WLMT, virtual channel 30 (UHF digital channel 31), is a CW-affiliated television station licensed to Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by the Nexstar Media Group, as part of a duopoly with ABC affiliate WATN-TV (channel 24). The two stations share studios at the Shelby Oaks Corporate Park on Shelby Oaks Drive in the northeast section of Memphis; WLMT's transmitter is located in the Brunswick section of unincorporated northeast Shelby County. WLMT and WATN's studio facilities also handle master control and some internal operations for Jackson-licensed Fox affiliate WJKT (channel 16).

History[edit | edit source]

The station first signed on the air as WMKW-TV on April 18, 1983. It was the second independent station in the Memphis market. The "KW" in its call sign referred to Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inn, which was then based in Memphis. The station was founded by the TVX Broadcast Group, which at that time, owned UHF independent stations in several medium-sized markets. WMKW ran a general entertainment format featuring afternoon cartoons, sitcoms, old movies, drama shows and some sports. Right from the start, it began a viewership rivalry with fellow independent outlet WPTY. In April 1987, WMKW became the market's original Fox affiliate as part of an affiliation deal involving the rest of the TVX stations, and began branding as "Fox 30" on-air. It was at this point that WMTU (now WJKT) in Jackson became a semi-satellite of WMKW.

Also in 1987, WMKW was placed up for sale by TVX to finance the company's purchase of other television stations. MT Communications bought the station in 1988 and changed its call letters to WUMT on October 1, 1989. Fox pulled its affiliation from WUMT in the spring of 1990 and moved it to WPTY making WUMT an independent station once again. The station's call sign became WLMT on April 2 of that year. WMTU also continued to simulcast WLMT's programming except during prime time as WMTU remained with Fox until 1995. MT Communications sold the station to Max Media in 1992. WLMT then established a local marketing agreement (LMA) with WPTY (then owned by Clear Channel Communications), with the two stations pooling resources and programming.

The station became a charter UPN affiliate upon the network's launch on January 16, 1995, while WMTU took on the network as a secondary affiliation until later that year when Fox was taken off that station. In 2001, WLMT was bought outright by Clear Channel making WPTY and WLMT full sisters. In 2003, programming from The WB moved from WPTY (where it was a secondary affiliation and shown during late night slots) to WLMT where it also aired out of pattern.

On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation (which split from Viacom in December 2005) and Time Warner's Warner Bros. Entertainment (the division that operated The WB) announced that they would dissolve UPN and The WB, and move some of their programming to a newly created network, The CW. On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of a new "sixth" network called MyNetworkTV, which would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created to compete The CW as well as to give UPN and WB stations that were not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates another option besides converting to independent stations.

WJKT declined to affiliate with The CW or MyNetworkTV choosing instead to become a separate station, rejoining Fox on August 21. The area's Ion Television owned-and-operated station, WPXX-TV (channel 50), began carrying MyNetworkTV as a secondary affiliation on September 5. Meanwhile, WLMT affiliated with The CW when the network launched on September 18 and began branding on-air as "CW 30". On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its entire television station group to Newport Television, a broadcast holding company controlled by Providence Equity Partners. On March 26, 2007, it began offering Newport's Variety Television Network on a new second digital subchannel. After that service shut down in January 2009, it switched to the Retro Television Network (RTV).

The station picked up WWE Smackdown from MyNetworkTV after WPXX ended its affiliation with the network (by then a programming service) in September 2009 and aired the program at 7 p.m. on Saturday nights. Initially, WLMT did not carry any other MyNetworkTV programs and the agreement to carry WWE Smackdown ended with the broadcast's October 2010 move to cable's Syfy. At some point that month, the station began carrying MyNetworkTV on its second digital subchannel. WLMT therefore joined the handful of stations that cleared the entire CW and MyNetworkTV lineups on separate subchannels (and, by July 2011, was the only station in the country that carried The CW as a primary affiliation and MyNetworkTV as a digital multicast channel). RTV was replaced with MeTV on digital channel 30.2 (which is also carried on Comcast digital channel 911) on November 14, 2011. On July 19, 2012, Newport announced that it would sell 12 of its stations, including WLMT and WPTY, to Nexstar Broadcasting Group. The sale was finalized on December 3.

In 2013, Nexstar announced that it would move WPTY, WLMT and WJKT's operations from their existing, aging five-story building in midtown Memphis into a former MCI call center on the city's northeast side. Nexstar invested $5 million to convert the call center into a repurposed television studio facility with modern, up-to-date equipment. The move was completed on June 1. At that time on WPTY (whose calls were changed to WATN)'s new website, WLMT's presence on that site was reduced solely to schedule listings, FCC-required disclosures and a link to the CW network's website. During the move, WLMT's second subchannel temporarily ran the full MeTV schedule for several weeks while the equipment for reception of MyNetworkTV was re-established. As of October 2016, KPMF-LD (in Paragould, Arkansas) has since assumed the MyNetworkTV affiliation (from WLMT-DT2) for the Memphis market; as a result, WLMT-DT2 has resumed airing the full MeTV schedule. In 2018, KPMF-LD moved their transmitting operations from Marion, Arkansas to a lease with the WATN/WLMT tower.

On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Chicago-based Tribune Media—which has owned CBS affiliate WREG-TV (channel 3) since December 2013—for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WREG directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. (Furthermore, any attempt by Nexstar to assume the operations of WREG through local marketing or shared services agreements may be subject to regulatory hurdles that could delay completion of the FCC and Justice Department's review and approval process for the acquisition.) As such, Nexstar will be required to sell either WREG-TV or WATN-TV to a separate, unrelated company to address the ownership conflict. (As WLMT does not rank among the top four in total-day viewership and therefore is not in conflict with existing FCC in-market ownership rules, that station optionally can be retained by Nexstar regardless of whether it chooses to retain ownership of WATN or sell WATN in order to acquire WREG or, should it be divested, be sold to the prospective buyer of WATN.) On March 20, 2019, McLean, Virginia-based Tegna Inc. announced it would purchase WATN-TV and WLMT from Nexstar upon consummation of the merger, as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Tegna and the E. W. Scripps Company in separate deals worth $1.32 billion; this would make the duopoly sister stations to NBC affiliate WBIR-TV in Knoxville and CBS affiliate KTHV in Little Rock.


TV stations in Tennessee
WNAB, Nashville

WLMT, Memphis
WFLI, Cleveland
WBXX, Crossville
WNBJ-LD2, Jackson

TV stations in Western Tennessee, Northwestern Mississippi and the Eastern Delta Region of Arkansas, including Memphis and Oxford
WREG 3 (CBS)
WMC 5 (NBC)
WKNO 10 (PBS)
WHBQ 13 (Fox)
WPGF-LD 17 (ESTRELLA)
WMAV 18 (PBS)
WTWV 23 (Rel)
WATN 24 (ABC)
KPMF-LD 26 (MNTV/AMGTV)
WLMT 30 (CW)
WWTW 34 (Ind.)
WQEK-LD 36 (Cozi)
WBUY 40 (TBN)
W50EA-D 42 (3ABN)
WBXP-LP 44 (SBN)
WPXX 50 (Ion)
WPYM-LD 56 (RTV)
WDNM-LD 59 (Daystar)
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