WMUR-TV

WMUR-TV
WMUR.svg

Wmur dt2.png
Manchester, New Hampshire
United States
Branding WMUR ABC 9 (general)
WMUR News 9 (newscasts)
Slogan No One Covers New Hampshire Like We Do (primary)
It's How You Know (secondary)
Channels Digital: 9 (VHF)
Virtual: 9 (PSIP)
Subchannels 9.1 ABC
9.2 Me-TV
Translators W27BL 27 Berlin
WMUR-LP 29 Littleton
W38CB 38 Littleton
Affiliations ABC
Me-TV (DT2)
Owner Hearst Television
(Hearst Properties, Inc.)
First air date March 28, 1954
Call letters' meaning Governor Francis P. MURphy (founder)
Sister station(s) WCVB-TV
Former channel number(s) Analog:
9 (VHF, 1954–2009)
Digital:
59 (UHF, 1998–2009)
Former affiliations Fox (two repeaters, 1994–2001)
Transmitter power 6.5 kW
Height 314 m
Facility ID 73292
Transmitter coordinates 42°59′1.7″N 71°35′22.9″W / 42.983806°N 71.589694°W / 42.983806; -71.589694
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website www.wmur.com

WMUR-TV, virtual channel and VHF digital channel 9, is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Manchester, New Hampshire, United States. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation. WMUR maintains studio facilities located on South Commercial Street in downtown Manchester, and its transmitter is located on the south peak of Mount Uncanoonuc in Goffstown.

Manchester is considered to be part of the larger Boston television market; that city's ABC affiliate WCVB-TV (channel 5) is also owned by Hearst. WMUR-TV shares common coverage areas with two other sister stations, WMTW-TV in Portland, Maine; and WNNE in Hartford, Vermont.

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[1]
9.1 1080i 16:9 WMUR Main WMUR-TV programming / ABC
9.2 480i 4:3 WMUR Me Me-TV

On October 3, 2011, WMUR added subchannel 9.2 with programming from classic television network Me-TV.[2]

Analog-to-digital conversion

In November 1998, WMUR's digital signal began broadcasting on UHF channel 59. WMUR-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 59, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its former analog-era VHF channel 9.[3]

Repeaters

Since August 22, 1994, WMUR has operated three repeaters in northern New Hampshire. Until December 19, 2001, two of the stations were primarily affiliated with Fox but simulcast channel 9's newscasts (the third repeater carried all WMUR programming, including ABC network programs). The two Fox stations started simulcasting WMUR when WMTW (at that time separately owned) relocated its transmitter away from Mount Washington. Since all three stations are low-powered, they were exempt from the transition to digital-only broadcasting on June 12, 2009.

Callsign Channel City of license Notes
W27BL 27 Berlin *part of Portland market
*first on-air in 1994
WMUR-LP 29 Littleton *tower shared with W38CB on Cannon Mountain
*formerly W16BC and (briefly) W29CM
W38CB 38 Littleton *tower shared with WMUR-LP on Cannon Mountain
*always aired ABC programming

History

The station first signed on the air on March 28, 1954, as the first television station in New Hampshire; it was founded by former governor Francis P. Murphy, owner of WMUR radio (610 AM; now WGIR). Murphy beat out several challengers, including William Loeb III, publisher of the Manchester Union-Leader.[4][5] In addition to carrying ABC programming (the station having been affiliated with the network since its sign-on), WMUR aired daily newscasts, local game shows and movies. In 1955, channel 9 significantly boosted its signal, providing a strong signal well into the Boston area.

The following year, however, Murphy decided to sell the WMUR stations. While a buyer was immediately found for the AM station, there were few takers for channel 9. Finally, in early 1957, he agreed in principle to sell WMUR-TV to Storer Broadcasting. However, Storer came under fire when it announced plans to move the station's transmitter to just outside Haverhill, Massachusetts – only 20 miles north of Boston. It soon became apparent that Storer intended to move all of channel 9's operations across the border to Massachusetts and reorient it as the Boston market's third VHF station. The outcry led regulators to reject Storer's request to build a new tower near Haverhill, and Storer backed out of the deal. The station remained in Murphy's hands until his death in December 1958; his estate finally sold the station a few months later, to Richard Eaton's United Broadcasting.[5][6]

Soon after taking over, United laid off all but nine of WMUR's employees, and reduced local programming to its two daily newscasts. For the next 22 years, the station more-or-less ran on a shoestring budget. It continued to broadcast in black-and-white well into the 1970s, long after the Boston stations all upgraded to color capability. United paid almost no attention to the station, instead devoting most of its efforts in New Hampshire to managing the cable system it operated in Manchester. Two of the few things the station had going for it during this time were The Uncle Gus Show, hosted by Gus Bernier for more than 20 years, and an increasingly active news department led by Tom Bonnar and Fred Kocher.[5]

Eaton began running into regulatory problems at his other stations that nearly resulted in the Federal Communications Commission revoking all of his licenses, including WMUR's, in the 1970s. As a result, the station continued to be run very cheaply. In July 1981, following Richard Eaton's death, WMUR was sold to Columbus, Mississippi businessman Birney Imes Jr., who also owned that city's WCBI-TV, as well as WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Imes made WMUR a major influence in New Hampshire by upgrading its facilities and news department.[5] In September 1987, the station moved from its original studios on Elm Street in Manchester to facilities in the historic Millyard area of the city.[5] Then in 1995, WMUR purchased land and a building at its current location. This building was rebuilt as an 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2) state-of-the-art broadcast center; it moved to this new location in January 1996.

WMUR was one of the first television stations in the country to develop a significant Internet presence. It was the first television station to stream a newscast live and archive it for later viewing. It was the first television station to post the Megan's Law list, first to have a virtual tour of its studio facilities online and have 24-hour weather coverage from a professional meteorologist.

In September 2000, Imes Communications reached a deal to sell the station to Emmis Communications, who then traded WMUR to Hearst-Argyle Television in exchange for that company's three radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona: KTAR, KMVP, and KKLT.[7] In 2004, WMUR-TV celebrated fifty years of broadcasting.[5]

On September 24, 2005, WMUR became available on satellite via DirecTV in Coos, Carroll, Grafton, and Sullivan counties in northern and west-central New Hampshire.[8] Coos and Carroll counties are part of the Portland, Maine market, while Grafton and Sullivan counties are part of the Burlington, Vermont/Plattsburgh, New York market; these areas had no source of in-state news until WMUR's uplinking.

The station was featured in a fictional manner in the sixth season of The West Wing, congressman Matt Santos running in the Democratic Party Presidential Primary went to the WMUR studios to run a live ad for his campaign.

In February 2010, WMUR introduced a new slogan, "It's how you know." This slogan often promotes its local news, weather, its photo sharing site, "uLocal," and other ideas of interest that would lead to its website. WMUR's Hearst-owned sister stations KCRA and KSBW also use this slogan, which is seen at the beginning of each video segment on YouTube.[9][10]

New Hampshire network affiliates

Manchester is about 45 miles (72 km) north from Boston while Concord is about 60 miles (97 km). Boston's VHF stations have Grade A signals in Manchester and Grade B signals in Concord, while the UHF stations have Grade B signals in Manchester but spotty signals in Concord. It was once thought[who?] that southern New Hampshire would split off from Boston into its own separate market. If the sub-market were created, it would rank in the top 100 of all U.S. media markets. However, CBS' ownership of WBZ-TV (channel 4) makes this unlikely as it would result in the dilution of that station's advertising revenue, along with viewer upheaval at the loss of newscasts from the Boston area as has been seen as Providence's stations in the southern portion of the Boston market that have attempted to claim market exclusivity to some complaint from area cable customers. In the early 1990s, that station operated a news bureau in Manchester which was re-established on Elm Street in November 2006.

Prior to 1988, the sub-market was served by WMUR and PBS member station WENH-TV (which was part of the New Hampshire Public Television member network). On February 1, 1988, WNHT, an independent station based in Concord became southern New Hampshire's first CBS affiliate and began to produce local newscasts. WNHT lost the affiliation and ceased operations on March 31, 1989 due to insufficient viewership – there has not been an affiliate of the network based in the state since then. The situation with WMUR and sister station WCVB is not unlike that of Wildwood, New Jersey-based NBC affiliate WMGM-TV, which is considered part of the Philadelphia market, which is primarily served by NBC owned-and-operated station WCAU.

When WNHT shut down, WMUR and WENH remained the only network-affiliated stations in the state until MyNetworkTV launched on September 5, 2006. On that date, WZMY-TV (channel 50, now WBIN-TV), an independent station based in Derry, became the southern New Hampshire and Boston affiliate of the network; it remained affiliated with MyNetworkTV (which has since transitioned into a programming service rather than a network) until September 2011, when the service moved to Boston-based WSBK-TV.

Except for WRLH out of Lebanon, which operated from 1966 to 1976, there has never been an NBC station based in the state. However, since 1978, WNNE has broadcast programming from that network into parts of western New Hampshire (the region previously served by WRLH) from across the state line in Vermont (and was, for a time early in its existence, licensed to Hanover). Much of this area is considered part of the Burlington-Plattsburgh market, although WMUR is still available. The rest of the state receives NBC from that network's affiliates in either Boston or Portland. There were no WB or UPN affiliates in the state during the existence of those networks; likewise, The CW does not presently have any affiliates in New Hampshire.

WMUR has always promoted the fact that it is the only major network affiliate and consistent local news source in the state; the station's slogan since 2002 (No One Covers New Hampshire Like We Do) reflects this.

Programming

Syndicated programming seen on WMUR includes Live! with Kelly and Michael, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Inside Edition. Many of these programs are also seen on sister station WCVB-TV, and as a result the stations have similar weekday programming schedules.

WMUR was one of the longest-serving affiliates of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Love Network, having carried the MDA Show of Strength and its predecessors annually on Labor Day and/or the night before since the late 1960s.[5][11] The MDA moved the telethon from syndication to ABC in 2013; as a result, WMUR continues to broadcast the program.

During the 1960s and 1970s, one of the station's well known local programs was a weekday children's program known as The Uncle Gus Show. Unlike Boston's astronaut "Major Mudd" or the widely franchised "Bozo", host "Uncle Gus" Bernier wore no costume except an angler's hat. For many years, WMUR's nighttime sign-off were accompanied by "New Hampshire Naturally" by The Shaw Brothers. The music was synchronized to bucolic scenes of a fly fisherman casting his line into a mountain stream, a covered bridge, the Old Man of the Mountain, flowers, fall foliage and other images. This theme was replaced at some point by The Star Spangled Banner.

News operation

WMUR-TV presently broadcasts 30½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours on weekdays and four hours on Saturdays and Sundays). In addition, WMUR produces New Hampshire Chronicle, a regional version of the Chronicle newsmagazine series that originated on Boston sister station WCVB-TV, which airs weeknights at 7:00 p.m.; and the political talk program Close Up, which airs on Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m.

During election seasons, WMUR is well known for organizing and producing candidate debates for ABC News, as well as CNN, before the first United States presidential primary; the debates have been held at Saint Anselm College. In addition to its main studios, WMUR operates two news bureaus in New Hampshire. The station's Lakes Region Bureau is based at The Inn at Bay Point in Meredith, and the Seacoast Bureau is based at Harbor Place in Portsmouth. In addition, WMUR and WCVB share news footage for stories occurring within the other station's coverage area; WCVB also operates a live truck for newsgathering that is based at WMUR's studios in Manchester.

Audio simulcasts of WMUR's newscasts are broadcast on WTPL (107.7 FM) in Hillsborough and WTSL (1400 AM) in Hanover (weekdays from 5 to 6 a.m., 12 to 12:30 p.m. and 5 to 6:30 p.m.), WTSN (1270 AM) in Dover (from 5 to 6:30 p.m.), WASR (1420 AM) in Wolfeboro (5 to 6 p.m.) and WEEY (93.5 FM) in Keene (from 5-5:30 a.m. and 6-6:30 p.m.). In lieu of its own weather radar, WMUR uses live radar data from several regional sites operated by the National Weather Service. During weather segments, the radar system used by WMUR that utilizes this data is presented on-screen as "Storm Watch 9 Storm Tracker", which is provided through a graphics system by Weather Services International. A live video feed of this radar is offered on WMUR's website. During instances of severe weather year-round, the station may extend local newscasts to provide coverage; this coverage is sometimes streamed live on the website.

On August 2, 2011, WMUR began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition, and introduced a new set and graphics package. WMUR began producing a half-hour weeknight 10 p.m. newscast for its Me-TV subchannel in January 2012, which originally competed with a pre-recorded half-hour primetime newscast on Derry-based WBIN-TV.[12]

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

Station slogans

News team

Current on-air staff[13]

Anchors
Storm Watch 9
Sports team
Reporters
  • Marga Bessette - weeknight traffic reporter (5:00 p.m.); also heard on WZID (95.7 FM)
  • Ray Brewer - general assignment reporter
  • Audrey Cox - freelance reporter/anchor
  • Jennifer Crompton - general assignment reporter
  • Heather Hamel - general assignment reporter
  • Andy Hershberger - crime reporter
  • Danielle Larcom - freelance reporter
  • Dick Lutsk - fill-in traffic anchor
  • James Pindell - political director
  • Suzanne Roantree - weekday morning traffic and freelance reporter; also heard on WZID (95.7 FM)
  • Kria Sakakeeny - freelance reporter
  • Adam Sexton - general assignment reporter
  • Nick Spinetto - general assignment reporter
Hearst Television Washington Bureau

Notable former on-air staff

References

  1. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WMUR
  2. ^ Where to Watch Me-TV: WMUR
  3. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  4. ^ "NHAB Alumni: Francis P. Murphy". New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters. October 29, 2001. Retrieved February 14, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Rapsis, Jeff (March 4, 2004). "WMUR At 50". The Hippo. Retrieved February 16, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Authorize WMUR-TV Sale". Associated Press via The Telegraph. February 4, 1959. p. 5. Retrieved February 16, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Emmis, H-A deal". Broadcasting & Cable. September 10, 2000. Retrieved February 17, 2010. 
  8. ^ "WMUR Available On DirecTV In North Country". WMUR.com. September 23, 2005. Retrieved February 17, 2010. 
  9. ^ Hearst-Argyle Television on YouTube a big success
  10. ^ YouTube to Split Revenue with Hearst-Argyle’s Local TV Stations
  11. ^ "How it all began?". The Telethon Years. Retrieved February 16, 2010. 
  12. ^ "WMUR To Launch 10 P.M. Newscast In January". WMUR.com. Retrieved November 17, 2011. 
  13. ^ News Team

External links