WCAX-TV is the CBS-affiliated television station for the state of Vermont, except Bennington and Windham Counties, as well as the North Country of New York State that is licensed to Burlington. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 22 from a transmitter on Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak. Locally owned by the Martin family and their company, Mount Mansfield Television, WCAX has studios on Joy Drive in South Burlington. Syndicated programming on the station includes: Entertainment Tonight, Ellen, Dr. Phil, and The Doctors.
On cable, WCAX can be seen on Comcast channel 3 in Vermomt and Charter channel 8 in New York. In Montreal on Vidéotron systems, it can be seen on analog channel 21. It can also be seen in that city on Illico digital channel 53. It is widely carried on cable in the Quebec province as far north as Saguenay and as far east as Gaspe.
|Branding||Channel 3 (general)
Channel 3 News WCAXtra (on DT2)
|Slogan||Vermont's Trusted News Source for 55 Years|
|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)|
3.2 local news and weather
|Owner||Mount Mansfield Television, Inc.
|First air date||September 26, 1954|
|Call letters' meaning||College of Agriculture EXtension Service
(once provided by University of Vermont)
|Former callsigns||WMVT (1954-1955)|
|Former channel number(s)||3 (VHF analog, 1954-2009)
53 (UHF digital, 1996-2009) 20 W69AR Rutland
|Former affiliations||Fox (secondary, 1996-1997)|
|Transmitter power||443 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||44°31′33.5″N 72°48′55.9″W / 44.525972°N 72.815528°W / 44.525972; -72.815528|
WCAX first signed on-air on September 26, 1954 under the call letters of WMVT. It was the first television station in the Green Mountain State. The channel was owned by C.P. Hasbrook, publisher of the now-defunct Burlington Daily News, along with WCAX radio (620 AM now WVMT). In 1955, the call letters were changed to match its radio sister. The WMVT call letters are now held by Milwaukee's secondary PBS station. Hasbrook later turned over the station's ownership to his stepson, Dr. Stuart T. "Red" Martin Junior who ran the station until his death in 2005. Today, Peter R. Martin (Red Martin's oldest son) is the President and General Manager.
WCAX has always been a CBS affiliate although it was a secondary Fox station for one year in 1996 to provide NFL coverage. As such, it is one of the few stations in the country (not counting owned-and-operated stations) that has had the same owner, channel number, and primary network affiliation throughout its history. On October 25, 2006, WCAX upgraded its digital signal to broadcast CBS programming in high definition.
On February 17, 2009, the station began broadcasting exclusively in digital. Its previous digital signal on UHF channel 53 moved to channel 22 (formerly the analog channel position for ABC affiliate WVNY which continues on channel 13) making it the only area station to change channel positions. As a result of the switch, some areas in the market lost reception of the station.
The station has significant viewership in Southern Quebec, Canada. This includes Montreal, which is several times larger than the entire population of the station's American viewing area combined. In the past, it has identified itself as serving "Burlington/Plattsburgh/Montreal" to acknowledge its Canadian viewership. However, its news presence there has generally been limited to weather and some sports coverage in large part because it is not eligible for inclusion in Nielsen ratings.
Like other Champlain Valley stations, WCAX once made a significant portion of its advertising sales across the border. However, Canadian advertising business has almost completely dried up mostly due to the arrival of CKMI-TV coupled with the availability of network affiliates from other United States markets (such as Boston and Detroit) on Canadian satellite systems. WCAX's ratings in Montreal are quite modest compared to CFCF-TV which has long been the highest-rated English language station in Montreal. It should be noted that some viewers in Quebec might have to tune in to WCAX in order to see the entire CBS schedule since CFCF and CKMI do not carry all of that network's programming.
This channel's longest-running local programs (both dating to the founding of the station) are a daily twenty minute agricultural information program entitled Across the Fence produced in association with the University of Vermont Extension Service (ironically the original owner of WCAX-AM) and a thirty minute weekly public affairs show called You Can Quote Me. In September 2006, WCAX introduced its third local program called Late Night Saturday. It is produced in conjunction with Champlain College for its Media Arts Department. The program is hosted by Tim Kavanagh and airs weekly on Saturday nights. It offers local musicians and artists a chance to perform in front of a live studio audience and showcase their work.
When its digital signal upgraded to high definition level, WCAX began to operate a 24-hour local weather channel on a new second digital subchannel. Known on-air as "WCAXtra", it features news updates and live local weather along with the FCC-required three hours of E/I-compliant children programming per week. On digital cable, this can be seen on Comcast channel 168, Burlington Telecom channel 303, Charter channel 295, and Time Warner channel 165. During specific broadcasts such as The Masters, NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and U.S. Open Tennis, live newscasts are offered on WCAX-DT2. WCAX airs a live newscast on "WCAXtra" when CBS sports programming runs over the 6 and 11 evening time slots on weekends.
WCAX grew out of a newspaper and has long been committed to local coverage. The station is the only one in the market that broadcasts news at noon during the week (it only airs for ten minutes however leaving the rest of the half hour for Across The Fence). It has more of a Vermont focus compared with NBC affiliate WPTZ which is based across Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh. In 1997, WCAX launched its weekday morning show that originally ran for one hour. It later expanded to a full two-hour broadcast. It has been carrying CBS News Up to the Minute since October 2005 following thirteen years of not airing it. In August 2006, it launched the first website designed for mobile phone browsers. Until early 2009, it was the only wireless website in the market when WPTZ added the service.
Starting July 16, 2007, WCAX began to produce a weeknight 10 o'clock broadcast on "WCAXtra" known as The Channel 3 News at 10. Although it was the first prime time show in the area, it now competes with one on Fox affiliate WFFF-TV. On November 14, WCAX relaunched its newscasts with a new look and became the first broadcaster in the area to air local news in 16:9 widescreen enhanced standard definition. However, this was not true high definition unlike WFFF who has been airing its broadcasts in full 1080i resolution. In addition to its main studios, the station operates four news bureaus. An outpost in Montpelier was established in 1964 and is located on State Street (U.S. 2) in Vermont's state capital. That was followed by bureaus located in Rutland, Vermont (on North Main Street opened in 1967), Plattsburgh (opened in 1973) and West Lebanon, New Hampshire (launched in 2002).
On December 2, 2008, the station laid-off three of its employees and cut two vacant jobs. Although it declined to identify the laid off employees, the channel stated that they were both on-air and off-air personnel. Shawna Lidsky (weekday morning sports anchor and sports reporter) and Rachael Morrow (weekday morning news producer and reporter) were two on-air personnel that were laid-off. Also, longtime "photog" Steve Longchamp was among the personalities let go. Owner Peter Martin said that declining advertising revenues along with the economic crisis caused the layoffs. Those were the first job cuts seen in the station's history.
On January 19, 2009, WCAX announced that it had laid off several more employees. It specifically mentioned the declining automobile commercial revenue, which is a major source of advertising for the station, as the cause of the second round of layoffs. On May 12 at the end of the weeknight 6 o'clock broadcast, Marselis Parsons announced that he would be retiring as weeknight anchor and News Director. He stepped down as News Director at the end of May and anchored the 6 p.m. newscast throughout the Summer. No official date was announced by Parsons as to when his last newscast would be.
Former WCAX news reporter Anson Tebbetts took over as News Director at the end of May and Senior Reporter Darren Perron began anchoring the broadcast when Parsons left the station. He had been with WCAX for 42 years and was News Director and weeknight anchor since 1984. Parsons built WCAX to be Vermont's most trusted and most watched news station. It has won dozens of awards under his direction including the prestigious Radio and Television News Director Association's "Best Television Newscast in the United States" in 2003.
On June 23, 2009, WCAX upgraded its local news to full high definition. The station switched its studio cameras to high definition (field cameras made the transition to HD later in the Fall). New graphics, flags, and intros were also put in place. The previous graphics had been used in all of its newscasts since 2000. On September 16, 2009, WCAX announced that it would be hiring a full-time news reporter for the re-opening of its bureau in Rutland. During Summer 2010, WCAX announced that it will be starting a weeknight 5 o'clock newscast beginning September 13. Weeknights at 5:30, a talk show was introduced and is known as The :30. WCAX also re-opened its Plattsburgh Bureau full-time. Although it had previously not aired newscasts in the weeknight 5 p.m. hour, WCAX delays the CBS Evening News until 7 because it still airs an hour-long show weeknights at 6.
- "You and Channel 3! We've Got The Touch! (1984-1985, localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- "Channel 3 Spirit, Oh Yeah!/Burington Spirit, Oh Yeah! (1987-1988, localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- "Burlington, Get Ready for Channel 3" (1989–1990, localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- "Get Ready for Channel 3!" (1990–1991, localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- "The Look Of Bulington Is Channel 3" (1991–1992, localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- "Vermont's Own" (used throughout late-1990s until 2002, brought back 2006-2008)
- "First in News" (2003–2005)
- "Vermont's Trusted News Source for 55 Years" (2009–present)
- Keagan Harsha - weekday mornings and reporter
- Roger Garrity - Executive Producer seen weekdays at noon and 5
- Bridget Barry Caswell - weeknights at 5 and Senior Reporter part-time
- fill-in news anchor
- Darren Perron - weeknights at 6, 10, and 11
- Kristin Kelly - weeknights at 6, 10, and 11
- Adam Sullivan - Saturdays and Upper Valley Bureau
- Bianca Slota - Sundays and Montpelier Bureau
- Kristin Carlson - The :30 host and Senior Political Reporter
- Tim Kavanagh - Late Night Saturday host
Sky Watch 3 Meteorologists
- Sharon Meyer - Director seen weeknights at 5 and 6
- Dan Dowling - weeknights at 10 and 11
- Gary Sadowsky - weekday mornings and noon
- Dave Busch - weekends and producer
- Mike McCune - Director seen weeknights at 6, 10, and 11
- The :30 host
- Seth Leavitt - weekends
- Rachel Feldman - weekly and weekday mornings on WCAX-DT2
- Jack Thurston - "Made in Vermont" segment producer
- Matt Henson - Plattsburgh Bureau
- Molly Smith - Rutland Bureau
- Marselis Parsons - part-time
- Melinda Davenport
- Jennifer Reading
- Gina Bullard
- Judy Simpson
- Andy Potter
- Jim Oliver - Chief
- Shelly Holt Allen - Assistant Chief
- Bob Davis - Senior
- Andy Goodrich - Senior
- Joe Carroll - Senior
- Justin Lajoie
- Robynn Beams
- Mark Clement
- Lance MacKenzie
- Kate Duffy - Brian Dubie for Governor campaign
- Marselis Parsons - anchor weeknights at 6 and News Director
- retired after 42 years at station
- Jack LaDuke - New York Bureau Chief
- J.J. Cioffi - Sports Director seen weeknights at 6
- Brian Joyce - Crime Watch Reporter
- now working at United States Homeland Security
- Shawna Lidsky - weekday morning sports anchor
- Mark Bosma - Reporter
- now working for state government
- Rachael Morrow - weekday morning producer and reporter
- Sera Congi - weeknight 6 and 11 o'clock anchor
- now at WBZ-TV in Boston
- Richard Gallagher - weeknight 6 and 11 o'clock anchor
- Tom Farmer - weeknight 11 o'clock anchor and reporter
- now a Seattle media and marketing consultant
- Brett Haber - weeknight 11 o'clock sports anchor
- now Sports Director at WUSA-TV
- Lisa Swann - weeknight 11 o'clock anchor and reporter
- Brad Wright - weeknight 11 o'clock sports anchor and city hall reporter
- now News Director at WDEV
- Tim Lewis - reporter
- Jessica Abo - reporter
- Lars Lifrak - sports anchor
- now a reporter at Soccer365.com
- Stuart Hall - longtime original weatherman
- Gerald Vosburgh - weekday morning meteorologist
- Tony Adams - original Sports Director and host of Across the Fence
- Mike McGill - weekend sports anchor and sports reporter
- Tiffany Eddy - weekday Noon anchor
- now at WMUR-TV
- Steve Courcy - weeknight 11 o'clock sports anchor
- Beth Parent - weekend anchor and producer
- health reporter
- Now is the Marketing/Communications Specialist at the University of Vermont's School of Business Administration