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WPHL-TV, channel 17, is a television station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker, owned by the Tribune Company and currently affiliated with News Corporation-owned MyNetworkTV. The station's studios are located in the Wynnefieldmarker section of West Philadelphia and its transmitter is located in the Roxborough neighborhood.


On June 17, 1960, Percy Crawford signed on WPCA-TV, a religious station. The call letters stood for "People's Christian Association." The station was Philadelphia's first commercial UHF channel, but at a time when UHF converters weren't required on most TV sets, WPCA only lasted two years and went off the air in 1962.

However, a group of local investors obtained a new channel 17 license. The new station debuted on September 17, 1965 as independent station WPHL-TV. It was the third UHF independent to sign-on in Philadelphia that year, two and a half weeks behind WKBS-TV (channel 48) and four months later than WIBF-TV (channel 29, later WTAF and now WTXF-TVmarker). During its early years WPHL went through a string of owners, most notably as an owned-and-operated station of the short-lived United Network.

In the summer of 1975 WPHL-TV moved from its studios in the suburb of Wyndmoormarker to its current studio in Wynnefield. The building had once been an A&P supermarket. The station offered a schedule of off-network drama shows, sitcoms, old movies, sports and religious shows. It also ran NBC programs that were pre-empted by KYW-TVmarker until the fall of 1976, and again from the fall of 1977 to the summer of 1983. The Providence Journal Company bought channel 17 in 1979. At that point, WPHL sought a different programming strategy toward adults, gradually dropping children's programming and cartoons. They focused more on movies, off-network drama shows, recent off-network sitcoms, and sports. The station also had several hours of religious programming per day.

Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, WPHL was known on-air as "The Great Entertainer", with voiceovers from Sid Doherty. The station positioned itself as an alternative to both WTAF and WKBS, as it programmed more towards adults with movies and other syndicated programs, while its competitors were heavy on sitcoms and children's cartoons. WPHL was also a station heavy on sports, as it aired contests featuring Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies until 1982, the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers from 1982 to the 1990s and the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers in the 1990s.

From September 1981 to August 1987, the WPHL studios hosted a Monday-through-Friday afternoon dance show, Dancin' On Air as well as a spin-off on the USA Network called Dance Party USA with the latter hosted by Dave Raymond, who was better known as the man in the Phillie Phanatic costume. Those shows marked the on-air debut of a young girl from nearby Voorhees, New Jerseymarker named Kelly Ripa.

In the summer of 1982, WKBS went on the market after its owner, Field Communications, decided to exit broadcasting. The Providence Journal Company was among those who were bidding for channel 48's license. Had it emerged victorious, Providence Journal would have merged WPHL and WKBS' schedules under the WKBS license and channel allocation, while selling the channel 17 license to either a religious or educational broadcaster. Cornerstone TV came close to buying the station. However, Field rejected the Journal's bid, along with other bids because they considered it too low. With no takers willing to give Field what it wanted for the station, WKBS-TV ceased operations ("went dark" in television terminology) a year later on August 29, and WPHL picked up various syndicated programs, cartoons, movies, and production equipment from WKBS.

In 1987, the Providence Journal Company sold WPHL-TV to a consortium headed by Dudley S. Taft Jr., the former president of the Cincinnatimarker-based Taft Television and Radio Company, the longtime owners of rival WTAF-TV. Dudley Taft had left his family's namesake company following a corporate restructuring which resulted in the firm changing its name to Great American Broadcasting. He also brought along key personnel from WTAF (which Taft had sold to TVX Broadcast Group in early 1987), including general manager Randy Smith. The new ownership scrapped the "Great Entertainer" slogan and related logo for a new identity as PHL 17, in an apparent attempt to counter WGBS-TV's (channel 57, now WPSGmarker) Philly 57 branding. In 1991, the Taft group sold channel 17 to the Tribune Company. The station, along with most of Tribune's independent stations, affiliated with the WB Television Network (of which Tribune was part-owner) in January 1995, and in September of that year changed its on-air identity to WB 17.

Throughout the station's first three decades of service, WPHL had a tremendous professional sports presence—at various points holding the broadcast rights to the Phillies (1971-82 and 1993-98, and returning from 2009-11 with a new three-year contract signed on November 19, 2008), the Flyers (1991-98) and the 76ers (1982-95), as well as covering local college basketball and football, with games featuring teams from the Philadelphia Big 5 (LaSalle Universitymarker, University of Pennsylvaniamarker, Saint Joseph's Universitymarker, Villanova Universitymarker and Temple Universitymarker). After the station took on WB programming, it let go of many of its sports contracts in order to concentrate on its network obligations. Currently, the station does air syndicated college football and basketball games from the syndication arm of ESPN involving the Mid-American Conference (football) and Big East Conference (basketball). WPHL also aired Big Ten Conference games until the creation of the Big Ten Network on cable in 2007. It has also aired preseason games of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.

On January 24, 2006, the WB and UPN networks announced that they would merge into a new network called The CW. On the same day the new network was announced, it signed a 10-year affiliation agreement with most of Tribune's WB stations. However, in the case of Philadelphia, the new network's affiliation went to the city's UPN station, WPSG. It would not have been an upset had WPHL been chosen, however. CW officials were on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN stations for their new network, and Philadelphia was one of the few markets where the WB and UPN stations were both relatively strong.

WPHL-TV was slated to return to its previous independent status, but on May 15, 2006, Tribune announced that it would affiliate channel 17 (and two other WB stations not included in the CW affiliation deal) with MyNetworkTV, making it the largest station (in terms of market size) affiliated with MNTV that is not owned by News Corporation, MNTV's parent company. It is also the only major station in Philadelphia that is not owned by its respective network.

In July, WPHL rebranded itself as myphl17, which partially revived the station's former PHL 17 moniker. WPHL began airing My Network TV programming on September 5, 2006, the day the new service was launched. As a result, it did not air the final two weeks of WB programming.

Digital television

The station's digital channel:

Digital channels
Channel Name Programming
17.1 WPHL-DT Main WPHL-TV programming
17.2 WPHL-DT2 This TV‎ (started February 2009)

WPHL-TV ended programming on its analog signal, on UHF channel 17, on June 12, 2009 as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station then returned to channel 17 for its post-transition operations. WPHL-TV had been operating channel 54 as its pre-transition broadcasts, but that channel is out of the core digital channel allotment.

Out of Market coverage

WPHL is carried in central New Jersey in parts of Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset and Warren counties. On Cablevision in Ocean County, it is available on analog however, on Comcast it is only available on digital cable Channel 255. It had been on anolog channel 17 until late February 2008 when it was moved by Comcast to digital only to preserve bandwidth. It is also carried in Cecil County, Maryland as well. There is no satellite coverage outside of the Philadelphia market.


The station's nightly news open

In house news program

In 1994, WPHL entered into an unusual agreement with The Philadelphia Inquirer to broadcast an Inquirer-branded news program. Inquirer News Tonight was a hybrid newscast that integrated normal television news conventions with contributions from the newspaper's personnel. This format did not last and it was abandoned in favor of a more traditional newscast. The broadcast was rebranded as WB 17 News at 10 in late-1996. On December 10, 2005, all in-house news operations were canceled and the entire news and production staff was let go.

NBC 10 news program

On the same December 10, 2005 date WPHL started broadcasting a 10PM half hour news program produced by the news department of the NBC O&O station WCAUmarker (Ch. 10). This newscast was called "WB 17 News at 10 Powered by NBC 10". On July 25, 2006, the program was re-named "My PHL 17 News Powered by NBC 10" to correspond with WPHL's upcoming switch to MyNetworkTV. When WCAU debuted their new high definition studios on December 10, 2008 they began producing the "My PHL 17 News" high definition as well (with what looks like a greenscreen in the background).

My Phl 17 News at 10 Powered by NBC 10 (10 to 10:30 P.M)
  • Anchor:
    • Denise Nakano
  • Weather:
    • Glenn Schwartz
  • Sports:

  • Anchor:
    • Kristin Welker
  • Weather:
    • Dave Warren
  • Sports:
    • John Clark

WPHL features additional news staff with WCAU. See that article for a complete listing.

News/station presentation

Newscast Titles

  • Inquirer News Tonight (1994-1996)
  • WB 17 News (1996-2006)
  • My PHL 17 News (2006-present)

Station Slogans

  • The Great Entertainer (1980-1988)
  • You'll Find Your Friends on WB17 (1995-1996, localized version of The WB ad campaign)

See also


External links

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