||This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
|Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Branding||WBTV 3 (general)
WBTV News 3 (newscasts)
|Slogan||On Your Side|
|Channels||Digital: 23 (UHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
3.2 Bounce TV
(WBTV License Subsidiary, LLC)
|First air date||July 15, 1949|
|Call letters' meaning||an extension of former radio sister station WBT|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
3 (VHF, 1949-2009)
DT2/3: This TV (2010-2012)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WBTV is the CBS-affiliated television station in Charlotte, North Carolina. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 23 (virtual channel 3.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter in north-central Gaston County. As one of two flagship stations of owner Raycom Media (the other being WSFA in the company's homebase of Montgomery, Alabama), WBTV maintains studios off Morehead Street, just west of Uptown Charlotte. Syndicated programming on WBTV includes Rachael Ray, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and America Now.
WBTV signed on for the first time on July 15, 1949. It was the 13th television station in the United States and the first in the Carolinas, and is the oldest station between Richmond and Atlanta. Veteran Charlotte broadcaster Jim Patterson was the first person seen on the station, and remained there until his death in 1986. It was owned by Jefferson Standard Insurance Company of Greensboro along with WBT (1110 AM), the city's oldest radio station and the first fully licensed station in the South. Jefferson Standard had purchased WBT from CBS in 1947. Shortly before the TV station went on the air, its call letters were modified from WBT-TV to WBTV. Jefferson Standard merged with Pilot Life in 1968 (though it had owned controlling interest since 1945) and became Jefferson-Pilot Corporation. In 1970, the media interests were folded into a new subsidiary, Jefferson-Pilot Communications.
WBTV received one of the last construction permits issued before the Federal Communications Commission's "freeze" on new television licenses, which lasted until the Commission released its Sixth Report and Order in 1952. As such, it was Charlotte's only VHF station for eight years, carrying affiliations with all four major networks of the time – CBS, NBC, ABC and DuMont. However, it has always been a primary CBS affiliate, owing to WBT radio's long affiliation with CBS Radio. It is the only commercial station in the market that has never changed its affiliation.
Channel 3 originally broadcast from a converted radio studio in the Wilder Building, alongside its radio sister. In 1955, WBT and WBTV moved to a then state-of-the-art facility on a hill atop Morehead Street. The stations are still based there today. The studio address, One Julian Price Place, is named in honor of a longtime Jefferson Standard/Jefferson-Pilot executive.
WBTV's only competition in the early years came from a UHF station on channel 36, known as WAYS-TV and then WQMC-TV, which broadcast briefly from 1953 to 1955. It was nominally an NBC affiliate sharing a secondary ABC affiliation. However, channel 36's signal was painfully weak, and NBC continued to allow WBTV to cherry-pick its stronger programming. Channel 36 went dark in March 1955, and DuMont shut down roughly a year later. All three networks remained shoehorned on channel 3 for over a year until Charlotte's second VHF station, WSOC-TV, signed on in 1957; it took the NBC affiliation. Channel 36 returned to the air in 1964 as WCCB (moving to channel 18 in 1966), picking up whatever CBS shows WBTV turned down to carry ABC programming. ABC continued to be split among the three stations until 1967, when WCCB became a full ABC affiliate.
From 1958 to 1974, WBTV's studios were the home for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling broadcasts. Since its completion in 1984, WBTV's signal has been broadcast from a 2,000 feet (610 m) high guy-wired aerial mast transmitter tower located in north-central Gaston County, North Carolina, which is also shared with former radio sister WBT.
When WAGA-TV in Atlanta (which signed on four months before WBTV) switched to Fox in 1994, WBTV became the longest-tenured CBS affiliate south of Washington, D.C. WFMY-TV in Greensboro, the second-oldest station in the Carolinas (which signed on three months after WBTV), is also second in this category. Two years later, after KPIX in San Francisco became a CBS owned and operated station (due to owner Westinghouse Electric Corporation's merger with CBS), WBTV became the second longest-tenured affiliate not owned by the network, behind only Washington's WUSA.
Over the years, Jefferson Standard/Jefferson-Pilot acquired several other radio and television stations across the country, with WBTV as the flagship station. In 2006, Jefferson-Pilot merged with Lincoln National Corporation of Philadelphia. Lincoln Financial retained Jefferson-Pilot's broadcasting division, which was renamed Lincoln Financial Media. WBTV remained the flagship station.
Sale to Raycom
On November 12, 2007, Lincoln Financial announced its intention to sell WBTV, sister stations WWBT in Richmond and WCSC-TV in Charleston, South Carolina and Lincoln Financial Sports, to Raycom Media for $583 million. Lincoln Financial also sold its Charlotte radio stations to Braintree, Massachusetts-based Greater Media, thus breaking up Charlotte's last co-owned radio/television combination. 
According to Charlotte Observer TV critic Mark Washburn, Lincoln Financial was never really able to integrate its broadcast properties with the rest of the company, and had decided to sell them as soon as possible. Washburn also said that WBT-AM-FM and WLNK will continue to share the Julian Price Place facility with WBTV. The radio stations' sale closed on January 31, 2008. However, they still have a news partnership.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the sale of WBTV on March 25, 2008, and Raycom formally took control on April 1. WBTV is now Raycom's second-largest station, behind WOIO/WUAB in Cleveland. Since Raycom Sports is headquartered in Charlotte, WBTV will have a very important role in Raycom Media's operations, and now shares flagship status with WSFA in Montgomery, Alabama (Raycom Media is headquartered in Montgomery).
In early 2008, Raycom Sports and Lincoln Financial Sports officially merged under the Raycom Sports banner. The merger coincided with the start of Atlantic Coast Conference play. WBTV has been Charlotte's home for ACC sporting events since C.D. Chesley piped in North Carolina's historic win in the 1957 NCAA tournament to channel 3 and several other stations in the state. Raycom had produced ACC basketball games in partnership with Jefferson-Pilot/Lincoln Financial since 1982. The partnership was extended to football in 2004; Jefferson-Pilot/Lincoln Financial had been the sole producer of ACC football since 1984.
In mid-May 2008, the former Jefferson-Pilot/Lincoln Financial stations launched redesigned websites, powered by the Local Media network division of WorldNow (who operates nearly all of the Raycom stations' websites). These web addresses were previously operated by Broadcast Interactive Media. However, WBTV and WWBT retain their Jefferson-Pilot/Lincoln Financial-era logos and branding for the time being. WCSC recently changed its logo and graphics, reflecting its move into High Definition.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.1||1080i||16:9||WBTV-DT||Main WBTV programming / CBS|
WBTV previously broadcasted a standard-definition simulcast of the main channel on its second digital subchannel. On July 12, 2010, the simulcast was replaced with This TV. WBTV's weather radar was previously shown on its third subchannel, but the subchannel itself was removed prior to the DTV transition. The third subchannel returned for the launch of Bounce TV on September 26, 2011. On January 1, 2012, WBTV switched the subchannels for This TV and Bounce TV, which was due to a contractual obligation to air Bounce TV on their second subchannel. On April 1, the third subchannel (This TV) was once again removed to make room for WBTV's mobile DTV service.
Mobile DTV channel
|Channel||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.1||WBTV MH1||Mobile DTV simulcast of WBTV-DT1|
WBTV ended analog operations on June 12, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station continued broadcasting on channel 23. However, digital television receivers display WBTV's virtual channel as 3.
For many years, WBTV was one of the country's most dominant television stations. This was in part due to being the only reliably viewable station in town for nine years, as well as the station's long tradition of strong local news coverage. In fact, its dominance was so absolute that it was once said the dials of most Charlotteans' TV sets were "rusted on channel 3." To this day, it is one of the strongest CBS affiliates in the country.
The station claims credit for a number of television "firsts", among them constructing the first building in the United States built specifically for color television broadcasting. WBTV also claims to have been the first station in the world to record and rebroadcast programs on color videotape; to use a live camera and microwave relay inside a race car; and to have a fully computerized news operation. It claims to have been the first station in the country to develop computerized election return projections, to broadcast the "Extravision" teletext service, and to produce a local newscast for a PBS station (WTVI). It claims to be the first station in the South to air color test patterns and color ID slides. WBTV was granted the first full power construction permit for a digital television station in the United States in 1998, and went on the air that year with 1 million watts-- equivalent to 5 million watts for an analog transmitter.
A much-remembered women's/homemaker's show that aired from the 1950s until 1977 was hosted by Betty Feezor. She gave viewers tips on cooking, sewing, floral arranging, and other topics of interest to housewives and mothers. In 1965, the program was the third most-watched women's program in the United States. Feezor's show was also seen on sister station WWBT in Richmond after Jefferson-Pilot bought the station in 1968. Feezor retired in 1977 due to a brain tumor, an illness which claimed her life in 1978.
"The Betty Feezor Show" was replaced by an hour-long midday news and variety show, "Top O' the Day." Viewers will remember Doug Mayes doing a segment called "On The Square" in which he would solicit opinions from local viewers in various Charlotte-area towns about current news topics, as well as C.J. Underwood's "Down Home With The Carolina Camera," where otherwise unknown or low-profile Carolinians were temporarily given celebrity status for their whimsical talents, novel collections, or for the way they impacted their communities. For its first five years, the show aired from 12 noon to 1 p.m., pre-empting CBS's broadcast of The Young and the Restless. Beginning in 1982, the show aired from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. WBTV aired the previous day's network episode of The Price Is Right before "Top O' the Day," preempting whatever game show CBS aired at 10:30. As a result, Child's Play, Press Your Luck, Card Sharks, Now You See It, and most of CBS' version of Wheel of Fortune were never seen on WBTV. However, area viewers could watch them on WSPA-TV in Spartanburg or WFMY if they had a strong antenna. WFMY and WSPA were and still are available on some cable systems in the Charlotte market. "Top O' the Day" left the air in 1992, and WBTV now airs a conventional half-hour newscast at noon. On the weekends, the station occasionally preempted some of CBS' Saturday morning cartoons. Since the early 1990s, WBTV has generally cleared most CBS programming in pattern, with two notable exceptions. It pre-empts some network programming to air ACC football and basketball. Most ACC games that don't air on WBTV air on WJZY. WBTV previously aired Face the Nation on Sundays at 11:30am instead of 10:30am like most CBS affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone. However, WBTV moved the show to 10:30am a few weeks after it was permanently expanded to an hour.
WBTV gained a major ratings windfall in 1981-82, when CBS won the television rights to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. NCAA Tournament games, especially those involving ACC teams, are consistently among the highest-rated programs in the market during tournament season. In 2008, for instance, NCAA games on WBTV attracted a 13.4 rating and a 24 share, the third-highest in the nation (behind only WLKY-TV in Louisville and WREG-TV in Memphis).
The popularity of a series of specials commemorating the station's 25th anniversary in 1974 led to a long-running program, "Those Were the Years," hosted by Mike McKay and featuring episodes of classic television shows such as Dragnet, You Bet Your Life, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It was seen for several years at 11:30 p.m. on Fridays, pre-empting the CBS late-night shows which competed poorly against The Tonight Show.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, WBTV aired a Sunday morning program that featured singing cowboy Fred Kirby and his sidekick "Uncle Jim" (played by Jim Patterson). The show was known at various times as "Tiny Town," "Whistle Stop," "Fred Kirby's Little Rascals," and "Kirby's Corral." Giving the "hi-sign" to his young fans, Kirby was a fixture for many years at the western-themed park Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock, North Carolina (an hour northwest of Charlotte). In addition to Fred and Uncle Jim, viewers were treated to classic episodes of The Little Rascals (Hal Roach's Our Gang) as well as frequent appearances by the local bluegrass band The Br'arhoppers. Patterson was killed in a single-car accident in Charlotte in 1986. Kirby died in 1996 at age 85.
WBTV was not seriously challenged until 1981, when, in seeking to appeal to a younger audience, it declined to renew the contract of longtime anchor and reporter Doug Mayes, who promptly jumped to WSOC-TV. Within a few months, WBTV's newscast lost the lead at 11 p.m. to channel 9, and did not regain it until 2004. WSOC-TV gained a large lead in ratings for most other news timeslots beginning in 1990. WBTV returned to a strong position in the late 1990s, culminating in wresting the lead at noon in 1998 from WSOC-TV. The two stations have gone back and forth in most time slots since then. In the November 2011 ratings, WBTV took the lead at noon and 11 p.m., while WSOC led at all other times. Soon after Raycom took control, WBTV began airing newscasts and CBS programming in high definition, leaving WCNC as the only remaining Charlotte station that has yet to begin high-definition broadcasts.
Diana Williams, now at WABC-TV in New York City, was an anchor at WBTV during the early 1980s. She was succeeded as the station's main female anchor by Sara James, now a reporter for Dateline NBC. Following the 2005 retirement of longtime WSOC anchorman Bill Walker, WBTV has billed lead anchor Paul Cameron as "The Voice of Experience." Cameron joined WBTV in 1981 as sports director, and then succeeded longtime anchorman Bob Inman upon his retirement in 1996. He is only the third main anchorman in the station's history, following Mayes and Inman. WBTV's Maureen O'Boyle, a Charlotte native and graduate of West Charlotte High School, once anchored the FOX-produced newsmagazine A Current Affair. Morning and midday anchor John Carter is a former North Carolina state senator. Other notable on-air personalities include Steve Ohnesorge, western bureau chief who started as a photographer at WBTV in 1975.
WBTV produces a 10 p.m. newscast for the area's MyNetworkTV affiliate, WMYT-TV. Until April 2012, it aired on WMYT's CW affiliated sister station WJZY. In September 2010, WBTV launched an hour-long 4 p.m. newscast; it is the market's second newscast to air in that time period.
- The Esso Reporter (1950s)
- The Morning Report/The Noon Report/The Early Report/The Late Report/The Sign-Off Report (1960s)
- The Morning Scene/The Scene at Noon/The Scene Tonight/The Night Scene (1970s)
- The Scene Tonight (1970–1977)
- WBTV News (1980s-1990)
- WBTV NewsChannel 3 (1990–2001)
- WBTV News 3 (2001–present)
- "Bringing It Home to You" (1977–1978)
- "Turn to People You Know" (1979–1980)
- "Looking Better All The Time" (early 1980s)
- "You & WBTV... The Best Belong Together" (mid-1980s)
- "First in the Carolinas" (late 1980s)
- "The Carolinas' 24-Hour News Source" (1990–1996)
- "When You Need News" (mid-late 1990s)
- "On Your Side" (1989–1990, 2001–present)
Current on-air staff
- Jamie Boll - weekdays at 4:00, 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
- John Carter - weekday mornings (4:30-7:00 a.m.) and weekdays at noon
- Paul Cameron - weekdays at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Molly Grantham - weekdays at 5:30, 10:00 (WMYT) and 11:00 p.m.
- Brigida Mack - weekdays at 4:00 and 4:30 p.m.
- Kristen Miranda - weekend mornings (5:00-7:00 weekends and 7:00-8:00 a.m. Saturdays); also consumer reporter
- Christine Nelson - weekday mornings (4:30-7:00 a.m.) and weekdays at noon
- Maureen O'Boyle - weekdays at 5:00, 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.
- Sharon Smith - Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 6:30 and weekends at 10:00 (WMYT) and 11:00 p.m.
- First Alert Weather
- Eric Thomas (AMS Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5:30, 6:00, 7:00, 10:00 (WMYT) and 11:00 p.m.
- Ashley Batey - meteorologist; Thursdays and Fridays at 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. and weekend mornings (5:00-7:00 weekends and 7:00-8:00 a.m. Saturdays)
- Al Conklin (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings (4:30-7:00 a.m.) and weekdays at noon
- Kelly Franson - meteorologist; Monday-Wednesdays at 4:00 and 5:00 and Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 6:30 and weekends at 10:00 (WMYT) and 11:00 p.m.
- First Alert Traffic
- Tonya Rivens - traffic reporter; weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 a.m.)
- Katie Garner - traffic reporter; weekdays (4:00, 4:30, 5:00, 5:30 and 6:00 p.m.) Fill-in Meteorologist
- Sports team
- Delano Little - sports director; weeknights at 6:00, 10:00 (WMYT) and 11:00 p.m.; also #trending at 10 Segment
- Nate Wimberly - sports anchor; Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 6:30 and weekends at 10:00 (WMYT) and 11:00 p.m.; also sports reporter and producer
- Leah Rubertino - sports reporter
- Sammi Jo Francis - sports reporter
- Brian Stephenson - sports reporter
- Sarah Batista - general assignment reporter
- Steve Crump - general assignment reporter
- Kristen Hampton - general assignment and "Good News" feature reporter
- Melissa Hankins - business reporter
- Coleen Harry - general assignment reporter
- Kay Johnson - general assignment reporter
- Ron "Cam Man" Lee - weekday morning reporter (4:30-7:00 a.m.)
- Nick Needham - general assignment reporter
- Steve Ohnesorge - Morganton/Burke County bureau reporter
- Dedrick Russell - education reporter
- David Spunt - nightside reporter
- David Whisenant - Concord/Salisbury/Cabarrus County bureau reporter
- Astrid Martinez - morning reporter (4:30-7:00 a.m.)
Notable former on-air staff
- Shannon Bream - anchor (now at Fox News Channel)
- Kristy Ethridge -Reporter (Now works for Billy Graham Library Writer)
- Fred Kirby - performer and host of children's programming
- Jacinda Garabito -traffic reorter (Now Meteorologist for WCCB in Charlotte,NC)
- Liz Horton-traffic reporter and fill-in Meteorologist (now at WOFL-Orlando as traffic reporter and Meteorologist)
- Bob Lacey - PM Magazine host (1979–1990; now host of The Bob and Sheri Show at WLNK)
- Michael Marsh - now anchor at WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge
- Mike McKay - weather anchor and entertainment editor (1967-1995; now announcer at WDAV FM)
- Jim Noble - reporter/anchor (now at ESPN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio)
- Jim Patterson - announcer and morning show co-host (1949-1986; signed WBTV onto the air on July 15, 1949; deceased 1986)
- Lori Stokes - anchor (1988–1990; now at WABC-TV in New York City)
- Jim Thacker - sports director and pioneering Atlantic Coast Conference TV broadcaster (1968–1981; deceased 1992)
- Brian Thompson - reporter (1980s; now at WNBC-TV in New York City)
- Diana Williams - anchor (1983–1986; now at WABC-TV in New York City)
Notable guests on Saturday mornings
1) The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, brought desserts
2) Jared G, "consumer reporter", brought downsized products (appeared four times)
3) North Carolina Zoo, brought baby animals
4) Morton's The Steakhouse, brought crab cakes
5) Thor the Tiger
Out-of-market cable carriage
In recent years, WBTV has been carried on cable in multiple areas outside of the Charlotte media market. That includes cable systems within the Greensboro market in North Carolina, the Asheville market in North Carolina and South Carolina, and the Tri-Cities market in Tennessee.
- Charlotte Observer | 17 November 2007 | Old TV-radio couple breaking up
- Washburn, Mark. Raycom installs new GM at WBTV. Charlotte Observer, 2008-04-02.
- Louisville No. 1 in basketball TV ratings. The Courier-Journal, 2008-04-06.
- Anchors and Reporters
- "Michael Marsh Bio". WBRZ-TV. 20 October 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "Lori Stokes bio". Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- WBTV.com - Official Website
- WBTV History
- Listing 1005062 in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Antenna Structure Registration database
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WBTV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WBTV-TV
- WBTV Television Tower at Structurae
- FCC WBTV-Tower's Antenna Structure Registration
- Drawings of Jefferson Pilot Comm. Tower - SkyscraperPage.com