7 (32 – 7) WTRF Wheeling, West Virginia
Owner: West Virginia Media Holdings
Network: CBS (Secondaries: Fox DT2; ABC DT3)
WTRF signed on in 1953 with call letters from the AM/FM radio station combo the original owners had owned prior to the station. This station was originally the NBC affiliate with a smattering of the ABC programming not carried by cross town rival WSTV-TV which was the primary CBS outlet. In 1980, WTRF and the newly relettered WTOV swapped formats and both dropped ABC programming which came in clearly over Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV no doubt because of their transmitter location in Buena Vista, PA. From the early 1980s to the mid ’90s, WTRF went through a few ownerships after Forward Television – Wesray Corporation, Adams Communications, and Benedek Broadcasting – before West Virginia Media Holdings (formerly the Cary Group) bought the station in 2002. WTRF’s original digital allocation was Channel 32, but in 2009 it reverted back to its analog channel – 7.
9 (57-9) WTOV Steubenville, Ohio
Owner: Cox Media Group with sale Pending FCC approval to Sinclair Broadcast Group
Network: NBC (Secondary: RTV DT2)
“We’re Television for the Ohio Valley”. Channel 9 went on the air in 1953 as WSTV-TV under the ownership of Rust Craft Broadcasting who owned WSTV-AM/FM (1340/103.5). CBS also applied for the application for which they intended to move the license to Pittsburgh. The FCC denied the move. However, channel 9 was the primary CBS affiliate for the market and aired ABC programming which rival WTRF did not air as the primary NBC affiliate. The call letters were changed to WTOV in 1978 when Rust Craft and Ziff Davis merged. Two years later, WTOV and WTRF traded affiliations both airing the majority of their primary networks as Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV was able to act as the de facto ABC outlet for the market. In 1983, the station was sold to Television Station Partners, L.P. and again in 1996 to Smith Broadcast Group. But in 2000, Cox Enterprises, owner of Pittsburgh’s WPXI, bought WTOV and Johnstown, Pennsylvania’s WJAC-TV from Smith Broadcasting. WTOV’s original digital allocation was 57, but it reverted to its old analog number in 2009. In the summer of 2012, Cox announced that it wanted to sell its smaller market stations including WTOV. In February 2013, the sale of WTOV and Johnstown, PA’s WJAC and two other stations to Sinclair Broadcast Group was announced.
18 WBWO Weirton, West Virginia
Owner: Bruno-Goodworth Network
Originally W57BH and licensed to Steubenville, it originally simulcast WBGN from Pittsburgh. The station was eventually forced to move to Channel 18 when WTOV’s digital allocation was 57. After the move, WJPW-CA began to repeat WVTX-CA from Wheeling. WVTX closed and the association with WBGN resumed. The Community of License was moved to Weirton.
28 WVTX-CA Bridgeport, Ohio
Owner: Bruno-Goodworth Network
W28AS served as a repeater for Pittsburgh’s WBGN. Under an LMA in 2004, WVTX, Inc. took the station and developed its own identity with newscasts. It would be co-owned with the cable-only WBWO. WVTX became the only UPN affiliate in West Virginia which it lost when UPN and WB combined to form CW. The CW affiliation went to WBWO. WVTX, Inc. returned the station to WBGN in 2006 and it again serves as a repeater for the Pittsburgh-based station.
West Virgina Public Broadcasting’s primary station is WPBY in Charleston which signed on in 1969 as WMUL. A state-wide network of eight low-powered stations and three full-power stations exists to serve the entire state with PBS programming. Prior to the digital signal on W30CO-D, the analog signal was on W41AA also licensed to Wheeling.