|Branding||Channel 11 (general)
Channel 11 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Coverage You Can Count On|
|Channels||Digital: 48 (UHF)
Virtual: 11 (PSIP)
|Translators||23 (UHF) Uniontown, PA
33 (UHF) New Castle, PA
21 (UHF) Derry, PA
|Owner||Cox Media Group
|First air date||September 1, 1957|
|Call letters' meaning||Pittsburgh
XI (11 in Roman numerals)
|Former callsigns||WIIC(-TV) (1957–1981)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
11 (VHF, 1957–2009)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Height||289 m (948 ft)|
|Transmitter coordinates||Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.|
|Public license information:||Profile
WPXI, channel 11, is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The station is owned by the Cox Media Group, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. WPXI's offices and studios are located on Evergreen Road in the Summer Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, and its transmitter is located on Television Hill in the Fineview section of the city, on the site of the station's original studio location.
- 1 History
- 2 Local programming
- 3 Digital television
- 4 Programming
- 5 Newscasts
- 6 References
- 7 External links
On September 1, 1957, Pittsburgh's second commercial VHF station signed on as WIIC. The station's construction permit was originally issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in June 1955 to WIIC Incorporated – a joint venture of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which owned WWSW radio (970 AM, now WBGG), and Pittsburgh Radio Supply House, the then-owners of WJAS radio (1320 AM). Both radio stations had competed individually for the permit grant along with other applicants. CBS, which was looking to gain its own full-time affiliate in the market, signed a contract with the then-unnamed channel 11 shortly thereafter. Before the "freeze" on television station licenses, the two stations were competing for the channel 10 license originally assigned to Pittsburgh before the FCC reallocated the channels in 1952, with channel 10 going to Altoona; the Hearst Corporation (then-owners of WCAE and eventual owners of WTAE-TV) and two other companies were also applying for the channel 10 license.
Channel 11, however, did not sign on for well over two years after its permit was granted. The primary reason for the delay was on the part of WENS-TV (channel 16, now WINP-TV), whose application for the permit had been denied and later contested the FCC's original decision. In the interim, CBS continued to have most of its programs cleared by Westinghouse-owned KDKA-TV (channel 2), at the time Pittsburgh's only commercial VHF station. When CBS decided to make KDKA-TV its full-time Pittsburgh affiliate, NBC (who shared time on KDKA-TV with CBS, ABC, and station founder DuMont since its sign-on in 1949) reached a deal to affiliate with WIIC. Also, as a condition of the license grant, WJAS radio had to be sold; NBC wound up purchasing that station in August 1957. The WJAS interests later divested their 50 percent share of WIIC to another local broadcaster.
Bill Cardille signed the station on the air. It addition to Cardille, five other announcers that were with the station when it launched in 1957 include Mal Alberts, Bob Cochran, Ed Conway, Len Johnson and Mark Schaefer. Some of the first original programming to air on WIIC included Studio Wrestling and Chiller Theatre, both hosted by Cardille. Shortly after its sign-on, WIIC was briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network, sharing the affiliation with KDKA-TV, WTAE-TV, and public television station WQED.
In 1964, WIIC was sold to current owner Cox Enterprises; Cox subsequently traded its share in the then new cable system (today's Buckeye CableSystem) in Toledo, Ohio to the Post-Gazette's parent company Block Communications, which is based in Toledo. The station has been the longest running NBC affiliate under Cox's ownership, especially after its sister stations in Charlotte and Atlanta switched their affiliations to ABC in 1978 and 1980, respectively. In 1970, WIIC made Pittsburgh broadcasting history when Eleanor Schano became the first woman to anchor a newscast solo. Schano also hosted a weekly 30-minute public affairs program called Face to Face.
During much of the 1970s, WIIC trailed in a distant third place in the ratings behind KDKA-TV and WTAE-TV. This coincided with much of the period where NBC also struggled in the ratings. Even though it aired most of the games from the Steelers' glory years of the 1970s—typically the highest-rated television programs in the market during that time—channel 11 stayed in the ratings basement. Around 1975, Channel 11 branded itself as "e11even", then around 1977 used the "11 Alive" moniker (which had become popularized by fellow NBC affiliate WXIA-TV in Atlanta and WPIX in New York City).
On April 20, 1981, the station's call sign was changed to WPXI (for "Pittsburgh 11", with XI being the Roman numeral for 11). Although the station has officially never had the -TV suffix since adopting the WPXI call sign, the station has on occasion been marketed as WPXI-TV. The WIIC calls in Pittsburgh were later used by a low-powered independent station that ran a music video format (that station is currently silent).
WPXI also televised the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon as the Love Network affiliate of the annual event for the Pittsburgh market, until the Muscular Dystrophy Association decided to move the telethon from syndication to ABC in 2013. The local portion of the telethon continued to be hosted by Bill Cardille until the 2012 telethon.
In 2000, Cox Enterprises purchased WTOV in Steubenville, Ohio and WJAC-TV in Johnstown, Pennsylvania from Sunrise Television. Those stations – which are also NBC affiliates – often appear in channel lineups for the same viewers that watch WPXI, either by over-the-air signal or via cable provider, and due to the proximity of the three stations to each other (as well as the common affiliation with NBC), were occasionally marketed together as a result. Cox changed the stations' on-air appearances to match WPXI's look, despite WPXI changing its own look in 2004. WTOV still used WPXI's former look until October 2010, and WJAC-TV adopted WPXI's current design in October 2011.
Over the Labor Day weekend of 2007, WPXI began relocating from its longtime studios at Television Hill in Pittsburgh's Fineview neighborhood after 50 years, to a new studio facility in the city's Summer Hill neighborhood near the Parkway North. The station's transmitter tower continues to be located in the Fineview neighborhood. WPXI began broadcasting its newscasts from the Summer Hill studio on October 6 beginning with the 6 p.m. newscast. In turn, it also became the first station in the Pittsburgh market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. The station was criticized for technical glitches during the initial week of the new system run. With the switch to HD came a new set, created by FX Group and a new graphics package designed by Hothaus Creative.
In mid-October 2008, WPXI, in collaboration with Cox's longtime partner Internet Broadcasting, launched a redesigned website. By early November 2008, the websites of all of Cox's stations east of the Mississippi River began using the new format pioneered by WPXI; the websites of the company's stations west of the Mississippi River followed suit a month later. In 2011, Cox Media Group's partnership with Internet Broadcasting was dissolved, and the Cox television stations relaunched their website operations in-house. WPXI's and WSOC-TV's websites remained under the stewardship of Internet Broadcasting until late January 2012, when they became the last two stations to have redesigned their websites to match the format of the in-house web operations of their sister stations.
With Cox Media Group's February 23, 2013 sale of WJAC and WTOV (a sale which also included stations in El Paso, Texas and Reno, Nevada) to the Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of local Fox affiliate WPGH-TV and MyNetworkTV affiliate WPMY (which was completed on May 2), WPXI is now Cox's only remaining NBC-affiliated station. The two remain connected to WPXI under a news-share agreement it has had with WPGH-TV.
WPXI currently uses the number 11 drawn into a circle, which debuted in 1987. The "11" symbol is colored gold, while the box around it is dark blue. WPXI previously used the NBC Peacock in its logo, which was copied by sister stations WTOV and WJAC and is still used by WTOV, but revamped its own look in October 2004. WPXI's current look uses the circle 11 logo with a stylized "WPXI" below it.
On September 2, 2013, WPXI expanded its noon news to an hour, becoming Pittsburgh's first hour-long noon newscast.
Although it has closed the gap with Pittsburgh's other stations, WPXI remains one of NBC's weakest major-market affiliates, due in no small part due to the stations's delays in signing on in its early years after established NBC affiliates in nearby markets (its sister stations as well as WFMJ-TV in Youngstown, Ohio, all of which have been decades-long market leaders in their respective markets) as well as NBC's issues with Westinghouse in the 1950s. NBC did come close to upgrading its affiliation in Pittsburgh in 1994 when Westinghouse was looking to sign a group-wide affiliation deal for its Group W stations. Due to Hearst Television (owner of WTAE-TV) and Sinclair Broadcast Group (owner of WPGH-TV) each having strong ties to ABC and Fox, respectively, WPXI would've likely affiliated with CBS had Westinghouse signed with NBC, effectively reversing what would've likely been the originally-intended affiliations had channel 11 not had a delay in signing-on. Ultimately, Westinghouse signed with CBS (despite NBC offering more money), and WPXI remained with NBC, making the Pittsburgh market one of the few major markets not to be affected by the 1994 United States broadcast TV realignment.
From 1963 to 1983, the station produced and broadcast Chiller Theater, a late Saturday evening horror film show hosted by Bill Cardille, or as he was referred to, "Chilly Billy." The show originally had Cardille as a solo host. In the 1970s, a cast of characters was added, and the setting was changed from a laboratory to a castle. Cardille would introduce the film being shown, as well as perform skits during breaks in the film. Cardille became well known for hosting the show and the shows themselves became part of local yore. The final program aired on January 1, 1984. Cardille remained on-air at WPXI through the early-to-mid-1990s as the weekday morning and noon weather forecaster. Cardille remains in Pittsburgh as midday personality on WJAS radio, and occasional Chiller Theater reunions have been held over the years.
The show was part of a trend during the 1960s and 1970s for television stations to produce local programming. Local stations often created their own children's shows as well. Horror theater shows, such as Shock Theatre, hosted by Ghoulardi and Big Chuck & Little John in Cleveland, as well as Chiller Theater, were not only easy to produce, but popular with the local audience.
From 1966 to 1972, WIIC had a Bandstand-type show on Saturday afternoons. Come Alive was originally sponsored by Pepsi and hosted by KQV disc jockey Chuck Brinkman. Later, WIXZ DJ Terry Lee would take over as host. The show featured teens dancing to current hit records, a weekly Top 10 countdown and appearances by local bands.
From the earliest days of the station through 1973, WIIC produced a weekly live wrestling show. Studio Wrestling, independent of the National Wrestling Alliance, which aired on Saturday evenings and drew strong ratings. Mal Alberts was the original host, but Cardille took over after a few years and handled the rest of the show's run. It started as a one-hour show, but was then expanded to 90 minutes because of its popularity. The show marked the earliest appearances of Bruno Sammartino, who moved to Pittsburgh from Italy as a teenager and continues to reside in the area. Studio Wrestling was ran by Toots Mondt, who co-owned NWA member Capitol Wrestling Corporation (the predecessor to the present-day WWE) with Vince McMahon, Sr. McMahon promptly signed Sammartino to the CWC and where Sammartino would eventually become a two-time WWWF Champion for a combined record of 11 years. WIIC/WPXI has not produced its own wrestling program since Studio Wrestling, although it has aired various WWF/WWE shows through its affiliation with NBC in the years since.
WIIC also produced a daily afternoon game show, Give It a Whirl, from 1965 to 1967. Steve Rizen of KQV radio hosted the show, which had contestants spinning a wheel to determine what prizes they could win. Local musician Dom Trimarkie was part of the show, providing material for the "Mystery Tunes" segment.
In regards to children's programming, WIIC produced Cartoon Colorama, which aired older cartoons produced in color (hence the name), hosted by Willie the Duck, a hand-puppet with a Donald Duck type of voice who spoke to off-camera announcer Don Riggs (who served as Willie's comedy foil) in between the cartoons. The show had been previously hosted by a character called "Captain Jim", who had hosted one WIIC's best-remembered children's program: Cap'n Jim's Popeye Club, built around Popeye cartoons. The Captain was briefly played at the beginning by the little-known Jim Saunders, and from 1959 on by Ted Eckman. The station also aired a local version of The Mickey Mouse Club during the 1960s, which was hosted by Williams.
- Chiller Theater (1963–1983)
- Studio Wrestling (1959–1973)
- Pittsburgh Pirates baseball (1995–1996)
- MDA Labor Day Telethon
This station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|11.1||1080i||16:9||WPXI-HD||Main WPXI programming / NBC|
WPXI was the first station in Pittsburgh to make use of additional programming on its digital channels. On June 21, 2007, WPXI began carrying programming from NBC Weather Plus on digital subchannel 11.2. The service, branded as WPXI 11 Weather Plus, offered local and national weather information 24 hours a day. Locally, WPXI's Scott Harbaugh served as the main meteorologist on the station's Weather Plus service.
WPXI added an airwave digital channel on 11.3 in October 15, 2007, when it began an affiliation with Retro Television Network. Sister stations WJAC-TV and WTOV-TV also began offering RTV programming on their subchannels. Following the shutdown of NBC Weather Plus in December 2008, WPXI moved RTV to 11.2 while the 11.3 subchannel went dark. On June 13, 2011, WPXI replaced RTV with competing classic television network Me-TV.
While all three Pittsburgh news stations air news video on its websites with WTAE even airing full newscasts on its website, WPXI is the only station in the Pittsburgh market to have over-the-top content available on a streaming service, having its own dedicated channel on Roku. If someone within the WPXI viewing area orders a Roku Player, the WPXI News app is automatically installed on the player. The WPXI-Roku partnership is part of a larger partnership between Roku and Cox-owned stations.
On April 15, 2015, WPXI will be a charter affiliate of Laff on channel 11.3, bringing 11.3 live again for the first time since NBC Weather Plus shut down, but, as of 5/3/2015, had not as of yet launched.
WPXI shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 11, 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 remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 48.
In July 2009, the station applied with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate three repeater signals: channel 21 in Derry Township, channel 23 in Uniontown, and channel 33 in New Castle. The signal in Derry Township is expected to cover all of Westmoreland County, while the Uniontown signal could penetrate into the Pittsburgh suburb of McKeesport. The New Castle signal might go into Youngstown, Ohio (which New Castle is much closer to despite being part of the Pittsburgh DMA) and serve as a secondary NBC affiliate for the Youngstown television market, which is primarily served by WFMJ-TV, while giving the Youngstown market an outlet for Me-TV. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the virtual channels of WPXI's main signal and its three repeaters as WPXI's former VHF analog channel 11.
Since its sign-on in 1957, WIIC, and later WPXI, has aired a mix of syndicated first-run shows (like Hee Haw and To Tell The Truth), off-network series repeats (I Love Lucy, Petticoat Junction, Star Trek and The Cosby Show) and afternoon movies throughout its history, although by the 1980s the schedule would become less dependent on most of this product in favor of more talk fare and an expanding newscast. In the late 1990s, WPXI was known as one of the "Big 3" stations in the Pittsburgh area to air popular tabloid talk shows in their late morning and afternoon daytime lineup. In 1998, several stations that carried The Jerry Springer Show, including WPXI, refused to carry the episode "I Married A Horse", which led to it being pulled before airing.
However, by 1999, WPXI wanted to move away from a tabloid format to a hard-hitting news and lifestyle platform. In September 1999, WPXI dropped Jenny Jones, which moved to WNPA, and Jerry Springer moved from its rating success news-lead-in 4 p.m. timeslot in exchanging for upgrading Judge Judy in addition to concerns of content before moving to WPGH and its sister station WCWB in 2001 where it would now air twice a day. By 2002, WPXI would replace their daytime lineup with new youth oriented game shows.
In 2007, The Megan Mullally Show was dropped only after nearly three months and moved to WPMY before its nationwide cancellation months later. Another show that was removed from WPXI's schedule within its first season was The Bonnie Hunt Show, which (despite high ratings) the station decided to drop at the start of the show's second season in favor of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (the talk show ended up on WPMY).
In September 2014, WPXI acquired Rachael Ray from WTAE-TV after going back and forth at its 10 a.m. time slot on the station since its 2006 debut. The show now takes up the 11 a.m. timeslot, serving as a lead-in to Channel 11 News at Noon. Other syndicated programming on the station consists of FABLife, The Doctors, Jeopardy!, and Wheel of Fortune (the latter two have been on WPXI since 1987; ironically, Jeopardy was among the NBC daytime game shows that was pre-empted during its years as WIIC).
Preempted and tape-delayed programming
WPXI pre-empted NBC's daytime talk show, The Other Half, for its entire 2001 to 2003 run. It is one of many NBC affiliates that does not airs NBC's late-night reruns of Mad Money, preferring to carry syndicated programming (the station currently airs back-to-back episodes of Right This Minute in place of the show's late-night reruns).
In the fall of 1999 during its final three months on air, WPXI dropped Sunset Beach, which aired an hour later than its nationwide feed time, at 1:00 p.m. In 2005, WPXI announced plans to drop Passions from its lineup that fall, in exchange for carrying The Tony Danza Show. However, disagreements from NBC and many complainants, including protests from residents of the Pittsburgh area, led to WPXI to make the last-minute decision to not to drop Passions and WCWB, Pittsburgh's then-WB affiliate, picked up Danza's program for its daytime lineup.
WPXI presently broadcasts 24 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, 4½ hours on Saturdays and five hours on Sundays). Previous branding for newscasts include Dateline, WIIC-TV 11 News, News/Watch, Instant News, Steel City News and Newscenter 11.
WPXI was the first station to offer a 5:30 p.m. newscast in Pittsburgh from 1981 to 1984 (titled 5:30 Live); it was then revived in 1987 with the name Channel 11 News First Edition. It was also the first station to offer a 5 p.m. newscast in the early 1990s, titled Channel 11 News First at 5. WPXI dropped NBC's Saturday morning cartoons in September 1990 in favor of a running a newscast airing from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The success of the weekend morning newscast prompted NBC network officials to extend the Today show to weekends. WPXI, however, has since scaled back the length of its weekend morning newscasts. Pittsburgh native Jodi Applegate co-anchored NBC's Weekend Today, but was never seen locally due to WPXI's weekend morning newscasts. WPXI added "Weekend Today" in September 2012.
On January 12, 2006, Sinclair Broadcast Group (owner of Fox affiliate WPGH-TV) and WPXI entered into a news share agreement allowing channel 11 to take over production of WPGH's 10 p.m. newscast. WPXI began producing a 10 p.m. newscast for that station (titled Channel 11 News on Fox 53 at Ten) on January 30, 2006, two weeks after WPGH shut down its in-house news department due to corporate cutbacks made by Sinclair at its news-producing stations. All of WPGH's news staff, except for sportscaster Alby Oxenreiter, were laid off. The program runs for 45 minutes on Sunday through Friday nights, and for 30 minutes on Saturdays; a sports highlight show titled Ox on Fox Sports Extra (hosted by Oxenreiter) fills the remaining 15 minutes of the newscast Sunday through Fridays.
WPXI is known to commission its own theme music from various composers, although it has previously used the famous "Move Closer to Your World" theme by Al Ham that was popularized by WPVI-TV in Philadelphia (though it did commission a modernized version of the theme used during the 1990s). It has commissioned "Total Coverage" (its previous package), and after WPXI moved to its new Summer Hill television building, it started using the Tower V.2, ending the NBC Collection altogether.
Pittsburgh Cable News Channel
The station went into cable television on January 1, 1994, with the launch of the Pittsburgh Cable News Channel (PCNC). PCNC produced the first 10 p.m. newscast in the Pittsburgh market. The final installment of PCNC's 10 p.m. newscast aired on January 26, 2006 as WPXI took over production of WPGH-TV's 10 p.m. newscast. PCNC offers two newscasts: "Pittsburgh This Morning", an hour-long weekday morning newscast airing from 7–8 a.m. and a 7 p.m. weeknight newscast.
Over the past decade, Pittsburgh has been a perennially competitive market for local news, with news ratings usually differing by less than a full ratings point. More recently, however, WPXI has had an increase in most dayparts, although it continues maintain a tie with KDKA-TV in the market for daytime news, as of the May 2009 Nielsen ratings period. Also during this period, WPXI had in increase during the morning hours and the WPXI-produced 10 p.m. news remained in first place. From 1997 to 1999, WPXI lead #1 ahead of WTAE-TV and KDKA-TV in viewership for the 5:00 p.m. newscast due to lead-in by early fringe talk show, The Jerry Springer Show at 4 p.m. As of May 2010, WPXI has a strong lead with viewers in the 5-6 a.m. and 10 p.m. timeslots. However, WPXI had the least-watched newscasts in Pittsburgh at noon, 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, and 11:00 p.m. (with KDKA-TV being the highest watched during those timeslots, except for WTAE-TV which was the leader at 11 p.m. as of the February 2013 ratings period).
Notable current on-air staff
- Lisa Sylvester – anchor
- Kevin Benson (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) – meteorologist
- Jodine Costanzo – general assignment reporter
Notable former on-air staff
- Asa Aarons - consumer reporter (1984–1990; went to WNBC in New York City) - now at NY1
- Rocky Bleier - sports anchor (1981–1985; former Pittsburgh Steeler)
- Julie Bologna - chief meteorologist (1999–2004; 2008–2011; later with WFAA in Dallas)
- Bill Cardille - on-air announcer (1957–2000; was the first personality on air at WIIC, now a radio DJ at WJAS)
- Beano Cook - commentator (late 1980s; deceased)
- Red Donley - sports anchor (1961–1970; previously worked at WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio/Wheeling, West Virginia, died in 1998)
- Pat Finn - weather forecaster/reporter (1979–1983; later a host of various game shows including Shop 'til You Drop)
- John Fedko - sports director (1987–2010)
- Mark Malone - sports anchor (1990–1993; later with WBBM-TV in Chicago)
- Todd McDermott - morning and noon co-anchor (2010–2012; now evening anchor at WPBF in West Palm Beach, Florida)
- Sam Nover - sports anchor (1970–2001; retired)
- Edye Tarbox - anchor (1987–1989; worked with Fox News Channel)
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- Original Pittsburgh Allocations
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- WPXI tunes in to Summer Hill folks - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
- Tuned In: WPXI moves to sleek, new digs
- TUNED IN JOURNAL: WPXI's major malfunctions
- WPXI Expands Noon News TVSpy, August 29, 2013.
- Seasonal dip in local news ratings not as low Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (05/23/2014)
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- RabbitEars TV Query for WPXI
- Tuned In: TV news pranksters try to 'bust' WPXI
- WPXI to air old shows as Retro TV affiliate
- WPXI News
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- "Tuned In: 'Killing' stumbles through life on Netflix". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rob Owen. Retrieved 17 October 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: