WPTZ is the NBC-affiliated television station for the North Country of New York State and Champlain Valley of Vermont that is licensed to North Pole, New York. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 14 (redirecting to former analog channel 5 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest



North Pole/Plattsburgh, New York-

Burlington, Vermont

Branding NewsChannel 5
Slogan Covering the Champlain Valley and Beyond

TV Now (on DT2)

Channels Digital: 14 (UHF)

Virtual: 5 (PSIP)

Subchannels 5.1 NBC

5.2 This TV

Owner Hearst Television

(Hearst Stations, Inc.)

First air date December 8, 1954
Call letters' meaning PlatTZburgh
Sister station(s) WNNE, WMUR-TV,


Former callsigns WIRI (1954-1956)
Former channel number(s) 5 (VHF analog, 1954-2009)
Former affiliations DuMont (secondary, 1954-1955)

ABC (secondary, 1954-1968) NBC WX+ (on DT2, 2004-2008)

Transmitter power 650 kW
Height 845 m
Facility ID 57476
Transmitter coordinates 44°31′32″N 72°48′56″W / 44.52556°N 72.81556°W / 44.52556; -72.81556
Website wptz.com

peak. Owned by Hearst Television, the station has studios on Television Drive in Plattsburgh. Syndicated programming on WPTZ includes: Jeopardy!, ''''Wheel of Fortune'''', Oprah, and Judge Judy.

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Like the other network stations that serve Plattsburgh and Burlington, it has a large audience in Southern Québec, Canada. This includes Montréal, a city that is ten times more populous than all of WPTZ's entire American viewing area combined. For many years, the channel identified on-air as "North Pole/Plattsburgh/Burlington/Montréal" to acknowledge its large cable viewership in Canada. It is widely carried on cable in the province of Québec as far north as Saguenay and as far east as Gaspé. On Vidéotron systems in Montreal, it can be seen on: channel 23 (West Montreal), channel 18 (Central and East Montreal), and channel 52 (Illico digital).

During NBC prime time programming, Canadian cable systems frequently cover up WPTZ's signal on cable systems in Montreal and, to a lesser extent, Quebec City. This is done to satisfy the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's simsub rules. The action benefits CFCF-TV and CKMI-TV. On the American side, WPTZ can be seen in New York State on Charter channel 2 and in Vermont on Comcast channel 5. It is the default NBC affiliate for Essex, Franklin, and Eastern St. Lawrence Counties in Upstate New York where it is seen on Time Warner Cable. In Ogdensburg and Western St. Lawrence County, that system offers both WPTZ and Syracuse's WSTM-TV.

WNNE in Hartford, Vermont operates as a semi-satellite of WPTZ. It simulcasts all local, syndicated, and network programming but airs separate station identifications and advertisements. WNNE has its own studios on Dewitt Drive in White River Junction. The channel's coverage area includes the Connecticut River Valley (Upper Valley) area of Central and Western New Hampshire as well as Southern Vermont. Most of WNNE's viewership comes from the Southern New Hampshire sub-market which is part of the Greater Boston DMA. Additionally, the channel shares its coverage area with sister station WMUR-TV.

[edit] History

The station signed-on December 8, 1954 as WIRI. It aired an analog signal on VHF channel 5 from a transmitter on Terry Mountain in Peru, New York. It was owned by the Great Northern Broadcasting Company along with WIRY-AM 1314. It has been an NBC station since its inception although it carried secondary affiliations with ABC from its launch until 1968 (when WVNY signed-on) and DuMont until that network ceased operations in 1956. Rollins Telecasting bought the station in 1956. Shortly before that, WPTZ-TV in Philadelphia was sold to NBC and renamed WRCV-TV (now CBS owned-and-operated KYW-TV). Rollins quickly grabbed the WPTZ calls after realizing that "PTZ" could stand for PlatTZburgh. Rollins merged with Heritage Broadcasting in 1987 to form Heritage Media.

In 1991, the company bought WNNE which was a separate station with its own news department. With Heritage's purchase, it was made into a semi-satellite of WPTZ. This significantly improved the channel's coverage in the southeastern part of the market. During the analog era, the station was the only one in the area that did not operate any translators. Heritage moved WNNE's master control to WPTZ in Plattsburgh in 2000. The company sold all of its broadcasting properties to the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1997 prior to its merger with News Corporation. The sale protected new Fox affiliate WFFF-TV which was initially operated by WPTZ under a local marketing agreement (LMA) and shared the analog transmitter on Terry Mountain. Otherwise, WPTZ/WNNE along with then-sister stations WEAR-TV in Pensacola, Florida and WCHS-TV in Charleston, West Virginia would have been forced to switch to Fox. Sinclair, in turn, sold WPTZ/WNNE along with the WFFF LMA to Sunrise Television in 1998.

However instead of keeping them, Sunrise decided to swap all three stations along with Smith Broadcasting-owned KSBW in Salinas, California to Hearst-Argyle Television in return for WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island and WDTN in Dayton, Ohio. The swap became official on July 2, 1998. WFFF began operating as an independently-owned and controlled station in 2000 when the LMA with WPTZ was terminated. On June 23, 1999, WPTZ petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to change its city of license from North Pole to Plattsburgh. The station cited the area's declining population as the reason for the change. The last census did not even count North Pole as a separate community and collapsed it into Lake Placid. As of 2007, this change has not yet been approved. However, WPTZ has largely dropped North Pole from its station identifications and now mentions "Plattsburgh/Burlington" most of the time.

WPTZ is one of two television stations in the United States to broadcast from the "North Pole". The other is KJNP-TV, a religious station licensed to North Pole, Alaska that serves Fairbanks. It was a subject of a blooper when Oprah Winfrey taped a promo for her show for WPTZ and started laughing after she spoke the station's community of license. David Letterman in another promo during his NBC tenure, riffed on the station's request for him to pronounce the "Z" in WPTZ as "zed" instead of "zee" for the station's Canadian audience. On February 17, 2009, the station shut down its analog signal and began to broadcast exclusively in digital. It was one of the first stations owned by Hearst to cease analog broadcasting (KITV in Honolulu, Hawaii was the other).

[edit] WPTZ-DT2

In September 2006, WPTZ established a daily web video forecast as part of a major revamping of its website. The feature, known as the "Weather Plus Update", introduced a logo showing WPTZ/WNNE offering NBC Weather Plus together as "5&31 Weather Plus". Starting in October, its studios in Plattsburgh underwent extensive renovations. During that time, its broadcasts were from a temporary set while the construction took place. While the studios as a whole were being upgraded, the weather department underwent the most change. In advance of the launch of NBC Weather Plus, the weather center was expanded to make room for new combined WPTZ/WNNE weather graphics and logos. The remodeling was completed by late-November.

WPTZ launched Weather Plus on a new second digital subchannel on November 15 after debuting a new digital signal from Mount Mansfield a day earlier. The service was never offered on WNNE's digital signal even though this had been airing since July 20, 2005. On digital cable, WPTZ-DT2 was carried on Comcast digital channel 169 (serving the Upper Valley), Telecom digital channel 305, and Time Warner digital channel 854. It was never offered on Charter systems in New York State.

In December 2008, NBC shut down the national Weather Plus service. WPTZ continued to air a locally-derived version of Weather Plus until August 31, 2009 when it was replaced with This TV. This marked the network's first foray into the Plattsburgh and Burlington area along with St. Lawrence County in New York and eastern portions of the adjacent Watertown market where WPTZ has long served as the default NBC affiliate on cable. WPTZ-DT2 remains on the three digital cable systems while being added to Charter digital channel 296 while still not being offered on WNNE-DT.

[edit] News operation

For most of its history, WPTZ's newscasts have been a distant second in the ratings behind long-dominant CBS affiliate WCAX-TV. Traditionally, it has focused more on the North Country and New York State while the other channel tends to cover more from Vermont. In order to cover that state, this station operates secondary facilities known as the Vermont Bureau on Roosevelt Highway (U.S. 2/U.S. 7) in Colchester. At one point, there had been more general assignment reporters based at the main studios in Plattsburgh. However in more recent times, additional reporters based at the Vermont Bureau have been hired.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, WNNE operated its own news department and aired local newscasts. This was progressively cut back after being bought by Heritage eventually resulting in the elimination of a full news operation in 2007. Today, the only visual difference between the stations are different channel bugs during newscasts. The two stations currently use the NewsChannel branding. During news on WPTZ, WNNE is referred to as the Upper Valley Bureau and features a full-time reporter based in its White River Junction studios. Contributions to the broadcasts on this channel includes a live headline from the Upper Valley weeknights at 5:30 as well as video footage for other time slots. In addition to the Upper Valley and Vermont bureaus, WPTZ airs national news from Hearst Television's Washington D.C. Bureau. It employs several reporters who give live reports to the various Hearst affiliates.

Although WPTZ/WNNE do not own or operate weather radars of their own, they use live NOAA National Weather Service radar data from several regional sites. It is presented on-screen in a forecasting system known as "Storm Tracker 5000" (powered by the Supper Doppler Network). Unlike most NBC affiliates, WPTZ does not air a midday newscast during the week. It had aired a show at noon until 2005 but was dropped in favor of 5:30 Now that airs on weeknights. With the departure of Thom Hallock (whose contract was not renewed by station) on November 23, 2007, WPTZ was left with an all-woman anchor team. That changed with the arrival of Gus Rosendale. He left WPTZ in 2005 to report at sister station WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh and made his debut back at this station in mid-December. Rosendale will leave the station again in December 2010 to join KSTP-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul. [1]

In August 2009, the station introduced a new format and title to its weeknight newscast at 11. The re-formatted show called NewsChannel 5 Nightcast features more fast-paced and edgier news. Despite its logo which includes "HD", the newscasts were aired in pillar-boxed 4:3 standard definition and it was the only station in the market to not have upgraded local news to high definition. WPTZ was one of six remaining stations owned by Hearst that has yet to make the upgrade to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen or full HD, until on April 26, 2011, when WPTZ started airing newscasts in widescreen. However, unlike the newscasts on WCAX and WFFF/WVNY, the WPTZ newscasts are not in true HD—just SD widescreen. In August 2013, WPTZ started airing the area's very first weekend morning news. NewsChannel 5 Today airs on Saturdays from 5:00-7:00 and on Sundays from 6:00-8:00 a.m. This beats WCAX which had previously announced that they would add weekend morning news.

In April 2014, the station announced that they were going to revamp their set. After a few weeks of broadcasting from a temporary set put together in the newsroom, the new set debuted. The old set was completely removed and a new set was constructed by FX Group. The set was a major departure from their prior set, which debuted in 2006. One major change made was the elimination of the newsroom as the backdrop for the anchor desk. Also on September 29, 2014, WPTZ debuted a nightly 10:00 p.m. newscast which airs on both The Valley CW (5.2) and The Valley's Me-TV (5.3) simultaneously

Newscast titles

  • Eyewitness News (1960s-1979) 
  • Nightly News on 5 (1979-1980s)
  • News 5 (1980s-1996)
  • NewsChannel 5 (1996–present)
  • Nightcast (weeknight 11 p.m. news, 2009‎–present)

 Station slogans

  • "Come Home to WPTZ" (1986-1987, localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Come on Home to PTZ" (1987-1988, localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Come Home to the Best, WPTZ" (1988-1990, localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "PTZ's The Place To Be!" (1990-1992, localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "It's a Whole New PTZ" (1992-1993, localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "The Stars Are Back on WPTZ" (1993-1994, localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Coverage You Can Count On" (1998-2003)
  • "Where the News Comes First" (2003-2013)
  • Covering the Champlain Valley and Beyond (2013-present)

[edit] News team


  • Mary Morin - weekday mornings and consumer reporter
  • Gus Rosendale - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11 (leaving December 2010)
  • Stephanie Gorin - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11
  • Heather Van Arsdel - weeknights at 5:30
  • David Schneider - weekends


  • Tom Messner (Certified Broadcast Meteorologist) - Chief seen weeknights and "Hometown Hero Award" segment producer
  • Jim Moore (Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and NWA Seal of Approval) - weekday mornings and "Pet of the Week" segment producer
  • Gib Brown - weekends


  • Ken Drake - weeknights at 6 and 11
    • Friday Night Lights host
  • Damien Quinlan - weekends and sports reporter
  • Mark Clement - sports photographer


  • Stewart Ledbetter - Vermont Bureau Chief and host of Vermont This Week on VPT
  • Kate Amara - weekday morning national correspondent
  • Jackie Bender - Upper Valley Bureau (WNNE)
  • Laurie Kinney - national correspondent
  • Nikole Killion - national correspondent
  • Randy Gyllenhaal - Vermont Bureau
  • Ashley Johnson - Vermont Bureau
  • Mia Moran - Vermont Bureau
  • Jill Glavan - Vermont Bureau

Notable past personnel

Former staff


  • Aixa Diaz - reporter
  • Michelle Mortensen - consumer reporter
  • Rachel Ruble - now weekday morning anchor (Seattle)
  • Erin Connors - weeknights at 5 and 5:30
    • reporter
  • Thom Hallock - weeknights at 6 and 11 (1996-2007)
  • Kelley Morris - weekends
  • Neil Drew - 1970s
  • Chris Ortloff - early 1980s
    • served in the New York State Assembly from 1986 until 2007
    • on December 24, 2008 pleaded guilty to felony charge of online enticement of minors and sentenced April 23, 2009
  • Erin Clark - now at KSBW in Salinas, CA
  • Bob Solarski - now at WEAR-TV in Pensacola, FL
  • Ranji Sinha - weekday mornings and reporter
    • now reporter at WWMT
  • Sally Kidd - national correspondent for Hearst


  • Bird Berdan - original weatherman (1950s-1980s)
    • nicknamed the "Atlantic Weatherman" and appeared in advertisements at least through late-1996
    • in late-1980s, Montreal radio station (95.9 FM) made rap song poking fun and paying tribute to him
    • died in December 2004[citation needed]
  • Erik Heden - weekends
  • Cindy Fitzgibbon - now at WFXT in Boston
  • Keith Carson - now at WCSH in Portland


  • Mark Sudol - now sports anchor and sports reporter at News 12 Connecticut
  • Chris Kelley - fill-in anchor and reporter at WFSB-TV in Hartford, CT
  • Jamie Scavotto - now at WWBT-TV


  • Jeanne Moos - now reporter for CNN
    • in 1976, Moos became WPTZ's first female correspondent
  • Dawn Fratangelo - now NBC News correspondent
  • Hailee Lampert - New York
  • Erin Vannella - New York
  • Matt Gerien - Vermont
  • Ashe Reardon - Upper Valley (WNNE)
  • Brandon Roth - now at WSTM-TV/WTVH

Photographers / ENG

  • Michael French - Special Projects Photographer, now at WTTG

External links

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