WGHP, virtual channel 8 (UHF digital channel 35), is a Fox-affiliated television station serving the Piedmont Triad region, including Greensboro, Winston-Salem and its city of license High Point, North Carolina, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company. WGHP maintains studio facilities located on Francis Street (just outside downtown High Point), and its transmitter is located in Sophia. The station is carried on channel 10 on cable providers throughout much of the market.
As an ABC station
In 1958, the Federal Communications Commission assigned a third VHF channel frequency to the Piedmont Triad area. The channel 8 allocation was freed up by the move of Florence, South Carolina's WBTW, to channel 13, and was short-spaced to WCHS-TV in Charleston, West Virginia and WXEX-TV (now WRIC-TV) in Petersburg, Virginia. Applicants for the High Point channel 8 allocation included Jefferson Standard Broadcasting, owner of WBTV in Charlotte and WBTW. The owner of WTOB-TV (channel 26; whose channel allocation is now occupied by WUNL-TV) in Winston-Salem was also interested.
Southern Broadcast Company was awarded the license and signed on WGHP on October 14, 1963. It originally operated as an ABC affiliate, taking the affiliation from both WFMY-TV (channel 2) and WSJS-TV (channel 12, now WXII-TV), which shared secondary affiliations with the network starting in 1953 (WFMY carried the network from its 1949 sign-on). WGHP's original studios were located inside the Sheraton Hotel on North Main Street in downtown High Point. The station occasionally declined some network programs; for example, it chose to preempt the paranormal-themed drama series Dark Shadows during its network run on ABC, choosing to run classic movies instead. Likewise, it did not carry the soap opera The Edge of Night during its 1975 to 1984 run. In its last years as an ABC affiliate, WGHP aired Nightline on a 30-minute delay in favor of running syndicated programs, most notably M*A*S*H.
WGHP was subsequently sold to Gulf Broadcasting in 1978. Gulf then sold the station to Taft Broadcasting as part of a group deal in 1984. That same year, The station moved to its current location on Francis Street outside of downtown High Point. On October 12, 1987, Taft was restructured into Great American Broadcasting after a hostile takeover. Former Taft president Dudley Taft formed a new company that took the Taft Broadcasting name and bought WGHP from Great American. The new Taft held onto channel 8 until 1992, when Great American repurchased the station. In December 1993, Great American Broadcasting filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was restructured again to become Citicasters; it then put its entire television division up for sale.
As a Fox station
In the winter of 1993, New World Communications (which acquired stations from SCI in a similar type of business reorganization to the one Citicasters had come out of) agreed to buy WGHP and three other Citicasters-owned stations: WBRC in Birmingham, WDAF-TV in Kansas City and KSAZ-TV in Phoenix. Citicasters kept WTSP in St. Petersburg and WKRC-TV (channel 12) in Cincinnati – which were both ABC affiliates at the time. Both of those stations would later switch to CBS when Scripps-Howard Broadcasting signed a contract with ABC to move its programming to its Tampa Fox affiliate WFTS and its Cincinnati CBS affiliate WCPO-TV. Around the same time, New World had also agreed to buy Argyle Television's four television stations, including WVTM-TV in Birmingham (the transfer applications of the Argyle stations to New World were not submitted to the FCC until after New World closed on the Citicasters purchase). The two purchases combined, along with New World's existing seven stations, left the company with 15 stations – three more than the FCC had permitted a single station owner to operate at the time – and left New World with an ownership conflict in Birmingham.
On May 23, 1994, Fox agreed to affiliate with 12 of New World's stations, with WVTM, NBC affiliate KNSD in San Diego, and independent WSBK in Boston left out of the sale (the two NBC affiliates were bought by the network and became O&Os while WSBK was sold to the Paramount Stations Group and joined UPN).
New World later determined that due to the ownership conflicts and the fact it would go over the FCC's ownership limit, it would sell WGHP and WBRC to Fox directly. Since Fox was not able to immediately acquire WGHP, WBRC and Memphis's WHBQ-TV due to questions over the American citizenship of then-parent company News Corporation's Australian-born CEO Rupert Murdoch, New World decided to acquire WGHP but place it in an outside trust on September 9, 1994, WBRC was also put in this trust the following month on October 12. While WDAF switched to Fox and KSAZ became an independent station (a temporary move in preparation for its December switch to Fox) on September 12, three days after New World's purchase of those stations was consummated, ABC still had one year left on its affiliation contract with WGHP (likewise, the network's affiliation contract with WBRC would not run out for two years). These factors also led to New World's decision to sell the two stations to Fox almost immediately.
Fox took over the operations of both stations under local marketing agreements in September 1995; WGHP subsequently switched to Fox on September 3. It carried all of the network's programs, including Fox Kids (whose weekday afternoon block ran from 1-4 p.m., replacing ABC soap operas, as well as on Saturday mornings where a local newscast previously ran). The market's original Fox affiliate, WNRW (channel 45), assumed the ABC affiliation and changed its call letters to WXLV-TV. WGHP added a few more talk and reality shows, as well as some off-network sitcoms such as I Love Lucy and Seinfeld. Fox completed its purchases of WGHP and WBRC on January 17, 1996, with WGHP becoming a Fox owned-and-operated station, and the first commercial station in the Piedmont Triad area to be owned by a major network (WBRC had to wait another 7½ months, until September 1996, to switch from ABC to Fox). The move gave WGHP its fifth owner in a little over a decade.
In February 1996, Pappas Telecasting Companies approached WGHP about acquiring Fox Kids programming for its newly acquired WB affiliate WBFX (channel 20; now CW affiliate WCWG). Upon gaining new affiliates through New World, Fox executives at the time, decided to change the carriage policies for Fox Kids, to allow a station to choose to keep airing it or be granted the right to pass the block to another station in the market. WGHP decided to let the Fox Kids block move to channel 20 beginning in March 1996, becoming the first Fox-owned station that did not run the block, and only one of two (along with WBRC) to do so, until New World merged with Fox in 1997. WGHP added more talk and court shows in the afternoon. WTWB dropped Fox's children's programming in late 2001, when Fox canceled the weekday block nationwide; WGHP chose not to pick up Fox's new Saturday morning cartoon block, Fox Box (later 4Kids TV), which replaced Fox Kids in 2002. As a result, the block did not air at all in the Piedmont Triad. Fox discontinued children's programming on December 28, 2008, replacing it with a two-hour Saturday morning infomercial block called Weekend Marketplace, which WGHP also declined to air; it airs instead on WMYV.
On September 10, 2007, WGHP debuted a new logo and graphics package as part of a standardized on-air look that was rolled out all of Fox's owned-and-operated stations. On December 22, 2007, Fox sold WGHP and seven other Fox O&O stations to the Oak Hill Capital Partners subsidiary Local TV, which had earlier bought nine stations from The New York Times Company; the sale was finalized on July 14, 2008. On July 1, 2013, the Tribune Company (which formed a management company that operated both Tribune and Local TV's stations in 2008) acquired the Local TV stations for $2.75 billion; the sale was completed on December 27, reuniting WGHP with MyNetworkTV affiliate WPHL-TV in Philadelphia, which Tribune acquired in 1992.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||720p||16:9||WGHP||Main WGHP programming / Fox|
WGHP broadcasts programming from Antenna TV on digital subchannel 8.2, the subchannel launched on January 1, 2011 as a charter affiliate of the network through an affiliation agreement related to network owner Tribune Broadcasting's management agreement with Local TV. The subchannel uses the on-air branding "TV8.2", a reference to the longtime "TV8" branding used by WGHP during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and uses a modified version of the logo that the station used during that period. The 8.2 subchannel is also carried on Time Warner Cable digital channel 1250, Charter Communications digital channel 175 in North Wilkesboro and Windstream digital channel 510 in Lexington.
WGHP also broadcast programming from This TV on digital subchannel 8.3. WGHP This8.3 airs over the air currently on channel number 8-3.
WGHP shut down its analog signal at approximately 11:05 p.m. on June 12, 2009, as part of the FCC-mandated transition to digital television for full-power stations. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 35 to VHF channel 8 for post-transition operations. The signal had broadcast at full power from an auxiliary tower until the analog transmitter on the main tower was converted two weeks after the transition.
Due to the number of complaints from those unable to pick up the signal on channel 8, WGHP received temporary authorization to broadcast an alternate digital signal on UHF channel 35 on August 19, 2009. While technical issues with the channel 8 signal were being worked out, WGHP transmitted digitally on both 8 and 35 beginning on August 19, 2009. On October 14, WGHP requested that the FCC change its digital signal's physical channel from VHF 8 to UHF 35. After the station lost "a sizeable number" of its viewers, the FCC agreed with WGHP's assessment that it would be "best served" by staying on channel 35. On December 15, 2009, the FCC issued a Report & Order, approving WGHP's move from channel 8 to channel 35. At 11:02 a.m. WGHP terminated operations on channel 8 on March 8, 2010, operating solely on channel 35 on a permanent basis.
Syndicated programming on WGHP includes Rachael Ray, Crime Watch Daily,The Wendy Williams Show, The Real, Judge Judy, Access Hollywood, Celebrity Name Game, TMZ, Extra and Seinfeld. WGHP clears most of the Fox network schedule (nightly primetime, Saturday late night and Fox Sports programming, along with the political talk show Fox News Sunday); however, the station does not air Fox's Saturday morning infomercial block, Weekend Marketplace, which airs instead on MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYV.
WGHP presently broadcasts 55¾ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 10½ hours on Monday-Thursday, 10¼ hours on Friday and 1¾ hours on weekends); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output of any television station in the Piedmont Triad and the state of North Carolina. Now, WGHP also opens a 15-minute sports show following the 10pm newscasts from Friday to Sunday only.
Local news has been a stable product on WGHP since it went on the air in 1963. During the 1960s and 1970s, the station aired newscasts at noon, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m., and occasionally at 7:00 p.m. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, WGHP sporadically maintained a 24-hour broadcast schedule so 11:00 p.m. newscast rebroadcasts during the early morning hours were only scheduled when ABC network programming was extended long enough to warrant its scheduling; in 1994, the station began broadcasting 24 hours a day.
During the 1980s, channel 8 ran various long-form morning news programs, eventually settling towards five-minute updates during ABC's Good Morning America, along with a noon newscast (that was dropped in the late 1980s). In the early 1990s, the current morning newscast began as an hour-long program at 6:00 a.m.; it was joined by a half-hour 5:00 p.m. newscast that expanded to a full hour in 1994. When WGHP affiliated with Fox in 1995, the station began placing more emphasis on its local newscasts: the station's newscasts expanded to just under 40 hours each week. Around this time, WGHP aired three hours of daily newscasts with news on weekday mornings expanding to 3½ hours to occupy Good Morning America's former 7:00–9:00 a.m. timeslot on the station, along with the addition of a 5:30 p.m. newscast; the station's late evening newscast was also moved from 11:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and was expanded to one hour.
Daily newscasts expanded to 4½ hours – with a half-hour expansion of its morning newscast and the return of a noon newscast – immediately after it became a Fox owned-and-operated station in 1996. The morning newscast would eventually expand over time to five hours by 2011. WGHP is one of only two ex-New World stations that were acquired by Fox and sold by the network in 2008, that did not relaunch a newscast in the traditional late news timeslot – in WGHP's case, 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time – as Fox did with some of its other O&Os (Cleveland's WJW is the other). On September 13, 2009, WGHP began broadcasting its newscasts in 16:9 widescreen standard definition.
On September 12, 2010, WGHP became the first station in the Piedmont Triad to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. It remained the only station in the Piedmont Triad with high-definition newscasts until WFMY-TV upgraded its newscasts from widescreen enhanced definition to full high definition on November 13, 2011. However, WGHP remains the only station in the market that broadcasts all of its field video in high definition. On September 12, 2011, WGHP expanded its weekday morning newscast by one hour, adding a fifth hour from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. In December 2011, the station began rebroadcasting its 6:00 p.m. newscast on its Antenna TV-affiliated second digital subchannel at 7:00 p.m. On January 9, 2012, WGHP's weekday morning newscast expanded a half-hour early to 4:30 a.m. On February 3, 2014, WGHP expanded its noon and 6:00 p.m. newscasts on weekdays by an additional half-hour (extending both broadcasts to one hour). On April 21, 2014, WGHP debuted an hour-long 4:00 p.m. newscast on weekday afternoons.
Notable former on-air staff
- Dr. Paul Bearer (Dick Bennick) - host of Shock Theatre (1966-1971; deceased)
- Nicho Bella - weekend evening anchor
- Fred Blackman - 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekday news anchor (1969-2001)
- Rich Brenner - sports anchor (1987-2008; deceased)
- Sharon Crews - news and weather anchor (1977-1980)
- Maggie Crow - anchored periodic health and nutrition segments on the 6 p.m. news and Midday Piedmont (mid 1970's-early 1980's), owner of The Only Earth store in High Point.
- Frank Deal - weather anchor (1969-1996; deceased)
- Charlie Harville - news and sports anchor and host of Championship Wrestling (1963-1977, returned to WFMY in 1977; deceased)
- Scott Hunter - reporter
- Bobbi Martin - reporter (1963-1983, 1987-1990; deceased)
- Meg MacDonald - anchor and reporter (1979-1982), later anchor and reporter at WSOC-TV in Charlotte and WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, as well as the TV series Inside Edition.
- Dan McReynolds - sports anchor (1977-1985; currently at KIII-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas)
- Jo Nelson - Eyewitness News at Noon co-anchor, host of Dialing for Dollars (1972-1979; deceased)
- Angela Rodriguez - reporter
- Jeff Varner - weekend evening anchor (and former evening anchor with WNCT-TV in Greenville, North Carolina), now evening anchor with WWMT in Kalamazoo, Michigan
Out-of-market cable and satellite carriage
In recent years, WGHP has been carried on cable outside of the Greensboro television market, including carriage on cable providers within the Charlotte and Raleigh markets in North Carolina, and the Roanoke market in Virginia. On DirecTV, WGHP has been carried in parts of the Raleigh and Roanoke markets.
During the 1970s and 1980s through CATV, WGHP was carried in areas much farther south and east. In North Carolina, it was carried in Boone, Fayetteville, Wadesboro, Albemarle, Rockingham, Laurinburg, Raeford, Robbins, Rowland, Southern Pines and Lumberton. In South Carolina, it was carried in Cheraw and Bennettsville.