WTSP, virtual and VHF digital channel 10, is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to St. Petersburg, Florida, United States and also serving Tampa. The station is owned by Tegna Inc. WTSP's studios are located on Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg, and its transmitter is located in Riverview.

History[edit | edit source]

The station first signed on the air on July 18, 1965 as WLCY-TV; the station debuted after a lengthy court battle that lasted nearly ten years between five prospective owners seeking the channel 10 license, including the St. Petersburg Times. It was owned by Rahall Communications, along with WLCY radio (1380 AM, now WWMI; and 94.9 FM, now WWRM). The station was affiliated with ABC, but spent its first month-and-a-half of operation as an independent station, as previous ABC affiliate WSUN-TV (channel 38; frequency now occupied by WTTA) went to court to keep the affiliation. The city of St. Petersburg, owners of WSUN-TV, had been one of the applicants for the channel 10 license, having jumped in out of fear of losing its ABC affiliation. WLCY ultimately won and formally switched to ABC in a special ceremony on September 1, 1965. As a condition for being placed on VHF channel 10 instead of a UHF placement, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) required the station to produce 20 hours of public service programming each week.

Until 1981, the station was licensed to Largo, north of St. Petersburg, but its studios have always been based in St. Petersburg. The station's first studio facilities were located at 2426 Central Avenue. Its current studios on Gandy Boulevard, originally known as the "Rahall Color Communications Center" were dedicated on October 15, 1968. In-studio broadcasts were fully in color by 1966, but field reports during the station's newscasts remained in black and white until 1972.

The station aired several local children's programs as Submarine 10, Romper Room with June Hurley, 10 Ultimate and This Side Up, and local talk shows such as Russ Byrd's Morning Show, The John Eastman Show, The Liz Richards Show and Murphy in the Morning. From 1966 to 1967, the station produced 10 á Go Go, a teen dance show hosted by WLCY-AM disc jockey Roy Nilson. Another early local program was a morning exercise show, The Fran Carlton Show. The most popular program on channel 10 during that era was the syndicated The Lawrence Welk Show. In the mid-1970s, the station aired Bowling for Dollars with host Jim Bradley.

In October 1971, WXLT (now WWSB, channel 40) signed on to provide ABC network programming to the Sarasota area as WLCY's signal was mediocre to poor in most of Sarasota County. WLCY's transmitter was located at 1754 Solar Drive in Holiday, an unincorporated community in the southwestern corner of Pasco County (where it would remain until 2011). Tampa Bay residents had to use a special VHF antenna that faced away from Riverview in order to view WLCY (this setup was called the "Tampa Bay Special"). Ratings for the station during the early to mid-1970s were dismal, however, compared to WTVT (channel 13) and WFLA-TV (channel 8) and, as a result, channel 10 nearly lost its ABC affiliation. Its transmitter location in Pasco County was the primary contributor to WLCY's low viewership (all of other stations serving the Tampa area operated their transmitters in Riverview, in Hillsborough County). It also operated at a lower power than the other Tampa stations.

In 1977, WLCY-TV was purchased by Dallas, Texas-based Gulf United Broadcasting. New owner Alan Henry (of WINS New York fame), general manager Larry Clamage, and news director George "Bud" Faulder began to turn the station around, changing the call letters to WTSP-TV on September 12, 1978, and hiring several new on-air staff members who changed the face of the station. In June 1979, WTSP began using a logo known as the "sunset 10" (which was later duplicated by its sister station KTSP in Phoenix, Arizona) along with the "Action News" format.

WTSP is also a station of firsts: in October 1979, the station acquired "Sky 10", Tampa Bay's first television news helicopter which was the only one to broadcast live aerial coverage of the aftermath of the infamous Skyway Bridge disaster in May 1980. Another technological advance was Tampa Bay's first satellite news truck called "Star 10" which was introduced in 1984, that beamed signals from distant locations to WTSP's Gandy Boulevard studios. WTSP also acquired Tampa Bay's first Doppler weather radar called "StormSeeker" in 1980, was one of the first television stations in the country to use a computer in weather forecasting called "WeatherEye" in 1979 and was the first station in the market to provide a seven-day forecast in 1992. The station pioneered the use of satellite technology among local television stations in the United States, deploying its own satellite dish in 1979.

In 1979, the station launched an aggressive marketing campaign, and in April of that year, the station built a taller transmission tower, improving the station's broadcast signal. By 1982, WTSP had passed WFLA in the evening news ratings where it remained until the latter part of the decade. WTSP has won many prestigious awards, including the George Foster Peabody award in 1983. Taft Broadcasting purchased the station along with four other Gulf properties in 1985. Then, in 1988, Taft sold its independent stations and Fox affiliates to TVX Broadcast Group, while Taft's remaining network affiliate properties, including WTSP, became part of the restructured Great American Broadcasting (which became known as Citicasters by 1995).

In 1994, Scripps Howard Broadcasting arranged for several of its stations (including WFTS-TV, channel 28, which was about to lose its Fox affiliation to then-CBS affiliate WTVT (channel 13) due to a corporate deal between Fox and WTVT's then-owner New World Communications) to affiliate with ABC. WTSP later signed a deal to become the market's new CBS affiliate, resulting in a three-way affiliation swap that occurred on December 12, 1994; upon switching to CBS, WTSP went from third to second place in the local news ratings, although a later resurgent WTVT and competition from WFTS' upstart news department would result in the station battling for second with those stations for the remainder of the 1990s. WFLA was the market leader, until dipping to second after the 2009 premiere of the 10 p.m. The Jay Leno Show.

Citicasters (which held on to WTSP and WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio after it sold its other television stations to New World, whose station properties were later acquired by Fox Television Stations in 1997) merged with Jacor in September 1996. Three months later, in December 1996, the Gannett Company acquired WTSP in a swap deal, selling six of its radio stations to Jacor in return. In the spring of 1999, WTSP debuted a new Doppler weather radar system branded as "Double Doppler". The station ceased using the radar located in northern Pinellas County in 2013; the remaining radar is located at the station's transmitter site in Riverview.

On October 9, 2008, WTSP rebranded from "Tampa Bay's 10" to "10 Connects" (with the "10 Connects Network" being used alternatively). The station's "10 Connects" logo was similar to the one in use since 2002 though without the wave design, along with a small notch in the oval portion of the logo for the "Connects" text (this logo was nicknamed "Pacman" for its resemblance to the video game character.). The station re-branded itself as 10News in July 2010.

The station re-launched its investigative unit, "10Investigates", in 2011 with the nucleus of investigative reporters Mike Deeson and Noah Pransky. The unit has won several national awards since then, including a national Edward R. Murrow Award for a story on soccer goal safety and national Columbia-duPont and George Polk awards for exposing red light camera injustices.

Around the first week of October 2012, Gannett entered a dispute against Dish Network regarding compensation fees and Dish's AutoHop commercial-skip feature on its Hopper digital video recorders. Gannett ordered that Dish discontinue AutoHop on the account that it is affecting advertising revenues for WTSP. Gannett threatened to pull it from the satellite provider should the skirmish continue beyond October 7 and Dish and Gannett fail to reach an agreement. The two parties eventually reached an agreement after extending the deadline for a few hours.

On June 29, 2015, the Gannett Company split in two, with one side specializing in print media and the other side specializing in broadcast and digital media. WTSP was retained by the latter company, named Tegna.[8] Its branding evolved to what it is now known, 10News WTSP.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

TV stations in Florida
WFOR, Miami

WTSP, Tampa
WGFL, Gainesville
WJAX, Jacksonville
WECP-LD 18/WJHG-DT3, Panama City
WKMG, Orlando
WINK, Fort Myers
WPEC, West Palm Beach

TV stations in the Tampa Bay Area
WTVT 13 (Fox)
W15CM-D 15 (HSN)
WSVT-LD 18 (Daystar)
WARP-CD 20 (Info)
WMOR 32 (Ind)
W40CU-D 33 (HSN)
WSPF-CD 35 (ATeVe)
WSNN-LD 39 (Ind)
W16DQ-D 43 (SBN)
WTOG 44 (CW)
WFTT 62 (UMas)
WXPX 66 (Ion)
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