WRNN-TV, virtual channel 48 (UHF digital channel 25), is an independent television station licensed to New Rochelle, New York, and serving the New York metropolitan area. The station is owned by WRNN-TV Associates. WRNN's studios are located in Rye Brook, New York, with transmitter facilities located at One World Trade Center. WRNN broadcasts a schedule of mainly infomercials, home shopping programming, regional and international news programs, and some syndicated programming.
Channel 62 was first used in the New York metropolitan area by W62AA, which was founded in 1970 by Screen Gems Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures as a translator for independent station WNJU-TV (channel 47). It was one of the many translator stations serving the entire New York City area. By 1975, WNJU-TV and most of the major stations in New York had moved their transmitters to the World Trade Center, but W62AA remained at the Empire State Building to expand its signal farther north of the city and the surrounding area. With the introduction of the cell phone developed by Bell Labs in 1982, all upper band channels were scheduled to be displaced for cell phone use. But before that happened, WNJU-TV expanded its signal farther north, making W62AA obsolete as a backup. W62AA was taken off the air in 1983; that year, a construction permit for a full-power television station in Kingston, New York was issued to a group led by Albany-area businessman Edward Swyer. It would be two years before the channel 62 allocation would be used again.
Channel 62 returned to the air from Kingston on December 15, 1985 as WTZA. It was formatted as an independent station serving the middle Hudson Valley region of New York State. However, by virtue of the outer range of its signal, WTZA also served the Capital District area and the northern suburbs of New York City. The call letters designated the coverage area, and also served as the station's slogan – "From the Tappan Zee to Albany". The upper Hudson Valley area was one of the largest in the country to lack its own television stations, this due to its proximity to both the New York and Albany–Schenectady–Troy television markets.
Owned by Swyer's group, which by then had changed its name to WTZA-TV Associates, WTZA was programmed as a traditional independent station, with movies, off-network reruns, children's shows, and public affairs programs filling its airtime. Sports programming was also included, mostly high school and college contests, and later Army football games. The station also ran a small news operation, led by former CNN executive producer Gerry Harrington, which was relatively successful given the underserved nature of its coverage area. The weather portion of the newscast gave full forecasts for both New York City and Albany, even though the station was not on the air in either city.
Though WTZA was still doing well in its market, the station had begun to struggle prior to the sale due to the station being shut out of obtaining rights to many syndicated programs by larger stations in New York City and Albany. Being licensed within the New York City market did not help the station's cause either, and in the early 1990s WTZA lost most of its higher-profile syndicated programs as the New York City outlets claimed territorial rights. In 1993, Swyer and his group sold the station to Harrison, New York businessman Richard French Jr. French soon made WTZA into a family-run operation, with his wife and three sons involved in various aspects of the station. His oldest son, Richard French III, was appointed as WTZA's general manager and would eventually become the face of the station.
Transition to WRNN and targeting New York City
In early 1995, most of WTZA's remaining general entertainment programs were replaced with infomercials. In October 1995, the call letters were changed to WRNN-TV, and the station shifted into a news-heavy operation. With the new call sign also doubling as the on-air slogan–Your Regional News Network, WRNN initially produced news programming seven days a week, and 24 hours a day on weekdays. Its coverage area now included the entire Hudson Valley region, and news bureaus were established in the Capital District and Long Island, within New York state, and in the neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut. The news product, however, was tilted with a lean towards the French family's home base of Westchester County, and a philosophical shift to the left. Richard French III, WRNN's general manager, news director, and host of a nightly call-in talk program, had been active in the New York state Democratic party prior to his father's purchase of WTZA. The station was an affiliate of All News Channel and used stories from that service to augment its national coverage.
Budgetary concerns led to a reduction of news programming in 1999, to weekday evenings only. But WRNN decided the time had come for the station to target New York City, the first time a station on channel 62 served the entire New York City area since W62AA left the air in 1983, albeit this time for cable subscribers. The bureaus in New Jersey and Connecticut were also closed down. Soon thereafter, the operation placed a greater emphasis on New York City news than there had been before, in spite of WRNN's invisible profile within the Five Boroughs. The over-the-air channel 62 signal barely reached the Bronx, the city's northernmost borough, and neither of the city's major cable systems (operated by the predecessors of today's Spectrum and Optimum TV) carried the station. WRNN opened a studio in Manhattan and was successful in getting its evening news shows simulcast on a low-power station there, though it was mostly an effort to gain must-carry coverage on local cable.
The shift towards New York City resulted in decreased coverage for its main signal area–for example, WRNN weather forecasts did not include areas north of Kingston, the station's city of license. Oddly enough, the station applied for must-carry in the entire Albany market several years after the station stopped covering the area outside politics. Within about two years, the simulcast in New York City was gone. It would take a few more years before WRNN would appear on New York City cable, and as part of satellite provider DirecTV's local station package. WRNN opened a new main studio facility in the village of Rye Brook in 2005, though it has retained its facilities in Kingston and Manhattan.
Over the years, WRNN's news offerings have fluctuated. Currently, the station airs a combination of regional and international news, including Richard French Live, and Newsline, the English-language newscast of Japanese public broadcaster NHK. The remainder of WRNN's airtime is mainly filled with paid programming. WRNN also produces news programming for FiOS1, a group of news channels carried by Verizon FiOS systems in the region.
Spectrum sale; channel sharing agreement
In the FCC's spectrum incentive auction, WRNN's broadcast spectrum was sold for $212 million—one of the highest, publicly-announced sale prices in the process. The station's owner claims that it will continue to "broadcast from someone else's tower location before the end of the auction transition period."
On February 16, 2018, in a FCC filing (Filing Number 0000042455), WRNN stated that it had entered into a channel sharing agreement with Fox Television Stations and their Secaucus, New Jersey-licensed MyNetworkTV flagship station, WWOR-TV (channel 9). As WWOR's signal does not sufficiently reach Kingston, WRNN has changed its city of license to New Rochelle, New York. WRNN began channel-sharing with WWOR on May 1, 2018.
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