WAPT, virtual channel 16 (digital channel 21), is the longtime ABC network affiliate television station serving the Jackson, Mississippi television market. The station is owned by Hearst Television, Inc.

Jackson, Mississippi
Branding 16 WAPT (general)

16 WAPT News (newscasts)

Slogan Built Around You
Channels Digital: 21 (UHF)Virtual: 16 (PSIP)
Subchannels 16.1 ABC16.2 Weather radar
Owner Hearst Television, Inc.

(WAPT Hearst Television, Inc.)

First air date October 3, 1970
Call letters' meaning We're AmericanPublic

Television (reference to American Public Life Insurance Company)

Former channel number(s) Analog:

16 (1970-2009)

Transmitter power 1000 kW (digital)
Height 332 m (digital)
Facility ID 49712
Transmitter coordinates 32°16′41″N 90°17′40″W


The station began broadcasting on Saturday, October 3, 1970 with ABC's coverage of an University of Mississippi football game; newscasts debuted in 1971. Prior to its debut, ABC was limited to off-hours coverage on NBC affiliate WLBT and CBS affiliate WJTV, even though Jackson had been big enough since the 1950s to support three full network affiliates. In fact, Jackson was one of the largest (if not the largest) markets with only two network stations.

It has long been speculated that the Federal Communications Commission delayed granting licenses to any potential broadcasters in central Mississippi because of WLBT's blatant bias against African-Americans in news coverage and advocacy against the civil rights movement. A more likely reason, however, has to do with geography. The Jackson market is a fairly large market, covering a large swath of west-central Mississippi. Jackson had been allocated only two VHF frequencies—channels 3 and 12, occupied by WLBT and WJTV respectively. UHF stations initially didn't cover large stretches of territory very well. Even after the FCC mandated all-channel tuning in 1964, it took a long while for UHF to be a viable option to cover large areas. With Jackson sandwiched between New Orleans to the west and Baton Rouge to the south, it is not likely there would have been room to drop in a third VHF allocation in Jackson.

WAPT was founded by the American Public Life Insurance Company, an insurer which is still in business today but is now an affiliate of American Fidelity Assurance. American Public Life sold the station to Clay Communications in 1979. That company then sold its television stations—WAPT, plus KJAC-TV (now KBTV-TV) in Port Arthur, Texas, KFDX-TV in Wichita Falls, Texas and WWAY in Wilmington, North Carolina--to Price Communications in 1987. Price Communications sold three of its stations—WAPT and then-sister stations WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan and WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island--to the newly-founded Northstar Television Group in 1989.

Northstar Television was bought out by Argyle Television Holdings II, a company which was formed in late 1994 by a group of managers and executives who left the first incarnation of Argyle Television (the former Times-Mirror Broadcasting) after that company sold all of its stations to New World Communications, in January 1995. In August 1997, Argyle merged with the Hearst Corporation's broadcasting unit to form what was then known as Hearst-Argyle Television (now Hearst Television after the Hearst Corporation became sole owner of the group in mid-2009).

In the 1990s, WAPT became one of many ABC affiliates (mostly in rural and Southern markets like Jackson) to ban Steven Bochco's controversial crime drama NYPD Blue. However, in January 1995, some sixteen months after its premiere, the station lifted its ban on the show. In 2004, all of Hearst-Argyle's ABC affiliates, including WAPT, preempted the network's airing of Saving Private Ryan.

In 2005, WAPT was the victim of a prank by Sacha Baron Cohen for the mockumentary, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.[1] In 2008, WAPT announced that it would begin a noon newscast, becoming the third noon newscast in Jackson. It has since dropped it from the schedule.[2] WAPT also broadcasts its radar live on a digital subchannel.

Digital television

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:


WAPT-DT broadcasts on digital channel 21.

Digital channels

Channel Name Programming
16.1 WAPT-DT main WAPT/ABC programming
16.2 WAPT-DT2 Weather radar

Post-analog shutdown

WAPT shut down its analog signal on June 12, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States.[3] The station remained on its pre-transition channel 21,[4] using PSIP to display WAPT's virtual channel as 16.

News operation

WAPT currently broadcasts 26 hours of local news per week, with four hours of news on weekdays and three hours on weekends. As of April 28, 2011, WAPT is one of four remaining stations owned by Hearst that has yet to broadcast its local news in either widescreen or high definition, along with WMUR, WMTW, and KHBS/KHOG. Unlike most ABC affiliates, WAPT does not carry a local newscast during the midday timeslot. On April 30, 2011, WAPT debuted weekend morning newscasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings, airing at 6 and 8 a.m., bookending the weekend editions of Good Morning America.[5]

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • WAPT News (1971–1975)
  • Action News 16 (1975–1982)
  • The News on WAPT (1982–1980s)
  • Channel 16 News (1980s–1993)
  • Eyewitness News 16 (1993–1997)
  • 16 WAPT News (1997–present)

Station slogans

  • We're WAPT Television, Channel 16 (1970–1975)
  • Part of Your Life (1975–1978)
  • Channel 16's The One You Can Turn To (1978-1979; local version of ABC campaign)
  • If it Happens in Mississippi, It Happens on Action News 16 (1978–1982)
  • You and Me and Channel 16 (1980–1981; local version of ABC campaign)
  • We're With You on Channel 16 (1984–1985; local version of ABC campaign)
  • You'll Love It on Channel 16 (1985–1986; local version of ABC campaign)
  • Always One Step Ahead (1986–1989)
  • Your 24 Hour News Source (1989–1993)
  • Mississippi's Watching Channel 16 (1990-1992; local version of ABC campaign)
  • Metro Jackson's #1 News (1993–1997)
  • Stories That Hit Home (1997–1999)
  • Building Our Station Around You (1999–2007)
  • Built Around You (2007–present)
  • Who's Accountable (2008–present)

News staff

Current on-air staff


  • Stephanie Maxwell - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Darron Dedo - weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Scott Simmons - weekend evenings; also weeknight reporter
  • Megan West - weekday mornings; also reporter
  • Andrew Kinsey - weekend mornings; also weeknight reporter

Storm Shield 16 Weather Team

  • David Hartman (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Ethan Huston - meteorologist; weekday mornings
  • Meagan Quigley - meteorologist; weekend mornings and evenings

Sports team

  • Christian Steckel - sports director; weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Ray Coleman - sports anchor; weekend evenings, also sports reporter


  • Erin Kelley - general assignment reporter
  • Meg Pace - general assignment reporter

Hearst Television Washington Bureau

  • Kate Amara - Washington Bureau reporter
  • Sally Kidd - Washington Bureau reporter
  • Nikole Killion - Washington Bureau reporter

Past on-air staff

  • Frank Mickens - now anchor at WFMY in Greensboro, NC
  • Wayne Carter - now anchor at WVEC in Norfolk, VA
  • Greg Flynn- now public information officer with MEMA
  • Joyce Brewer - now is the creator and host of in Atlanta, GA
  • Desare Frazier
  • Kayla Thomas
  • Jason Carter
  • Larry Ridley (now at WHDH in Boston)
  • Don Champion (now reporter at KMGH-TV in Denver)
  • Kevin Robinson (now chief meteorologist at WLWT in Cincinnati)
  • Barbie Bassett (now chief meteorologist at WLBT)
  • Desir'ee Robinson
  • Tom Burse - Chief Meteorologist (now Owner/Chief Meteorolgist WeatherImage LLC.
  • Chantee Lans - also a producer
  • Meg Ryan (not to be confused with the movie actress)
  • Stephanie Doss
  • Adrienne Stein
  • Katina Rankin (now weekday morning anchor at WLBT)
  • Tony Bahou
  • Andrea Molloy
  • Cal Adams
  • Mike Rowe - Sports Director (1987–1997)
  • Cynthia Bowers (now at CBS News)
  • Stephanie Bell Flynt (now at WLBT)
  • Mike Woolfolk
  • Jamie Triplet
  • Gene Edwards
  • Whitney Vann
  • Rick Whitlow (moved to WJTV, but fired)
  • Melissa Tamplin
  • Tom Russo
  • Brett Bullers
  • Ken Johnson
  • Jennifer Cook
  • Elaina Jackson - producer
  • Craig Edwards
  • Brittany Diehl (now at WXIN Indianapolis)
  • Joseph Pleasant
  • Heather Sophia is now Director of Marketing of Buy From A Christian,LLC. A Company founded by Brad McMullin. Heather also gives inspirational speaches to young people.


  1. ^,2933,226960,00.html
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ CDBS Print
  5. ^ WAPT Morning News Expands To Seven Days, TVNewsCheck, May 2, 2011.

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