However, almost as soon as it signed on, the FCC began investigating allegations of impropriety in the granting of the television license. The struggle lasted 15 years. As a result, WHDH-TV never had a license longer than six months at a time. (Most television licenses last for three years.) In 1969, a local group, Boston Broadcasters, won a construction permit for a new channel 5 under the calls of WCVB-TV after promising to air more local programming than any other station in America at the time. Herald-Traveler Corp. fought the decision in court, but lost in 1972, and Boston Broadcasters was granted a license to operate its new station.
CBS was not amused at the prospect of numerous preemptions in the nation's fifth-largest market and refused to have anything to do with WCVB. As a result, WCVB cut a deal with ABC. CBS then moved its programming back to WNAC-TV (channel 7, later WNEV-TV and now the current WHDH-TV), which had been Boston's original CBS affiliate from 1948 to 1961. Making good on its promise, WCVB aired more local programming than any other television station in the nation throughout the 1970s and the 1980s. One of its local programs was Good Day!. This program, which first aired in 1973 (as Good Morning!), broke ground by taking its entire production on the road and broadcasting from locations outside the Boston area. Good Day!, along with The Morning Exchange on WEWS in Cleveland, served as a basis for the format of ABC's Good Morning America. The show aired from 1974 until 1991 (the show's cancellation), Eileen Prose hosted the last years of the program. The show's original hosts were John Willis, Janet Langhart and Martisha Palmer. Due to its commitment to local programming, the station was quick to preempt programs, including low-rated prime time ABC network programs. Most of the time these programs were picked up by an independent station such as WQTV (now WBPX) or Worcester-based WHLL-TV (now WUNI-TV). Since the mid-1990s WCVB has cleared the entire ABC television schedule, although it occasionally preempts network programming for local specials and movies. Notable examples are the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon and the 2004 preemption of Saving Private Ryan for another movie, Far and Away.
WCVB-TV was sold by Boston Broadcasters to Metromedia in 1982 for $220 million, the biggest sale ever made for a local station at the time. In 1986, Metromedia sold their television stations to the News Corporation and the 20th Century Fox film studio, who later used Metromedia's group of independent stations to launch the Fox Broadcasting Company. Channel 5 was included in the original deal, but was subsequently spun-off to the Hearst Corporation, who had purchased fellow ABC affiliate KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Missouri from Metromedia in 1982. That station was sold to make room in Metromedia's group for WCVB (to comply with then-FCC limits on the number of commonly-owned VHF stations, which at the time was five per company), and it is believed that Metromedia gave Hearst a right of first refusal offer if WCVB ever went up for sale again. Fox would get its own station in Boston in 1987, when it bought WXNE-TV (channel 25) from the Christian Broadcasting Network and renamed it WFXT.
While the station is no longer so involved in locally-produced programming as it once was, it has had some influential programs:
From February 1994 to May 1998, WCVB was also the official station for Lottery Live, the weeknight broadcasts of the Mass State Lottery drawings. Unlike predecessor host station WHDH-TV, where both Lottery Live weeknight drawings aired between 7:50 and 8:00pm, WCVB chose to air the daily Numbers Game at 7:53 (during Chronicle) while the specialty game (Megabucks, Mass Millions, etc) was held over until 11:10 (later 11:20) during NewsCenter 5 Tonight. A frequent substitute host for Dawn Hayes on the drawings was Nancy O'Neil, wife of former Red Sox pitcher Dennis Eckersley.
During the original Channel 5 era, the Lottery also backed a Saturday night game show, Bonus Bonanza, hosted by Dawn Hayes and Brian Tracey. The show had randomly drawn contestants play elimination games (a la Price is Right) to win big cash prizes. At the shows end, the three players for the night would come back for a bonus round. Each would place a cylinder on a numbered space from 1 to 12. Then a motorized cube would be let go for 30 seconds, in order to knock the cylinders down. After 30 seconds, any person with a cylinder still standing won the Cash amount associated with their number choice. Prizes ranged from $25,000 to $200,000 in cash. The $200,000 was won several times in its 3 year run on WCVB. The program also served as the runoff program for the various contests associated with the Massachusetts lottery. One such contest featured contestants playing for a Cruise for 20, a Chevrolet Blazer truck, and $25,000 a year for life. Bonus Bonanza had a solid run from January 1995 to March 1998. After Channel 5's contract with the lottery commission was up, the drawings moved back to WBZ-TV.
Currently, since August 2004, the drawings have returned to WCVB, albeit with a revamped format. The idea of a host and present lottery ball machine have been dropped, with only on-screen graphics displaying the already-drawn winning numbers for a minute or so. A rotating group of off-screen voiceovers announce the drawings. In the case of the daily Numbers Game however, a mid-screen shot of the traditional "number wheels" are featured, with the balls resting on the chosen digits.
Over the past several years, WCVB's sports department has produced New England Patriots pre-season games. They are also seen on sister station WMTW-TV in Portland and WNAC-TV in Providence. In addition, WCVB used to pre-empt ABC programming to air some Patriots games aired during ESPN Sunday Night Football. This now happens during some ESPN Monday Night Football Patriots games.
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|5.2 / 20.2||Storm Team 5 HD Dropper|
|5.3 / 20.3||ABC News Now|
After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on February 17, 2009 , WCVB-TV will continue digital broadcasts on its current pre-transition channel number, 20. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers will display WCVB's virtual channel as 5.
As WHDH, its newscasts were known WHDH-TV News. This title was used until March 18, 1972, when the station signed off for the last time and was replaced by WCVB. The next day, on March 19, WCVB began news operations as News 5. This newscast title was used until 1973 when it was replaced with the current NewsCenter title. Since then, the station has been known for exceptional news coverage and was consistently at the top of the news ratings since the early-1980s. Through the next couple decades, the station boasted the most-watched news team of Chet Curtis and Natalie Jacobson who married each other while co-anchors. However, by the late-1990s and early-2000s, the station was in a period of transition as it saw major competition from a resurgent WHDH.
At the same time, the station, known for the longevity and stability of its on-air staff, saw the end of its longtime anchor team of Curtis and Jacobson as well as their marriage (which ended in a bitter divorce at the same time). Natalie Jacobson continued to anchor the news at channel 5 while Chet Curtis is at half sister station NECN, a regional cable news channel. On July 18, 2007, Jacobson retired from WCVB. In mid-October of 2002, WCVB launched its weather radar that is currently known as "Storm Team 5 HD Doppler". This made the station the first in the market to operate its own weather radar. It is located west of Boston in Hopkinton. Also in 2002, Chief Meteorologist Dick Albert was joined by former rival Harvey Leonard who left WHDH to become co-chief meteorologist with Albert. Widely regarded as two of Boston's top meteorologists, Leonard and Albert were honored by the Associated Press in 2005 for "Best Weathercast in New England". In February of 2007, meteorologist Mike Wankum, who was Chief Meteorologist at WLVI-TV, was hired to work as the weekend evening meteorologist.
In the February 2007 ratings period, WCVB placed first in every local news timeslot it competed in. Channel 5 even displaced WHDH in total viewers and the 25-54 demo at 11 P.M. It was the first time since 1998 that WCVB swept all of its newscast timeslots. Only WFXT's 10 o'clock news drew more viewers than any of the "big three" affiliate late evening newscasts. That victory was short-lived, however. In the May 2007 ratings period, WHDH regained the lead at 11 o'clock after another close battle. On May 14, starting at 5 P.M., WCVB began producing its local newscasts in high definition. The station is the first in the Boston market, as well as in New England, to make the transition. Hearst-Argyle's cluster in Sacramento, California (KCRA-TV and KQCA) were the first stations in the company to upgrade.
This change resulted in the debut of a new studio set designed by FX Group and on-air graphics. However, channel 5 kept the same Hearst-Argyle theme music. The station operates a Aérospatiale AS350B helicopter entitled "Sky 5" that is live broadcast capable and shared with NECN. For statewide news coverage throughout Massachusetts, WCVB shares its resources with two other ABC affiliates in the state: WLNE-TV in New Bedford (the network's Providence, Rhode Island station) and WGGB-TV in Springfield. WCVB provides national news from ABC News for NECN. During the week, WCAP-AM 980 in Lowell simulcasts WCVB's newscasts from 5 to 6 A.M. and from 5:30 to 6:30 P.M.
Roger B. Goodrich, at 89; was a versatile `old school' reporter for WCVB-TV Roger B. Goodrich, versatile reporter for WCVB-TV; at 89
Oct 26, 2006; Roger B. Goodrich, a retired general assignment reporter for WCVB- TV, Channel 5, died of Parkinson's disease Oct. 4 at his home...