WTAE-TV is the ABC affiliate serving the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and serving as a secondary ABC affiliate for the Wheeling/Steubenville and Clarksburg/Weston, West Virginia market areas. Its transmitter is located in Buena Vista, Pennsylvania and its studios are located in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.
Channel 4, originally allocated to Irwin, Pennsylvania (in Westmoreland County), was moved to Pittsburgh in the mid 1950s. This came about because Pittsburgh mayor David L. Lawrence had petitioned the FCC relentlessly for a fourth VHF channel in the area. It is short-spaced to other channel 4 stations in Columbus, Ohio (WCMH-TV, which is NBC) and Buffalo, New York (WIVB-TV, which is CBS), with the tower located southeast of the city as a result.
WTAE-TV signed on the air on September 14, 1958 as Pittsburgh's ABC affiliate. From the beginning, it has been owned by the Hearst Corporation, which purchased the station's former sister radio station, WCAE/WTAE Radio, in 1931. (The radio station is now WEAE, and is owned by ABC/Disney as part of the ESPN Radio network; ESPN is a partnership of Disney and Hearst.) WTAE is the only TV station affiliated with a major network in Pittsburgh to have not changed hands in ownership. The station itself is now run by Hearst's television unit
Hearst-Argyle Television, of which it serves as one of the three flagship stations for the unit, alongside WBAL-TV in Baltimore and WCVB-TV in Boston.
In the early years, Channel 4 was best known in the market for its locally-originated entertainment programming, most notably the after-school children's shows:
Like its NBC rival, WIIC-TV, Channel 4 was not a major player in terms of news coverage in those early years, as the Pittsburgh market was dominated by KDKA-TV and anchor Bill Burns. That changed, however, in 1969, when longtime KDKA radio-and-TV newscaster Paul Long was brought in, along with his KDKA meteorologist-sidekick Joe DeNardo. From then on the market was competitive, and Long would continue to be Channel 4's lead news presence well into the 1980s before easing into a more "senior" role.
In June 1992, the station expanded its news production, adding a Saturday morning newscast from 8 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. (matching WPXI's Saturday morning newscast of the same length which began in 1990) and a three-hour Sunday morning newscast. The station also extended its weekday early evening newscast to begin at 5 P.M., and began to air a weekday morning newscast from 5 to 7 A.M. In 1997, the station expanded its Sunday morning newscast by an hour and began to air its Saturday morning newscast from 6 to 10 A.M. Today, WTAE offers four-and-a-half hours of live news each day.
At various times, WTAE has also served as the ABC affiliate for the Johnstown/Altoona, Wheeling, West Virginia/Steubenville, Ohio, and Clarksburg/Weston, West Virginia television markets (all of which could receive WTAE as a grade B signal). With WTAE having long been one of ABC's strongest affiliates, both parties reportedly resisted efforts by other TV stations in those cities to obtain a full-time ABC affiliation. Since then, one station was eventually granted affiliation in Altoona (WATM-TV), while WBOY-TV in Clarksburg and WTRF-TV in Wheeling (Both owned by West Virginia Media Holdings, the former briefly being a sister station to WTAE in 2001.) launched ABC stations on one of their digital subchannels in August 2008 on Your ABC and ABC Ohio Valley, respectively. WTAE is still available on cable in all of those markets today. In addition to those areas, WTAE can also be seen on several out-of-market cable systems throughout northwestern and central Pennsylvania.
In 1986, WTAE partnered with the Salvation Army and started Project Bundle Up, an operation to make sure that children and seniors get warm clothing. WTAE has run the Project Bundle Up Auction which is an auction where local businesses donate products to be auctioned off, and the Project Bundle Up Telethon a traditional telethon where viewers call in to donate money, businesses donate money and all of the proceeds from the auction and telethon benefit the Salvation Army. In 2007, WTAE moved the auction to the Internet.
Although it was the only ABC affiliate in the region when it signed on at the time, WTAE also pre-empted and/or delayed a handful of ABC programs, most notably its daytime lineup from the 1960s to the late 1990s (one show in particular, "One Life to Live," which they passed on from its 1968 debut up until 1978, when the serial went to an hour-long format), and those that did not air on channel 4 would end up on either WPGH-TV or WPTT. Today, WTAE runs nearly the entire ABC schedule. The station cut back its Saturday morning newscast to three hours, but it still runs a news-intensive schedule, alongside its top-rated syndicated first-run talk shows.
WTAE was also one of many ABC stations that pre-empted the special showing of Saving Private Ryan late in 2004 due to scares that the Federal Communications Commission would impose a fine on them if they had aired the World War II movie due to the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy earlier that year. It was later determined that the movie showing was not a violation of FCC regulations.
WTAE unveiled a new set designed by FX Group during the 5 P.M. newscast on Tuesday, September 4, 2007.
Also in 2007, WTAE started their own channel on YouTube. You can search them as WTAE-TV.
On Monday September 15, 2008 WTAE became the second station (behind WPXI) to launch local news and weather in High Definition.
The station's digital channel is muliplexed. After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion
, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on February 17, 2009, WTAE will continue digital broadcasts on its current pre-transition channel number, 51. However, through the use of PSIP
, digital television receivers will display the station's virtual channel
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, KDKA-TV has expanded its lead in most dayparts. WTAE had the largest audiences at 5 and 6 A.M.
during the May 2008 Nielsen
ratings period, was in second place to KDKA at noon, 5, and 6 P.M.
, and trailed both competitors at 11 P.M.
In March 2008, the station won a "Freedom of Information Award" and an IRE Medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors
for "pushing open the front door" of the state-run student loan agency.
In April 2008, that same effort resulted in a Peabody Award for the station, in recognition of "station`s relentless legal campaign to obtain public records of a state-run student loan program" which "netted evidence of financial misconduct and pushed the state to rewrite an antiquated right-to-know law.
- Wendy Bell - 5 & 11 PM
- Andrew Stockey - 5, 6 & 11 PM
- Mike Clark - 5 & 6 AM, Noon
- Kelly Frey - 5 & 6 AM; general assignment reporter
- Sally Wiggin - Noon
- Michelle Wright - 6 PM
- Janelle Hall - Saturday & Sunday mornings; general assignment reporter
- Shannon Perrine - Saturday & Sunday evenings; general assignment reporter
- Jake Ploeger - Saturday & Sunday evenings; general assignment reporter
Meteorologists (Weather Watch 4)
- Stephen Cropper - (AMS) 6 & 11 PM
- Demetrius Ivory - 5 & 6 AM, 5 PM
- Erin Kienzle - (AMS/NWA) Sunday, Noon (Monday-Thursday)
- Michael Haynes - (Fill-in) Noon (Friday), Saturday
Traffic (Traffic Watch 4)
- Scott Stiller
- Sam Hall in Sky 4
- Marilyn Brooks (medical editor)
- Marcie Cipriani
- Ashley DiParlo ("Plugged In")
- Becky Emmers (web reporter, host of Links 'n@ with DiParlo)
- Tara Edwards
- Jon Greiner
- Ari Hait
- Sheldon Ingram
- Bob Mayo
- Jennifer Miele (Westmoreland County Bureau Chief)
- Amber Nicotra
- Jim Parsons ("Team 4 Investigations")
- Aaron Saykin ("Call 4 Action")
- Paul Van Osdol ("Team 4 Investigations")
Sports (Action Sports)
- Jon Burton - weekdays
- Guy Junker - weekends
Former on-air personalities
- Christina Arangio (1997-2000) (weekend morning anchor/reporter) Now at WTEN-TV
- Timyka Artist (2004-2006) (reporter), now at WPXI in Pittsburgh
- Scott Baker (1993-2006) (anchor)
- Melinda Basara (1995-1998) (Westmoreland County reporter), now at WBAL-TV in Baltimore
- Jan Bohna (children's television show host, Romper Room (died in 2005)
- Mike Brookins (2000-2005) (meteorologist)
- Susan Brozek (1988-1995) (reporter), now a Senior Producer in Local Programming & Talk Show host at WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh
- Cathy Caldwell (2005) (traffic reporter)
- Don Cannon (1969-1995) (anchor), moved to KDKA-TV but has now left there as well
- Tonia Caruso (1997-2001) (reporter), now serves as Comcast reporter and WQED-TV OnQ contributor
- Nan Chapman (?-1986) (weather)
- Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins (1970-1971), (hosted Jazzbeauxz' Rehearsal, an eclectic talk and music program, 11:30PM Saturdays)
- Jean Connelly (1960-1975), producer/host of Jean Connelly Show
- Ed Conway (1969-1974) (sports)
- Dave Crantz (1968-1970), (longtime station promotions director, hosted Charlie Chan Theatre, 11:30PM Saturdays)
- Myron Cope (1970-1995) (sports commentary) (died 2008)
- Faith Daniels (reporter)
- Rod Daniels (-1984) (weekend anchor), now at WBAL-TV in Baltimore
- Susan Davies (1986-1995) (meteorologist)
- Joe DeNardo (1969-2004) (chief meteorologist) (retired)
- Beverly DeStein (reporter)
- Ann Devlin (1988-1991) (host of Pittsburgh's Talking)
- Beth Dolinar (1986-1995) (weekend anchor/reporter)
- Bob Drews (1958-1962) (portrayed Sir Rodger, host of Shock Theatre, which played late-night monster movies on WTAE)
- Whitney Drolen (2002-2004) (reporter)
- Jennifer Emert (1998-?) (breaking news/helicopter reporter)
- Stu Emry (1980-1988) (reporter)
- Debra Fox (1976-1986) (reporter/anchor)
- Ellen Gamble (1998-2004) (traffic reporter)
- Chris Glorioso (2001-2004) (reporter)
- Galen Grimes (1978-1982) (weekend anchor/reporter/first medical reporter)
- Carol Hall (1977-1984?) (anchor/reporter) http://www.carolhall.com/
- Bill Hillgrove (1978-1995) (sports), now the "voice" of Steelers football & Pitt men's basketball and football; also Steelers Insider on WTAE
- Lynn Hinds (AM Pittsburgh Host)
- John B. Hughes (1958-?) (anchor), first channel 4 news anchor
- Sheila Hyland (1988-1998) (weekend anchor/reporter), now runs her own media training firm
- Carl Ide (1958-60's) (anchor)
- Baron James (1995-2000) (weekend anchor/reporter)
- Alan Jennings (1989-1997) (reporter), now at WPXI
- Mark Johnson (1995-1996) (sports)
- Meghan Jones (2001-2006) (reporter, "Call 4 Action" reporter after Koeppen left)
- Susan Koeppen (2000-2004) ("Call 4 Action" reporter/weekend morning anchor), currently serves as CBS' The Early Show consumer reporter
- Ted Koppy (1999-2002) (weekend anchor/reporter) Now at WTNH-TV
- Brandon Lenoir (2006) (reporter)
- Paul Long (1969-1995) (anchor) (Died in 2002)
- Adam Lynch (1980-1995) (anchor)
- Jack Martin (1992-1996) (weekend morning anchor/reporter)
- Jerry Martz (1997-2005) (meteorologist)
- Greg McCampbell (1983-1988) (reporter)
- Al McDowell (AM Pittsburgh Host) (Died in 1994)
- Sam Merrill (2000-2002) (anchor/reporter) (returned to WNEM-TV in Michigan)
- Liz Miles (1990-2000) (reporter, previously worked at KDKA-TV)
- Cathy Milton (AM Pittsburgh Host/anchor/reporter)
- Angie Moreschi (1992-1995) (anchor/reporter)
- Dave Murray (late 1950s) (anchor)
- Andrea Naversen (reporter) (?-1988)
- Joe Negri (co-host/musician)
- Alby Oxenreiter (1988-1996) (sports), now a sports anchor/reporter at WPXI
- Andy Pearson (1995-1998) (anchor)
- Nina Pineda (1996-2000) (reporter), now at WABC-TV in New York)
- Tom Randles (1986-1990) (weekend anchor/reporter), now at (WSMV-TV in Nashville, TN)
- Rod Rassman (1995-1998) (reporter)
- Gina Redmond (1991-1995) (reporter/weekend morning anchor)
- Ken Rice (1988-1994), now 5 and 11 o'clock anchor at KDKA-TV
- Gus Rosendale (2005-2007), Now at WPTZ-TV
- Shiba Russell (2002-2006) (weekend anchor/reporter), now at WCVB-TV
- Emily Ryan (2001-2004) (reporter)
- Stan Savran (1980-1991) (sports)
- Eleanor Schano (c.1960) (weather forecaster)
- Mike Schneider (1977-1982) (reporter/anchor), now at Bloomberg Television
- Don Schwenneker (2000-2007) (weather) now at WBBM in Chicago
- Jim Scott (anchor/reporter)
- Melanie Shafer (1996-2000) (anchor/reporter), now at WSAZ in Huntington, West Virginia
- Paul Shannon (1959-1975) (host of Adventure Time)
- Kristine Sorensen (1998-2001) (reporter), currently an anchor at KDKA-TV
- John Steigerwald (1978-1985) (sports), currently hosts a talk show on KDKA-AM
- Hank Stohl (early '60s) (puppeteer-comic, hosted after-school Popeye 'n' Knish program, also The Saturday Night Instead of the Movie Show)
- Mike Stone (1998-2000) (meteorologist), now at WTOL in Toledo, Ohio.
- Melanie Taylor (2005-2008) ("Traffic Watch 4") returned to B-94
- Ricki Wertz (1958-1982) (children's television show host)
- T.J. Winick (1998-2000) (Westmoreland County reporter) Now at ABC News
- Shawn Yancy (1996-2001) (weekend anchor/reporter) Now at WTTG-TV
- Steve Zabriskie (-1978) (sports)
- Yvonne Zanos (1986-1997) (consumer reporter), now serves as the consumer editor at KDKA-TV
- Tony Zarella (1990-1995) (sports)
- Channel 4 Action Sports Sunday (Sundays at 11:30 P.M. - 12:00 A.M.)
- sports talk show hosted by Jon Burton or Guy Junker
- jennifer (Sundays at 11:00 - 11:30 A.M. ) - talk show hosted by Jennifer Antkowiak (former KDKA-TV personality)
- Steelers Primetime - extended Steelers coverage during NFL season
- Project Bundle-up Telethon, seasonal partnership with Salvation Army
Aside from local news and ABC lineup
, WTAE's other offerings include Live With Regis And Kelly
at 9 AM and Rachael Ray
at 10 AM, Access Hollywood
at 12:30 PM, The Oprah Winfrey Show
at 4 PM, and Inside Edition
and Entertainment Tonight
during the 7-to-8 PM hour.
- "Good Day Pittsburgh", hosted by Ann Devlin
- "Inside Pittsburgh", hosted by Sheldon Ingram
- The Hank Stohl Show
- The Jean Connelly Show
- The Johnny Majors Show
- Junior High Quiz, sponsored by local bank Pittsburgh National (now PNC Bank)
- Pittsburgh's Talking
- Project Bundle-Up Auction, moved to internet
- Ricki & Copper
- Romper Room
- Shock Theatre
- Tri-State Farmer
- In 1958, Shock Theatre premiered late at night on WTAE. The show was locally produced and hosted by Bob Drews who portrayed Sir Rodger (often misspelled as Sir Roger). Drews was a former Pittsburgh radio disc jockey who also wrote a satire magazine called Thimk. Shock Theatre featured monster movies such as The Invisible Man and Frankenstein. Drews interspersed comedic live-action skits within the movie and also was famous for his haircut, the Sir Rodger Clip. Little is known of what became of Drews after the show left the air in the early 1960s.
- In 1972, WTAE sportscaster Myron Cope coined the phrase "The Immaculate Reception" to describe Franco Harris' miraculous, running shoestring catch that gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a 13-7 playoff victory over the Oakland Raiders.
- WTAE's distinct channel 4 logo has been in use since 1973.
- WTAE and its channel 4 logo was immortalized in the 1979 basketball comedy film The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, whose fictional sportscaster "Murray Sports" (Played by Harry Shearer) was also patterned after Cope.
- On April 24, 1980, WTAE personality Nick Perry, who hosted Bowling for Dollars and also called the lottery drawings for the Pennsylvania Lottery, fixed the PA Lottery's Daily Number so that the drawing could come up as "666". Perry would eventually serve jail time, and the drawings were moved from WTAE to WHP-TV in Harrisburg a year later. This resulted in lotteries now being audited and monitored with "witnesses" from the government and/or accounting firms hired by them, and also inspired the movie Lucky Numbers. In addition, KDKA now airs the PA Lottery drawings in the Pittsburgh market instead of WTAE.
- WTAE was also known for the "legendary" news crew of Paul Long and Don Cannon starting in the late 1960s all the way into the 1990s. It is also said that Paul Long help entice Joe Denardo to the station.
- WTAE also serves as the default ABC affiliate for the Clarksburg-Weston, and also the Wheeling-Steubenville, TV markets, both of which lack ABC stations of their own.
- In 2002, Jean Connelly became the first woman from Western PA to be inducted into the Pennsylvania Broadcasters Hall of Fame. In doing so, she joined ranks with Paul Long, David Crantz, and Fred Young.