WKPT-TV is the ABC-affiliated television station for the Tri-Cities area of Northeastern Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia that is licensed to Kingsport, Tennessee. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on
|Kingsport-Johnson City- Bristol, Tennessee-Bristol, Virginia|
|City of license||Kingsport|
|Branding||ABC 19 WKPT
My Tri-Cities WAPK (on DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 27 (UHF)|
|Subchannels||19.1 ABC19.2 MyNetworkTV
|Owner||Holston Valley Broadcasting Corporation|
|First air date||August 20, 1969|
|Call letters' meaning||We're in KingsPort, Tennessee|
|Sister station(s)||WAPK-CA, WTFM, WRZK, WVEK-FM, WMEV-FM WKPT, WOPI, WKTP|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
19 (UHF, 1969-2009)
|Transmitter power||25 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||36°25′54″N 82°8′15″W / 36.43167°N 82.1375°W / 36.43167; -82.1375|
UHF channel 27 from a transmitter at Holston High Point on Holston Mountain in the Cherokee National Forest. Owned by the Holston Valley Broadcasting Corporation, the station is co-owned with Class A MyNetworkTV affiliate WAPK-CA and several radio stations. All share studios on Commerce Street in Downtown Kingsport.
Its signal is multiplexed. Due to its Class A status, WAPK does not broadcast a digital signal of its own. Therefore, it can be seen on WKPT's second digital subchannel. On WKPT-DT3, Charter digital channel 199 and Comcast digital channel 231 is the area's RTV affiliate. This can also be seen over-the-air on WOPI-CA, VHF channel 9, also from a transmitter at Holston High Point.
|19.1 / 27.1||main WKPT programming / ABC HD|
|19.2 / 27.2||WAPK-CA "My Tri-Cities WAPK"|
|19.3 / 27.3||WOPI-CA RTV|
Logo used by WKPT from April 2007 until August 2008.WKPT-TV began broadcasting on August 20, 1969 as the Tri-Cities' ABC affiliate. Previously, the network had been shared between NBC affiliate WCYB-TV and CBS affiliate WJHL-TV, each of which picked its own ABC programs to air. However, many viewers in the area could view the entire ABC schedule on nearby WLOS-TV in Asheville, North Carolina. Before WKPT signed on, WLOS included the Tri-Cities as part of its primary coverage area as it was widely available off-air and on cable.
WKPT has three historical distinctions. First, it is the oldest UHF television station in Tennessee to have maintained continuous operation on the UHF band to the present. Secondly, it is the second oldest station in Tennessee to have had the same licensee from its inaugural date to the present. WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee is the oldest but only after it was sold to Bahakel Communications. Third, for years it was the only locally owned-and-operated full-power station in the Tri-Cities. However, that was merely by default. Because the antenna heights of its two VHF rivals, WJHL and WCYB, are above the 2,000 ft (610 m) above average terrain full power ceiling height mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), those two could not operate at their full power capacities. WCYB radiated 65,000 watts ERP analog visual while WJHL radiated 245,000 watts ERP analog visual.
WKPT was also one of the first stations in the country to utilize a newly-adopted (at the time) FCC rule called must-carry that required local cable companies to black out stations in nearby cities affiliated with the same network that were carried on local cable systems and cover the channel with the local network affiliate. As a result, the easily receivable off-air network signal from WLOS, 110 nautical miles (200 km) away, was always blacked out on cable systems in Kingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, and the surrounding communities while being covered by the WKPT signal any time both stations were broadcasting ABC programming. Local WLOS programming was not blacked out. After deregulation of the cable industry, stations from adjacent markets were taken off most local cable systems altogether in favor of satellite stations like TBS, WGN America, CNN, and others.
WCYB and WJHL received ABC via traditional ground microwave relay stations provided by AT&T back in the 1950s and 1960s. However when WKPT started in 1969, its owners could not afford the expensive network feed estimated to have been around a half-million dollars per year. As a result, the station developed its own low-cost way of bringing ABC to upper East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia. Before the advent of satellite technology, WKPT utilized a series of private microwave relay stations between Kingsport and Knoxville. As the ABC signal was being transmitted via traditional microwave from AT&T into the studios of then-ABC affiliate WTVK-TV on Sharp's Ridge in Knoxville (now CBS affiliate WVLT-TV), WKPT would literally "grab" the Telco signal just as it was going into the WTVK studios. It then sent the signal via private microwave to a relay station 70 nautical miles (130 km) east to Camp Creek Bald on the Tennessee/North Carolina border in Southern Greene County, Tennessee. The ABC signal was then re-transmitted via another WKPT microwave 33 nautical miles (61 km) further east to the WKPT transmitter site on Holston Mountain. From the relay point there, it was transmitted by a third WKPT microwave 25 nautical miles (46 km) down to the studios in Downtown Kingsport through the station's master control board and then back to Holston Mountain via the station's regular studio-transmitter link and then broadcast on Channel 19.
Private microwave relays of network programming were prevalent before the advent of A.T. & T. commercial microwave. WVVA-TV in Bluefield, West Virginia operated its own private microwave relay that brought NBC to Bluefield from WSLS-TV in Roanoke, Virginia. In its early days, WSMV-TV, Nashville received its NBC feed from WAVE-TV, Louisville, and WSAZ-TV, Huntington operated a private microwave to deliver NBC first from WLWT, Cincinnati, then from WLWC-TV (now WCMH-TV, Columbus).
Whenever any part of WKPT-TV's private microwave relay system malfunctioned, as it did periodically because of heavy snowfall or downed trees, station engineers were forced to broadcast the signal of either WTVK or WLOS whenever network programming was airing. Occasionally, WKPT accidentally aired the local commercials and the station identifications of either WTVK or WLOS being unable to cover them up quickly. When WTVK swapped networks with WATE-TV, WKPT merely moved its Knoxville microwave relay 800 ft (240 m) west to WATE's transmitter site, also on Sharp's Ridge, and continued to receive ABC via its privately-owned microwave relay system. Ironically, the AT&T network signals for WJHL and WCYB were both delivered from Greenville, South Carolina to the phone company microwave that is also atop Camp Creek Bald that fed the Knoxville television stations.
WKPT's first branding in the 1970s was "WKPT, Tri-Cities' ABC" which featured the first musical station IDs in the area. That concept was later used by WATE when that station became an ABC affiliate in 1979. In 1998, the station re-branded as "ABC 19 WKPT" which marked the first time the station's channel number was actually mentioned on-air since the 1980s. Initially, WOPI-CA schedule consisted of infomercials and Pentagon Channel programming. That station was a full-time affiliate of America One until December 21, 2007. On that date, WKPT-DT3 and WOPI switched to the Retro Television Network. After the analog to digital switch, WKPT began transmitting on digital Channel 27, which it continues on today. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display its virtual channel as 19.
Under federal must-carry rules, broadcasters can either allow cable systems in their market to carry their signals for free or charge a fee under retransmission consent provisions. On December 3, 2008, it was announced that Inter Mountain Cable (IMC), a cable provider serving parts of Eastern Kentucky, announced that it would drop WKPT from their lineup unless an agreement was reached over retransmission consent.  According to The Mountain Eagle, this dispute has caused concern among officials in the city of Fleming-Neon, where IMC holds the cable television franchise there.  The city council in Fleming-Neon have stated that the removal of WKPT would violate IMC's franchise agreement.
WKPT's first personalities in the early 1970s included news anchors Martin Karant and Bill Freehoff along with weather/sports with Bill Trailer. These distinguished broadcasters had been popular personalities on WKPT-AM 1400 and made the move to television. Karant continued to hold his position on WKPT-AM until his retirement in 1997. Until February 2002, WKPT produced news in-house.  From that date until September 2006, nightly 6 and 11 o’clock newscasts originated from WJHL and were simulcast on both WKPT and WJHL. In situations where one station was off (due to network run over or other circumstances), the news was broadcast on the other station at the correct time.
As of September 2006, WJHL's nightly 11 o’clock broadcast was repeated on WKPT at or around 1:06 in the morning. In addition, a five minute news and weather summary was provided at 11:30 P.M. to accommodate for the gap between the end of syndicated programming and the beginning of Nightline. At some point, this programming was dropped. Also, WJHL's weekday Noon show had been repeated on WAPK and WKPT-DT3 / WOPI-CA on a half-hour delay at 12:30. Like all RTV affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, that station currently airs Daytime weekday mornings at 9.
Since 2009, WKPT has been airing news and weather briefs during daytime programming, anchored by Duane Nelson and taped in the radio news department. In 2010 Cyrus Fees relaunched the news department for the 6:25-6:30 PM & 11:00-11:08 PM News as "WKPT-TV News 19."
- The Television 19 News (1969–1974)
- TV 19 News (1974–1981)
- Newswatch 19 (1981–1994)
- WKPT-TV News (1994–1999)
- WKPT-TV News on ABC 19 (1999–2002)
- ABC 19 Tri-Cities News Source (2002-2009)
- ABC 19 Connects News (2009-2010)
- WKPT-TV News 19 (2010-Present)
Former on-air staff
- Martin Karant - news anchor (1969-1972, deceased)
- Bill Freehoff - News Director/news anchor (1969-1984, deceased)
- Bill Trailer - sports anchor/weather (1969-1984, deceased)
- Calvin Sneed - reporter/photographer (1970-1973, now news anchor at WTVC-TV)
- Betty Payne - News Director/news anchor (1982-2002, now at Eastman Chemical Public Relations)
- Keith Cate - news reporter/anchor (1984-1988, now news anchor at WFLA-TV)
- Jim Wogan - sports anchor (1986-1987, now at WATE-TV)
- Ken Ulmer - reporter/anchor (1996-2002, now morning show host at WOXL-FM)
- Frances Eden - weather
- Jim Watkins - reporter/ anchor (now at WPIX-TV)
- ^ Television Factbook #49, 1980 Edition, page 788-B, WKPT-TV
- ^ "CDBS Print". http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101234049&formid=387&fac_num=40761.
- ^ "WKPT, WCYB & WJHL Possible Programming Issue For 2009". Inter Mountain Cable. 2008-12-03. http://www.imctv.com/news_viewNews.php?news_id=41. Retrieved 2009-01-15. [dead link]
- ^ a b Farley, William (2009-01-14). "Neon council upset by threat of TV changes". The Mountain Eagle. pp. 2. http://www.themountaineagle.com/news/2009/0114/news/004.html. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
- ^ http://mobile.broadcastingcable.com/article/141197-Original_news_kaput_on_WKPT.php
- WKPT-DT channel 19
- WKPT-DT3 / WOPI-CA channel 9
- WAPK-CA "My Tri-Cities WAPK"
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WKPT-TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WOPI-CA