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WPTZ is the NBC-affiliated television station for northern Vermontmarker and the North Country of New York Statemarker that is licensed to North Polemarker. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 14 from a transmitter on Mount Mansfieldmarker, Vermont's highest peak. Owned by Hearst Television, the station has studios on Television Drive in Plattsburghmarker. Syndicated programming on WPTZ includes: Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Oprah, and Judge Judy. It operates secondary studios, known as the Vermont Bureau, on Roosevelt Highway in Colchester, Vermontmarker.

Like other stations that serve Plattsburgh and Burlington, it has a large audience in southern Québecmarker, Canadamarker. This includes Montréalmarker, a city that is ten times larger than all of WPTZ's entire Americanmarker viewing area combined. For many years, WPTZ identified on-air as "North Pole / Plattsburgh / Burlington / Montréal" to acknowledge its large cable viewership in Canada.

On cable, WPTZ can be seen in Plattsburgh, New Yorkmarker on Charter channel 2 and in Burlington, Vermontmarker on Comcast channel 5. It is also the default NBC affiliate for Essexmarker, Franklinmarker, and eastern St. Lawrencemarker Counties in Upstate New York where it is seen on Time Warner Cable; in Ogdensburgmarker and western St. Lawrence County, Time Warner Cable offers both WPTZ and Syracusemarker's WSTM-TVmarker. It is widely carried over the province of Québec, as far north as Saguenaymarker and as far east as Gaspémarker. On Vidéotron systems in Montreal, it can be seen on: channel 23 (West Montreal), channel 18 (Central and East Montreal), and channel 52 (Illico digital).

However, during NBC prime time programming, Canadianmarker cable systems frequently cover up WPTZ's signal on cable systems in Montreal and, to a lesser extent, Quebec Citymarker. This is done to satisfy CRTC's simsub rules. That action benefits CFCF-TVmarker and CKMI-TVmarker. Sister station and NBC affiliate WNNEmarker has most of its operations and master control located at WPTZ's facilities. However, that station has its own studios on Dewitt Drive in White River Junction, Vermontmarker. It serves the Connecticut River Valley (a.k.a. Upper Valleymarker) area of central and southern Vermont along with western New Hampshiremarker as a semi-satellite of WPTZ. However, WNNE airs its own station identifications and local advertisements.


Channel 5 first signed on-the-air on December 8, 1954 as WIRI. It was owned by the Great Northern Broadcasting Company along with WIRY radiomarker. It has been an NBC station since its inception although it carried secondary affiliations with ABC from its launch until 1968 (when WVNYmarker signed on) and DuMont (until that network ceased operations in 1956). Rollins Telecasting bought the station in 1956. Shortly before that, WPTZ-TV in Philadelphiamarker was sold to NBC and renamed WRCV-TV (it is now CBS O&O TV station KYW-TVmarker). Rollins quickly grabbed the WPTZ calls for channel 5 after realizing that "PTZ" could stand for Plattsburgh.

Rollins merged with Heritage Broadcasting in 1987 to form Heritage Media. In 1991, Heritage bought NBC affiliate WNNE in Hartford, Vermontmarker which was a separate station with its own news department. With Heritage's purchase, it was made into a semi-satellite of WPTZ. The purchase significantly improved WPTZ's coverage in the southeastern part of the market; during the analog era, WPTZ was the only area station that didn't operate any translators. Heritage moved WNNE's master control to WPTZ in 2000.

Heritage Media sold all of its broadcasting properties to the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1997 prior to Heritage's merger with News Corporation. The sale protected new FOX affiliate WFFF-TVmarker which was initially operated by WPTZ under a local marketing agreement (LMA). Otherwise, WPTZ and WNNE along with then-sister stations WEAR-TVmarker in Pensacola, Floridamarker and WCHS-TVmarker in Charleston, West Virginiamarker would have been forced to switch their network affiliations to Fox. Sinclair, in turn, sold WPTZ and WNNE (along with the WFFF LMA) to Sunrise Television in 1998. However, instead of keeping them, Sunrise decided to swap all three stations along with Smith Broadcasting-owned KSBWmarker in Salinas, Californiamarker to Hearst-Argyle Television in return for WNAC-TVmarker in Providence, Rhode Islandmarker and WDTNmarker in Dayton, Ohiomarker. The swap became official on July 2, 1998. WFFF began operating as an independently-controlled station in 2000 when the LMA with WPTZ was terminated.

On June 23, 1999, WPTZ petitioned the FCC to change its city of license from North Pole to Plattsburgh. The station cited the area's declining population. The last census did not even count North Pole as a separate community and collapsed it into Lake Placidmarker. As of 2007, this has not yet been approved. However, the station has largely dropped North Pole from its station identifications and now identifies on-air as "Plattsburgh / Burlington" most of the time.

WPTZ is one of two television stations in the United Statesmarker to broadcast from the "North Pole". The other is KJNP-TVmarker, a religious station licensed to North Pole, Alaskamarker that serves Fairbanksmarker. It was a subject of a blooper when Oprah Winfrey taped a promo for her show for WPTZ and started laughing after she spoke the station's community of license. David Letterman, in another promo during his NBC tenure, riffed on the station's request for him to pronounce the "Z" in WPTZ as "zed" instead of "zee" for the station's Canadian audience. On February 17, 2009, the station shut down its analog signal and began to broadcast exclusively in digital. It is one of the first stations owned by Hearst-Argyle Television to cease analog broadcasting (KITVmarker in Honolulu, Hawaiimarker is the other). WPTZ's analog signal on VHF channel 5 transmitted from Terry Mountain in Peru, New Yorkmarker.


In September 2006, WPTZ established a daily web video forecast as part of a major revamping of its website. The video forecast, known as the "Weather Plus Update", featured a logo showing WPTZ and WNNE offering NBC Weather Plus together as "5 & 31 Weather Plus". Starting in October, channel 5's studios in Plattsburgh underwent extensive renovations. During that time, its news broadcasts were from a temporary set while the renovations took place. While the studios as a whole were being upgraded, the weather department underwent the most change. In advance of the launch of NBC Weather Plus, the weather center was expanded to make room for new combined WPTZ and WNNE weather graphics and logos. The remodeling was completed by late-November. WPTZ launched Weather Plus on a new second digital subchannel on November 15.

The station had launched a new digital signal from Mount Mansfield a day earlier. Weather Plus was never offered on WNNE's digital signal. On digital cable, WPTZ-DT2 was carried on Comcast channel 169, Time Warner channel 854, and Telecom channel 305. It was never offered on Charter systems in New York Statemarker. In December 2008, NBC shut down the national Weather Plus service. WPTZ continued to air a locally derived version of Weather Plus until August 31, 2009. On that date, the station replaced it with This TV. This marks the network's first foray into the Plattsburgh and Burlington area as well as St. Lawrence County, New Yorkmarker and eastern portions of the adjacent Watertownmarker market where WPTZ has long served as the default NBC affiliate. WPTZ-DT2 has remained on the three digital cable systems and is still not seen on WNNE-DT.

News operation

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, WNNE had its own news department. However, after Heritage bought WNNE, its local operations were progressively cut back, culminating in the elimination of what remained of channel 31's news department in 2007. Today, the only visual difference between the stations are separate IDs and advertisements, as well as different bugs during newscasts (though WPTZ's bug occasionally peeks through on WNNE whenever channel 31 has technical problems).

Today, WPTZ and WNNE use the NewsChannel branding. During WPTZ newscasts, WNNE is referred to as the Upper Valley Bureau and features a full-time reporter based in that station's White River Junction studios. Weeknights at 5:30, there is a live update from channel 31's studios that features headlines from the Upper Valley. In addition to the Upper Valley and Vermont Bureaus, WPTZ broadcasts national news from Hearst Television's Washington, D.C.marker bureau.

Although the two stations do not own or operate weather radars of their own, they use live NOAA National Weather Service radar data from several regional sites. It is presented on-screen in a forecasting system known as "Storm Tracker 5000". The main signal comes from the NWS' Local Forecast Office at Burlington International Airportmarker. Unlike most other NBC affiliates, WPTZ does not air a weekday Noon newscast. The station had aired news at that time until 2005 but it was dropped in favor of 5:30 Now. With the departure of Thom Hallock (contract was not renewed by station) on November 23, 2007, WPTZ was left with an all woman anchor team. That changed with the arrival of Gus Rosendale. He left WPTZ in 2005 to report at sister station WTAE-TVmarker in Pittsburghmarker and made the debut back at this station in mid-December.

On August 2009, WPTZ intoduced a new format to their newscast at 11PM. The new newscast, called "Nightcast" features "more fast-paced, edgier news". This comes in response to declining viewership for their 11PM newscast due to recent 10PM newscast additions from WCAX and WFFF in the market. WPTZ originally had the number one 11PM newscast.

News staff

  • Mary Morin - weekday mornings
  • Gus Rosendale - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11
  • Stephanie Gorin - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11
    • "Learning Counts" segment producer
  • Gabrielle Komorowski - weeknights at 5:30
  • Kelley Morris - weekends

NewsChannel 5 Weather Plus Meteorologists
  • Tom Messner (AMS and NWA Seals of Approval) - Chief seen weeknights at 5, 6, and 11
  • Gib Brown (AMS Seal of Approval) - weeknights at 5:30
  • Jim Moore (Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and NWA Seal of Approval) - weekday mornings
  • Keith Carson - weekends

  • Matt Hobbs - weeknights at 6 and 11
  • Ken Drake - weekends and reporter

  • Stewart Ledbetter - Vermont Bureau Chief and host of Vermont This Week on VPT
  • Mia Moran - Vermont
  • Matt Gerien - Vermont
  • Jackie Bender - Upper Valley (WNNE)
  • Heather VanArsdel - New York
  • Erin Vannella - New York
  • Sally Kidd - national correspondent
  • Laurie Kinney - national correspondent
  • Nikole Killion - weekday morning national correspondent

Past personnel

  • Mark Sudol - Sports Anchor/Reporter at News 12 CT
  • Erin Connors - anchor seen weeknights at 5 and 5:30 and reporter
  • Jeanne Moos - now reporter for CNN
    • in 1976, Moos became WPTZ's first female correspondent
  • Dawn Fratangelo - now NBC News correspondent
  • Cindy Fitzgibbon - now at WFXTmarker Boston
  • Thom Hallock - weeknight 6 and 11 o'clock anchor
    • at the station from 1996 until 2007
    • now a reporter for WCFE Mountain Lake PBSmarker and host of Mountain Lake Joutnal
  • Hailee Lampert - New York reporter
  • Chris Kelley - occasional fill-in at WFSBmarker
  • Erik Heden - weekend meteorologist
  • Bird Berdan - original weatherman from 1950s until 1980s
    • nicknamed the "Atlantic Weatherman" and appeared in advertisements at least through late 1996
    • in late-1980s, a Montreal radio station (95.9 FM) made a rap song poking fun and paying tribute to Bird Berdan
    • died in December 2004
  • Neil Drew - anchor in the 1970s
  • Chris Ortloff - anchor in the early-1980s
    • served in the New York State Assembly from 1986 until 2007
    • on December 24, 2008 he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of online enticement of minors
    • his sentencing was April 23, 2009
  • Erin Clark - now main anchor for sister station KSBWmarker in Salinasmarker / Monterey, Californiamarker
  • Michelle Mortensen - anchor and consumer reporter
  • Ashe Reardon - Upper Valley (WNNE)
  • Bob Solarski - Anchor (now with WEAR-TVmarker Pensacola, FLmarker)

News/Station Presentation

Newscast Titles

  • News 5 (1980s-early 1990's)
  • NewsChannel 5 (1995-present)

Station Slogans

  • Come Home to WPTZ (1986-1987; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Come on Home to PTZ (1987-1988; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Come Home to the Best, WPTZ (1988-1990; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • PTZ's The Place To Be! (1990-1991; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Coverage You Can Count On (late 1990's-2003)
  • Where the News Comes First (2003-present)

External links

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