|Fort Wayne, Indiana
|Branding||NBC 33 (general)
NBC 33 News
Fort Wayne (on DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 18 (UHF)
Virtual: 33 (PSIP)
|Owner||Granite Broadcasting Corporation
(WISE-TV License, LLC)
|First air date||November 21, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||"WISE" as in wisdom|
|Former callsigns||WKJG-TV (1953–2003)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog: 33 (UHF, 1953–2009)
Digital: 19 (UHF, 2003–2009)
NBC Weather Plus (2006–2008)
|Transmitter power||320 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WISE-TV, virtual channel 33 (UHF digital channel 18), is a NBC-affiliated television station located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States. The station is owned by the Granite Broadcasting Corporation; Granite Broadcasting also operates ABC affiliate WPTA (channel 21) under a local marketing agreement with owner Malara Broadcast Group. The two stations share studios and transmitter facilities located on Butler Road in Northwest Fort Wayne. Syndicated programming seen on WISE includes Steve Harvey, Bethenny, Modern Family and The Doctors.
The station first signed on the air on November 21, 1953 as WKJG-TV as the first television station in Fort Wayne; channel 33 has been affiliated with NBC since its debut and both it, along with WFIE-TV (which signed on six days before WISE) in Evansville, are the longest-tenured NBC affiliates in the state of Indiana. It was originally owned by William Kunkle, publisher of The Journal Gazette, along with WKJG radio (AM 1380 and FM 97.3); the call letters stood for "Kunkle Journal Gazette". Veteran Indiana sportscaster Hilliard Gates was the first person seen on the new television station. On September 30, 1971, the radio stations were sold; their call letters were then changed to WMEE-AM and WMEF-FM (the latter station is now WMEE; the AM station went through a variety of call signs including WQHK, WHWD and WONO, before reverting to the original WKJG calls on November 3, 2003 and is currently Fort Wayne's ESPN Radio affiliate).
For a time in the 1970s, WKJG-TV was owned by Tony Hulman, owner of WTHI-TV in Terre Haute. When Hulman died in 1977, WKJG was bought by Joseph R. Cloutier, a longtime executive with Hulman's company. After Cloutier's death, the station was bought by a trust fund called the Corporation for General Trade. Cloutier's son, Joseph A. Cloutier, became the majority shareholder with 51%. That company continued to own WKJG until it was sold in 2003. Through all these changes in ownership, Gates remained general manager until 1990, doubling for most of that time as its sportscaster. John Siemer, a newscaster and announcer at the station, was known at that time as "Engineer John" who introduced cartoons.
On January 13, 2003, the Corporation for General Trade was sold for $20 million to New Vision Television. The station changed its call letters to WISE-TV on May 26 to coincide with its 50th anniversary. WISE signed on its digital signal in 2003 on UHF channel 19, becoming the first commercial station in Fort Wayne to operate a digital signal. A new transmitter with a stronger signal and new high definition options was installed on the tower. The station was sold again on March 9, 2005 to the Granite Broadcasting Corporation for $44.2 million. Since the company already owned WPTA, it divested that station to the Malara Broadcast Group for $45.3 million, and established a local marketing agreement that called for Granite to provide operational services to WPTA as well as for Malara's other new station, KDLH in Duluth, Minnesota. Although WISE is nominally the senior partner in the LMA, the merged operation moved to WPTA's studios, and most of WISE's news staff was laid off.
Malara files its Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reports jointly with Granite which has led to allegations that Granite uses Malara as a shell corporation to evade Federal Communications Commission (FCC) duopoly rules. The FCC does not allow common ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market. Additionally, Fort Wayne has only six full-power stations (only four of which are licensed as commercial outlets), which are too few to allow duopolies in any case. After emerging from bankruptcy in the summer of 2007, Granite stock was taken over by privately owned hedge fund Silver Point Capital of Greenwich, Connecticut. Silver Point Capital now controls Granite Broadcasting, according to a Buffalo, New York news article printed on September 16, 2007. According to the same article, it planned to sell Granite to other parties and many of its stations had been laid off employees or cut salaries up to 20%.
On December 3, 2008, Bright House Networks announced that it would no longer carry WISE-TV on its Grant County, Indiana systems in Marion, Gas City and Jonesboro (all three towns are technically part of the Indianapolis market) after December 31, 2008.1
On July 25, 2011 Nexstar Broadcasting Group (owners of WFFT-TV, channel 55) filed an antitrust lawsuit against Granite Broadcasting, claiming that Granite tried to monopolize advertising sales through its shared services agreement with WPTA and the five network affiliations that were shared between WPTA and WISE at the time (WPTA already carries ABC and CW programming, while WISE added Fox programming to its MyNetworkTV-affiliated digital subchannel). Nexstar sought a judgment to force Granite to give up at least one of the three Big Four affiliations it had in Fort Wayne.2 On February 6, 2013, Nexstar settled its lawsuit against Granite; the settlement resulted in the Fox affiliation for the Fort Wayne market returning to WFFT on March 1, 2013, effectively reversing the switch.34
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming5|
|33.1||1080i||16:9||NBC33||Main WISE-TV programming / NBC|
On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of a new "sixth" network called MyNetworkTV, which would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created to compete against The CW as well as to give UPN and WB stations that would not become CW affiliates another option besides converting to independent stations.67 On September 5, 2006, WISE-TV moved NBC Weather Plus to a new third digital subchannel in order for its second subchannel to become the area's MyNetworkTV affiliate. This move – along with cable-only "WBFW" affiliating with The CW (with the channel being carried on WPTA's second digital subchannel) on September 18 – resulted in the deactivation of WANE-TV's second digital subchannel, which had been affiliated with UPN prior to the network's shutdown (that subchannel remained dark until it affiliated with TheCoolTV in 2010).
On December 1, 2008, Weather Plus was shut down and WISE-DT3 (branded as "Indiana's NewsCenter Weather Plus") reverted to a 24-hour local news and weather channel called "INCnow".8 Carrying local and state news, weather radar, and sports headlines, the channel allowed Indiana's NewsCenter to air breaking news without disrupting regular network programming. It had been possible after the national service folded that WISE-DT3's function would be assumed by the preexisting "Pinpoint VIPIR HD Channel" on WPTA-DT3, which featured rotating weather maps with audio from the NOAA Weather Radio.
With the addition of Fox to WISE-DT2, the subchannel was upgraded to 720p high definition. In order to preserve the bandwidth allowing two HD digital channels, it was announced WISE-DT3 (featuring national NBC Plus and local "The VIPIR Channel" weather forecasts) would be combined with WPTA's third digital subchannel known as "PinPoint Vipir HD Channel".910
WISE-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 33, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was moved to June 12). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 19 (originally to be its final digital channel assignment) to UHF channel 18 for post-transition operations.1112 Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 33.
WISE-TV presently broadcasts ten hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with two hours each weekday). Unlike most NBC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone. WISE-TV does not air any local news broadcasts in the midday or 5 p.m. timeslots on weekdays, or on weekends. However, it continues to simulcast the second hour of WPTA's weekday morning newscast.
Soon after buying channel 33, Granite merged its news department with that of WPTA, even though WPTA was nominally the junior partner in the LMA. Granite fired nearly all of WISE's anchors and reporters, with longtime anchorwoman Linda Jackson being the only channel 33 holdover integrated into the WPTA operation. This station began airing a weeknight newscast at 7 p.m. which was the first and, at the time, the only one in the state of Indiana. On September 11, 2006, this was replaced with a second episode of Dr. Phil due to low ratings. In November 2005, after several months of using the "Alive" news brand on both stations, WPTA debuted a new set in the basement of its studios formerly used to tape public-affairs programs such as Impact. With it came a new branding for the newscasts, Indiana's NewsCenter.
When WPTA took over news production on WISE-TV, there was initially a significant decrease in ratings. WANE-TV became the market's news leader for several years after that, according to Nielsen Media Research, since it was the only other local news operation in the area. This was most easily attributed to continued viewer resentment towards WPTA and Granite for the elimination of WISE-TV's news department and arguably its identity and history. However, WPTA management said the changes were part of a longer-term plan that would need up to five years to take hold with viewers. Part of the plan to win back viewers included new technology such as text messaging, an improved website with more online video, and upgrading weather equipment to a VIPIR system.
Eventually, the changes started to take hold and ratings began to drastically improve. In the November 2007 sweeps period, WPTA and WANE-TV were nearly neck-and-neck in the Fort Wayne television news ratings race with WANE-TV continuing to show a slight lead. On July 24, 2006, WISE-TV began airing a weeknight half-hour primetime newscast at 10 p.m. for on its NBC Weather Plus subchannel. With the September 2006 switch to MyNetworkTV on WISE-DT2 and the addition of The CW on WPTA's second digital subchannel, the program (known as Indiana's NewsCenter Prime News) began to be simulcast on both subchannels. On May 18, 2009, WISE-TV and WPTA upgraded its local newscasts to 16:9 widescreen enhanced definition. Although not truly high definition, the aspect ratio matched those of HD television screens. WISE-TV's first high definition newscast aired the morning of October 15, 2012; WPTA upgraded the night prior at 11 p.m. Until March 2013, WISE-TV ran a simulcast of WPTA's newscasts, with separate news opens used to replace the Indiana's NewsCenter brand on-air.
On March 4, 2013, WISE-TV began newscasts featuring a separate on-air team at 4, 6 and 11 p.m., focusing on lifestyle and social media. This new team originally began on subchannel WISE-DT2, whose 10 p.m. newscast was cancelled following the settlement of a lawsuit that saw its Fox affiliation return to previous affiliate WFFT-TV. Though WPTA personnel do not appear on these broadcasts, news resources continue to be shared such as video footage.
- The Marlboro News Report (1953–1957)
- The Tri-State Report (1957–1962)
- Channel 33 News (1962–1970)
- WKJG News (1970-1973)
- WKJG-TV 33 News (1973-1974)
- NewsCenter 33 (1974–1989)
- 33 News (1989–1997)
- NBC33 News (1997–2004 and 2012–present)
- WISE33 News (2004–2005)
- 21Alive News on WISE33 (2005)
- Indiana's NewsCenter (2005–2012)
- "Where News Comes First" (2003–2005)
- "A Network of Indiana's NewsCenter" (2005–2010)
- "24/7 News Source" (2010–2011)
Current on-air staff13
- Eric DeFreeuw - weekdays at 4 and 4:30 and weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.; also videojournalist and fill-in weather forecaster
- Charley Butcher - weekdays 6-7am (Fort Wayne's Morning News on WOWO 1190 AM/92.3 FM and NBC33)
- Megan Trent - weekdays at 4 and 4:30 and weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Billy Elvis - sports anchor; weeknights at 11 p.m.
- Katie Law - weather specialist; weekdays at 4 and 4:30 and weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
Multimedia journalists (seen only on weekday mornings)
- Jennifer Blomquist - "Golden Apple" segment producer
- Jeff Bowman - weekday morning reporter
- Eric Clabaugh - videojournalist
- Eric DeFreeuw - videojournalist
- Rachel Martin - videojournalist
- Jeff Neumeyer - videojournalist
- Stephanie Parkinson - videojournalist
- Max Resnik - videojournalist
- Corrine Rose - videojournalist
- Dick Florea - news director/anchor/host of Editor's Desk (1970s–1980s; retired in 2001 after 35 years)
- Dick DeFay - sports anchor (1965–1991)
- Greg Shoup - chief meteorologist (1989–2004; now morning meteorologist at WANE-TV)
- "Two more Fort Wayne Stations to be gone from Bright House Networks in Marion". Marion Chronicle-Tribune.
- Nexstar Files Antitrust Suit Against Granite, TVNewsCheck, July 25, 2011.
- Ft. Wayne Fox Affiliation Returns To WFFT, TVNewsCheck, February 6, 2013.
- Nexstar, Granite Settle Antitrust Lawsuit, Returning Fox Affiliation to Fort Wayne’s WFFT, TVSpy, February 6, 2013.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WISE
- "News Corp. to launch new mini-network for UPN stations". USA Today. February 22, 2006. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- News Corp. Unveils MyNetworkTV, Broadcasting & Cable, February 22, 2006.
- Granite plans local 24-hour news channel, Journal-Gazette briefs, November 11, 2008
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- CDBS Print
- IndianasNewsCenter.com - Indiana's NewsCenter official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WISE-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WISE-TV