WHDH-TV channel 7 is the NBC-affiliated television station for Boston, Massachusetts, serving eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Its transmitter is located in Newton, Massachusetts. Owned by Sunbeam Television, WHDH is sister to CW affiliate WLVI-TV. The two stations share studios located at Bulfinch Place (near Government Center) in downtown Boston.
The station is the largest NBC affiliate that is not a network-owned and operated station. Sunbeam Television, which is based in Miami, Florida, owns that market's FOX affiliate, WSVN. WHDH and WSVN share resources when covering each other's news.
In 1950, General Tire bought the West Coast regional Don Lee Broadcasting System. Two years later, it bought the Bamberger Broadcasting Service (WOR-AM-FM-TV in New York City) and merged its broadcasting interests into a new division, General Teleradio. General Tire bought RKO Radio Pictures in 1955 after General Tire found RKO's film library would be a perfect programming source for WNAC and its other television stations. The studio was merged into General Teleradio to become RKO Teleradio; after the film studio was dissolved, the business was renamed RKO General in 1959.
WNAC-TV was originally a CBS affiliate, but shared ABC programming with WBZ until 1957 when (the original) WHDH-TV signed on channel 5. It switched affiliations with WHDH in 1961 and joined ABC. It stayed with ABC until 1972, when channel 5 lost its license. The licensees of the station that replaced it, WCVB-TV, planned to air more local programming than any other station in the country, heavily preempting CBS programming in the process. This didn't sit very well with CBS, who immediately moved back to WNAC. However, WNAC utilized the version of the circle 7 logo it had adopted in 1973 until 1977, when ABC complained it was infringing on its trademark, and it began using a Times-Serif-Italic "7". In 1980, a stylish, strip-layered "7" was introduced, which ended up being the last logo redesign under RKO General ownership.
Two legendary Boston TV personalities had shows on WNAC: Louise Morgan, who hosted a talk show and was known as "New England's First Lady of Radio and Television", and Ed McDonnell, who as the costumed (as an astronaut) character "Major Mudd", hosted a popular children's show in the 1960s and early 1970s.
By 1965, RKO General faced numerous investigations into its business and financial practices. Though the FCC renewed the broadcast license for WNAC in 1969, RKO General lost the license in 1981 after General Tire admitted to a stunning litany of corporate misconduct as part of a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Among other things, General Tire admitted that it had committed financial fraud over illegal political contributions and bribes. However, in the FCC hearings, RKO General had withheld evidence of General Tire's misconduct, and had also failed to disclose evidence of accounting errors on its own part. In light of RKO's dishonesty, the FCC stripped RKO of the Boston license and the licenses for WOR-TV in New York and KHJ-TV in Los Angeles. The FCC had previously conditioned renewal of the latter two stations' licenses on WNAC's renewal. An appeals court partially reversed the ruling, finding that RKO's dishonesty alone merited having the WNAC license yanked. However, it held that the FCC had overreached in tying the other two license renewals to WNAC's renewal, and ordered new hearings.
RKO appealed this decision, but after almost two years of legal action agreed to a settlement in 1982. It agreed to sell channel 7 to New England Television, a merger of two of the original rivals to the station's license controlled by Boston grocery magnate David Mugar. The transfer took effect on May 22, 1982. At that time, the station's call letters were changed to WNEV and the "7" logo was dropped in favor of a new SE7EN logo. This logo would change to one of a number 7 made up of seven dots in 1987.
In 1990, Mugar bought WHDH (850 AM, now WEEI) and renamed the TV station WHDH-TV. Those call letters had previously been used by what is now WCVB Channel 5 from 1957 until 1972. In fact, the call letter change took place on March 19, 1990--18 years to the day they had last been used on Channel 5. In June 1993, WHDH-TV was sold to Sunbeam Television of Miami (controlled by Ed Ansin), who still owns the station today. Shortly afterward, it adopted its present circle 7 logo, the same one also used by WSVN.
Over the years, channel 7 as WNAC had preempted little network programming. As WNEV, the station prempted programming in moderation, in favor of more locally-produced shows. The preempted programs often aired on WHLL (now WUNI-TV). From 1989 to 1990, the station delayed CBS This Morning in favor of a children's show called Ready To Go. In February 1994, CBS This Morning was dropped and picked up by WABU (now WBPX). WHDH then began an expanded morning local newscast. When the station became a NBC affiliate, WHDH ran the entire NBC lineup.
WNEV/WHDH also had exclusive rights to Lottery Live, broadcasting the state lottery games six nights a week from the fall of 1987 until February 1994. Originally hosted on WNEV by Andi Waugh, she was replaced within a year and a half by Dawn Hayes, who began her long run as host during this era. For the majority of its time (or heyday) on Channel 7, both drawings of the evening were played during the last two commercial breaks of Jeopardy!. The daily Numbers Game drawing would always air at 7:52 (following the conclusion of "Double Jeopardy!") , while the specialty game of the evening (Megabuck$, Mass Ca$h, Mass Millions, etc) would air at 7:58. Weekend hosts for this era included Linda Ward, Linda Frantangela, and Jill Stark (who sometimes filled in for Hayes on weekdays from 1993-94). After WHDH changed ownership in 1993, the games were subsequently moved over to WCVB-TV Ch. 5.
WHDH stayed with CBS until January 2, 1995, when WBZ took over the CBS affiliation as part of a group deal between CBS and WBZ's owner, Group W. Fox considered an affiliation deal with WHDH. but since Fox already owned WFXT, WHDH took over the NBC affiliation, ending BZ's relationship with NBC after 47 years.
In May 2006, WHDH began offering NBC Weather Plus.
On September 14, 2006, it was announced that Tribune Broadcasting would sell WLVI-TV, Boston's The CW affiliate, to Sunbeam Television, owners of WHDH and WSVN, for $117.3 million, after much speculation that Sunbeam would buy WLVI. The sale was approved by the FCC in late-November giving Boston its second television duopoly (the other one being WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV). WLVI moved from its Dorchester studios to WHDH's facilities in downtown Boston.
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For many years, WNAC-TV was a distant third behind WBZ-TV and WCVB. However, due to Scarborough's presence and those of other up-and-coming journalists, the station had begun to be fairly competitive with WCVB and WBZ in the early 1970s. For a brief period in 1974, WNAC's 6pm newscast actually catapulted from third place to first, thanks in part to its new hit lead-in, Candlepins For Cash, a local bowling show which had premiered the previous year. However, WNAC's news operation wasn't able to maintain this momentum for long; the RKO fiasco caused a sharp drop in the ratings.
By the time New England Television bought the station, a massive attempt to bring Channel 7 as WNEV out of the ratings basement occurred with the infamous "dream team" headed by Tom Ellis and Robin Young. Ellis had previously maintained WBZ's dominance in the news market and then helped WCVB reach number one during his tenure there (1978-82). Young, on the other hand, had no hard news experience but was well-known to Boston viewers as former co-host of Evening Magazine. Despite a massive influx of capital and marketing (including the launch campaign "There's A New Day Dawning", and a highly-financed promotional campaign employing the refrain "Feel Good About That"), the "dream team" failed to take the market by storm.
What would follow for WNEV's news in the next few years was more shakeups, both in talent and identity due to ongoing sagging ratings, starting with the axing of Robin Young from the news in late 1983 (she would remain on the station as the host of specials and events through 1987). Tom Ellis would remain on with a more suitable co-anchor replacement, Diane Willis, but by 1986, Willis left and Ellis was demoted from anchoring to a smaller role. At that time, WNEV then promoted a shining talent from other dayparts, Kate Sullivan, and newcomer Dave Wright to become the new lead duo. Ellis, meanwhile, left the station altogether at the end of that year. In September 1987, numerous changes occurred when R.D. Sahl, another anchor from other slots joined Kate Sullivan as her new partner on weeknights. That same month WNEV became the first Boston TV station to launch a 5pm newscast, which was anchored by Dave Wright and Diana Williams (who moved to her current job at WABC-TV in 1990). Although WNEV/WHDH would spend the rest of its years under Mugar in the ratings basement, Sahl became regarded as the strongest figure the station had going for it, at first with Sullivan and then her early 1990s replacement, Margie Reedy. In addition, Channel 7's news identity constantly changed under Mugar, changing from NEWSE7EN (1982-84) to The New England News (1984-1988) to News 7 New England (1988-1990) to News 7 (1990-1994).
Amid all the local prominent journalists who attempted to leverage WNEV's news, a few future national talents had brief stints at the station in the 1980s. Bill O'Reilly, long before his national exposure on Inside Edition and Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, co-anchored NEWSE7EN Weekend in 1982-83. Soon after, O'Reilly also became the host of the station's weekday afternoon talk/lifestyle program, New England Afternoon (which replaced the ill-fated two-hour magazine show Look, canceled after its first season). His successor on the weekend newscast was Paula Zahn, now a well-renowned newswoman of many TV networks, who co-anchored with Lester Strong from 1983-85. Later, for six months during 1988, future Today host Matt Lauer hosted WNEV's mid-morning talk show Talk of the Town. Then in the early 90s, two more would later hit the big time: Edye Tarbox, who was an anchor/reporter at WHDH from 1990-92, now goes by the name E.D. Hill and has been at Fox News Channel since 1999. Rehema Ellis, who anchored and reported at WHDH in the same period, is now with NBC News.
However, there were abrupt changes when Sunbeam bought the station in 1993. New station owner Ed Ansin brought Joel Cheatwood, the creator of WSVN in Miami's fast-paced news format, to Boston. Most of the station's prominent newscasters, including R.D. Sahl, wanted nothing to do with Cheatwood and promptly resigned. Cheatwood introduced a considerably watered-down version of the WSVN format. However, it was still shocking by Boston standards.
Nevertheless, the new format soon rejuvenated WHDH's ratings, especially after switching to NBC. For most of the last decade, WHDH has waged a spirited battle for first behind long-dominant WCVB. In 2002, WHDH was noted as having the best newscast in the U.S. in a study published by the Columbia Journalism Review In previous studies, the station was deemed as having one of the worst newscasts.
The station, in partnership with MetroNetworks, launched the TrafficTracker truck during the Democratic National Convention held in Boston in 2004. With traffic reporter Marshall Hook behind the wheel of one of the station's live vehicles, WHDH became the only station in the market to produce live traffic reports from the road. They continue to launch the TrafficTracker during snowstorms, including the December 13, 2007 storm that resulted in paralyzing commutes that, in some cases, exceeded seven hours.
As of December 19, 2006, WHDH has been producing WLVI's nightly 10 o'clock news under the name 7 News at 10 on CW 56.
WHDH shares its resources with WJAR, the NBC affiliate for the state of Rhode Island and Bristol County, Massachusetts, for news coverage of southeastern Massachusetts. WWLP, the NBC affiliate for Springfield, shares its resources with WHDH for news coverage of western areas of the state.
The station operates a Bell LongRanger 206L news helicopter entitled "Sky 7". The station's weather radar is presented on-air as "Storm Scan Doppler" with a signal coming from the radar at the National Weather Service local forecast office in Taunton.
On February 29 2008, it was reported that the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike caused a significant loss in viewers during the late news. WHDH-TV finished at 11pm, with an average of 166,100 total viewers, down from 199,900 viewers in 2007.
On May 23, 2008, the station preempted an appearance of Alan Alda on the daytime show Live With Regis and Kelly to report a minor news event. Because the news event posed no immediate public threat, the station was criticized for censorship via preemption.
On July 29, 2008, WHDH began doing broadcasts in HD, complete with a 16:9 Aspect Ratio. It is the second station in Boston to broadcast in high definition, with WCVB-TV being the first. It also revealed a new television studio and graphics for a more compatible look with their sister station (WSVN, which curiously remains without high definition newscasts).
7 FastTrak Traffic
WHDH General Manager arrested with disorderly conduct, drunk in public and resisting arrest Actual police report on the arrest and detention of her.
Actual police report on the arrest and detention of her. [http://www.thebostonchannel.com/download/2008/0422/15959495.pdf
THE STATION AGENT; WHDH's general manager, Randi Goldklank, brings new ideas and energy to the job of keeping 7News on top
Sep 03, 2007; When the Minneapolis bridge collapsed this summer, national news networks scrambled their reporters to cover the tragedy....