|Panama City, Florida/Dothan, Alabama
|City of license||Panama City, Florida|
The CW Panama City (DT2)
|Slogan||Coverage You Can Count On!|
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF)
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
7.2 The CW
|Affiliations||NBC (since 1982; also from 1953-1973)|
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||December 1, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||James Harrison Gray
(founder of Gray Communications)
|Sister station(s)||WECP-LD, WTVY, WRGX-LD|
|Former callsigns||WJDM-TV (1953-1960)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
7 (VHF, 1953-2009)
Digital: 8 (VHF)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1953)
ABC (secondary 1953-1982; secondary until 1973)
DuMont (secondary 1953-1955)
CBS (secondary 1953-1961)
|Transmitter power||67 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WJHG-TV, channel 7 is the NBC affiliate for Panama City, Florida. Owned by Gray Television, the two stations share studios located on Front Beach Road (SR 30) in Panama City Beach, while its transmitter is located on (SR 20) in Youngstown.
WJHG was founded in 1953 as WJDM-TV, owned by businessman J.D. Manley. It became known to many people as Wait Just A Darn Minute, because it would frequently go off the air with technical problems. At first, the station aired local programming such as church services and wrestling, and went as an independent for a short period of time before securing a primary affiliation with NBC and secondary affiliations with CBS and ABC. Mel Wheeler purchased the station in 1957, and in 1960, James Harrison Gray, the founder of Gray Communications, bought the station and changed the call letters to the current WJHG-TV, after his initials.
WJHG dropped CBS in the 1960s after WTVY in Dothan, Alabama became the default CBS affiliate for Panama City as well. In 1973, WJHG became an exclusive ABC affiliate when WDTB (channel 13, now WMBB) began, taking the NBC affiliation. In 1982, WMBB and WJHG switched networks. CBS would return to WJHG as a subchannel on 7.3, simulcasting the market's regular CBS affiliate, WECP-LD.
In 1998, WJHG was almost sold when the Phipps family sold WCTV to Gray Communications. This would have violated the pre-1996 ownership rules because WJHG's grade B signal covers the extreme western parts of the Tallahassee market. The 1996 Telecommunications Act allowed for overlapping fringe signals, so Gray kept WJHG. Instead, Gray ended up selling its flagship station, WALB-TV in Albany, Georgia, because its city-grade signal overlapped that of WCTV's in the Georgia portion of the Tallahassee market, still protected under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules.
Then in 2002, Gray bought most of Benedek Broadcasting's stations, including WTVY, whose tower is located in Bonifay, Florida, providing a signal that covers all the way from Fort Walton Beach, Florida to Troy, Alabama. By this time, signal contours were no longer an issue and Gray could keep both stations.
Since both stations were long available on cable in both Dothan and Panama City, WJHG has run WTVY stories that take place in those parts of northwestern Florida that are in northern part of the Panama City market, and WTVY has run WJHG stories on Panama City and the coast. Sometimes, WTVY will run its own stories on Panama City, but WJHG did not cover Dothan at all (southeastern Alabama's default NBC affiliate was Montgomery's WSFA). Gray launched WRGX-LD as a Dothan-based NBC affiliate on June 1, 2013, ending WJHG's availability in the Dothan market.
On June 28, 2010, WJHG began broadcasting their newscasts in 16:9 widescreen SD format.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|7.1||1080i||16:9||WJHG-HD||Main WJHG-TV programming / NBC|
|7.2||720p||WJHG-CW||The CW Panama City|
|7.3||480i||4:3||CBS-SD||Simulcast of WECP-LD 18.1|
WJHG-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 7, 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 VHF channel 8 to former VHF analog channel 7.
On December 19, 2012, WJHG received a construction permit to move from VHF channel 7 to UHF channel 18 (currently occupied by its sister station, WECP-LD).
Circle 7 logo & affiliation changes
The station used the "Circle 7" logo as far back as the 1950s without objection from the ABC television network. At some point ABC had trademarked the logo for use by its owned and operated stations that shared the dial position (Channel 7) in several major television markets across the nation. In 1982, when Gray Communications switched WJHG-TV's network affiliation to NBC, ABC ordered WJHG to cease using the logo. Station manager Ray H. Holloway produced archival film and still photographs that showed the local station had been using the "Circle 7" logo longer than the network, but in order to bring the matter to a quick and satisfactory end the station elected to modify the logo. The modification was minor (the bottom of the circle was left open) but enough to pacify executives at ABC in New York who were upset over the station's decision to "defect" to NBC. However, non-ABC stations still use designs similar to the Circle 7 logo including Sunbeam Television's WHDH (NBC) in Boston, and WSVN (Fox) in Miami.
Notable former on-air staff
- Jake Bell - Sports Anchor/Reporter, Feature Reporter (2000–2002)
- Kristen Berset - Anchor/Producer (now at WUSA-TV in Washington)
- Earl Hutto - News/Sports Anchor (1960s/70s; retired U.S. Congressman)
- Shepard Smith - Anchor/Reporter (now at FOX News)
- David Steele - Sports Anchor (mid 1970s; now with Sun Sports and the NBA's Orlando Magic)
- Phillips, Greg (May 6, 2013). "Dothan getting NBC affiliate". Dothan Eagle. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WJHG
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "H.R. 5107". Government Printing Office. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- WJHG Website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WJHG
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WJHG-TV