WTAJ-TV is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Altoona, Pennsylvania, United States and serving West-Central Pennsylvania. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 32 (or virtual channel 10 via PSIP) from a transmitter in Logan Township. Owned by the Nexstar Media Group, the station maintains studios on 6th Avenue in Altoona.
History[edit | edit source]
The station signed on March 1, 1953 as WFBG-TV. The call letters came from the initials of the station's founder, William F. B. Gable, owner of Gable's Department Store in Altoona. Gable also owned WFBG radio (1290 AM and 98.1 FM, now WFGY). In the station's early days, all programs were produced and transmitted live from the studios on Wopsononock Mountain in Altoona; the WFBG stations moved in 1959 to a new studio facility on 6th Avenue, where channel 10 continues to operate from today. Channel 10 was one of the strongest stations in the entire country, utilizing over 300,000 watts to serve its coverage area (most of which is a very rugged dissected plateau). The station could be seen as far west as Pittsburgh and as far east as State College.
At its sign-on, WFBG-TV aired selected programming from all four television networks of the time: ABC, CBS, NBC and the long-defunct DuMont Television Network. In 1955, when DuMont ceased most network operations, WFBG became a primary CBS affiliate although it continued to carry a secondary affiliation with ABC until the early 1970s, usually carrying some of ABC's higher-rated shows. In 1956, WFBG-AM-FM-TV was sold to the Annenberg family's Triangle Publications.
In 1969, then-Governor of Pennsylvania Milton J. Shapp accused Triangle of using its three Pennsylvania television stations—WFBG-TV, WFIL-TV (now WPVI-TV) in Philadelphia and WLYH-TV (now WXBU) in Lebanon—to conduct a smear campaign against him. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found that the charges were true, and forced Triangle to unload all of its broadcasting properties. Following a large divestiture of stations to Capital Cities Communications in early 1971, Triangle sold its remaining outlets, including the WFBG stations, to Gateway Communications in December 1971. The sale was finalized in September 1972, with the radio stations spun off to its general manager in accordance with FCC's cross-ownership policy, and channel 10 being renamed as WTAJ-TV; the new call letters were chosen to acknowledge the station's large viewership in Johnstown. Until 1982, Johnstown and Altoona-State College were separate markets. Although Johnstown had a CBS affiliate of its own, WJNL-TV (channel 19), channel 10 had long claimed Johnstown as part of its primary coverage area; it provided a strong city-grade signal to almost the entire Johnstown market. Until the mid-1980s, it was also available on many cable systems in the Pittsburgh area because Pittsburgh's CBS affiliate, KDKA-TV, preempted a decent amount of CBS shows and most of the preempted shows aired on WTAJ.
When Altoona-State College and Johnstown were collapsed into a single market in 1982, WTAJ became the exclusive CBS affiliate for the newly enlarged market. The "battle" between channels 10 and 19 was not even close, as WJNL's signal had always been marginal at best even in Johnstown and could not be seen at all in most of the eastern portion of the market. Its over-the-air signal barely reached Altoona and just missed State College. WJNL changed its calls to WFAT, and struggled as a low-rated independent station for a decade before going dark in 1991; the frequency was eventually reallocated to the Pittsburgh area, and is now home to that market's CW outlet, WPCW.
Gateway Communications merged with SJL Broadcasting in December 2000. SJL changed its name to Montecito Broadcast Group in 2005. Montecito put WTAJ and two of its other stations in the Northeast—WLYH and Binghamton, New York's WBNG-TV—up for sale shortly after it purchased four television stations (KHON-TV in Honolulu, Hawaii; KOIN in Portland, Oregon; KSNT in Topeka, Kansas and KSNW in Wichita, Kansas) from Emmis Communications. Granite Broadcasting has since purchased WBNG, and on July 26, 2006, Nexstar Broadcasting Group purchased WTAJ and WLYH for $56 million. Nexstar's acquisition was completed on December 29, 2006.
Out-of-market coverage[edit | edit source]
WTAJ-TV is carried on various cable systems in several counties that are located outside of the Johnstown–Altoona market. These counties include Armstrong, Clarion and Indiana, all part of the Pittsburgh DMA. WTAJ is also carried in Mifflin (part of the Harrisburg DMA), Clinton (part of the Scranton-Wilkes Barre DMA), and in portions of McKean (Part of the Buffalo DMA). In Maryland, WTAJ-TV is carried in Cumberland and Hancock, which are both part of the Washington, DC market.
60th anniversary[edit | edit source]
On March 1, 2013, WTAJ kicked off its 60th anniversary with a celebration from the Altoona location of Wolf Furniture. The special included archival clips from WFBG/WTAJ and a look back at their first 60 years. Special segments continued throughout the year.
|TV stations in Pennsylvania|
|TV stations in Altoona|
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