WTHR, channel 13, is a full-service television station serving the Indianapolis, Indiana metropolitan area. An affiliate of the NBC television network, its studios at 1000 N. Meridian Street anchor the south end of Indy's Television Row. The station broadcasts its digital signal on VHF channel 13 from its transmitter located at 9799 Ditch Road in suburban Carmel (its antenna tower being a major landmark on the nearby north leg of the I-465 beltway). Since 1974, WTHR has been owned by the Dispatch Broadcast Group of Columbus, Ohio.
|Branding||WTHR 13 (general)
13 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Indiana's News Leader|
|Channels||Digital: 13 (VHF)|
|First air date||October 30, 1957|
|Call letters' meaning||channel THiRteen|
|Former callsigns||WLWI (1957–1976)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
|Former affiliations||ABC (1957–1979)|
|Transmitter power||30 kW|
|Height||299.0 m (HAAT)
299.9 m (AGL)
- 1 History
- 2 Digital Television
- 3 Sports Programming
- 4 News operation
- 5 External links
- 6 Gallery
- 7 References
The station first signed on the air on October 30, 1957, as WLW-I. Founded by the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation, it originally operated as an ABCaffiliate, taking the affiliation from Bloomington-licensed WTTV (channel 4, formerly a CW affiliate, now a CBS affiliate), which had affiliated with the network one year earlier. WLW-I was one of four Crosley stations that made up the "WLW Television Network", alongside the company's television and the regional network's flagship WLW-T in Cincinnati, WLW-C (now WCMH-TV) in Columbus, and WLW-D (now WDTN) in Dayton; Crosley also owned WLW radio in Cincinnati, WLW-A (now WXIA-TV) in Atlanta and WOAI-TV in San Antonio. Channel 13 and its sister stations in Ohio, interconnected via microwave link, shared common programming (such as The Ruth Lyons 50-50 Club, The Bob Braun Show, The Paul Dixon Show, Midwestern Hayride, The Phil Donahue Show, and Cincinnati Reds baseball game telecasts) and similar on-air branding which reflected their connection to each other. Channel 13 called itself "WLW-I" to trade on its association with WLW radio, a 50,000-watt clear channel station whose signal reached portions of the Indianapolis area.
From 1957 to 1962, the station was tied up in one of the most heated licensing disputes in early television history. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) originally awarded the construction permit to build a television station on channel 13 to a group headed by Union Federal Savings and Loan president George Sadlier. However, after an appeal, the FCC reversed its decision and awarded the permit to Crosley. One of the other competitors, WIBC owner Richard Fairbanks, then sued to force new license hearings. Fairbanks contended that the FCC had erred in awarding the last VHF channel allocation in Indianapolis to a company based in Ohio when there were viable applicants based in Indiana. The suit, however, was filed too late to prevent WLW-I from signing on under Crosley ownership.
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals overturned the FCC's decision in 1958, but allowed Crosley to continue running the station pending further action by the FCC. In 1961, the FCC awarded Fairbanks the channel 13 license, but Crosley appealed. The following year, Crosley and Fairbanks reached a deal in which Crosley traded WLW-A to Fairbanks in return for being allowed to keep WLW-I; both stations became sister stations in 2019 when the now-WXIA-TV owner Tegna acquired channel 13.
Amid this instability in ownership, WLW-I found the going rather difficult. It was also dogged by a weaker network affiliation; ABC would not be on an equal footing with CBS and NBC in the ratings until the 1970s. WLW-I spent most of its first 17 years of operation languishing as a third place also-ran behind NBC affiliate WFBM-TV (channel 6, now ABC affiliate WRTV) and then-CBS affiliate WISH-TV (channel 8, now a CW affiliate). In some cases, it even fell to fourth place in the local ratings behind then-independent stationWTTV.
In late 1974, Avco Broadcasting Corporation (which Crosley Broadcasting was renamed as in 1968) announced it was exiting the broadcasting business in an effort to raise cash. The Wolfe family, owners of the Columbus Dispatch and WBNS-AM-FM-TV in Columbus, bought WLW-I from Avco in August 1975; the Wolfes changed the station's call letters to WTHR on January 29, 1976. With new ownership in place, the quality of the station's programming began to improve, but WTHR remained stuck at third place in the ratings behind WISH and WRTV.
Meanwhile, ABC gradually rose to first place during the decade and was seeking out stronger affiliates in many markets. At the same time, NBC tumbled to last place among the "Big Three" networks. Under the circumstances, long-dominant WRTV was very receptive to an offer from ABC. WTHR and WRTV swapped networks on June 1, 1979, with channel 13 becoming the market's NBC affiliate and channel 6 becoming an ABC affiliate. The switch to NBC eventually provided a major windfall for WTHR starting when the NFL's Indianapolis Colts moved from Baltimore in 1984; until NBC lost the rights to the NFL to CBS in 1998 (effectively moving the games to WISH-TV and later WTTV in 2015), WTHR aired the bulk of the team's regular season games under the AFC package. Ratings gradually improved in the 1980s with NBC's powerful prime time lineup, but not enough to get the station out of third place.
On April 7, 1991, WTHR participated in an experiment in which it moved NBC prime time programming one hour earlier (mirroring the scheduling of the network's prime time lineup in the Central and Mountain time zones); the half-hour late evening newscast also moved from 11:00 to 10:00 p.m. as a result. (The experiment, which lasted until the fall of 1992, was succeeded by similar efforts by KRON-TV and KPIX-TV in San Francisco, and KOVR in Sacramento later in the decade.)
Channel 13 first saw a significant ratings boost in the mid-1990s, buoyed by NBC's stronger programming as well as improvements in its news department. It has long since left its ratings-challenged past behind, and is now one of the strongest NBC affiliates in the nation.
On September 2, 2007, WTHR celebrated its 50th anniversary; the station used the song "Carousels (Dreaming of Tomorrow)" by Columbus-based rock band Alamoth Lane in an image campaign to promote the event (the song was also used in a market campaign by Columbus sister station WBNS to promote its upgrade to high definition newscasts).
WTHR shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 13, at 12:37 a.m. on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 46 to VHF channel 13 for post-transition operations.
In February 2009, WTHR began affiliating its third sub-channel with Universal Sports. Starting in August 2009, WTHR preempted regular program on this sub-channel for a high school football or basketball game under the titles, Operation Football Live and Operation Basketball Live, with marketing support from VYPE High School Sports Magazine. These Operation had been a long time franchises for WTHR. WTHR formerly operated the SkyTrak Weather Network, which was carried on WALV-CD (channel 50, now on channel 46, where the service first launched in 2000) and simulcast on digital subchannel 13.2.
On December 14, 2011, the Dispatch Broadcast Group signed an agreement with MeTV to affiliate with WTHR; the station began carrying the classic television network on its second digital subchannel (which is also carried on Xfinity channel 248, and Spectrum channels 93 and 358) on January 1, 2012, replacing Universal Sports (which converted into a cable- and satellite-only network on that date). As January 25, 2013, WALV-CD/WTHR .2 affiliated with the classic television and lifestyle network Cozi TV replacing SkyTrak Weather Network.
For the 2016 Olympics from August 8 to 19, some of WTHR's syndicated programming was moved to WALV and its other subchannel. By May 26, 2017, WALV-CD began broadcasting MeTV, which stayed on WTHR 13.3, dropping Cozi TV programming. However, Cozi was retained by WTHR.2.
Due to reception problems in parts of Central Indiana with its VHF digital signal (including in areas on the fringe of its Grade Bcoverage such as Bainbridge and Crawfordsville) that did not occur with stations broadcasting on the UHF band following the transition, WTHR filed a request with the FCC in June 2013 to increase its transmitter power to 77,000 watts, which would exceed the Commission's maximum power limit in effect at the time.
On June 11, 2019, Dispatch announced it would sell its broadcasting assets, including WTHR and WALV-CD, to Tegna Inc. for $535 million in cash. It would make WTHR and WALV-CD sister stations to ABC affiliate WHAS-TV in adjacent Louisville and would also result in Tegna owning its first station in Indiana since its predecessor company, Gannett, sold off Fort Wayne's WPTA to the now-defunct Pulitzer, Inc. in May 1983. The sale was approved by the FCC on July 29, and was completed on August 8.
|13.2||SkyTrak Weather Network|
From the arrival of the Indianapolis Colts in 1984 until 1997, WTHR (through NBC's rights to AFC games) aired regular season games televised locally with WISH (channel 8) from 1984 until 1993 (for select games televised by CBS in which the Colts play against an NFC opponent), with WRTV—until 2005—carrying non-preseason games via ABC's Monday Night Football on occasions when a game involving the Colts was scheduled.
Since 2006, regular season games currently televised over-the-air locally are split between WISH (from 1998 to 2014), and since 2015 WTTV (channel 4, through CBS' rights to the team's AFC affiliation), WXIN (channel 59, for select games televised by Fox in which the Colts play host to an NFC opponent at home since 1994, or since 2014, any games moved from WTTV via the new 'cross-flex' broadcast rules), with WTHR carrying non-preseason games and select Colts NFL games broadcast by NBC as part of the network's Sunday Night Football package. The station also acquired the local rights to two Colts regular season games during the 2013 season between the San Diego Chargers (on October 14, which aired on ESPN's Monday Night Football—whose Colts broadcasts are normally carried over-the-air by WNDY-TV (channel 23)) and the Tennessee Titans (on November 14, which aired on NFL Network's Thursday Night Football). WTHR also provided local coverage of Super Bowl XLVI, which was hosted at Lucas Oil Stadium.
From 2013 until 2016, WTHR served as an official sponsor of the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana Fever; the station displayed its on-court advertisements during all of the NBA and WNBA franchises' home games held at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse; these marked the only NBA and WNBA teams to be sponsored by an NBC-affiliated station following the loss of NBC's rights to the NBA for ABC and ESPN, and locally, WRTV in 2002; WTHR first carried Pacers games in 1990 when NBC acquired the NBA broadcast package. WTHR occasionally runs special editions of its newscasts or its highlight program Sports Jam to cover Pacers or Fever games.
With the transition of broadcast television rights to the IndyCar Series to NBC in 2019, WTHR replaced WRTV (which had carried the race since 1980) as the local broadcaster of the Indianapolis 500, returning the race to WTHR for the first time since 1979 (when it was an ABC station). As per longstanding policies, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will require WTHR to black out the live broadcast locally to encourage residents and tourists to attend the race, though it will allow WTHR to air the race on tape delay that night. As WRTV did, NBC's prime time schedule and the race broadcast are transposed and air in reverse order, under a special dispensation from the network. However, speedway officials have stated they would allow a live broadcast on WTHR if the race sells out before race day. The 2020 race (delayed from its usual date) aired on WTHR on August 23 due to attendance restrictions put in place before August 4, when IMS owner Roger Penske announced there would be no public admission for any of the year's events due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the state.
WTHR presently broadcasts nearly 37 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with six hours each weekday, three hours on Saturdays and four hours on Sundays).
For most of its first four decades in the air, channel 13's newscasts had placed third in the ratings behind WISH and WRTV. The Wolfes made a large investment in the news department after taking over the station. Combined with NBC's prime time lineup as a lead-in, WTHR's ratings saw a modest uptick in the 1980s and early 1990s, but not enough to get it out of third place.
WTHR's newscasts surged to second place in 1996 after it hired former CBS News correspondent John Stehr as anchor of its evening newscasts around the same time that WRTV saw its ratings plummet following a botched format change. For the next three years, the station waged a pitched battle with then-dominant WISH for first place. In 1999, the station's Eyewitness News broadcasts surged past then-dominant WISH in several key timeslots, finishing in first place for the first time in its history. It eventually overtook WISH-TV for first in all news timeslots in 2002. The station's ratings lead—which WTHR emphasizes in the slogan it adopted upon taking first place full-time, "Indiana's News Leader"—began to narrow in 2010 as WISH-TV and Fox affiliate WXIN (channel 59) saw viewership gains that year as WTHR’s ratings steadily decreased in certain timeslots, especially on weekday mornings. Despite decreased ratings for NBC's prime time schedule since the 2004-05 season, WTHR remains in a close battle with WISH for the #1 slot in the 11:00 p.m. timeslot.
As NBC affiliates in several larger markets switched network affiliations and/or dropped the Eyewitness News format over the past three decades, WTHR was the largest NBC affiliate to use the Eyewitness News brand continuously until March 25, 2020 (only KOB in Albuquerque, WRCB in Chattanooga and WBRE-TV in Wilkes-Barre–Scranton are the only remaining NBC affiliates to use the brand). This is based on the fact that the branding was originally synonymous with most ABC owned-and-operated stations, as well as stations owned by Westinghouse Broadcasting (or Group W) that were later acquired by CBS. The station first used the Eyewitness News format from 1969 to 1979 as an ABC affiliate (combining it with the NewsCenter format historically used by NBC stations) as Eyewitness NewsCenter 13 from 1976 to 1979, which utilized a format similar to that originated by CITY-TV in Toronto for its CityPulse newscasts) and was restored in 1995. The station debuted a weekday morning newscast titled Sunrise in September 1985; this was followed by the addition of two-hour weekend morning newscasts in 1993 (which were later retitled under the Weekend Sunrise banner), becoming the first station in the Indianapolis market to expand its morning newscasts to Saturdays and Sundays.
On March 16, 1996, WTHR began producing a nightly half-hour 10:00 p.m. newscast for UPN affiliate WNDY-TV (now a MyNetworkTV affiliate). The news share agreement with WNDY was terminated after that station was acquired by WISH-TV owner LIN TV Corporation in February 2005; on February 28 of that year, when WISH assumed production responsibilities for the WNDY newscast, WTHR began producing a 10:00 p.m. newscast for Pax TV owned-and-operated station WIPX-TV(channel 63, now an Ion Television O&O), which was cancelled five months later on June 30. In May 2005, the station added a 4:30 a.m. half-hour to the weekday edition of its Sunrise newscast (this predated morning news expansions into that timeslot by many other American television stations by a few years).
On November 12, 2006, beginning with the 11:00 p.m. newscast, WTHR became the first television station in Indiana to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. The station's news set at the time, which was built in 1997 with an eventual conversion to HD broadcasts in mind, underwent a refresh as part of the upgrade. Much of WTHR's field video continued to be shot in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition until October 2, 2007 when all video recorded and broadcast live outside the studio began to be broadcast in widescreen; video recorded by the station's news crews is shot, edited and broadcast in the 1080i resolution.
In June 2011, WTHR began offering newscast segments for free streaming on the Roku digital video player. On February 24, 2014, the station expanded its weekday morning newscast by a half-hour to 4:00 a.m. On June 23, 2014, The Indianapolis Star announced that it would end its content partnership with WTHR, and enter into a new content agreement with Fox affiliate WXIN beginning on August 1.
On March 25, 2020, WTHR adopted Tegna's standardized news graphics and "C Clarity" theme, seven months after Tegna acquired the station, now as "13 News."
- Tom Atkins and the 6:15 News/The World Tonight
- Tom Atkins News
- Eyewitness to News
- Eyewitness News (19??–1976)
- Eyewitness NewsCenter 13 (1976–1979)
- NewsCenter 13 (1979–1993)
- NewsChannel 13 (1993–1995)
- (Channel) 13 Eyewitness News (1995–2020, modified in late 2011 dropping the "Channel")
- Channel 13 Eyewitness News Sunrise (weekday morning newscast)
- Channel 13 Eyewitness News Weekend Sunrise (weekend morning newscast)
- Channel 13 Eyewitness News at Noon/12:30 p.m. (midday newscasts)
- Channel 13 Eyewitness News at 5 (5 p.m. newscast)
- Channel 13 Eyewitness News at 5:30 (5:30 p.m. newscast)
- Channel 13 Eyewitness News at 6 (6 p.m. newscast)
- Channel 13 Eyewitness News NightBeat (11 p.m. newscast)
- 13 Sports Jam (Sunday sports wrap-up program)
- 13 News (2020-present)
- Closer to Your World (1970s)
- You're on Top of It All with 13 (1976–1979; image campaign composed by Al Ham)
- Channel 13, Proud as a Peacock! (1979-1981; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- Hello Indiana, Channel 13 Loves You! (1980–198? & 1991; image campaign composed by Frank Gari, vocals mainly by Florence Warner)
- The NewsCenter of Indiana (1980s)
- Channel 13, Our Pride is Showing (1981-1982; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- We're Channel 13, Just Watch Us Now (1982–1983; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- Channel 13 There, Be There (1983–1984; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- Channel 13, Let's All Be There (1984-1986; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- Come Home to Channel 13 (1986-1987; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- Come on Home to Channel 13 (1987-1988; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- The Heart of Indiana (1987–1992)
- This Is Indiana, and Proud to Call It Home! (1987–1994; also "Proud To Call It Home!")
- Come Home to the Best, WTHR (1988-1990; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- WTHR, The Place to Be! (1990-1992; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- It's A Whole New Channel 13 (1992-1993; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- Indiana's NewsChannel (1992–1995)
- The Stars Are Back on Channel 13 (1993-1994; localized version of NBC network slogan)
- Indiana, 13's On Your Side (1994–1997; image campaign composed by Frank Gari)
- Coverage You Can Count On (1995–2000; still appears on some WTHR-owned vehicles)
- The Heart of Central Indiana (2000–2003)
- Indiana's News Leader (2003–present)
- Dustin Grove - weekend mornings "13 News Weekend Sunrise" (Saturdays 6-7 and 8-10 a.m.; Sundays 6-8 and 9-10 a.m.)
- Ben Hill - weekday mornings "13 News Sunrise" (4:30-7 a.m.); weekdays at noon and 12:30 p.m.
- Julia Moffitt - weekday mornings "13 News Sunrise" (4:30-7 a.m.)
- Alissa Raymond - weekday mornings “13 News Sunrise” (4:30-7 a.m.)
- Andrea Morehead - weeknights at 5 and 11 p.m.
- Jennie Runevitch - weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Scott Swan - weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6, and 11 p.m.
- Anne Marie Tiernon - weeknights at 5:30 and 6 p.m.
Doppler 13 Weather Team
- Angela Buchman (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and NWA Seals of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m.
- Chuck Lofton (NWA Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings "13 News Sunrise" (4:30-7 a.m.)
- Rich Nye (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekend mornings "13 News Weekend Sunrise"; weekends at 6 p.m.
- Lindsay Monroe (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings “13 News Sunrise” (4:30-7 a.m.) and weekdays at noon and 12:30pm
- Kelly Greene (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; fill-ins
- David Calabro - Sports Director; weeknights at 6 and Sunday-Thursdays at 11 p.m.
- Eric Yutzy - Sports Anchor; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m., also sports reporter
- Richard Nye - weeknight sports reporter
- Allen Carter - general assignment reporter
- Carlos Diaz - general assignment reporter
- Bob Segall - investigative reporter ("13 Investigates")
- Mary Milz - general assignment reporter
- Tom Walker - Washington, DC correspondent
- Rich Van Wyk - money and education reporter
- Emily Longnecker - general assignment reporter
- Steve Jefferson - general assignment reporter
- Karen Campbell - general assignment reporter
- Lauren Kostiuk - general assignment reporter
- Matt McCutcheon - general assignment reporter
- Meredith Juliet - general assignment reporter
- Sandra Chapman - investigative reporter
- Sarah Jones - general assignment reporter
- Taylor Tannebum - general assignment reporter
Notable former employees
- Ross Becker – anchor/reporter (now CEO TvNewsmentor.com and with KAAL-TV in Austin, Minnesota)
- Pat Carlini - morning news anchor/reporter (1988-2005)
- Mark Clegg - anchor/reporter (1997-2002)
- Mary Ann Childers – anchor (later co-anchor at WLS-TV and then WBBM-TV in Chicago)
- Tom Cochran - anchor (later at WISH-TV)
- Carol Costello – reporter (later anchor at CNN and HLN)
- Bob Gregory - longtime meteorologist (1972-2000; retired)
- Jerry Harkness – sports anchor (1970s)
- Don Hein - longtime sports anchor
- Bill Jackson – host of the Mickey Mouse Club, later renamed The Bill Jackson Show (1963–1965)
- Dick Johnson – reporter (former weekend evening anchor at WMAQ-TV in Chicago) (deceased)
- Bruce Kopp - morning news anchor/reporter (1983-2017; now retired)
- David Letterman – weekend weatherman/host of Freeze Dried Theater and Clover Power (retired in 2015 after 33 years as host of Late Night on NBC and then The Late Show on CBS; currently the host of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction on Netflix)
- Bill Meck - weekend meteorologist
- Jim O’Brien - weekend meteorologist
- Paul Page – sports anchor/reporter (formerly with NBC Sports and ESPN)
- Dick Rea - producer/sports anchor/reporter (1998-2014)
- Betsy Ross - anchor/reporter (1986-1989)
- Kevin Rayder - longtime reporter/anchor (1990-2020; retired)
- Anne Ryder - anchor/reporter (1984-2004)
- Anita Smith - anchor/reporter
- Jane Harrington-Smith- reporter (1980s-1998, deceased)
- Mark Spain – weekend anchor (early 1990s; later at WJW in Cleveland, and WFOX-TV/WJAX-TV in Jacksonville, Florida, now with WSET in Lynchburg/Roanoke, Virginia)
- John Stehr – anchor/reporter (1995–2018, retired)
- Meshach Taylor (as Bruce Taylor) – actor and former star of Designing Women, hosted a community-affairs program on WLWI in the 1970s (deceased)
- Charlie Van Dyke - voiceover client for WTHR (1995-2013)
- Al Vannik - voiceover client for WTHR (1992-1995)
- Chris Wright - meteorologist (2000-2013, now at WTTV)
- Henry Wofford – sports anchor/reporter (2005-2010; now at NBC Sports Bay Area in San Francisco)
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WTHR
- Listing 1024109 in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Antenna Structure Registration database
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WTHR-TV
- ^ http://www.dispatchbroadcast.com/wthr.html
- ^ "WTHR's 50th Anniversary promo" (FLV). WTHR-TV Indianapolis. 2007-09-02. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
- ^ "WBNS-TV Station Image Promo; Alamoth Lane - Carousels (Dreaming of Tomorrow)". WBNS-TV Columbus. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
- ^ "WBNS-TV Station Image Promo Version 1". WBNS-TV Columbus. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
- ^ "WBNS-TV Station Image Promo Version 2". WBNS-TV Columbus. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
- ^ WTHR - Indianapolis News and Weather - Westfield Insurance Brain Game
- ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf
- ^ FCC DTV status report for WTHR
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qTfl7AEdHg
- ^ http://www.southernmedia-nmsa.com/audioplayer_main.php?media=opens,2190,0
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOjfdrCZXbU
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpkwgFwahuE
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POTL4aAGpfM
- ^ http://www.southernmedia-nmsa.com/audioplayer_main.php?media=opens,2192,1
- ^ http://www.southernmedia-nmsa.com/audioplayer_main.php?media=opens,2193,0
- ^ http://www.southernmedia-nmsa.com/audioplayer_main.php?media=opens,2194,0
- ^ http://www.southernmedia-nmsa.com/audioplayer_main.php?media=opens,2197,0