WKRC-TV, VHFdigital channel 12, is a CBS-affiliatedtelevision station located in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates MyNetworkTV affiliate WSTR-TV (channel 64) through a local marketing agreement with its owner Deerfield Media. WKRC broadcasts from a combined studio/transmitter facility on Highland Avenue in the Mount Auburn section of Cincinnati.

History

WKRC-TV first signed on the air on April 4, 1949, originally operating as a CBS affiliate on VHF channel 11; it is Cincinnati's second-oldest television station. The station was owned by the Ohio-based Taft family, who were active in both politics and in media. The Tafts published The Cincinnati Times-Star, and also owned WKRC radio (550 AM and 101.9 FM, now WKRQ) under their broadcasting subsidiary, Radio Cincinnati. In 1958, the Tafts sold the Times-Star to the locally based rival E. W. Scripps Company, owner of the The Cincinnati Post and WCPO-AM-FM-TV. The Tafts' broadcasting interests were then reorganized as Taft Broadcasting, with WKRC-AM-FM-TV as the flagship stations. The WKRC stations' call letters were derived from the original owner of WKRC radio, Clarence Ogden of the Kodel Radio Company ("Ko" for Clarence O. and "dell" for Della his wife).[2]

Following the release of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Sixth Report and Order, WKRC-TV moved to channel 12 on October 12, 1952. Nine years later, in 1961, the station became an ABC affiliate, switching networks with WCPO-TV.[3] This came after that network's founder Leonard Goldenson persuaded Taft's president, a longtime friend, to switch several of the company's stations to ABC. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[4] WKRC's nickname in the 1960s was "Tall 12", a reference to the station's transmitter tower which was the tallest in Cincinnati at the time. Like WCPO-TV, channel 12 used a distinctive jingle ID at the top of the hour in the 1960s. The upbeat, orchestrated "Channel 12" jingle was followed by children's show host Glenn Ryle announcing: "This is WKRC-TV Cincinnati". In 1975, it began airing movies on late night Saturdays in a program called The Past Prime Playhouse. Hosted live by local personality Bob Shreve, the show would air until 1988.

Over the years, as an ABC affiliate, WKRC-TV preempted moderate amounts of weekday programming and the Sunday morning cartoon reruns from ABC. When ABC offered late night programming from 11:30 p.m. to about 2:00 a.m., WKRC, like many other affiliates chose not to air it. However, it aired Nightline once that program began in 1979 as a program on the Iran hostage crisis. Occasionally, WKRC preempted a lower-rated primetime program or movie from ABC to air either a stronger movie or a locally based special. Most programs not shown on WKRC were widely preempted by many affiliates. Also, most every program not shown on WKRC-TV was aired on the ABC station in nearby Dayton, WKEF until 1980 and WDTN after 1980. WKEF provided grade B coverage to most of the market, while WDTN provided city-grade coverage to nearly the entire market. Locally, WKRC aired news, talk shows, movies, and a few off-network sitcoms at some points. Beginning in 1992, WKRC-TV began preempting portions of ABC's Saturday morning cartoons in favor of a local Saturday morning newscast.

In 1987, Taft was dissolved in a hostile takeover of its board and all of its stations (except WTVN-TV in Columbus and WGHP-TV in High Point, North Carolina) were absorbed into Great American Broadcasting, which became Citicasters in 1993. WKRC was subsequently acquired by Jacor in September 1996 after most of Citicasters' other television stations were sold to New World Communications and Fox. The Jacor deal reunited channel 12 with its AM sister, which had been bought by Jacor in 1993 during Great American Broadcasting's bankruptcy reorganization. Jacor merged with Clear Channel Communications in 1998.

The station switched affiliations with WCPO on June 3, 1996 after WCPO's owner, Scripps, demanded that ABC switch its Cincinnati affiliation there as a condition of keeping ABC programming on its two biggest stations, WXYZ-TV in Detroit and WEWS-TV in Cleveland. ABC actually agreed to Scripps' demands in 1994, but WKRC's contract with ABC was not set to expire for two years. As a CBS affiliate, WKRC-TV ran the entire schedule except for several hours of the CBS Saturday morning cartoon lineup which would soon be pulled back to only a few hours anyway. Once that reduction was made, WKRC-TV was then running the entire CBS schedule with an occasional exception. Although owned by Clear Channel at the time, the station changed its branding to "Local 12" in 2003. This was inspired by the "Local Mandate", a station brand standardization adopted by Post-Newsweek Stations for its own television stations. In 1998, the station became the primary home station for most Cincinnati Bengals games (when that network acquired the AFC broadcast rights that year).

In 2006, Clear Channel ranked WKRC as the top CBS affiliate in the United States. On November 16 of that year, the company announced that it would sell its entire television division, including WKRC,[5] after being bought by private equity firms in order to focus on its radio and event properties. On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its stations to Providence Equity Partners.[6] Providence Equity teamed up with Sandy DiPasquale to form a new holding company, Newport Television, for the station group. Concurrently, Clear Channel applied to place WKRC and several other stations to the Aloha Station Trust just in case Newport Television failed to close on the group. However, as a result of Newport Television closing on the purchase of WKRC and the other stations on March 14, 2008, Aloha Station Trust and the would-be new owners of Clear Channel opted not to consummate on the acquisition of the station. As a result, Newport Television became WKRC's fourth owner in just over 20 years. As a result of the sale, the Citicasters name disappeared from WKRC's license, dissolving channel 12's last link to Taft Broadcasting; the Citicasters name is still alive as a holding company within the Clear Channel structure.

On June 18, 2008, Newport announced that it was eliminating 7.5% of the jobs at its 56 stations, attributed the layoffs to a weak economy. As a result, WKRC fired 18 staff members. On July 19, 2012, Newport Television reached deals to sell 22 of its 27 stations to three station groups – Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Cox Media Group. WKRC-TV was among the six sold to Sinclair.[7]WSTR-TV (channel 64) was transferred to Deerfield Media (who also received San Antonio's CW affiliate KMYS in the same deal) because the Cincinnati market, despite being the 35th-largest market, has only five full-power commercial stations, which are not enough to legally permit a duopoly. However, Sinclair retained control of WSTR through a shared services agreement. The deal also reunited WKRC-TV with WSYX (the former WTVN-TV), another station formerly owned by Taft. The sale was completed on December 3.[8]

On January 8, 2016, Sinclair announced that American Sports Network would launch as a dedicated, digital multicast network under the American Sports Network name with 10 stations including WKRC on January 11, 2016.[9]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[10]
12.11080i16:9WKRC-CBMain WKRC-TV programming / CBS
12.2720pCW"The CW Cincinnati"
12.3480i4:3ASNAmerican Sports Network

With the switch of WCPO-TV's digital signal to a UHF frequency (channel 22) on December 8, 2010, WKRC is the only television station in the Cincinnati market that operates its digital signal on the VHF band.

Analog-to-digital conversion

WKRC-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[11][12] The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 31 to VHF channel 12.[13]

The CW Cincinnati

WKRC-DT2 is a CW-affiliated second digital subchannel of WKRC-TV. Over-the-air, it broadcasts in high definition on VHF digital channel 12.2. Branded as The CW Cincinnati, it is available on Time Warner Cable channel 20 (in standard definition) and digital channel 989 (in high definition) and Cincinnati Bell FiOptics channel 17 (in standard definition) and digital channel 517 (in high definition). It is the largest subchannel-only CW affiliate by market size.

History

On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW.[14][15] WKRC signed a deal to affiliate with the new network on a new second digital subchannel resulting in UPN affiliate WBQC-CA (channel 25) becoming an independent station. Meanwhile, WB affiliate WSTR-TV joined another new network, News Corporation-owned MyNetworkTV (now owned by 21st Century Fox) which launched on September 5.

Cincinnati cable viewers were concerned that WKRC-DT2 would face the same problems as WBQC. For years, Time Warner Cable had refused to carry that station full-time, eventually airing its prime time programming on a low-profile channel. However, Time Warner Cable was a division of Time Warner at the time (who would be half-owner of The CW), so it was in the company's best interest to air WKRC-DT2 over its systems. By late in the day on September 17, Time Warner Cable agreed to carry the new station only hours before the network's launch on September 18. WKRC-DT2 launched on Time Warner channel 2 in prime time only to start out with and 24 hours a day on digital cable channel 913, before earning a full-time broadcast basic placement on channel 20 as of October 18,[16] displacing WBQC and a commercial access channel. The station also debuted on Insight Communications and DirecTV under WBQC's former channel slots.

Although must-carry rules allowed WKRC's owner, Newport Television, to require cable systems to carry the subchannel as part of the compensation for carrying the main channel, Time Warner Cable only agreed to carry it just hours before the network's launch on September 18. The new station launched on TWC basic channel 2 in primetime only to start out with and 24 hours a day on digital cable channel 913 before earning full-time broadcast basic carriage on channel 20 on October 18,[16] displacing WBQC and a commercial access channel. The station also debuted on Insight Communications and DirecTV under WBQC's former channel slots. As a result, the channel can be viewed by 66% of the local population due to carriage by Time Warner Cable in Ohio, Insight in Northern Kentucky, and DirecTV.[17]

As a result, the channel can be viewed by 66% of the local population due to carriage by Time Warner Cable in Ohio, Insight in Northern Kentucky, and DirecTV.[17] While now branded as simply "The CW Cincinnati", the subchannel originally branded as "The CinCW", a portmanteau with "Cincy", a common nickname for the city. It currently airs the entire CW schedule in-pattern with classic sitcoms, dramas, films and second runs of WKRC's syndicated programming airing outside of network hours along with regional wrestling programming on Saturday afternoons and evenings. Repeats of WKRC's local DIY show Homeworx can also be seen. Through the CW, it also carries the daily self-titled talk show of local WLW Radio personality Bill Cunningham.

News operation

WKRC presently broadcasts 35½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with six hours on weekdays, three hours on Saturdays and 2½ hours on Sundays); it also produces an additional 8½ hours of newscasts weekly (with 1½ hours on weekdays, and a half-hour each on Saturdays and Sundays) for WSTR. WKRC's newscasts and reports were formerly seen on the Ohio News Network until the regional cable news channel shut down on August 31, 2012. During weather segments, it uses regional weather radar data in a system called "Precision Doppler 12 Network".

For most of its history, WKRC has been a solid runner-up to WCPO in the local newscast ratings. However, in the past decade or so, WKRC and WCPO have taken turns in first and second place. WKRC usually wins on weekday mornings and at 11 p.m., while WCPO leads in the 5 to 7 p.m. block. However, since the May 2010 Nielsen ratings period, WKRC has dominated its competition in all newscast timeslots, with WCPO slipping to second. This dominance in the Cincinnati local news race continued as of the May 2012 sweeps period. At one point, all three of Cincinnati's "Big Three" network affiliates were locally owned. WLWT began falling behind in the ratings after becoming the first of the three to be sold to outside interests. WCPO is now the only one of the three to remain under locally based ownership.

From 1977 to 1992,[18] its news division was branded Eyewitness 12 News. (The Eyewitness News moniker would be reused by WLWT in 1998.) Afterward, the station was usually announced as 12 News. With the arrival of chief meteorologist Tim Hedrick in 1988,[19] WKRC began using the top of the Chiquita Center as its Weather Beacon.[20]

In 1994, WKRC refreshed its newscasts with the slogan "A New Generation of News", which referred to anchors Kit Andrews and Rob Braun,[21] along with new graphics, a green screen set,[3] and music originally composed by Rick Krizman for KRON-TV in San Francisco.[3] WKRC made extensive use of "Texta", a graphics package that included a persistent on-screen banner with the current story's headline.[24] Seasonal school closing information and eventually a news ticker appeared below the Texta headline. In 1996, the station debuted a half-hour 4 p.m. newscast on weekday afternoons that remains the Cincinnati area's earliest afternoon newscast.

From August 22, 2001, to January 2005, WKRC aired its weekday Good Morning Cincinnati broadcast live from a $500,000 remote studio at the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau on the ground floor of Fifth Third Bank's downtown headquarters, with the Tyler Davidson Fountain as the backdrop.[25][26] Despite WKRC's initial hopes for a Today-like atmosphere,[27] the show failed to attract a regular crowd on Fountain Square.[26] From March 2004 to 2008, WKRC aired Nuestro Rincón ("Our Corner"), a twice-weekly Spanish-language news program hosted by Sasha Rionda.[28] It was the only television program in the market airing in a language other than English.

On April 26, 2006, WKRC entered into a news share agreement with WSTR to produce a nightly primetime newscast at 10 p.m., which began airing on August 21. This resulted, once MyNetworkTV began, in a CBS affiliate's newscast being carried on a station affiliated with a Fox sister network.[29] On January 7, 2008, WKRC began simulcasting Good Morning Cincinnati on WKRC-DT2; it had been aired on the main channel from 5 to 8 a.m., but the third hour was dropped when CBS reclaimed the 7 a.m. hour for The Early Show, after the network required all of its affiliates to air the show (which was replaced by CBS This Morning in 2012) in its entirety after receiving a makeover hoping to better compete against its rivals, NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America. The 7-8 a.m. hour of Good Morning Cincinnati can now be only seen on WKRC-DT2. WKRC announced its intent to move the primetime newscast on WSTR to WKRC-DT2 in August 2008; on August 4, 2008, it began a brief simulcast of the program on WKRC-DT2, with it eventually being dropped from WSTR on August 22. The program then became known as CW News at 10.

Newport Television released a statement in October 2008 stating that WKRC would eventually begin broadcasting its newscasts in 1080ihigh definition. The company used channel 12 as a pilot station before investing in HD equipment for its other television stations. On October 30, it debuted a new set on its First at 4 broadcast in preparation for the HD debut. After nearly a year of delay, the station launched its high definition newscasts along with a revised logo and new graphics on September 27, 2009 during its 11 p.m. newscast; WKRC became the third station in the Cincinnati market (after WCPO and WXIX-TV, channel 19) and the second in the Newport group (after WOAI-TV) to make the upgrade. WKRC currently use JVC ProHD 250 Series cameras in its studios.[3] The newscasts on The CW Cincinnati were not initially included in the upgrade, until it upgraded to HD at some point in 2013. On July 7, 2013, WKRC launched Sunday morning newscasts, airing in two blocks: one hour at 8:00 a.m. and an additional half-hour at 11:00 a.m.[31] On January 6, 2014, the 10 p.m. newscast was moved back to WSTR, where it is called the Local 12 News at 10 on STAR 64. [32] On February 3, 2014, the 7 a.m. newscast will follow suit to WSTR.

Notable alumni

  • Nick Clooney – hosted his own talk show on WKRC in the early to mid-1970s, news anchor from 1975 to 1984 (father of George Clooney)
  • Ira Joe Fisher – weather anchor (1980–1983, then 1985–1989, known for writing backwards on plexiglass; and later the weather reporter for The Saturday Early Show on CBS)
  • Sasha Rionda – reporter/host of Nuestro Rincón (now with CNN International)
  • Glenn Ryle – staff announcer (1954–late 1980s, was also a children's show host, taking the on-air name "Skipper Ryle" until 1973; his program was second only to WCPO's "Uncle Al" show in popularity)
  • Rod Serling – worked for WKRC-TV between 1948 and 1953, writing a regular weekly series of live dramas for the anthology show The Storm.
  • Bob Shreve – host of Saturday late night film showcase The Past Prime Playhouse (1975–1985)
  • Linda Vester – station intern (went on to work as reporter/anchor for Fox News Channel, NBC News and MSNBC)