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WNPT, virtual and VHF digital channel 8, is a PBS member television station licensed to Nashville, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by Nashville Public Television, Inc., a community-funded, non-profit organization. WNPT's studios are located on Rains Avenue in southeast Nashville, and its transmitter is located in the southern suburb of Forest Hills.

HistoryEdit

The station signed on the air on September 10, 1962, as WDCN-TV (for Davidson County Nashville), on VHF channel 2. It is Tennessee's second-oldest educational television station, behind WKNO-TV in Memphis, established four years earlier in 1956. It was originally licensed to the board of Nashville Public Schools, which became an arm of the metropolitan government when Nashville and Davidson County merged in 1963. Like most eventual PBS member stations, WDCN was mainly established to serve area schoolchildren with educational programming.

In the early 1970s, WDCN agreed to swap channel frequencies with ABC affiliate WSIX-TV, which was seeking a stronger signal. Metro agreed to trade frequencies upon realizing that WDCN's core audience would be better served on channel 8, despite its limited reach (the channel 8 transmitter facility in Nashville was short-spaced to fellow PBS station WGTV in Atlanta). Although the channel 2 signal traveled a very long distance under normal conditions, several Middle Tennessee viewers did not get a good signal from WDCN because the original frequency was short-spaced to another Atlanta station, WSB-TV.

On December 11, 1973, WSIX-TV changed its call letters to WNGE-TV (now WKRN-TV) and moved to channel 2, while WDCN moved to channel 8. It was only the third time in U.S. television history that the FCC allowed two established stations to exchange frequencies; an almost identical trade occurred in New Orleans three years earlier in 1970, also involving the ABC and PBS stations.

The channel 8 signal was more or less unviewable in several areas of the market's eastern fringe, such as Cookeville. This area is slightly more rugged than the rest of Middle Tennessee, and the channel 8 signal was not able to penetrate it as well as the channel 2 signal could. Much of this area was left without PBS programming until WCTE signed on in 1978.

Originally, the station broadcast from a building located near Belmont College (now Belmont University) on 15th and Compton Avenues, a facility shared with WSM-TV (channel 4, now WSMV) until 1963. The proceeds from the exchange of channel positions with then-WSIX/WNGE owners General Electric enabled WDCN-TV to build studios in 1976 near the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in south Nashville, on the former site of Nashville Central High School. According to station officials, WKRN also maintains the original WDCN transmitter and antenna as part of the 1973 arrangement. The original site is now used as Metro's communications center.

Political and funding issues prompted the Metro Nashville government to begin proceedings in the late 1990s to relinquish WDCN's license to a community board. Some local residents welcomed the change, since they believed that the school board's operation of the station kept WDCN from broadcasting PBS programs reputed to be even mildly controversial (even though Nashville itself is very liberal by Southern standards, the suburbs and adjacent rural areas are quite conservative, especially on social issues), including some programs that were broadcast on practically all PBS stations in markets as big or smaller than Nashville.

Whatever the motivation, WDCN would become the last public television station in the state to be emancipated from a governmental body. WKNO had never been publicly operated, and the state board of education released the remaining stations in the state to community groups back in 1984. Metro formally released WDCN in 2000 to a new board known as "Nashville Public Television". The new board changed the station's calls to WNPT on February 22. Since then, the station has almost never referred to its call letters or channel number on the air (except during legal IDs), usually calling itself "Nashville Public Television".


TV stations in Tennessee
WNPT, Nashville

WCTE, Cookeville
WKNO, Memphis
WTCI, Chattanooga
WETP, Johnson City/Kingsport/Bristol
WKOP, Knoxville
WLJT, Lexington

TV stations in Middle Tennessee, including Nashville, Murfreesboro and Clarksville
WKRN 2 (ABC)
WSMV 4 (NBC)
WTVF 5 (CBS)
WRTN-LP 6 (Daystar)
WNPT 8 (PBS)
WETV-LP 11 (Ind)
WIIW-LP 14 (Silent → Ind)
WZTV 17 (Fox)
WCKV-LD 21 (The Walk TV)
WCTE 22 (PBS)
WNPX-LP 24 (Silent → Daystar)
WNTU-LP 26 (Daystar)
WNPX 28 (Ion)
WUXP 30 (MNTV)
WJDE-LD 31 (H&I)
WJNK-LD 34 (3ABN)
WHTN 39 (CTN)
WKUW-LD 40 (Buzzr)
WLLC-LP 42 (UNI)
WJFB 44 (TCT)
WPGD 50 (TBN)
WNAB 58 (CW)
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