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WHSV-TV, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 20), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States and serving the Shenandoah Valley. Owned by Gray Television, WHSV maintains studios at 50 North Main Street (U.S. 11) in downtown Harrisonburg, and operates a newsroom in Fishersville, serving Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County. The station's transmitter is located at Elliott Knob west of Staunton.

WHSV operates one fill-in digital translator on UHF channel 42, which is licensed to Harrisonburg, but located on Signal Knob near Strasburg, Virginia and serves the Winchester/Front Royal area (in the Washington, D.C. television market). Its signal is also relayed in Moorefield, West Virginia on low-powered translator W40AS-D, which is owned by Valley TV Cooperative, Inc.

HistoryEdit

Channel 3 signed on October 19, 1953 as WSVA-TV (for We Serve Virginia Agriculture). It was owned by Frederick L. Allman and his Shenandoah Valley Broadcasting Corporation along with WSVA radio (AM 550 and FM 100.7, now WQPO). The station was a primary NBC affiliate, with secondary CBS and ABC affiliations. The station also carried DuMont programs. It was the only commercial station between Richmond and Roanoke until WVIR-TV signed on from Charlottesville in 1973. Although it was owned by one of Virginia's leading broadcasters, WSVA-TV operated on a shoestring budget. Station engineers switched to and from the signals of the three network affiliates in Washington, D.C. because it was unable to afford direct network feeds. The station did not air any locally produced programs (except for local newscasts) until 1956, when it built a studio along U.S. Route 33 in unincorporated Rockingham County. That year, Allman sold the WSVA stations to Transcontinent Television of Buffalo, New York, with NBC executive Hamilton Shea as a minority partner. Allman earned a handsome return on his original investment into WSVA radio in 1935. In 1959, the Washington Evening Star, owner of WMAL AM-FM-TV in Washington, acquired Transcontinent's controlling interest, as well as 1% of Shea's stake. The CBS affiliation was dropped in 1963.

In 1965, the Star sold the WSVA stations to James Gilmore, Jr., a Michigan businessman; the sale was necessary because WMAL-TV's new tall tower would have caused a large grade B overlap with WSVA-TV. Under Gilmore's ownership, the station became a primary ABC affiliate in 1968. This was a very unusual move since, then as now, it was the only station in its market; ABC was not nearly on par with CBS and NBC in the ratings at the time (and would not be until the 1970s). It picked up NBC's morning program Today from 1968 until ABC debuted Good Morning America in 1975, but only aired the second hour of Today since the station did not sign on until 8 a.m. (a practice that continued well into the 1970s). Despite wealthier ownership, it was still unable to get a network feed. Occasionally, channel 3 accidentally aired WMAL-TV's commercials when engineers forgot to switch from WMAL-TV's signal during local breaks.

In 1975, channel 3 dropped the remaining NBC programs from its schedule. That same year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that if a city had only one FM radio station, one AM radio station and one television station, they could not be owned by the same person. Gilmore kept the radio stations and sold WSVA-TV to Charlottesville-based Worrell Newspapers, publisher of The Daily Progress of Charlottesville, in 1976. Later that year, the station assumed its current WHSV-TV callsign. Under Worrell, the station was finally able to acquire a direct network feed. WHSV launched a translator on UHF channel 64 in Charlottesville in 1979. WHSV marked Worrell's entry into broadcasting; the company would subsequently add WIFR-TV in Rockford, Illinois and WBNB-TV in Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands to its group before selling the three stations to Benedek Broadcasting in 1986.

From 1994 until 1996, WHSV served as a secondary affiliate of Fox; this allowed the station to carry most Washington Redskins games through the network's NFL coverage. Construction of a new broadcast facility in downtown Harrisonburg began in 1998, with WHSV relocating there in the spring of 1999.

Benedek went bankrupt in 2002, and most of its stations, including WHSV, were bought by Gray Television. A 5 p.m. weekday newscast was also added that same year. At that time, a new set was constructed in the station's Augusta County newsroom in Staunton. The streetside set featured a window overlooking downtown Staunton along West Frederick Street. The 5 p.m. weekday newscast became WHSV's first newscast to originate from the Augusta County Newsroom. In October 2003, WHSV began originating its 5 p.m. newscast from both Harrisonburg and Staunton. WHSV's 6 p.m. weekday newscast also originated from both Staunton and Harrisonburg for a brief period in the spring of 2004. During that time, WHSV's 6 p.m. weekday newscast featured three anchors. The three-anchor, dual-city format was abandoned after a few months.

In August 2004, WHSV management began providing managerial, sales and human resources support to Gray Television's upstart CBS affiliate WCAV in Charlottesville. Several members of WHSV's news and production staff transferred to WCAV following its launch. That same year, WHSV's Charlottesville translator was broken off as a separate station serving as the market's ABC affiliate, WVAW-LP on channel 16.

To this day, WHSV is the only full-power commercial station in the Shenandoah Valley. This is due to the area's small population, as well as the fact that virtually all of the market is located in the United States National Radio Quiet Zone. The market's only other commercial station is low-power sister station WSVF-CD, which launched with Fox and CBS subchannels in October 2012 after Gray purchased former WAZT-CA repeater WAZM-CA several months earlier. The only over-the-air competition to WHSV and WSVF comes from WVIR, which operates translators in Harrisonburg and Bridgewater. The area's DirecTV and Dish Network's local feeds supplement the area with stations from Washington, D.C. Cable providers pipe in stations from Washington, Richmond and Roanoke, depending on the system.


TV stations in Commonwealth of Virginia
WVEC, Hampton Roads/Norfolk

WSET, Roanoke
WRIC, Richmond
WJLA, Arlington/Washington, DC
WVAW-LD, Charlottesville
WHSV, Harrisonburg/Staunton

TV stations in Commonwealth of Virginia
WTKR, Hampton Roads/Norfolk

WDBJ, Roanoke
WTVR, Richmond
WUSA, Arlington/Washington, DC
WCAV, Charlottesville
WHSV-DT2/WSVF-CD2, Harrisonburg/Staunton

TV stations in Commonwealth of Virginia
WPXV, Hampton Roads/Norfolk

WPXR, Roanoke
WRIC-DT2, Richmond
WPXW, Manassas/Washington, DC
WCAV-DT4, Charlottesville
WHSV-DT3, Harrisonburg/Staunton
WLFG-DT3, Grundy/Bristol

TV stations in Commonwealth of Virginia
WTVZ, Hampton Roads/Norfolk

WZBJ, Roanoke
WRLH-DT2, Richmond
WDCA, Arlington/Washington, DC
WHSV-DT4, Harrisonburg/Staunton

TV stations in Harrisonburg area
WHSV 3 (ABC)
W22EX-D/W30CT-D 29 (NBC)
WSVF-CD 43 (Fox)
WVPT 51 (PBS)
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