WXIX-TV, channel 19, is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Newport, Kentucky, USA and serving the Cincinnati, Ohio television market. WXIX-TV is owned by Raycom Media, and maintains studios on Seventh Street in downtown Cincinnati; its transmitter is located in the South Fairmount neighborhood on the northwest side of Cincinnati.
WXIX-TV began operation as an independent station on August 1, 1968; it was founded by U.S. Communications Corporation, which also owned UHF independent stations in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. WXIX-TV was the first new commercial station in the market since 1949, and the second UHF station in the area (behind PBS member station WCET, channel 48). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had allocated one full-power commercial UHF station to Cincinnati – channel 65 (later 64, now occupied by WSTR-TV). However, when U.S. Communications found out that the FCC had dropped in a channel 19 allocation across the river in Newport, it sought a license for that allocation instead. The lower channel number not only allowed WXIX to provide wider signal coverage at less cost, but was also thought to be more marketable.
While WXIX was running test transmissions before its inaugural broadcast, the station intermittently aired "mini-shows" featuring that promoted the sale of UHF converters for use with pre-1964 television sets which were only equipped to receive VHF signals at the time. Larry Smith and his puppets (a witch named "Battie Hattie from Cincinnati" and her dog "Snarfy" among other characters) later hosted a daytime children's program in the weekday afternoons for several years. Afterward, "The Cool Ghoul" – played by Dick VonHoene, known for his weekend late night sci-fi/monster movie program "Scream-In" – also hosted a weekday afternoon children's program. There was an afternoon show called "Kimberly's Cartoon Capers", an afternoon cartoon variety hour hosted by Kimberly, a 13-year-old teenage girl.
By the early 1970s, U.S. Communications encountered financial difficulties, largely due to poor advertising revenues and partially from the failure of a planned merger with the short-lived Overmyer Network. The firm wound up taking its San Francisco, Atlanta and Pittsburgh stations off-the-air (all would resume operations under different ownership) and also considered the same for WXIX-TV. Instead it put the station up for sale, and would find a buyer for WXIX in Metromedia for $3 million in 1972. Metromedia's deep pockets helped stabilize channel 19's entire operation, and the station benefited from Metromedia's aggressiveness in purchasing syndicated programming as well as developing its own first-run programming. After nearly a decade on air, channel 19 finally received competition in 1980 with the launch of WBTI (channel 64, now WSTR-TV), which ran general entertainment and religious programing before 7 p.m. and subscription television at night. However, that competition was short-lived, ending when WBTI became a full-time subscription station by 1982. The over-air subscription television phenomenon occurred in larger markets in the U.S. where cable had yet to penetrate city centers before the late 1980s.
Malrite Communications bought channel 19 from Metromedia in December 1983. The station remained the leading independent station in the market, even after WBTI returned to full-time general entertainment programming in 1985. On October 6, 1986, WXIX became a charter affiliate of the upstart Fox network (which, coincidentally used some of WXIX's former Metromedia sister stations as its charter owned-and-operated stations).
The station changed its on-air branding from "19XIX" to "Fox 19" in 1996. In 1998, Malrite Communications merged with Raycom Media. Around 2000, WXIX operated a large open space inside the Tri-County Mall called the "Fox 19 Station Break."
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|19.1||720p||16:9||WXIX-DT||Main WXIX-TV programming / Fox|
|19.2||480i||4:3||Bounce||Bounce TV / Some local sports|
WXIX originally carried The Tube Music Network on digital subchannel 19.2 until the network's closure in 2007. The subchannel was reactivated in January 2009 as an affiliate of This TV, which remained with the subchannel until December 2011. Bounce TV replaced This TV on January 1, 2012 (the This TV affiliation was then acquired by WBQC-LD for its 25.2 subchannel). The Grit TV Network was added as 19.3 in July 2015.
WXIX-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 19, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 29, using PSIP, to display WXIX-TV's virtual channel as 19 on digital television receivers.
WXIX-TV clears the entire Fox network schedule (nightly primetime, Saturday late night, and Fox Sports programming, along with the network's Saturday morning infomerical block, Weekend Marketplace and the political talk show Fox News Sunday).
On September 17, 2012, WXIX began carrying the syndicated game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, picking up both programs from ABC affiliate WCPO-TV (channel 9), after its owner E. W. Scripps Company replaced both shows with original first-run syndicated programs. WXIX is among seven Fox affiliates to air Jeopardy! and Wheel; the others being located in Baltimore, Syracuse, New York, New Orleans, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Lake Charles, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama.
The station launched its news department in 1993, with the October 18 debut of the Ten O'Clock News; it was the first successful attempt at a primetime newscast in the Cincinnati market. The station eventually expanded its news programming over time: it added a three-hour weekday morning newscast in 1997; during the mid-1990s, WXIX also aired a newscast at the late timeslot of midnight (one of the few late night local newscasts ever attempted on U.S. television in the modern era); it later added a midday newscast at 11:30 a.m. in the late 1990s. WXIX partnered with WBQC-CA (channel 25) to air channel 19's evening newscast during the Cincinnati Bearcats college basketball season. After cable providers in Northern Kentucky and Southwest Ohio dropped WBQC from their basic tiers, these newscasts were moved to Insight Communications channel 6 in Kentucky and Time Warner Cable channel 2 in Ohio (WXIX no longer broadcasts Bearcat football or basketball games).
Paul Horton joined WXIX as its chief meteorologist on January 31, 2007; he left channel 19 seven months later on August 7 to become a morning meteorologist at Phoenix CBS affiliate KPHO-TV. Steve Horstmeyer left his longtime morning and noon position at CBS affiliate WKRC-TV (channel 12) to replace Horton as chief meteorologist on August 7, 2008. Horstmeyer traveled to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to assist sister station KPLC, as part of a Raycom effort to cover Hurricane Gustav.
On August 11, 2008, WXIX debuted a half-hour early evening newscast at 6:30 p.m., which is aimed at the 18 to 54-year-old demographic. The broadcast competes with national network newscasts airing at 6:30 on WLWT (channel 5), WCPO-TV and WKRC-TV. On September 21, 2009, the program was extended to a full hour, with the addition of a half-hour of news at 6 p.m. On September 19, 2011, WXIX reverted the start time of the newscast to 6:30 p.m., though retaining its one-hour time length. By 2015 FOX19 had cut its newscast back to a half-hour, starting at 6:30.
On November 4, 2008, WXIX became the second Cincinnati television station (after WCPO) to begin broadcast its local newscasts in high definition. However, the station continued to broadcast most field reports and weather radar imagery in standard definition. By mid-December, nearly all aspects of its newscasts (including in-studio and field footage, and select video from affiliate news services) were available in high definition. In December 2009, WXIX entered an agreement with WCPO-TV to pool videographers at press conferences. On March 31, 2010, WXIX entered into an agreement with Clear Channel Communications to provide hourly news and weather updates on local radio station WLW (700 AM), these updates began airing on WLW on April 1. This agreement expired in 2015.
On September 20, 2010, WXIX expanded its weekday morning newscast to 5½ hours, from 4:30 to 10:00 a.m. with the addition of an extension of the newscast during the 9:00 a.m. hour called Fox 19 Morning Xtra. On July 25, 2011, WXIX debuted a half-hour weekday morning weather-focused newscast at 4:00 a.m. called Fox 19 First Weather. On August 18, 2012, WXIX launched two-hour long Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts, airing from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. In addition on September 10, 2012, the weekday morning newscast was expanded to seven hours from 4:00 to 11:00 a.m., as the Morning Xtra portion of the program was expanded by one hour. But as of 2013, the 4:00 a.m. half-hour of the morning newscast was cut. The program is now run from 4:30-11:00 a.m.
- Maria LaRosa - meteorologist (now with The Weather Channel)
- Kevin Frazier – sports reporter/anchor (later a weekend host and now co-host for Entertainment Tonight, later co-host of omg! Insider)
- Greg Hoard – sports writer and commentator
- Dan Hoard – radio and TV sportscaster for the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Bearcats football and basketball
- Ben Swann – anchor/reporter (2010–2013)
- Dick VonHoene – news anchor and news director in the early days of WXIX; also known as the "Cool Ghoul", host of "19's Scream-In", a late night weekend horror movie show (early 1970s)