WAPT, virtual channel 16 (UHF digital channel 21), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Jackson, Mississippi, United States. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of Hearst Communications. WAPT's studios and transmitter are located on Channel 16 Way in southwest Jackson. On cable, the station can be seen on Comcast Xfinity channel 4, Cable One channel 16 and Vicksburg Video channel 9. There is a high definition feed provided on Xfinity digital channel 431, Cable One digital channel 1016 and Vicksburg Video digital channel 225.
|Branding||16 WAPT (general)|
16 WAPT News (newscasts)
MeTV Jackson (on DT2)
|Station slogan||The One to Watch|
|Channels||Digital: 21 (UHF)|
(Jackson Hearst Television Inc.)
|First air date||October 3, 1970|
|Call letters' meaning||We're American Public Television|
(reference to former owner American Public Life Insurance Company; not related to American Public Television)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
16 (UHF, 1970–2009)
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Height||332 m (1,089 ft)|
The station began broadcasting on October 3, 1970 with a rerun of Stagecoach West. Prior to its debut, ABC was relegated to off-hours clearances on NBC affiliate WLBT and CBS affiliate WJTV, save for a brief period from March 1954 until June 1955 when WSLI-TV 12 was a standalone ABC affiliate before combining forces with WJTV, which had aired on channel 25. In fact, by the 1960s, Jackson was one of the largest markets, if not the largest, in the U.S. with only two network stations by the 1960s, even though it had been large enough on paper to support three full network affiliates by the 1950s. It has long been speculated that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) delayed granting licenses to any potential broadcasters in central Mississippi because of WLBT's blatant bias against African-Americans in news coverage and advocacy against the civil rights movement.
A more likely reason, however, has to do with geography. The Jackson market is a fairly large market, covering a large swath of west-central Mississippi. Jackson had been allocated only two VHF frequencies—channels 3 and 12, occupied by WLBT and WJTV respectively. UHF stations initially didn't cover large stretches of territory very well. Even after the FCC mandated all-channel tuning in 1964, it took a long while for UHF to be a viable option to cover large areas. With Jackson sandwiched between Baton Rouge to the south and Monroe–El Dorado to the west with Alexandria (southwest), Columbus (northeast), Greenville (north), Hattiesburg (southeast) and Meridian (east) all in close proximity, it is not likely there would have been room to drop in a third VHF allocation in Jackson.
WAPT was founded by the American Public Life Insurance Company, an insurer which is still in business today but is now an affiliate of American Fidelity Assurance. American Public Life sold the station to Clay Communications in 1979. That company then sold its television stations—WAPT, plus KJAC-TV (now KBTV-TV) in Port Arthur, Texas, KFDX-TV in Wichita Falls, Texas and WWAY in Wilmington, North Carolina—to Price Communications in 1987. Price Communications sold three of its stations—WAPT and then-sister stations WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan and WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island—to the newly founded Northstar Television Group in 1989. Northstar Television was bought out by Argyle Television Holdings II, a company which was formed in late 1994 by a group of managers and executives who left the first incarnation of Argyle Television (the former Times-Mirror Broadcasting) after that company sold all of its stations to New World Communications, in January 1995.
In August 1997, Argyle merged with the Hearst Corporation's broadcasting unit to form what was then known as Hearst-Argyle Television (now Hearst Television after the Hearst Corporation became sole owner of the group in mid-2009).
In 2005, Sacha Baron Cohen appeared as his Borat character in a news interview, while secretly filming a segment for the movie of the same name. After the film's release, Dharma Arthur, a news producer for WAPT, wrote a letter to Newsweek saying that Borat's appearance on the station had led to her losing her job: "Because of him, my boss lost faith in my abilities and second-guessed everything I did thereafter...How upsetting that a man who leaves so much harm in his path is lauded as a comedic genius." Although Arthur has said she was fired from the station, she told the Associated Press that she had resigned. She said that she checked a public relations website that Borat's producers gave her before booking him.
WAPT currently broadcasts 26 hours of local newscasts per week with four hours of news aired on weekdays and three hours seen on weekends. On April 30, 2011, WAPT debuted weekend morning newscasts to bookend the weekend editions of Good Morning America.
Unlike most ABC affiliates, WAPT does not currently carry a midday news show during the week. In 2008, however, WAPT announced its intention to begin a noon newscast offering a third option in the time slot. It has since dropped the program from the schedule most likely due to inconsistent viewership and tough competition from WLBT and WJTV. The station operates a Baron Services VHD 250 Doppler weather radar next to its studios that is known on-air as "Storm Shield 16". There is a live video feed of this radar available on WAPT's website. In addition, all newscasts are streamed online.
- The Case-Jefferies Report (1971)
- Television Sixteen News (1971–1970s)
- Action 16 News (1970s–1976)
- Action News 16 (1976–1982)
- The News on WAPT (1982–1986)
- Channel 16 News (1986–1992)
- Eyewitness News 16 (1992–1997)
- 16 WAPT News (1997–present)
- Channel 16's The One You Can Turn To (1978-1979; local version of ABC campaign)
- You and Me and Channel 16 (1980-1981; local version of ABC campaign)
- Now is the Time, Channel 16's the Place (1981-1982; local version of ABC campaign)
- Come on Along with Channel 16 (1982-1983; local version of ABC campaign)
- That Special Feeling on Channel 16 (1983-1984; local version of ABC campaign)
- Hello Jackson, Channel 16 Loves You (1984–1986)
- We're With You on Channel 16 (1984–1985; local version of ABC campaign)
- You'll Love It on Channel 16 (1985–1986; local version of ABC campaign)
- Together on Channel 16 (1986–1987; local version of ABC campaign)
- Something's Happening on Channel 16
- Mississippi's Watching Channel 16 (199?-199?; local version of ABC campaign)
- If It's Mississippi, It Must Be Channel 16 (1992-1993; local version of ABC campaign)
- Just Watch Us Now!
- Stories That Hit Home (1997–2000)
- Building Our Station Around You (2000–2007)
- Built Around You (secondary, 2007–2011)
- Finding Who's Accountable (primary, 2008–2012)
- The One to Watch (2012–present)
- Keegan Foxx - weeknights at 6:00 & 10:00 p.m.
- Troy Johnson - weeknights at 5 p.m.; also reporter
- Megan West - weeknights at 5, 6:00 & 10:00 p.m.
- Scott Simmons - weekends; also reporter
- Erin Pickens -
- Marcus Hunter -
- Allie Ware -
16 WAPT WeatherEdit
- David Hartman - chief meteorologist;
- Kara James - meteorologist;
- Adam McWilliams - meteorologist;
- Christana Kay - meteorologist;
- Joe Cook - sports director;
- Nick Niehaus -
- Ross Adams
- Jewell Hillery
- Shaleeka Powell
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