WPTD, UHF digital channel 16, is a PBS member television station located in Dayton, Ohio, United States. The station's signal is relayed by W32DS-D in Maplewood, Ohio. WPTD's digital transmitter is located off South Gettysburg Avenue in the Highview Hills neighborhood in southwest Dayton.

WPTD has a sister station, WPTO, virtual channel 14 (UHF digital channel 28), also a PBS member. Licensed to Oxford, WPTO provides a second choice for PBS programming in Cincinnati alongside that city's flagship PBS station, WCET. WPTO's transmitter is located in the South Fairmount neighborhood on the northwest side of Cincinnati (and is shared with Cincinnati's Fox affiliate, WXIX-TV, channel 19). Together, the two stations are known on-air as the ThinkTV Network. WPTD brands as "ThinkTV16", while WPTO brands as "ThinkTV14". Despite shared branding, WPTO does not operate as a satellite of WPTD. The two stations are separately programmed and scheduled. While the two stations share some programs, there is virtually no overlap except during pledge drives.

ThinkTV operates as a subsidiary of Public Media Connect, a regional non-profit company that also owns WCET. Master control operations for all three stations are based at ThinkTV's facilities on South Jefferson Street in Dayton.[2]

WPTD's broadcast coverage includes much of southwestern Ohio, including Dayton and Cincinnati, as well as portions of eastern Indiana. WPTO's smaller coverage area largely overlaps that of WPTD, but is more concentrated in the extreme southwest corner of Ohio, providing a stronger signal to Cincinnati, and a weaker rimshot signal to the Dayton area. Both stations are available on Time Warner Cable throughout southwestern Ohio, though some providers may offer only WPTD's set of digital subchannels or WPTO's, depending on their location.

History

WPTD first signed on the air on April 24, 1972 as WOET-TV (standing for "Ohio Educational Television"); it was operated by the Ohio Educational Broadcasting Network Commission (OEB). Prior to the station's launch, the channel 16 frequency in Dayton was occupied by a commercial independent and sometime ABC-affiliated station, WKTR-TV.[3] That station was owned by Kitty Hawk Television Corporation and licensed to Kettering when it began broadcasting in April 1967. It went dark February 27, 1971, but returned to the air with a limited schedule from April until October while the license transfer to OEB was pending Federal Communications Commission approval. The FCC formally reallocated the frequency as non-commercial September 14, 1977.

WPTO began broadcasting on October 14, 1959 as WMUB-TV, operated by Miami University. The call letters matched those of then co-owned WMUB radio, and stood for "Miami University Broadcasting". It was the secondary educational station in the Cincinnati area, alongside future sister WCET.

The two stations joined forces in 1975 under the banner of University Regional Broadcasting, a consortium of Miami, Wright State and Central State universities. WMUB-TV served as the primary station for a year, until WOET-TV became the primary station in 1976. In 1977, the stations were transferred to a new community organization, Greater Dayton Public Television, and received their current callsigns, with WOET-TV becoming WPTD and WMUB-TV becoming WPTO.

From the creation of University Regional Broadcasting onward, the secondary station operated as a semi-satellite of the primary station, only rarely airing different, usually local public affairs-type, programs. This situation existed until cable television began to become widely available in Cincinnati and Dayton. As cable availability rose, Greater Dayton Public Television began to differentiate its stations' programming gradually, with the stations eventually becoming separately programmed.

The stations rebranded themselves as the ThinkTV Network in 1998, though the legal name remained Greater Dayton Public Television.

On October 31, 2008, Greater Dayton Public Television and the Greater Cincinnati Television Educational Foundation, owner of WCET, announced plans to merge their resources into one non-profit organization serving all of Southwest Ohio, while maintaining separate identities.[4] The merger completed on May 8, 2009 with the formation of Public Media Connect, Inc. Both ThinkTV and CET operate as subsidiaries under the new organization.[5] The merger resulted in the July 2010 transfer of WCET's master control operations to ThinkTV's facilities in Dayton.[2]

Digital television

Analog-to-digital conversion

On May 1, 2003, ThinkTV marked the beginning of its conversion to digital technology with the introduction of four new digital program services and a digital simulcast channel for WPTD. WPTD originally operated its digital signal on UHF channel 58. One year later in May 2004, ThinkTV entered phase two of its digital conversion with the installation of new digital master control equipment and the introduction of new digital channels for WPTO. WPTO operated its digital signal on UHF channel 28, broadcasting from Cincinnati.

During this period, the digital channels were 16.2 (ThinkTV 16 DT), 16.3 (ThinkTV 16 Again), 16.4 (ThinkTV 16 Create), 16.5 (ThinkTV 16 Ohio) and 16.6 (ThinkTV HD) for WPTD; and 14.2 (ThinkTV 14 DT), 14.3 (ThinkTV 14 Prime), 14.4 (ThinkTV 14 Learn), 14.5 (ThinkTV 14 World) and 14.6 (ThinkTV HD). Neither WPTD nor WPTO had an x.1 subchannel; the x.2 subchannels matched their respective analog channels; also, 16.6 and 14.6 carried identical PBS HD programming, which was distinct from the separate analog programming on WPTD and on WPTO.

On May 1, 2009, just over one month before full-power television stations in the United States were scheduled to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate, WPTD shut down its analog signal over UHF channel 16 and WPTO shut down its analog signal, broadcasting from Oxford, over UHF channel 14. WPTD's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 58, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era UHF channel 16; WPTO's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 28, continuing to broadcast from Cincinnati,[6] using PSIP to display WPTO's virtual channel as 14 on digital television receivers.

The subchannels were realigned as shown below. Digital subchannel 16.3 was changed from ThinkTV 16 Create to ThinkTV 16 Life later in 2009.

Digital channels

The digital signals of WPTD and WPTO are both multiplexed:

WPTD

ChannelBrandingVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[7]
16.1ThinkTV 16 HD1080i16:916HDMain WPTD programming / PBS
16.2ThinkTV 16 Again480i4:316AgainRepeat broadcasts of WPTD primetime shows
16.3ThinkTV 16 Life16LifeLifestyle and how-to programming
16.4ThinkTV 16 Ohio16OhioThe Ohio Channel
16.5ThinkTV 16 DT16:916DTSD simulcast of 16.1

WPTO

ChannelBrandingVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[8]
14.1ThinkTV 14 HD1080i16:914HDMain WPTO programming / PBS
14.2ThinkTV 14 Prime480i4:314PrimeRepeat broadcasts of WPTO primetime shows
14.3ThinkTV 14 Learn14LearnPBS Kids and college telecourses
14.4ThinkTV 14 World14WorldWorld and The Ohio Channel
14.5ThinkTV 14 DT16:914DTSD simulcast of 14.1

While the "DT" designation on 16.5 and 14.5 appears on the ThinkTV website and displays on-screen via PSIP, it is omitted from ThinkTV's advertising and on-screen "bugs".

Translators

Per FCC filings, WPTD's translator station W17AA in Celina had authorization in 2009 to flash-cut to digital operations on UHF channel 17, at a tower site near its existing analog tower. However, before this conversion could be completed, W17AA suspended operations on January 5, 2011 due to circumstances beyond Greater Dayton Public Television’s control, namely a loss of site. The tower owner, the State of Ohio, has plans to dismantle the tower utilized by W17AA, and in anticipation has disconnected power to the tower site location. As a result, GDPTV was forced to suspend operations on W17AA. On January 14, 2011, GDPTV requested a six-month authorization to maintain silent (off-air) status. GDPTV then began the process of considering its options for modification of the W17AA license to allow for its resumption of service. On July 26, 2011, the FCC accepted GDPTV's surrender for cancellation of W17AA's license.

WPTD's other translator station, W63AH channel 63 in Maplewood, also had authorization in 2009 to switch to digital operations, on channel 32. However, W63AH suspended operations on March 30, 2010, also due to a loss of site, following a change in ownership for the translator station’s licensed tower location. On April 5, 2010, GDPTV requested a six-month authorization to maintain silent status. On September 9, 2010, GDPTV was granted authorization to relocate its approved digital broadcast facility to a tower near Celina, with the community of license remaining Maplewood. On January 18, 2011, the station was granted "license to cover", allowing it to resume broadcasting. The station now operates digitally on channel 32, as W32DS-D (it officially took the W32DS callsign in May, 2009).

W32DS-D covers both Celina and the Maplewood, Ohio, area and operates with a directional antenna towards the southeast.[9]