WOFL, channel 35, is the Fox owned-and-operated television station serving the Orlando, Florida metropolitan area. It is licensed to Orlando, with studios located in Lake Mary. It broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 22. On cable, WOFL-TV is currently seen on channel 3 for subscribers of Bright House Networks in the Orlando area. It is also available on channel 16 for subscribers of Comcast in Indian River County, even though that is part of the West Palm Beach TV market.
|Branding||Fox 35 (general)
Fox 35 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||So Fox 35(general)
We Own the Night(evening newscasts) We Own the Morning(morning newscasts) We Own Breaking News(news)
|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)|
|Affiliations||Fox (since 1986)|
|Owner||Fox Television Stations
(Fox Television Stations, Inc.)
|First air date||Original incarnation: 1974
Current incarnation: 1979
|Call letters' meaning||Orlando, FLorida|
|Former callsigns||WSWG (1974-1977)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
35 (UHF, 1974-1977 & 1979-2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1979–1986)|
|Transmitter power||1000 kW (digital)|
|Height||392 m (digital)|
|Transmitter coordinates||28°36′13″N 81°5′11″W|
Its transmitter is located in Bithlo, Florida. Its Digital TV transmitter has a power of 1,000 kW.
Channel 35 in Orlando is in its second incarnation. On March 31, 1974, Channel 35 signed on as WSWB, Central Florida's first independent station. Owned by Sun World Broadcasting, it was based in the east Orlando building that now houses PBS station WMFE. WSWB produced children's programing (Uncle Hubie's Penthouse Barnyard), aired re-runs of such shows as Batman, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Green Acres, Mister Ed, and Lost In Space. The 1970s recession impacted the station's operations; Sun World encountered financial difficulties and was forced to file for bankruptcy in January 1976. The station signed off the air in 1977.
Then-unknown media mogul Ted Turner tried to buy the station; however, the attempt failed because of ensuing legal actions. In fact, the station’s 44-acre (180,000 m2) transmission site was briefly owned by Turner while the tower and broadcasting equipment were tied up in a judgment claim held by Pat Robertson, owner of the Christian Broadcasting Network. As a result, channel 35 remained off the air until the license was granted to a group of investors known as The Omega Group, with the Meredith Corporation owning a non-voting interest. Meredith would be consultants for the station, holding an option to eventually buy out the other partners. The station signed back on the air in 1979 under its current calls, WOFL. The WSWB call sign is now used by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate of the CW.
Like its predecessor, WOFL was a typical independent station, carrying cartoons such as Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, Woody Woodpecker, and the Flintstones; sitcoms such as Bewitched, I Dream Of Jeannie, Leave It To Beaver, I Love Lucy, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, Andy Griffith, and, by 1984, Alice, the Jeffersons, Welcome Back Kotter, and Barney Miller. During prime time, the station offered drama shows such as Hawaii Five-O, Cannon, Charlie's Angels, and The Dukes Of Hazzard. Older movies aired after 1 a.m. and on weekends.
Meredith Corporation exercised its full purchase option from Omega in 1982, and the station moved to a new studio building in Lake Mary in 1986, a major change from the prior studios that were located in a converted bank building in Orlando's adult-entertainment district centered on South Orange Blossom Trail. As the 1980s progressed, WOFL acquired more recent sitcoms, cartoons, and movies.
WOFL became one of he Fox Broadcasting Company's charter affiliates at the network's inception in 1986. The station was frequently ranked as one of the country's leading Fox affiliates during the network's early years, achieving a number one ranking on several occasions through the early 1990s. It was also the most profitable station in Meredith's multi-station group, despite being its only UHF "independent" station at that time. As the 1990s progressed, WOFL offered fewer movies and older shows and more talk, reality and court shows. News would not be added till later in the decade. In the mid-1990s, WOFL took over the operations of Gainesville's Fox affiliate, Ocala-based WOGX channel 51. WOFL began expanded news operations in March 1998, as Fox encouraged its affiliates to offer news. The newscasts were simulcast on WOGX. It launched its digital TV signal on channel 22 in January 2000, and began broadcasting in widescreen format in January 2002.
WOFL, along with KVVU in Las Vegas, were excluded from the 1994 affiliation deal between Meredith and CBS. They were at the time two of Fox's strongest affiliates, despite WOFL broadcasting on the UHF band. At the same time, CBS's existing Orlando station, WCPX-TV (now WKMG-TV), was one of that network's weaker affiliates, and Fox did not want to move from a UHF outlet to a lower-rated VHF outlet. Meredith briefly owned WCPX for one day in September 1997, following a merger with that station's owner, First Media.
In 2002, Meredith traded WOFL and WOGX to News Corporation's Fox Television Stations Group, and, in return, Meredith received KPTV in Portland, Oregon. This made WOFL a Fox owned-and-operated station (O&O), and sister station to UPN affiliate WRBW. Fox had acquired WRBW and KPTV several months earlier, when it acquired the stations of the United Television group. This trade protected WOFL as the Fox affiliate. After the trade was finalized, WRBW's operations were integrated with those of WOFL. WOFL was the only network O&O in the Orlando/Daytona Beach market until UPN and the WB were incorporated into the CW, broadcasting on WKCF. In response, Fox formed My Network TV, which airs on former Fox-owned UPN stations, including WRBW. WOFL began airing fewer cartoons in the late 1990s and, in 2002, dropped them altogether when Fox ended its children's programming. WOFL is one of a Fox-owned triplet of stations in Central Florida operated from Fox 35's Lake Mary studios, the other two being WRBW and WOGX. Most of WOFL's programming, including Fox programming, was originally seen in Citrus County on W49AI in the 1980s. The station did nor air WOFL's late-night programming, however, as it signed off at midnight. This arrangement continued until WOGX became a Fox affiliate in 1991.
On April 23, 2007, WOFL launched a new logo, modeled after that of sister station WTVT in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Coincidentally, the channel number font resembles that of the WOFL logo from the mid-1980s. WOFL then updated its news set, introduced a new musical theme for its news, and changed its slogan from "First on Fox" to "The Most Powerful Name in Local News", reflecting the national Fox News slogan. The current news set premiered in January 2005.
WOFL was the first to start digital broadcasting in the market in February 2000 on WOFL-DT Channel 22. WOFL began broadcasting in 720p HDTV format in September 2004. As part of the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, WOFL shut down its analog transmitter on June 12, 2009, and continued to broadcast on its pre-transition digital channel 22. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display its virtual channel as 35.
WOFL broadcasts a total of 39 hours of local news a week (seven hours on weekdays, and two hours each on Saturdays and Sundays), the most of any Orlando-area television station; however as is standard with Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts, WOFL's Saturday and Sunday 5 p.m. newscasts are subject to preemption due to sports coverage.
The station premiered a half-hour 10 p.m. newscast in 1998, and became the first independently produced newscast in the Orlando market outside of the "big three" major-network affiliates. WOFL was noted for initially providing "hip" white Ford Mustangs for its news crews. The newscast expanded to an hour in the fall of 1999. In September 2000, the station launched a two-hour morning newscast called Good Day Orlando. The morning newscast expanded to three hours from 6-9 a.m. in 2001. In September 2002, WOFL added a 6 a.m. newscast, dumped the "Good Day Orlando" label for the existing 7-9 a.m. show and started calling all its newscasts "Fox 35 News."
WOFL began competing against the Big Three affiliates in the early evening timeslot with the debut of the 5 p.m. newscast in March 2006, which expanded to seven days a week that fall. A 6 p.m. newscast was added in August 2007 and an 11 p.m. newscast began in January 2008. Unlike many other Fox owned-and-operated stations, the 11 p.m. newscast does not use the NewsEdge title. WOFL's sister station in Ocala, WOGX (channel 51), currently simulcasts all of WOFL's newscasts except for the 6 p.m. edition.
On February 9, 2009, WOFL became the third station in the Central Florida area to broadcast news in high definition. In June 2009, WOFL shut down its sports department, making it the only Fox-owned station without a sports department. Sports anchors Kevin Holden and Tom Johnson were resassigned to other positions.
In July 2009, WOFL revealed new plans for a new radar called "The Guardian", claiming it will top all weather radars combined with the new radar operating on 1 million watts of power. It was launched on October 27, 2009.
On September 14, 2009, the station rescheduled Fox 35 Morning News to 5-8:30 a.m. and launched an extension of the newscast called Good Day (marking a return of the brand after 7 years), running weekdays from 8:30-10 a.m., anchored by Christine van Blokland, Jacquie Sosa, Amy Kaufeldt, and Heidi Hatch. The 8:30 half-hour was shortly reabsorbed into the morning news; however, on November 8, 2010, the entire morning newscast took on the Good Day name, along with an updated version of their news theme music. Also, in April 2010, the morning news was expanded to 4:30 a.m., expanding the entire morning newscast to 5½ hours each weekday morning and competing against an earlier launched 4:30 a.m. newscast on NBC affiliate WESH (channel 2).
- News Capsule (1988-1998)
- Fox 35 News (1998-present)
- Good Day Orlando (morning newscast; 2000-2002)
- Fox 35 Morning News (morning newscast; 2002-2010, was used for 4:30-9 a.m. portion of the newscast)
- Good Day (originally 9-10 a.m. extension of morning newscast; 2009-present)
- Florida's Favorite (1980s)
- It's on Fox 35 (1990-1992; localized version of Fox ad campaign)
- Your Generation (2001-2003)
- Fair. Balanced. First. (2003-2004; based on Fox News Channel slogan "Fair & Balanced")
- First on Fox (2004-2006)
- Fox 35 is Be There (2005-2006; localized version of Fox ad campaign)
- The Most Powerful Name in Local News (2005-2007)
- On Your Side (2007-2008)
- You Need to Know (2008-present)
- So Fox 35 (2009-present; local version of Fox ad campaign)
Current on-air staff
As of January 19, 2011
- Sonni Abatta - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
- John Brown - weekday mornings (6-9 a.m.)
- Bob Frier - weeknights at 5 and 10 p.m.
- Michelle Burdo- weekday mornings (4:30-6 a.m.) & Good Day 9-10 a.m.
- Tracy Jacim - weekends at 5 and 10 p.m., also weeknight reporter
- Amy Kaufeldt - weekday mornings (6-10 a.m.)
- Keith Landry - weekends at 5 and 10 p.m., also weeknight reporter
- TBD - weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
Fox 35 Weather Team
- Glenn Richards (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6, 10 and 11 p.m.
- Liz Horton- Fill-in Forcaster/Weekday Morning traffic reporter
- Rob Eicher (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and NWA Seals of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekends at 5 and 10 p.m.
- Jayme King (NWA Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings (4:30-10 a.m.)
- Elizabeth Alvarez - general assignment reporter
- Valerie Boey - morning reporter
- Alexis Brito - general assignment reporter
- Holly Bristow - general assignment reporter
- Shannon Butler - general assignment reporter
- Melissa DiPane - general assignment reporter
- Steve Gelbach - general assignment reporter
- Tom Johnson - sports and general assignment reporter
- Kelly Joyce - general assignment reporter
- David Martin - special projects reporter
- Darrol Nail - general assignment reporter
- Patrick Pegues - general assignment reporter
- Tiffany Tift - morning reporter
Former on-air staff
- Nick Boggs - traffic reporter
- Mike Dunston - 5 p.m. anchor
- Thomas Forester - sports anchor (?-2007)
- Ryan Harper - SkyFox traffic reporter
- Kevin Holden - sports anchor (2007-2009; fired due to dissolution of sports department)
- Lauren LaPonzina - weekend anchor/reporter
- Cris Martinez - meteorologist and traffic reporter
- Laverne McGhee - weekend anchor
- Kristi Powers - weekend meteorologist (now at KRIV in Houston)
- Ken Smith - SkyFox reporter
- Corrina Sullivan - 6 and 10 p.m. anchor
- Tom Sussi - investigative reporter
- Christine van Blokland - morning feature reporter