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Staunton/Harrisonburg, Virginia
United States
City Staunton, Virginia
Channels Digital: 11 (VHF)
(shared with WVPY; to move to 12 (VHF))
Virtual: 51 (PSIP)
Subchannels 51.1 PBS
51.3 Create
51.4 PBS Kids
Owner Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation
First air date September 9, 1968 (49 years ago) (1968-09-09)
Call letters' meaning Western Virginia Public Television
Former channel number(s) Analog:
51 (UHF, 1968–2009)
Former affiliations NET (1968–1970)
Transmitter power 10 kW
Height 689 m (2,260 ft)
Facility ID 60111
Transmitter coordinates 38°9′54.4″N 79°18′50.1″W / 38.165111°N 79.313917°W / 38.165111; -79.313917
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.wvpt.net
(satellite of WCVW, Richmond, Virginia)
New Market, Virginia
United States
Channels Digital: 11 (VHF)
(shared with WVPT; to move to 12 (VHF))
Virtual: 51.2 (PSIP)
Affiliations PBS
Owner Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation
First air date August 22, 1996 (21 years ago) (1996-08-22)
(in Front Royal, Virginia; license moved to New Market in 2018)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
42 (UHF, 1996–2009)
21 (UHF, 2009–2018)
42 (PSIP, until 2018)
Transmitter power 10 kW
Height 689 m (2,260 ft)
Facility ID 66378
Transmitter coordinates 38°9′54.4″N 79°18′50.1″W / 38.165111°N 79.313917°W / 38.165111; -79.313917
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information:
satellite of WCVW, Richmond, Virginia) Profile

satellite of WCVW, Richmond, Virginia) CDBS

WVPT, virtual channel 51 (VHF digital channel 11), is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station licensed to Staunton, Virginia, United States, serving Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginia. The station is owned by the Richmond-based Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation. WVPT's studios are located in Harrisonburg, and its transmitter is located in central Augusta County, Virginia.

WVPT operates a second station, WVPY, licensed to New Market, Virginia. WVPY was formerly a full-time satellite which served Winchester and the upper Shenandoah Valley. Through a channel-sharing agreement, it now broadcasts from WVPT's transmitter as a satellite of Richmond's WCVW, using virtual channel 51.2.


WVPT signed on for the first time on September 9, 1968 and is the third-oldest educational station in Virginia, behind Hampton Roads' WHRO-TV and Richmond's WCVE-TV. WVPY, originally licensed to Front Royal, Virginia, was added in 1996, replacing low-powered translator W42AC. WVPT also doubled as the default PBS station for Charlottesville (via translators W50CM in the city and W58DK in Ruckersville) until WCVE signed on WHTJ as a full-powered satellite in 1989.

On October 1, 2001, WVPT started broadcasting in digital with WVPY following in October 2002, HD.

In November 2017, Shenandoah Valley Educational Television Corporation agreed to merge into Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation. As a result, WVPT and WVPY will come under common ownership with WCVE-TV, WCVW, and WHTJ during early 2018.[1]


WVPT is the smallest PBS station licensed to Virginia, but serves one of the largest coverage areas of any PBS member. It primarily serves 22 counties and independent cities in Virginia and nine counties in West Virginia. Much of this area is very mountainous. Largely because most of its service area is located in the United States National Radio Quiet Zone, its two main transmitters operated at only 525,000 watts and 141,000 watts in analog—in both cases, fairly modest for a full PBS member on the UHF band. Even in digital, they are not nearly strong enough to cover this vast and rugged area. This is despite WVPT's digital channel being located on VHF; normally VHF signals "bend" over rugged terrain better than UHF signals.

WVPT's distributed transmission system consists of two transmitters:

Community Transmitter location Power
Charlottesville 37°59′0″N 78°29′2″W / 37.98333°N 78.48389°W / 37.98333; -78.48389 40 watts
Monterey 38°20′39″N 79°35′47″W / 38.34417°N 79.59639°W / 38.34417; -79.59639 8 watts

The station's distributed transmission system allows the translators to rebroadcast digitally on the same frequencies as the parent stations under an experimental license. Digital DTS call signs are based on those of the respective main stations, suffixed with a sequential number. For instance, the transmitter in Charlottesville is seen on VHF channel 11, virtual channel 51.1, and with the callsign WVPT1-DT.[2]

Spectrum reallocation[edit]

As part of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 2016-17 spectrum reallocation auction, WVPY's channel 21 allocations were sold for $19,851,752.[3] The station and its distributed transmitters were to go off the air July 23, 2018, but the main transmitter is allowed to continue over-the-air operations by sharing the channel of another station. WVPY received two three-month extensions of the original January 23 deadline as it had difficulty finding a channel-sharing partner.[4][5][6]

WVPY filed a channel-sharing agreement with WVPT on April 11, 2018. WVPY's over-the-air signal moved to WVPT's main transmitter in Harrisonburg and its distributed transmitters, effective June 11. Few in the area lost over-the-air PBS service, as the area is also covered by WETA-TV in Washington, D.C., West Virginia Public Broadcasting's W08EE-D in Martinsburg, and Maryland Public Television's WWPB in Hagerstown.[7] WVPY's city of license moved to New Market, Virginia, as it would not cover Front Royal at all from WVPT's transmitter site.[8] As it now covers exactly the same areas as WVPT over-the-air, WVPY relays the programming of secondary Richmond PBS member station WCVW on virtual channel 51.2.[9][10]

Cable and satellite availability[edit]

WVPT also relies heavily on cable and satellite for its viewership, which are all but essential for acceptable television in this region.

WVPT is available on cable in Lynchburg. Additionally, the station is carried on the Harrisonburg DirecTV and Dish Network feed. While it is available on Comcast cable in Charlottesville and central Virginia, it is not carried on satellite there, as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules do not allow a station to be uplinked unless it has a full-power station licensed in the market.

WVPY was previously available over-the-air in large portions of the Virginia and West Virginia portions of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area; Front Royal is part of the Washington market. It was also available on the Washington DirecTV and Dish Network feeds until 2016, when the two satellite providers dropped it, claiming they could no longer receive an off-air signal from WVPY.

Local programs[edit]

Virginia Farming - the only regular television program dedicated to Virginia's key economic engines, agriculture and the environment. It is distributed to PBS stations in Virginia, West Virginia and on RFD-TV nationwide.

The Miller Center Forums - produced in conjunction with The University of Virginia's Miller Center for Public Affairs. The series is distributed nationwide to approximately 150 PBS stations.

Roadtrip to History - produced by Oaktree Productions and Executive Producer Wayne Bronson.


External links[edit]