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WBNX-TV, virtual channel 55 (UHF digital channel 30), is an independent television station serving Cleveland, Ohio, United States that is licensed to Akron. The station is owned by the Winston Broadcasting Network subsidiary of locally based Ernest Angley Ministries, operating as a for-profit arm of the company. WBNX-TV's studios are located on State Road in suburban Cuyahoga Falls, in a building which also houses Winston Broadcasting's television production facilities. The station's transmitter is located in Parma, Ohio.

HistoryEdit

Prior history of channel 55Edit

UHF analog channel 55 in northeast Ohio was originally allocated to Akron as WCOT-TV. The license was awarded to Rex Humbard in the late 1970s. The plan was for the station to sign on by 1981, with Christian programming being broadcast for two thirds of the day and some family-oriented entertainment programming a third of the day. Construction on the station began in 1978, but ran out of funding and was on hold by 1980. The secular programming that was to air on the station was sold to a new station, WCLQ (channel 61, now Univision owned-and-operated station WQHS-DT), and the plan to build WCOT was abandoned in 1981. In 1982, Humbard sold the construction permit to Winston Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Ernest Angley Ministries. Construction of the station resumed in 1983.

Early daysEdit

WBNX-TV first signed on the air on December 1, 1985, as a secular for-profit independent station. The WBNX call letters were previously used by a radio station in New York City on 1380 AM (now WKDM) until 1984. Before WBNX signed on, its owner Ernest Angley bought Humbard's television production facilities in Cuyahoga Falls to start the new station, and later bought Humbard's Cathedral of Tomorrow complex (the current Grace Cathedral). The unfinished concrete tower which still stands behind Grace Cathedral was originally intended to hold WCOT's transmission tower. That tower was never purchased or used by WBNX, but is owned by Krieger Communications and used for cellular phone transmissions.

The station, then branded as "WBNX TV55", carried a general entertainment format with classic dramas, westerns, low-budget films, syndicated game shows, and a twice daily airing of station owner Angley's religious talk/variety show The 90 and 9 Club. During this time, WBNX aimed its programming at family audiences and imposed censoring standards that were similar to that used by The Family Channel, Nick at Nite and other kids and teens' oriented cable channels. In November 1986 when cross-town WCLQ 61 was sold to the Home Shopping Network, WBNX picked up the cartoons and classic sitcoms previously on WCLQ. By 1988, WBNX gradually began running infomercials much of the broadcast day. By 1990, WBNX was running paid programming half the broadcast day, low budget syndicated programming about 1/4 of the day and religious shows a few hours a day.

WBNX's original transmitter was located on Snowville Road in Brecksville, Ohio, which was originally used by WKYC-TV (channel 3) in its earlier days. The old technology for the transmitter forced WBNX to broadcast its audio feed in monaural rather than in stereo. In 2000, WBNX built a new transmitter and tower in Parma, becoming the tallest television broadcast tower in the Cleveland market.

Fox Kids and other showsEdit

Main article: Repercussions of the 1994–1996 United States broadcast TV realignment § Fox Kids repercussions WBNX moved to became a major player in Cleveland television in September 1994, when it overhauled its programming lineup to include a mix of classic sitcoms, movies and cartoons as well as a couple hours of religious shows each day; infomercials were also relegated to overnight timeslots at that time. WBNX also acquired a few syndicated programs that got displaced from WJW (channel 8) and WOIO (channel 19) through an affiliation shakeup spurred by an agreement between then-Fox network parent News Corporation and New World Communications, in which the market's Fox affiliation shifted over to WJW (which had been affiliated with CBS for nearly 40 years) and the CBS affiliation went to WOIO (which had been a Fox charter affiliate since the network launched in October 1986).

When WJW and WOIO swapped networks on September 5, 1994, WBNX acquired the local rights to the Fox Kids programming block. Like other New World stations affected by the affiliation agreement, WJW dopted not to air the Fox Kids block upon joining Fox, choosing instead to air newscasts and syndicated programs weekdays, and a mix of first-run and syndicated children's programs, infomercials and local real estate programs on weekends. WBNX also inherited the northeast Ohio iteration of the Fox Kids Club from WOIO; under channel 55's stewardship, WBNX's Fox Kids Club grew into the largest Fox Kids Club chapter in the United States.

At that same time, WJW reached a news share arrangement with WBNX that allowed the latter to air tape-delayed rebroadcasts of WJW's 10:00 p.m. newscast, Newscenter 8 (later retitled ei8ht is News at 10:00 in May 1995, and then Fox 8 News at 10:00 in August 1996) each night at 11:00 p.m.; WBNX continued to air these rebroadcasts until September 1996. The station also expanded its distribution, increasing its carriage on local cable providers throughout northeast Ohio (including within the adjacent Youngstown market). Channel 55's programming lineup during this period included more contemporary children's programs, sitcoms, drama series and movies; in addition, WBNX's content standards adapted to contractually airing syndicated programs containing profanity, sexual content and violence as is (with the only editing being that made by distributors to fit designated running times and to censor content not compliant with FCC decency standards). These changes would boost the station, with WBNX eventually surpassing WUAB in the ratings.

WB affiliationEdit

On September 1, 1997, WBNX-TV took over as the Cleveland-area affiliate of The WB Television Network, assuming the rights from WUAB-TV (channel 43). The station, accordingly, changed its branding to "WB 55". The WB affiliation also resulted in WBNX adding the Kids' WB lineup, so with having both Fox Kids and Kids' WB, channel 55 promoted themselves at that time as being "Cleveland's Kids Superstation".

After becoming a WB affiliate, WBNX-TV continued to grow and eventually took the overall ratings lead above WUAB by 2004; WBNX consistently ranked in the top 11 of all WB affiliates in the country and was the #1 WB affiliate in overall ratings among the 19 largest television markets during the November 2005 sweeps ratings period. In 1998, WBNX approached Cleveland late night icon The Ghoul (portrayed by Ron Sweed) to host the station's Friday night (later on Sunday nights, towards the end of the program's run) movie, until WBNX discontinued its relationship with Sween in 2004. In January 2005, the station changed its on-air branding to "WBNX-TV, Cleveland's WB," de-emphasizing the station's Channel 55 allocation.

CW affiliationEdit

On January 24, 2006, UPN parent company CBS Corporation and WB network parent Time Warner announced that they would dissolve the two networks to create The CW Television Network, a joint venture between the two media companies that initially featured programs from its two predecessor networks as well as original first-run series developed for The CW. Nearly one month after the CW launch announcement, on February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of MyNetworkTV, a network operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television that was created to primarily serve as a network programming option (in lieu of converting to a general entertainment independent format) for UPN and WB stations that were left out of The CW's affiliation deals. Following the announcement, both WBNX and WUAB were in the running to become Cleveland's affiliate of the new network.

On March 1, in a joint announcement by CBS Corporation and the Winston Broadcasting Network, WBNX was confirmed as The CW's Cleveland affiliate. Since the network chose its charter stations based on which of them among The WB and UPN's respective affiliate bodies was the highest-rated in each market, WBNX was chosen to join The CW over WUAB as it had been the higher-rated of the two stations at the time of the agreement's signing. Six days later on March 7, as part of an affiliation agreement that included two other Raycom-owned stations, WUAB was confirmed to be the Cleveland market's MyNetworkTV affiliate. WBNX remained a WB affiliate until the network ceased operations on September 17, 2006; when the station affiliated with The CW upon that network's debut on September 18, WBNX began branding as "WBNX, The CW," and adopted a new wordmark logo consisting solely of the WBNX-TV call letter and the CW network logo design.

On April 30, 2007, WBNX began broadcasting CW network programming in high definition and 5.1 stereo surround sound.

Return to independenceEdit

On July 11, 2018, Raycom Media and CBS Corporation announced that it signed a long-term deal in which WUAB would become the CW affiliate in Cleveland, with WBNX 55.1 becoming independent, effective July 16. The last CW network program to air on WBNX was Chicken Soup for the Soul's Hidden Heroes (part of the network's One Magnificent Morning block) at 10:30 a.m. ET on July 14. WBNX formally became an independent station on July 16, with CW network programming, consisting of 1 hour daytime, 2 hours nightly and Saturday mornings, being replaced with syndicated programs already on channel 55's schedule.

CW network management made no mention of the reason for the change of affiliation in the statement. In 2016, WBNX won The CW's APEX award for best marketing, so this change came as a surprise to some local newspaper reporters who could not get comments from either the station nor the network about the reason for the business decision. WBNX continues its affiliation with Movies! and Heroes & Icons on its third and fourth subchannels.

TV stations in Ohio
Independent stations Religious stations Spanish-language stations Misc.
WGCT-CD, Columbus WDTJ-LP, Toledo W23BZ-D2, Columbus WCBZ-CD, Marion
WMFD, Mansfield WOCB-CD 39/WXCB-CD, Marion/Delaware WCPX-LP, Columbus WFND-LD, Findlay
W23BZ-D, Columbus WLMB, Toledo WQHS, Cleveland W16DO-D, Cleveland
WBQC-LD, Cincinnati WTLW, Lima WDEM-CD, Columbus WDLI, Canton
WNHO-LP, Defiance WJOS-LD, Pomeroy WIVN-LD/WIVM-LD, Canton/Newcomerstown
WBNX, Akron WRLM, Canton WWRD-LP, Centerville
WCDN-LD, Cleveland WTZP-LP, Portsmouth
WSFJ, London
TV stations in Northeast Ohio, including Cleveland, Akron, and Canton
WKYC 3 (NBC)
WEWS 5 (ABC)
WJW 8 (Fox)
W16DO-D 16 (RTV)
WDLI 17 (Ion Life)
WOIO 19 (CBS)
WQDI-LD 20 (ESTRELLA)
WIVD-LD 22 (Ind)
WVPX 23 (Ion)
WVIZ 25 (PBS)
W27DG-D 27 (Ind)
WIVN-LD 29 (Ind)
WIVM-LD 39 (Ind)
WEKA-LD 41 (COZI)
WOHZ-CD 41 (Ind)
WUAB 43 (CW)
WRLM 47 (TCT)
WEAO 49 (PBS)
WIVX-LD 51 (Ind)
WGGN 52 (Rel)
WCDN-LD 53 (Daystar)
WBNX 55 (Ind)
WQHS 61 (UNI)
WMFD 68 (Ind)
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