call_letters = WLVI-TV
station_slogan = See Where It's At
station_branding = CW 56
analog = 56 (UHF)
digital = 41 (UHF)
affiliations = The CW
subchannels = (see article)
founded = |
August 31, 1953
"(current license dates to
December 21, 1966)"
location = Cambridge -
callsign_meaning = LVI = 56 in
former_callsigns = WTAO-TV (1953–1956)
licensee = WHDH-TV
former_affiliations = Independent (1953–1956; 1962; and 1966–1995)
The WB (1995–2006)
effective_radiated_power = 2240 kW (analog)
550 kW (digital)
HAAT = 360 m (analog)
346 m (digital)
facility_id = 73238
coordinates = coord|42|18|10.7|N|71|13|4.9|W|type:landmark_scale:2000
homepage = [http://www.cw56.com/ www.cw56.com]
WLVI-TV, channel 56, is a CW Television Network affiliate licensed to
Cambridge, Massachusetts, and serving the Boston, Massachusettstelevision market. WLVI-TV is owned by Sunbeam Televisionand is a sister station to WHDH-TV(channel 7), Boston's NBCaffiliate. The two stations share studios in WHDH's downtown Boston facility, and WLVI's transmitter is located in Needham, Massachusetts.
Channel 56 is the oldest UHF license in Boston. It first went on the air on
August 31, 1953as WTAO-TV, owned by Middlesex Broadcasting. The station's studio and transmitter were located atop Zion Hill, in Woburn, Massachusetts. WTAO was written off as a failure and signed off for the last time on March 30, 1956due to low viewership and lack of revenue from sponsors. The station went back on the air, now owned by Harvey Radio Labs, on May 17, 1962, as WXHR-TV for a six-month FCC study before being taken off the air again on November 17of the same year.
The channel 56 license was purchased by
Kaiser Broadcastingand the " Boston Globe" in 1966. The new owners returned the station to the air on December 21, 1966as independent WKBG-TV (Kaiser Broadcasting/"Boston" "Globe"), from the same studios and transmission tower atop Zion Hill in Woburn that WTAO/WXHR had utilized. In 1969, the station's studios moved from Woburn to Morrissey Boulevard in the Dorchester section of Boston. By that time, the station's transmitter had moved to its current site in Needham. The antenna at the Needham site gave channel 56 better coverage of the southern portion of the Boston market than the Woburn site afforded. WKBG offered Japanese live-action and cartoons dubbed into English including " Speed Racer", " Astro Boy", " Kimba the White Lion" and " Ultraman".
For a year, from late 1969 to late 1970, WKBG broadcast a half-hour local newscast weeknights at 10 p.m.; the first such newscast on a commercial television station in the market. The newscast was anchored by Boston news veteran
Arch Macdonald, who was lured away from WBZ-TV, where he had been a news anchor for two decades. Despite a loyal audience, WKBG lost a considerable amount of money on the newscast and shut the news department down at the end of 1970. Macdonald remained at the station for another year to host a weekday-morning interview program. Several other Kaiser stations that had also launched local newscasts shut those news departments down at about the same time.
As a Kaiser station, channel 56's schedule consisted primarily of cartoons, off-network sitcoms, old movies and occasionally, network shows that were preempted by other local stations in case of emergencies. However, the station was willing to experiment with such projects as
Universal Television's "Operation Prime Time" (although Paramount Televisionwould contribute some programs as well) and syndicated reruns of " National Geographic" specials in prime time. Such common independent-station programming as a Saturday " Creature Double Feature" (following repeats of " The Outer Limits") reached youthful and cult audiences. U.S. talk-showhost Conan O'Brienhas credited the station's rotation of classic musicalsin its prime-time movie offering with encouraging him to consider a career as a performer.
For most of its tenure as an independent, channel 56 was well behind
WSBK-TV(channel 38) in the ratings. Still, it was carried on most cable systems throughout New England, and channel 56 did carry some sports programming of its own, including road games of the Boston Celticsfrom 1966 to 1969 and road telecasts of the Boston Bruinsfrom 1966 to 1967. It also carried telecasts of the World Hockey Association's New England Whalers(now the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes) during the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons (25 regular-season games during 1972-73 and 20 games the next season, some home and some away games broadcast each year).
In 1974, the "Boston Globe" sold its share in WKBG back to Kaiser. The
call letterswere then changed to the current WLVI-TV that May, and in 1977, Chicago-based Field Communications(which had owned 22.5 percent of Kaiser since 1972) purchased WLVI and the other Kaiser stations. In 1983, WLVI was sold to the Gannett Companyas part of a liquidation of Field's television assets.
Under Gannett, WLVI continued its general entertainment format, which included children's programming from 6:00 to 11:00 a.m., as well as from 1:00 to 5:30 p.m. under the "WLVI Kids' Club" banner. For the generation of New England children growing up during this period, "Uncle Dale" Dorman was the familiar personality fronting the "Kids' Club", hosting the cartoons and appearing in hosted commercial segments. By 1990, Dorman left the station and was replaced by Paul Wagner and Elizabeth Dann, who appeared in new segments of their own and, like Dorman, doubled as announcers.
In 1984, WLVI again established a news department, which produced a 10:00 p.m. newscast, first on weeknights only, then seven nights a week. WLVI continued use of the Field Communications-style station branding and logo for quite a while after Gannett acquired the station. From 1985 to 1990, channel 56 again became the broadcast home of Celtics road games.
In 1994, Gannett sold the station to the
Tribune Company, which affiliated the station with the newly-launched WB Television Networkin January 1995. The station's newscast later became known as "The Ten O'Clock News on WB 56".
The station was temporarily off the air in August 1998 when a crane that was erecting a nearby studio-to-transmitter link (STL) tower collapsed onto WLVI's building. Though no one was injured and the damage was confined to the station's office spaces, the incident resulted in several hundred thousand dollars worth of damage. The station used a satellite truck for network programming downlink and studio space at
WCVB-TVfor its 10 p.m. newscast.
In 1999, WLVI began a one-year stint as the flagship station of the
Boston Red Sox, with games produced by an independent company, Jankowski Communications, headed by former CBS executive Gene Jankowski. What was to be a long-term partnership between the team, Jankowski, and WLVI ended after a single year when Jankowski went under.
The station also discontinued its morning kids programming block in favor of a short-lived morning newscast. The station also began running more syndicated talk and reality shows. Afternoon children's programming continued to be provided by "
Kids' WB" until early 2006 . Channel 56 was the last commercial station in the Boston market that continued to broadcast weekday children's programming.
January 24, 2006, the WB and UPNnetworks announced that they would merge into a new network called The CW Television Network. The new network signed 10-year affiliation agreements with most of Tribune's WB affiliates, including WLVI. It would not have been an upset had WSBK been chosen, however. Network officials had been on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN stations, and Boston was one of the few markets where the WB and UPN affiliates were both relatively strong. The CW began operations on September 18, 2006, and WLVI became known as "Boston's CW". To correspond to the affiliation switch, the station's daily 10 PM newscast became known as "The Ten O'Clock News on Boston's CW".
September 14, 2006, four days prior to the launch of the CW, Tribune Broadcasting announced that WLVI would be sold to Sunbeam Television, owner of WHDH-TV, for $117.3 million. The sale received final approval in late November 2006 from the FCC, creating Boston's third television duopoly (the others are CBS-owned WBZ-TVand WSBK, and Hearst-Argyle-owned WCVB-TV and Manchester, New Hampshire-based WMUR-TV).
Even though the sale to Sunbeam had already become official by then, Tribune continued to operate WLVI until
December 18, 2006, when the Tribune-run station website was closed and replaced with a redirect to the new Sunbeam-run website, and the final Tribune-produced newscast aired. WLVI's operations were merged with those of WHDH, and all of the station's equipment was moved to WHDH's studios on Bulfinch Place (just six miles from WLVI's old Morrissey Boulevard studio), and the station's news department was closed. The consolidation resulted in about 130 layoffs from WLVI, though some newsroom staffers were retained by WHDH, which took over production of WLVI's daily 10 p.m. newscast. Also, the station's sales department was transferred to the new location. The old set and equipment of WLVI were sold at auction several months later.
With the sale, WLVI changed its branding to "CW 56", though the station is sometimes called "New England's CW" on-air. It has largely become a "pass-through" for automated programming.
Also with the sale to Sunbeam, WLVI is the largest CW station not owned by either Tribune or
CBS Corporation, the two main founding ownership groups of the network.
WLVI may take on the responsibility of airing NBC programs when WHDH is unable to, such as in a news-related emergency. Fact|date=June 2008
After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on February 17, 2009,http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf] WLVI-TV will continue digital broadcasts on its current pre-transition channel number, 41. [http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101231912&formid=387&fac_num=73238 CDBS Print ] ] However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers will display WLVI's
virtual channelas 56.
December 1, 1969, WKBG debuted a 10:00 p.m. newscast, called "Ten PM News", anchored by legendary Boston television anchorman Arch MacDonald. It is also notable for being the first on-screen job for Natalie Jacobsonwho went on to become lead anchor at WCVB-TV in the 1970s. This newscast was short-lived, however. Another station in the Boston market, WXPO-TVin Lowell, had also briefly done a 10 o'clock newscast in 1969.
Field Communications started a news department shortly before putting the station up for sale. It began producing a 10 p.m. weeknight newscast which initially was a pair of ten-minute locally-produced inserts in what otherwise was an hour-long simulcast of
CNN Headline News. Under Gannett ownership, WLVI expanded it into a half-hour broadcast on April 23, 1984. This was the third attempt at a primetime newscast in the Boston market. Debuting as "The News at Ten", it established itself with top-drawer talent early on with Boston news veteran Jack Hynes as lead anchor and Bill O'Connell handling sports. Hynes' co-anchors in the first several years included Julie Emry, Darlene McCarthy(who later went to WHDH-TV), Uma Pemmaraju, and finally Karen Marinella, who arrived in 1990 and remained until the end of WLVI's Tribune-produced newscast in December 2006.
By the early-1990s, the newscast had become "THE Ten O'Clock News" (always emphasizing "the") and had expanded to a full hour. For well over a decade, WLVI was the ratings leader in the time slot, with or without competition in the arena. Although PBS station
WGBH-TV(channel 2) was the only other local station running a newscast at 10:00 (until 1991), it was not considered a major competitor since it is a non-commercial station. In the Fall of 1993, Fox affiliate WFXTlaunched the NECN-originated "Fox 25 News at Ten" and WSBK-TV introduced the WBZ-produced "WBZ News 4 on TV 38", giving WLVI serious competition. By then, 10 o'clock viewers were loyal to WLVI and the station remained number one in the ratings.
By this time, Jack Hynes relegated himself to weekend anchor, and commentator/substitute anchor on weekdays, paving the way for future lead anchors such as
Jon Du Pre, Jeff Barnd, and finally Frank Mallicoat. Mallicoat had handled sports and general assignment reports before stepping up to co-anchor the weeknight show with Karen Marinella in 2002. Another mainstay of WLVI's newscasts was chief meteorologist Mike Wankum, who first joined the station in 1993. Wankum soon gained a following with his unique approach to forecasting and won numerous New England Emmy Awards.
The only time WLVI programmed news outside their established 10:00 slot was in June 2000, when they premiered "Boston's WB in the Morning". A mix of news, talk, and lifestyle features, the show aired from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. The newscast replaced sitcoms and children's show on the schedule. The program lasted two years but could not hold its own against the other local newscasts and national morning shows. The show was canceled in the spring of 2002.
By 2003, with fierce competition emerging from WFXT's now-in-house news department, ratings for WLVI's news started to slide. Within a year, the station had fallen to third place behind both WFXT (which was now number-one) and WSBK's "Nightcast at 10" (produced again by WBZ). The WSBK newscast was canceled in January 2005 and WLVI was left in second place. However, it would not regain its former glory during the rest of its tenure as a Tribune-owned station. Due to the increasing popularity of the WFXT newscast and after Tribune closed local television newsrooms in Philadelphia and San Diego, there were unconfirmed rumors that Tribune would shut down the WLVI news department and have it outsourced to another channel or even canceled altogether. WLVI had initially denied that its newsroom would be closed.
As a result of the sale to Sunbeam Television, WHDH took over production of WLVI's 10:00 p.m. newscast using its existing staff. As the sale only covered the license, network affiliation, and technical equipment, most of WLVI's 150 employees remained employed by Tribune until being let go. Jack Hynes closed the station's final newscast with a commentary, calling the sale and shutdown a "sad, and even tragic chapter in Boston television history", and noting "someone (else), somewhere, should have stepped up to the plate and bought the station".( [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-zt5_gjurw] )
WHDH started producing WLVI's newscast on
December 19, 2006. On that date, the newscast became known as "7 News at 10 on CW 56". WHDH indicated that there might eventually be a new weekday morning newscast (again) on WLVI which would compete with WFXT's highly popular weekday morning show. From the start of the WHDH-production on WLVI until July 2007, the newscasts featured the music and graphics package currently used on Sunbeam's only other television property, WSVNin Miami.
On July 29, 2008, WHDH began doing broadcasts in HD. They are the second station in Boston to broadcast in high definition, with
WCVB-TVbeing the first. They also revealed a new television studio and graphics for a more compatible look with their sister station (WSVN, which curiously remains without high definition newscasts). The WLVI broadcast was upgraded as well.
*"Ten PM News" (1969-1977)
*"The Ten'Clock News" (1984-1995)
*"The Ten'Clock News on WB56" (1995-2002)
*"Boston's WB in the Morning" (2000-2002)
*"The Ten'Clock News on Boston's WB" (2002-2006)
*"The Ten'Clock News on Boston's CW" (2006)
*"7 News at 10 PM on CW56" (2006-present)
"7 News at 10 PM on CW 56" "(10 to 11 P.M.)"
**Julie Donaldson / Larry Ridley
"WLVI uses additional news personnel from WHDH. See that article for a complete listing."
These personalities were part of WLVI's news team when the station was sold to Sunbeam Television.
*Frank Mallicoat - anchor (now at
*Karen Marinella - anchor (no longer in TV)
*Mike Wankum - Chief Meteorologist (now at
*Mike Ratte - Sports Director (now at
*Paul Mueller - anchor and weeknight reporter (now at
*Stephanie Leyden - anchor and weeknight reporter
*Joe Venuti - meteorologist (now at
*Jamie Kenneally - sports anchor
These other notable personalities were also part of WLVI's own in-house news team when the station produced its own newscasts.
*Darin Adams - morning meteorologist
Michael Barkann-Sports (now at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia)
*Jeff Barnd - anchor (now in
Baltimore) at WBFF-TV
*Jerry Brown - first Chief Meteorologist
*Kristin Caira - reporter (now at
*Adam Chodak - reporter (now at
*Barbara Conrad - weekend meteorologist
*Jim Corbin - weather (now at
*Susan Corwin (now known as Susan Hirasuna) - Health reporter/anchor (now at
Mike Crispino- Sports (Now at the MSG Network)
*Jon Du Pre - anchor (now at
*Henry Eaton - reporter
*Julie Emry - anchor (last seen at
Bob Gamere- sports anchor / reporter
*Ron Harris - Chief / weekend meteorologist
*Terrell Harris - reporter
*Christina Huey - weekend anchor
*Jack Hynes - anchor (retired)
Natalie Jacobson- anchor (retired)
*Lauren Jiggetts - reporter (now at
*Rosalind Jordan - reporter
*Jon Keller - critic at large (now at
*Shelli Lockhart - anchor (now at
Arch MacDonald- first anchor (deceased)
*Darlene McCarthy - anchor (retired)
*Thom McGair - reporter
*Jon Monahan - reporter (now at
*Barbara Morse - health reporter (now at
*Bill O'Connell - sports anchor / reporter
*Glenn Pearson - anchor
*Uma Pemmaraju - anchor (now at
Fox News Channel)
*Odetta Rogers - anchor
*John Rooke - sports anchor / reporter
*Genevieve Rossi - morning reporter
*Tory Ryden - reporter (now at
*Bonnie Scheinder - weekend weather (2002-2003) now at
*Joe Shortsleeve - anchor (now at
*Jim Smith - reporter (now on
*Karen Twomey - reporter (now at
*Steve Udelson - Chief / weekend meteorologist
* [http://www.bostonradio.org/radio/wlvi.html WLVI-TV (3-27-2005). "The Boston TV Dial"] .
* [http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2006/09/15/channel_7_owner_to_buy_wlvi_tv_56/ "Channel 7 owner to buy WLVI-TV 56".] "Boston Globe", September 15, 2006.
* [http://www.cw56.com/ Station Website]
* [http://www.whdh.com/ WHDH Website]
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