WNEP-TV, channel 16, is the ABC-affiliated television station for northeastern & north central Pennsylvania, licensed to Scranton. It's transmitter is located on Penobscot Knob in Mountaintop. Owned by Local TV, the station has studios on Montage Mountain Road in Moosic.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed.
|16.1 / 49.1||main WNEP-TV programming / ABC HD|
|16.2 / 49.2||Newswatch 16 Anytime (24-hour news and weather channel)|
|16.3 / 49.3||SD version of WNEP-TV programming (used to feed cable systems)|
WNEP serves one of the largest coverage areas east of the Mississippi River. This area is very mountainous meaning that some areas cannot get a clear signal from channel 16. WNEP faces an additional problem because the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre television market is a "UHF island" due to the fact that it is too close to Philadelphia & New York City for VHF analog service. As a result, it operates the one of the largest translator systems of any station in the Eastern Time Zone.
|Call letters||Analog Channel||Digital Channel||City of license|
|W07DC||7||7||Allentown (Philadelphia market)|
|W26CV||26||26||Towanda (Elmira/Corning, NY market)|
|W36BE||36||36||State College (Johnstown market)|
|W39BE||39||39||State College (Johnstown market)|
There were originally 2 ABC network affiliates in Northeastern Pennsylvania. WILK-TV channel 34 in Wilkes-Barre took to the air on September 16, 1953. It was followed by WARM-TV channel 16 in Scranton on January 2, 1954.
WILK wanted to get a head start on the other local stations when it signed on in 1953, going on the air @ 2 PM rather than the 3 PM sign on that the other stations did. The engineers got the signal ready by Noon & decided to take a break. However @ lunch, they turned on the station to inspect their handiwork, only to find the signal was dead. They rushed back & were able to establish the link by 1:50 PM, 10 minutes before sign on.
Getting a signal from ABC headquarters in New York City was a challenge in the early days with no access to satellites. As a result, WILK set up a microwave tower in Effort, about 45 miles east of Wilkes-Barre. From there, the network signal was bounced to the Penobscot Knob transmitter site. Often, station engineers had to adjust the Effort transmitter to accept a signal from WFIL-TV in Philadelphia (now WPVI-TV) if they were unable to receive the New York feed.
WILK-TV & WARM-TV were both losing money, in large part because ABC was not on an equal footing with NBC & CBS (and would not be until the 1970s). However, they stayed on the air because they were owned by well-respected local radio stations. By 1955, however, it was obvious that Scranton & Wilkes-Barre were going to be a single TV market. Accordingly, WILK & WARM agreed to merge. The new station, WNEP-TV, went on the air on New Year's Day in 1956. It operates under WILK's license, but uses WARM-TV's channel 16 to provide more signal to its vast coverage area @ less cost. Along with the merger came a new owner, Transcontinent Broadcasting of Buffalo, New York. WILK's old channel 34 was reassigned to WBJA-TV (now WIVT), another ABC affiliate in Binghamton, New York; the WARM-TV transmitter was donated a decade later to the area's PBS member station, WVIA-TV. WNEP-TV was based in WILK-TV's old studio in downtown Wilkes-Barre, but then as now it was licensed to Scranton since it assumed WARM-TV's old channel allocation. In 1962, it moved to a new studio near the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
WNEP initially struggled to survive, just like its predecessors. However, the station took off in 1958 thanks in part to ABC's color programming & the station's new transmitter on Penobscot Knob. The new transmitter, which was the 1st million-watt signal in the market, increased WNEP's broadcast range to cover 15 counties .
Despite its increased coverage area, WNEP bounced back & forth in the ratings for most of the next 2 decades. It was never able to achieve any consistency because viewers in Scranton thought of it as a Wilkes-Barre station, while viewers in Wilkes-Barre thought of it as a Scranton station. In the mid-1970s, news director Elden Hale decided to take a regional approach. He billed the station as serving "Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania," & stepped up coverage of the remote portions of the market. These areas had largely been ignored by the other stations in town. He also added the area's 1st (and as of 2008, only) news helicopter. This approach quickly paid off. In November 1976, WNEP surged to 1st place for the first time in 10 years. After briefly falling back to 2nd it surged to #1 in 1978 (around the same time ABC became the nation's #1 network) & has held the lead ever since.
Transcontinent merged with Taft Broadcasting in 1964. When Taft bought WIBF-TV in Philadelphia & changed the calls to WTAF-TV in 1969 (now WTXF-TV), it sought a waiver to keep both stations. WNEP's Grade B signal reaches the Lehigh Valley, which is part of the Philadelphia market. WNEP has also operated an outlying transmitter on channel 7 in Allentown for many years. The FCC normally did not allow 1 company to own 2 stations with overlapping coverage areas. While it initially granted the waiver, it reversed itself later in 1969 & forced Taft to sell WNEP. An employee group, NEP Communications, bought the station & presided over its surge to 1st place. In 1985, The New York Times Company bought the station & WNEP moved to its current studios in Moosic in 1989.
On January 4, 2007, the station, along with 8 other stations owned by The New York Times' broadcast media group, were sold to Oak Hill Capital Partners in a $575 million transaction. As of 12:01 AM, May 7, 2007, the station is operated as part of Local TV LLC.
Analog broadcast tower collapseEdit
WNEP-TV's transmission tower broadcasting the analog signal on channel 16 collapsed on December 16, 2007 due to severe ice, winds & snow at the transmitter location on Penobscot Knob. The tower collapse also destroyed the transmitter building. No one was injured during the incident. WCLH's FM antenna & transmitter, which was co-located on WNEP's analog TV tower, was also destroyed during the incident . Transmission of the digital signal on channel 49 was restored after a brief interruption of power to the tower supporting the digital transmitter and antenna. WNEP's signal on local cable systems & satellite was restored by the end of the day on December 16, 2007. WNEP-TV partially restored its analog over the air TV signal by January 1, 2008  by broadcasting from the nearby American Tower on Penobscot Knob supporting the WNEP-DT antenna as well as WOLF-TV/DT's antenna.
As the WNEP-TV analog broadcast tower collapsed on December 16, 2007, one of the falling guy wires supporting the WNEP-TV tower damaged the neighboring tower broadcasting WVIA-TV (analog & digital) & WVIA-FM by shearing off the top section of the WVIA tower supporting the antenna for the analog & digital TV signals. The antenna for WVIA-FM remained intact, as it is located on the lower section of the shared WVIA-FM-TV tower. The WVIA-TV analog signal on channel 44 was temporarily put off the air until service was restored through a back-up tower on Penobscot Knob.
Many of the programs air on WNEP have been in-house productions rather than syndicated shows. The most popular of these was a children's program called The Land of Hatchy Milatchy. Another program, Uncle Ted's Ghoul School, once employed Bill O'Reilly as a writer. He was also a reporter at the station for a brief period during the mid-1970s. Also during the 1970s, WNEP produced 2 game shows, Bowling for Dollars & Dialing for Dollars. Unlike the station's newscasts, the game shows were absolute failures considering that they were pitted against other more successful national syndicated primetime games such as Family Feud & Match Game.
Today, WNEP produces 2 in-house programs: Pennsylvania Outdoor Life, a show about hunting and fishing in Pennsylvania & Home & Backyard, a show about do-it-yourself home improvements, cooking and gardening. 'Pennsylvania Outdoor Life' airs Sundays @ 6:30 PM on WNEP & 'Home & Backyard' airs Saturdays @ 7:30 PM on WNEP. Both of these programs re-air on the "Newswatch 16 Anytime" channel. The station also participates in several local charity events, including the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon & Scranton's annual Santa Parade.
The station is best known for its local newscasts which are among the highest-rated in the United States.  The station runs it's newscasts under the branding of Newswatch 16. It has led the ratings in Northeast Pennsylvania for 30 years & according to A.C. Nielsen data, attracts more viewers than the other stations in town combined. The station's on-air personalities are well-known in the area. Chief Meteorologist Tom Clark has been with the station since 1981 & is one of the region's more popular broadcasters. His wife Noreen does forecasts on the weekend newscasts & has been with the station since 1982. Marisa Burke, a native of nearby Danville, has been with the station since 1984 & now co-anchors the weeknight 6 o'clock newscast with Scott Schaffer.
FOX requested most of its affiliates to air local news in 1990. To satisfy this, WNEP began producing a nightly 10 o'clock newscast on FOX affiliate WOLF-TV (channel 38) in 1991. Known as Newswatch 16 @ 10 on FOX 38, it was the 1st instance of 1 station producing a newscast for another. When the FOX affiliation moved from channel 38 to channel 56, the 10 o'clock newscast switched stations as well. It became known as FOX 56 News @ 10 with a secondary title of Newswatch 16 @ 10 on FOX 56. WNEP broadcasts the newscast from a secondary set @ it's studios. Past WNEP personnel that have anchored on WOLF-TV include Paul Grippi (who is now the weekend sports anchor) & Jill Garret. On January 1, 2010, WOLF announced its intention to turn to WNEP's competitor news station WBRE. The FOX newcast was renamed "Fox 56 First at Ten", and became a full-hour newscast.
WNEP has a sister station, WNEP2. WNEP2 hosts 7 to 9 a.m. newscasts on weekday mornings with Tom Williams, Mindi Ramsey, and Joe Snedeker. WNEP decided that beginning January 1, 2010, they would host a weekday 10 p.m. newscast with Scott Schaffer, Paola Giangiacomo, Kurt Aaron, and Jim Coles. In October, 2011, Trish Hartman replaced Paola Giangiacomo, who retired in the fall of 2011 to care for her children.
On September 10, 2010, Norm Jones, who solo anchored the 4 p.m. newscast, and co-anchored the 5 and 5:30 p.m. newscasts with Paola Giangiacomo, left WNEP-TV. He left so he can work closer to where he lives in Milton. Current anchor Jon Meyer replaced Jones as the anchor.
In September, 2011, WNEP added a 4:30 newscast to go with the 4:00 newscast. The 4:00 and 4:30 newscast on weekday afternoons include Julie Sidoni and Tom Clark.
- Tom Williams - weekday mornings at 5 to 9
- Mindi Ramsey - weekday mornings at 5 to 9
- Scott Schaffer - weeknights at 6, 7, 10, and 11 (husband of Julie Sidoni)
- Trish Hartman - weeknights at 7, 10, and 11
- Sofia Ojeda - weekend evenings at 6, 10, and 11
- Marisa Burke - weekdays at Noon and 6. Marisa solo anchors at Noon.
- Julie Sidoni - weeknights at 4, 4:30, 5, and 5:30 (wife of Scott Schaffer)
- Andy Palumbo - weekend mornings at 5 to 9
- Jon Meyer - weeknights at 5 and 5:30 (husband of Renie Workman)
StormTracker 16 Meteorologists
- Tom Clark (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist - Weekdays at Noon, 4, 5, 5:30, 6, and 7. Tom is featured on the "Home and Backyard" segments (husband of Noreen Clark)
- Joe Snedeker - weekday mornings at 5 to 9
- Noreen Clark - weekend mornings at 5 to 9 and "In Your Neighborhood" segments (wife of Tom Clark)
- Kurt Aaron - weeknights at 10 and 11. Kurt is also shown on the Action 16 "Does It Really Work?" segments.
- Michelle Rotella - weekend evenings at 6, 10, and 11. Michelle is also a weekday reporter. Michelle has now left for a position with WTXL ABC 27, in Tallahassee, Fl.
- Jim Coles - weeknights at 6, 7, 10, and 11
- Sharla McBride - weekend evenings and reporter
- Steve Lloyd - sports reporter and photojournalist
- Kurt Aaron
- Jim Hamill - Central Pennsylvania Bureau
- Ryan Leckey - weekday mornings, Noon & weekends
- Raegan Medgie - Poconos Bureau
- Peggy Lee
- Bob Reynolds
- Sarah Buynovsky
- Renie Workman (wife of Jon Meyer)
- Nikki Krize
- Stacy Lange
The Pennsylvania Outdoor Life Team
- Don Jacobs - co-host
- "Home & Backyard" segment writer
- Ken Hunter - co-host
- Mike Stevens - "On the Pennsylvania Road" reporter
- Dave Aucker
- Dale Butler
- Susan Gallagher
- Bob Hawkins
- Rick Koval
- Jackie Vass
- Newswatch 16 (1968-Present)
WNEP's website launched in 1995. On May 2nd, 2008, a major redesign of WNEP.com was launched. This new design was a radical departure from the original design & corrected many organizational errors to more fully comply with Web 2.0 standards.
In the fall of 2005, on Newswatch 16 This Morning during a conversation about taking sick or personal days off, meteorologist Joe Snedeker jokingly suggested to morning anchor Kim Supon (who was pregnant @ the time) that if he were her boss he would make her choose between her career & motherhood. Supon was visibly upset by the comment & walked off the set during the commercial break. When the newscast returned reporter Ryan Leckey was in the anchor chair. The incident received national attention including airing as a segment on MSNBC. In response to public outcry, Snedeker apologized on air during the next broadcast.  On November 17, 2006, Kim Supon left WNEP's morning broadcast to spend more time with her children.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 WNEP history page
- ↑ New York Times sells TV stations for $575M. Reuters (2007-01-04). Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Steve Mocarsky and Mark Sowers. "Storm tips TV towers", The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), December 17, 2007.
- ↑ Current News: WCLH FM off the air. WCLH (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) (December 17, 2007). Retrieved on December 17, 2007.
- ↑ Restoring WNEP's Analog Signal. WNEP (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) (January 1, 2008). Retrieved on January 2, 2008.
- ↑ Scott Fybush. Northeast Radio Watch - December 24, 2007 - Pennsylvania. Northeast Radio Watch (Rochester, New York). Retrieved on January 10, 2008.
- ↑ Scott Fybush. Northeast Radio Watch - January 7, 2008 - Pennsylvania. Northeast Radio Watch (Rochester, New York). Retrieved on January 10, 2008.
- ↑ WVIA-TV. "Ice Storm affects WVIA-TV Signal - FM and TV 44 still on the air", WVIA-TV (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), December 17, 2007.
- ↑ PAHomePage.com. "WYOU and WBRE TV Signal Update", WYOU (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), December 17, 2007.
- ↑ http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA14061.html?display=RTNDASPECIAL
- ↑ http://www.thetimes-tribune.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15393404&BRD=2185&PAG=461&dept_id=415898&rfi=8
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