WZVN-TV, channel 26, is the ABC-affiliated television station for Southwest Florida that is licensed to Naples. Its analog transmitter is located northeast of Bonita Springs near the Collier and Lee County line. This location puts a stronger signal into Naples and Southern Collier County. WZVN's digital transmitter is located north of Fort Myers Shores near the Lee and Charlotte County line. Owned by Montclaire Communications, the station is operated by Waterman Broadcasting Corporation under a local marketing agreement (LMA). This makes it a sister station to NBC affiliate WBBH-TV. The two stations share studios on Central Avenue in Fort Myers. WZVN is carried on Comcast cable channel 7, which is why the station is known on-air as ABC 7. Syndicated programming on the station includes: Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Dr. Phil, TMZ, and The Insider. WZVN is one of two major Fort Myers-based stations licensed to Naples (the other one being CW affiliate WXCW).
WZVN began broadcasting on August 31, 1974 with the call letters WEVU. The station was owned by Caloosa Television. In 1976, The Home News Company purchased the station. WEVU began its partnership with WBBH in 1994 through a local marketing agreement according to a USA Today article on media consolidation. Without this resource, WEVU would have had to shut down its news department. The station's call letters became WZVN on October 16, 1995. The previous WEVU calls currently reside on WEVU-CA. In 1995, WZVN began identifying itself on-air by its cable channel and started using a variant of the common circle 7 logo. The station's version has the ABC logo attached to the bottom left corner superimposed over a tall black rectangle. Unlike the more common varieties (as used by WABC-TV in New York City), the "seven" numeral is curved differently. Both of WZVN and WBBH's digital signals went on the air on October 31, 2002. As a result, the two stations became the first in the market to make such a launch.
Darrel Adams is News Director for WZVN and WBBH who operate out of a single newsroom. Each station uses its own personalities, news set, and on-air style. However, it is not unusual for news personnel to share video. WBBH is the primary competitor with CBS affiliate WINK-TV. That station has long been the market leader in terms of newscast ratings. WZVN's best known former personality is Harry Horn who is also a veteran of WBBH and WINK-TV. He anchored weeknights on WZVN for 15 years until his retirement in 2004. Horn lost his battle with ALS in August of 2005. On August 14, 2006, WZVN rebranded its evening newscasts as Gulfshore News and added a nightly 10 o'clock newscast on MyNetworkTV affiliate "WNFM". However, it only ran for 9 months as a result of Comcast's frequent technical difficulties. This hindered the show's ratings and as a result, WZVN canceled the production on May 25, 2007. The cancellation may have also been in response to the popularity of WINK-TV's 10 P.M. news on WXCW. On November 8, 2006, re-branding of WZVN's newscasts continued with Good Morning Southwest Florida becoming Good Morning Gulfshore. On April 9, 2007, WZVN pulled the Gulfshore News label from all its newscasts and now simply refers to them as ABC 7 News.
During major hurricanes, recently Charley and Wilma, the news teams of WZVN and WBBH join together to put on 24-hour coverage. It is simulcasted on both stations and streamed via live video on both of their websites. During previous years, WBBH's anchor desk was used along with both station's weather centers. As of the 2007 season, WZVN's high definition studio will be used in the event of a hurricane. Commercial breaks are dropped for several hours preceding and following landfall. On July 12, 2007, WZVN began broadcasting its news in 16x9 standard definition. The station branded it as "enhanced digital definition" which is not the same as full high definition. It also began to use the WZVN-HD calls on its website. On October 20, competitor WINK-TV became the first Southwest Florida station to broadcast local news in full high definition. WZVN and WBBH share two news bureaus. The Collier County Bureau is located on Tamiami Trail North in Naples. The Charlotte County Bureau is located in Punta Gorda. WZVN and WBBH operate their own weather radar. It is located near the two station's studios and is known on WZVN as "Precision Doppler" or "Precision VIPIR" when used in 3D mode. Unlike most ABC affiliates, WZVN does not air news at Noon or at 5 P.M. during the week. However, it airs a 10 o'clock edition of it morning news. On July 19, 2008, WZVN and WBBH started broadcasting their local newscasts in high definition becoming the second and third stations respectively in Fort Myers to do so ABC7 Started broadcasting HD 5 Hours after WBBH.
ABC 7 Precision Weather Team