WWSB Channel 40 is the ABC-affiliated television station for the Florida Suncoast that is licensed to Sarasota. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 24 from a transmitter on Rutland Road (County Road 675) in the unincorporated Manatee County community of Rye, about 5 miles ESE of Parrish. Owned by Calkins Media, the station has studios on 10th Street in the Rosemary District of Sarasota. Its primary target area is Manatee and Sarasota Counties even though the area is in the shadow of WFTS. As a consequence to this station's transmitter location, its coverage area expands as far north as Northern Hillsborough and Polk Counties giving some aerial viewers a choice of two or three ABC affiliates depending on location.
|Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice-North Port, Florida|
|City of license||Sarasota|
|Branding||ABC 7 (general)
ABC 7 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Your Suncoast News|
|Channels||Digital: 24 (UHF)|
(WWSB License, LLC)
|First air date||October 23, 1971|
|Call letters' meaning||Sarasota & Bradenton|
|Former callsigns||WXLT-TV (1971-1986)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
40 (UHF, 1971-2009) Digital: 52 (UHF)
|Former affiliations||CBS and NBC (secondary throughout the 1970s)|
|Transmitter power||90 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||27°33′21″N 82°21′48″W / 27.55583°N 82.36333°W / 27.55583; -82.36333|
As a result, this station is technically a secondary ABC affiliate particularly for the eastern side of Tampa Bay. The city of Tampa itself is on the rim of WWSB's signal. On cable, the station is the sole ABC affiliate on Comcast's Southern Sarasota County systems and it competes with Fort Myers-based WZVN-TV (also known on-air as "ABC 7") in Desoto and Charlotte Counties and Orlando's WFTV in Hardee County. They have faced an uphill battle gaining carriage on cable and satellite television providers in some cases. Dish Network does not carry WWSB. Verizon FiOS added the channel to its Hillsborough and Pasco County systems in October 2006.
Syndicated programming on WWSB includes Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, both seen during the 7 pm hour, simultaneous with WFTS. On weekdays, WWSB shows Hawaii Five-O, The Andy Griffith Show, and Better, a syndicated lifestyle television program based on Better Homes and Gardens magazine. In previous years, WWSB carried generally the same syndicated programs as the other Tampa Bay stations, despite the overlap in signals, such as The Rosie O'Donnell Show (which was also held by WTVT during its entire run), Extra (also seen on WFLA-TV) and M*A*S*H (seen over the years on many stations, most recently WTVT).
The station first signed on the air on October 23, 1971 as WXLT-TV (XL Television with "XL" representing the Roman numeral for "40"); it was the first network-affiliated station in the West Central Florida that was not based in Tampa nor St. Petersburg. The station originally operated from studios located on Lawton Drive in Sarasota. It signed on to provide ABC programming in an area of the state that was insufficiently covered by the signal of WLCY-TV (channel 10, now WTSP) because of that station's lower-powered transmitter location well north of the Tampa Bay area's other television stations at the time. Until WLCY upgraded its facilities in the late 1970s, both that station and WXLT competed for viewers in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. It was not uncommon to see WXLT's billboards in Tampa, St. Petersburg or Largo. In the 1970s, WXLT also cleared some CBS and NBC programming passed on by WTVT and WFLA; in 1972, for example, when The Joker's Wild debuted on CBS, it was pre-empted on WTVT but carried by WXLT.
The call letters were changed to the current WWSB on August 31, 1986. That same year, Robert Nelson sold the station to current owner Calkins Media (formerly Southern Broadcast Corporation). On cable, WFTS (now the area's primary ABC affiliate after a market realignment triggered by Fox's purchase of WTVT, channel 13) was not carried south of the Sarasota area while WWSB was not largely available on cable north of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge until Verizon FiOS added WWSB to all of its area lineups. The latter was due to contractual conditions drawn up in the early 1990s by WTSP and later WFTS.
On September 27, 1994, WWSB received an affiliation termination notice from ABC, likely related to the network's forced change to WFTS; had the station not petitioned the Fedral Communications Comission(FCC) (and won, which it did) to keep its affiliation, the then-23-year-long ABC affiliation would have ended on April 2, 1995.
On November 5, 2001, the station relocated its operations from its longtime studios on Lawton Drive to its current location in the Rosemary District of Sarasota. In March 2004, the station dropped all references to its over-the-air position on UHF channel 40 and rebranded as "ABC 7" in reference to its cable channel position on Bright House Networks and Comcast in the station's service area. However, channel 7 is not WWSB's universal cable channel position: Comcast's Wachula system carries it on channel 2 and its Port Charlotte system offers WWSB on channel 10, since its home market's ABC station WZVN-TV is carried on channel 7.
The station and its sports director, Don Brennan, have been featured on a "webisode", along with an actual episode, of the ABC/TBS show Cougar Town, which is set in a fictional community in Sarasota County
The early days of WXLT's news coverage focused on local news and events, but to improve ratings, later expanded to "blood and guts" journalism focusing mainly on crime stories. The station became notorious in 1974 when news anchor and talk-show host Christine Chubbuck committed suicide by shooting herself in the head on-the-air making reference to the station's "blood and guts" policies in her final monologue. Her suicide occurred the day after a story she filed was cut for a story on a shootout at an area restaurant.
A second mobile newsroom was added in 1996 giving the station the ability to cover live news from multiple locations during newscasts.
In October 2002, it expanded its weekday morning news to an hour starting at 6. WWSB's conversion to "ABC 7" involved a redress of the station's news set, a new logo to a unique version and color scheme of the well-known circle 7 logo, a new slogan, and a major local promotion and advertising campaign.
The station's news department focuses its coverage Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto, and Hardee Counties. In addition to its main studios, WWSB operates a South Bureau (covering Southern Sarasota and Charlotte Counties) and Manatee Bureau (for Manatee County). Unlike most ABC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, this station does not air local news on weekday mornings in the 5 o'clock hour.
Black Almanac is a locally-produced public affairs program that airs on Sunday mornings 7:30. It is hosted by Ed James who is a longtime anchor and personality of the station since just after their sign-on as WXLT. The show focuses on the issues that African Americans face in the community. The program has aired since 1972 making it the longest running locally-produced public affairs program in the Southeastern United States.
ABC 7 News Team
- Don Brennan - weekday mornings on Good Morning Suncoast (5:00-7:00 a.m.)
- Scott Dennis - weekdays at noon and weeknights at 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.
- Stephanie Roberts - weekday mornings on Good Morning Suncoast (5:00-7:00 a.m.) and host of The Suncoast View
- Hayley Wielgus - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Max Winitz - weekends at 6:30 and 11:00 p.m.
ABC 7 Official Suncoast Weather Team
- Bob Harrigan (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m., also "Fishin' with Bob and Captain Jonnie" segment producer
- John Scalzi (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings on Good Morning Suncoast (5:00-7:00 a.m.) and weekdays at noon
- Wendy Ross - weather anchor; weekends at 6:30 and 11:00 p.m.
- Ray Collins - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
- Rebecca Vargas - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
- Alix Redmonde - health and medical reporter
- Bobeth Yates - general assignment reporter and host of The Suncoast View
- Josh Taylor - "7 South Newsroom" bureau reporter
- Linda Carson - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor and host of The Suncoast View
- Regina Hooper - political contributor and host of The Suncoast View
- Dr. Ed James - producer and host of Black Almanac
- Marsha Panuce - host of Animal Outtakes
- Richard Stern - business commentator; seen weeknights at 5:30 p.m. and Mondays at noon
- Captain Johnnie Walker - seen on "Fishin' with Bob and Captain Jonnie"
- Frank Alcock - political contributor
- Chef Judi Gallagher - culinary director; seen weekdays at noon
- Christine Chubbuck (1971–1974) (anchor, shot self live on air)
- Craig Sager (1970s) (reporter)
- Bob Keene First Anchor. Opening till 1986.
- John Hill[disambiguation needed] (1986–1995) (5, 6 and 11 pm anchor) (currently at SNN Local News 6)
- Kathy Winkler-Leon (1993–2003) (news anchor) (currently at SNN Local News 6)
- Kristi Krueger (1986–1990) (6 and 11 pm co-anchor 1988-1990) (currently at WPLG)
- Peter Linton-Smith (1987–1994) (reporter) (currently at WTVT)
- Kevin Daniels (1987–1994) (reporter)
- Valerie Amsterdam (1989–1990) (weekend news anchor)
- Kelly McGee (1989–1990) (morning and noon anchor)
- Nancy White (1990–1997) (producer, anchor)
- Jason Howe (1995–1997) (reporter)(currently communications director at Equality California)
- Lynn Huston (1995–1999) (currently at Emeritus News Channel)
- Tony Cornish, Jr (1998–2003) (sports anchor) (currently at WZBN)
- Michelle Jordan (2003-July 2005) (news anchor)
- Jackie Barron (1993–1998) (reporter) (currently at WFLA-TV)
- Grayson Kamm (2003–2005) (reporter) (currently at WTSP)
- Sheryl Greene (1997–2005) (reporter) (currently at WJBF as Sheryl Williams)
- Vida Urbonas (1999–2003) (anchor) (currently at KRDO-TV)
- Liz Weaver (2000–2003) (reporter) (currently producer at The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet)
- Dan Smart (2004–2005) (reporter) 
- Cathi Carson (2003–2005) (reporter, daughter of anchor ABC 7's Linda Carson and NFL coach Bud Carson) (currently the consumer reporter "Cathi on the Case" WTEV/WAWS)
- Richelle Ridgeway (2002–2005) (Sunrise and Noon anchor)
- Erik Von Ancken (2000–2003) (reporter) (currently at WKMG-TV)
- Kyle Kraska (1985–1988) (sports) (currently at KFMB-TV)
- Don Bell (2002–2003) (sports anchor) (currently at KYW-TV)
- Kevin Negandhi (1999–2002, 2004–2006) (weekday sports anchor) (currently at ESPN)
- Fred Meade (weekend anchor) 1975-1978 - currently international development consultant (see Wikipedia)
- Dave Knops (2005–2006) (fill-in forecaster)
- Eric Blackburn (2005–2007) (photojournalist) (currently at WTVT-TV)
- Kim Dean (1999–2003) (reporter) (currently at Inside Edition)
- Dionne Miller (2006–2007) (weekend sports anchor) (later at Columbus Sports Network; current whereabouts unknown)
- Alcides Segui (2004–2007) (reporter) (currently at WTVT)
- Vickie Oldham (1976–1980)
- Monica Buchanan Negandhi (2006–2007) (reporter) (currently at WVIT)
- Travell Eiland (2005–2007) (rporter) (currently at KLAS-TV)
- Eli Kuo (1996–2000) (reporter)
- Dave Deeley (1991–1996) (sports anchor/reporter), sports anchor/director WAAY, WNCF (1996–2002), professor, Truman State University (2002–2004), Ph.D. Alumni Graduate Fellow, University of Florida, (2004–present).
- Brad Giffen (2003–2008) (5:30 pm anchor/reporter) (currently at CFTO-TV and CTV News Channel)
- Tania Dall (2007–2008) (producer/reporter) (currently at KXLY-TV)
- Amanda Stanzilis (2005–2008) (reporter/fill-in anchor) (currently at KENS-TV)
- Ben Kaplan (Weekend Sports Anchor/News reporter) (2007–2008) (currently at KXLY-TV)
- Silke Rible (2002–2003, 2005–2008) (Sunrise, Noon news anchor) - currently at American Cancer Society in Charlotte, NC.
- Mark Boyle (2007–2008) (reporter) (currently at WFTV)
- Takara Fuller (2007–2008) (reporter)
- Lindsay Bramson (2007–2008) (photojournalist/reporter) (currently at WPMI)
- Doug Miles (1996–1997) (News Editor) (currently Broadcaster/Writer Sarasota, FL)
- Ken Jefferson (2002–2009) (Sunrise, Noon news anchor)
- Lowell Galindo (weekend sports anchor/sports reporter 2004-2006) (now with ESPN U)
- Todd Templin (1985-1987 weekend anchor/reporter)(1988-1990 News Director)
- Triston Sanders (late 1990s) (reporter) (currently at WCTV)
- Monica Yadav (1999–2010) (reporter/anchor) (currently host of The Showcase of Homes)
- Heidi Godman (1988–2010) (reporter, main anchor and medical editor) (currently the executive editor of the
- Callie Zanandrie (2009-2010)(weekend forecaster/reporter)
- Michelle Rieg (2003-2010) (Manatee Newsroon reporter)
- TV-40 NewsWatch (1971–1970s)
- NewsCenter 40 (1970s–1986)
- WWSB News 40 (1986–1994)
- News 40 (1994–2004)
- ABC 7 News (2004–present)
- 40 Is Yours (1980–1986)
- The Home Team (1986–1994)
- ABC for the Suncoast (1994–2004)
- Local News. Everyday. Every Newscast. (2004–2007)
- Your Suncoast News (2007–present)
- ^ http://www22.verizon.com/NROneRetail/NR/rdonlyres/A6D51319-17A2-4D3D-9BF1-B060DCDA9F25/0/FLGulfCoast.pdf
- ^ "Station cut from ABC roster" - Adweek Western Edition, 17 October 1994
- ^ FCC document: "APPENDIX B: ALL FULL-POWER TELEVISION STATIONS BY DMA, INDICATING THOSE TERMINATING ANALOG SERVICE BEFORE ON OR FEBRUARY 17, 2009."
- ^ WWSB: "ABC 7 engineers explain this weekend's Analog/Digital TV switch", 1/30/2009.
- ^ WWSB: "Switch to Digital TV delayed until June", 2/5/2009.
- ^ http://www.manship2.lsu.edu/perkins/Handouts/chubbucknew.pdf
- ^ Quinn, Sally (4 August 1974). "Christine Chubbuck: 29, Good-Looking, Educated. A Television Personality. Dead. Live and in Color (PDF)" (PDF). Washington Post. http://www.manship2.lsu.edu/perkins/Handouts/chubbucknew.pdf.
- ^ http://www.mysuncoast.com/station/staffDisplay.cfm?staID=33
- ^ HeraldTribune.com - News - News stories about Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties in Florida, from the newspapers of record. - HeraldTribune.com
- ^ Columbus Sports Network Press Release