WSAZ-TV is a television station licensed to Huntington, West Virginia, United States. It serves as the NBC affiliate for the Huntington–Charleston market, the second-largest television market (in terms of geographical area) east of the Mississippi River; its coverage area includes 61 counties in central West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southeastern Ohio. WSAZ broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 23 (or virtual channel 3 via PSIP) from a transmitter located near Milton, West Virginia. The station is owned by Gray Television as part of a duopoly with Portsmouth, Ohio-licensed CW affiliate WQCW (channel 30). The two stations share studios on 5th Avenue in Huntington; WSAZ maintains an additional studio and newsroom on Columbia Avenue in Charleston.

Until December 15, 2017, WSAZ-TV's programming was also seen in the Kanawha Valley on translator W16CE (channel 16) in Charleston. This station broadcast in analog only and is currently silent for technical reasons.


Early yearsEdit

The oldest television station in West Virginia, WSAZ-TV began regular broadcasting November 15, 1949, on VHF channel 5.[4] The station was originally owned by the Huntington Herald-Dispatch along with WSAZ radio (930 AM, now WRVC), and carried programming from all four networks at the time (NBC, CBS, ABC, and DuMont). However, it was a primary NBC affiliate due to WSAZ radio's long affiliation with NBC Radio. When WCHS-TV (channel 8) signed-on from Charleston in 1954, it took over the CBS affiliation and the two television stations shared ABC programming until WHTN-TV (channel 13, now WOWK-TV) signed-on from Huntington a year later. In 1955, WSAZ-TV dropped DuMont after the network shut down. It is the only commercial station in the market that has never changed its primary affiliation.

One story of how the station's call letters originated dates from WSAZ radio's origins in 1923. Radio engineer Glenn Chase applied to the Secretary of Commerce for a license to operate a small radio station in Pomeroy, Ohio (it moved down and across the Ohio River to Huntington in 1927). In the application, he reportedly claimed that since he was building most of the station's equipment himself, "it would probably be the worst station from A to Z." Chase asked that appropriate call letters be assigned. His request was promptly granted and the calls WSAZ were given to him meaning "Worst Station from A to Z." A more likely story was that the allocation of the call letters WSAZ were pure coincidence as they were assigned by the Department of Commerce in an alphabetical sequence just after WSAX in Chicago and WSAY in Port Chester, New York. However, the myth persists that the calls stand for "Worst Station from A to Z," which WSAZ radio itself helped spread by using it as a slogan for many years.

In 1950, WSAZ-TV received Federal Communications Commission (FCC) permission to build a private microwave link to Cincinnati allowing viewers to get NBC programming live. As the nation's first privately owned microwave system, it was a remarkable feat for one of the smallest cities in the country at the time to have a television station. The first live broadcast was scheduled for a Labor Day baseball game, but the system broke down for four hours and forced WSAZ to broadcast a fire at a nearby hotel. The Cincinnati link was replaced in favor of one from Columbus, Ohio in 1952.

Also in 1952, the FCC released its Sixth Report and Order, which ended the four-year-long freeze in awarding station licenses and included a realignment of VHF channel assignments. As a result, WSAZ-TV moved to channel 3 in order to alleviate interference with fellow NBC affiliate WLWT in Cincinnati. The channel move also created an opening for a new channel 5 station in Weston, which signed-on as WJPB-TV (now WDTV) in March 1954. As part of the frequency switch, the FCC granted WSAZ a boost in broadcast power, which at the time, was the highest ever authorized for a television station. This allowed the station to penetrate more of its huge viewing area, most of which is a very rugged dissected plateau. However, as the regulation of domestic television stations was normalized, WSAZ's signal strength was reduced to the same levels as others in 1956. The station's transmission tower was the tallest in North America until WIS-TV in Columbia, South Carolina activated a taller tower in 1959.

Later yearsEdit

The Herald-Dispatch sold WSAZ-AM-TV to Goodwill Stations, owner of WJR radio in Detroit and WJRT-TV in Flint, Michigan, in 1961. Goodwill was merged into Capital Cities Communications in 1964. Capital Cities spun off the WSAZ stations in 1971 as a result of its purchase of several stations from Triangle Publications, with WSAZ radio going to Stoner Broadcasting, and channel 3 being acquired by Lee Enterprises. Emmis Communications bought the station in 2000 after Lee decided to bow out of broadcasting. Emmis then sold WSAZ to Gray Television in 2005. The Gray purchase made WSAZ-TV a sister station to fellow NBC affiliate WTAP-TV (channel 15) in Parkersburg.

Being based in Huntington, WSAZ-TV is located 50 miles (80 km) away from West Virginia's state capital, Charleston. As such, the station opened a branch studio there in 1956. It also launched a low-powered repeater on UHF channel 23 to serve the Kanawha Valley in 1995. While Charleston and its close-in suburbs receive the main WSAZ signal very well, it was marginal at best in much of the Kanawha Valley due to the area's rugged terrain. The translator was moved to channel 16 in 2003.

On September 5, 2006, WSAZ launched a new second digital subchannel to be the area's MyNetworkTV affiliate, under the branding "MY Z". Although it is a digital subchannel, many local cable companies air WSAZ-DT2 as a separate channel on their systems. At first it carried infomercials other than during the primetime MNT programming, but on August 29, 2009, it began a secondary affiliation with This TV carrying programming from that network during the daytime, late nights and on weekends. MY Z also aired second showings of some of WSAZ's syndicated programs. MY Z also produced a 10 p.m. newscast, but this was moved to the full-power WQCW when WSAZ's owners acquired that station. On August 26, 2015, WSAZ announced it was dropping This TV and affiliating with the MeTV network. It now carries MeTV from 2:30 to 6 p.m., except for a one-hour repeat of the WSAZ morning news at 7 a.m.; syndicated programs from 6 to 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.; and MyNetworkTV programming from 8 to 10 p.m. It carries MeTV all day on weekends.

TV stations in West Virginia
WSAZ, Huntington

WBOY, Clarksburg
WTAP, Parkersburg
WVVA, Bluefield

TV stations in West Virginia
WSAZ-DT2, Huntington

WIYE-LD2, Parkersburg
WTRF-DT2, Wheeling
WVNS-DT2, Lewisburg

TV stations in Southeast Ohio, Western West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, including Huntington and Charleston
WVAH 11 (Fox)
WLPX 29 (Ion)
W30DG-D 30 (HSN)
WQCW 30 (CW)
WTSF 44 (Daystar)
WJOS-LD 45 (Walk)
WTZP-LP 50 (Cozi)
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