The station's first employee, general manager George Strimel, Jr., was hired in 1965 and given two years to get the station on the air. He was able to do so within nine months, and WVIA-TV signed on for the first time on September 26, 1966. The fledgling station received a considerable assist from the area's commercial stations. WNEP-TV donated the old transmitter and tower facility from WARM-TV (one of the two stations that merged to form WNEP 10 years earlier), while WBRE-TV and WDAU-TV (now WYOU) made their studios available for local productions. All production work was done from the transmitter site.
The station grew rapidly, and within a year moved its offices from First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre to office space donated by King's College, and later to a school in Scranton. In 1969, WVIA moved to a specially-built studio at Marywood College in Scranton. In 1971, WVIA moved to its current studio in Jenkins Township.
The station didn't take long to become a part of the community; it won the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's award for community involvement for two straight years in the 1970s. It was the only public television station in Pennsylvania to stay on the air during a 1970 budget crisis. When Hurricane Agnes struck the area in 1972, WVIA preempted its programming to air weather reports around the clock, and lent its equipment to WBRE so it could stay on the air.
In 1978, WVIA activated its current tower on Penobscot Knob. It increased the station's coverage by 20%, enabling it to reach 20 counties and giving it a coverage area comparable with most of the area's commercial stations. The station also operates the largest translator network in Pennsylvania.
|Call letters||Analog Channel||Digital Channel||City of license|
|W20CP||20||20 1 3||Mansfield|
|W25AQ||25||25 1 3||Towanda|
|W47DH||47 1||Clarks Summit|
On December 16, 2007, the top section of WVIA's tower collapsed due to severe ice, wind, and snow. The felled top section of the tower supported the antennas for the analog TV signal on channel 44 and the digital TV signal on channel 41. WVIA-FM's antenna survived since it was located on the portion of the tower which did not collapse. After the incident, WVIA quickly put the analog TV signal back on the air through the use of a shorter back-up tower and antenna also located on Penobscot Knob. However, due to the shorter height, the service area has been limited.
Earlier that same day, the neighboring tower supporting the antennas for analog WNEP-TV (channel 16) and WCLH-FM 90.7 MHz collapsed completely due to the ice and winds. The tower collapse also destroyed the transmitter building but no one was hurt in either incidents.