WCYB-TV is a dual NBC/CW-affiliated television station licensed to Bristol, Virginia, United States, serving the Tri-Cities area of southwestern Virginia and northeastern Tennessee. It is one of two commercial television stations in the Tri-Cities that are licensed on the Virginia side of the market (the other being religious station WLFG (channel 68) in Grundy). WCYB broadcasts a high definition digital signal on virtual and VHF channel 5 from a transmitter at Rye Patch Knob on Holston Mountain in the Cherokee National Forest.
The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which also operates Greeneville, Tennessee-licensed Fox affiliate WEMT (channel 39, whose transmitter is co-located with WCYB) through a local marketing agreement (LMA) with its owner Cunningham Broadcasting. However, Sinclair effectively owns WEMT as the majority of Cunningham's stock is owned by the family of deceased group founder Julian Smith. The two stations share studios on Lee Street on the Virginia side of Bristol, straddling the Virginia–Tennessee line. On cable, WCYB can be seen on channel 5 on both Comcast Xfinity and Charter Spectrum.
The station began broadcasting on August 13, 1956. It has always been a primary NBC affiliate although it carried a secondary ABC affiliation (shared with WJHL-TV, channel 11) until 1969 when WKPT-TV (channel 19) signed on and took the ABC affiliation.
WCYB was originally owned by Appalachian Broadcasting, a consortium of four Bristol businessmen—Robert Smith, J. Fey Rogers, Charles M. Gore, and Harry M. Daniel—along with WCYB radio (AM 690, now WZAP). In 1969, the group sold WCYB-TV to Starr Broadcasting. Starr's president and chief stockholder was William F. Buckley of National Review fame. Starr sold Appalachian Broadcasting to the DGH Company/Lamco Communications (former publisher of the GRIT newspaper) in 1977. It was sold again to Bluestone Television in 2004, who then merged with Bonten Media Group for $230 million in 2007.
Robert Smith Sr. served as General Manager of the station for almost 25 years. During his tenure, well-known newscasters Merrill Moore, Johnny Wood, and Steve Hawkins began their successful careers. Smith also oversaw the construction of a new building in downtown Bristol. The new facility was industry-leading in its design. After Smith's retirement, Joe Conway became General Manager in 1981. During the early 80's, Lamco invested extensively in people, news, programming, equipment, and marketing. WCYB was marketed as "The News Station". At the same time, NBC became the top-rated network with hits like The Cosby Show and Cheers, and WCYB secured top-rated syndicated programs such as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! A hot air balloon with an NBC peacock design was purchased and flown across the region to promote the station. For most of the time from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, WCYB claimed to be the highest-rated television station in the United States. In 1984, Conway died suddenly. He was succeeded as General Manager in 1985 by Bob Smith, Jr., who had been the station's News Director for several years. During the 1990s and beyond, Joe Macione, Jim McKernan, and Jack Dempsey followed as General Managers.
In the 1960s, this station produced a live weekday cartoon show called the Looney Tunes Club hosted by Ed Spiegel. The show welcomed 50 youngsters each day to participate on the show and was traditionally visited by children on their birthday. The show opened each show with a rousing "Hi boys and girls!" from Spiegel with "Hi Ed!" shouted back from the kids. The 1960s also saw three locally produced quiz shows: Kiddle Kollege (which pitted young students from different local schools against each other), Classroom Quiz (whose contestants were older high school students) as well as Klub Kwiz (which did the same using members of local civic and service clubs).
WCYB took over WEMT's operations in February 2006 in a deal with WEMT's new owner, Aurora Broadcasting. As part of the Bonten deal later that year, Esteem Broadcasting bought WEMT from Aurora. Esteem would then pay $1.4 million in outstanding debt. WEMT moved from its studios in Johnson City to WCYB's facilities.
On April 21, 2017, Sinclair announced its intent to purchase the Bonten stations for $240 million. The sale was completed on September 1.
|TV stations in Commonwealth of Virginia|
|WAVY, Hampton Roads/Norfolk|
|TV stations in Commonwealth of Virginia|
|WGNT, Hampton Roads/Norfolk|
|TV stations in the Tri-Cities, TN / VA region, including Johnson City - Kingsport - Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA|
|WETP 2 (PBS) |
WCYB 5 (NBC)
WOPI-CD 9 (Laff)
WJHL 11 (CBS)
WKPT 19 (COZI)
WAPK-CD 36 (MeTV)
WEMT 39 (Fox)
WLFG 68 (Ind)