Cleveland, Ohio
City of license Akron, Ohio
Branding WBNX, Cleveland's CW
Channels Digital: 30 (UHF)
Virtual: 55 (PSIP)
Subchannels 55.1 The CW
55.2 Independent
Affiliations The CW Television Network
Owner Winston Broadcasting Network, Inc.
First air date December 1, 1985
Call letters' meaning Winston
Former channel number(s) Analog:
55 (1985–2009)
Former affiliations Independent (1985–1997)
The WB (1997–2006)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 331.2 m
Facility ID 72958
Transmitter coordinates 41°23′3.4″N 81°41′43.6″W / 41.384278°N 81.695444°W / 41.384278; -81.695444
Website www.wbnx.com

WBNX-TV, virtual channel 55 (digital channel 30), is the CW television affiliate serving the Cleveland/Akron/Canton, Ohio television market; it brands itself as "WBNX, The CW". The studios are located in Cuyahoga Falls and the transmitter is in Parma, although it is licensed to Akron. WBNX broadcasts from the tallest antenna tower in the Cleveland television market and with the most power wattage. WBNX leases out additional tower space to Cleveland area radio stations. WBNX is owned by the Winston Broadcasting Network, a subsidiary of the Ernest Angley ministry, though it operates as a secular, for profit TV station.

WBNX was the WB Television Network affiliate in the Cleveland market from 1997 until September 17, 2006 and consistently ranked in the top 11 of all WB affiliates and was the #1 WB affiliate in overall ratings among the top 19 DMA (designated market areas) during the November 2005 ratings sweep period.[1] Currently, WBNX is the third-largest CW affiliate (after Boston's WLVI and Phoenix's KASW), in terms of market size, that is not a CW O&O (not owned and operated by CBS Corporation) or Tribune Broadcasting.


Digital television

Channel Video Aspect Programming
55.1 720p 16:9 Main WBNX programming / The CW
55.2 480i 4:3 Religious programming


Pre-WBNX years

UHF analog channel 55 was originally allocated to Akron as WCOT-TV. The license was awarded to Rex Humbard in the late 1970s. The plan was for the station to sign on by 1981, with a Christian format two thirds of the day and some family type entertainment a third of the day. Construction began in 1978, but ran out of funding and was on hold by 1980. The secular programming that was to air on the station was sold to a new station, WCLQ, and the plan to build the station was abandoned in 1981. WCOT, therefore, never made it to air and in 1982, Humbard sold the construction permit to Winston Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Ernest Angley Ministries. Construction of the station resumed in 1983, and WBNX-TV went on the air Dec. 1, 1985 as a secular for-profit broadcast station.

Early days

UHF analog channel 55 signed on the air as WBNX-TV on December 1, 1985. Until 1984, the WBNX call sign had long been used by an AM station in New York City on 1380 kHz. Before WBNX signed on, its owner Ernest Angley bought Humbard's television production facilities in Cuyahoga Falls to start the new station, and later bought Humbard's Cathedral of Tomorrow complex (the current Grace Cathedral). The unfinished concrete tower which still stands behind Grace Cathedral was originally intended to hold WCOT's transmission tower. That tower was never purchased or used by WBNX, but is owned by Krieger Communications and used for cellular phone transmissions.

WBNX's original transmitter was located on Snowville Road in Brecksville, Ohio, which was originally used by WKYC back in its earlier days. The old technology for the transmitter forced WBNX to broadcast mono sound. In 2000, WBNX built a new transmitter and tower in Parma, Ohio. It is the tallest television broadcast tower in the Cleveland area.

TV 55 (as the station branded itself) began as a general entertainment independent station with classic sitcoms, dramas, westerns, low budget movies, syndicated game shows, and a twice daily airing of station owner Ernest Angley's religious talk/variety show The 90 and 9 Club. The station spent little money on programming and was profitable.

During this time, WBNX was programming for family audiences and their censoring standards were similar to The Family Channel, Nick at Nite and other cable channels that had family genre programming.

In November 1986 when WCLQ-TV 61 became a full time Home Shopping Network affiliate, channel 55 picked up some of channel 61's former programming. It added cartoons, a few more classic sitcoms, movies, and dramas. Still, ratings were very low trailing WUAB channel 43 and WOIO-TV 19 (which became the Cleveland Fox affiliate). By 1989, WBNX had added more infomercials to the lineup. The paid programming and increasing commercials kept TV 55 profitable.

Fox Kids and more entertainment

In 1994, Cleveland's CBS and Fox affiliates essentially swapped networks, with CBS moving to WOIO and Fox going to WJW Channel 8. However, none of the syndicated shows or Fox Kids programs previously shown on WOIO moved to WJW, and a decent amount of programming was now available for WBNX as a result. The station saw a window of opportunity to become a viable major player in the market and decided to move in a new direction.

In September 1994, WBNX took the Fox Kids programming, along with syndicated cartoons, some off-network sitcoms, and syndicated movie packages that got displaced as part of the affiliation shake-up. Its WBNX Kids Club grew into the largest Fox Kids Club in the eastern United States and second largest in the country. The station was now running about 19 hours a day of entertainment programs, along with the twice daily airing of The 90 and 9 Club. Cable systems throughout Northeast Ohio were now carrying WBNX. The lineup included more contemporary kid shows, sitcoms, movies, and dramas. WBNX's censoring standards adapted to the newer programming contractual "air as is" formats.

The Fox Kids programming continued to air on WBNX weekdays from 1994 until the end of 2001, when it became weekend only. It also aired on Saturday mornings from 1994 until Kids WB moved into that slot in 1998. After that, Fox Kids moved to Sunday mornings and aired there until the block went online at the end of December 2008. WBNX declined the replacement Weekend Marketplace infomercial block and instead airs locally-slotted E/I programming and a Sunday morning movie in its place (WJW carries Weekend Marketplace instead).

WBNX (known during this era as "Cleveland's Independent" due to the then fledgling UPN and WB networks both being affiliated with WUAB) also briefly became involved in local sports programming during the mid 90s, serving as the flagship station for the Cleveland Lumberjacks hockey team and Akron Aeros minor league baseball team, as well as airing Ohio State Buckeyes college basketball games via ESPN Plus.

The WB years

On September 1, 1997, WBNX became affiliated with The WB Network, giving Cleveland a full time WB station for the first time. Since becoming a WB affiliate, WBNX has continued to grow and has taken the overall ratings lead above WUAB since 2004. From 1998–2004, WB 55 (as the station was then branded) brought in Cleveland late night icon The Ghoul to host their Friday night (and towards the end moved to Sunday night) movie.

WBNX is one of the few network affiliates in the country that never pre-empts its primetime network programming for sporting events. WBNX also airs the least amount of infomercials of any broadcast station in Northeast Ohio, averaging less than five half hour infomercials per week. In comparison, WUAB airs over 60 half hour infomercials per week.[2][3] In 1999, the MDA switched its Labor Day weekend live broadcast of The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon from WJW to WBNX.

The CW era

Following the announcement of the merger of The WB and UPN to form The CW Network in early 2006, both WBNX and WUAB were in the running to become Cleveland's affiliate of the new network, with WBNX being selected by The CW as one of the first four strong stations not owned by Tribune or CBS to become an affiliate.[4]

On March 1, 2006, Winston Broadcasting officials and The CW confirmed that WBNX would be Cleveland's CW home.[5][6] On September 18, 2006, The CW Television Network officially debuted. On April 30, 2007, WBNX-The CW (the station's current branding) began broadcasting in high definition and 5.1 surround sound stereo. WBNX broadcasts on digital channel 30 (but through PSIP appears as channel 55).

On October 11, 2010, WBNX's digital subchannel (30.2 digital/55.2 virtual) debuted as an independent channel airing mainly religious/inspirational programming, such as replays of Angley's programs (90 and 9 Club, The Ernest Angley Hour) and the local gospel music series Sing, Sing, Sing Come on Let's Sing. The weekend lineup also includes Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures and Animal Exploration with Jarod Miller (which fulfills the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandated 3 hour E/I requirement). WBNX's 30.2 subchannel is not carried by cable or satellite providers in the Cleveland television market, and has long stretches where ID slides air instead of actual programming.


External links

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