Channel 36 had a very weak signal at only 100,000 watts. Its signal was spotty further than 10 miles from the transmitter, making it virtually unviewable even in some parts of Mecklenburg County (home to Charlotte). Even then, like most UHF stations, it was only viewable on most sets with an expensive UHF converter. Television set manufacturers were not required to include UHF tuning capability at the time. As a result, it made almost no headway against CBS affiliate WBTV, which continued to cherry-pick some ABC programming.
The station left the air on March 15, 1955. This was intended to be a temporary hiatus while it underwent technical improvements including the relocation of its tower and acquisition of a more powerful transmitter. However, not long after that, the FCC granted a construction permit for Charlotte's second VHF station, WSOC-TV (channel 9). This, combined with other delays, forced the station into receivership in 1956. After failing to return the station to the air, Deadwyler sold its construction permit in 1957 to Century Advertising, which planned to re-launch it as ABC affiliate WUTV, with a much more powerful signal than its predecessor. However, these plans were not successful, as even with the stronger signal, WUTV would have still been all but unviewable in most of the market. In addition, most of the market (particularly the western portion) got a fairly decent signal from WLOS-TV in Asheville, which was included in the Charlotte television listings for many years and even ran ads for its programs in Charlotte newspapers.
In August 1964, Charlotte businessman Cy Bahakel bought the dormant channel 36 license. He returned the station to air on November 1 of that year as WCCB-TV (for Charlotte Cy Bahakel). Logically, it should have returned as a full ABC affiliate. However, WCCB's signal was scarcely stronger than that of its predecessor, at 200,000 watts, limiting its coverage area for all intents and purposes to Charlotte itself and the inner-ring suburbs. Also, the FCC had only required television sets to have all-channel tuning just a few months before, and most Charlotte homes did not yet have UHF-capable sets. Under the circumstances, even though Charlotte was big enough to support three full network affiliates, ABC decided to retain its secondary affiliation agreements with WBTV and WSOC. This forced WCCB to settle for a secondary affiliation with all three networks, airing most of the network programs that WBTV and WSOC turned down. For the next three years, it split both NBC and ABC roughly equally with WSOC; a few ABC shows also continued to air on WBTV, and WCCB in turn aired some CBS programs.
On November 1, 1966, WCCB moved from channel 36 to channel 18, broadcasting from a new tower located on Newell Hickory Grove Road in northeast Charlotte. The new tower was capable of 1.35 million watts of power, giving WCCB a coverage area comparable to those of WBTV and WSOC-TV. The station's former tower was located adjacent to the studio in the parking lot of the old Charlotte Coliseum, now Cricket Arena. This facility was originally planned for WUTV in 1957. In 1967, NBC informed WSOC-TV that it wanted a full time affiliate in the Charlotte market, rather than having its programming divided between two stations. NBC's ratings were higher than ABC's, so WSOC dropped its secondary affiliation with ABC. Beginning in the fall of 1967, WCCB was a full-time affiliate of ABC. Ironically, the state's biggest market got a full-fledged ABC affiliate after the state's two smallest markets, Greenville/New Bern/Washington and Wilmington, picked up ABC affiliates. However, despite the stronger signal, it remained a distant third in the ratings.
By 1978, ABC had become the nation's most watched network and wanted a stronger Charlotte outlet than WCCB. ABC took its programming to WSOC. Conventional wisdom suggested WCCB would simply take the NBC affiliation. However, Ted Turner, who owned WRET (channel 36, now WCNC-TV) came in from out of nowhere to take the NBC affiliation, leaving WCCB as an independent. WRET had been on the verge of closing down a few years earlier. Turner won the affiliation on the basis of a commitment to invest significant resources in upgrading WRET's signal strength and launching a substantially larger local news department than WCCB's. Bahakel always ran his stations on a tight budget, and was unwilling to match Turner's offer.
With WCCB left to fend for itself as an independent station, it bought a large chunk of programming from WRET, including cartoons and older sitcoms. For a time in the late 1970s and early 1980s, after-school cartoons were hosted by the costumed Sonic Man space alien character.
WCCB carried on for almost a decade as a typical UHF general entertainment independent station. In 1986, WCCB became the last top-50 market station to join the newly-launched Fox network as one of its charter affiliates. Since then, WCCB has been one of the strongest Fox stations in the country, particularly since the National Football Conference of the NFL moved its television package from CBS to Fox in 1994. By a lucky coincidence, this made WCCB the unofficial "home" station of the Carolina Panthers upon their debut in 1995. WCCB has carried most Panthers regular season games since then, and has since added preseason games. Panthers games are generally the most-watched programs in the market during each week of the football season.
In mid-2007, WCCB moved its Website to the "MyFox" platform. This design was originally intended for Fox owned and operated stations, but has gained increasing popularity among affiliates as well. The station's old Web address, www.foxcharlotte.tv, now redirects to the new site, www.myfoxcharlotte.com
|Channel||Programming||Digital Cable Channel|
|18.1 / 27.1||WCCB-DT (main WCCB/FOX programming)||Charter 786, Comporium 311, TWC 240|
|18.2 / 27.2||WCCB-DT (main WCCB/FOX programming with SAP|
|18.3 / 27.3||WCCB-WX (FOXSCAN Radar-NWS)||TWC 242|
The station's early-morning newscast, "Fox News Rising," places a distant fourth behind WSOC, WBTV and WCNC, while its 10 PM newscast beats its direct competition on WJZY and WAXN and also draws a larger audience than any WCNC newscast. In an attempt to boost ratings, WCCB re-hired former weatherman Mark Mathis and hired Anna Kooiman to replace Beth Troutman on Fox News Rising.
WCCB is the second station in Charlotte to broadcast its news in high-definition. The first broadcast in HD was on September 28, 2008 with the 10 PM news that debuted a brand new high-definition studio.
Bahakel tackles the doublecast: Carolina stations 90 miles apart to be served from tech facility. (Technology).(Brief Article)
Jul 08, 2002; It takes only two to centralcast. Granted, it's not as exciting as centralcasting with four or six stations, but Bahakel...