twelve permanent staff members and five temporary staffers being laid off in the restructuring; the station also eliminated its news operation, with a student-produced newscast, UGA Newssource, replacing it on January 31 (in the interim, the only news programming on WNEG was an America One-provided national newscast produced by Independent News Network). In addition, WNEG's This TV affiliation ended on January 1, 2011, with the movie-focused network moving to a subchannel of NBC affiliate WYFF (channel 4). WUGA-TV was operated in conjunction with WUGA radio (91.7 FM), whose license is owned by the Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission, but is operated by the University of Georgia.
At 5:30 a.m. on May 1, 2011, the station began broadcasting programming from World through GPB's "GPB Knowledge" network. The station's call letters were officially changed to WUGA-TV the following day on May 2.
On March 25, 2015, the University of Georgia agreed to sell WUGA-TV to Marquee Broadcasting, owner of WMDT in Salisbury, Maryland, for $2.5 million. Under the terms of the deal, Marquee returned channel 32 to commercial operation and changed the station's call letters to WGTA (in reference to its "Greenville to Atlanta" coverage area). UGA had considered selling the station as early as November 2013, and on March 27, 2014 announced that it would eliminate WUGA-TV's local programming (which comprised only one percent of channel 32's schedule) effective July 1; this resulted in six staffers being laid off. At the time of the cutback, the university stated that it was not actively attempting to sell the station. The change to WGTA took place on July 1, 2015, when the sale to Marquee was completed; at the same time, the station dropped all GPB Knowledge and World programming and began broadcasting Heroes & Icons on 32.1, Decades on 32.2, and Movies! on 32.3. Marquee also moved WGTA's studios back to Toccoa.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|32.1||480i||4:3||WGTA TV||Heroes & Icons|
WGTA (as WNEG-TV) shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 32, on February 17, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 24, using PSIP to display WGTA's virtual channel as 32 on digital television receivers.
Cable and satellite coverage
Although the station is licensed to a city within the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market, WUGA-TV's satellite coverage in that market was limited to Dish Network. On cable, the station was only available outside of Georgia on Northland Communications' systems in Pickens and Oconee counties in South Carolina.
In October 2012, DirecTV, Dish Network and AT&T U-verse began to carry WUGA-TV on channel 32 within the Atlanta market. WUGA-TV was later added to Comcast systems on channel 96 in Barrow, Jackson, Hall and northern Gwinnett Counties.
Following the sale to Marquee Broadcasting and relaunch as WGTA, the station temporarily lost nearly all of its cable and satellite coverage. While Marquee has entered into negotiations with cable and satellite providers in the station's coverage area, as of July 2015[update] TruVista Cable, a small cable system in Toccoa, is the only provider to carry WGTA.
|This section requires expansion with: information on the history of WGTA's news department. (May 2014)|
- NewsChannel 32 (1995–2008)
- WNEG News (2008–2011)
- UGA Newssource (2011–2015)
- "Serving Northeast Georgia" (2006–2008 and 2010–2015)
- "We are Northeast Georgia" (2008–2010)
Notable former on-air staff
- Matt McClure - weekday morning anchor/reporter (now at NY1 in New York City)
- Paul Rea - weekday morning anchor/reporter (later at WRWR-LD in Warner Robins)
- Chuck Moore - anchor (currently retired)
- Scott Myrick - anchor NewsChannel 32 Daybreak
- Jennifer Cathey (now Arbitter) - anchor/news director, (currently teaches at Piedmont College)
- Megan Heidlberg - anchor/reporter (currently host of Carolina now)
- Noah Pransky - sports director/anchor (currently an investigative reporter at WTSP-TV Tampa, Florida)
- Chris McAndrew - reporter (currently owner of McAndrew Lawn Care)
- Heather Jensen - reporter (currently reporter for WKRN Nashville)
- Alaina Anderson - Daybreak anchor/reporter (currently law clerk for AARP)
- Bruce Frazier - sports reporter
- Randy Scott - sports director/anchor (currently an anchor on ESPN)
- Jason Maderer - sports director/anchor
- Keeli Davidson - sports director/reporter
- Jill Schroder - Daybreak anchor/reporter
- Jason Mealey - anchor/reporter (currently news producer at WJXT)
- Susanna Haynes - reporter
- Lisa Warner - reporter/anchor
- Lisa Costantino - reporter
- Amy Cain - reporter
- Adrian Helmick - anchor/reporter
- Tony Teixiera - anchor/reporter
- John Hart - sports director/anchor
- Scott Hartman - sports reporter
- Tracy Lee Vreeland - reporter/news director (currently executive producer at WPDE)
- Joy Purcell - anchor/reporter/news director
- Emily Sabatino - anchor/reporter
- Kate Mundy - daybreak anchor/reporter
- Michael Carvell - sports director/anchor (currently college recruiting reporter for Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper)
- Mark Childress - sports director/anchor
- Jeff Sharon - sports director
- Mario Boone - reporter
- Alisha Searl - reporter
- Tracy Armbruster - anchor/reporter
- Eric Elliott - weather anchor
- Zac Glover - sports/news reporter
- Laura-Ashley Harris - reporter/anchor - WNEG Daybreak
- Ray Metoyer - anchor/producer
- Cody Chaffins - Sports director
- Amelia Hines - WNEG Daybreak anchor/reporter
- Rachel Garrett - reporter
- Chip Scarborough - reporter
- Tyler Mauldin - weather
- Caroline Zager - weather
- WSPA-TV - WNEG-TV's former sister station
- Thompson, Adam (July 6, 2008). "Toccoa news in the air". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
- "MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER". Federal Communications Commission. October 30, 1997. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
- "Media General Exploring Sale of Five Television Stations" (Press release). Media General. October 29, 2007. Retrieved October 30, 2007.
- "Media General Announces Sale of WNEG in Toccoa, Ga., to University of Georgia Research Foundation" (Press release). Media General. June 25, 2008. Retrieved June 25, 2008.
- Armbruster, Tracy (August 19, 2008). "UGA Discusses the Sale of WNEG-TV". News Channel 32. Retrieved September 30, 2008.
- Blackwood, Harris (October 7, 2008). "College dean discusses plans for Channel 32". The Gainesville Times. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
- Armbruster, Tracy (June 27, 2008). "WNEG-TV Sold to UGA". News Channel 32. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
- "WNEG32 News | The latest Finance & Property News". Wneg32.com. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
- Call Sign History
- Associated Press, via Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "UGA TV station to join GA.'s state network", December 25, 2010.
- Gainesville Times: "WNEG to join Georgia public broadcasting", December 24, 2010.
- "WNEG32 News | The latest Finance & Property News". Wneg32.com. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
- Shearer, Lee (January 7, 2011). "UGA closes WNEG news and lays off 17". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
- Melancon, Merritt (January 20, 2011). "WUGA-TV aims to fit in with GPB, increase local focus". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
- Station officially changes hands, The Red & Black, May 2, 2011.
- APPLICATION FOR CONSENT TO ASSIGNMENT OF BROADCAST STATION CONSTRUCTION PERMIT OR LICENSE
- "APPLICATION FOR CONSENT TO ASSIGNMENT OF BROADCAST STATION CONSTRUCTION PERMIT OR LICENSE". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. March 30, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
- "U. Of Georgia Sells Noncom TV For $2.5M". TVNewsCheck. April 2, 2015. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- Shearer, Lee (November 21, 2013). "UGA to consider shedding itself of WUGA-TV". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
- Shearer, Lee (November 21, 2013). "UGA slashing staff, jobs at TV station WUGA". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
- Shearer, Lee (July 6, 2015). "WGTA-TV is now broadcasting and WUGA-TV is no more". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WGTA
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- "WUGA TV Back on the Air as WGTA TV Out of Toccoa". 92.1 WLHR. July 7, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
- Official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WGTA
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WGTA-TV