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WTAJ-TV is the CBS-affiliated television station for the Allegheny area of Pennsylvania that is licensed to Altoona, Pennsylvania. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 32. It is owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group. Syndicated programming on the station includes Inside Edition, Rachael Ray, The 700 Club, and Oprah.

Digital programmingEdit

The station's digital channel is multiplexed. After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion to take place on June 12, 2009, WTAJ-TV remains on its current pre-transition channel number, 32. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers will display the station's virtual channel as 10.

Virtual Channel Digital Channel Programming
10.1 32.1 main WTAJ-TV programming / CBS HD

HistoryEdit

The station signed on March 1, 1953 as WFBG-TV. The call letters came from the initials of the station's founder, William F. B. Gable, owner of Gable's Department Store in Altoona. Gable also owned WFBG radio (AM 1290 and 98.1 FM, now WFGY). In those early days, all programs were produced and transmitted live from the studios on Wopsononock Mountain in Altoona. Channel 10 was one of the strongest stations in the entire country, utilizing over 300,000 watts to serve its coverage area (most of which is a very rugged dissected plateau). The station could be seen as far west as Pittsburgh and as far east as State College.

In 1955, WFBG affiliated with CBS. Throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s, it also carried a secondary affiliation with ABC, usually carrying some of ABC's higher-rated shows. While ABC had an affiliate in the area, WOPC-TV (channel 38, now WATM-TV on channel 23), its signal was hit-or-miss even in Altoona itself. WFBG-TV also carried DuMont programs.[1]

In 1956, WFBG was sold to the Annenberg family's Triangle Publications. In 1969, then-Governor of Pennsylvania accused Triangle of using its three Pennsylvania television stations--WFBG-TV, WFIL-TV in Philadelphia (now WPVI-TV) and WLYH-TV in Lebanon--of engaging in a smear campaign against him. The FCC found that the charges were true, and forced Triangle to unload all of its broadcasting properties. WFBG-TV was among the last to be sold, going to Gateway Communications in October 1972 along with sister station WLYH. Since WFBG-AM-FM wasn't included in the sale, Gateway changed the station's call letters to the present-day WTAJ-TV (which stands for We're Television for Altoona and Johnstown). The new calls were chosen to acknowledge channel 10's large viewership in Johnstown, which until 1982 was a separate market from Altoona. Although Johnstown had a CBS affiliate of its own, WJNL-TV (channel 19), channel 10 had long claimed Johnstown as part of its primary coverage area. Until the mid-1980s, it was also available on many cable systems in the Pittsburgh area because Pittsburgh's CBS affiliate, KDKA-TV, preempted a decent amount of CBS shows and most of the preempted shows aired on WTAJ.

In 1982, the Altoona/State College and Johnstown markets were collapsed into a single market. WTAJ became the exclusive CBS affiliate for the enlarged market. It was never really a contest, since WJNL's signal had always been marginal at best even in Johnstown. Its over-the-air signal barely reached Altoona and just missed State College. WJNL changed its calls to WFAT, and struggled as a low-rated independent station for a decade before going dark in 1991; it eventually returned to the air and is now Pittsburgh CW station WPCW. [1][2]Former "Channel 10" logo used from 1995 until 2008Gateway Communications merged with SJL Broadcasting in December 2000. SJL changed its name to Montecito Broadcast Group in 2005. Montecito put WTAJ and two of its other stations in the Northeast--WLYH and Binghamton, New York's WBNG-TV--up for sale shortly after it purchased four television stations (KHON-TV in Honolulu, Hawaii; KOIN in Portland, Oregon; KSNT in Topeka, Kansas and KSNW in Wichita, Kansas) from Emmis Communications. Granite Broadcasting has since purchased WBNG, and on July 26, 2006, Nexstar Broadcasting Group purchased WTAJ and WLYH for $56 million. Nexstar's acquisition was completed on December 29, 2006.

Out of Market CoverageEdit

WTAJ-TV is carried on various cable systems in several counties that are located outside of the Johnstown-Altoona market. These counties include Armstrong, Clarion and Indiana.[2] [3] In Maryland, WTAJ-TV is carried in Cumberland and Hancock, which are both part of the Washington, DC market.

News operationEdit

WTAJ's news operation has seen a lot of changes through its more than five and a half decades, both in personnel and technology. Early personalities anchoring news, sports and weather in the 1950s and 1960s included Ted Reinhart, Charlie Ritchey, Big John Riley, Ted Johnson, Charlie Flynn, Bob James, Dick Richards, Jon Schwartz, Wes Maley, just to name a few. In September 1972 just shortly before the station was sold to Gateway Communications, Vice President and General Manager John Stilli stepped down and was succeeded by Ian K. Harrower, who would lead the station into its transition from WFBG to WTAJ. A news director and anchorman moved to Altoona from Washington, D.C. named Bob Moore, as well as the first female news correspondent from Penn State University Pam Jenkins. John Riley, Wes Maley and Ted Johnson stayed on board after the change, but eventually John Riley would be the lone survivor of the on-the-air personalities.

In December 1973, Pam Jenkins left to get married and relocate and in January 1974, Bob Moore left to return to Washington, D.C. as a journalist. This began a new area of "Action News" when the station over the next few months hired five new young people: anchorman Tim Fritz, reporters and weekend anchors Eric Rabe and Karen Nash, Sports Director George McKenzie and reporter Jon McClintock. Out of these five, Eric and McClintock became the veterans. They both stayed until October 1979 when Eric (who succeeded Tim Fritz as news director/anchorman in January 1976) moved on to field reporting in Philadelphia and Jon McClintock simultaneously left to create and head up the Blair County Bureau at WJAC-TV (channel 6) in Johnstown.

Vice President and General Manager Ian K. Harrower said he would hire a news director and an anchorman rather than give both jobs to one man. He hired news director Jim Thompson and anchorman Patrick Van Horn, both subsequently moved on and were succeeded by a number of different people over the next three decades. General Manager Ian Harrower left in February 1980 and was succeeded by J. Thomas Conners. That position has had several men come and go over the past three decades, also. The station suffered a devastating loss in early December 1982 when veteran weatherman John Riley suffered a brain aneurism from which he never recovered; he remained in a coma for over three years and eventually died in April 1986. The station has had many anchors and reporters come and go, some of whom are listed below on this page.

In late May 2007, WTAJ launched a redesigned website. On January 28, 2008, the station unveiled a new logo, slogan, and a re-designed set to replace the old set that had been used since 1995. The station also announced plans to enlarge its coverage in Johnstown since WWCP-TV and WATM have shut down their news department. Plans include a new Cambria County newsroom.

On-air staffEdit

AnchorsEdit

  • John Clay - 5:00 P.M., 5:30 P.M., 6:00 P.M., and 11:00 P.M.
  • Carolyn Donaldson - 5:00 P.M., 5:30 P.M., 6:00 P.M., and 11:00 P.M.
  • Angie Koehle- weekend evenings
  • Amy Mearkle - Morning/noon anchor
  • Patrick Schurr - Morning/noon anchor

WeatherEdit

  • Joe Murgo - 5:00 P.M., 5:30 P.M., 6:00 P.M., and 11:00 P.M. weather
  • Regina Miller - Morning and noon weather
  • Brian Thompson - Weekend weather

SportsEdit

  • Nick Foley - Sports director at 6:00 & 11:00 P.M.
  • K.C. Kantz - Weekend sports anchor
  • Sara Eckert- Sports reporter

ReportersEdit

  • Kevin Flanigan - Blair County/business reporter
  • Ben Manning - General assignment reporter
  • Ashantai Hathaway - State College bureau reporter
  • Barb Consiglio - DuBois bureau reporter
  • Danielle Krout - General assignment reporter
  • Charlotte Ames - Health reporter
  • Angie Koehle - General assignment reporter
  • Sean Dreher- Cambria County Reporter/Weekend anchor - now at WBIR-TV in Knoxville, TN
  • Brandon Brooks - anchor - now at KYW newsradio in Philadelphia.
  • David Briemhurst - anchor - now goes by David Henry; a reporter at WPVI in Philadelphia.
  • Larry Mendte - anchor - was anchor at KYW-TV in Philadelphia until June 2008.
  • Craig Demchak - long term anchor - now Director-News Content for Sinclair Broadcast Group.
  • Patrick Van Horn - anchor - now an actor in Hollywood.
  • John Riley - weathercaster (1959-1982) - known for the Big John Riley Basketball Classic and the Big John Riley Scholarship. Deceased.
  • David Venable - anchor - Joined the QVC home shopping network in December 1993.
  • Tim Boyles - Courts and Crime reporter - now owner of successful photography business in Florida.
  • Josh Hodell (1997-2003) - Cambria Region reporter/morning & noon meteorologist (late 1990s-2004) - now Chief Meteorologist at WBRE-TV in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA.
  • Aru Pande - Centre Region reporter (2001-2003) - was a reporter with NewsChannel 8, a 24 hour cable news channel in Washington, DC, until 2007.
  • Gabrielle DeRose - anchor (1990-2001) - was weekend anchor at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh until 2003. She has since gotten married and returned to Altoona and is now a mother.
  • Marissa Carney - Bedford County reporter - now working as the Media Relations Coordinator for Penn State Altoona.
  • Carl Madonna - Clearfield Region reporter - now working as morning anchor for WICS-TV in Springfield, IL.
  • Don Schwenneker (1994-2000) - anchored weather forecasts from the Spring of 1995 until late November 2000. He earned the title of meteorologist. He moved to WTAE-TV 4 in Pittsburgh December 1, 2000 as one of a team of weather meteorologists.
  • David Price (1995-1999) - after three years of co-anchoring morning and noon newscasts, he moved to WATM TV-23 and subsequently began hosting Scholastic Quiz on channel 3 in State College.
  • Jere Gish (1999-2002) - also anchored morning and noon newscasts for three years until he relocated in Lancaster at a TV station reporting news.
  • Brian Schroeder - he and wife Allison (Collins) and their two boys relocated in Albany, N.Y.
  • Eric Rabe (1974-1979) former field reporter, later news director as well as anchorman. He moved on to become a TV news reporter in Philadelphia. In 1989, he became a media consultant for Verizon in the Philadelphia area.
  • Jon McClintock (1974-1979) former field reporter; later became associate news director, weekend anchor, and then noon anchor. Became Blair County Bureau Chief for WJAC-TV 6 in Johnstown; eventually left the news business and is now a self-employed multimedia business owner.
  • Ron Klink (1976-1978) former announcer, later turned weather anchor. Moved on to KDKA-TV 2 in Pittsburgh until he was elected to Congress in 1992, where he served until he retired.
  • Mike Schneider (1975-1976) former sports anchor, weekend news anchor. Spent several years at WTAE-TV 4 in Pittsburgh. Was working at WABC-TV in New York City when he became co-anchor of "ABC World News This Morning" as well as news reader for "Good Mornig America" in 1989. Moved from there to NBC's Saturday "Today Show" until he ran for Congress in the 1990s.
  • Chuck Ferrell - started at WTAJ in 1975 as an announcer after having worked at WRTA with Tom Casey and WFBG. Returned as co-anchor of 10 News in 1998 after spending more than 20 years in TV news in Erie, PA, Michigan and Iowa. He is now a self-employed computer/media marketer.
  • Tom Casey - came to WTAJ in 1983 after being the station manager at WRTA Radio from 1967-1981. Worked as weather forecaster for TV 10 until he became semi-retired in early 2001 and officially retired at the end of 2006.
  • Jan Von Uffel Andrews - anchored the weather at 6 & 11 PM from 1978 to 1982. She married Blair County attorney David Andrews in June 1981 and left TV 10 in August 1982 to join the administration of Altoona Hospital. She eventually had two children and settled down as a housewife and a mother.
  • Mike Matters - Sports Director from 1979 to 1982. He moved on to become a producer for ESPN - TV.
  • Rodger Wyland - this Altoona native started working behind the scenes in Sports with Mike Matters in 1979-1980. In January 1981 he became the first weekend sports anchor and moved into the position of Sports Director in July 1982. He stayed there for four years until he took a similar position in August 1986 at WNYT-TV 13 in Albany, New York where he started out as weekend sports anchor and today is the stations' sports director.
  • Gary Drapcho - weekend sports anchor from July 1983 until May 1984 when he left to become sports director at WSEE-TV in Erie, Pennsylvania and is still there today.
  • Jim Gregory - succeeded Rodger Wyland as Sports Director in August 1986. He left the television news business in late January 1998 to become one of the charter personnel for Altoona Curve AA baseball. He since then has moved on to a couple different professions. Currently he is a sales manager for First National Bank.
  • Paul Alexander - worked at TV 10 for about eleven years, mostly in sports and some in news. He returned to his home town of Pittsburgh in 1998, originally as a morning news anchor but later returned to his first love - sports. He has since moved on to become a commentator on Fox Sports Network.

News/station presentationEdit

Newscast titlesEdit

  • News Roundup (1953-1960s)
  • Nightbeat (1960s-1974)
  • Action News (1974-1995)
  • 10 News (1995-2008)
  • WTAJ News (2008-present)

Station slogansEdit

  • TV-10 (late 1970s-early 1990s)
  • On The Move (mid 1990s)
  • Live. Local. Latebreaking. (late 1990s-2008)
  • Your News Leader (2008-present)

[3] This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.==Trivia==

  • In the 1977 film Slap Shot, a microphone bearing the mike flag of WTAJ (which at the time had a logo that featured a "10" in a circle) can be seen before the championship game. In this scene, sports anchor Jim Carr (Andrew Duncan) used a WTAJ mike when he interviewed one of the Charlestown Chiefs' players in the lockerroom. Slap Shot was filmed in Johnstown, which represented the fictitious city of Charlestown.
  • During the 1950s, the station carried a number of programs from the now-defunct DuMont Television Network. According to The Daily News, dating from July 30, 1954, the station showed Rocky King, Inside Detective, and Marge and Jeff. WFBG also aired Captain Video, The Goldbergs, and the Army-McCarthy Hearings that year.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Television Highlights". Cumberland Evening Times (Cumberland, MD): pp. 21. 1954-06-01.
  2. ^ https://www.comcast.com/Customers/Clu/ChannelLineup.ashx?print=1&CGID=2232
  3. ^ https://www.comcast.com/Customers/Clu/ChannelLineup.ashx?print=1&CGID=2228

External linksEdit

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