WRGB, channel 6, is the CBS-affiliated television station for Albany, New York, licensed to Schenectady. Its transmitter is located on Mount Pinnacle in New Scotland. Owned by Freedom Communications, WRGB is sister to CW affiliate WCWN. The two stations share studios on Balltown Road in Niskayuna. WRGB's analog signal audio can be heard on 87.7 FM in most areas the video signal can be received (and some that it cannot).
This is true for all channel 6 television stations in North America. However, this will no longer be true for full-powered stations after the February 17, 2009 conversion to digital is complete.
The station is especially notable for launching the television career of Food Network and talk-show personality Rachael Ray who started the 30 Minute Meals segment exclusively on WRGB's newscasts once-a-week before going national.
1928 to 1942
WRGB claims to be the world's first television station. It traces its roots to an experimental station founded on January 13
from the General Electric
facility under the call letters W2XB
on channel 4. It was popularly known as "WGY
Television" after its sister radio station. In 1939, it began sharing programs with W2XBS
(forerunner of WNBC-TV
) in New York City
, becoming NBC
's first television affiliate. That link would last for 42 years. The station initially broadcast on 790 kHz from a 380-meter antenna. The station also broadcast on the frequency of 379.5 MHz, with 24 vertical lines of resolution and 21 frames per second. Its call-sign was changed to W2XAD
rather quickly in 1928 and moved to 31.4 MHz. Towards December of 1928, the station would receive yet another change and upgrade with its call letters becoming W2XAF
, keeping its frequency, frame rate, and vertical lines.
Later on, the station received a further upgrade to broadcast 48 lines at 20 frames per second, with the call sign of W2XB on 2.1-2.2 MHz. In 1941, the station moved into a state-of-the-art studio on Washington Avenue in Schenectady. It was the first building in the nation specifically designed for television. On February 26, 1942, W2XB received a commercial license as WRGB, the fourth in the nation and only the second one outside of New York City. By then, it was operating on the VHF band with modern 525-line resolution and FM sound on a frequency of 66 to 72 MHz (then known as Channel 3, but redesignated Channel 4 after the Second World War).
1942 to present
Several years later, WRGB took on secondary affiliations with the three other networks in operation (CBS, ABC
, and DuMont
). In 1954, it moved from Channel 4 to its current position on channel 6 to alleviate interference from WNBC-TV (then known as WRCA-TV) and Boston
, and increased its radiated power approximately fourfold to 93,000 watts. WRGB dropped its secondary affiliations when WCDA (today's WTEN
) and WTRI (today's WNYT
) took the CBS and ABC affiliations respectively. In 1957, channel 6 moved to its current studio on Balltown Road in Niskayuna.
WRGB produced two of the longest-running locally-produced programs in television history: a quiz show called Answers Please and a bowling program entitled TV Tournament Time. After the cancellation of both by the late-1980s, WRGB's local programming has been variable and erratic ranging from a local home shopping show to a weekly video countdown done with Top 40 stations WFLY and (later) WKKF. On September 28, 1981, WRGB swapped affiliations with WAST (now WNYT) and became a CBS affiliate. Two years later, 55 years of General Electric ownership ended when it sold WRGB to Unicom Inc., a unit of Forstmann Little.
Only three years later, Unicom sold WRGB to its current owner, Freedom Communications. The next year, WRGB was awarded the "Broadcast Pioneers Golden Mike Award" and shortly thereafter was awarded a "Presidential Citation" by Ronald Reagan. WRGB changed its on-air name to "CBS 6" in October of 2004 after decades of being known as either "TV 6" or "Channel 6". WRGB is carried on cable as far north as Long Lake as well as several other Adirondack cable systems.
In September 2003, WRGB signed on its digital signal (WRGB-DT) located on UHF channel 39. Like its analog counterpart, WRGB-DT was the first full-market digital signal to sign on in the market. The signal consists of the following:
After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion
, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on February 17, 2009 , WRGB will move its digital broadcasts back to its present analog channel number, 6.
WNYA and WCWN Involvement
In April 2003, WRGB signed a joint sales agreement with the area's fledgling UPN
several months prior to that station's sign-on in September. Under the agreement, WRGB handled advertising sales for WNYA and shared syndicated
programming with the station. Also included were two forays of WRGB newscasts airing on WNYA (originally repeats then an hour-long extension to its weekday morning newscast). The agreement, originally set to expire at the end of August 2006, it was extended to expire at the end of 2008, but was then terminated in February 2007. Since September 5
, WNYA has been the area's MyNetworkTV
On June 19 2006, Freedom Communications announced the purchase of current CW affiliate WCWN from Tribune Broadcasting for $17 million. This purchase was finalized on December 6, 2006, giving the Capital Region market its first duopoly. Until the end of the JSA with WNYA, WRGB had control of three stations in the market. WRGB's hour-long weekday morning newscast extension was moved to WCWN at the start of 2007.
During past airings of the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, WNYA took on the responsibility of airing WRGB's local and network lineup. This role has since shifted to WCWN, which also airs CBS' coverage of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship.
On September 24, 2008 CBS 6 News started to produce a 10 minute news block, for the Capital Region's CW. It is called the 'CBS 6 10 @ 10pm.'
Outside of news, WRGB is the home base for Art "Mr. Food" Ginsburg whose syndicated cooking segment airs across the US usually during mid-day newscasts.
Syndicated programming on WRGB includes: Inside Edition, Live with Regis and Kelly, Dr. Phil, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and The King of Queens.
Providence Equity Partners
owns a controlling stake in Newport Television
(formerly Clear Channel Communications
' television division), the owner of local Fox
. As a result, the Federal Communications Commission
granted conditional approval of the deal in late-November 2007, provided that Providence Equity Partners follows through with its planned divestiture of its 16 percent share of Freedom Communications to another company (as required when Providence Equity Partners purchased a minority stake in the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision
earlier in 2007) before the group deal can be finalized.
For many years, WRGB had the leading local news production in the Capital Region anchored for many years by the venerable Ernie Tetrault (who was immortalized in the 1992 film Sneakers, directed by one-time WRGB intern Phil Alden Robinson). After Tetrault's retirement in 1993, the station was quickly eclipsed by WNYT and for several years in the mid-1990s fell to third place. For the most part, the station has stabilized to a steady #2 though for a period in the early-2000s it fell back to #3. On weekday mornings, WRGB produces an hour long newscast on WCWN at 7 A.M. This competes with the last hour of WXXA's morning news. Reports have circulated about WRGB launching a 10 P.M. newscast on WCWN. However, the moving of a second run of Dr. Phil to the 10 o'clock time slot have most likely put those plans on hold.
WCWN might take on the responsibility of airing CBS programs when WRGB is not able to such as in a news-related emergency. WCWN aired WRGB's 11 P.M. newscast during CBS's coverage of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in March 2007. WRGB delays the weeknight broadcast of the CBS Evening News until 7 o'clock in favor of an extra half-hour of local news. In addition to its main studios, WRGB operates an Albany Newsroom at One Commerce Plaza in downtown Albany. On January 13, 2008, WRGB began producing its newscasts in high definition. This was exactly 80 years to the date after their first experimental broadcasts. The WCWN broadcast was upgraded the next day.
As with its heritage of being the first station in the Capital Region, WRGB has had several firsts in the weather field given the unpredictable weather of the northeast. In February 1996, WRGB became the first Capital Region station to put forecasts on the World Wide Web
with the launch of its website. The Late-May 1998 Tornado Outbreak and Derecho
of 1998 led to further developments in the station's weather coverage. WRGB won an Emmy award for Chief Meteorologist Steve Lapointe's near-nonstop work over two days which made sure there were no fatalities in the otherwise devastating tornadoes
. In May 1999, the station (at the behest of LaPointe) started "WeatherNet6" which allows viewers of the station to submit weather observations around the area. The public is allowed to report anything from current conditions to snowfall totals.
In 2000, the station became the first in the market to offer a station-owned weather radar as it installed "Instant Doppler 6" next to WRGB's studios. WRGB held this exclusive distinction until 2004 when WNYT set up its own live radar. WTEN and WXXA-TV also updated their radar outputs to so-called "live" capabilities. They do not, however, own their own radars. Instead, each of those stations decided to re-brand the live NOAA National Weather Service NEXRAD Level II radar data as their own. Data is used from 4 regional NWS doppler radar sites in Albany, Binghamton, Montague, and Upton. This government data is also used on WRGB (known on-air as "WeatherScan Radar"), and is not proprietary to any one station. WRGB was the last station in the Albany market to have a degree-holding meteorologist on its staff, not doing so until Freedom's purchase of the station, several years after WTEN and WNYT did.
| Liz Bishop
|| CBS 6 News at Noon, CBS 6 News at 5
| Greg Floyd
|| CBS 6 News at 6, CBS 6 News at 6:30, CBS 6 News at 11
| Jerry Gretzinger
|| CBS 6 News at 5, CBS 6 News at 5:30
| Marci Natale
|| CBS 6 News at 6, CBS 6 News at 6:30, CBS 6 News at 10 on the CW, CBS 6 News at 11
| Ed O’Brien
|| CBS 6 First News/CBS 6 First News on the Capital Region's CW
| Carey Proctor
|| CBS 6 CBS 6 First News/CBS 6 First News on the Capital Region's CW||2008
| Craig Smith
|| CBS 6 News at 6/6:30, CBS 6 News at 11 (weekends)
CBS 6 Instant Doppler Meteorologists
(in order of rank)
| Steve Lapointe
|| CBS 6 News at 5, CBS 6 News at 5:30, CBS 6 News at 6, CBS 6 News at 6:30, CBS 6 News at 11, CBS 6 Chief Meteorologist
|| CBS 6 First News (weekends)
| Mark MargaritWeekend
CBS 6 News at 6 CBS News at 11
| Chris Silveri
|| CBS 6 First News/CBS 6 First News on the Capital Region's CW (Monday-Friday), CBS 6 News at Noon
(in order of rank)
| Doug Sherman
|| Sports Director, CBS 6 News at 6, CBS 6 News at 6:30, CBS 6 News at 11
| AJ Vittone
|| CBS 6 News at 6, CBS 6 News at 11 (weekends)
(in alphabetical order)
Past station personnel
- Marty Aarons (Replacement for Ernie Tetrault, lasted less than a year before being fired in 1994. Later held anchor positions at WGRZ in Buffalo and WROC-TV in Rochester)
- Jack Aernecke (5 and 5:30 PM anchor, also Money Editor; retired)
- Garrett Argianas (Weekend meteorologist during early 2000s, now chief meteorologist at WTIC-TV (Fox Hartford)
- Dick Beach (1931-1997, longtime reporter for WRGB TV and WGY radio)
- Kelly (Cass) Boland, (Weekend meteorologist, and later promoted to mornings from 1993-2000, now a key weekend meteorologist at The Weather Channel) She originally started out as a "Weathercaster" at WRGB before becoming a full-fledged meteorologist while at the station.
- Peter Bernard (1987-1992) Weekend weather and weekday Consumer Reporter. Now at WFLA TV Tampa.
- Jim Brennan (Sports anchor for most of the 1980s, left to anchor at WTEN, now host of the regional PBS program "New York Week in Review")
- John Cessarich (Chief meteorologist from 1987 to 1991, now chief meteorologist at WYFF in Greenville, South Carolina)
- Dr. Alan Chartock (Controversial director of WAMC, was a political analyst until dropped in 1994 at which point he went to WNYT)
- Ed Dague (Reporter and later co-anchor from 1969-83, left for WNYT and was the catalyst for that station's current dominance)
- Fred Dicker (Political analyst, better known as the Albany based state editor of the New York Post. Also hosts a daily radio program on WROW)
- John Discepolo (Weekend sports anchor from 1996-99, now weekday morning sports anchor at WCBS in New York City)
- Bill Duffy (Political analyst from 1969 to his sudden death in 1987; father of former News Director Beau Duffy (resigned 6/22/07) (and, in turn, father-in-law of Assistant News Director Michelle Nicoll-Duffy))
- Tracy Egan (Now at WTEN, served two separate stints at WRGB, first as a reporter in the mid 1970s then as lead co-anchor from 1986-91)
- Neal Estano (Chief meteorologist in two separate stints in the 1990s, now at WBAL-TV in Baltimore)
- John Graney (Long time Capital District sports talk radio host, was the main sports anchor for a time during the 1990s. Now hosts a sports talk show on WGDJ radio in Albany from his home in Venice, Florida)
- Steve Hammes (Weekend weathercaster and automotive editor from 1994 to 1999, continues to host and produce his auto-review franchise "Drive Time" for Yahoo! Autos and Autobytel, Inc. as well as hosting TWTV's "Car Show."
- Brad Holbrook (Evening co-anchor from 1998 to 2001, later host of BusinessWeek TV, now host of The Onion's satirical news program, "Today Now")
- Morgan Hook (Saturday morning anchor, 2007-2008; now a press aide to New York Governor David Paterson)
- Shawn Killinger(Morning feature reporter from 2000-2001, later was a contestant on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart)
- Kyle Kraska (Now main sports reporter at KFMB-TV in San Diego, got his start at WRGB in the early 1990s)
- Doug Lezette (Original weekend morning anchor, reporter, and later assistant News Director, now head anchor and news director at WSHM in Springfield, Massachusetts)
- Al Lombardo (Sports anchor during the 1980s, also hosted a sports talk radio show)
- Tom Mailey (Weekday morning meteorologist and earlier host of the "Million Dollar Movie", 1988-2008; now marketing manager for Stewart's Shops)
- Bob McNamara (Sports reporter from 1966-81, known as the one-time "Dean" of Capital District sports, and the only person to hold on-air position at all three of Albany's VHF stations)
- Joe Pagliarulo (Evening co-anchor from 2002 to 2005, now morning host at WOAI radio in San Antonio)
- Sue Nigra 1998-2006 (Most recently Noon/5:00 p.m. anchor and health reporter; her arrival to the station from WTEN was the focus of a key lawsuit on non-compete clauses)
- Paul Palmer 1985-1993 (News, Sports reporter) Now Producer with ESPN.
- Mary Caroline Powers (Reporter during the 1970s, then co-anchored the Noon news on WTEN. Later worked in public television and as an editor at the Saratogian newspaper)
- Earle Pudney (1911-1998, pioneer in Albany area broadcasting, hosted variety programs on WRGB TV and WGY radio from the 1940s to the 1960s)
- Ric Renner (Sports director from 1994-96, now host of "Southwest Sports Report" on Fox Sports Net Southwest)
- Judy Sanders (Feature and political reporter from 1979 to 2006)
- Scott Stevens (Webmaster of the conspiracy website WeatherWars, was fired by WRGB in 1995 after having fabricated his credentials)
- Joe Tessitore (Sports anchor, now at ESPN after a career at WFSB in Hartford, Connecticut)
- Ernie Tetrault (Main anchor for 42 years, 1951-93; now known as a commercial pitchman for many businesses in the Albany area; had a small part in the 1992 Robert Redford film, Sneakers)
- Howard Tupper (1913-1986, longtime weatherman and host of the long running Sunday morning bowling show TV Tournament Time, known for his catch phrase "Hi, small fry")
- Tim Welch (Weatherman during the 1980s, followed Howard Tupper and preceded John Cessarich)
- Meteorologist Mike Augustyniak (left in 2008 for station WCCO)
- Sportscaster Tim Mack; left in 2008
- Ernie Tetrault, WRGB's long-time anchor, can be seen anchoring a newscast in the 1992 film Sneakers. Phil Alden Robinson, the film's director, once worked at the station as an intern.
- The final episode of Newhart (Episode: #8.24 shown on May 21, 1990) ran for 30 seconds longer than the typical episode. WRGB was the only CBS affiliate that did not get an announcement from the network. Halfway through the concluding joke in the episode, the WRGB's control room cut to a male local anchor. As was typical at the time, he was to read teasers for that night's 11 PM newscast but he was visibly surprised at his own face appearing on the monitor since he was watching the end of the episode as well.
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