WRDC, channel 28, is an affiliate station of MyNetworkTV in the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville, North Carolina television market. The station is licensed to Durham, but its studios are in the Highwoods office park just outside downtown Raleigh. It is co-owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group along with CW affiliate WLFL-TV (channel 22).
|Durham/Raleigh, North Carolina|
|Slogan||My RaleighMy DurhamMy Chapel Hill|
|Channels||Digital: 28 (UHF)|
|Affiliations||MyNetworkTV 28.1TheCoolTV 28.2|
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
(Raleigh (WRDC-TV) Licensee, Inc.)
|First air date||November 4, 1968|
|Call letters' meaning||RaleighDurhamChapel Hill|
|Sister station(s)||WLFL, WMYA-TV, WMYV,WLOS, WXLV-TV|
|Former callsigns||WRDU-TV (1968–1978)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
28 (1968-2009) Digital: 27
|Former affiliations||NBC (1968–1995)CBS (secondary, 1968-1971)UPN (1995–2006, secondary January-September 1995)|
|Transmitter power||725 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||35°40′35″N 78°32′8″W|
WRDC appears on analog cable channel 12 in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville and most of their suburbs, and channel 10 in Cary, Garner, Clayton, Smithfield, and Carrboro. On Time Warner digital cable, WRDC is shown on channels 128 (standard definition) and 1128 (high definition).
On July 12, 1953 at 5:25 p.m., WNAO-TV began broadcasting on channel 28 as the Triangle's first television station (a few months beforeWTVD) and the state's first-ever UHF station. It was owned by The News & Observer along with WNAO radio (850 AM, now WKIX; and 96.1 FM, now WBBB), which the paper had begun only six years earlier. However, television manufacturers weren't required to include UHF tuning capability on their sets at the time. Until the Federal Communications Commission required all-channel tuning in 1964, UHF stations were unviewable without a converter. Even with one, the picture was barely viewable. WNAO was also hampered by the fact that its initial affiliation with CBS shifted over to WTVD in 1956. With WRAL-TV (channel 5) signing on that year with NBC, WNAO was saddled with the then-struggling ABC network. WNAO-TV had struggled for viewership for much of its brief existence, however these new changes simply made the situation worse. The station shut down at the end of 1957; WNAO radio was sold off the following year, as the fiscal loss for the News & Observer was so great that it decided to get out of broadcasting entirely.
As an NBC affiliate (1968-95)
Channel 28 stayed dark until November 4, 1968, when WRDU-TV, licensed to Durham and unrelated to the earlier station, began operations. The new station had studios located on NC Highway 54 in southern Durham, with a transmitter located near Terrell's Mountain in Chatham County. The station was owned by Triangle Telecasters, headed by the Everett family of Durham: Reuben Everett, his wife Kathrine and their son Robinson.
Officially, WRDU took over as the Triangle's NBC affiliate. NBC had not had a full-time affiliate in the Triangle since 1962, when WRAL-TV dropped NBC in favor of ABC, leaving CBS affiliate WTVD to shoehorn NBC programming onto its schedule. Although the Triangle had long been large enough to support three full network affiliates, prospective station owners found it difficult to build a UHF station that was strong enough to cover a market which stretched from Chapel Hill in the west to Goldsboro in the east. UHF stations didn't cover large amounts of territory very well at the time.
Even after channel 28's sign-on, NBC continued to allow WTVD right of first refusal for its programming. WTVD, of course, chose the higher-rated programs from NBC and CBS, leaving WRDU to carry the lower-rated shows plus NBC's news programming. In 1971, the FCC intervened on behalf of Triangle Telecasters (in part due to the Commission's policy aims of protecting the development of UHF stations), forcing WTVD to choose one network; it chose CBS. Still, the damage had been done, in terms of station identity and loyalty, making things vastly more difficult in the years to come.
Additionally, WRDU's main competitors, WTVD and WRAL, were two of the strongest performers for their respective networks, having built up followings over the previous dozen years or so on VHF channels--the same problem that derailed WNAO-TV essentially remained unchanged. Also, WRDU had to deal with longer-established NBC affiliates in nearby Winston-Salem (WSJS-TV, now WXII), Washington (WITN-TV) and Wilmington (WECT) being available over the air with strong VHF signals in much of the surrounding area. Channel 28's transmitter was located on the Orange-Chatham County line, providing only grade B coverage of Raleigh itself and rendering it practically unviewable over-the-air in southern and easternWake County.
However, one problem that could not be blamed on outside factors was Triangle Telecasters' frequent preemption of network shows for syndicated ones, presumably because it believed it could get more revenue from local advertising than from network airtime payments. As NBC's popularity declined precipitously through the 1970s, WRDU only increased the number of preemptions.
The Durham Life Insurance Company, which owned the Triangle's oldest radio station, WPTF (680 AM), bought WRDU-TV from the Everetts in May 1977 and changed its callsign toWPTF-TV on August 14 of the following year. This was Durham Life's second attempt to get into television; it had previously bid for the channel 5 allotment in 1956 before the FCC awarded the license to the much smaller Capitol Broadcasting as WRAL-TV. Durham Life invested a large amount of money into its new purchase, building a new 1,300-foot (400 m) tower near Apex, which gave the station a coverage area comparable to those of WTVD and WRAL. It also poured significant resources into the news department, which had never been competitive against WRAL and WTVD, and added a kids' show entitled Barney's Army., which ran from 1978 to 1983. However, largely because of NBC's declining fortunes and audience-loyalty problems it inherited from Triangle Telecasters, WPTF experienced little success over time. The news department, even with the power boost and increased resources, made little headway in the ratings. This was in marked contrast to its radio sister, one of the most respected radio news operations in North Carolina. WRAL and WTVD switched affiliations in 1985 after WTVD's owner, Capital Cities Communications, bought ABC, but WPTF saw little windfall from the switch. At one point in the 1980s, even with NBC's powerful primetime lineup, WPTF-TV was dead last in the Triangle television ratings. It even trailed WLFL, an independent station (and later, a Fox affiliate) that had only been on the air since 1981. The station also continued to preempt NBC programming, albeit at a reduced rate compared to the 1970s. This didn't sit very well with NBC, which has historically been far less tolerant of preemptions than the other networks.
Understandably enough, by the summer of 1991, Durham Life wanted out of broadcasting entirely. Durham Life broke up its entire broadcasting unit and sold off individual stations to various owners. WPTF-TV went to Brissette Communications, who changed the callsign to WRDC, after the three major cities in the Triangle—Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill/Cary. It rebranded itself as "Tri-28." The new owners made the station profitable almost immediately. However, in a cost-cutting move, on July 31, 1991, Brissette fired the entire news department (save for one anchor/reporter who was kept for newsbreaks) and most of the production crew. One disgruntled ex-employee, in a bitter joke, suggested that the station's new callsign really stood for "We Really Don't Care." WRDC lost a good deal of credibility as a result and never recovered.
As a UPN affiliate (1995–2006)
However, NBC's contract with WRDC didn't run out until September 1995. Starting in January 1995, WNCN began airing all of the NBC programming that WRDC turned down. When NBC's contract with WRDC ran out in September, WRDC became a UPN affiliate. It had already been airing UPN programming during the late-night hours since January. As such, WRDC no longer had a decent amount of programming to preempt, with UPN providing far fewer hours of network fare per week than any of the major networks. WRDC also picked up several syndicated shows that WNCN no longer had time to air.By the mid-1990s, NBC, obviously embarrassed and angry about its poor performance in one of the country's fastest-growing markets, had finally had enough with WRDC and was looking to move its programming to another station. It got its chance in 1995 after WNCN (channel 17, formerly WYED-TV), based in Goldsboro, boosted its signal to 5 million watts to provide greater coverage to the Triangle market. WNCN's owner, Outlet Communications, also owned WJAR-TV in Providence, Rhode Island and WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio, which were two of NBC's strongest and longest-standing affiliates. Although WNCN had just affiliated with the WB Television Network, NBC quickly cut a deal with Outlet to move its Triangle affiliation to WNCN.
Brissette began sinking under the weight of massive financial problems, and merged his group with Benedek Broadcasting in 1995. However, since the merger left Benedek one station over FCC limits of the time, WRDC was sold Glencairn Ltd. Glencairn was owned by Edwin Edwards, a former executive with WLFL's owner, Sinclair. The Smith family, founders and owners of Sinclair, held 97 percent of Glencairn's stock, leading to allegations that Sinclair was using Glencairn to do an end run around FCC rules forbidding duopolies. Sinclair and Glencairn further circumvented the rules by merging WRDC's operations with those of WLFL's under a local marketing agreement. Although WLFL was the senior partner, the two stations' operations were based at WRDC's former studios. Similar arrangements were in place at Glencairn's other eight stations. The FCC eventually fined Sinclair $40,000 for its illegal control of Glencairn.
Channel 28 briefly dropped its UPN affiliation in the spring of 1998, as did most of the UPN stations Sinclair either owned or controlled, due to a dispute between UPN and Sinclair. However, UPN and Sinclair patched up their dispute, and UPN programming returned to WRDC in the summer. Sinclair purchased WRDC outright in 2001. This was possible because WNCN had by this time passed WRDC as the fourth-rated station in the Triangle. The FCC's duopoly rules do not allow one person to own two of the four largest stations in a single market.
As a MyNetworkTV affiliate (2006-present)
In January 2006, The WB and UPN (which has only used its initials as its official name since 2000) announced that they would merge into a new network, The CW. The news of the merger resulted in Sinclair announcing, two months later, that most of its UPN and WB affiliates, including WRDC, would join MyNetworkTV, a new service formed by the News Corporation, who also owns the Fox network. Sister station WLFL, which had been a WB affiliate since 1998, took the CW affiliation a few months later. This gave North Carolina two CW/MyNetworkTV duopolies, the other being WJZY/WMYT-TV in Charlotte. In both cases, the MyNetworkTV affiliate is the junior partner.
Issue with Time Warner Cable
There is the possibility that both WRDC and WLFL would be pulled from Time Warner Cable on January 1, 2011 if an agreement cannot be reached with Sinclair Broadcast Group. The issue involves fees that TWC is willing to pay for programming on MyNetworkTV and The CW. Any blackout would, in effect, limit access to a number of cable households within the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville market.  However, both channels will remain available through satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network, along with AT&T's U-Verse service.  For the time being, TWC is continuing negotiations with Sinclair, despite reports that such talks have been put on hold. 
On the original DTV transition date of February 17 2009 WRDC turned off its analog channel 28 transmitter. It is one of three stations in the Triangle area, along with WLFL and WRAY-TV, who agreed to make the switch on that date, even though the DTV transition date had been changed to June 12, 2009. On June 12, 2009 at 12:00 PM WRDC switched its digital channel from 27 to 28.
In 1986, WPTF erected a 2,000-foot (610 m) tower near Auburn, North Carolina, in an attempt to increase its signal coverage to include Fayetteville and other cities located south and east of Raleigh. That same tower collapsed in December 1989 during an early morning winter ice storm that also claimed the nearby tower of WRAL-TV. WPTF managed to get back on the air several hours later by rebroadcasting its signal on both WYED-TV (now WNCN) for the Raleigh-Durham area and WFCT-TV (channel 62, now WFPX) for the Fayetteville area.
A month following the WYED/WFCT simulcast, WPTF reactivated its old tower near Apex, which it had used from 1978 to 1986, allowing the station to resume its broadcasts on Channel 28 as usual. That same tower was dismantled several years later and then donated to classical radio station WCPE-FM, who reassembled it at a spot near its studios in Wake Forest, North Carolina in 1993. WPTF would eventually return to the newly-built broadcast tower completed in early 1991 near Garner, which also included the transmission signal for WRAL-TV, as well as WRAL-FM, WQDR-FM, and a couple of low-power TV stations in the area.
- Triangle News (1970s)
- NewsCenter 28 (late 1970s-1980s)
- Newsbeat 28 (1986–1990)
- WPTF-TV 28 News (1990-1991)
- TV-28 Newsbreak (Newsbriefs, 1991-1992)
- TRY 28 Newsbreak (Newsbriefs, 1992-1993)
- 28, Proud As A Peacock! (1979-81, local version of NBC Slogan)
- 28, Our Pride Is Showing (1981-82, local version of NBC Slogan)
- We're 28, Just Watch Us Now (1982-83, local version of NBC Slogan)
- 28 There, Be There (1983-84, local version of NBC Slogan)
- 28, Let's All Be There (1984-86, local version of NBC Slogan)
- Come Home to 28 (1986-87, local version of NBC Slogan)
- Come on Home to 28 (1987-88, local version of NBC Slogan)
- Clearly Carolina`s News (1988-1991)
- Come Home To The Best, WPTF (1988-90, local version of NBC Slogan)
- WPTF, The Place To Be! (1990-91, local version of NBC Slogan)
- WRDC, The Place To Be (1991-92, local version of NBC Slogan)
- It's A Whole New 28 (1992-93, local version of NBC Slogan)
- The Stars Are Back on 28 (1993-94, local version of NBC Slogan)
Former News Personalities
- Val Holley-Dennis
- Jack Gregory
- Terry Thill
- Chris Thompson
- Mitchell Lewis
- Ben Garrett
- Sharon Kester
- Mark Barger
- Van Coleman
- Robert Carver
- ^ "Sinclair/Time Warner Cable - Frequently Asked Questions". Sinclair Broadcast Group. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
- ^ Wolf, Alan M. (December 27, 2010). "Time Warner Cable sparring with CW22 parent over fees". News and Observer. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
- ^ Wolf, Alan M. (December 29, 2010). "Cable TV feud is at an impasse". News and Observer. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
- My RDC Website
- Raleigh Tower Disaster - includes pictures of the WRAL and WPTF-TV towers, which were destroyed in a December 1989 ice storm
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WRDC
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WRDC-TV