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WCNC-TV is the NBC affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolinamarker. It broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 22 (virtual channel 36) and is carried on cable channel 6 on most area cable systems. Charlotte was the largest market with an NBC affiliate on the analog UHF band. It is owned by the Belo Corporation. Its studios are located in the Wood Ridge Center office park, off Billy Graham Parkway in south Charlotte, at . Its transmitter is located in Dallas, North Carolinamarker. It offers "WCNC WeatherPlus" on its digital subcarrier.

NBC News has its satellite news feed headquarters right next door to WCNC's studios. The complex is called the NBC Newschannel and in the 1990s, NBC Newschannel produced an overnight newscast on the network (NBC Nightside), and also produced the weather segments for Europe's NBC Super Channel, before that channel folded. It also served as headquarters of the failed Spanish language new venture "Canal de Noticias, NBC" from 1993-1997, before NBC purchased the Telemundo network from Sony.

WCNC's programming is repeated on low-powered W30CR (formerly W29BC) in Biscoe, North Carolinamarker and W24AY in Lilesville, North Carolinamarker. These are the only low-powered translators operated by one of Charlotte's major television stations.

Early history

WRET-TV logo from the 1970s.
WCNC debuted on July 9, 1967, as WCTU-TV, owned by Twisdale-Steel Stations. It was North Carolina's first independent station, beating Hickory'smarker WHKY-TVmarker by only a few months. It was not the first occupant of the channel 36 frequency in the Charlotte market, however. The first station to broadcast on that frequency signed on in December 1953 and was known as WAYS-TV and then WQMC-TV. However, it made no headway against WBTVmarker because television set manufacturers were not required to include UHF tuning capability. It left the air in March 1955. A plan to return it to the air under different ownership in 1957 was unsuccessful. Cy Bahakel bought the station's license in 1964 and returned it to the air as WCCBmarker, which broadcast on channel 36 before moving to its current location on channel 18 in 1966. A year later, Twisdale-Steel started WCTU on the frequency.

WCTU was a typical UHF independent, airing a lineup of cartoons, sitcoms, old movies and sports. It was also the original home of Jim Bakker's television ministry after he broke off from Pat Robertson and CBN. The station hit hard times financially and was sold to Ted Turner in 1970. Turner renamed it WRET (after his initials, Robert Edward Turner). He significantly upgraded the station's programming and made it profitable almost immediately, as he did in Atlantamarker with what became WTCG and WTBSmarker. Briefly, Turner tried putting WRET on cable systems outside the immediate Charlotte area, as he did with his Atlanta station, via microwave transmission; this effort was not quite as successful as WTCG's was in states adjacent to Georgiamarker.

In 1978, ABC moved its Charlotte affiliation from WCCB to WSOC-TVmarker. Conventional wisdom suggested that the longer-established WCCB should have taken the NBC affiliation from WSOC-TV. However, in a considerable upset, NBC moved its affiliation to WRET, even though channel 36 had been on the verge of closing down earlier in the decade. NBC chose WRET over WCCB as its new affiliate on the basis of a commitment by Turner to invest $2.5 million in upgrading the station, increasing its signal strength and launching a local news department comparable in size to channel 9's, and twice the size of WCCB's existing small-scale operation. WCCB's owner, Cy Bahakel, was not willing to spend the money required to make the upgrades NBC wanted. (This was the first news operation ever owned by the future founder of CNN.) Within a few months, "Action News 36" had become competitive with longer-established WBTVmarker and WSOC. Robert D. Raiford was the first news anchor. Upon becoming a network affiliate, Turner sold about half of WRET's programming to WCCB, including older sitcoms, movies and most of its inventory of syndicated cartoons.

WPCQ-TV/Group W Broadcasting (1980-1984)

Turner's ambitious ownership of the station would not last long, however. In 1980, he sold WRET to Westinghouse Electric Corporation (Group W), using the proceeds to start CNN. The $20 million sales price was then the highest ever paid for a UHF station. Westinghouse changed the call letters to WPCQ-TV (People [of the] Carolinas [and the] Queen [City]), and added more syndicated game shows and talk shows to its lineup. It was Group W's only station on UHF, and at the time the only one not located in a top-25 market (however, due to the area's large population growth since then, Nielsen Media Research ranks Charlotte the 25th-largest market as of 2008).

Under Group W, channel 36 went into a ratings slump that lasted for almost two decades. Despite the record purchase price, Group W did not invest much in the station. The news department was significantly cut back. Group W immediately dropped the station's weekend news programs, and moved the 11 p.m. newscast to 12:30 a.m. before canceling it altogether in 1981. The early evening newscast was shifted between the 5:30 and 6 p.m. time slots until the fall of 1982, when it was canceled as well. For the remainder of Group W's ownership, the station's only remaining local news programming consisted of a half-hour broadcast at noon, hourly cut-ins, five-minute local inserts during the Today show, a weekly magazine program and occasional specials. Network news also suffered; WPCQ dropped NBC Nightly News on weekends in 1980, and on weeknights in 1982 (making it the only NBC affiliate not to carry Nightly News). The David Brinkley-anchored NBC Magazine, an early-1980's attempt to compete with 60 Minutes, was bumped from its prime-time network time slot to Sunday at midnight in Charlotte. Even Westinghouse's own productions were not guaranteed an audience on the station; Group W's nationally popular PM Magazine had been seen on WBTV since before Westinghouse's purchase of WPCQ, while Hour Magazine moved to WBTV after being canceled due to low ratings on WPCQ.

By the fall of 1982, and for the rest of Group W's ownership, the station's programming lineup and on-air look resembled those of an independent station rather than a major-network affiliate. In addition to airing minimal news programming, the station pre-empted significant amounts of NBC's schedule, probably figuring that local ad revenues would be much higher than network payments, which were comparatively small due to low ratings. Its daytime and late afternoon lineup consisted mostly of syndicated cartoons (long after other major-network affiliates in markets of Charlotte's size dropped cartoons from their daytime schedules) and reruns of 1960s and 1970s situation comedies. Local pre-emptions of network programs were common practice for Group W's affiliates, even though NBC was historically far less tolerant of this than the other networks. However, in contrast to WPCQ, most of Group W's other stations turned profits, ran full-time newscasts, and aired Group W's syndicated programs.

Not long after Group W took over, it reduced channel 36's transmitter power to only 100,000 watts, far lower than expected for a major-network affiliate on UHF. It only provided grade B coverage of many inner-ring suburbs (such as Gastonia and Rock Hillmarker) and was virtually unviewable over-the-air in much of the South Carolinamarker and western portions of the market.

For most of the 1980s, WPCQ was the third station in what was essentially a two-station market, even though this was a very prosperous period for NBC as a whole. Besides having to compete with WBTV and WSOC-TV, it also lost significant audience share to the nearby WXII-TVmarker in Winston-Salemmarker, WIS-TVmarker in Columbiamarker and WFBC-TV/WYFFmarker in Greenvillemarker, all of which were much longer-established NBC affiliates on the VHF band and whose grade B signals reached into the outer portions of the Charlotte market. For instance, many viewers on the South Carolina side of the market got a better signal from Columbia's WIS, whose transmitter is 80 miles south of Charlotte, even though WPCQ's transmitter was only 20 miles north of the state line.
WCNC-TV's news logo from 2006 to 2008


Modern history

Renaissance Broadcasting bought the station from Group W in 1984. NBC Nightly News returned to the schedule in the spring of 1985, but the local newscast at noon was discontinued. It also dropped cartoons from the weekday schedule, though syndicated reruns continued to make up a significant portion of the station's daytime programming. In 1986, WPCQ restarted a full-scale news department. At first, WPCQ scheduled its early-evening newscast for 5:30 p.m., knowing at the time that it couldn't compete with WBTV and WSOC-TV at 6 p.m. After a few fits and starts, it turned out to be the first truly successful attempt to program a drive-time newscast in the Charlotte market. In 1987, WPCQ expanded the 5:30 news to one hour, and added a 6 p.m. newscast on weekends.

Renaissance also gave WPCQ a significant technical facelift. For many years, WPCQ had operated from a transmitter located at its studio in the Newell neighborhood of northeast Charlotte. However, in 1987 it built a more powerful transmitter in Dallas, where most of the other Charlotte stations have their towers. It boosted the signal to 2.1 million watts. Not long afterward came another power boost to 5 million watts, the maximum power allowed for a UHF station by the FCC. This gave it a coverage area comparable to WBTV and WSOC-TV. WPCQ heavily promoted its stronger signal, billing itself as "Coming in Proud and Clear!"

Renaissance sold WPCQ to The Providence Journal Company in 1988. Journal Broadcasting renamed the station WCNC-TV (for Charlotte, North Carolina) on September 3, 1989 and added a distinct 6 p.m. newscast to the weeknight schedule. On the same day of the call letter change, it moved to channel 6 on all Charlotte area cable systems, and began promoting itself as "WCNC-TV36, Cable 6." In 1991, the station moved from its longtime studios in Newell to its current studios. From 1995 to 2003, the station was known on-air as NBC6, after its cable location. It called itself "channel 6" on-air for some years after dropping the NBC6 moniker.

Despite making a more credible effort at news than ever before, WCNC continued to drag along in the ratings until Journal Broadcasting merged with Belo in 1997.

WCNC-TV's former news logo, used from 1996 to 2006.


Ratings growth

When Belo took over in 1997, it invested large amounts of money in the station by hiring talent away from rival stations.

WCNC hired Terri Bennett from WSOC-TV when that station declined to promote her to chief meteorologist upon Ray Boylan's retirement; coincidentally, Boylan filled in at WCNC until Bennett's non-compete clause was up. (Bennett left the station in the fall of 2007 when her contract was not renewed.) Sonja Gantt, formerly of WBTV, was lured back to her hometown from Chicagomarker, where she had been working at WGN-TVmarker. Belo also invested large amounts of money into new sets, a news helicopter, a powerful live doppler radar system and other equipment.

For much of the early part of the 21st century, it waged a spirited battle with WBTV for second place behind WSOC-TV, though it has recently returned to a distant third place, with the exception that it almost ties WBTV at 6 a.m. WCCB's 10 p.m. newscast also draws a larger audience than WCNC's at 11 p.m. [61206]

On May 18, 2009, WCNC began broadcasting its local newscasts in 16 x 9 standard definition, which fills a widescreen TV. This change came alongside the revamping of some graphics. Due to the slumping economy and declining revenues, WCNC's parent company, Belo, has not given the station the funds needed to upgrade their studio for HD.

WCNC is most successful in Mecklenburg Countymarker (home to Charlotte itself), and it actually leads WSOC and WBTV in higher income neighborhoods in Charlotte (as opposed to the outlying suburbs and rural counties). WCNC has a higher percentage of college-educated viewers than WSOC and WBTV.

In late 2005, WCNC added Charlotte's first 4:30 p.m. newscast, creating a two-hour local news block running from 4:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m. In 2007, the station phased out its longtime brand of "6News" and re-branded itself "WCNC, the Carolinas' News Connection." In August 2008, it re-branded to "News Channel 36"--the first time it had used its over-the-air channel number in its branding in 12 years. In September 2008, WCNC added a 4:00pm newscast.

WCNC-TV's advertisement for a DTV test transmission.


Digital television

The station's digital signal, UHF 22, is multiplexed.

Subchannel Programming Digital Cable Channel
36.1 WCNC-HD (main WCNC/NBC programming) Comporium 306, MI 701, TWC 220
36.2 WCNC-WX (WCNC WeatherPlus) TWC 221


WCNC 36.2 had carried NBC Weather Plus; national network feeds for this service ceased operation in December 2008.

After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion was completed on June 12, 2009, WCNC-DT now broadcasts on channel 22.

Cable & Satellite Availability

WCNC still has to compete with NBC affiliates in other markets on cable, even with the technical upgrades in the 1980s. Its analog signal was somewhat spotty in the northern and eastern parts of the market. This is especially true in the northern part of the market, in part because WYFF's digital signal is also located on channel 36.

In North Carolina, WCNC is not carried on cable in Ashe Countymarker, which is served by WCYB-TVmarker, the NBC affiliate in Bristol, Virginiamarker. The West Jefferson area is also served by WXII-TV, the NBC affiliate in Winston-Salem. In New Londonmarker, Stanly Countymarker, the cable system carries WXII instead of WCNC. In South Carolina, WCNC is not carried in Jeffersonmarker and McBeemarker in Chesterfield Countymarker, which are served by WIS in Columbia. WCNC is, however, carried on cable in Hartsvillemarker, Darlington Countymarker, which is in the Florencemarker/Myrtle Beachmarker market.

WCNC's two translators both serve the far eastern portion of the market. One is in Lilesvillemarker, Anson Countymarker, where the main WCNC signal falls short. The translator covers the area between Wadesboromarker and Rockinghammarker. WCNC owns a second translator in southern Montgomery Countymarker, a part of the Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem market where WXII's signal does not reach. This translator does not cover eastern Montgomery County or Troymarker. WCNC is not carried on cable anywhere in Montgomery County except in Troy, the county seat. WCNC is not carried outside of the Charlotte market on satellite.

Notable personalities

Current on-air talent

WCNC NewsChannel 36 anchors

Weekdays
  • Sonja Gantt: WCNC NewsChannel 36 at 5, 6, Nightcast (11 PM)
  • Dave Wagner: WCNC NewsChannel 36 at 5, 6, Nightcast
  • Colleen Odegaard: WCNC NewsChannel 36 Today (5-7 AM), WCNC News Midday (11 AM-Noon)
  • Bobby Sisk: WCNC NewsChannel 36 at 4:00
  • Jeff Campbell: WCNC NewsChannel 36 Today, Midday
  • Jennifer Copeland: WCNC NewsChannel 36 at 4:00


Weekends
  • Maria Kotula: WCNC NewsChannel 36 Today (Saturday 6-8 AM, Sunday 7-10 AM)
  • Anjanette Flowers: WCNC NewsChannel 36 at 6 (PM), Nightcast


WCNC NewsChannel 36 reporters

  • Mark Boone
  • Michelle Boudin
  • Tony Burbeck
  • Glenn Counts
  • Maria Kotula
  • Amy Lehtonen
  • Alex Reed
  • Diana Rugg
  • Beth Shayne
  • Ann Sheridan
  • Stuart Watson


WCNC NewsChannel 36 First Warn Storm Team

  • Brad Panovich (AMS Seal of Approval): Chief Meteorologist, weeknights
  • Larry Sprinkle: Weather Anchor, weekday mornings
  • John Wendel (AMS Seal of Approval): Meteorologist, weekend mornings
  • Daniela Lopez: Weather Anchor, weekend evenings


WCNC NewsChannel 36 Sports

  • Greg Bailey: WCNC NewsChannel 36 at 6 & Nightcast Sports Director/Anchor
  • Ira Cronin: WCNC NewsChannel 36 at 6 & Nightcast (weekend) Sports Anchor/Reporter


Former personalities

  • Bob Raiford (anchor and talk show host, 1978-1986, now on The John Boy and Billy Big Show)
  • Amanda Davis (anchor, 1978-1982, now at WAGA-TVmarker Atlanta)
  • Charles Fishburne (anchor, 1978-1981, now owner of Charles Fishburne Productions in Richmond, Va.)
  • Cecily Newton (anchor/reporter, 1981-1982, now in public relations in Charlotte)
  • Dee Earley (Crosby)(anchor/reporter, 1978-1981, now living in Mount Pleasant, SC)
  • Paul Ingles (reporter 1979), now a public radio reporter, NPR contributor and music documentarian living in Albuquerque, NM)
  • Lou Tilley (sports anchor, early 1980s, now at CN8)
  • Janet McGill (meteorologist, 1978-1979, now living in Centerville, Ohio)
  • Mike Thompson (meteorologist, early 1980s, now at WDAF-TV Kansas City)
  • Art Norman (reporter, 1978-1980, now an anchor at WMAQ-TV Chicago)
  • Norma Rashid (reporter, 1979-1983, now living in Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Leesa Kelly (reporter, 1983-1984, now principal owner of Horizons TV in Great Falls, Virginia)
  • Frank Clark (reporter, early 1980s)
  • Kyle Hampton (reporter, early 1980s)
  • Ellen Shuman (reporter, 1980-1983, now author & founder of an eating disorder clinic, Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Cassandra Lawton (reporter, early 1980s)
  • Jackie Nedell (reporter, early 1980s, was HHS Secretary Donna Shalala's Communications Director, now with the Porter Norvelli Agency in Washington, DC)
  • Hope Hines (sports anchor, 1979-1980, now sports director at WTVF in Nashville, Tenn.)
  • Doug McKelway (reporter, 1980-1982, now at WJLA-TV Washington)
  • Karen Adams (anchor, 1986-?, now at WPRI-TV Providence)
  • John McKnight (anchor, 1986-1988, now in public relations in Atlanta)
  • Rick Jackson (anchor, 1986-1995, now at WVIZ TV/PBS WCPN-FM NPR in Cleveland)
  • Sharon Crews (reporter, talk show host/Community Affairs Manager, 1986-1989, now screenwriter in Los Angelesmarker, CA)
  • Lori Waldon (reporter, 1986-1988, now the news director at WISN-TV in Milwaukee)
  • Pierre Kimsey (reporter, 1986-1988, now writer, producer at WKNO-TV PBS in Memphis)
  • Peter Combs (reporter, 1986-1988, now based out of Atlanta with CBS Radio News)
  • Jim Celania (sports anchor, 1990's, now at WFNZ Sports Radio)
  • Larry Blucher (sports anchor, 1986-1988, now living in Bradenton, Fla.)
  • Dave Stanley (anchor/reporter) 1988-1995, now a Realter/Broker in Charlotte
  • Hannah Storm (sports anchor, 1988-1989, later at NBC Sports and on The Early Show on CBS. now with ESPN)
  • Mary Shalvarjian (general assignment reporter 1988-1990, then to Reporter WAGA-TV Atlanta
  • Kurt Lee (Government news, 1988-1999)
  • Steve Raleigh (meteorologist, late 1980s, now at WCPO-TV Cincinnati)
  • Dr. Joe Conway (meteorologist, late 1980s)
  • Tom Miller (Donovan) (anchor, 1988-1992, now an anchor at WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Pa.)
  • Doug Evans (Reporter, 1989-1991, now anchor/reporter WAGA-TV, Atlanta)
  • Jesse Johnson (anchor, 1988-1994)
  • Chuck Howard (sports anchor/sports director, 1995-2006)
  • Russ Riesinger (anchor, 1998-2003, now at WSAV-TV Savannah)
  • Allen Denton (anchor, 1996-1998, now at KUSImarker San Diego)
  • Alicia Booth (anchor, late 1990s, now at WEWS-TV Cleveland)
  • Val Holley-Dennis (anchor, 1993-1997, now in public relations in Charlotte)
  • Chris Clackum (anchor, ?-1997, now at NBC News)
  • Tim Knol (reporter, 2003-2006)
  • Tracy Flanagan (reporter, 1998-2000, WAGA-TV Atlanta 2000-2005, now media consultant/producer)
  • Coretta Robinson (Weekend Morning Anchor/Traffic Reporter, 1995-2006)
  • Joey Popp (reporter, 1988-1997, now at WTVI, Host of HealthWise and WFAE, Charlotte's National Public Radio station. www.joeypopp.com)
  • Peggy Fox (anchor/reporter, ?-?, now at WUSA-TV Washington)
  • Beatrice Thompson (anchor/reporter, ?-?, now at WBAV-FM Charlotte)
  • Jerry Peterson (weather/commentary, ?-?, now at WRHI/WRHM radio, Rock Hill, SC)
  • Bob Ormseth (reporter, 1987-?), now spokesman for the Fort Mill, SC, School District
  • B.G. Metzler (late 1970s-early 1980s)
  • Steve Gasque (reporter, early 1980s)
  • Terry Chick (sports, late 1970s-early 1980s)
  • Kristin Moore (traffic reporter, 2006-2007,moved to Atlanta)
  • Terri Bennett (chief meteorologist, 1996-2007)
  • John Snyder (anchor, 1998-2007, now at KSNW Wichita)


News/Station Presentation

Newscast titles

  • NewsWatch/NewsFinal (late 1960's)
  • Action News 36 (1978-1980 and 1981-1982)
  • Q36 Action News (1980-1981)
  • Channel 36 News (1982-1984)
  • 36 News (1986-1989)
  • News 36 (1989-1996)
  • NBC6 News (1996-2003)
  • 6News (2003-2007)
  • WCNC, the Carolinas' News Connection (2007-2008)
  • Carolina's NewsChannel 36 (2008-present)


Station Slogans

  • Come Home to the Best, Only on 36 (1988-1990; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Making a Difference (1989-1996)
  • Carolinas' News Channel (1996-2007 and 2008-present)
  • Carolinas' News Connection (2007-2008)


Awards

Despite still being in third place in the ratings, WCNC's news operation is one of the country's most frequent recipients of Regional Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Award.

External links



References


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