WCVE-TV is a PBS member television station licensed to Richmond, Virginia. It broadcasts on channel 23 and is owned by Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation. The station is a member of PBS, of which WCVE-TV became a charter member. The station signed on for the first time in September 1964. Offices are at 23 Sesame Street in Bon Air, a suburb of Richmond. Its transmitter is located a few blocks away on 5 Sesame Street. WCVE's programming is also broadcast by a satellite in Charlottesville, Virginia on channel 41 as WHTJ. WCVE, the sister affiliate WCVW, and WHTJ were all together known locally as the Community Idea Stations, but in 2008 began using their call letters to identify themselves, simply referring to themselves each as "a Community Idea Station".
The community-owned public broadcasting company was established in 1961 by Thomas Boushall (Chairman of the Richmond School Board and an officer of the Bank of Virginia) and a group of concerned citizens to employ television for educational purposes. The patron saints of public broadcasting in central Virginia were Boushall, E. Claiborne Robins Sr., Mary Ann Franklin, and Bill W. Spiller. Mrs. Franklin first approached Boushall and Henry I. Willett, then Superintendent of Richmond City Schools, with the idea of establishing an educational television station. Boushall and Franklin then recruited Spiller, who was hired in December 1963 and began working for them in January 1964.
WCVE's sister station, WCVW-TV (channel 57) signed on in 1967. Richmond became the first community in Virginia to have dual stations, and only the eighth in the nation to do so, doubling the amount of instructional programming provided to schools in central Virginia. Over forty years later, both WCVE and WCVW are still in operation.
In 1974, Commonwealth Public Broadcasting took over WNVT-TV, a Fairfax public TV station on the verge of financial insolvency, in order to protect instructional television and educational services for schools in northern Virginia. In 1981, a second Northern Virginia station, WNVC-TV, was established. Today, these two stations provide international programming in English and several other languages tailored to the needs of the Washington, D.C., area's culturally diverse population.
When Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education announced its plans to give up its public radio license for WRFK, which had assumed a fine music format from WFMV. To ensure public radio would remain in Richmond, WCVE-FM radio went on the air as a NPR affiliate in 1988. The following year, the company established WHTJ in Charlottesville. Before WHTJ's sign-on, Charlottesville had been one of the few areas in the country without a full-powered PBS station; it had been served by a repeater of Harrisonburg's WVPT.
A 25,000 square foot (2,300 m²) TV and radio studio-office complex was added in 1991.
After signing off at midnight almost daily for over 40 years, WCVE and WCVW became 24-hour stations most days of the week in the fall of 2006. Starting in early 2008, the stylized "i" logo became the station's secondary logo, while a new once display the WCVE call letters was adopted.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|Main programming / PBS|
WCVE-TV, WCVW & WHTJ shut down all analog signals on March 30, 2009:
- WCVE-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 23; the station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 42. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 23.
- WCVW shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 57; the station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 44. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 57, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.
- WHTJ shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 41; the station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 46. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 41.
Like most public television stations, this trio broadcasts shows distributed by PBS, but they also create a range of local programs. WCVE produces Virginia Currents, a program profiling residents of the state, both typical and notable, which is aired by other PBS stations in Virginia such as Blue Ridge PBS and WVPT. WHTJ offers Charlottesville Inside-Out, hosted by musician Terri Allard.