WPDE-TV is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Florence, South Carolina, United States, serving the Pee Dee and Grand Strand regions of South Carolina. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 16 (or virtual channel 15 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Pee Dee Church Road in Floydale (across from CBS affiliate WBTW's tower).
The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which also operates CW/CW Plus affiliate WWMB, channel 21 (owned by Howard Stirk Holdings, a partner company of Sinclair, and also licensed to Florence) through a shared services agreement (SSA). The two outlets share studios on University Boulevard (SC 544) in Conway.
On cable, WPDE is available on channel 9 in most parts of the market.
The station signed-on November 22, 1980 with an analog signal on UHF channel 15. Originally owned by Eastern Carolinas Broadcasting Company, Inc., a group of local investors, it was the area's second commercial outlet after CBS affiliate WBTW (channel 13). The call letters stand for the Big and Little Pee DEe Rivers. Unofficially, the calls also represent the station's commitment to viewers: "We're People Dedicated to Excellence."
It has always been an ABC affiliate. The station signed on just two years after ABC, which had long been the smallest and weakest of the three major networks, surged to #1 in the ratings for the first time ever. Before WPDE's arrival, ABC was relegated to secondary status on WBTW. Viewers in the Grand Strand could get the full ABC schedule via WWAY in Wilmington. However, it is likely that WPDE would have aligned with ABC in any event. The market was already very well served by NBC, with Florence and the Pee Dee covered by WIS-TV in Columbia and the Grand Strand by WECT in Wilmington. In contrast, at the time WPDE signed on, no ABC affiliate put even a grade B signal into the western portion of the market.
The former Florence Civic Auditorium building on South Cashua Drive was transformed into the station's first facilities. This location would serve WPDE for twenty-two years. Dedication of WPDE's first studio in Florence was conducted in early 1981 with remarks by then-Governor Richard Riley. Diversified Communications of Portland, Maine acquired the station in 1985. WPDE would eventually be purchased by Barrington Broadcasting in 2006. WPDE's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009.
During the analog era, WPDE's over-the-air signal was spotty at best in much of the market, as was typical with most UHF stations at the time. At one point, the North Carolina side of the market obtained a weaker signal from WPDE compared with WWAY and/or WTVD from Durham. It survived mainly due to the very high penetration of cable in the region. As of the digital transition, this station can now be regularly picked up in North Carolina because its digital signal is much stronger. In addition, the southern areas of Greensboro got a better signal from WPDE than from their home affiliate WXLV-TV in Winston-Salem until the latter station moved their tower in 2009. WTVD has good reception in that area as well due to its powerful digital signal on VHF channel 11. This station's reception area includes eastern areas of the Charlotte and Columbia markets.
On February 28, 2013, Barrington Broadcasting announced the sale of its entire group, including WPDE-TV, to Sinclair Broadcast Group. The sale was completed on November 25.
|TV stations in South Carolina|
| WOLO, Columbia|