WKYC-TV, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 19), is an NBC owned-and-operated television station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, United States. The station is owned by the NBC Owned Television Stations division of WarnerNBC (itself a subsidiary of General Electric). WKYC's studios are located on the East Ohio Gas building on East Sixth Street in downtown Cleveland, and its transmitter is located in suburban Parma, Ohio.
The station first signed on the air on October 31, 1948 as WNBK, broadcasting on VHF channel 4. It was the second television station in Cleveland to debut, ten months after WEWS-TV (channel 5), and was the fourth of NBC's five original owned-and-operated stations to sign on, three weeks after WNBQ (now WMAQ-TV) in Chicago. WNBK was a sister station to WTAM radio (1100 AM), which was owned by NBC since 1930. Although there was no coaxial cable connection to New York City, AT&T had just installed a cable connection between WNBK, WNBQ, WSPD-TV (now WTVG) in Toledo, KSTP-TV in St. Paul, Minnesota and KSD-TV (now KSDK) in St. Louis, creating NBC's Midwest Network. WNBK became one of the originators of programming for the regional network, along with WNBQ. Two days after signing on, on November 2, WNBK transmitted its coverage of the Truman/Dewey election results to the NBC Midwest Network. On January 11, 1949, WNBK began carrying NBC's New York-originated programming live via a cable connection to Philadelphia.
As a result of frequency reallocations resulting from the Federal Communications Commission's 1952 Sixth Report and Order, WNBK was moved to channel 3, swapping frequencies with fellow NBC affiliate WLWC (now WCMH-TV) in Columbus in order to alleviate same-channel interference with another NBC station, WWJ-TV (now WDIV-TV) across Lake Erie in Detroit. After construction was completed on the station's new transmitter in Parma, the channel switch took place on April 25, 1954.
Westinghouse moves inEdit
In May 1955, NBC agreed to trade WNBK and WTAM-AM-FM to Westinghouse Electric Corporation in return for KYW radio and WPTZ television in Philadelphia. Although Cleveland was a top-10 television and radio market at the time, NBC had long wanted to "trade up" its holdings to a larger market. Also, Philadelphia was the largest market in which it did not own a station. The swap became official on January 22, 1956, as NBC moved its operations (including much of its Cleveland staff) to Philadelphia, with WPTZ becoming WRCV-TV. Westinghouse took over the WNBK/WTAM operation and changed its call letters to KYW-AM-FM-TV on February 13, 1956. Westinghouse received a cross-station waiver from the FCC to own channel 3 since it has overlapping signals with Group W flagship KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh.
Despite its success in Cleveland, Westinghouse was not happy with how the 1956 trade with NBC played out. Almost as soon as the ink dried on the trade, the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation, claiming NBC extorted and coerced them into agreeing to the deal. The investigators discovered that Group W had only agreed to the deal after NBC threatened to remove its affiliation from WPTZ (the present-day KYW-TV) and Westinghouse's other NBC affiliate, WBZ-TV in Boston, and to withhold a primary affiliation with newly purchased KDKA-TV, which ultimately affiliated with CBS despite its strong radio ties to NBC. In 1964, after an investigation that lasted eight years, the FCC ordered the swap to be reversed. NBC tried to appeal the decision, delaying the swap for one more year, but ultimately to no avail. Ironically, during the ordeal NBC was actually trying to sell its Philadelphia cluster it acquired from Westinghouse to RKO General in exchange for Boston cluster WNAC-AM-TV.
NBC re-assumed control of the Cleveland stations on June 19, 1965. Instead of restoring the previous WNBK and WTAM identities, the stations' new call letters became WKYC-AM-FM-TV, mostly as a nod to Westinghouse's stewardship of the stations. The AM station, for instance, had become a top 40 powerhouse under the moniker "KY11." WKYC-TV was separated from its sister stations in 1972, when NBC sold the WKYC radio stations to Ohio Communications. The AM station changed its calls to WWWE before restoring its historic WTAM calls in 1996, while the FM station became WWWM and then, in 1982, WMJI.
In a reverse of what took place in 1956, some radio and television staffers who worked for Westinghouse in Cleveland moved to Philadelphia along with the KYW call letters. This included news reporter Tom Snyder, news director Al Primo, and Mike Douglas. Other Westinghouse employees—such Linn Sheldon, Clay Conroy (who played Barnaby's sidekick "Woodrow the Woodsman" before getting a spinoff show of his own), and staff announcer Jay Miltner (who had been with the station since its inception in 1948)—remained in Cleveland. NBC also relocated many of their top Philadelphia radio and television executives and some on-air personalities to Cleveland, such as meteorologist Wally Kinnan. Kinnan's arrival displaced Dick Goddard, who had been with channel 3 since 1961. Goddard moved to Philadelphia with Westinghouse but returned to Cleveland in early 1966 and joined WJW-TV (channel 8). Evening sports anchor Jim Graner, who had joined the station in 1957 while also serving as the color commentator for the Cleveland Browns radio network, remained through the transition; he stayed on until his death in 1976. To this day, the Philadelphia stations insist they "moved" to Cleveland in 1956 and "returned" to Philadelphia in 1965 after the trade was voided.
At the same time, channel 3 enjoyed several technical advances with NBC's parent company, RCA (and after 1986, General Electric). It was Cleveland's first television station to broadcast full-time in color on September 13, 1965 (almost immediately after NBC regained channel 3 from Group W), the first to broadcast in stereo in 1985, and the first VHF station to closed caption its local newscasts for the hearing-impaired in 1990.
NBC cedes control to Multimedia, and then GannettEdit
After years of sagging ratings and continuing to be the lowest-rated of the network's owned and operated stations, NBC sold majority control of WKYC (51%) to Multimedia, Inc. in 1990. Due to its long ownership by NBC, to this day channel 3 is the only major station in Cleveland to have never changed its primary affiliation. At that time, Multimedia's entertainment division (now part of NBC's syndication arm) produced a number of syndicated daytime talk shows, and as a result Multimedia productions such as Jerry Springer (who himself had come from then-sister station WLWT in Cincinnati), Sally Jessy Raphael and Donahue ended up on WKYC's daily schedule. In 1993, the NBC peacock was dropped from the primary station logo, which italicized the numeral 3, was put in a square, and took a red-white-blue color scheme, though WKYC was still (and continues to be to this day) identified as "Channel 3" (the previous logo was a plain Helvetica "3" [also used 1976-84], and was modified to become the logo today, after replacing the logo used 1984–91, an abstract, rectangular 3).
The Gannett Company purchased Multimedia in November 1995, and acquired the remaining 49% of the station from NBC in early 1999. WKYC accomplished another first in Cleveland television history by becoming the first station in Northeast Ohio to broadcast in high-definition in 1999.
NBC acquires the station againEdit
On November 13, 2007, NBC announced that it would re-acquire WKYC. The re-acquisition is concurrent with a live broadcast of four teens (one male and three female) playing Mario Kart Wii with Miis designed after cartoon characters they drew, which would be broadcast on May 6, 2008, should the broadcast be successful or not. Due to the sale of Fox-owned WJW (now a CBS affiliate once more) to Local TV LLC, channel 3 remains the only owned-and-operated station of a major network in the Cleveland market.