WCVB-TV, channel 5, is a television station located in Boston, Massachusetts, owned by Hearst Television and affiliated with the ABC Television Network. WCVB-TV's studios and transmitter are co-located in Needham, Massachusetts. WCVB is also one of six Boston television stations seen in Canada by subscribers of the Bell TV satellite service. It is also widely available on cable systems in northeastern Connecticut, western Massachusetts, throughout most of New Hampshire and central/southern Vermont.

Boston, Massachusetts
Branding WCVB Channel 5(general)

NewsCenter 5(newscasts)

Slogan Boston's News Leader
Channels Digital: 20 (UHF)

Virtual: 5 (PSIP)

Subchannels 5.1 ABC
Affiliations ABC
Owner Hearst Television

(WCVB Hearst Television, Inc.)

First air date March 19, 1972
Call letters' meaning 'W'Channel V (five in Roman Numerals, former analog channel & current PSIP channel) Boston
Sister station(s) WMUR-TV
Former channel number(s) Analog:

5 (VHF, 1972–2009)

Transmitter power 625 kW
Height 390 m
Facility ID 65684
Transmitter coordinates 42°18′37″N 71°14′14″W


Channel 5 in Boston

Main article: WHDH-TV (defunct)

The first station in Boston to use channel 5 was WHDH-TV, which signed on November 26, 1957, owned by the Boston Herald-TravelerCorp. along with WHDH radio (AM 850, now occupied by WEEI; and FM 94.5, now WJMN). It was originally an ABC affiliate, but switched to CBS in 1961.[1][2]

However, almost as soon as it signed on, the FCC began investigating allegations of impropriety in the granting of the television license. This touched off a struggle that lasted 15 years. As a result, WHDH-TV never had a license longer than six months at a time. (Most television licenses last for three years.) In 1969, a local group, Boston Broadcasters, won a construction permit for a new channel 5 under the calls[clarification needed] of WCVB-TV after promising to air more local programming than any other station in America at the time[citation needed]. It was also critical of thecombination of the Herald-Traveler and WHDH-AM-FM-TV. Herald-Traveler Corp. fought the decision in court, but lost in 1972 and Boston Broadcasters was awarded a full license.


On March 18, 1972, WHDH-TV signed off for the last time and replaced by the new WCVB-TV early the next morning. That same day, WCVB-TV began news operations as News 5.However, the Herald-Traveler refused to hand over its facilities to the new channel 5, forcing the station to rent tower space from WBZ-TV. For its studios, WCVB used an old International Harvester dealership in Needham, which the station continues to use today. Although WCVB operates under a different license, it claims the former WHDH-TV's history as its own. It also inherited all of WHDH-TV's personnel, including anchorman Jack Hynes and sportscaster Don Gillis.

CBS was not amused at the prospect of numerous preemptions in the nation's fifth-largest market, especially since channel 5 had been its second-largest affiliate and largest on the East Coast. It refused to have anything to do with WCVB, and moved its programming back to WNAC-TV (channel 7, later WNEV-TV and now the current WHDH-TV), which had been Boston's original CBS affiliate from 1948 to 31 December 1960. More or less out of default, WCVB signed up with ABC.

Making good on its promise, WCVB aired more local programming than any other television station in the nation throughout the 1970s and the 1980s. One of its local programs wasGood Day!. This program, which first aired in 1973 (as Good Morning!), broke ground by taking its entire production on the road and broadcasting from locations outside the Boston area.Good Day!, along with The Morning Exchange on WEWS in Cleveland, served as a basis for the format of ABC's Good Morning America. The show's original hosts were John Willis, Janet Langhart and Martisha Palmer. In 1982, Langhart left to join the reformulated news department of WNEV, and was replaced by Eileen Prose. While Willis eventually retired from the show in the mid-'80s, Langhart returned. Prose remained with Good Day! until its cancellation in 1991.

Due to its commitment to local programming, the station was quick to preempt programs, including low-rated prime time ABC network programs. Most of the time these programs were picked up by an independent station such as WQTV (now WBPX-TV) or Worcester-based WHLL (now WUNI). Since the mid-1990s WCVB has cleared[clarification needed] the entire ABC television schedule, although it occasionally preempts network programming for local specials and movies. Notable examples are the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon and the 2004 preemption of Saving Private Ryan for another movie, Far and Away.

Boston Broadcasters sold WCVB to Metromedia in 1982 for $220 million, the biggest sale ever made for a local station at the time.[3] In 1986, Metromedia sold their television stations to the News Corporation and the 20th Century Fox film studio, who later used Metromedia's group of independent stations to launch the Fox Broadcasting Company.[4] Channel 5 was included in the original deal, but was subsequently spun off to the Hearst Corporation, who had purchased fellow ABC affiliate KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Missouri from Metromedia in 1982.[5] That station was sold to make room in Metromedia's group for WCVB (to comply with then-FCC limits on the number of commonly-owned VHF stations, which at the time was five per company), and it is believed that Metromedia gave Hearst a right of first refusal offer if WCVB ever went up for sale again.[6] Fox would get its own station in Boston in 1987, when it bought WXNE-TV (channel 25) from the Christian Broadcasting Network and renamed it WFXT.

Local programming

WCVB currently produces these programs:

  • Chronicle, a local nightly newsmagazine started in 1982, is still broadcasting on weekdays as of 2010. It focuses on topics of special interest throughout New England, though at times the program focuses on subjects outside the region such as Ireland. The Main Streets and Back Roads, one of the program's longest running series, looks at life in New England, primarily in the rural areas. A New Hampshire version of the program is produced by WCVB's sister station WMUR-TV. The WCVB edition began broadcasting in HD on March 3, 1999. It was the first local program to broadcast in HD in New England.
  • CityLine, which airs Sundays at noon, looks at urban issues and interests within the Boston area. Its long-time host is Karen Holmes Ward.
  • On the Record (also referred to as OTR), which airs Sundays at 11am, looks at local politics and is hosted by Ed Harding and Janet Wu.

While the station is no longer so involved in locally-produced programming as it once was, it has had some influential programs:

  • Candlepin Bowling, which ran Saturdays at noon for nearly four decades, and was hosted for nearly all of that time by legendary WCVB sports anchor Don Gillis.
  • Good Day!, an inspiration for Good Morning America.
  • Miller's Court, a dramatized mock-trial program with a live audience. (hosted Harvard Law Professor Arthur R. Miller)
  • Park Street Under, an influence for Cheers.
  • The Baxters, a sitcom on an American family, with a discussion component. Norman Lear later brought the show to the national audience.
  • The Great Entertainment, an anthology series presenting classic movies with commentary by host, Frank Avruch. The show ran for an impressive 18 years.

Until the late 1990s, WCVB broadcast an annual holiday season showing of the 1954 film White Christmas, preempting ABC's network programming.

From February 1994 to May 1998, WCVB was also the official station for Lottery Live, the weeknight broadcasts of the Mass State Lottery drawings. Unlike predecessor host stationWHDH-TV, where both Lottery Live weeknight drawings aired between 7:50 and 8:00pm, WCVB chose to air the daily Numbers Game at 7:53 (during Chronicle) while the featured game (e.g. Mass Millions) was held over until 11:10 (later 11:20) during NewsCenter 5 Tonight. A frequent substitute host for Dawn Hayes on the drawings was Nancy O'Neil, wife of former Red Sox pitcher Dennis Eckersley.

From 1995 to 1998, the Massachusetts Lottery (in association with Jonathan Goodson) also backed a Saturday night game show, Bonus Bonanza, hosted by Dawn Hayes and Brian Tracey. The show had randomly drawn contestants play elimination games (a la The Price Is Right) to win big cash prizes. At the show's end, the three players for the night would come back for a bonus round. Each would place a cylinder on a numbered space from 1 to 12. Then a motorized cube would be let go for 30 seconds, in order to knock the cylinders down. After 30 seconds, any person with a cylinder still standing won the cash amount associated with their number choice. Prizes ranged from $7,500 to $200,000 in cash. The $200,000 was won several times in its 3 year run on WCVB. The program also served as the runoff program for the various contests associated with the Massachusetts Lottery. One such contest featured contestants playing for a cruise for 20, a Chevrolet Blazer truck, and $25,000 a year for life. After Channel 5's contract with the lottery commission was up, the drawings moved back to WBZ-TV.

Currently, since August 2004, the drawings have returned to WCVB, albeit with a revamped format. The idea of a host and present lottery ball machine have been dropped, with only on-screen graphics displaying the already-drawn winning numbers for a minute or so. A rotating group of off-screen voiceovers announce the drawings. In the case of the daily Numbers Game however, a mid-screen shot of the traditional "number wheels" are featured, with the balls resting on the chosen digits.

Until 2009, WCVB's sports department produced New England Patriots pre-season games. They were also seen on sister station WMTW-TV in Portland and WNAC-TV in Providence. The Patriots moved its pre-season coverage to WBZ-TV in 2009. In addition, WCVB used to pre-empt ABC programming to air some Patriots games aired during ESPN Sunday Night Football. This now happens during some ESPN Monday Night Football Patriots games.

Until 2005, when the Boston Red Sox were involved in post-season action, WCVB simulcasted those games from ESPN. MLB divisional playoff games have since moved to TBS.

Digital television

The station's digital channel is not currently multiplexed. They once offered "Storm Team 5 HD Doppler" on Digital Channel 5-2.

Channel Programming
5.1 ABC

As part of the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, WCVB-TV shut down its analog transmitter on June 12, 2009,[7] and continued to broadcast on its pre-transition digital channel 20.[8] Digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as 5 through the use of PSIP.

WCVB is one of a handful of ABC-affiliated stations and one of several Hearst-owned ABC affiliates that broadcast their HDTV signals in 1080i rather than the 720p format of most other ABC stations. This includes WCVB's sister ABC-affiliated stations WMUR-TV in nearby Manchester, New Hampshire, WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, KMBC-TV in Kansas City, and KETV inOmaha, as well as in eight other markets not owned by Hearst.

Community outreach

Since 1972, WCVB-TV, as a part of its commitment to serving the community through extensive local programming, has run a series of different public service campaigns to help to educate people on relevant issues and values of the day. Each campaign has had a different theme, ranging from racial unity to family values and achieving success through continued education. Here's a comprehensive list of the programs developed by channel 5 over the last few decades:

  • The New England Network (1970s)
  • Five All Night with George Fennel (1970s)
  • A World of Difference (1985–1988)
  • Great Expectations (1988–1990)
  • Family Works! (1991–1993)
  • Success By 6 (1993–1996) — early childhood education.
  • The HealthBeat Project (1996–2001)
  • Keeping Kids On Track (2001–2003)
  • CommonWealth 5 (2001–present) — highlights non-profits to recruit volunteers and donors.[9]

News operation

On March 19, 1972, WCVB began news operations as News 5. This newscast title was used until 1973 when it was replaced with the current NewsCenter title. Since then, the station has been known for exceptional news coverage and was consistently at the top of the news ratings since the early-1980s. Through the next couple decades, the station boasted the most-watched news team of Chet Curtis and Natalie Jacobson who married each other while co-anchors. However, by the late-1990s and early-2000s, the station was in a period of transition as it saw major competition from a resurgent WHDH-TV. At the same time, the station, known for the longevity and stability of its on-air staff, saw the end of its longtime anchor team of Curtis and Jacobson (as well as their marriage, which ended in divorce at the same time). Natalie Jacobson continued to anchor the news at channel 5 while Chet Curtis is at half sister station NECN, a regional cable news channel. On July 18, 2007, Jacobson retired from WCVB.

In mid-October 2002, WCVB launched its weather radar, currently known as "Storm Team 5 HD Doppler". This made the station the first in the market to operate its own weather radar. It is located west of Boston in Hopkinton. Also in 2002, Chief Meteorologist Dick Albert was joined by former rival Harvey Leonard who left WHDH to become co-chief meteorologist with Albert. Widely regarded as two of Boston's top meteorologists, Leonard and Albert were honored by the Associated Press in 2005 for "Best Weathercast in New England". In February 2007, meteorologist Mike Wankum, who was Chief Meteorologist at WLVI-TV, was hired to work as the weekend evening meteorologist.

In the February 2007 ratings period, WCVB placed first in every local news timeslot it competed in. Channel 5 even displaced WHDH in total viewers and the 25-54 demo at 11 p.m. It was the first time since 1998 that WCVB swept all of its newscast timeslots. Only WFXT's 10 o'clock news drew more viewers than any of the "big three" affiliate late evening newscasts. That victory was short-lived, however. In the May 2007 ratings period, WHDH regained the lead at 11 o'clock after another close battle. WBZ-TV has led in the 11 o'clock time slot from late 2007 to early 2010 with WCVB maintaining a second-place showing at that time slot during that time. WCVB has since regained the lead at 11 p.m. On May 14, 2007 starting at 5 p.m., WCVB began producing its local newscasts in high definition, but upon the switch, the majority of the field reports remained in 4:3 SD for a few months. The station is the first in the Boston market, as well as in New England, to make the transition. Hearst-Argyle's cluster in Sacramento, California (KCRA-TV and KQCA) were the first stations in the company to upgrade. This change resulted in the debut of a new studio set designed by FX Group and on-air graphics. However, channel 5 kept the same Hearst-Argyle theme music.

The station operates an Aérospatiale AS350B helicopter entitled "Sky 5" that is live broadcast capable. For statewide news coverage throughout Massachusetts, WCVB shares its resources with two other ABC affiliates in the state: WLNE-TV in New Bedford (the network's Providence, Rhode Island station) and WGGB-TV in Springfield.

During the week, WCAP (980) in Lowell simulcasts WCVB's newscasts from 5 to 6 a.m. and from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and WWZN (1510) in Boston simulcasts the station's newscasts from 5 to 6 a.m. and from 5 to 6 p.m. On September 7, 2010 WCVB expanded its weekday morning newscast to 2½ hours, now with a 4:30 a.m. start time. Four days later on September 11, 2010 the weekend morning newscast was expanded to three hours as well, now running from 5-8 a.m.[10]

As WCVB's newscasts are titled NewsCenter 5, the station's sports segments are likewise titled SportsCenter 5. WCVB is believed to be the only local station permitted to use theSportsCenter title, owned by ESPN, for its sportscasts, owing to its ownership by Hearst (which owns 20% of ESPN) and affiliation with ABC (which owns the other 80%). However, there is no overlap in content or appearance between WCVB's sportscasts and the ESPN program beyond use of WCVB video with credit for press conference and interview segments.

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • News 5 (1972–1973)
  • NewsCenter 5 (1973–present)

Station slogans

  • Still the One on Channel 5 (1977-1978, 1979-1980; local version of ABC ad campaign)
  • Channel 5 & You (1978–1987)
  • We're the One on Channel 5 (1978-1979; local version of ABC ad campaign)
  • You and Me and Channel 5 (1980-1981; local version of ABC ad campaign)
  • Now is the Time, Channel 5 is the Place (1981–1982; local version of ABC ad campaign)
  • Come On Along with Channel 5 (1982–1983; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • That Special Feeling on Channel 5 (1983–1984; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • We're With You, on Channel 5/We're With You, on 'CVB (1984–1985; local version of ABC ad campaign)
  • You'll Love It on Channel 5/You'll Love It on CVB (1985–1986; local version of ABC ad campaign)
  • Together on Channel 5 (1986–1987; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • Something's Happening on Channel 5 (1987–1990; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • Boston's Watching Channel 5 (1990–1992; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • It Must Be Channel 5 (1992–1993; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • Coverage You Can Count On (1995–2003)
  • Local Live Coverage You Can Count On (2003–2013)
  • Boston's News Leader (2013-present)

News team

Current on-air staff

  • Liz Brunner - weeknights at 6, and Fridays at 5, 5:30 and 11 p.m.
  • Pam Cross - Saturdays at 6 and 11 p.m.; also weekday reporter
  • Bianca de la Garza - weekday mornings "NewsCenter 5 EyeOpener" (4:30-7 a.m.)
  • Bob Halloran - Fridays at 5 and 5:30, and Friday-Saturdays at 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Ed Harding - Monday-Thursdays at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m.; also co-host of On the Record
  • Steve Lacy - weekend mornings; also weekday reporter
  • Randy Price - weekday mornings "NewsCenter 5 EyeOpener" (4:30-7 a.m.)
  • Emily Riemer- weekend mornings, also weekday morning reporter
  • Heather Unruh - Monday-Thursdays at 5 and 5:30, and Sundays at 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Susan Wornick - weekdays at noon; also investigative reporter
Storm Team 5
  • Harvey Leonard - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m.
  • David Brown (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekend mornings
  • J. C. Monahan (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings "NewsCenter 5 EyeOpener" (4:30-7 a.m.) and noon
  • Mike Wankum (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.
Sports Team
  • Mike Lynch - Sports Director; Sunday-Thursdays at 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Bob Halloran - Sports Anchor; Friday-Saturdays at 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Mike Dowling - sports reporter
  • Mike Barnicle - commentator
  • Anthony Everett - anchor
  • Peter Mehegan - reporter
  • Ted Reinstein - reporter/producer
  • Shayna Seymour - reporter/producer
  • Amalia Barreda - general assignment reporter
  • Anthony Everett - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
  • Cheryl Fiandaca - general assignment reporter
  • Jack Harper - general assignment reporter
  • Karen Holmes Ward - host of City Line
  • Dr. Timothy Johnson - health and science editor; also reports for ABC News - general assignment reporter
  • Lynn Jolicouer - general assignment reporter
  • Todd Kazakiewich - general assignment reporter
  • Sean Kelly - investigative reporter
  • Jorge Quiroga - general assignment reporter
  • Rhondella Richardson - investigative reporter
  • Mary Saladna - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
  • Kelley Tuthill - investigative reporter
  • Janet Wu - co-host of On the Record and State House reporter
Hearst Television Washington Bureau
  • Sally Kidd - Hearst Washington Bureau reporter
  • Laurie Kinney - Hearst Washington Bureau reporter
  • Traci Mitchell - Hearst Washington Bureau reporter

Notable alumni

  • Ron Allen
  • Frank Avruch
  • Marjorie Arons-Barron
  • Jeanne Blake
  • David Boeri
  • Clark Booth
  • David Brudnoy
  • Susan Burke
  • Jim Boyd
  • Brian Christie
  • Bob Clinkscale
  • Bob Copeland
  • Chet Curtis (1972-2000; deceased)
  • Joe Day
  • Jack Edwards (1980s; later at ESPN; now with NESN)
  • Tom Ellis
  • George Fennel
  • Ellen Ferrara
  • Judy Fortin

Station Logos


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Metromedia - WCVB-TV Boston - $220 million." Broadcasting, July 27, 1981.
  4. ^ "Another spin for TV's revolving door." Broadcasting, May 6, 1985.
  5. ^ "Hearst's rise in the ownership ranks." Broadcasting, May 6, 1985.
  6. ^
  7. ^ CDBS Print
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^

External links