WTEN, virtual channel 10 (UHF digital channel 26), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Albany, New York, United States and serving New York's Capital District (Albany–Schenectady–Troy) as well as Berkshire County, Massachusetts. The station is owned by the Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group, which also operates Fox affiliate WXXA-TV (channel 23) through joint sales and shared services agreements with owner Shield Media, LLC. The two stations share studios on Northern Boulevard in Albany's Bishop's Gate section and transmitter facilities on the Helderberg Escarpment west of New Salem, a hamlet of New Scotland.
WTEN formerly operated a full-time satellite in Adams, Massachusetts: WCDC-TV, virtual channel 19 (UHF digital channel 36). This station broadcast from a transmitter on Mount Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts. WCDC was a straight simulcast of WTEN; the only on-air references to the station were during required hourly legal identifications. WCDC's signal covered western Massachusetts and southern Vermont. Nexstar scheduled a shutdown date of December 1, 2017 for WCDC-TV, through the FCC's frequency Spectrum Incentive Auction, but damage to the station's transmission line forced it to end operations two weeks early on November 19.
History[edit | edit source]
WTEN began broadcasting on October 14, 1953 as WROW-TV on UHF channel 41. It was owned by Hudson Valley Broadcasting Company, operating alongside WROW radio (590 AM). The two stations shared space inside a former retirement home for nuns on a farm dirt road in the town of North Greenbush, near Troy. It broadcast from a temporary transmitter in Herkimer, limiting the signal to the immediate area. The station went to full power and installed a permanent tower next to the studio a few months later. It was originally the Capital District's ABC affiliate.
Within their first year, the station was losing money, and on the verge of bankruptcy. By November 1954, Hudson Valley's shareholders sold controlling interest to a New York City-based syndicate group led by legendary radio broadcaster/author Lowell Thomas and his manager/business partner Frank Smith, who also became president of the company upon completion of the sale. After the sale, the station switched its affiliation to CBS on February 1, 1955. In the spring of 1956, the station's call letters were changed to WCDA (for Capital District-Albany) and a satellite station, WCDB (channel 29) in nearby Hagaman, New York was launched to reach areas in the northern portion of the market where the main signal didn't penetrate. In December 1957, Hudson Valley merged with Durham Broadcasting Enterprises, the owners of WTVD in Durham, North Carolina to form Capital Cities Television Corporation (predecessor of Capital Cities Communications) with WTEN as its flagship station.
That same year, the call letters were changed again to the current WTEN when the station moved to VHF channel 10. By this time, the market had expanded to cover not only east-central New York, but also large swaths of southwestern Vermont and western Massachusetts. Not only is this market one of the largest east of the Mississippi River, but much of it is very mountainous. UHF stations have never covered large areas or rugged terrain very well. When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocated two additional VHF channels to Albany, Hudson Valley sought and received permission to move to channel 10.
Upon moving to the VHF band, the station's transmitter was moved to Vail Mills, approximately 35 miles (56 km) west of Albany. This was necessary to protect both WHEC-TV/WVET-TV in Rochester and WJAR-TV in Providence, Rhode Island. But the new transmitter proved inadequate for serving the Capital District proper. The FCC eventually allowed a waiver in 1963 which let WTEN move its transmitter to Voorheesville, closer to Albany. The new transmitter, located on the Helderberg Escarpment, was on some of the highest ground in the region, giving WTEN a coverage area comparable to that of long-dominant WRGB (channel 6).
In 1966, WTEN and WROW-AM-FM moved to new facilities to Albany's northside on Northern Boulevard, where WTEN remains to this day (the WROW radio stations moved out in 1993, ten years after they were sold by Capital Cities). In 1967, the old studio in North Greenbush was burned down by a fire caused by arson, but the station's owner donated its old transmitter to WRPI radio.
On February 24, 1971, Capital Cities sold WTEN to Poole Broadcasting. Following its purchase of several broadcast properties from Triangle Publications, Capital Cities had to sell off two VHF stations to stay within the FCC's limit of five stations per owner at the time. In 1978, Poole sold WTEN and sister stations WJRT-TV in Flint, Michigan, and WPRI-TV in Providence to Knight-Ridder. The new owner signed an affiliation deal with ABC which resulted in WTEN swapping affiliations with WAST (channel 13, now NBC-affiliated WNYT) on October 23, 1977, thus returning ABC back to channel 10 (incidentally, WTEN's former owners, Capital Cities would eventually purchase ABC in 1985). Upon Knight-Ridder's exit from broadcasting in 1989, WTEN and sister station WKRN-TV in Nashville were sold to Young Broadcasting. Since the Young purchases of the two stations plus WTEN satellite WCDC were made through two separate deals, they were consummated more than three months apart.
WTEN signed-on its digital signal on UHF channel 26 in 2004 and began offering high definition service right from the start. This can also be seen on Spectrum basic channel 10 and digital channel 1200. On October 1, 2007, Young Broadcasting launched the Retro Television Network on a new third digital subchannel of WTEN. This was part of a test of the network with sister stations WBAY-TV in Green Bay and KRON-TV in San Francisco.
In an effort to cut costs, the company eliminated ten positions from WTEN on January 31, 2008 fueling speculations that the company might sell the station in order to pay down its financial debt. In January 2009, after failing to meet the minimum standards for being listed on NASDAQ, Young Broadcasting was dropped from the exchange. One month later, on February 13, they declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company planned to auction off its stations in a New York City bankruptcy court on July 14, 2009 but canceled the auction at the last minute. After multiple issues with RTV's operations and programming, Young switched their main subchannel affiliations to ABC's Live Well Network as part of a group deal with Young's other stations in 2012.
On July 27, 2012, it was announced that the Capital District's Fox affiliate, WXXA-TV, owned by Newport Television, would be sold to Shield Media, LLC (owned by White Knight Broadcasting Vice president Sheldon Galloway) for $19.2 million. That company then entered into joint sales and shared services agreements with Young Broadcasting resulting in WTEN operating WXXA. On October 23, the FCC granted the transaction. The move was completed on March 23, 2013. Soon afterward, WXXA closed its studios on Corporate Circle in Albany and moved its operations to WTEN.
On June 6, 2013, Young Broadcasting announced that it would merge with Media General. The merger was approved by the FCC on November 8, after Media General shareholders approved the merger a day earlier; it was completed on November 12. More than two years later, on January 27, 2016, it was announced that the Nexstar Broadcasting Group would buy Media General for $4.6 billion. WTEN and the operations of WXXA became part of "Nexstar Media Group." The acquisition resulted in Nexstar owning stations in every television market in Upstate New York; the sale was completed on January 17, 2017.
WCDB[edit | edit source]
In the spring of 1956, satellite station WCDB on UHF channel 29 in Hagaman was launched to reach areas in the northern portion of the market where the main WCDA signal couldn't reach. This signed-off in 1957 after WCDA moved its transmitter closer to Albany, making WCDB redundant even though it did provide some primary CBS coverage to Utica. The WCDB call sign would return to the air in 1978 for the student-run radio station at University at Albany.
WCDC-TV[edit | edit source]
WCDC began broadcasting on February 5, 1954 as WMGT (Mount Greylock Television) on UHF channel 74, the highest channel to ever be used by a full-power television station in U.S. history. WMGT began as a separate station affiliated with the DuMont network. The tower location on Mount Greylock (part of a state reserve) helped WMGT serve first as the market's secondary affiliate of DuMont and later as a major boost to WCDA. In December 1954, WMGT moved to channel 19 extending the station's range to the Capital District of New York State. In February 1956, it was forced off the air when a storm damaged its transmitter tower. Capital Cities bought the license and returned it to the air in 1957 under its final calls, WCDC. (The WMGT callsign now resides at an NBC-affiliated station in Macon, Georgia.) After Capital Cities returned WCDC to the air and until it shut down, it served as a straight simulcast of WCDA/WTEN; the only on-air references to the station were during WTEN's hourly legal IDs. Due to substantial snow and ice build-up, a tower collapse forced WCDC off the air again in March 1983. Most cable systems on the Vermont and Massachusetts sides of the market picked up WCDC's signal. WTEN's various owners also leased tower space to other entities, including the Massachusetts State Police and competitor WNYT for their area translator station.
WCDC's digital signal on UHF channel 36 signed on nearly eighteen months before WTEN's did in 2002. However, it did not upgrade to high definition until WTEN-DT signed-on.
Citing declining viewership, Nexstar Broadcasting, through the FCC's Spectrum Incentive Auction in April 2017, was awarded $34,558,086 to agree to take WCDC-TV off the air; at the time, it indicated that WCDC would enter a Channel Sharing Agreement (CSA) to continue providing service to viewers. Nexstar subsequently announced that WCDC would instead go dark December 1, 2017; however, damage to the station's transmission line in a storm would take WCDC off the air on November 19, almost two weeks earlier than scheduled. Nexstar informed the FCC that, due to insufficient time and a lack of available tower crews, the line would not be repaired before the planned shutdown date. Nexstar surrendered the WCDC-TV license for cancellation on February 12, 2018.
On December 22, 2017, Albany public radio station WAMC (which broadcasts WAMC-FM on 90.3 from the tower as their main signal across the market) entered into an agreement to purchase the Mount Greylock transmitter and tower from Nexstar for just above $1 million. Due to it sitting on Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation land and WTEN's lease having expired two years prior, WAMC could have been taken off the air without their purchasing of the facility. WAMC now owns the facility itself, but not the land beneath, which is under lease with the MDCR until 2025, and will fundraise in order to rebuild their financial reserves.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
|TV stations in New York|
|WABC, New York City|
|TV stations in the Capital District of New York and Berkshire County, Massachusetts, including Albany and Pittsfield|
|WYCX-CD 2 (H&I/MNTV) |
WRGB 6 (CBS)
WNCE-CD 8 (Youtoo)
WTEN 10 (ABC)
WNYT 13 (NBC)
WMHT 17 (PBS)
WXXA 23 (Fox)
WVER 28 (PBS)
WCWN 45 (CW)
WNYA 51 (MNTV)
WYPX 55 (Ion)