WHNT-TV is the CBS television affiliate in Huntsville, Alabama, airing on UHF Channel 19. The signal reaches most of northern Alabama and several counties in southern middle Tennessee. WHNT is also the only station in the Huntsville market that has never changed its affiliation.
WHNT began operations on Thanksgiving Day
, November 28, 1963
and has always been an affiliate of CBS. The FCC
originally licensed the frequency for WHNT to the city of Fort Payne, Ala
, some 40 miles (65 kilometers) to the southeast. The station was founded by a local businessman, Charles Grisham, now deceased. In 1980
, he sold WHNT to The New York Times Company
, which operated it for over a quarter century. In September 2006
, The Times
announced that it would put its entire broadcast group up for sale, with eight other stations affected in addition to WHNT. On May 7
, WHNT became a property of Oak Hill Capital Partners
, which operates the station as part of Local TV LLC
WHNT's studios are located in downtown Huntsville, where the station moved in 1987 from its original location on Monte Sano Mountain, a move prompted by a fire that destroyed rival WAFF-TV's studios, then located on Governors Drive, five years earlier. (For use during an emergency, a backup broadcast capability for news remains at the Monte Sano site.) WHNT is the only station in Huntsville to operate from a facility actually constructed specifically for broadcasting purposes; WAAY-TV operates out of a former gas station, WAFF-TV, out of a former jewelry store, and WZDX-TV, out of an office building. The transmitter and tower remain on Monte Sano, however, because the mountain provides the highest elevation in the immediate area. In 2003, WHNT allowed competing stations WAAY and WZDX to use space on its tower after a tower both stations used on WAAY's property collapsed, killing three men.
WHNT first used 16 mm film for most of its commercial and news gathering. In 1979, the station switched to the 3/4 inch video tape format. The station used this system until 1998, when new Panasonic DVC machines and cameras were purchased; DVC is still being used. However, in spring 2006, new cameras were purchased for the station's Shoals Bureau (northwestern Alabama) and Sand Mountain Bureau (northeastern Alabama). The cameras are Panasonic P2 cameras which record on 4gig cards. WHNT's video archives go back to 1980. For security reasons, parts of the archives are stored at the station's news bureau in Albertville (Sand Mountain).
Generally speaking, over the years, WHNT has always been competitive in terms of ratings with rivals WAAY-TV and WAFF-TV. In fact, WHNT is the only station among the three Huntsville television stations that broadcast regular newscasts to have never finished in last place in the Nielsen ratings. It brands its newscasts presently as "News Channel 19." Denise Vickers serves as news director.
In May 2002, WHNT became the first station in the Huntsville market to begin broadcasting in high definition, on digital channel 59. WHNT's digital signal is broadcast with a power of more than one million watts. Giving the station, by far, the most powerful HD signal in the market. The station will revert to channel 19 for its digital broadcasts once analog signals are turned off; channel 59 will no longer be available for television broadcasts after the digital conversion.
On February 1, 2004, WHNT broadcast the Super Bowl in High Defintion, becoming the first station in the Huntsville market to do so. Super Bowl XXXVIII became famous for Janet Jackson exposing her breast during the halftime show.
Since fall 2004, WHNT-TV has used the ARMOR Doppler Radar system in weather forecasting.
WHNT-TV has been noted for live coverage of breaking news, such as the shooting death of a Huntsville police officer, the 2006 Huntsville Bus Accident , and the solving of a 30-year-old murder case in September 2007.
On Monday, August 18, 2008, WHNT became the first television station in Huntsville to begin broadcasting all of its news programs in the 16 x 9 format on its digital channel.
- WHNT-TV News (1963-1970)
- News 19 (1970-1975)
- Action News 19 (1975-1984)
- WHNT News 19 (1984-1987, 1994-1996)
- NewsCenter 19 (1987-1995)
- NewsChannel 19 (1996-present)
60 Minutes Controversy
WHNT faced criticism when the station was accused of 'censoring' and 'blacking out' a February 24
, invesigative report by the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes
dealing with the conviction and imprisonment of Alabama's former governor Don Siegelman
and his targeting by President George W. Bush
's administration for political reasons. The first eight minutes of the report were not aired during the broadcast. WHNT first claimed that the broadcast disruption was a technical problem on CBS' end, though CBS News
claimed that this allegation was not true and that the network feed had been broadcasting perfectly during the 60 Minutes
segment. Engineers at WHNT soon discovered that the problem was faulty CBS-owned equipment located at WHNT, and not with CBS in New York. WHNT later aired the segment in full during its Sunday 10 p.m. newscast and again on Monday during the 6 p.m. newscast and made the segment available for viewing on its website.
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has asked FCC chairman Kevin Martin to investigate the incident.
The station's digital channel:
|| Programming |
| 59.1 / 19.1
|| Main WHNT programming / CBS HD |
| 59.2 / 19.2
|| WeatherBug/WHNT alternate feed |
After the analog switch-off in 2009, WHNT will move its digital transmission to channel 19, which was occupied by its analog signal.
- Jerry Hayes - weekdays 6pm & 10pm
- Elise Morgan - weekdays 5pm, 6pm & 10pm
- Greg Screws - weekdays 5pm & mornings
- Lisa Washington - weekday mornings
- Steve Johnson - weekday mornings
- Robert Reeves - weekday mornings
- Greg Privett - weekend anchor
- Dan Satterfield - Chief Meteorologist
- Spencer Denton - Morning Meteorologist
- Christina Meeks - Weekend Meteorologist
- Allen Moore - Weekend Mornings Meteorologist
- John Pearson - Weekdays
- Nick Banaszak- Weekends
- Tom Perkins
- Wendy Halloran - Chief Consumer Investigative Reporter
- Greg Privett - Chief Investigative Reporter
- Carson Clark - Sand Mountain Bureau chief
- Nate Adams - First Alert Traffic Reporter
- Ellis Eskew - General Assignment
- Amber Stuart - General Assignment
- Barry Hiett - General Assignment
- Jamie McGriff - General Assignment
- Clarissa Stephens - Shoals Reporter
- Jenn Lyles - Weekend Reporter
- Amy George - Now serves in a development position with Huntsville Hospital Foundation. The Foundation manages a fund named in memory of her daughter, Melissa, who was born premature. The fund purchases life-saving equipment for Huntsville Hospital's Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit. Amy retains a connection with WHNT through her photo on the station's website, under the section "Working Wonders"; George also hosts a monthly webchat arranged by the station, where she was named special correspondent with features of the same name, "Working Wonders
- H.D. Bagley- Stations first Meteorologist, 1963-1979, deceased.
- Jason Miles - now at WMC-TV, Memphis, Tennessee
- Sherea Harris - now at WBRC-TV, Birmingham.
- LaTonya Norton - now at WDSU-TV, New Orleans.
- Kym Richardson-Thurman - now at WPMI-TV, Mobile.
- Jason Marks - now at WAVY-TV, Portsmouth, Virginia.
- Jamey Tucker- now at WKRN-TV, Nashville, Tennessee.
- Christie del Amo - now at WBRC-TV, Birmingham.
- James-Paul Dice - now at WBRC-TV, Birmingham.