WBBH-TV, virtual channel 20 (UHF digital channel 15), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Fort Myers, Florida, United States and also serving Naples and Cape Coral. It is the flagship television property of Fort Myers-based Waterman Broadcasting, which also operates Naples-licensed ABC affiliate WZVN-TV (channel 26) under a local marketing agreement (LMA) with owner Montclair Communications. The two stations share studios on Central Avenue in Fort Myers and transmitter facilities along SR 31 in unincorporated southeastern Charlotte County.
|Fort Myers/Cape Coral/Naples, Florida|
|City||Fort Myers, Florida|
|Channels||Digital: 15 (UHF)|
Virtual: 20 (PSIP)
|Branding||NBC 2 (general)|
NBC 2 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Count on NBC 2 First (general)|
The News You Count On (newscasts)
20.2: Heroes & Icons
|Owner||Waterman Broadcasting |
(Waterman Broadcasting of Florida, LLC)
First air date
|December 18, 1968|
Former channel number(s)
20 (UHF, 1968–2009)
|ABC (secondary, 1968–1974)|
NBC WX+ (DT2, 2006–2008)
Call sign meaning
|Buerry Broadcast UHF |
620 kW (STA)
|HAAT||453.9 m (1,489 ft)|
454.5 m (1,491 ft) (application)
Public license information
Known on-air as NBC 2, the branding is derived from WBBH's primary cable position in the market on Comcast Xfinity, CenturyLink, and most other cable providers in the area. (There is also a high definition feed provided on Xfinity digital channel 432 and CenturyLink digital channel 1002.) This practice stems in part from the area's exceptionally high cable penetration rate, which is one of the highest in the United States.
The station first signed on the air on December 18, 1968 as WBBH-TV. Before its existence, NBC programming in the market was relegated to off-hours clearances through a secondary affiliation with CBS affiliate WINK-TV (channel 11). As the second television station in Southwest Florida (after WINK-TV), WBBH shared ABC programming with that station until WEVU (channel 26, now WZVN-TV) signed on the air on August 21, 1974. Founded by a consortium of local businessmen named Broadcast Telecasting Services, Inc., the station originally transmitted its signal from a 1,000-foot (305 m) tower in Lehigh Acres which increased to 1,500 feet (457 m) in 1983. Waterman Broadcasting purchased the station in 1978.
The driving force behind the emergence of WBBH was Joe Buerry, who had worked as a sales manager and a DJ at WMYR radio. When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assigned the channel 20 allocation to Fort Myers, Buerry put together a group of investors and filed for the construction permit. The station was granted to Buerry and his partners; he ran the station for seven years taking it through its growth period, and successfully obtained the NBC affiliation with the help of NBC's regional manager Pier Mapes, who eventually became president of the network. WBBH became the ratings leader in the market under Buerry's management; the arrival of cable in Southwest Florida eliminated the disadvantage of being on UHF, allowing WBBH to overtake WINK-TV. While WINK-TV has since regained the lead, WBBH has remained a solid runner-up for most of the last three decades.
After seven years, Buerry left WBBH to become general manager at WEVU-TV. At that time, WEVU was losing revenue averaging at $25,000 a month. Buerry, because of his knowledge of the market, was able to turn the station around by the end of his first year as general manager. He ran WEVU until it was purchased by The Home News Publishing Company, which retained him as its general manager (Buerry left that station to run WVGA in Valdosta, Georgia six years later). Two plaques listing Buerry's accomplishments at the Fort Myers Historical Society.
In 1994, WEVU (by then owned by Ellis Communications) entered into a local marketing agreement with WBBH and moved into channel 20's Central Avenue facilities. At that time, both stations began identifying by their respective channel slots on local cable providers. Ellis Communications merged with Raycom Media in 1996, who spun WZVN's license off to Montclair Communications. Montclair continues the LMA with WBBH to this day. WBBH's owner, Waterman Broadcasting, holds an investment interest in Montclair Communications, even though the two companies file separate financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming |
|20.1||1080i||16:9||WBBH-HD||Main WBBH-TV programming / NBC|
|20.2||480i||WBBH-SD||NBC 2 News Now/Heroes & Icons|
On October 31, 2002, WBBH-TV became the second station in the market to begin broadcasting a high definition digital signal.
In September 2006, WBBH began offering NBC Weather Plus on a new second digital subchannel. In December 2008, after the national service folded, WBBH-DT2 switched formats and became a 24-hour local news and weather channel with branding "NBC 2 News Now". In May 2017, WBBH added Heroes & Icons to its DT2 subchannel. "NBC 2 News Now" now only airs weekdays from 7-8 a.m. and 12-1 p.m. while H&I airs at all other times.
WBBH-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 20, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). As part of the SAFER Act, WBBH-TV kept its analog signal on the air until February 21 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 15, it uses PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 20.
WBBH-TV presently broadcasts 49½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 8½ hours on weekdays, 3 hours on Saturdays and 4 hours on Sundays). It is one of the few Big Three stations in the United States whose weekly news programming total exceeds more than 40 hours (which is more common with news-producing affiliates of the post-1986 broadcast networks, even surpassing the amount produced locally by one such station, Fox affiliate WFTX). Between the two, WZVN and WBBH air more than 80 combined hours of local news every week. In addition to the main studios, WBBH and WZVN operate a Collier County Bureau on Tamiami Trail North (US 41/SR 45) in Naples. The two stations operate a Baron Doppler weather radar at the main facilities that is known on WBBH as "NBC 2 First Alert Power Doppler HD". The radar has a range of 300 miles (483 km) and can survey approaching storms in three dimensions.
In 1994, WBBH and WZVN merged their news departments, and began having news reporters appear on both stations. Resources such as video footage and stories also began to be shared between the stations. During this period, each station maintained separate unique sets at the Central Avenue facilities and featured a distinct on-air style. There were primary personalities (such as news anchors) that would only appear on one station. The joint operation was billed as the Eyewitness News Network. It should be known that if WZVN chose not to become a junior partner in the LMA with WBBH, the station would have been required to shut down its news department. Traditionally in the past, WBBH tended to cover more stories from Charlotte County, while WZVN had a slight Collier County focus since it is licensed to Naples and had its former analog transmitter located further south than the area's other television outlets.
Today, WBBH and WZVN continue the practice of maintaining their own primary on-air teams on weekdays that only appear on each respective station. Otherwise, all other personnel—including most reporters—are shared between the two stations. WBBH's newscasts are broadcast from a separate set at the Central Avenue facility, allowing it to have a different on-air identity and graphics scheme from WZVN. Compared with that station, channel 26's newscasts usually tend to air in a more flashier fast-paced format with promotions referring to the station providing more news coverage in 30 minutes than the market's other stations. WBBH traditionally covers more investigative and consumer stories through its "NBC 2 Investigators" unit. On weekends, there are separate news and sports anchors, but the same meteorologists are seen on both WZVN and WBBH. This is possible because the two stations maintain individual sets and do not always air local newscasts at the same timeslots.
One of the best known former personalities and a veteran of Southwestern Florida broadcasting is Harry Horn. He died of ALS in August 2005.
During major hurricanes, most recently Charley and Wilma, WZVN and WBBH combined their news resources to provide 24-hour continuous coverage. Commercial breaks are dropped for several hours preceding and following landfall. Coverage is simulcast on both stations and a common live video stream is featured on both stations' websites. During previous years, WBBH's news set was used during hurricane coverage along with both WBBH and WZVN's weather sets. As of 2007, WZVN's high definition news set is now used in the event of a hurricane as its internal location at the Central Avenue facility provides the best protection against damaging winds.
In early February 2008, following the lead of WZVN, WBBH became the second television station in the market to upgrade its newscasts to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen. Rival WINK-TV became the first station in Southwestern Florida to begin broadcasting its news programming in high definition on October 20, 2007. WBBH would itself upgrade its newscasts to HD on July 19, 2008. On October 26 of that year, several changes occurred to WZVN and WBBH's news programming in order to better compete with WINK-TV. WZVN dropped the first hour of its weekday morning newscast (as of 2012, that hour has since been restored) and a mid-morning newscast at 10 a.m. WBBH debuted a new hour-long midday broadcast at 11 a.m. while keeping its hour-long noon newscast. Meanwhile, WZVN added an hour-long weekday morning newscast at 9 a.m. On September 8, 2009, the station began producing a half-hour 7 p.m. newscast on weeknights to compete against WINK-TV's newscast airing in the same timeslot. On January 16, 2012, WZVN debuted an hour-long newscast at 5 p.m. weeknights, which incidentally directly competes with WBBH's own 5 p.m. newscast.
In October 2014, WBBH moved into a brand new newsroom and studio facility, located behind the old facility. The NBC 2 newsroom backs up to the studio and a wall can be opened to show the working newsroom. This was done to give NBC 2 more room, because it produces more newscasts.
As of May 2017, WBBH News has been led by Vice President News Darrel Lieze-Adams for 20 years, making him one of the longest serving news directors at a single station.
Notable former on-air staffEdit
- "Factbook" (PDF). americanradiohistory.com. 1973. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
- "RabbitEars.Info". www.rabbitears.info.
- "UPDATED List of Participants in the Analog Nightlight Program" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. June 12, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
- "Gene Lacanchy biography". WFXT. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
- "John Muller and Tamsen Fadal to co-anchor PIX11 News at 5 and 10". WPIX. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
- "Shepard Smith biography". Fox News. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
- "Ukee Washington biography". KYW-TV. Retrieved September 26, 2013.