WVPX-TV is the Cleveland, Ohio affiliate of the Ion Television network (formerly known as Pax TV and i). It is licensed to Akron, with a transmitter located on the west side of Akron just north of Rolling Acres Mall.
|Channels||Digital: 23 (UHF)|
|Subchannels||23.1 Ion TV23.2 qubo
|Owner||ION Media Networks
(Ion Media Akron License, Inc.)
|First air date||1953|
|Call letters' meaning||PaX TV|
|Former callsigns||WAKR-TV (1953-1986)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
49 (1953-1967) 23 (1967-2009)
|Former affiliations||ABC (1953-1996)inTV (1996-1998)
Pax TV (1998-2005) i (2005-2007)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW (digital)|
|Height||301 m (digital)|
The schedule is that of the standard Ion station, airing infomercials, children's programming fromqubo, and religious programming before 3 p.m.; and sitcoms, dramas, and movies after 3 p.m. (1 p.m. on weekends).
Origins of WAKR-TV
The station signed on air for the first time in 1953 as WAKR-TV, broadcasting from a transmitter located on the First National Tower in Akron on channel 49. The station was licensed to Summit Radio Corporation, the family-owned business of S. Bernard Berk, which also owned WAKR radio (AM 1590 and FM 97.5, now WONE-FM). Summit had applied to the Federal Communications Commission in 1947 for a television license to operate on channel 11, the only channel allocated to Akron.
However, before the license was issued, the FCC implemented a freeze on further television licenses while it undertook a study of what to do with the VHF spectrum. After the release of the FCC's Sixth Report and Order lifted the freeze in 1952, the Commission decided to collapse Akron and Canton into the Cleveland market. It limited the number of VHF channels in the Cleveland area to three—channels 3, 5 and 8 (changed from 4, 5 and 9) and to grant licenses to further stations only in the UHF spectrum. Summit was able to secure a license to operate on channel 49.
Being a UHF television station in a predominantly VHF market was extremely difficult in the 1950s. Almost all television sets sold were not capable of tuning UHF stations, and special converters and antennas were required to receive the station's signal. Even with a converter, picture quality was marginal at best. About half of the UHF stations in the country that started in the 1950s failed. The FCC did not require television sets to include UHF capability until 1964.
WAKR-TV was fortunate to obtain an affiliation with ABC, which had some problems in the early 1950s obtaining clearances for its full schedule on its two secondary affiliates in Cleveland: WJW-TV (channel 8), which was also a DuMont affiliate; and WEWS (channel 5), which was also a CBS affiliate.
WAKR-TV also focused on Akron area programming to distinguish itself from the Cleveland stations. It boasted the only newscast focused on Akron and Canton news, using resources shared with WAKR radio and the Akron Beacon Journal (a part owner of the WAKR stations until the 1970s).
The going got more difficult, however, when WEWS became a full ABC affiliate in 1955. WAKR-TV left with lower-rated syndicated programming (especially a large amount of country music and religious shows, aimed perhaps toward the area's large population of Southernexpatriates), as most of the more popular shows went to the bigger Cleveland stations. In 1961 Summit Radio declared that channel 49 had from the beginning "suffered very substantial operating losses."
The situation got only marginally better after the FCC required all-channel tuning, and didn't improve much more after the station moved to the stronger channel 23 in 1967. It tried to focus on its unique local programming including its Akron-based newscasts. "Our local programming is geared to giving Akron what it wants—news, advertising, announcements and local shows all about Akron," then-station manager Bob Bostian said as WAKR-TV marked its 25th anniversary in 1978 . The station struggled, however, and Summit had to rely for its profitability on its very successful AM station.
Cleveland TV vs. Akron TV
The station also suffered from overall low ratings because it operated in the shadow of the Cleveland market. Several studies indicated that even when viewers watched WAKR, they assumed they were watching WEWS, since both stations had a large amount of common programming from ABC. Furthermore, Akron was not a separate market for ratings purposes, but was only a small part of the Cleveland market. Although WAKR's overall ratings were very poor in the Cleveland market as a whole, it trounced the Cleveland stations in Akron and Canton.
When WAKR-TV signed on, it was Akron's only network affiliate. Had even one more network station opened up around the same time, or even a network affiliate in Canton, the two cities may well have broken off from Cleveland and formed their own market. This market would have been among the top 100 markets in the country and would have probably served much of east-central and north-central Ohio, where the Cleveland stations have poor reception.
An Akron-Canton market would have been in the same situation as Baltimore, a major market in its own right even though it is only 45 minutes from Washington, D.C. Other analogous situations would have been Topeka, Kansas, which is its own market even though theKansas City stations reach it fairly easily; and Saint Joseph, Missouri, which is served by one commercial station of its own, ABC affiliateKQTV, and the Kansas City stations.
Within WAKR-TV's home state of Ohio, similar situations existed in Dayton, where stations from Cincinnati and Columbus can be received; in Youngstown, where residents of that city can receive most Cleveland (including channel 23) and Pittsburgh stations despite having its own network affiliates; Toledo, where most of the Detroit stations can be received fairly well, and in Zanesville, which is approximately sixty miles outside of Columbus and is home to only one station, NBC affiliate WHIZ-TV, which competes with Columbus' NBC station WCMH-TV.
As it was, WAKR-TV was forced to compete with the Cleveland stations with the odds stacked heavily against it, especially since it was in the shadow of WEWS, one of ABC's strongest affiliates. It was also in constant jeopardy of losing its ABC affiliation. WEWS' owner, E.W. Scripps Company, often tried to pressure ABC into pulling its affiliation from WAKR-TV, so that WEWS did not have to compete with another ABC affiliate in the same market.
Summit Radio was reorganized as Group One Broadcasting in 1965. In 1986, Group One sold off its radio stations, but kept the TV station and changed the calls to WAKC (for AKron-Canton) on November 3, 1986. In 1993 ValueVision, a company specializing in home-shopping programming, bought WAKC. Immediately speculation arose that the station would drop its newscasts. ValueVision kept the newscasts, and had WAKC re-branded as "The North Ohio News Station," though the quality was uneven at best. The station then started to identify itself as serving Akron/Cleveland but news coverage was still focused on the Akron/Canton area for the most part. With the launch of the new branding, the station expanded their 6pm news to an hour, but dropped weekend newscasts. In the fall of 1995, the station launched a 5pm newscast called "Your News".
Finally, in 1996, Paxson Communications—another specialist in home-shopping shows, though of the infomercial variety (and whose founderalso launched the Home Shopping Network) -- purchased WAKC. The station abruptly dropped all local news programming that March. Later that fall, the station adopted "ABC 23" as their branding, even though the ABC affiliation ended on December 31, 1996 after the last prime time program aired. For the next year and a half, WAKC adopted Paxson's InTV format of infomercials. The station assumed its current calls on January 13, 1998 after Paxson changed most of their stations' call letters to include "PX" in them. WVPX became part of Paxson's new Pax TV network launched in 1998 and carried the entire Pax network schedule, with practically no local programming.
An Akron-based newscast was briefly resurrected in June 2001 when Paxson entered a local marketing agreement with Cleveland's NBC affiliate, WKYC-TV (channel 3), as part of an overall corporate deal between Paxson and NBC. WKYC opened an Akron studio and produced a 6:30 and 10:00 p.m. newscast nightly (as Pax 23 News), featuring WKYC reporters assigned to stories in the Akron/Canton area. Weather reports were supplied by WKYC's meteorologists in their Cleveland studio. The newscasts were anchored by WKYC Akron bureau chief Eric Mansfield, who had been a reporter for the old WAKC newscasts from 1992 to 1994.
When the Pax TV network rebranded as "i" on June 30, 2005, WVPX dropped the newscasts. What became Akron/Canton News migrated toTime Warner Cable's Akron/Canton area system, where it aired until May 30, 2008.
WVPX flash-cut from analog to digital on June 12, 2009 on channel 23.
On April 20, 2010, WVPX started broadcasting the main ION feed (23.1) in high-definition.
The station's digital feed is multiplexed.
- WOUB feature on Akron news
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WVPX
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WVPX-TV
- ^ The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says July 19, while the Television and Cable Factbook says June 7.
- ^ http://126.96.36.199:8080/bj/news/2000/September/10/docs/031187.htm