WYMT-TV is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Hazard, Kentucky, United States and serving the Eastern Kentucky Coalfield region. Owned by Gray Television, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 12 (or virtual channel 57 via PSIP) from a transmitter south of the city in Perry County.

Although identifying as a separate station in its own right, WYMT is actually considered a semi-satellite of WKYT-TV (channel 27) in Lexington. As such, it clears all network programming as provided through its parent station but airs a separate offering of syndicated programming, albeit with separate local commercials and legal station identifications. WYMT maintains studios on Black Gold Boulevard off the KY 15 bypass in Hazard. Master control and some internal operations are based at WKYT's studios on Winchester Road in Lexington.


As an NBC affiliateEdit

The station began broadcasting on analog UHF channel 57 as WKYH-TV (meaning KentuckY, Hazard) on October 20, 1969, as an NBC affiliate.[1] Prior to its inception, some counties in southeastern Kentucky were among the last remaining parts of the country unable to clearly receive a commercial television signal over the air. Kentucky Educational Television had set up a transmitter there the year before. Although this area is considered part of the Lexington market, none of that city's television signals covered the area at the time. Lexington was an all-UHF market, and UHF stations don't get good reception in rugged terrain. This area has long been one of the poorest in the nation, and many people still couldn't afford to buy a television set. Such conditions made the Lexington stations unwilling to set up even low-powered satellites in this area. Instead, WKYH was founded by local businessman Bill Gorman, who, in addition to owning the Hazard-area Cable television company, also served as mayor of Hazard from 1978 until his October 2010 death.[2] Martin Ogrosky served as News Director and in other posltions along with William "Bill" Helton, William "Bill" Gorman, Jr., and others.

In keeping with the region's strong musical traditions, country, bluegrass, and Southern Gospel music constituted a good part of WKYH's early local programs. These shows lasted well into the 1980s (in the case of the Goins Brothers, as late as 1994) after country-music programs had fallen out of favor even on other Southern stations.

Throughout its entire run as WKYH, the station's on-air look was very primitive, even by small-market standards. Much of its equipment had been bought as surplus from other stations, and was usually in a poor state of repair after as much as two decades of use. This was especially true of the transmitter; by the early 1980s the station's signal had deteriorated to the point of unacceptability. A video clip of the station's nightly sign-off provided evidence of the shaky signal quality. Matters weren't helped by the fact that the station's coverage area is very mountainous; UHF stations don't get much penetration in rugged terrain even under the best conditions. It didn't even have a character generator for newscasts. The station was unable to get a network feed, forcing station engineers to rely on microwave links from WLEX-TV in Lexington and WCYB-TV in Bristol, Virginia (from the Tri-Cities, Tennessee/Virginia market) for network programming. WCYB was used as a backup in case WLEX preempted an NBC show to show local programming. Whenever the microwave system failed, WKYH was forced to switch to and from WLEX or WCYB's signal, usually with less-than-satisfactory results. When this happened, WKYH sometimes aired WLEX or WCYB's commercials or station IDs when it was unable to cover them up in time. As such, the station never thrived, even when cable arrived in the area in the early 1980s, and this situation allowed WKYH to relate to NBC during the period in which that network was presided over by Fred Silverman.

New ownership to presentEdit

In June 1985, Gorman sold the station to Kentucky Central Insurance Company, then owner of WKYT. After approval of the sale, the new owner changed the calls on the morning of Saturday, October 19 of that year to the current WYMT, meaning We're Your Mountain Television. The old WKYH callsign now exists on a Paintsville-licensed AM radio station in nearby Johnson County which, incidentally, launched in 1985 as WKLW. WYMT's then-new owner also changed the station's affiliation to CBS to match that of WKYT. With wealthier ownership, WYMT was able to build a much more modern studio and a stronger transmitter. The station also got a significant on-air facelift, making it look much more modern. When Kentucky Central went bankrupt in 1993, WYMT and WKYT were bought by Gray Communications (now Gray Television). In 2004, WYMT’s digital television companion was assigned VHF channel 12 as its final transmission frequency. One benefit to viewers in the area is that VHF signals "bend" over mountainous terrain better than UHF. This not only greatly improved WYMT's signal, but made reception available over a larger area than was previously available, even after the FCC-mandated digital transition of 2009. Beginning February 26, 2010, the station stretched non-HD programming from 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9 aspect image, a process called "Stretch-o-Vision".

As of February 17, 2009, WYMT broadcasts exclusively in digital. Even with the switch to digital, the great majority of WYMT's viewers still watch the station on cable, which is all but essential for acceptable television in this part of Kentucky. WYMT is not carried on satellite. As Hazard is in the Lexington market, WYMT is not seen on satellite since WKYT must be provided to the area, and satellite providers have a right not to carry a duplicate network affiliate in the same market due to bandwidth limitations. Gray Television applied to the FCC to carve out a unique satellite carriage area for WYMT alone, including the easternmost portion of the Lexington market and Kentucky counties assigned to the Tri-Cities, Knoxville, and Charleston-Huntington markets. DirecTV and Dish Network argued it would be technically and economically infeasible, as they would be required to create a new spot beam for this particular area, and cited their right to refuse carriage. The FCC ruled in the satellite companies' favor on May 16, 2018.

Over-the-air availabilityEdit

To this day, WYMT is the only full-power commercial station in Hazard; cable or satellite is necessary to receive any other commercial network affiliates of any kind. The only stations that can be received over-the-air in much of this region includes WYMT, along with Christian television station WLJC-TV in Beattyville, and KET satellites WKHA in Hazard and WKPI-TV in Pikeville. In addition, WOBZ-LD (which is partially owned by former WKYH weatherman/sportscaster Joey Kesler) is a low-power station serving the London area. There are also several public access channels that serve the region. The area was also served by WAGV, a Harlan-based satellite station of WLFG in Grundy, Virginia.

TV stations in Kentucky
WKYT, Lexington

WYMT, Hazard
WLKY, Louisville
WNKY-DT2, Bowling Green

TV stations in Central Kentucky Bluegrass region, including Lexington and Frankfort
WVTN-LP 48 (Rel.)
WDKY 56 (Fox)
WLJC 65 (Cozi)
WUPX 67 (Ion)
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