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WFTS is the ABC affiliate for the Tampamarker-St. Petersburg, Floridamarker market, owned by The E.W. Scripps Company. It broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 29. Its transmitter is located in Riverview, Florida.

History

WFTS-TV first went on the air on December 14, 1981 as an independent station. Being a flagship of the locally-based Family Group Broadcasting, the station programmed a family-oriented general entertainment format with cartoons, off-network dramas, old movies and religious shows. Its call letters originally stood for Family Television Station. An era of local ownership ended on April 22, 1984, when it was acquired by Capital Cities Communications. It was Capital Cities' first station in Floridamarker, the group's first -- and only -- independent station, and was also the last station acquired by the group prior to its merger with ABC.

Under Capital Cities, the station added more off-network sitcoms and reduced the number of religious shows and dramas on its schedule. In 1986, Capital Cities stunned the world with its purchase of ABC -- the network was ten times bigger than CapCities was at the time. CapCities owned several ABC affiliates, and two CBS affiliates: KFSN-TVmarker in Fresnomarker and WTVDmarker in Durham, North Carolinamarker. The company's combined assets exceeded FCC ownership limits at the time, so CapCities decided to keep its CBS affiliates and change their affiliations to ABC, along with WPVI-TVmarker in Philadelphiamarker and KTRK-TVmarker in Houstonmarker, and sold WFTS and ABC's O&O in Detroitmarker, WXYZ-TVmarker, to the E. W. Scripps Company, while selling several other stations to minority-owned firms. WXYZ would figure in WFTS' history once again less than a decade later.

Scripps continued the format on WFTS, running cartoons, sitcoms, movies, and dramas. A 10pm newscast was planned for the station, but did not come to fruition. WFTS picked up the Fox affiliation in 1988 after WTOGmarker dropped it and the station began to identify on air as "Fox 28".

On May 22, 1994, New World Communications came to an agreement with Fox, and most of New World's stations, including WTVTmarker, Tampa Bay's longtime CBS affiliate, were to affiliate with Fox. Among the stations making the switch were longtime CBS affiliates WJBKmarker in Detroit and WJWmarker in Clevelandmarker. Not wanting to be relegated to the UHF band, CBS heavily wooed Detroit's longtime ABC affiliate, WXYZ, as well as Cleveland's longtime ABC affiliate, WEWS-TVmarker. Both stations were owned by Scripps. With this as leverage, Scripps told ABC that it would have to affiliate with four other stations owned by Scripps: WFTS, KNXV-TVmarker in Phoenixmarker (which was also due to lose its Fox affiliation to a New World station), WMAR-TVmarker in Baltimoremarker and WCPO-TVmarker in Cincinnatimarker -- the latter had to wait for ABC's affiliation contract with WKRC-TVmarker to expire in June 1996 to switch. Scripps insisted on including WFTS and KNXV in the deal even though neither had a news department (see below).

As a result, in December 1994, WFTS assumed the ABC affiliation from longtime affiliate WTSPmarker, which took over the CBS affiliation from WTVT. WFTS then sent most of its syndicated programming to WTTAmarker, WTOGmarker and/or WTMVmarker, which would also air Fox Kids. A decade later, WFTS became one of three Florida television stations, and one of the many Scripps-owned ABC affiliates that preempted Saving Private Ryan.

The station is not available on Comcast cable in Venice (Southern Sarasota County) due to the presence of WWSBmarker, an ABC station formed after WTSP's coverage of the Sarasota area was insufficient when WTSP was an ABC affiliate. This means WFTS is not available to over 91,000 cable subscribers. [142349] In September 2007, both WFTS and WWSBmarker began to carry Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!; previously WTSPmarker had aired the two game shows from 7-8 p.m.

Tampa-St. Petersburg is the fourth largest market with a major network on the UHF dial, while the larger markets with a major network on the UHF dial are Phoenix (KNXV-TVmarker, channel 15), Atlantamarker (WGCL-TVmarker, channel 46) and Detroit (WWJ-TVmarker, channel 62). KNXV is an ABC affiliate while WGCL is an CBS affiliate and WWJ is a CBS owned and operated station.

Newscasts

During its days as an independent station and Fox affiliate, WFTS presented hourly newsbreaks and weatherbreaks, featuring a person reading the day's headlines or the current forecast. During the station's first few months on the air, the newsbreaks were provided by WNSI-AM 1380 (now WWMImarker) in audio only, over a slide that said News Check. Later on, News Checks began to feature newsreaders on camera at WFTS's studios. By the late-1980s, the newsbreaks became 28 Newsbreak or 28 Weatherbreak. These newsbreaks were discontinued in December 1994 after the station became an ABC affiliate and launched a full-scale news operation.

WFTS began airing full-scale newscasts in 1994, under the "28 Tampa Bay News" handle. The newscasts initially originated from Telemation studios in Clearwatermarker, since WFTS's studios on Tampa's east side (at the corner of I-4 and Columbus Drive) didn't have enough room for a full-sized newsroom or set. The station's news operation then moved to its new studios on Himes Avenue across from Raymond James Stadium in 1996. The station gradually added newscasts at 5-7am, 12noon-12:30pm, 5-6:30pm, and 11-11:35pm. Given the fact that many former Fox stations have switched to ABC, NBC or CBS at the time, WFTS did not falter with many stations of such that launched newscasts with no success at competing with long-standing (mostly VHF) news stations (some stations cancelled their newscasts as a result), WFTS manages to compete with rival stations in the Tampa market. However, the station is regularly in last place. In the May 2009 sweeps, the station placed last in all time slots except 6-7am (where it placed third ahead of WTSPmarker) in the key Adults 25-54 demographic [142350].

The newscast title was changed to "28 News" briefly in 2002, before being changed again to "ABC Action News" later that year due to viewer confusion with the ABC28 branding. The "Action News" all day branding is also shared with sister station KSHB-TVmarker in Kansas City, which is an NBC affiliate.

In fall 2005, the station extended its midday newscast to a full hour, from 12 noon-1pm, following the cancellation of ABC's soap Port Charles.

Weather Coverage

Screencap of "StormWatch in High Definition".
WFTS currently uses WSI's Titan HD weather system. WFTS was the first to broadcast a true high definition weathercast in the Tampa Bay area in October 2007, rival WFLAmarker soon followed. In early September 2007, WFTS introduced its 24-hour ABC Accu-Weather channel on Bright House digital channel 629. It is also available over the air on channel 28.2.

Newscast Lineup

Weekdays
  • 'ABC Action News This Morning in HD - 5-7 AM
Anchors: Dan Shaffer, Deiah Riley
Weather: Stephanie Roberts
Traffic: Captain Al, Meredyth Censullo
  • 'ABC Action News at Noon in HD - 12-1 PM
Anchors: Dan Shaffer, Deiah Riley
Weather: Stephanie Roberts
  • 'ABC Action News at 5 in HD - 5-5:30 PM
Anchors: Wendy Ryan, Linda Hurtado
Weather: Denis Phillips
  • 'ABC Action News at 5:30 in HD - 5:30-6 PM
Anchors: Brendan McLaughlin, Linda Hurtado
Weather: Denis Phillips
  • 'ABC Action News at 6 in HD - 6-6:30 PM
Anchors: Brendan McLaughlin, Wendy Ryan
Weather: Denis Phillips
Sports: Tom Korun
  • 'ABC Action News at 11 in HD - 11-11:35 PM
Anchors: Brendan McLaughlin, Wendy Ryan
Weather: Denis Phillips
Sports: Tom Korun


Weekends
  • 'ABC Action News: Your Tampa Bay Weekend (Saturday) - 6-8 AM, 9-10 AM
Anchors: John Thomas, Ellen McNamara
Weather: Bill Logan
  • 'ABC Action News: Your Tampa Bay Weekend (Sunday) - 6-7 AM, 8-9 AM
Anchors: John Thomas, Ellen McNamara
Weather: Bill Logan
  • 'ABC Action News at 6 in HD - 6-6:30 PM
Anchor: Sarina Fazan
Weather: Wayne Shattuck
Sports: Tom Korun
  • 'ABC Action News at 11 in HD - 11-11:35 PM
Anchor: Sarina Fazan
Weather: Wayne Shattuck
Sports: Tom Korun
  • 'Sports Zone - 11:35 PM-12:05 AM (Sundays only)
Hosted by: Tom Korun
The open to ABC Action News.


Digital Television

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

WFTS-DT

WFTS-DT broadcasts on digital channel 29.Digital channels
Channel Name Programming
28.1 WFTS-DT main WFTS-TV/ABC programming
28.2 The AccuWeather Channel AccuWeather


Analog-to-Digital Conversion

WFTS-TV shut down its analog signal on June 12, 2009 , as part of the DTV transition in the United States. WFTS-DT remained on its current pre-transition channel number, 29 using PSIP to display WFTS-DT's virtual channel as 28.

High Definition

On July 28, 2007 at 6:00pm, WFTS-TV became the first broadcast station newscast in the Tampamarker DMA to broadcast in high definition. WFTS surprisingly beat out rivals WTVTmarker and WTSPmarker who were both rumored to be competing for the first HD newscast in Tampa Bay.

News Personalities

Current Personalities

News Anchors
  • Dan Shaffer, weekday morning & noon anchor (since 1996)
  • Deiah Riley, weekday morning & noon anchor (since 2003)
  • Linda Hurtado, weekday 5 & 5:30 PM anchor & health reporter (since 1994)
  • Brendan McLaughlin, weekday 5:30, 6, & 11 PM anchor and host of Flashpoint (since 1994)
  • Wendy Ryan, weekday 5, 6, & 11 PM anchor (since 2003)
  • John Thomas, weekend morning anchor and weekday reporter (since 1999)
  • Ellen McNamara, weekend morning anchor (since 2009)
  • Sarina Fazan, weekend evening anchor and weekday reporter (since 1999)


Meteorologists
  • Wayne Shattuck, (AMS Seal of Approval) weekend evening meteorologist (since 1994)
  • Denis Phillips, (AMS Seal of Approval) chief meteorologist (since 1994)
  • Stephanie Roberts, (AMS Seal of Approval) weekday morning & noon meteorologist (since 2008)
  • Bill Logan, weekend morning weather forecaster and weekday reporter (since 2004)


Sports Anchors

  • Tom Korun, weekday sports anchor
  • Dan Eassa, sports producer (also fills in for sports anchors) (since 2007)


Traffic Anchors
  • Meredyth Censullo, morning traffic anchor (since 2008)
  • John McQuiston, fill-in traffic anchor (since 2009)


News Reporters
  • Jackie Callaway, chief Taking Action For You reporter (since 2002)
  • Kellie Lightbourn, Your Tampa Bay Weekend contributor (previously Call for Action Attorney reporter)
  • Alan "Captain Al" Taylor, Action Air 1 pilot/traffic reporter (since 2002)
  • Don Germaise, general assignment reporter (since 1994)
  • Chris Martinez, general assignment reporter (since 2003)
  • Kerry Kavanaugh, consumer reporter (since 2007)
  • Carson Chambers, general assignment reporter (since 2007)
  • Rebecca Medina, general assignment reporter (since 2007)
  • Elizabeth Dinh, general assignment reporter (since 2007)
  • Dustin Chase, general assignment reporter (since 2008)
  • Karen Castillo, general assignment reporter (since 2008)
  • Erik Waxler, sports reporter/fill-in sports anchor (since 2009)
  • Lissette Campos, Community Calendar/Positively Tampa Bay segments (morning anchor 2001-2005, since 2008)


Past Personalities

  • Drew Soicher, sports director (1994-1998) Now at KUSAmarker in Denvermarker.
  • Jay Crawford, sports director (1998-2003) Now at ESPN and WCBS-TVmarker in New York Citymarker.
  • Paul Konrad, meteorologist (1994-1996) Now at WGNmarker in Chicagomarker.
  • Bob Kendrick, evening anchor (1994-2003) Currently at CHEK-TV, Victoria, B.C.
  • Angie Moreschi, anchor (1995-2001) Now freelance journalist and media consultant in Lutz, Floridamarker.
  • Patrick Emory, morning anchor (2001-2003)
  • Robin Guess, investigative reporter (2001-2005)
  • Martie Tucker (Salt), evening anchor (1994-2003) Now at WFTVmarker in Orlandomarker.
  • Lissette Campos, anchor/reporter (2001-2005) Now working in management at WFTSmarker.
  • Kelly Swoope, weekend anchor (1994-2002) Now at WMARmarker in Baltimoremarker.
  • Trina Robinson, anchor/reporter (1994-?) Now at WTVJmarker in Miami.
  • Barron Johnson, reporter/freelance reporter (2000-2004, 2006-2007)
  • Laura McElroy, reporter (1994-2004) Now working for the Tampamarker Police, serving as Public Information Officer.
  • Nannette Miranda, reporter (2000-2003) Now at KABC-TVmarker in Los Angelesmarker and on KGO-TVmarker In San Francisco as the Sacramento Bureau Chief
  • Tracy Sievertson, reporter (2001-2004)
  • Mike Mason, investigative reporter (?-2004)
  • Peter Bernard, reporter, fill-in weather forecaster (1994-2002) Now at rival WFLA-TVmarker in Tampamarker as a reporter.
  • Doug Smith, weekend anchor (1994-2003) Now at rival WTVTmarker in Tampamarker as an investigative reporter and fill-in anchor.
  • Sage Steele, sports anchor and reporter (?-2001) Later moved to Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, now at ESPN
  • Scott Hanson, weekend sports anchor (1997-?) Now reporter and host fill-in at NFL Network
  • Dave Mikes, morning anchor (1997-2001) Now at Salem Law Group as Communications Manager.
  • Heidi Kemp, freelance reporter (2005-2006)
  • Stacey Phillips, reporter (1998?-?)
  • Ren Scott, 5pm anchor (2002-2004)
  • Susan Scarborough, reporter (1994-?)
  • Dawn Witt, reporter (1994-?)
  • Dean Staley, reporter (1994-?) Now at Northwest Cable News in Seattlemarker.
  • Carolyn Douglas, reporter (?-?), Now noon anchor at KING5marker in Seattlemarker
  • Mark Joyella, reporter (1994-?) Now at WPLGmarker in Miamimarker
  • Kyle Kraska, sports (1994-1997) Now at KFMB-TVmarker in San Diegomarker.
  • Brennan Lothery, sports reporter (1994-1997)
  • Joy Petit, Bayview host (retired, ?-2007)
  • Mark Olesh, sports anchor (?-?) Now in real estate.
  • Josh Talkington, reporter (2004-2007) Now in Nashville, at an advertisement firm.
  • Rob Spicker, reporter (1997-2007) Now at WINK-TVmarker in Ft.marker Myersmarker as an anchor.
  • Dawn Pellas, reporter (2006-2007)
  • Mary Ann Razzuk, reporter (2007)
  • Tracy Jacim, reporter (2007) Now at WOFL-TVmarker Orlando.
  • Elizabeth Herrera, reporter (2007)
  • Samantha Knapp, reporter (2007)
  • Laura Kadechka, Now at WINK-TVmarker in Ft.marker Myersmarker.
  • Nadia Ramdass, freelance reporter (2007-2008)
  • Susan Casper, general assignment reporter/fill-in anchor (2006-2008), now reporter at KNXV-TVmarker in Phoenixmarker
  • Joe Demay, morning traffic voiceover (?-2008)
  • Jack Harris, WFLA-AM commentary (2005-2008)
  • Lisa Remillard, reporter (2005-2008) Now at KTNVmarker in Las Vegasmarker as an anchor.
  • Matthew Schwartz, investigative reporter (2005-2008)
  • Walt Maciborski, 5pm anchor (2005-2009) Now at KDAF-TVmarker in Dallasmarker.
  • Linda Gialanella, weekend meteorologist/fill-in meteorologist (2003-2009)
  • James Zambroski, general assignment reporter (2007-2009)
  • Porcha Johnson, general assignment reporter (2008-2009)
  • Al Keck, weekday sports anchor/sports director (2001-2009)


News/Station Presentation

Newscast Titles

  • 28 Newsbreak / 28 Weatherbreak (1988-1994)
  • 28 Tampa Bay News (1994-2002)
  • 28 News (2002)
  • ABC Action News (2002-present)


Station Slogans

  • Catch Familyvision on Channel 28 (1981-1984)
  • Tampa Bay's Independent (ca. 1986-1988)
  • Your 'Fox Television Station (early-1990s; coincidentally, this term was trademarked by the actual Fox Television Stations Group which never owned WFTS in the first place (though they now own WTVTmarker)
  • Working Hard To Be Your Favorite (1994-1995; used as secondary slogan from 1997)
  • Real People, Real News (1996-1999)
  • You Need to Know (2002)
  • Taking Action for You (2002-present)
  • First in HD (2007-2008)
  • Start Here (2007-present; local version of ABC network slogan)


News Music



Ownership



Viewing Area

WFTS can be seen mainly in Hernandomarker, Pascomarker, Pinellasmarker, Hillsboroughmarker, Manateemarker, Hardeemarker, and Polkmarker Counties. WFTS can also be viewed in portions of Citrusmarker, Sumtermarker, Sarasotamarker, De Sotomarker, Highlandsmarker, Orangemarker, Osceolamarker and Lakemarker Counties.

Trivia

  • The first incarnation of channel 28 was to have been WTSS-TV, an affiliate of the DuMont Television Network in the 1950s. It is very likely that that station never made it to air.
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been to the Tampa Bay area twice. During the first visit, host Ty Pennington came to WFTS's studios during a commercial break and took sports director Al Keck in Stormchaser to do a play-by-play version of the family's house when it was being destroyed to make way for the new one.
  • A clip from a WFTS newscast was shown on Jimmy Kimmel Live in early November 2006. In the clip, was reporter Susan Casper.
  • WFTS has produced two local versions of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition which asked viewers to nominate someone.


External links



References


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