WPRI-TV is the CBS-affiliated television station for the state of Rhode Island and Bristol County, Massachusetts that is licensed to Providence. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 13 from a transmitter on Homestead Avenue in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. The station is the flagship of the owner LIN TV Corporation and operates Fox affiliate WNAC-TV along with MyNetworkTV-affiliated second digital subchannel (both owned by Super Towers Inc.) through a local marketing agreement (LMA).
|Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, Massachusetts|
|Branding||WPRI 12 (general)|
Can Count On
|Owner||LIN TV Corporation
(TVL Broadcasting of Rhode Island, LLC)
|First air date||March 27, 1955|
|Call letters' meaning||Providence, Rhode Island|
|Sister station(s)||WNAC-TV, WTNH, WCTX,WWLP/WFXQ-CD|
|Former callsigns||WPRO-TV (1955-1967)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
|Former affiliations||ABC (1955-1995)|
|Transmitter power||30 kW|
The two share studios on Catamore Boulevard in East Providence. Although WPRI is the flagship of LIN TV, master control and some internal responsibilities are based at hub facilities at NBC affiliate WWLP in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Syndicated programming on this channel includes: Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Judge Judy, and Judge Joe Brown.
|Channel||Name||Programming||Digital cable channels|
|12.1||WPRI-DT||main WPRI programming/CBS HD||
Verizon FiOS 512
|12.2||WPRI-DT2||TheCoolTV||Full Channel 192
Comcast 289 Verizon FiOS 480
The station debuted on March 27, 1955 known as WPRO-TV (for PROvidence). It was Rhode Island's third television station and was owned-and-operated by retailer Cherry & Webb along with WPRO radio (630 AM and 92.3 FM). WPRO-TV was originally supposed to go on-the-air in 1953 but ran into several delays. It originally planned to build a transmitter in Rehoboth but legal disputes with town officials forced Cherry & Webb to find a site in Johnston, Rhode Island.
The station then planned to sign-on in 1954 but Hurricane Carol destroyed the Johnston transmitter. The legal disputes in Rehoboth were finally settled in late-1954 and WPRO got the go-ahead to begin construction there. The channel was due to join CBS because of WPRO radio's long affiliation with CBS radio. Even when it became apparent that WPRO-TV would miss its target air date, CBS opted to continue its secondary affiliation with NBC station WJAR-TV rather than move its programming to ABC affiliate WNET-TV.
When WPRO-TV finally got on-the-air, ABC gave it right of first refusal for its more popular shows. Within less than a year, WNET had gone dark. This station continued to share ABC with WJAR until WTEV-TV (now WLNE-TV) signed-on in 1963. Originally, WPRO-TV's studios were on the top floor of 24 Mason Street in Downtown Providence, but in the early-1970s, the station moved to its current home in East Providence at 25 Catamore Boulevard. Legendary Providence radio personality Salty Brine had a daily children's show on WPRO-TV. News personalities included Mort Blender and Walter Cryan while the beloved Hank Bouchard did a multitude of on-air duties. That included announcing, hosting programs, and giving the weather report. Cherry & Webb sold WPRO-AM-FM-TV to Albany, New York-based Capital Cities Television Corporation, predecessor of Capital Cities Communications, in 1959. WPRO-TV was then sold to Poole Broadcasting (owners of WJRT-TV in Flint, Michigan) on June 16, 1967.
That sale was necessary because CapCities had bought KTRK-TV in Houston, Texas which left it one VHF station over the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership limit of the time. Poole Broadcasting then changed WPRO-TV's call letters to the presentWPRI-TV. It wanted to trade on the well-known WPRO calls and also realized that "PRI" could stand for Providence, Rhode Island. Capital Cities retained ownership of the WPRO radio stations until 1993 with the last seven being ABC-owned stations airing ABC Radio. Poole retained ownership until 1977 when it sold its three television stations (WPRI, WJRT, and WTEN in Albany, New York) to Knight-RidderBroadcasting. WPRI swapped affiliations with WTEV and became an ABC affiliate after this sale as a result of a corporate affiliation deal between ABC and Knight-Ridder.
In 1989, Knight-Ridder left the broadcasting business selling WPRI and WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia to Narragansett Television LP, a locally based firm. Narragansett Television sold WPRI to CBS in 1995 making it a network owned-and-operated station (and one of the last such acquisitions prior to the Westinghouse Electric Corporation's purchase of the network). At midnight on September 10, 1995, WPRI reversed the 1977 swap with WLNE and officially rejoined CBS. It aired a vigorous promotion called "Survive the Switch" so television viewers in Providence would be prepared for this changeover.
In November 1995, Westinghouse bought CBS for approximately $6 billion. The merger was finalized in early-1996. Westinghouse already owned WBZ-TV in Boston. WPRI's city-grade signal, like most of the other major Rhode Island stations, decently covers most of the Boston area. Meanwhile, WBZ-TV's city-grade signal decently covers nearly all of Rhode Island. At the time, the FCC normally did not allow common ownership of multiple stations with overlapping coverage areas and would not even consider granting a waiver if the overlap was between city-grade signals.
As a result, CBS opted to keep WBZ-TV and sell WPRI to Clear Channel Communications on July 1, 1996 after less than ten months of ownership. The FCC eliminated the requirement of a waiver for common ownership of television stations in adjacent markets with Grade B signal overlap (just months after CBS announced the sale of WPRI to Clear Channel) beginning to permit common ownership of stations whose city-grade signals overlap when duopolies began to be permitted in 2000. In 2000, Clear Channel was forced to sell WPRI as a condition of being allowed to buy additional radio stations in the Providence market. Sunrise Television acquired WPRI in early-2001 for $50 million. Sunrise merged with the LIN TV Corporation in May 2002, and as a result, the station became the flagship of the company.
In November 2006, WPRI renewed its broadcasting license with the FCC. On May 18, 2007, LIN TV announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives that could have resulted in the sale of the company. In October 2008, WPRI and sister station WALA-TV in Mobile, Alabamarelaunched wesites through News Corporation's Fox Interactive Media as a result of a new partnership between LIN TV and NewsCorp. The other LIN TV-owned stations (irrespective of network affiliations) followed suit within two months ending the company's long partnership with WorldNow. The new sites are in a format which is similar to those of the Fox O&O-style web addresses used by many Fox affiliates (and which the LIN TV-owned or controlled Fox affiliates such as WNAC-TV had used) except the flashy myFox look. The myFox sites themselves were eventually redesigned to a look similar to those of the LIN TV sites.
Although the analog television shutdown originally scheduled for February 17, 2009, was postponed to June 12, 2009, WPRI-TV has received Federal Communications Commission (FCC) consent to transition on February 17. This allows WNAC-TV, which will also discontinue regular analog service on February 17, to begin operation of its new digital facility on channel 12. On October 22, 2010, WPRI started carrying The COOLTV music video programming on its 12.2 subchannel.
LMA with WNAC
Shortly after Clear Channel took over the station, WPRI entered in a local marketing agreement (LMA) with Fox affiliate WNAC (then owned by Argyle Television). WPRI took over the station's operations on September 28, 1997 when WNAC moved its operations into this station's facilities. Ironically, WNAC is the same station as WNET-TV that went off-the-air in 1956 largely due to the presence of WPRI. In late-1997, Argyle merged with Hearst Broadcasting, owner of ABC affiliate WCVB-TV in Boston. Hearst was forced to trade WNAC together with WDTN in Dayton, Ohio to Sunrise Television in return for WPTZ in Plattsburgh, New York, WNNE in Hartford, Vermont, and KSBW in Salinas, California because of the FCC rule forbidding common ownership of two stations with overlapping city-grade signals (same rule that forced CBS to sell WPRI two years earlier).
When Sunrise bought WPRI from Clear Channel in early-2001, WNAC was sold to LIN TV due to FCC regulations forbidding common ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations in the same market. In this case, WNAC cannot be co-owned directly with WPRI. However, LIN TV was forced to put WNAC back on the market almost as soon as it closed on the station's purchase due to the ownership structures of Sunrise and LIN TV. Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst (now HM Capital Partners), a private-equity firm co-founded by Texas Rangersand Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks, was (and still is) majority owner of LIN TV. At the same time, HMTF also controlled a large block of Sunrise stock.
The FCC ruled that HMTF controlled enough Sunrise stock that the company could not own any stations in markets where LIN TV owned a station as well. Finally in April 2002, LIN TV sold WNAC to Super Towers Inc. (d/b/a WNAC, LLC), a company owned by Timothy Sheehan, brother-in-law of former LIN TV Vice President Paul Karpowicz. This sale allowed the merger between Sunrise and LIN TV to be completed the following month. LIN TV continues to operate WNAC today under the same LMA that it inherited from Sunrise.
Station Nightclub fire
WPRI and WNAC were heavily involved in the coverage and aftermath of The Station nightclub fire in 2003. Photographer Brian Butler was inside the nightclub taping a story when the pyrotechnics behind the band Great White lit soundproof foam within the nightclub on fire. The tape became crucial evidence in the case and WPRI reporter Jeff Derderian, who owned the nightclub with his brother, became a defendant accused of manslaughter. In February 2008, WPRI agreed to pay $30 million to settle a lawsuit against the station, parent company LIN TV, and Butler. Several families and survivors of the nightclub fire claimed that Butler stood in a doorway and continued to record footage rather than help people escape. The lawsuit alleged that Butler's actions caused more people to die. However, videotape evidence shown at deposition proved those charges to be false. Ironically, WPRI was there videotaping a story on nightclub safety a week after the E2 nightclub incident in Chicago.
Specifically, its broadcast weeknights at 11 has gained enormous popularity. As of the November 2010 sweeps period, this newscast on WPRI is the most watched in Rhode Island while WJAR continues its dominance in all other time periods. For most of its history, WLNE has been and continues to be ranked at a distant third place. This is despite recent significant format and personnel changes designed to make a run at WPRI and WJAR.
In 1996, WPRI began producing the market's first nightly prime time newscast at 10 on WNAC called Eyewitness News First on Fox Providence. This was joined in April 1997 by a WJAR-produced show seen weeknights on WLWC entitled TV 28 News at 10. However, that was dropped in September when the WJAR LMA with WLWC ended. In 2004, an hour-long extension of WPRI's weekday morning show was added to WNAC at 7 branded as Eyewitness News This Morning on Fox Providence. Although that was eventually canceled, the 10 o'clock broadcasts remained.
On October 1, 2007, WJAR began airing 10 at 10 on its NBC Weather Plus second digital subchannel. This was a live ten minute update consisting of the top stories of the day along with a current weather forecast. When WJAR-DT2 switched to the Retro Television Network(RTV), the show expanded to a half-hour format and renamed 10 at 10 on RTV. A third prime time newscast at 10 was added to WLNE's Cox-exclusive "News Channel 5" on October 22, 2008. However, it only occasionally shown during major news events or when Fox Sportsprogramming pre-empts the prime time broadcast on WNAC.
WPRI and WNAC received an on-air overhaul introducing a new news set and updated graphics on March 17, 2008. It operated a Bell 206L3 Long Ranger helicopter known as "News Chopper 12" until December 2008. This was shared with sister stations WTNH and WCTX in New Haven, Connecticut but known separately as "Chopper 8". The helicopter is currently being stored in Indianapolis as a backup for sister station WISH-TV. Although not owned by the same company, WPRI maintains a content sharing partnership with The Providence Journal (a Belo-owned newspaper).
On February 18, 2009, WNAC launched a lifestyle and entertainment magazine-type program called The Rhode Show that airs weekday mornings at 8 for an hour. A new secondary set for the show was built with a fully functional kitchen. The debut followed the addition ofEyewitness News This Morning on Fox Providence for a second time. Personnel for The Rhode Show include the weekday morning news anchors and a third host found every year through open audition. In 2009, Boston-area radio deejay Shawn Tempesta won the open audition out of over 140 people. In 2010, Cranston comedian Ben Hague beat out over 100 other hopefuls. Bridgewater State College graduate Michaela Johnson of East Providence won the honor in 2011.
WPRI operates a 24-hour local weather channel, known as the "Eyewitness News Pinpoint Weather Station", exclusively on Cox digital channel 125. When the weather channel was first established, it also aired on second digital subchannels of WPRI and WNAC. In 2007, new FCC regulations for educational programing forced the two stations to make the weather channel cable-only. Overnight on weekends when the main channels of WPRI and WNAC sign-off, there is a simulcast of the weather channel.
Along with its own weather radar at its transmitter site in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, the station also features live NOAA National Weather Service radar data from the Local Forecast Office on Miles Standish Boulevard in Taunton. Together, this is known in weather segments as "Live Pinpoint Doppler 12". It shares resources with WBZ-TV for coverage of Southeastern Massachusetts. In return, WPRI does the same for its coverage of the same area. During the week, Eyewitness News This Morning (on WPRI and WNAC), The Rhode Show, and Eyewitnesses News Live at Noon are all streamed live on WPRI's website. The Rhode Show can also be seen live on WNAC's web address.
- Newsbeat (1960s)
- 11th Hour News
- On the Scene News
- TV-12 News
- NewsCenter 12 (?–1980s)
- Channel 12 News (1980s–1990)
- Channel 12 Eyewitness News (1990–1996)
- 12 News (1996–2002)
- Eyewitness News (2002–2020)
- 12 News Now (2020-present)
- Providence's Channel 12 (1973–1975)
- Your Number 1 News (1975–1981)
- Hello Rhode Island, Channel 12's with You (1980–1986; used during period station used Frank Gari's Hello News)
- Now is the Time, Channel 12 is the Place (1981–1982; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- The Station For You (1981–1984)
- Stay in Touch with Channel 12 (1984–1987)
- We're With You, on Channel 12 (1984–1985; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- You'll Love It on Channel 12 (1985–1986; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- Making A Difference (1987–1989)
- Putting You Through Our Community (1989–1996)
- The News Is Here on CBS 12 (1996–2001)
- Coverage You Can Count On (2001–present)
- Patrick Little - weekday mornings and noon
- The Rhode Show host
- Danielle North - weekday mornings and noon
- The Rhode Show host
- Mike Montecalvo - weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11
- Susan Roberts - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11
- Erin Kennedy - weeknights at 5:30 and 10
- Kathryn Sotnik - weekend mornings and weekday reporter
- Nneka Nwosu - weekend evenings and weekday videojournalist
Live Pinpoint Doppler 12 Meteorologists
- Tony Petrarca (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief seen weeknights
- Michelle Muscatello - weekday mornings and noon (ex. Thursday at noon)
- seen on The Rhode Show
- Pete Mangione (Certified Broadcast Meteorologist) - Thursday at noon and weekend mornings
- T.J. Del Santo - weekend evenings and "Green Team" segment producer
- Eric Murphy - Director seen weeknights at 6, 10:45, and 11
- Sunday Sports Wrap host
- Sara Hogan - weekend evenings and reporter
- J.P. Smollins - reporter and photographer
- Tim White - investigative and Newsmakers host
- Sean Daly - investigative and general assignment
- Susan Hogan - "Call 12 for Action" reporter
- Walt Buteau - "Street Stories" segment producer
- Marilyn Schairer
- Stephen Schuler - "one-man-band" videojournalist
- Julie Ruditzky
- Alex DiPrato
- Courtney Caligiuri - website producer and seen on The Rhode Show
- Melissa Sardelli - website producer and seen on The Rhode Show, nightly webcast anchor
- Lt. Gen. Reginald Centracchio (Ret.) - political/military analyst
- Bob Hannah - weekday morning and evening traffic
- Joe Fleming - political analyst
- Ted Nesi - website reporter and Newsmakers fill-in
- Karen Adams - News Anchor (1989-2010) now retired.
- Bob Althage- Reporter/ Anchor (1970's) Worked at WUSA-TV
- Joe Amorosino- Sports (1996-1998) Now at WHDH-TV
- Ernie Anastos- Anchor (1976-1978) Now at WNYW-TV
- Terry Anzur- Reporter (1980s)
- Jess Atkinson- Sports Director (1996-2000)
- Steve Aveson- Anchor (2002-2008) Now at NECN
- Bob Blanchard- Trouble shooter (1978-1984)
- Mort Blender- Anchor (1955-1971) (d)
- Hank Bouchard- Weather (1955?-1990) (d)
- John Buccigross- Sports (1990s) (ESPN)
- Jack Burns- Reporter (1960s-1996)(d)
- Bob Cain- News Anchor (1970s) Former CNN Anchor
- Steve Cascione - Weather (2002-2007) Now at WLNE-TV
- Tom Chisholm- Chief Meteorologist (1977-1981) Now at WMTW-Portland, ME
- Judy Chong- Reporter 1995-1997
- Chris Clark- Sports (1960's) Sports (d)
- Charles Claverie (AKA Charles Rocket SNL)- Anchor 1974-1976 (d)
- Don Colson- News Anchor (1970's) Worked at WABI TV Bangor
- Ann Conway- Anchor (1991-2001) Executive coach and senior communications consultant for Bates Communications
- Jim Corbin- Weather (1997-2003) Now at WLNE-TV
- Don Coyne- Sports (1986-1992) Now at WLNE-TV
- Logan Crawford- Reporter (1990s)
- Walter Cryan- Anchor (1965-2000)
- John Daly- Reporter (1983-1987) "Real TV" Host
- Gay Dawson- Weather (1987-1989) Formerly at Weather Channel
- Jeff Derderian- Reporter (2003)
- Amy DeLuca- Anchor (2005-2006)
- Jennifer DeMarais- Anchor (2005)
- Vince DeMentri- Anchor/reporter (1990-1993, 2009-2010)
- Barry Diamond- Sports Director (1991-1992) Now at FoxSports LA
- Henry Eaton- Reporter (1982-1987)
- Mark Economou- Reporter/Anchor (1996-2001)
- Murray Feldman- News Anchor/Reporter (1972-1976) Now at WWJ Radio-Detroit
- Debbie Ferarro- Reporter/anchor (1988-1990)
- John Flanders- Chief Meteorologist (1981-1997)
- Jeff Gilbert- Weather (1990-1991) worked at WJLA
- Janice Glynn- Anchor (1984-1989)
- Mike Gorman- Sports Director (1978-1986) later Boston Celtics play-by-play announcer
- Michael Gwynn - Sports Anchor/reporter (1988-1991)
- Mark Haines- Anchor (1980s) Now on CNBC
- Bob Halloran- Sports (1991-1997) Now at WCVB-TV
- Barbara Hamilton- Anchor/reporter (1978-1989)
- Peter Henderson- Reporter (1980's) Worked at WHDH
- Sean Hennessey- Reporter (1990s) Now at WCBS-TV
- Mike Holfeld- Anchor (1980's) now at WKMG- Orlando
- Elizabeth Hopkins- Anchor (2007-2010) Now at WFXT-TV
- Deborah Horne- Reporter (1980-1991) Now at KIRO-TV
- Don Horner- Photographer (1995-2007) (deceased)
- Kristine Johnson- Anchor (1994-2004) Now at WCBS-TV
- Debbie Kauffman- Sports (1991-1992) Now at WNBC-TV
- Ann Kellan- News Anchor/Medical reporter (1981-1985) Worked at CNN
- Heidi Kemp- Anchor/reporter (2002-2005)
- Jim King- Anchor (1999-2001)
- Greta Kreuz- Reporter/Anchor (1984-1987) Now at WJLA
- Barry Kriger- Anchor (1995-1996) Now at WWLP-TV
- Glenn Laxton- Reporter (1968-1989, 1997-2006)
- Harvey Leonard- Chief Meteorologist (1974-1977) Now at WCVB-TV
- Tom Lewis- Weather (1991-1995) Now at WVIT
- Brent Martineau- Sports (?-2002) Now at WTEV-TV/WAWS-TV
- Pat Mastors- Anchor (1989-2004)
- Bob "Red" McCreary- Sports Director (1974-1977)
- Ken Mease- Sports (1973-1978) worked at WUSA-TV
- John Mone--Reporter (2005-2007) Now at AP Television
- Rick O'Brien- Sports Anchor (1982-1988)
- Tony Potts- Sports Director (1993-1996) Now at Access Hollywood
- Jim Roberts- News Anchor (1978-1984)
- Charles Rocket – (news anchor; later a cast member of Saturday Night Live, deceased)
- John Rooke- Sports Director (1988-1991)
- Brian Rooney- Reporter (1983-1985) ABC News
- Jim Rose- Sports Anchor (1975-1977) Now at WLS-TV Chicago
- Bob Ryan- Meteorologist (1970's) Now at WJLA-TV
- Ron St. Pierre- Sports (1980s) Now on WPRO-AM
- Karen Southern- Reporter (1991-2001)
- Shawn Tempesta - The Rhode Show (2009)Now at KTNV-TV
- Dean Tendrich- Weather (1995-1997)
- Greg Wayland- Anchor (1984-1989) Now at NECN
- Ted Wayman- Reporter (1985-1990)
- Doug White- Anchor (1972-1978) (d)
- Jack White- Investigative reporter (1985-2005) (d)
- Mark Wile- News Anchor/reporter (1981-1985)
- Phil Wilson- Weekend Anchor/Investigative reporter(1970s-1993) (d)
- Steve Wiczek- Anchor/reporter (1998-2001)
- ^ Federal Communications Commission (February 13, 2009). "FCC Releases Lists of TV Stations' Responses to Requirements for Analog Termination on February 17, 2009" (PDF). DA 09-245. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
- ^ http://www.pbn.com/WPRI-beats-WJAR-for-11-pm-newscast-in-tight-race-Lanni-claims-statistical-tie,54086