WHNO, virtual channel 20 (UHF digital channel 21), is a LeSEA owned-and-operated television station located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. The station is owned by the LeSEA Broadcasting Corporation. WHNO maintains studio facilities located on St. Charles Avenue in downtown New Orleans, and its transmitter is located off Behrman Highway in the city's Algiers neighborhood.
Prior history of UHF channel 20 in New Orleans
The UHF channel 20 allocation in the New Orleans market was originally occupied by WJMR-TV (now Fox affiliate WVUE), a primary CBS and secondary ABC affiliate which moved to that channel from UHF channel 61 on July 20, 1955. That station changed its channel allocation two more times – first to VHF channel 13 on January 13, 1959 (less than one month before it adopted the WVUE call letters) and then to channel 12 on September 6, 1962 (due to interference with Biloxi, Mississippi station WLOX on channel 13) – before settling on channel 8 on June 8, 1970.
WHNO station history
The construction permit for UHF channel 20 that bore WHNO dates back to the 1970s. The permit changed hands many times over the years, even as the Federal Communications Commission had issued construction permits for channels 38 (used for WNOL-TV, now a CW affiliate) and 49 (used for WCCL, now Ion Television owned-and-operated station WPXL-TV) – both of which signed on within a few years of one another; the channel 20 allocation, however, remained vacant. In 1991, LeSEA Broadcasting purchased the construction permit with the intent to sign on a station in the market on channel 20.
The station first signed on the air on October 10, 1994; the station carried a mix of Christian-targeted programs, family-oriented syndicated programs and movies. As in other markets where LeSEA owned stations, WHNO opted against taking an affiliation with the United Paramount Network (UPN) prior to the network's January 16, 1995 launch as the programming planned for the network conflicted with the company's core programming values; the affiliation instead went to upstart station WUPL (channel 54), which launched in June 1995.
In 1998, channel 20 began carrying the (first incarnation of the) CBS morning program CBS This Morning; the station then carried its successor morning show, The Early Show, from that program's debut in 1999 until 2002, when the program moved to WUPL. Much like with WUPL today, WHNO carried the programs as WWL-TV (channel 4) had long carried a weekday morning newscast that runs into the 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. timeslot occupied by the network's morning programs in most other markets. In 2000, WHNO began to air Christian-targeted paid programming in some off-peak hours.
When Hurricane Katrina struck the New Orleans area on August 29, 2005, the storm's flooding and damaging winds caused extensive damage to WHNO's Behrman Highway studios. The station ceased over-the-air broadcasts due to transmitter problems related to the storm. LeSEA provided a direct feed of its national World Harvest Television service to New Orleans area cable and satellite providers (including the market's largest, Cox Communications). Channel 20 returned to the air that November, carrying WHT programming. This lasted until December 3, 2005, when WHNO resumed its regular locally based program schedule and began providing local advertising once again.
LeSEA president Peter Sumrall (the son of late founder Dr. Lester Sumrall) appointed veteran television and cable manager to become WHNO's general manager in May 2007. Under Powery, the station increased its staff and upgraded its programming from its post-Katrina low to turn it into a more competitive station in the New Orleans market; Powery also reconnected with local ministries, added newer syndicated programming and local college football games to WHNO's schedule and expanded the station's production capabilities. In 2011, LeSEA Broadcasting acquired the locally based independent sports website SportsNOLA.com from NewOrleans.com.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|20.1||1080i||16:9||WHNO-D1||Main WHNO programming / LeSEA|
After the digital transition, WHNO began to multiplex its digital signal. In 2009, WHNO began carrying the LeSEA-owned World Harvest Television service on digital subchannel 20.2. In 2013, the station added WeatherNation TV on its second digital subchannel, followed by the addition of Cozi TV and a third digital subchannel, LeSEA's World Harvest Television, in August 2014. In September 2015, WHNO-D1 began broadcasting in 1080i high-definition on 20.1. Soon after, WHNO dropped one of the three subchannels, World Harvest Television, from channel 20.3. WeatherNation TV subsequently moved from channel 20.4 to 20.3.
WHNO shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 20, on January 16, 2009. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 47. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 20. This made WHNO the second television station in the New Orleans market (after WVUE) to discontinue its analog signal prior to the June 12, 2009 digital transition deadline.
As a LeSEA station, WHNO offers a mix of local and national Christian ministry programs, family-oriented classic television series and local sports programming. Syndicated programs broadcast by WHNO include Benson, M*A*S*H, and Hart to Hart.
In 2010, WHNO hired veteran sports journalist and personality Ken Berthelot to expand WHNO's sports programming. With over 40 years of experience in sports, Berthelot quickly put together a five-hour sports programming block that aired on Monday through Friday nights, which covered college and local high school sports. In September 2012, Berthelot expanded WHNO's sports block to ten hours a week (running weeknights from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.) to counterprogram and compete against the local news programming on WWL-TV, WVUE, NBC affiliate WDSU (channel 6) and ABC affiliate WGNO (channel 26).
On August 24, 2011, general manager Dean Powery oversaw the acquisition of SportsNOLA.com, an acquisition that added veteran sports journalist Ken Trahan and more than 20 local sports contributors. In 2012, WHNO began airing high school football, baseball and basketball games again for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. WHNO became an affiliate of the Southland Conference Television Network in September 2012, carrying sporting events from the conference's universities including games from nearby Southeastern Louisiana University and Nicholls State University. The Southland Conference Television Network dissolved on July 1, 2015.