Central Pennsylvania Area TV Stations

3 (15) WPSU-TV Clearfield, Pennsylvania
Owner: The Pennsylvania State University
Network: PBS

 WPSX signed on in 1965 as Central Pennsylvania’s NET affiliate and the country’s 101st public television station. The station’s strong signal reaches a half-million households throughout Central Pennsylvania, Southern New York State and even as far away as Warren, Pennsylvania where it is carried on cable systems. However, the station is among one of the smallest PBS affiliates in the country. In 1978, in partnership with several cable systems, the station developed PENNARAMA which was the forerunner to today’s Pennsylvania Cable Network. Two years later it partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to experiment with the use of videodisc in the classroom. In 1994, operations were merged with the campus NPR affiliate WPSU-FM and Penn State Public Broadcasting was born. The call letters were not changed until 2005.

6 (34) WJAC Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Owner: Cox Media Group with sale pending FCC approval to Sinclair Broadcast Group
Network: NBC

“Serving Millions From Atop the Alleghenies” since 1949 when it was owned by the Johnstown Automotive Company which also owned WJAC-AM/FM (1400/95.5). TV originally aired on channel 13 but moved to channel 6 in 1952. It aired programming from all four networks (including DuMont) until WARD-TV (56) signed on in 1953 taking the CBS affiliation. The stations was sold in the 1960s to Anderson H. Walters who owned the Tribune-Democrat. The 1984 FCC regulations on cross-ownership forced the sale of the radio stations and eventually the newspaper, but WJAC-TV remained until 1997 when it was sold to Sunrise Television. As a result, WJAC became sisters with WTOV in Steubenville, Ohio and the two were sold to WPXI-TV Pittsburgh parent company Cox Enterprises in 2000. In the summer of 2012, Cox announced that it would sell its small market stations including WJAC. In February 2013, the sale of four TV stations including sister WTOV in Steubenville, Ohio to Sinclair Broadcast Group was announced.

8 (29-8) WWCP Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Owner:  Peak Media, LLC
Network: Fox

The station signed on in 1986. Originally channel 8 was to be licensed to Pittsburgh but the owners at the time petitioned the move to Johnstown to allow for lower prices on programming. It is also likely that placing a Channel 8 in Pittsburgh would have created the need to “short space” the station (much like WTAE’s analog Channel 4 was) because of WJW-TV in Cleveland which is Channel 8. The request was approved as long as the station could serve Pittsburgh with a Grade B signal. The move would also protect Lancaster’s WGAL-TV (also Channel 8) but it also meant that much of the eastern side of the market would lose out on the signal. WWCP bought the dormant WOPC-TV licence and moved it from Channel 38 to 23 and WWPC-TV was born as a satellite. The station’s strength essentially killed WFAT-TV (Channel 19) which would muddle through until being reassigned to Pittsburgh some years later. Channels 8 and 23 took on a FOX affiliation within a year of sign-on.  In 1988, WWPC was changed to WATM to fulfill the need to have a dedicated ABC affiliate in the region. Although owned separately, WATM is operated by WWCP through an LMA. The station used digital channel 29 until the 2009 analog shut-down when it reverted back to channel 8.

10 (32) WTAJ Altoona, Pennsylvania
Owner: Nexstar Broadcasting Group
Network: CBS

Channel 10 signed on in 1953 as WFBG-TV with the calls being the initials of William F. B. Gable who also owned WFBG-AM/FM (1290/98.1). Gable also owned a department store in Altoona. Initially, WFBG carried programming from all networks – including DuMont – but in 1955 forged an affiliation with CBS, and a secondary affiliation with ABC to cover Altoona as WOPC-TV had a spotty signal at best. The stations were sold to Triangle Publications in 1956 making it a sister of WFIL-TV (6; now WPVI) in Philadelphia and WLYH in Lebanon. The FCC forced Triangle to sell the stations after it was discovered that the three stations were conducting a “smear campaign” against then-Governor Milton Shapp. Gateway Communications bought WLYH and WFBG in 1972 and changed WFBG’s calls to WTAJ. Channel 10’s signal was so powerful that it could be seen in Pittsburgh neighborhoods to the west and State College neighborhoods to the east. When the Johnstown Market was combined with the Altoona/State College Market in 1982, WTAJ became the exclusive CBS affiliate inching out WJNL-TV (19) which served Johnstown with CBS. Gateway merged with SJL Broadcasting in 2000 and the new company changed its name to Montecito Broadcast Group in 2005. A year later, Nexstar purchased WTAJ and its long-time sister WLYH.

13 WSCP-LP Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Owner: Pathway Community Radio
Network: Independent

W13BY went on the air in 1990 as an affiliate of “The Box” music video network and owned by George Kimble. It was later used as a translator station of WJAC-TV Channel 6 which is ironic since WJAC was originally assigned to Channel 13. In 2005, Pathway Community Radio purchased the station and translated the signal of WPCB-TV (40) in Greensburg until original programming could be produced. That was also the year that the station became a Class A facility.

16 W36BE-D State College, Pennsylvania
Owner: Local TV Pennsylvania License, LLC
Network: ABC

W36BE-D serves as a translator for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton station WNEP-TV (16) and serves the State College region.

*19 WPCW Jeannette, Pennsylvania
Owner: CBS Corporation
Network: CW

Originally serving Johnstown on Channel 56, WARD-TV signed on in 1953 it was co-owned with an AM/FM combo and served as the area’s CBS affiliate with ABC as a secondary network. Jonel Construction Company bought the TV stations and its radio sisters in the late-1960s/early-70s and changed their calls to WJNL. The TV station moved to channel 19 which is a stronger UHF signal. Despite the stronger channel allocation, the station had a weak signal for the terrain surrounding it. WTAJ and WJAC maintained television stronghold in the region before the Johnstown and Altoona markets were not yet combined. The only reason Channel 19 was still on the air was due to the successes of its sister FM, then at 96.5. When the Johnstown market and the Altoona/State College market were combined in 1982, WTAJ received soul CBS affiliation. WJNL could not reach State College and became an independent station and was sold to Leon Crosby who changed it to WFAT. But programming had to be purchased for much of the day and WPGH and other Pittsburgh independent stations were available via cable. WWCP-TV signed on in 1986 and took even more wind out of WFAT’s sails. In 1988, the calls changed to WPTJ and transmitter problems would take it off the air frequently sometimes not to return for days. The station declared bankruptcy and shut down in 1991. In 1995, Venture Technologies bought the dormant license and put it back on the air in 1997 as WTWB-TV. Channel 19 served as a full-power outlet to relay Venture’s WBPA-LP (low power) out of Pittsburgh. But in order for WTWB (a Warner Brothers affiliate) to get on cable in Pittsburgh, the licence was transferred to Jeannette. Meanwhile Channel 22 picked up the WB Network and 19 turned to UPN with the calls WNPA. Viacom bought WNPA in 1998 and when Viacom and CBS merged two years later, WNPA and KDKA-TV became sisters. The operations moved to Gateway Center. In 2006, with the merger of the WB and UPN networks, the station became the combined “CW” affiliate and changed its calls to WPCW. WPCW’s digital allocation is Channel 11 (used by WPXI in analog era) and it’s transmitter is on KDKA-TV’s tower along Perrysville Avenue. The station used Channel 49 as its digital home before the analog shut-off in 2009.

*WPCW is also listed on the Pittsburgh TV Page but remains here for historical purposes.

23 (24) WATM Altoona, Pennsylvania
Owner: Palm Television, L.P. (Operated by Peak Media, LLC through LMA)
Network: ABC

Signing on in 1974, WOPC-TV was on Channel 38 with an ABC affiliation. In existence before the Johnstown market was combined with the Altoona/State College markets, WOPC went dark in 1982 when the markets were combined. The signal was too weak to reach the western portion of the market.  Three ABC affiliates served each distinct part of the market with Harrisburg’s WHTM serving Altoona; Scranton’s WNEP feeding State College and Pittsburgh’s WTAE taking care of Johnstown. When WWCP signed on in 1986, it was forced to supply a Grade B signal to Pittsburgh and therefore would not be able to feed the eastern part of the market. The dormant license for Channel 38 was transferred to Channel 23 and WWPC came on the air with WWCP as a simulcaster. Two years later, WATM was born as an ABC affiliate but sold to Palm Television in order to meet ownership regulations.

29 WHVL-LP State College, Pennsylvania
Owner: Channel Communications, LLC
Network: My Network TV

WHVL is a relative newcomer having signed on in 2007. It features local programming for Penn State University, political debates, high school football and more. The station airs MyNetworkTV programs during prime time six nights a week. 

47 (46) WKBS Altoona, Pennsylvania
Owner: Cornerstone Television, Inc.
Network: Cornerstone Television

Cornerstone was granted a Construction Permit in 1983 for Channel 47 in Altoona. With WKBS Philadelphia going dark that same year, Cornerstone bought the transmitter used for that station’s Channel 48 and went on the air from Altoona two years later. They re-used the call letters. Since 1985, WKBS has served as a full-power translator for parent station WPCB Channel 40 in Greensburg.