WEWS-TV, virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 15), is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company. WEWS-TV maintains studio facilities located on Euclid Avenue (near I-90) in Downtown Cleveland, and its transmitter is located in the Cleveland suburb of Parma.
The station first signed on the air on December 17, 1947, as the first commercially licensed television station in Ohio, and the 16th overall in the United States. The call letters denote the initials of the parent company's founder, Edward Willis Scripps. The station is the oldest in Cleveland to maintain the same channel position (as an analog broadcaster), ownership and call letters since its sign-on. A few weeks before WEWS-TV's sign-on, Scripps launched WEWS-FM 102.1 (the frequency is now occupied by WDOK) as an outlet for WEWS-TV personalities to gain on-air experience before the launch of the television station. Channel 5's first broadcast was of a Christmas pageant run by the station's corporate cousin, The Cleveland Press. Its staff included capable producers Jim Breslin and Betty Cope, who would later become president of WVIZ (channel 25).
In October 1948, WEWS, still Cleveland's only television station, broadcast the 1948 World Series games played in Cleveland between the Indians and the Boston Braves. The telecasts were fed to stations throughout the Midwest. WEWS aired only one other World Series involving the Indians – in 1995, when the Indians again faced the now-Atlanta Braves – the local broadcast was split with WKYC-TV (channel 3) due to the ABC/NBC shared Baseball Network.
WEWS originally operated as a CBS affiliate, with secondary ABC and DuMont affiliations; it lost the CBS affiliation to WJW-TV (channel 8) in 1955 after that station's then-owner, Storer Broadcasting, used its influence with CBS to land the affiliation. The station later lost the DuMont affiliation when that network ceased operations in 1956. WEWS was also an affiliate of the short-lived Paramount Television Network; the station was one of the network's strongest affiliates, airing such Paramount programs as Time For Beany, Hollywood Reel, and Frosty Frolics. WEWS also aired two NBC programs, both of which had been preempted by Westinghouse-owned NBC affiliate KYW-TV (now WKYC): the network's evening newscast The Huntley-Brinkley Report, during the 1959–1960 season; and The Tonight Show, with hosts Jack Paar and later Johnny Carson, from October 1957 to February 1966.
In 1977, WEWS-TV went before the U.S. Supreme court for recording and broadcasting the entire human cannonball act of Hugo Zacchini. He performed his circus routine at the Geauga County Fair in Burton, Ohio and the station did not compensate him, as was required by Ohio law. In Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment did not shield the WEWS from liability from common law copyright claims.
In its early days as an ABC affiliate, the station produced its own shows in the afternoon, as ABC offered little daytime network programming. Among the local programs offered during the 1950s and 1960s included news analysis from Dorothy Fuldheim, children's programs featuring the "Uncle Jake" character played by Gene Carroll and the "Captain Penny" character played by Ron Penfound, and exercise programs with Paige Palmer. Alice Weston had one of the first live television cooking shows, and Barbara Plummer was "Miss Barbara" for a generation of young viewers on the local version of Romper Room. The most popular show was The Gene Carroll Show, a program that showcased Cleveland area talent which aired Sundays at noon beginning in 1948 and ran well into the 1970s. WEWS also offered a 90-minute afternoon variety show The One O'Clock Club weekdays hosted by Fuldheim and Bill Gordon. The program was so popular that competitor KYW-TV was prompted to organize a competing variety show which was the beginning of The Mike Douglas Show.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, WEWS produced several programs that eventually entered into national syndication. The first program was Upbeat. Considered by some to be one of the most significant early rock-and-roll variety television shows, Upbeat featured a live audience, a group of dancers and lip-synched (but occasionally live) performances by popular acts of the era. The program began locally as The Big 5 Show, and the name was changed to Upbeat when it went national, altogether running from 1964 to 1971. Among the program's hosts was Don Webster, who later doubled as the station's lead weather forecaster. At its peak, Upbeat was seen in over 100 television markets. Artists who appeared on Upbeat included Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder. In fact, Redding's final appearance ever came on the show's December 9, 1967 episode. The next afternoon, his twin-engine airplane crashed in the icy waters of Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, killing all but one of the eight passengers on board.
Another show seen throughout the country was Polka Varieties, an hour-long polka music program that ran locally on Sundays at 1 p.m. from 1956 into the early 1980s, and was syndicated during its later years to 30 television markets. The program featured various popular bands that played Slovenian-style polka, Polish, Italian and Bohemian-style music. "America's Polka King", Frank Yankovic, was the original band to perform on the show. Other bands included Richie Vadnal, George Staiduhar, Markic-Zagger, and Hank Haller. Original host Tom Fletcher was replaced by Paul Wilcox, whose presence became an indelible part of the show. Uttering the well-known show-opening phrase, "From America's Polka Capital of Cleveland, Ohio, this is Polka Varieties, now in its ___ year on the air!" were several famous voices associated with the station over the years, including Cort Stanton, Ralph Gunderman, and David Mark. Black on Black, which examined issues of importance to African American communities, was syndicated to several markets.
On December 17, 2007, channel 5 celebrated its milestone 60th anniversary on the air.
From the early 1970s until July 1, 2011, WEWS was Cleveland's television outlet for the Ohio Lottery. On June 2, 2011, NBC affiliate WKYC (channel 3) announced that the station had acquired the rights to air the lottery drawings, as well as its Saturday night game show Cash Explosion. After two years on channel 3, WEWS re-assumed the local television lottery rights on July 1, 2013.
The Morning Exchange
One program in particular, The Morning Exchange, which ran from 1972 to 1999, changed the face of morning television. It was the first morning show to utilize a "living room" set, and the first to establish the now familiar concept of news and weather updates at the top and bottom of the hour. During its peak in the 1970s, nearly 70% of all television households in Cleveland were tuned to the program. The format also served as a template for ABC's Good Morning America.
WEWS vs. WAKR/WAKC
At one time, the Cleveland/Akron market was served by two ABC affiliates: in addition to WEWS, WAKR-TV (channel 23) served viewers in Akron and Canton who could not receive a clear signal from WEWS. WAKR signed on in 1953, six years after WEWS began operations, and was stuck with a less-desirable UHF signal instead of a VHF signal following the FCC's 1952 Sixth Report and Order, which resulted in a realignment of television allocations in the Midwest. WAKR-TV gained an ABC affiliation as the network could not clear its full schedule on its then-primary station in Cleveland, WXEL (now WJW), and retained it after ABC moved to WEWS full-time in 1955. As ABC soon garnered equal footing with CBS and NBC in the late 1960s, this caused cannibalization of ratings and angered WEWS station management as they did not want to compete with another station showing the same programming.
The feud ended in May 1996, when WAKC shut down its news department after being purchased by Paxson Communications and dropped all ABC programming that December, adopting an infomercial and religious programming format as WVPX-TV. It would eventually settle in as the Cleveland/Akron market's outlet of the Pax TV network, which eventually became Ion Television. Despite this, WAKR/WAKC became a "farm station" of sorts for WEWS-TV; its most notable alumni were Ted Henry – who was a weather anchor at WAKR prior to his long association with WEWS, and longtime chief meteorologist Mark Johnson – a former WAKC weatherman who has been with WEWS since 1993.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|5.1||720p||16:9||WEWS-HD||Main WEWS-TV programming / ABC|
On May 26, 2011, it was announced that WEWS (along with other Scripps stations around the country) had signed a deal to carry the Live Well Network on their digital subchannels. the network began to be carried on digital subchannel 5.2 on September 5, 2011. The subchannel is also currently available on select northeast Ohio cable providers.
Live Well Network announced they would be going off the air in April 2015, and as a result 5.2 switched to the classic TV network Cozi TV at 10:00 AM on April 8. The comedy network Laff debuted on the newly activated 5.3 subchannel a week later. 5.3 was activated on April 7 and ran continuous promos for the network's launch prior to the official premiere date. 5.3 also now airs on select northeast Ohio cable providers.
WEWS-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 5, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 15. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 5.
Lost finale controversy
On May 23, 2010, WEWS-TV's broadcast of the series finale of Lost was interrupted by a number of technical difficulties with the station's digital signal. The episode was almost completely interrupted and unwatchable. This caused numerous viewer complaints, leading the station to issue numerous apologies both on-air and on its website.
From 1968 to 1998, WEWS used the Circle 5 as its logo, a variant of the Circle 7 logo primarily associated with ABC owned-and-operated stations. In 1995, the logo received a minor alteration as it was slightly tilted to the right. While WEWS was branded on-air as either "TV5" or "Channel 5" up until 1990, the "Newschannel 5" branding adopted in 1990 was initially interchanged with the "Channel 5" brand before eventually being extended to generalized promotional usage outside of news. WEWS sister station WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida adopted use of the same logo in the 1970s and continues to use it.
On January 7, 2007, to coincide with its upgrade to high-definition newscasts, WEWS returned to a slightly modified version of the classic Circle 5 after using different logos for the previous nine years (an integrated circle/text logo from 1998 to 2003 and a boxed "5" from 2003 onward).
By September 2008, the ABC logo was gradually integrated onto the "Circle 5" first on occasional promos (including a harmonization of ABC's "Start Here" campaign), then with all newscast opens in March 2009, and with the on-screen 'bug' on April 20, 2009. Unlike ABC's O&O stations and some affiliates, WEWS embeds the ABC logo to the right of the "Circle #" logo and not the left.
During the 1980s, WEWS acquired local rights to Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee (now known as Live! With Kelly). All these shows would go on to become successful nationally, scored big ratings on WEWS, and aired on the station for 25 years or more. However, in the 2010s the station started to move away from most of these programs, and has started airing more lower-cost, internally produced programs offered by Scripps.
In 2011, Winfrey ended her talk show after a successful 25-year run. In order to fill the void, WEWS put The Dr. Oz Show (an Oprah spin-off), which was airing at 10 a.m., in the 4 p.m. time slot. This left the 10 a.m. time slot open, which was eventually filled by the new Scripps produced viral video program Right This Minute.
In September 2012, the station dropped both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! after airing both shows for almost three decades, replacing them with The List and Let's Ask America, two more internally produced shows from Scripps. The reason behind the removal of the two hit game shows was because Scripps was looking to stray away from shows that carried a high cost to air on their stations, and instead air shows where Scripps was able to control advertisement, and as a result, are much cheaper to air on their stations. Both game shows ended up moving to WOIO. The station also acquired Katie Couric's new talk show and placed it at 3 p.m. following General Hospital's shift to 2 p.m., a move that many other ABC affiliates also made.
There were hardly any changes to its schedule during the 2013–14 TV season (aside from a time swap between Right This Minute and The Dr. Oz Show), but the 2014–15 TV season would bring major changes to its schedule. WEWS would debut a new 4 p.m. newscast – The Now Cleveland – putting Right This Minute at 12:30 p.m., cutting WEWS' noon newscast down to 30 minutes from a full hour. The station also acquired local rights to Steve Harvey from WJW, and placed in the now cancelled Katie's 3 p.m. time slot. But in return WEWS gave Dr. Oz to WJW. This left the 10 a.m. time slot going to The Meredith Vieira Show for its debut season. No major changes were made to the station's schedule in the 2015–16 TV season, save for the now-cancelled Let's Ask America being replaced by the long running celebrity news program Access Hollywood. As of 2016, only Live! with Kelly continues to air on channel 5 from the original stable of hit syndicated shows.
As of 2015, News Channel 5 is the local TV and digital outlet for the NFL's Cleveland Browns, airing all non-network preseason games as well as year-round team centered programming. The game day broadcast team features ESPN announcer Mike Patrick (play by play), former NFL player/current CBS analyst Solomon Wilcots (commentator), and WEWS sports director Andy Baskin (pregame/halftime host and sideline reporter).
Early news coverage
WEWS started covering news events soon after it went on air. The winter after it signed on, Cleveland experienced a blizzard, and for the first time WEWS had provided extended coverage for hours. During the early and mid-1950s, channel 5's first newscasts and weather reports were delivered by Tom Field. In 1959, Dorothy Fuldheim – who had been with the station before it even first signed on – began to formulate her own newscast. Fuldheim centered her newscast around her interviews, a general overview of the news, and her commentaries (the very opinionated Fuldheim frequently inserted her own opinions about the stories). Fuldheim was the first female in the United States to have her own television news analysis program.
27-year-old John Hambrick took over as lead anchor on WEWS' evening newscasts on Christmas Day in December 1967, with Fuldheim staying on as a commentator. Don Webster presented the weather and Gib Shanley was the sports anchor. In 1968, WEWS changed the format of its newscasts slightly to a version of Eyewitness News. In 1970, Dave Patterson joined Hambrick on the early newscast and then became co-anchor on the 11:00 p.m. newscast in 1971. Ted Henry, who joined WEWS in 1972 as a behind-the-scenes producer, got his start on the air later in 1975 as a weekend weatherman. In later years, Henry would admit that he, not knowing the slightest thing about forecasting, basically copied his forecasts from a Detroit radio station.
That same year, Bill Jacocks – said to be Cleveland's first full-time African-American anchorman – joined WEWS. Jacocks started as assistant public affairs director, and became weekend anchor in January 1975. For a solid decade (until 1985) Jacocks remained the one constant weekend anchor while many co-anchors came and went. Among those doing their first Cleveland co-anchor stints with Jacocks were Tim Taylor and Wilma Smith (both of whom, coincidentally, would later anchor together at rival WJW).
Hambrick and Patterson continued to anchor the newscasts together until Hambrick left for KABC-TV in Los Angeles in 1975. At that time, Ted Henry became the weekend anchor, and then a year later in 1976, co-anchor on the weekday evening newscasts with Patterson. Henry continued as the lead anchor until his retirement on May 20, 2009. This era marked the start of dominance for the WEWS news programs that lasted until well into the 1980s. In 1977, weekend co-anchor Tim Taylor left WEWS to become a weeknight anchor at WJW-TV. Fuldheim's role decreased as she only presented her interviews and commentaries, but still appeared on the air three times a day until retiring in July 1984 at the age of 91.
WEWS was the first Cleveland TV station to use a news helicopter, introducing "Chopper 5" in 1978. At the time, a cameraman sat partially outside the helicopter door in order to film the story being covered. TV 5 has used helicopters (on and off) ever since, including the current "Air Tracker 5" - which was introduced in 2016.
The WEWS news department underwent another major change in 1982. Previously, the 5–6 p.m. slot was occupied by The Afternoon Exchange, the afternoon companion to The Morning Exchange. That year, the program adopted a new format, and was renamed Live on Five. The broadcast was originally hosted by Wilma Smith and Don Webster, and retained many elements from The Afternoon Exchange, such as interviews, movie reviews, health reports, and some cooking segments. Added to the mix were news updates from Ted Henry.
In 1985, longtime sports director Gib Shanley – who attained national notoriety six years earlier when he burned an Iranian flag live on the air during a sportscast in the wake of the Iran hostage crisis – left the station, and was replaced by Nev Chandler, who became a noted sportscaster in his own right.
News Channel 5
In 1991, WEWS dropped the long-standing "Eyewitness News" branding, switching to "News Channel 5". Early on, the new branding came with the slogan of "Cleveland's 24 Hour News Source", as it produced news updates every hour. The 24/7 updates were dropped a few years later.
"On Your Side" era
In 1998 WEWS adopted "On Your Side" as its slogan (which it currently still uses). More noticeable, however, was the discontinuance of the station's longtime Circle 5 logo. That year, WEWS also became the first television station in Cleveland to launch a website – .
On January 7, 2007, WEWS became the third Cleveland television station to begin broadcasting newscasts in high-definition. At present, all locally produced portions of the station's newscasts, including live remote field footage, are presented in HD. It was also around this time that channel 5 introduced the modified version of the classic "Circle 5" logo that is still in use today.
On May 21, 2009, Ted Henry retired as the primary news anchor at channel 5, after holding the post for 33 years. Henry is the longest serving news anchor in Cleveland television history.
On October 19, 2009, WEWS upgraded its graphics and music packages for all its newscasts to the standardized format used by all Scripps stations. On August 4, 2010, weekend sports anchor Terry Brooks made headlines when he was indicted in a Cleveland court on rape and kidnapping charges; Brooks was then placed on administrative leave. Brooks resigned from WEWS on October 9, 2010. On January 27, 2011, Brooks was found not guilty on all counts associated with his trial. In November 2010, WEWS became the first Cleveland television station to follow a growing national trend in starting its weekday morning newscasts at 4:30 a.m.
On January 7, 2012, channel 5 debuted a new Saturday morning newscast. This made WEWS the third station in Cleveland to run a Saturday morning newscast (after WKYC and WJW). On September 10, 2012, WEWS unveiled a new news set, featuring all new LED lighting, multiple flat screen HDTVs, a new expanded weather center, and a new interview set. WEWS also began to use the AFD #10 broadcast flag to present its newscasts in letterboxed widescreen for viewers watching on cable television through 4:3 television sets, with a new graphics package.
On August 7, 2014, WEWS televised the "Welcome Home" rally for returning Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James held at the University of Akron. Coinciding with this, WEWS installed a three-story banner on the side of their building commemorating the event and honoring James. This has made the channel 5 building something of an attraction for visitors, who have taken numerous "selfies" beside the banner.
On September 8, 2014, WEWS debuted The Now (stylized as The Now Cleveland on WEWS, as all Scripps stations have their own version) – a 4 p.m. newscast.
Cable coverage in Canada
The station is available over-the-air to Kingsville, Leamington, and Pelee Island, and was once one of three Cleveland stations carried on local cable providers in those three locations (the others being WKYC-TV and WJW-TV, until 2000 when Cogeco displaced Shaw Cable as the cable provider for Essex County). WEWS was also carried on the London Cable TV (now Rogers Cable) system in London, Ontario until December 1969, and until 1977 by the Maclean-Hunter system (also now Rogers) in the southwest third of the city; LCTV replaced the station with fellow ABC affiliate WJET-TV from Erie, Pennsylvania.
On October 16, 2009, the Windsor Star had notified readers that digital subchannels of the Detroit and Toledo stations would be added, while the Cleveland stations (such as WEWS-TV) and some Toledo stations would have to be dropped from the listings to make room for them, starting with the next issue of the TV Times, released the next day. The only Cleveland local station remaining in the Windsor-area TV Times is WUAB.