WUAB, virtual channel 43 (VHF digital channel 10), is a CW-affiliated television station serving Cleveland, Ohio, United States that is licensed to Lorain. The station is owned by Gray Television, as part of a duopoly with Shaker Heights-licensed CBS affiliate WOIO (channel 19). The two stations share studios on the ground floor of the Reserve Square building (on East 13th Street and Chester Avenue) in Downtown Cleveland, and transmitter facilities in the West Creek Reservation (between West Ridgewood Drive and the Rustic Trail) in Parma.
The station first signed on the air on September 15, 1968; WUAB was originally owned by United Artists Broadcasting (owned by the film studio of the same name, then a Transamerica subsidiary). Eddie Manheim of Marcus Advertising handled the first promotions for the station; billboard advertisements placed across Cleveland promoting channel 43's pending debut read "September 15th. Our First Date". WUAB was the second commercial UHF station in the area; WKBF-TV (channel 61) had beaten it to the air by eight months. Its main studio was in a combination bowling alley kiddie's room and a trailer at the Parmatown shopping center in suburban Parma, with sales offices in downtown Cleveland. WUAB personalities in its early years included professional wrestling host/staff announcer Jack Reynolds, Linn Sheldon (host of the children's show "Barnaby"), Marty Sullivan (also known as Saturday afternoon movie host "Superhost"), and John Lanigan, who hosted the daily Prize Movie.
Originally, WUAB's schedule consisted of cartoons, syndicated off-network sitcoms, movies (most notably the long-running afternoon Prize Movie and primetime Star Movie presentations), and religious programs. On September 7, 1970, WUAB opened a new studio facility on Day Drive in Parma. WUAB drew a lot of its early programming from its parent company, including pre-1950 Warner Bros. films and cartoons which UA acquired in 1958 after its merger with Associated Artists Productions (a.a.p.), which also brought the theatrical Popeye cartoons (originally released by Paramount Pictures, a company which would factor somewhat in WUAB's later history) into the company fold. WUAB and WKBF struggled to be profitable, despite the deep pockets of the stations' owners (WKBF was owned by Kaiser Broadcasting). Both stations signed on every day at around 10:00 a.m. and went off the air by 1:00 a.m.
By September 2, 1974, WUAB had clearly established itself as the leading independent in Cleveland. Kaiser opted to shut down WKBF and purchase a percentage of WUAB on March 28, 1975, but United Artists kept majority control of the station. WUAB therefore acquired the programming rights to most of WKBF's stronger shows. WUAB expanded its broadcast hours around this time, signing on at 6:00 a.m. and signing off long after midnight.
On September 6, 1977, Field Communications bought the rest of Kaiser's share in its television outlets. On that date, United Artists/Transamerica and Kaiser announced it would instead sell WUAB to the Gaylord Broadcasting Company for $12.5 million. (Then-sister station KBSC in Los Angeles, which was also divested by Field in its takeover of Kaiser, was sold to National Subscription TV for $1.2 million.) Under Gaylord, WUAB continued as a broadcasting powerhouse, and cemented its status as one of the leading independent stations in the country. The station pulled off a major coup on September 2, 1979 by winning the broadcast rights to the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball's American League. The station broadcast Indians' games from the 1980 season through the 2001 season.
During this time as part of Gaylord's strategy of establishing regional superstations, it appeared on several cable systems in Ohio, as well as West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and the western part of the Canadian province of Ontario. The station was dropped from most cable providers outside Cleveland in the 1990s as those communities established UPN affiliates with market exclusivity, and is now no longer seen outside of the Cleveland market.
WUAB remained the Cleveland market's leading independent station into the 1980s. Cleveland Associates Co. returned channel 61 to the air as WCLQ (now Univision owned-and-operated station WQHS-DT) on March 3, 1981; however, that station made no real headway against WUAB in the ratings. WUAB gained a third independent competitor on May 19, 1985, when Channel 19 Inc. (a joint venture between Malrite Communications and locally based Cleveland Television Corp.) signed on WOIO (channel 19). WOIO and WUAB went head to head to achieve status as the strongest independent in Northeast Ohio, with WCLQ lagging behind; all three gained a competitor when the Winston Broadcasting Network (a for-profit group owned by Cuyahoga Falls-based evangelist Ernest Angley) signed on WBNX-TV (channel 55) as Cleveland's fourth independent station on December 1, 1985. WCLQ bowed out of the competition in 1986, after Channel Communications Inc. sold the station to the Home Shopping Network, which turned it into a full-time affiliate of that network as WQHS.
Because of its status as the strongest of Cleveland's three commercial independents, in the spring of 1986, WUAB was approached by News Corporation to become a charter affiliate of the fledgling Fox Broadcasting Company. Station management turned the offer down, one of the few long-established major-market independents to do so, mainly because most of the markets located within WUAB's large cable footprint had enough commercial television stations for Fox to maintain a local affiliate, making the prospect of using WUAB to serve as a sub-regional Fox affiliate unattractive to Gaylord. Fox eventually signed an agreement with WOIO, which became the network's Cleveland charter affiliate when the network launched on October 9, 1986; as a Fox affiliate, WOIO eventually overtook WUAB in the ratings.
On August 14, 1990, Gaylord sold WUAB to Cannell Broadcasting (headed by actor/writer/director Stephen J. Cannell) for $60 million. Though the station performed adequately in the ratings under Cannell ownership, the company was unable to overtake WOIO. On September 5, 1994, WOIO's owner Malrite Communications entered into a local marketing agreement with Cannell, which retained ownership of WUAB, though the station was now managed in tandem with WOIO. Both stations moved to a facility at downtown Cleveland's Reserve Square. During its waning years as an independent station, WUAB was the Cleveland home of the various Star Trek series (the syndicated Deep Space Nine was in production at the time) from Paramount Television, and also carried the Action Pack syndication block (which aired on WUAB from its syndication launch in 1994 until 1997) and the Prime Time Entertainment Network syndication service (which launched in September 1993).
Through a long-term affiliation agreement announced on May 23 of that year between News Corporation and New World Communications, in which thirteen television stations (five that New World had already owned and eight that the company was in the process of acquiring through separate deals with Great American Communications and Argyle Television Holdings) switched to the Fox network, on September 3, 1994, WOIO took over the Cleveland market's CBS affiliation in a swap with WJW-TV (channel 8), which had been with CBS since March 1955 and assumed the Fox affiliation under the New World deal. As a consequence of the switch, on September 5, Channel 19 moved most of its sitcoms and syndicated cartoons to WUAB along with its Cleveland Cavaliers NBA telecasts; Channel 19 had originally acquired the local television rights to the Cavaliers from WUAB in 1988; however, because of its assumption of the CBS affiliation rights and its network-dominated program schedule, WOIO did not have enough room on its schedule to continue airing the broadcasts. (The Fox Kids block moved instead to WBNX-TV as WJW, like most of the New World stations affected by the Fox affiliation agreement, declined carriage of the block to focus on its news-intensive program schedule.)
Affiliations with UPN and The WB
Upon that network's launch, on January 11, 1995, WUAB became a charter affiliate of The WB (a venture between Time Warner and Tribune Broadcasting); subsequently, when that network debuted six days later on January 16, it also became a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN) (a venture between Paramount Television/Viacom and Chris-Craft/United Television). This made Cleveland the largest market where UPN and The WB maintained a dual affiliation on a single station. During this period, WUAB's schedule also included some first-run syndicated shows and recent off-network sitcoms and drama series, movies in prime time and on weekends, and a blend of syndicated animated and live-action children's shows (which included The Disney Afternoon block on weekdays).
As the two networks offered prime time programs for only a few nights per week (UPN on Monday and Tuesdays, and The WB on Wednesdays) at launch, WUAB relegated its 8 p.m. feature film showcases to Thursday through Sunday evenings. After UPN Kids and Kids' WB were launched in September 1995, channel 43 only carried select programs from both network children's blocks (such as Kids' WB's Animaniacs and That's Warner Bros.!) because of its existing syndication-dominant lineup of kid-oriented series. As both networks' prime time lineups started directly competing against each other in September 1996 with their respective expansions to additional nights, WUAB began to air The WB's Monday and Tuesday and UPN's Wednesday lineups on tape delay on nights when neither network offered programming.
On September 1, 1997, WBNX-TV took over as the Cleveland-area affiliate of The WB, leaving WUAB exclusively affiliated with UPN. On April 6, 1998, Montgomery, Alabama-based Raycom Media announced that it would acquire Malrite Communications for an undisclosed price; the LMA with WUAB was included in the deal. The sale was finalized six months later on September 17. WUAB changed its branding to "Hometeam 43" in September 1999, as part of a unified rebranding with WOIO (which concurrently began identifying as "Hometeam 19") to promote their local news and sports coverage.
On March 2, 2000, six months after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) relaxed its local ownership rules to allow common ownership of two commercially licensed television stations in the same media market, Raycom exercised an option to acquire the station outright from Cannell Communications; the sale was finalized two months later on May 10. With the loss of the Cleveland Indians broadcast contract for the 2002 season, that May, WUAB ditched its "Hometeam 43" branding, in favor of identifying as "43 The Block" (WOIO underwent a similar brand makeover under the general "CBS 19" brand and the renaming of WOIO and WUAB's newscasts under the 19 Action News moniker). "The Block" identity was phased out in September 2005, when the station began identifying on-air as "UPN 43".
On January 24, 2006, UPN parent company CBS Corporation and WB network parent Time Warner announced that they would dissolve the two networks to create The CW, a joint network venture that initially featured a mix of original first-run series and programs that originated on The WB and UPN. Nearly one month after the CW launch announcement, on February 22, 2006, News Corporation subsidiaries Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television announced the launch of MyNetworkTV, a network created primarily to serve as a network programming option for UPN and WB stations that were left out of The CW's affiliation deals.
On March 1, in a joint announcement by CBS and the Winston Broadcast Network, WBNX-TV was confirmed as The CW's Cleveland affiliate. Since the network chose its charter stations based on which of them among The WB and UPN's respective affiliate bodies was the highest-rated in each market, WBNX was chosen to join The CW over WUAB as it had been the higher-rated of the two stations at the time of the agreement's signing. Six days later on March 7, as part of an affiliation agreement that included its Raycom-owned sister stations in Honolulu and Baton Rouge, WUAB was confirmed to be the market's MyNetworkTV affiliate. On July 14, 2006, WUAB began branding as "My 43, WUAB" in station promotions and legal identifications, and introduced a new on-air logo (which was based on MyNetworkTV's logo scheme) in anticipation of the launch of MyNetworkTV. Channel 43 officially joined MyNetworkTV when that network launched on September 5.
On August 24, 2015, as part of a universal rebranding of WOIO (which concurrently rebranded under the "Cleveland 19" brand) and WUAB to abandon Raycom's "tabloid" reputation in the Cleveland market, channel 43 changed its branding to "CLE 43" (with "C-L-E" spelled out audibly). The station also replaced its logo made up of the MyNetworkTV default imaging and "The Block"-era script-texted "43", with a wordmark combined with an abstract "play button" design and basic 43 numeral taking its place.
Sale to Gray Television and CW affiliation
On June 25, 2018, Atlanta-based Gray Television announced it had reached an agreement with Raycom to merge their respective broadcasting assets (consisting of Raycom's 63 existing owned-and/or-operated television stations, and Gray's 93 television stations) under Gray's corporate umbrella, in a cash-and-stock merger transaction valued at $3.6 billion. Following completion of the deal, WOIO/WUAB would become Gray's largest television stations by market size, a title currently held by the company's Knoxville, Tennessee duopoly of CBS affiliate WVLT-TV and CW affiliate WBXX-TV. The sale was approved on December 20, and was completed on January 2, 2019.
On July 11, 2018, Raycom and CBS Corporation announced that they had signed a long-term deal to affiliate WUAB with The CW, replacing WBNX as that network's Cleveland affiliate after 12 years. On July 13, WUAB changed its on-air branding to "CW 43" and unveiled a CW-standardized station logo in preparation for the pending switch. Channel 43 formally became a CW affiliate on July 16 (with a rerun of The Robert Irvine Show which aired that afternoon being the first CW network program to air on WUAB); the station retained MyNetworkTV as a secondary affiliation, continuing to air the service's programming late nights.
On January 29, 2019, WUAB dropped MyNetworkTV, with the service moving to sister station WOIO's second digital subchannel, airing late nights.
|TV stations in Ohio|
|TV stations in Northeast Ohio, including Cleveland, Akron, and Canton|
|WKYC 3 (NBC) |
WEWS 5 (ABC)
WJW 8 (Fox)
W16DO-D 16 (RTV)
WDLI 17 (Court TV)
WOIO 19 (CBS)
WQDI-LD 20 (ESTRELLA)
WIVD-LD 22 (Ind)
WVPX 23 (Ion)
WVIZ 25 (PBS)
W27DG-D 27 (Ind)
WIVN-LD 29 (Ind)
WIVM-LD 39 (Ind)
WEKA-LD 41 (COZI)
WOHZ-CD 41 (Ind)
WUAB 43 (CW)
WRLM 47 (TCT)
WEAO 49 (PBS)
WIVX-LD 51 (Ind)
WGGN 52 (Rel)
WCDN-LD 53 (Daystar)
WBNX 55 (Ind)
WQHS 61 (UNI)
WMFD 68 (Ind)