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WPTZ
WPTZ logo

Wptz dt2.png
North Pole, New York - Plattsburgh, New York /
Burlington, Vermont
City of license North Pole
Branding NewsChannel 5
Slogan Where the News
Comes First
Channel Digital: 14 (UHF)
Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
Subchannels 5.1 NBC
5.2 This TV
Owner Hearst Television
(Hearst Stations, Inc.)
First air date December 8, 1954
Callsign meaning PlatTZburgh
Sister station(s) WNNE, WMUR-TV,
WMTW, WCVB-TV
Former callsigns WIRI (1954-1956)
Former channels 5 (VHF analog, 1954-2009)
Former affiliations ABC (secondary, 1954-1968)
DuMont (secondary, 1954-1955)
NBC WX+ (on DT2, 2004-2008)
Effective power 650 kW
Height 845 m
Facility ID 57476
Antenna coordinates 44°31′32″N 72°48′56″W / 44.52556°N 72.81556°W / 44.52556; -72.81556
Website wptz.com

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

Contents

Overview

Like other stations that serve Plattsburgh and Burlington, it has a large audience in Southern Québec, Canada. This includes Montréal, a city that is ten times larger than all of WPTZ's entire American viewing area combined. For many years, WPTZ identified on-air as "North Pole / Plattsburgh / Burlington / Montréal" to acknowledge its large cable viewership in Canada. It is widely carried on cable over the province of Québec as far north as Saguenay and as far east as Gaspé. 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). During NBC prime time programming, Canadian cable systems frequently cover up WPTZ's signal on cable systems in Montreal and, to a lesser extent, Quebec City. This is done to satisfy CRTC's simsub rules. That action benefits CFCF-TV and CKMI-TV.

They can be seen in Plattsburgh, New York on Charter channel 2 and in Burlington, Vermont on Comcast channel 5. It is the default NBC affiliate for Essex, Franklin, and Eastern St. Lawrence Counties in Upstate New York where it is seen on Time Warner Cable. In Ogdensburg and Western St. Lawrence County, that system offers both WPTZ and Syracuse's WSTM-TV.

WNNE in Hartford, Vermont operates as a semi-satellite of WPTZ. It simulcasts all local, syndicated, and network programming but airs separate station identifications and advertisements. WNNE has their own studios on Dewitt Drive in White River Junction. The channel's coverage area includes the Connecticut River Valley (a.k.a. Upper Valley) area of Central and Western New Hampshire as well as Southern Vermont.

History

The station signed-on December 8, 1954 as WIRI. They aired an analog signal on VHF channel 5 from a transmitter on Terry Mountain in Peru, New York. It was owned by the Great Northern Broadcasting Company along with WIRY radio. It has been an NBC station since its inception although it carried secondary affiliations with ABC from its launch until 1968 (when WVNY signed-on) and DuMont (until that network ceased operations in 1956). Rollins Telecasting bought the station in 1956. Shortly before that, WPTZ-TV in Philadelphia was sold to NBC and renamed WRCV-TV (now CBS owned-and-operated KYW-TV). Rollins quickly grabbed the WPTZ calls after realizing that "PTZ" could stand for Plattsburgh.

Rollins merged with Heritage Broadcasting in 1987 to form Heritage Media. In 1991, that company bought WNNE which was a separate station with their own news department. With Heritage's purchase, it was made into a semi-satellite of WPTZ. This significantly improved their coverage in the southeastern part of the market. During the analog era, the station was the only one in the area that did not operate any translators. Heritage moved WNNE's master control to WPTZ in Plattsburgh in 2000.

Heritage Media sold all of its broadcasting properties to the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1997 prior to the company's merger with News Corporation. The sale protected new Fox affiliate WFFF-TV which was initially operated by WPTZ under a local marketing agreement (a.k.a. LMA). Otherwise, WPTZ / WNNE along with then-sister stations WEAR-TV in Pensacola, Florida and WCHS-TV in Charleston, West Virginia 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 KSBW in Salinas, California to Hearst-Argyle Television in return for WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island and WDTN in Dayton, Ohio. The swap became official on July 2, 1998. WFFF began operating as an independently-owned and 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 Placid. As of 2007, this change has not yet been approved. However, the station has largely dropped North Pole from its station identifications and now mentions "Plattsburgh / Burlington" most of the time.

WPTZ is one of two television stations in the United States to broadcast from the "North Pole". The other is KJNP-TV, a religious station licensed to North Pole, Alaska that serves Fairbanks. 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 was one of the first stations owned by Hearst to cease analog broadcasting (KITV in Honolulu, Hawaii was the other).

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WPTZ-DT2

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 / WNNE offering NBC Weather Plus together as "5 & 31 Weather Plus". Starting in October, their 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 / 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 after debuting 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 digital channel 169 (serving the Upper Valley), Telecom digital channel 305, and Time Warner digital channel 854. It was never offered on Charter systems in New York State.

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 when it was replaced with This TV. This marks the network's first foray into the Plattsburgh and Burlington area along with St. Lawrence County, New York and eastern portions of the adjacent Watertown market where WPTZ has long served as the default NBC affiliate. WPTZ-DT2 remains on the three digital cable systems while being added to Charter digital channel 296 and is still not seen on WNNE-DT.

News operation

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, WNNE operated their own news department and aired local newscasts. This was progressively cut back after being bought by Heritage eventually resulting in the elimination of a full news operation in 2007. Today, the only visual difference between the stations are different channel bugs during newscasts. WPTZ's bug can peek through on WNNE whenever that channel has technical problems. The two stations currently use the NewsChannel branding. During WPTZ newscasts, WNNE is referred to as the Upper Valley Bureau and features a full-time reporter based in their White River Junction studios. Contributions to the shows on WPTZ include a live headline from the Upper Valley weeknights at 5:30 as well as video footage. In addition to the Upper Valley and Vermont Bureaus, WPTZ broadcasts national news from Hearst Television's Washington, D.C. 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 powered by the Supper Doppler Network". Unlike most NBC affiliates, WPTZ does not air a Midday newscast during the week. They had aired a show at Noon until 2005 but was dropped in favor of 5:30 Now that airs weeknights. 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-TV in Pittsburgh and made his debut back at this station in mid-December.

In August 2009, WPTZ introduced a new format and title to their weeknight broadcast at 11. The re-formatted show called NewsChannel 5 Nightcast features more fast-paced and edgier news. This comes in response to declining viewership for the time period as well as recent 10 o'clock additions of local news from WCAX and WFFF. WPTZ originally had the number one ranked late night newscast.

Newscast titles

  • News 5 (1980s-early 1990s)
  • NewsChannel 5 (1995-present)
  • Nightcast (11 P.M. news, 2009-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)
  • "It's a Whole New PTZ!" (1992-1993; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Coverage You Can Count On" (late 1990s-2003)
  • "Where the News Comes First" (2003-present)

News team

Anchors

  • Mary Morin - weekday mornings and consumer reporter
  • Gus Rosendale - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11
  • Stephanie Gorin - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11
  • Gabrielle Komorowski - weeknights at 5:30 and reporter
  • David Schneider - weekends and reporter

NewsChannel 5 Weather Plus Meteorologists

  • Tom Messner (Certified Broadcast Meteorologist) - 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 and "Pet of the Week" segment producer
  • TBD - weekends

Sports

  • Matt Hobbs - weeknights at 6 and 11
  • TBD - weekends

Reporters

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

Past personnel

Anchors

  • Michelle Mortensen - anchor and consumer reporter
  • Rachel Ruble - morning anchor (Seattle)
  • Erin Connors - weeknights at 5 and 5:30
    • reporter
  • Thom Hallock - weeknights at 6 and 11 (1996-2007)
  • Kelley Morris - weekends
  • Neil Drew - 1970s
  • Chris Ortloff - early 1980s
    • served in the New York State Assembly from 1986 until 2007
    • on December 24, 2008 pleaded guilty to felony charge of online enticement of minors and sentenced April 23, 2009
  • Erin Clark - now at KSBW in Salinas, CA
  • Bob Solarski - now at WEAR-TV in Pensacola, FL
  • Ranji Sinha - weekday mornings and reporter
    • now reporter at WWMT

Meteorologists

  • Bird Berdan - original weatherman (1950s-1980s)
    • nicknamed the "Atlantic Weatherman" and appeared in advertisements at least through late-1996
    • in late-1980s, Montreal radio station (95.9 FM) made rap song poking fun and paying tribute to him
    • died in December 2004[citation needed]
  • Erik Heden - weekends
  • Cindy Fitzgibbon - now at WFXT in Boston
  • Keith Carson - now at WCSH in Portland

Sports

  • Ken Drake - weekends
  • Mark Sudol - now sports anchor and sports reporter at News 12 Connecticut
  • Chris Kelley - fill-in anchor and reporter at WFSB-TV in Hartford, CT

Reporters

  • Jeanne Moos - now reporter for CNN
    • in 1976, Moos became WPTZ's first female correspondent
  • Dawn Fratangelo - now NBC News correspondent
  • Hailee Lampert - New York
  • Erin Vannella - New York
  • Matt Gerien - Vermont
  • Ashe Reardon - Upper Valley (WNNE)

External links


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