WATN-TV

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WATN-TV
Local24logo.png
Memphis, Tennessee
United States
Branding Local 24 (general)
Local 24 News (newscasts)
Slogan Your Story is Our Story
Channels Digital: 25 (UHF)
Virtual: 24 (PSIP)
Subchannels 24.1 ABC
Affiliations ABC
Owner Nexstar Broadcasting Group
(Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc.)
First air date September 10, 1978; 35 years ago (1978-09-10)
Call letters' meaning ABC for TeNnessee
Sister station(s) WLMT, WJKT
Former callsigns WPTY-TV (1978–2013)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
24 (UHF, 1978–2009)
Former affiliations Independent (1978–1990)
Fox (1990–1995)
Transmitter power 1,000 kW
Height 340 m
Facility ID 11907
Transmitter coordinates 35°16′33″N 89°46′38″W / 35.27583°N 89.77722°W / 35.27583; -89.77722
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website www.localmemphis.com

WATN-TV, virtual channel 24 (UHF digital channel 25), is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by the Nexstar Broadcasting Group, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate WLMT (channel 30). The two stations share studios at the Shelby Oaks Corporate Park in the northeast section of Memphis,1 WATN's transmitter is located in the Brunswick section of Arlington. The station also handles master control and some internal operations for Jackson-licensed Fox affiliate WJKT (channel 16). Syndicated programming on WATN includes The Doctors, Dr. Phil and Maury.

History

As an independent station

The station first signed on the air on September 10, 1978 as WPTY-TV, and was the first station on the UHF band and first independent station in the market, as well as the first new commercial station to sign on in Memphis since WREG-TV (channel 3) debuted 23 years earlier. Memphis had a longer wait for an independent station than other cities its size. However, the Memphis market has always been a medium-sized market because the surrounding suburban and rural areas aren't much larger than Memphis itself.

It was owned by Petry Television, and ran a general entertainment format featuring cartoons, movies, sitcoms, westerns and drama series. WPTY also carried NBC, CBS and ABC programs whenever WREG-TV, WMC-TV (channel 5) and WHBQ-TV (channel 13) preempted network shows in favor of local programs. By 1983, WPTY gained competition when the TVX Broadcast Group signed on WMKW (channel 30, now WLMT), sparking a rivalry between the two independents.

TVX signed a deal to affiliate all of its stations with Fox in 1987, which resulted in WMKW becoming the Memphis market's affiliate of the network. Chase Broadcasting bought Channel 24 in 1988. In February 1990, Fox pulled its affiliation from channel 30 (by then known as WLMT) and gave it to WPTY. This occurred because WLMT had been sold a few months earlier, and TVX's affiliation agreement with Fox included a clause stating that if an under-performing TVX station was sold, it ran the risk of losing its affiliation.

Chase Broadcasting merged with Renaissance Broadcasting in 1992. Due to Federal Communications Commission rules which limited the number of stations a company could own, Renaissance was forced to put several stations up for sale; WPTY was purchased by Clear Channel Communications later that year. In 1993, Clear Channel entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) with WLMT's then-owner MT Communications, allowing the once rivals to pool resources and programming.

As an ABC affiliate

In 1995, Fox Television Stations unexpectedly purchased longtime ABC affiliate WHBQ-TV (in which Fox sold the station from ComCorp; since ComCorp turned the station from Adams due to severe financial straits year after; and it was short-lived.) and announced that the station would switch to Fox once its affiliation agreement with ABC expired in November of that year. ABC chose to affiliate with WPTY, the two stations switched affiliations on December 1, 1995. As the 1990s wore on, the station began evolving into a traditional network affiliate, running mostly first run syndicated shows and a few sitcoms while WLMT ran cartoons, movies, sitcoms and some reality/talk shows. In 2001, Clear Channel bought WLMT outright from Max Media, creating the first television duopoly in the Memphis market.

Former logo as WPTY, used from 2010 to 2013.

On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its entire television station group to Newport Television, a company controlled by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners. Newport announced on July 19, 2012, that it would sell 12 of its stations, including WPTY and WLMT, to Nexstar Broadcasting Group.2 The transaction was finalized on December 3.

On June 1, 2013, WPTY, WLMT and WJKT's operations were moved to a converted former MCI call center on the city's northeast side. Nexstar invested $5 million in constructing the new facilities, which included high definition cameras and other new studio equipment, a new set repurposed from sister station KLRT-TV in Little Rock (which consolidated its news department with KARK-TV earlier that year after Nexstar purchased the station through Mission Broadcasting as a result of the Newport deal), equipment to allow reporters from its new sister station KARK to appear on-air, and a shift away from automation for the production of its newscasts (the station formerly used Ross Overdrive for newscast automation, but continues to use other Ross products in the new facilities). As a result of these changes, WPTY became the final station in the Memphis market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. Alongside the new studio and HD transition, WPTY re-launched as "Local 24" and changed its call letters to WATN-TV (standing for "ABC for Tennessee") as part of a campaign coinciding with the move.34

Digital television

Digital channel

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming5
24.1 1080i 16:9 WATN-DT Main WATN-TV programming / ABC

From April 2011 to July 30, 2012, the station carried TheCoolTV on its second digital subchannel, which was available locally on Comcast digital channel 915. After the expiration of Newport's deal to carry the network, the subchannel affiliated with the Live Well Network, which was carried on WPTY-DT2 until mid-March 2013, when it was pulled from the station (Nexstar seldom carries subchannel networks except on a few stations – such as WLMT, which carries Me-TV on its second subchannel – unless a CW or MyNetworkTV subchannel is needed in the marketcitation needed).

Analog-to-digital conversion

WATN (as WPTY-TV) discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 24, 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 remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 25,6 using PSIP to display WATN-TV's virtual channel as 24 on digital television receivers.

News operation

Nightly news open at 6.

WATN-TV presently broadcasts 24½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours on weekdays and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays). In addition, WATN produces an hour-long extension of its weekday morning newscast at 7 a.m. and a nightly at 9 p.m. newscast (in addition to a sports highlight program padding out the final 15 minutes of the latter program) for WLMT. Fox affiliate WJKT simulcasts WLMT's 9 p.m. newscast and sports program. That station has microwave facilities at its studios in Jackson which allows the transmitting of live shots from the area. During weather segments, WATN and WLMT use live radar data from the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office on Farm Road (officially Walnut Grove Road) in Memphis.

After becoming an ABC affiliate, Clear Channel decided to invest in a news department for WPTY. When it launched on November 1, 1995, newscasts were initially branded as NewsWatch 24 and featured an energetic, youthful and almost "grunge" look. From the start, in addition to the newscasts on channel 24, the station has also produced a prime time newscast on WLMT, initially titled NewsWatch 30 at 9, in competition with the in-house 9 p.m. newscast that WHBQ debuted when it joined Fox. Several years later, WPTY rebranded as ABC 24 News (with the WLMT newscast being renamed UPN 30 News at 9) and began to modify its style to reach a broader audience.

In 2002, WPTY adopted the Eyewitness News format (which was previously used by WHBQ until 1997), and adopted a harder-edged, more aggressive and often "confrontational" approach to its reporting style. The change resulted in most of its original news anchors and reporters leaving or being laid off, with a complete overhaul in the station's image and presentation. During this time, WPTY's news operation had its share of recognition and awards. It was honored in 2005 with Associated Press broadcasting awards for "Best Breaking News", "Best Newscast", "Best Reporter" and "Best Sportscast". The station was also honored in 2005 with an Edward R. Murrow and regional Emmy Award as the "Best Weekend Newscast".

In 2006, the Associated Press honored WPTY with nine awards including "Best Overall Newscast". However, since its news department began, WPTY's newscasts have lagged in last place in the ratings, placing far behind long-dominating rivals WREG, WMC and WHBQ. In 2009, with continued low ratings, and under its new Newport Television ownership, the station brought in new management, leading to several staff layoffs. Gradually, WPTY's newscasts dropped most of the confrontational and aggressive style. In November 2010, after eight years of operating under the Eyewitness News name, WPTY reverted to the previous ABC 24 News brand. On April 29, 2012, WPTY began broadcasting its newscasts in 16:9 widescreen standard definition.

When the station became WATN on June 1, 2013, it ushered in a complete overhaul of its news programming. With the move to its new Shelby Oaks studio, WATN began broadcasting newscasts in high definition on that date;3 the newscasts were also rebranded as Local 24 News. On October 7, 2013, WATN debuted a local talk program, Local Memphis Live(replacing Live! with Kelly and Michael, which was dropped in early September) that competes with WHBQ's newscast and WREG's own news/talk program in the 9 a.m. timeslot.

Newscast titles

Station slogans

  • "The Mid-South's News Source"/"The Mid-South's Information and Entertainment Source" (1995–1997)
  • "Your New Mid-South News Leader" (1997)
  • "Our Focus: The Mid-South" (1997–2002)
  • "Uncovering. Investigating. Getting Results." (2002–2010)
  • "Your Story is Our Story" (2013–present)

News team

Current on-air staff8

Anchors
  • Kelli Cook - Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 5:00 and weekends at 9:00 (WLMT) and 10:00 p.m.; also weeknight reporter
  • Rodney Dunigan - weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 on WATN and 7:00-8:00 on WLMT) and weekdays at 11:00 a.m.; also health reporter
  • Cameron Harper - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00, 9:00 (WLMT) and 10:00 p.m.
  • Joy Lambert - weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 on WATN and 7:00-8:00 on WLMT) and weekdays at 11:00 a.m.
  • TBD - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00, 9:00 (WLMT) and 10:00 p.m.
  • Yvette Whiteside - Local Memphis Live (weekday mornings at 9:00 a.m.)
Weather team
  • Paul Williams (AMS Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5:00, 6:00, 9:00 (WLMT) and 10:00 p.m.
  • Lauren Raymer (NWA Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 on WATN and 7:00-8:00 on WLMT) and weekdays at 11:00 a.m.; also co-host of Local Memphis Live
  • Sean Parker (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 5:00 and weekends at 9:00 (WLMT) and 10:00 p.m.; also weekday environmental reporter
Sports team
  • Jamie Griffin - sports director
  • Gil Tyree - sports anchor; Sundays at 5:00, Thursdays-Fridays and Mondays at 6:00 and Thursdays-Mondays at 9:00 (WLMT) and 10:00 p.m.
  • Marcus 'Doc' Holliday - sports anchor; Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 6:00, 9:00 (WLMT) and 10:00 p.m.; also sports reporter
Reporters
  • Tish Clark - Mississippi reporter
  • Jeni DiPrizio - investigative reporter
  • Rae Lyn Hartley - lifestyle/entertainment reporter
  • TBD - general assignment/sports reporter
  • Austin Lewis - general assignment reporter
  • Mike Matthews - "Watchdog" reporter
  • Jamie McGriff - weekday morning reporter
  • Casey Monroe - multimedia journalist/reporter
  • Shelley Orman - general assignment reporter
  • Eli Ross - general assignment reporter
  • Rudy Williams - general assignment reporter
  • Ron Taylor - weekday morning traffic reporter

Former on-air staff

  • Dayna Devon - weeknight anchor/reporter (1997–1999)
  • Dee Griffin - weeknight anchor (now a digital journalist at WJBF-TV in Augusta, Georgia)
  • Bonny Kinney - anchor/reporter (later at WREG-TV; now at FedEx)
  • Brian Teigland - chief meteorologist (1994-2008, deceased)9
  • Mark Walden - weekend evening meteorologist and later chief meteorologist (1999–2013, deceased)10

See also

References

External links








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