WPBN-TV is the NBC-affiliated television station for the northern Lower and eastern Upper Peninsulas of Michigan. Licensed to Traverse City, the station broadcasts an analog signal on VHF channel 7 from a transmitter located 12 miles west of Cadillac in Wexford County. WPBN broadcasts a digital signal on UHF channel 50 from a transmitter located at the station's studios on M-72 west of Traverse City. Like other network affiliates in this vast and rural area, WPBN operates a full-time satellite, WTOM-TV. Licensed to Cheboygan, this station broadcasts an analog signal on VHF channel 4 and a digital signal on UHF channel 35. WTOM's transmitter is located on U.S. 23 five miles east of the town. The station's signals are rather weak and only reach as far as Brevort, Petoskey, Pickford, and Indian River. However, it is carried on cable in Sault Sainte Marie. Via cable, the station serves as the default NBC affiliate for the Alpena television market as that area does not have an affiliate of its own.
|7.1 / 4.1|| main WPBN & WTOM programming / NBC HD|
(high definition available only on WPBN)
|7.3||NBC Weather Plus|
When WTOM first began broadcasting, the two stations had their own news departments but WTOM eventually became a full-time satellite of WPBN. Until 1971, TV 7&4 shared ABC programming with the area's CBS affiliate WWTV ("9&10 News"). TV 7&4 aired ABC's sports programming on the weekends while 9&10 News aired some of ABC's game shows and soap operas. In 1971, WGTU signed on and took the ABC affiliation. In 1980, Midwest Broadcasting which was the Biederman family's company, wanted to expand their broadcast operations in Northern Michigan. However, the FCC told the Biedermans that they could do so only if they sold off some stations to stay under ownership limits. One of the stations sold off was TV 7&4 and sold to US Tobacco. Until recently, TV 7&4 was owned by Raycom Media. In late-2005, following Raycom's purchase of The Liberty Corporation, Raycom announced that "TV 7&4" would be sold along with another NBC affiliate in the Upper Peninsula, WLUC-TV in Marquette.
The sale was necessary to help meet FCC restrictions on station ownership. On March 27, 2006, Raycom announced that Barrington Broadcasting would acquire 12 Raycom stations, including TV 7&4. The FCC approved the deal in June of 2006 and the finalization took place on August 12, 2006. At that point, TV 7&4 joined WLUC, Saginaw's NBC affiliate WEYI-TV and (to a degree) Toledo's NBC affiliate WNWO-TV as part of Barrington's family of stations in and around the state of Michigan. On September 19, 2007, an application was filed to the FCC by Max Media to sell WGTU (and its full-time satellite, WGTQ) to Tucker Broadcasting for $10 million dollars. After FCC approval, Tucker Broadcasting entered into a shared services agreement (SSA) with WPBN owner Barrington Broadcasting. This resulted in that station operating WGTU. According to the FCC filing, WPBN will sell advertising time and provide news and other programming for WGTU and its CW subchannel. After WPBN renovates their studios this summer, WGTU will merge its operations with WPBN.
TV 7&4 has long been second in the news ratings in the market, according to Nielsen Media Research behind WWTV / WWUP (9&10 News). Over the last few years, 7&4's newscasts have been seeing ratings growth, while 9&10's are trending downward. Much like 9&10, TV 7&4 has long devoted significant resources to its news department, resulting in a higher-quality product than expected for a station in the 116th market. TV 7&4's personalities include longtime anchors and reporters such as Dave Walker, Greg MacMaster, Adam Bartelmay, Marc Schollett, and Diana Fairbanks. Another longtime personality, Dave Fortin, retired in December of 2006 after 42 years. The station has many alumni including weatherman Dave Barrons and news anchor Scott Michael Trager who both went to 9&10 News in the early-1990s. Other alumni are Christa Quinn and the immortal "Deputy" Don Melvoin who first hosted the Deputy Don kids show in the 1950s.
After a stint in Hollywood that included roles on The Twilight Zone and a movie filmed on Mackinac Island called Somewhere in Time, Melvoin came back to TV 7&4 to host Deputy Don Rides Again and the legendary horror flick Count Zappula. Don Melvoin died in 2002. In addition to their main studios, TV 7&4 operates two separate newsrooms. The Cadillac Newsroom is located on Spruce Street in Cadillac. The Gaylord Newsroom is located on West Main Street in Gaylord. In terms of news coverage, TV 7&4 has more of a Traverse City focus verses WWTV. On September 10, 2007, TV 7&4 began airing an 11 A.M. newscast during the week after Today expanded to four hours. There is the possibility of TV 7&4 producing newscasts on ABC 29&8 as a result of the stations now being operated together. In the local segments of the 2008 Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, ABC 29&8 anchor Lori Puckett appeared on TV 7&4. The station broadcasts their local newscasts in digital widescreen 16x9. Though not truly high definition, the digital widescreen broadcasts match the ratio of HD television screens.
7&4 News Storm Team
TV groups jump into seller's market.(Federal Broadcasting Co. may sell eight affiliates, Palmer Communications Inc. may sell two)(Brief Article)
Dec 11, 1995; Eight NBC affiliates and two other TV stations are considering putting themselves on the market, brokers for the stations said...