WXPO-TV, UHF analog channel 50, was an independent television station serving Boston, Massachusetts, United States that was licensed to Manchester, New Hampshire. Owned by Merrimack Valley Communications, the station existed from October 1969 to June 1970.
|Manchester, New Hampshire/Lowell, Massachusetts
|City||Manchester, New Hampshire|
|Channels||Analog: 50 (UHF)|
|Owner||Merrimack Valley Communications|
|First air date||October 1969|
|Last air date||June 1970|
|Former affiliations||Independent (1969–1970)|
The station first signed on the air in early October 1969. WXPO operated from two studio facilities: its offices and master production facilities were located on Dutton Street in downtown Lowell, Massachusetts; however, its transmitter and "main" studio was located on Governor Dinsmore Road in Windham, New Hampshire to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations requiring that a station's transmitter be located within 15 miles of the city of license. The original vision for the station was to air business news programming during the daytime hours, and a general entertainment format – including sports – during the late afternoon and evening hours.
Its afternoon program, Treehouse 50, gained a cult following among Boston-area college students, as it featured slapstick comedy and the Warner Bros. cartoons that had been released to television stations at that time. The station also attempted to do live remotes with some mixed success. In addition, WXPO was infamous for a New Year's Eve show that, according to some who watched, had started to become particularly strange by 1:00 a.m.
WXPO also attempted a news operation; in addition to the financial news programming, it was the first station to provide news updates every hour (a precursor to the 24 Hour News Source format used by many stations around the United States in the 1990s and ten years before CNN launched as the first all-news cable channel), and was the first New England television station to air a primetime newscast at 10 p.m. (WKBG-TV – channel 56, now WLVI – also attempted such a newscast during this time, but would not launch theirs for another two months). WXPO did not have any news film and relied solely on slides of photographs provided by the Associated Press for visuals.
The station's signal coverage in many parts of Greater Boston was spotty at best. The Lowell studio was located less than 1,000 feet from the WLLH transmitter, making high-quality production impossible during the day due to RF interference with the cameras. Advertisers were scared off when the Lowell Sun blacklisted anyone who advertised on the station. Bills went unpaid for several months.
By early 1970, 90% of WXPO's staff was removed from the payroll, although many continued with the station, believing it could pull through. However, the spring of that year saw the closure of the Lowell studio. Finally, in June the power company pulled the plug at the Windham studios during a Maverick rerun, taking WXPO off the air.
On July 17, 1973, channel 50 returned to the air with a test transmission, with plans to return the station to the air later that year, possibly as New Hampshire's CBS affiliate. Those plans were never realized, and the WXPO-TV license was deleted by the FCC in 1975. The channel would remain silent until September 1983, when WNDS (now WBIN-TV) began operations. Coincidentally, WBIN would also return its license to the FCC in February 2017.