|Secaucus, New Jersey-
New York, New York
My9 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Watch and See For Yourself|
|Channels||Digital: 38 (UHF)
Virtual: 9 (PSIP)
|Owner||Fox Television Stations
(Fox Television Stations, Inc.)
|First air date||October 11, 1949|
|Call letters’ meaning||WOR, the original calls with an extra W added|
|Former callsigns||WOR-TV (1949-1987)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog: 9 (VHF, 1949-2009)|
|Former affiliations||Independent (1949-1995)
|Height||397 m (1,302 ft)|
WWOR-TV, channel 9, is the flagship station of the MyNetworkTV network licensed to Secaucus, New Jersey and serving the New York City metropolitan area. WWOR is owned by Fox Television Stations, a division of the News Corporation, and is a sister station to Fox network flagship WNYW (channel 5). WWOR-TV's studios and main offices are located south of Route 3 in Secaucus (east of the Meadowlands Sports Complex) and its transmitter is atop the Empire State Building in Manhattan.
Channel 9 signed on the air on October 11, 1949 as WOR-TV, owned by the Bamberger Broadcasting Service, which also operated WOR radio (710 AM) and WOR-FM (98.7 MHz., later WXLO and now WRKS-FM). Bamberger Broadcasting was a division of R. H. Macy and Company and was named after the Bamberger's department store chain. Exactly ten months earlier, Bamberger launched Washington, D.C.'s fourth television station, WOIC-TV (now WUSA), also on channel 9.
On WOR-TV's opening night, a welcome address was read by WOR radio's morning host, John B. Gambling. The only problem was the audio portion of the speech wasn't heard because of a technical glitch. The gremlin was fixed and Gambling repeated the message later that evening, prior to sign-off. That first broadcast and other early WOR-TV shows emanated from the New Amsterdam Roof Theatre, located near Times Square.
WOR-TV entered the New York market as the last of the city's VHF stations to sign on, and one of three independents—the others being WPIX (channel 11) and Newark, New Jersey-based WATV (channel 13, later WNTA-TV). However, plans were underway to make both Channel 9 and its Washington sister station charter affiliates of the Mutual Television Network. WOR radio had enjoyed a long relationship with the Mutual Radio Network and WOR-TV was chosen to be the New York outlet for Mutual Television, which never went to air. Channel 9 remained an independent, while WOIC-TV was sold to a joint venture of the Washington Post and CBS in 1950.
WOR-TV didn't get a network affiliation, but it did get a new owner in 1952, when Macy's/Bamberger's sold the WOR stations to the General Tire and Rubber Company, which already had broadcasting interests in four cities: in Boston, with the regional Yankee Radio Network and WNAC-AM-FM-TV there; in Memphis, with WHBQ radio (who would launch a new television station a year later); and KHJ-AM-FM-TV in Los Angeles and KFRC-AM-FM in San Francisco. The outlets in the latter two cities were operated by General Tire subsidiary Don Lee Broadcasting, and the WOR stations were assigned to this subsidiary. In 1955, General Tire purchased RKO Radio Pictures, giving the company's TV stations access to RKO's film library, and soon after General Tire merged its broadcast interests as General Teleradio. In 1959, General Tire's broadcasting and film divisions were renamed as RKO General.
During the 1950s, all three of New York's independents struggled to find acceptable programming. The field would increase by one in 1956 when former DuMont flagship station WABD (channel 5, later WNEW-TV and now WNYW) became an independent. Through this era, WOR-TV's programming was comparable to its rivals, with a blend of movies, children's programs, and public affairs shows. In 1962 the independent field was narrowed to three, as WOR-TV and its competition benefited from the sale of WNTA-TV to the non-profit Educational Broadcasting Corporation, who would convert channel 13 into a non-commercial educational station (it is now WNET).
For much of the next quarter-century, WOR-TV was a standard independent station with a schedule composed of off-network programs—including sitcoms like The Beverly Hillbillies and hour-long dramas such as Bonanza, children's shows, sports programming (see below), and movies, many of which came from the RKO Radio Pictures film library. The station had a tradition of showing King Kong, Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young on Thanksgiving and Godzilla films on the day after Thanksgiving.
By the early 1970s, WNEW-TV became the leading station for cartoons and sitcoms, while WPIX aired a similar format with more movies. As a result, beginning in 1972, WOR-TV sought a different programming strategy, one that was more adult-oriented, with a heavy emphasis on films, reruns of hour-long network dramas, game shows, and sports. The station gradually phased out most sitcoms and all children's programming with the exception of the local version of Romper Room, which moved from WNEW-TV in the late 1960s. They also were the first New York City station to have a 12 p.m. newscast on weekdays, in addition to producing several hours a day of local talk shows (including the long-running celebrity talk show hosted by nostalgia maven Joe Franklin), and public affairs programming (such as Straight Talk and Meet the Mayors, titles that were shared by other RKO General television stations).
Later in the 1970s, WOR-TV looked towards the United Kingdom for alternative offerings. In the week of September 6, 1976, WOR-TV offered programming from Thames Television during prime time, completely presented as if Thames was actually running WOR-TV. Many of these shows had never before been seen on American television, and one of them provided America's first look at Thames' greatest export: The Benny Hill Show. Also included that week was an episode of Man About The House, which would be reinvented the following year on ABC as Three's Company. WOR-TV aired episodes of the BBC's science-fiction series Doctor Who during this period as well.
Despite its ambitious programming, WOR-TV was perceived by some people to be an also-ran, even though the station was very profitable for RKO General. But with the advent of cable and satellite-delivered television, independent stations were being uplinked for regional and national distribution, thus gaining the title of "superstations". In April 1979, Syracuse, New York-based Eastern Microwave, Inc. began distributing WOR-TV to cable and C-band satellite subscribers across the United States, joining WTBS (now WPCH-TV) in Atlanta and WGN-TV in Chicago as national superstations.
While WOR-TV was gaining national exposure, a battle for the station's survival—and that of its owner—was well underway. In 1975, RKO applied for renewal of its license to operate WOR-TV. The Federal Communications Commission conditioned this renewal on that of its sister station, WNAC-TV in Boston. In 1980, the FCC stripped RKO of WNAC-TV's license due to a litany of offenses dating back to the 1960s, but ultimately because RKO had withheld evidence of corporate misconduct by General Tire. The decision meant that RKO lost WOR-TV's license and that of another sister station, KHJ-TV in Los Angeles (RKO General, Inc. (KHJ-TV), 3 FCC Rcd 5057 (1988)). However, an appeals court ruled that the FCC had erred in tying WOR-TV and KHJ-TV's renewals to WNAC-TV, and ordered new proceedings. RKO soon found itself under renewed pressure from the FCC, which began soliciting applications for all of the company's broadcast licenses in February 1983.
In order to buy itself some time, RKO (with the help of New Jersey senator Bill Bradley) persuaded the U.S. Congress to pass a law requiring the FCC to automatically renew the license of any VHF station that moved its license to New Jersey, a state which for many years complained of being "underserved" by VHF stations from the New York City and Philadelphia markets. (With the 1962 conversion of Newark's channel 13 to non-commercial, New Jersey had no commercial VHF allocations located within the state.) RKO was able to retain WOR-TV by moving the channel 9 license to Secaucus (seven miles west of Manhattan) on April 20, 1983. Three years later WOR-TV established a physical presence in New Jersey with the opening of their new studio facility, Nine Broadcast Plaza, on January 13, 1986. However, for all practical purposes, WOR-TV remained a New York City station. A month later, the New Jersey State Senate petitioned the FCC to approve an extension of the channel 9 signal into southern New Jersey. Because of various other issues, the request was denied.
The move to New Jersey did little to relieve the regulatory pressure on RKO, which opted to put WOR-TV up for sale in 1985. Westinghouse Broadcasting, Cox Enterprises, Chris-Craft Industries, and MCA/Universal emerged as the leading suitors for WOR-TV, and the station was sold to MCA in late 1986. The announcement of this deal came just in the nick of time for RKO: in 1987, an administrative law judge recommended that RKO be stripped of its remaining broadcast properties due to a litany of misconduct. Eventually, WOR radio would be sold to Hartford, Connecticut-based Buckley Broadcasting, and WRKS-FM would go to Summit Broadcasting.
MCA assumed control of WOR-TV on April 21, 1987. Initially, only the calls changed to WWOR-TV with a new logo and programming stayed pretty much the same. That fall, WWOR-TV relaunched as a station perceived as different from a year prior. The station dropped most of its public affairs shows, Romper Room was cut back to 30 minutes and moved to 6:00 a.m., all religious shows except for the Sunday Mass were dropped, cartoons were added to the station's morning lineup, and stronger syndicated shows were mixed in the early evenings. The late mornings consisted of classic sitcoms held over from the later RKO days and afternoons continued to consist of game shows, drama shows and movies also held over from the RKO days. Later that fall, in primetime, the Million Dollar Movie was relegated to weekends in favor of the new, controversial Morton Downey Jr. talk show, while the 8:00 newscast was moved to 10:00 p.m., and expanded to an hour. The overhaul continued in 1988, when it added evening sitcoms, including reruns of NBC's top-rated sitcom The Cosby Show. WWOR-TV also borrowed program formats used on the Westinghouse stations: a short-lived version of Evening Magazine aired in primetime, and a locally produced talk show called People Are Talking ran at 11 a.m. That show would later change its title to 9 Broadcast Plaza (named after the station's Secaucus studio location), and then to The Richard Bey Show for syndication.
In 1989, the FCC created the "Syndicated Exclusivity Rights" rule, otherwise known as "SyndEx." This rule stated that when a station in any market had the rights to air certain syndicated programs, the cable company had to block it out on out-of-town stations. Due to this rule, and to lighten the burden on cable companies, Eastern Microwave picked up broadcast rights to shows that were considered "SyndEx-proof" and could be inserted into WWOR's cable feed to replace programming that could not be aired nationally. Most of the programs came from the Universal and Quinn Martin libraries, along with some shows from the Christian Science Monitor's television service, as well as some holdovers from the pre-syndex era that had aired on the local New York feed before the law was passed. Eastern Microwave would eventually launch a separate feed for satellite and cable subscribers on January 1, 1990, known as the "WWOR EMI Service".
In the fall of 1990, WWOR-TV began using Universal 9 for its on-air branding, highlighting its association with the MCA/Universal entertainment empire. However, MCA's ambitious ownership of the station ended when it was bought by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. of Osaka, Japan. Since the FCC does not allow foreign companies to own more than 25 percent of television stations, channel 9 had to be sold. On January 1, 1991, MCA spun-off the assets of WWOR-TV into a new company called Pinelands, Incorporated. However, the station continued to use Universal 9 as its on-air name until early 1992. In 1993 Pinelands was acquired by boat maker Chris-Craft Industries, who had unsuccessfully bid for the station seven years earlier.
Two years later, Chris-Craft and its broadcasting subsidiary, BHC Communications, and Viacom's newly-acquired subsidiary Paramount Pictures banded together to form the United Paramount Network, the sixth U.S. television service when it debuted in January 1995. At the network's launch, WWOR-TV was UPN's "flagship" station. However, UPN did not allow WWOR's superstation feed to carry UPN programming nationally (In contrast The WB Television Network allowed WGN-TV, one of WWOR's superstation counterparts, to air network programming on its cable feed during that network's early years.)
On January 1, 1997, with only a month's advance warning, Advance Entertainment Corporation, which had purchased the satellite distribution rights to WWOR from Eastern Microwave a few months earlier, stopped uplinking the national version. The EMI Service's transponder space was sold to Discovery Communications for the then six-month-old Animal Planet. Amid an outcry from satellite dish owners, National Programming Services uplinked the station again exclusively for satellite subscribers. The national feed was back to being the same feed as the one for the New York market. NPS dropped WWOR in 1999, in favor of Pax, but still carried the New York feed of WWOR on its Superstations package except in areas where the local UPN (and later, MyNetworkTV) affiliate invoked SyndEx to block it out.
In 2000, Chris-Craft announced that it was selling its television stations. It was believed that Viacom, which had gained complete control of UPN a year earlier by purchasing Chris-Craft's half of the network not long after buying CBS, would end up buying the group as a whole. However, Viacom lost the bid for the group to News Corporation, making WWOR-TV a sister station to longtime rival WNYW. This created a unique situation in which the largest affiliate station of one network was owned by the operator of another network. While some cast doubt on UPN's future, Fox quickly cut a new affiliation deal with UPN.
On September 11, 2001, the transmitter facilities of WWOR-TV and eight other New York City television stations, and several radio stations, were destroyed when two hijacked airplanes crashed into and destroyed the World Trade Center towers. The attacks delayed the closing of the Chris-Craft deal for several days. With its broadcast signal shut down, WWOR fed its signal directly to cable and satellite systems, running wall-to-wall 9/11 news coverage from CNN and later the Fox News Channel. Channel 9 resumed regular programming on September 17, 2001. The transmitter has since been relocated to an antenna located atop the Empire State Building, along with most of the other major New York City stations.
Fox began integrating the operations of its two stations soon afterwards. In the fall of 2001, WWOR-TV began running Fox Kids programs that were moved from WNYW. Channel 9 was the last commercial station remaining in New York City to air children's programming on weekdays, an ironic twist from 20 years earlier, before cancelling the shows in Fall 2006. WNYW also placed several of its under-performing programs on WWOR, and cherry-picked channel 9's stronger-performing programs for placement on channel 5's schedule. Currently, WWOR offers several "double-runs" of WNYW programming, but the two stations' individual schedules (outside of network programming) are much different. They also maintain separate news departments, although some staffers have switched from one station to the other.
On January 24, 2006, UPN and The WB announced that they would merge into a new network called The CW Television Network. WPIX, which had been a WB affiliate since 1995, was announced as The CW's New York affiliate as part of a 10-year affiliation deal with channel 11's parent company Tribune Broadcasting.
The CW's affiliation list did not include any of Fox's UPN stations. The network's officials were on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN affiliates, and WPIX had been well ahead of WWOR-TV in the ratings for some time. On January 25, 2006, the day following the announcement of the creation of The CW, Fox removed all UPN references from its UPN affiliates' logos and branding campaigns, and stopped promoting UPN programming. Accordingly, WWOR changed its branding from UPN 9 to WWOR 9, (however, usually it was referred to on air as simply "9") and revamped its logo to just feature the boxed "9" with a small red strip on the left side. WWOR had just introduced a new news graphics package and a revised logo almost three weeks prior, with UPN branding. The formation of MyNetworkTV, with WWOR-TV and the other Fox-owned UPN stations as the nuclei, was announced on February 22, 2006, less than a month later.
With the impending switch to MyNetworkTV, channel 9's on-air branding was changed to My 9. Starting on April 4, the My 9 moniker was used for broadcasts of Nets basketball and Yankees baseball. Two weeks later, on April 17, WWOR incorporated the My 9 brand into the remaining non-UPN elements of its branding, including news. On June 2, WWOR changed its logo again, this time adopting one similar to the MyNetworkTV logo presented at the launch announcement, and this logo was used with the network's launch in September.
Despite the announced launch date of MyNetworkTV on September 5, 2006, UPN continued to broadcast on stations across the country until September 15, 2006. While some UPN affiliates who switched to MyNetworkTV aired the final two weeks of UPN programming outside its regular primetime period, the Fox-owned stations, including WWOR, dropped UPN entirely on August 31, 2006.
As an independent station, channel 9's schedule was heavy on sports programming. Early in its history WOR-TV established itself as the home of National League baseball in New York, carrying games of the Brooklyn Dodgers (beginning in 1950) and the New York Giants (beginning in 1951) until both teams moved to California following the 1957 season. From 1958 to 1961 the station aired a small schedule of Philadelphia Phillies games, consisting of matchups against the Dodgers and Giants. In 1962 WOR-TV gained broadcast rights for the New York Mets, the National League's new expansion team. The partnership between the station and the team would last through the 1998 season, after which the Mets moved their broadcasts to WPIX.
Channel 9 acquired rights for the NHL's New York Rangers and the NBA's New York Knicks in 1966, holding onto both teams until 1989, when the two teams became cable-exclusive on the MSG Network. The New York Islanders, New York/New Jersey Nets, local college basketball, New York Cosmos soccer, and WWWF/WWF wrestling also shared airtime on channel 9. But for a generation of New York sports fans, the station became synonymous with its relationships with the Mets, Knicks, and Rangers.
In late September 2001, WWOR-TV aired a number of New York Yankees baseball games that were originally scheduled to air on WNYW. In 2005, channel 9 picked up Yankees games on a full-time basis, with the broadcasts produced by the YES Network. As YES produces the games, there is virtually no difference between games broadcast by YES and WWOR.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|9.1||720p||16:9||WWOR-TV/MyNetworkTV programming in high definition|
|9.2||480i||4:3||WWOR-TV/MyNetworkTV in standard defintion|
WWOR-TV ended programming on its analog signal, on VHF channel 9, at 11:59 P.M. on June 12, 2009  as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station remained on its pre-transition channel 38, using PSIP to display its virtual channel as 9.  
As most of New York's independent stations were during the 1960s and '70s, WOR-TV was a very minor player in the area of local news. Before 1971, the station did not carry any live news programming, but had an early morning audio read newscast over the station logo. Then in 1971, WOR-TV launched its first live newscast, News at Noon, ironically the market's first midday newscast. In 1983, following the move to New Jersey, channel 9 launched News 9: Primetime, which aired nightly at 8:00 p.m. After the MCA takeover in 1987, the 8:00 newscast was moved to the later time period of 10:00 p.m., and expanded to an hour. The Noon program, which was later merged into 9 Broadcast Plaza, ended in 1993 and was replaced with syndicated programming.
Despite the presence of its sister station WNYW's long-running and successful news program at 10:00 p.m., WWOR was able to compete at 10:00 simply because both stations use separate studios. The WWOR newscast also has a larger focus on New Jersey issues, a condition the station has adhered to since its license was transferred from New York City to Secaucus.
On July 13, 2009, the 10:00 p.m. newscast was moved to 11:00 p.m. and was shortened to 30 minutes due to budget cuts. In addition, weekend newscasts and a Sunday night sports highlight program were eliminated.
In areas of central New Jersey where the New York and Philadelphia markets overlap, both WWOR and WNYW share resources with their Philadelphia sister station WTXF-TV. The stations share reporters for stories occurring in New Jersey counties served by both markets.
WOR-TV's first studio location was in the New Amsterdam Roof Theatre, located on 42nd Street west of Times Square. This was a temporary setup; some time later the station moved uptown to a new facility on West 67th Street, near the present-day location of WABC-TV.
During the early years of RKO General ownership, WOR-TV moved back to Times Square, and closer to its sister radio stations. Channel 9's studios were co-located with WOR radio at 1440 Broadway for several years, then in 1968 moved to new studios three blocks north at 1481 Broadway, while the station's offices remained at 1440 Broadway. In addition, for several years starting in 1953, it maintained a separate studio for news and special events programming at the 83rd floor of the Empire State Building. () When the WOR-TV license was moved to New Jersey in 1983, the station remained in New York City while a modern complex in Secaucus was being constructed. The new facility, Nine Broadcast Plaza, opened in April 1986.
In 2004, three years after the News Corporation bought the station, it announced that WWOR would leave Secaucus and be consolidated with WNYW at the Fox Television Center in Manhattan. The News Corporation planned to keep 9 Broadcast Plaza as a satellite relay station for WNYW and WWOR (the facility also performs master control operations for Fox-owned MyNetworkTV affiliate WUTB in Baltimore). While some office functions have been merged, plans for a full move were scuttled in late 2004 due to pressure from New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman (whose congressional district includes Secaucus) and Senator Frank Lautenberg. (, ) The two lawmakers contended that any move to Manhattan would violate WWOR's conditions of license. When the FCC renewed channel 9's license in 1983 (in accordance with the Bradley-sponsored law), it had required RKO to move the station's main studio to New Jersey and increase coverage of New Jersey events. Had the consolidation occurred, channel 9's news department would have been shut down, or at the very least downsized to the point that it would not be able to adequately cover New Jersey events.