WPTA is the ABC-affiliated television station for Northeastern Indiana licensed to Fort Wayne. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 24 from a transmitter at its studios on Butler Road. The station can also be seen on Comcast and Verizon FiOS channel 7. There is a high definition feed offered on Verizon FiOS digital channel 506 and Comcast digital channel 1007. Owned by Malara Broadcasting, WPTA is operated through a local marketing agreement(LMA) by the Granite Broadcasting Corporation. This makes it sister to NBC affiliate WISE-TVand the two share studios. Syndicated programming on this station includes: Entertainment Tonight, The Doctors, and Everybody Hates Chris.
|Fort Wayne, Indiana|
|Branding||21 Alive (general)
Indiana's NewsCenter The CW Fort Wayne(on DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 24 (UHF)|
|Owner||Malara Broadcast Group(operated through LMA byGranite Broadcasting Corporation)
(Malara Broadcast Group of Fort Wayne Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||September 28, 1957|
|Sister station(s)||WISE-TV, WMYD|
|Former channel number(s)||21 (UHF analog, 1957-2009)|
|Transmitter power||335 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||41°6′7.7″N 85°11′3.7″W|
On WPTA-DT2, Verizon FiOS channel 6, and Comcast channel 19 is the area's CW affiliate. Known on-air as Fort Wayne CW, all programming is provided by The CW Plus. On WPTA-DT3 is a 24-hour local news and weather channel. This is currently not seen on Comcast or Verizon FiOS digital systems.
|21.1/24.1||720p||16:9||main WPTA programming/ABC (HD)|
|21.2/24.2||480i||4:3||WPTA-DT2 "The CW Fort Wayne" (SD)|
|21.3/24.3||480i||16:9||WPTA-DT3 "Indiana's NewsCenter Now" (ED)|
The station began broadcasting on September 28, 1957 and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 21. Founded by Sarkes Tarzian whose company owned Bloomington's WTTV and several other Indiana broadcast stations. It was the third station to launch in Fort Wayne and immediately took all ABC programming from NBC affiliate WKJG-TV (now WISE-TV) and CBSaffiliate WANE-TV. Under Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules at that time, themarket was deemed too small for three full-power stations so Tarzian's application listed WPTA's city of license as the tiny hamlet of Roanoke. This was just across the Allen andHuntington county line approximately forteen miles to the southwest of its studios and transmitter on Butler Road in Fort Wayne. It was possible because the FCC had by this time allowed a station to have its main studio in a different location from its city of license.
WPTA identified as "Roanoke/Fort Wayne" on-air until the license was officially transferred to Fort Wayne sometime in the 1970s. In addition to ABC programming, it also originally aired seven and a half hours of local, live programming per week. In 1957, the station showed a spin-off of American Bandstand called Teen Dance and afternoon kids show Popeye and the Rascals. In 1964, a 2,226-square-foot (206.8 m2) addition to its studios was added to accommodate an expanding sales staff. On April 4, 1973, the station was sold to Combined Communications for $3.6 million. Under new management, WPTA purchased new cameras and a more modern switcher. On June 7, 1979, Combined merged with Gannett.
On May 12, 1983, that company sold WPTA (along with WLKY in Louisville, Kentucky) to Pulitzer Publishing for an undisclosed amount. The station was sold again to the Granite Broadcasting Corporation on September 25, 1989 for $22.15 million. In late-1998 alongside the launch ofThe WB 100+ and its cable-only affiliates, WPTA began managing and promoting "WBFW". Since its was cable-exclusive, the channel used the calls in a fictional manner.
In 2005, after Granite bought NBC affiliate WISE-TV, it sold WPTA to the Malara Broadcast Group for $45.3 million. A local marketing agreement was established that called for Granite to provide operation services to WPTA as well as for Malara's other new station KDLH in Duluth, Minnesota. Although WISE-TV is nominally the senior partner in this LMA, the stations' combined operation is based at WPTA's studios and the bulk of the news staff came from WPTA (see below). The company jointly files its Securities and Exchange Commission(sec) reports with Granite which lead to allegations that the company uses Malara as a shell corporation to evade FCC rules on duopolies.
The FCC does not allow common ownership of two of the four largest stations in a single market. Additionally, Fort Wayne has only six full-power stations which is too few to allow duopolies in any case. After emerging from bankruptcy in Summer 2007, Granite stock was taken over by Silver Point Capital of Greenwich, Connecticut which is a privately owned hedge fund. Silver Point Capital now controls Granite according to a Buffalo, New York news article printed September 16, 2007. According to the same article, Granite will be sold to other parties and many of its stations have been laying-off employees or cutting salaries up to twenty percent.
On January 24, 2006, The WB and UPN announced the networks would end broadcasting and merge. The new combined service would be called The CW. The letters would represent the first initial of corporate parents CBS (the parent company of UPN) and the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner. On February 22, News Corporation announced that it would start up another new network called MyNetworkTV as sister network to Fox. It would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created in order to give UPN and WB stations, not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates, another option besides becoming independent. It was also created to compete against The CW.
WANE-TV offered UPN on a second digital subchannel. An announcement in March said "WBFW" would affiliate with The CW via The CW Plus (a similar operation to The WB 100+). WPTA decided to create a new second digital subchannel to simulcast "WBFW" and offer access to CW programming for over-the-air viewers. Meanwhile on September 5, WISE-TV moved NBC Weather Plus from its second digital subchannel in order for it to become the area's affiliate of MyNetworkTV. Weather Plus then began airing on WISE-DT3. On September 18, The CW debuted on "WBFW" which officially began using the WPTA-DT2.
On September 28, 2007, WPTA unveiled a 3D version of its current logo to commemorate the station's 50th anniversary but did not fully switch to it until August 4, 2008. On January 10, 2009, it went online with a new digital master control center which will service WPTA, WISE, and Granite's other Midwestern stations. After the station shut down its analog signal, it remained on its pre-transition digital channel (24).  Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WPTA's virtual channel as 21.
Under Combined Communications ownership, WPTA significantly invested in local newscast production. During that time, Wes Sims and Harry Gallagher were co-anchors with meteorologist Bill Eisenhood and sports anchor Tom Campbell. In July 1978, WPTA constructed a new news set. Also, newscasts that had been in the Eyewitness News format were replaced with the current "Alive" (as "21 Alive") format that remains to this day. WXIA in Atlanta is another former Combined station that currently includes "Alive" in its name. In Summer 1984, the station received its first live truck to assist in news production.
After being taken over by Granite, WISE-TV's news department was promptly folded and combined with WPTA. The company fired those who worked at WISE-TV with the exception of lead anchor Linda Jackson who was integrated into the WPTA operation. That station began airing a weeknight newscast at 7 which was the first and, at the time, only one in the state of Indiana. On September 11, 2006, this was replaced with an extra episode of Dr. Phil due to low ratings. In November 2005, after several months of using the "Alive" news brand on both stations, WPTA debuted a new set in the basement of its studios formerly used to tape public-affairs programs such as Impact. With it came a new branding for the newscasts, Indiana's NewsCenter.
When WPTA took over production of news on WISE-TV, there was initially a significant decrease in ratings. WANE-TV was the market's news leader for several years after that according to Nielsen Media Research since it was the only other local news operation in the area. This was most easily attributed to continued viewer resentment towards WPTA and Granite for the elimination of WISE-TV's news department and arguably its identity and history. However, WPTA management said the changes were part of a longer-term plan that would need up to five years to take hold with viewers. Part of the plan to win back viewers included new technology such as text messaging, an improved website with more online video, and upgrading weather equipment to a VIPIR system.
Eventually, the changes started to take hold and ratings began to drastically improve. In the November 2007 sweeps period, WPTA and WANE-TV were nearly neck-and-neck in the Fort Wayne television news ratings race with WANE-TV continuing to show a slight lead. Starting July 24, 2006, WISE-TV began airing a weeknight prime time newscast at 10 for a half-hour on its NBC Weather Plus subchannel. With the September 2006 change to MyNetworkTV on WISE-DT2 and the addition of The CW on WPTA's second digital subchannel, the show (known as Indiana's NewsCenter Prime News) became part of those channel's schedules through a simulcast. On May 18, 2009, WPTA and WISE-TV became the first two stations in Fort Wayne to air local newscasts in 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen. Although not truly high definition, the aspect ratio matches those of HD television screens.
In September 2009, Granite began producing a pre-recorded weeknight prime time newscast at 10 on sister station MyNetworkTV affiliateWMYD in Detroit. The broadcast features news anchor Melissa Long, Chief Meteorologist Curtis Smith, and Sports Director Dean Pantazi. There are locally-based Detroit reporters, who contribute stories to the show, as well as multimedia journalist Dave Leval who also appears on WPTA and WISE-TV. The news share agreement was established after the Butler Road facilities became a master control hub for Granite's Midwestern stations and WMYD's loss of broadcast rights to Detroit Pistons games.  Previously, that station had been airing another pre-taped weeknight prime time newscast at 10 produced by the Independent News Network in Davenport, Iowa.
Currently, WPTA co-produces newscasts with WISE-TV that are essentially the same in terms of coverage and format. Simulcasted shows on both stations include weekday mornings (except for first half hour at 5 a.m. on WPTA), weeknights at 6, and weekends. This station airs separate weekday noon as well as weeknight 5, 5:30, and 11 o'clock news. WISE-TV does not air broadcasts weeknights at 5 and 5:30 unlike most NBC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone. Weekend simulcasts can be pre-empted on one channel due to network obligations.WISE-DT2 offers rebroadcasts of the entire weekday morning show at 7, midday noon news at 1, and weeknight 6 o'clock newscast at 6:30. Like all CW Plus affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, WPTA-DT2 airs the nationally syndicated morning show The Daily Buzz on weekdays from 6 until 9. WPTA and WISE-TV do not currently use their own on-site weather radar as WANE-TV does, instead using NEXRAD data withVIPIR processing under the name Pinpoint VIPIR HD; one advertisement featured Smith explaining that the live radar at WPTA -- which had been in use since the late 1990s -- was so far outpaced by the VIPIR system that they "unplugged it."
- Your Esso Reporter (1957–1961)
- WPTA-TV News (1961–1969)
- 21 Eyewitness News (1969–1978)
- 21 Alive Newsroom (1978–mid 1990s)
- 21 Alive News (mid 1990s–2005 & 2012–present)
- Indiana's NewsCenter (2005–present)
- "Together on 21 Alive" (1986–1987, localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- "Your Number One News" (1986–1995)
- "More People Get Their News From 21 Alive News Than From Any Other Local News Source" (variation of ABC's closing slogan on national news programming used until change to Indiana's NewsCenter)
- "A Network of Indiana's NewsCenter" (2005–2010)
- Mary Collins - weekday mornings "INC Today" at 5 - 7 a.m.
- Ryan Elijah - weekday mornings "INC Today" at 5 - 7 a.m. and "In Your Corner" segment producer
- Corrine Rose - weekdays at noon and reporter
- Indiana's NewsCenter Noon Extra host
- Melissa Long - weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6, and 11 p.m.
- Linda Jackson - weeknights at 10 p.m.
- "Viewer Feedback" and "Angels Among Us" segments producer
- Eric Olson - weekends at 6 & 11 p.m. and "Your Country" segment producer
Pinpoint VIPIR HD Meteorologists (all have AMS Seal of Approval)
- Curtis Smith - Chief seen weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6, 10, and 11 p.m.
- Chris Daniels - weekday mornings "INC Today" at 5 - 7 a.m. and noon
- Jason Meyers - weekends at 6 & 11 p.m. and "Weather & Your Health" segment producer
Sports (all seen on The Score and Sound Off)
- Dean Pantazi - Sports Director seen weeknights at 6, 10, and 11 p.m.
- Tommy Schoegler - sports reporter; weekends evenings at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Kent Hormann - fill-in sports anchor
- Jennifer Blomquist - "Golden Apple" segment producer
- Jeff Bowman - weekday mornings
- Dave Leval - based at WMYD
- Jeff Neumeyer - videojournalist
- Eric Clabaugh - videojournalist
- Matt Resnik - videojournalist
- Megan Trent - videojournalist
- John Davis - videojournalist
- Elizabeth Nulf MacDonald - Docs on Call rotating host
- Art Ginsburg - "Mr. Food" segment producer
- Lee Kelso - Docs on Call rotating host
- Tracy Warner - politics
Notable former staff
*Rich Piatt - Reporter - left WPTA in 1993 (now at KSL in Salt Lake City)
- Brent Trantum - meteorologist (now Brent Cameron at WSVN-TV)
- Marti Wright - anchor and reporter (from 1981–2000)
- resigned after DWI in Auburn, Indiana
- Victor Locke - Assistant News Director and anchor (from 1983–2004)
- now voiceover announcer at victorlocke.com as well as former News Director, anchor, and reporter at KSUT-FM 91.3. Presently at Exposure Productions in Durango, producing, hosting, anchoring, editing, researching material for the Durango city cable channel, City Span 10.
- Keith Edwards - anchor (from 1983–2007)
- now retired
- Tacoma Newsome - reporter (now at WAGA-TV)
- Sandra Jones - reporter (now at WTVR-TV)
- Christine Zak - reporter (now retired)
- Janette Luu - weekend anchor (until 2005)
- now at CKXT-TV
- Heather McMichael - anchor and reporter (now at WDAF-TV)
- Greg Johans - sports anchor (in 1980s)
- now retired
- Michael Morrissey - meteorologist (until 2006)
- now in public relations at Fort Wayne company
- Jessica Toumani - reporter (until 2008)
- now at KABB-TV
- Nicole Pence - reporter and fill-in anchor (until 2008)
- now at WLEX-TV
- Jay Walker - weather reporter
- Jane Hersha - reporter
- Ron Huston - anchor/reporter 1976-87 (changed name to Lynn Huston 1987 when hired at WTVH-TV Syracuse, N.Y.)
- Carl Smith - reporter
- Chris Erick - reporter
- Jim Likens - reporter
- Brien McElhatten - reporter (now at KNXV-TV)
- Laura Donaldson - reporter (now in Phoenix, Arizona with husband Brien McElhatten)