WMUR-TV, virtual channel and VHF digital channel 9, is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Manchester, New Hampshire, United States. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation. WMUR maintains studio facilities located on South Commercial Street in downtown Manchester, and its transmitter is located on the south peak of Mount Uncanoonuc in Goffstown.
Manchester is part of the larger Boston television market; that city's ABC affiliate, WCVB-TV, is also owned by Hearst. As a result, WMUR is the only New Hampshire-based television station with a news operation. In addition to WCVB-TV, WMUR-TV shares common coverage areas with four sister stations, the Portland, Maine duopoly of ABC affiliate WMTW-TV and CW/MyNetworkTV affiliate WPXT; and the Burlington, Vermont duopoly of CW affiliate WNNE in Montpelier, Vermont and Plattsburgh, New York-based NBC affiliate WPTZ.
Early brief years
The station first signed on the air on March 28, 1954, as the first television station in New Hampshire; it was founded by former governor Francis P. Murphy, owner of WMUR radio (610 AM; now WGIR) through a company known as the Radio Voice of New Hampshire, Inc. Murphy beat out several challengers, including William Loeb III, publisher of the Manchester Union-Leader. It broadcast from a Victorian-style house on Elm Street in Manchester, alongside its radio sister. In addition to carrying ABC programming (the station having been affiliated with the network since its sign-on), WMUR aired daily newscasts, local game shows and movies.
In 1955, channel 9 significantly boosted its signal, providing a strong signal well into the Boston area. Murphy was well aware of this, and began airing programming that had previously not been available in Boston. The following year, however, Murphy decided to retire. While a buyer was immediately found for the AM station, there were few takers for channel 9. Finally, in early 1957, he agreed in principle to sell WMUR-TV to Storer Broadcasting. However, Storer came under fire when it announced plans to move the station's transmitter to just outside Haverhill, Massachusetts – only 20 miles north of Boston; approval of the move would have likely resulted in the station taking the CBS affiliation from WNAC-TV (channel 7, now occupied by the present-day WHDH) as Storer had very good relations with CBS. It soon became apparent that Storer intended to move all of channel 9's operations across the border to Massachusetts and reorient it as the Boston market's third VHF station. The outcry led regulators to reject Storer's request to build a new tower near Haverhill with Storer then backing out of the deal, and the station remained in Murphy's hands until his death in December 1958; his estate finally sold the station a few months later, to Richard Eaton's United Broadcasting. Storer eventually fulfilled their Boston ambitions in 1966 with the purchase of the channel 38 license as WSBK-TV.
Soon after taking over, United laid off all but nine of WMUR's employees and reduced local programming to its two daily newscasts. For the next 22 years, United ran channel 9 on a shoestring budget, devoting most of its efforts to managing Manchester's cable franchise. It paid almost no attention to the station even as equipment broke down. The studio's upkeep also suffered; the floor was so slanted that cameras rolled on their own. WMUR continued to broadcast in black-and-white up until 1973, long after the Boston stations all upgraded to color capability. Two of the few things the station had going for it during this time were The Uncle Gus Show, hosted by Gus Bernier for more than 20 years, and an increasingly active news department led by Tom Bonnar and Fred Kocher.
Eaton tried to bribe ABC for more favorable terms for three of his other stations in the 1970s. When the Federal Communications Commission got word of this, it nearly revoked all of United's licenses, even though WMUR was not directly involved in the bribery. As a result, the station continued to be run very cheaply.
1980s and 1990s
In July 1981, following Richard Eaton's death, WMUR was sold to Columbus, Mississippi businessman Birney Imes Jr. and his company, Imes Communications, who also owned that city's WCBI-TV, as well as WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Years later, several veterans, including Bonnar, said they only stayed at the station in hopes a wealthier owner would see its potential. Imes made WMUR a major influence in New Hampshire by giving it a badly-needed technical overhaul, as well as upgrading its news department.
In September 1987, the station moved from its original Elm Street studios to facilities in the historic Millyard area of the city.
In 1994, WMUR became both a primary and secondary affiliate of Fox in which they also launched 3 low-powered repeaters in the Northern portion of New Hampshire, one of them (W38CB in Littleton) carried WMUR's full ABC schedule, while the other two (W27BL in Berlin & WMUR-LP in Littleton) were full-time primary affiliates of Fox, all of them including its main channel carried WMUR's newscasts as well as Fox Sports telecasts. While WMUR and W38CB managed to retain its full-time ABC schedule, W27BL & WMUR-LP offered a different lineup than that of WMUR's actual lineup: even though W27BL & WMUR-LP retained WMUR's newscasts and syndicated fare, the ABC programs were replaced with more syndicated programming, including programs from Fox itself including Fox Sports telecasts, Fox News shows, the Fox Kids children's block, and of course the network's full primetime lineup. WMUR-LP was the only Fox affiliate to serve a portion of the Burlington–Plattsburgh media market until WFFF-TV began broadcasting on August 31, 1997. However on December 19, 2001, WMUR dropped its primary/secondary affiliation with Fox after the Hearst acquisition (Hearst has never affiliated any of their stations with Fox, a rarity in American broadcasting), and has since replaced the full Fox lineup on W27BL & WMUR-LP with a full-time simulcast of WMUR's ABC programming itself.
Then in 1995, WMUR purchased land and a building at its current location. This building was rebuilt as an 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2) state-of-the-art broadcast center; it moved to this new location in January 1996.
WMUR was the first television station in the country to develop a significant Internet presence beginning on October 8, 1995. It was the first television station to hire a full-time employee dedicated to streaming its newscast live and archived online for later viewing. It was also the first television station to use the Internet to supplement its broadcast news by posting additional information online like the Megan's Law list. After posting a 3D virtual tour of its TV studio facilities online it briefly became the most visited attraction online in the world. Beginning in 1998 the station made significant financial, technical and staff investments into its internet strategy. This included 24-hour original news segments, weather coverage from a professional meteorologist and Sales Executive dedicated to TV and online advertising. In 2000 WMUR, CNN and WMUR.COM simulcasted their New Hampshire Primary Debates held at the TV station. This was the first widely promoted and executed worldwide live streaming video event.
In September 2000, Imes Communications reached a deal to sell the station to Emmis Communications, who then traded WMUR to Hearst-Argyle Television, now Hearst Television, in exchange for that company's three radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona: KTAR, KMVP, and KKLT. In 2004, WMUR-TV celebrated fifty years of broadcasting.
On September 24, 2005, WMUR became available on satellite via DirecTV in Coos, Carroll, Grafton, and Sullivan counties in northern and west-central New Hampshire. Coos and Carroll counties are part of the Portland, Maine market and thus had WMTW as their ABC affiliate, while Grafton and Sullivan counties are part of the Burlington, Vermont/Plattsburgh, New York market and hence received ABC programming from WVNY; these areas had no source of in-state news until WMUR's uplinking.
The station was featured in a fictional manner in the sixth season of The West Wing, congressman Matt Santos running in the Democratic Party Presidential Primary went to the WMUR studios to run a live ad for his campaign.
The station's digital signal began broadcasting on UHF channel 59 in November 1998. WMUR's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009.
In July 2012 during a cable carriage deal dispute, Hallmark Movie was a substitute for Hearst Television's ABC affiliates, WMUR-TV and WMTW on Time Warner Cable.
In February 2010, WMUR introduced a new slogan, "It's how you know." This slogan often promoted its local news, weather, its photo sharing site, "uLocal," and other ideas of interest that would lead to its website. WMUR's Hearst-owned sister stations KCRA and KSBW also used this slogan, which was seen at the beginning of each video segment on YouTube.
In December 2015, the Democratic National Committee announced that WMUR would not be included as a co-sponsor of the Democratic debate due to a labor dispute between that station and its unionized employees.
|TV stations in New England|
|WTNH, Hartford/New Haven|
|TV Stations in Greater Boston and southern New Hampshire|
|English stations||Spanish stations||New Hampshire|
|WGBH 2 (PBS)||WUTF 27 (UMas)||WMUR 9 (ABC)|
|WHDT-LD 3 (Ind)||WCEA-LD 58 (Ind)||WENH 11 (PBS)|
|WBZ 4 (CBS)||WUNI 66 (UNI)||WYCN-CD 15 (NBC)|
|WCVB 5 (ABC)||WPXG 21 (Court TV)|
|WHDH 7 (Ind)||WLEK-LD 22 (DrTV)|
|WBTS-LD 8 (NBC)||WWJE 50 (Justice)|
|WFXZ-CD 24 (Biz TV)||WEKW 52 (PBS)|
|WFXT 25 (Fox)||WNEU 60 (TLM)|
|WSBK 38 (MNTV)|
|WGBX 44 (PBS)|
|WWDP 46 (Evine Live)|
|WYDN 48 (Daystar)|
|WLVI 56 (CW)|
|WDPX 58 (Bounce TV)|
|WMFP 62 (SBN)|
|WBPX 68 (Ion)|
|WHDH 5 (ABC/CBS)|
|WNAC 7 (CBS/ABC)|
|WJZB 14 (Ind)|
|WNHT 21 (Ind/CBS)|
|WXPO 50 (Ind)|
|WTAO 56 (ABC/DuMont)|