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Jeannette/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Branding Pittsburgh CW
Channels Digital: 11 (VHF)
Translators WBPA-LP 30 Pittsburgh
Affiliations The CW
Owner CBS Corporation
(Pittsburgh Television Station WPCW, Inc.)
First air date October 15, 1953
Call letters’ meaning Pittsburgh's CW
Sister station(s) KDKA-TV
Former callsigns WARD-TV (1953–1972?)
WJNL-TV (1972?-1983)
WFAT-TV (1983–1988)
WPTJ (1988–1994)
WTWB-TV (1997–1998)
WNPA (1998–2006)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
56 (1953–1970?)
19 (1970?-2009)
49 (1998-2009)
Former affiliations CBS (1953–1982)
ABC (secondary, 1952-c.1970)
independent (1982–1991)
The WB (1995–1998)
UPN (1998–2006)
Transmitter Power 30 kW
Height 295 m
Facility ID 69880
Transmitter Coordinates 40°29′38″N 80°1′9″W / 40.49389°N 80.01917°W / 40.49389; -80.01917

WPCW is a CW Television Network owned and operated station that serves the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania DMA. Known on-air as Pittsburgh CW, the station is owned by the CBS Corporation and is a sister station of CBS O&O KDKA-TV. The two stations are the only O&Os of any network in the Pittsburgh market. It is licensed to Jeannette, a Pittsburgh suburb, but its operations are housed at KDKA-TV's studios in downtown Pittsburgh. WPCW offers off-network sitcoms, first-run talk shows, reality shows, court shows, CW Network programming, and news. WPCW's digital transmitter is located in Pittsburgh.

WPCW is rebroadcast on WBPA-LP channel 30 in Pittsburgh, a legacy of the days when it didn't have a strong signal throughout the city. [1] The station is owned by Venture Technologies Group, LLC and currently holds a construction permit to operate a digital signal on VHF channel 6.

WPCW also serves as the default CW affiliate (on cable) for the Johnstown/Altoona/State College market since that market currently lacks a CW affiliate of its own. Ironically, WPCW was a Johnstown station for most of its history.



WPCW signed on in 1953 as WARD-TV on channel 56, with its studio on Franklin Street in downtown Johnstown. The station was Johnstown's CBS affiliate, with a secondary ABC affiliation. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[2]

About 1970, the station changed its call letters to WJNL-TV, in reference to its new owner, Jonel Construction Company of Johnstown. It also moved to channel 19 and dropped ABC programming. The TV studio also relocated to a cinder-block building next to its broadcast tower atop Cover Hill in suburban Johnstown.

The station was plagued by a weak signal. Most of western Pennsylvania is a very rugged dissected plateau, and at the time UHF stations usually did not get good reception in rugged terrain. In fact, Johnstown viewers got a better signal from WFBG-TV in Altoona and KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh. After WFBG-TV was sold in 1973, it changed its calls to WTAJ-TV in part to acknowledge its Johnstown viewership (its call letters stand for We're Television in Altoona and Johnstown).

The TV station's sister radio stations, WJNL-AM/FM (now WNTJ and WKYE, respectively), joined WJNL-TV at the Benshoff Hill location after the Johnstown Flood of 1977 destroyed their studios in downtown Johnstown. WJNL-TV only stayed afloat because of the tremendous success of its FM sister, an adult contemporary powerhouse. Nevertheless, it had no luck whatsoever against dominant WJAC-TV. It did produce a local newscast from 1971 to 1974 Monday through Friday and a few public affairs programs to try and compete against WJAC, but WJNL-TV's facilities were below the standards expected for a network affiliate.

In 1982, the Johnstown and Altoona/State College markets were collapsed into a single market. CBS gave its affiliation in the newly enlarged market to Altoona's WTAJ, which, as mentioned above, already had a large viewership in Johnstown. In contrast, channel 19 barely covered Altoona and could not be seen at all in much of the eastern part of the enlarged market. WJNL-TV became an independent station. It was sold a year later and renamed WFAT-TV. Forced to buy an additional 19 hours of programming a day, its ratings plummeted even further. It didn't help matters that the major Pittsburgh independents were available on cable. The station was dealt a fatal blow in 1986, when WWCP-TV signed on channel 8, and took most of WFAT's stronger shows. Channel 19 changed its calls to WPTJ in 1988, but saw no change in its fortunes. Frequent transmitter problems often rendered the station off the air for frequent periods of time, and WPTJ finally went off the air in 1991.

Over in Pittsburgh, 'WBPA-LP,' channel 29 signed on in 1994 as a low-powered station owned by Venture Technologies Group, LLC. It ran some ABC and NBC shows that WTAE-TV and WPXI pre-empted, along with infomercials, religious and shop-at-home programming. It added WB programming in 1995 and a few syndicated shows in the fall of that year.

Also in 1995, Venture Technologies bought the dormant channel 19 license in Johnstown. The station returned to the air in early 1997 as WTWB-TV, a full-powered satellite of WBPA-LP.

Venture, however, still had trouble getting viewership in Pittsburgh, in part because cable systems in the area weren't willing to pick it up. To solve this problem, Venture asked and received permission to move WTWB's license to Jeannette (about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh) and place it in the Pittsburgh market. This qualified it for "must-carry" status on Pittsburgh cable systems. In the wake of the move, WTWB, now Pittsburgh's WB affiliate, began to acquire more off-network sitcoms and first-run syndicated shows, alongside cartoons from Kids WB and prime time programming from the WB.

When WPTT acquired the WB affiliation and changed its call letters to WCWB in 1998 (it is now WPMY), the UPN affiliation in the market became available. As such, channel 19 took the affiliation and changed call letters to WNPA-TV.

Viacom bought the station in 1998. It became a sister station to KDKA-TV after Viacom merged with CBS in 2000. Viacom consolidated WNPA's operations into KDKA-AM-TV's studios at Gateway Center by 2001. In August 2001, the station began to carry a 10 P.M. newscast produced by KDKA-TV and anchored by Ken Rice.

The station began to identify on air as UPN Pittsburgh in late 2003 as different cable systems carry it on different channels.

In 2005, the station launched a two-hour weekday morning newscast beginning at 7 A.M. Just like its evening counterpart, it is produced by KDKA-TV. It was later shortened to one hour amid poor ratings.[citation needed]

On January 24, 2006 it was announced that the station would become an affiliate of the CW Network, which is a merger of both UPN and The WB. The changeover would start in the Fall of 2006. To coincide with this change the station changed its call sign to WPCW, and rebranded itself as Pittsburgh CW in August 2006.

WPCW's analog transmitter was located on Laurel Mountain near Jennerstown, which is 35 miles southeast of Jeannette, which provided city-grade coverage to Johnstown and "rimshot" coverage to Pittsburgh. As a result, it was barely viewable over-the-air in many low-lying areas in the northern and western parts of the city, and couldn't be seen at all in the city's western suburbs. When it applied to move channel 19's license to Jeannette, Venture sought and received a waiver from the FCC rule requiring a station's transmitter to be no farther than 15 miles from the city of license. It successfully contended that there was no way it could build an analog tower within the 15-mile limit without interfering with WOIO in Cleveland.

However, on of June 13, 2009, coinciding with the national transition to digital television, WPCW turned off its transmitter near Jennerstown and began broadcasting digitally from its new transmitter near downtown Pittsburgh. The relocation of its transmitter now provides Pittsburgh with city-grade coverage in addition to greater coverage west of Pittsburgh, but has left many viewers east of Westmoreland County, who were able to pick up WPCW's analog signal, without a viewable digital signal.[3] In July 2009, the station did apply with the FCC for a repeater signal on channel 27 in Johnstown.[4]

WPCW is one of three former CBS affiliates that have since become CW stations owned by CBS, along with WTVX in West Palm Beach and KSTW in Seattle; however, WTVX has since been divested to Cerberus Capital Management's Four Points Media Group.

WPCW usually televises about six Pittsburgh Penguins games a year to allow Fox Sports Pittsburgh (the team's usual broadcasting partner) to fulfill their national commitments to Fox Sports Net's Pac 10 and ACC college football coverage packages.

As CBS has has done with all of their other CBS/CW duopolies in other markets, WPCW's website is folded within the KDKA website with only basic station and programming information, along with entertainment news and promotional video from the CW.


Digital TV

After the American digital television transition ended on June 12, 2009, WPCW moved to VHF channel 11, mapping to channel 19 via PSIP, and as with all CBS-owned stations, carries only one 1080i high definition channel without subchannel services. Interference with WOIO which existed in the analog age is no longer an issue, as that station is on digital channel 10. CBS also feeds a direct fiber signal to both Comcast and Verizon FiOS, and has done so for years. As mentioned above, the new transmitter has extended the station's coverage area over more of the main Pittsburgh market, although at the cost of coverage to the east, which is being addressed with the Johnstown digital repeater currently under FCC consideration.

On-Air Personalities

See current KDKA-TV personalities list.

External links



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