WPVI-TV Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Branding 6ABC (general)
Channel 6 Action News (newscasts)
Slogan Delaware Valley's Leading News Program Channels Digital: 6 (VHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
Subchannels (see article) Affiliations ABC Owner Disney/ABC
First air date September 13, 1947 Call letters' meaning Philadelphia
VI (6 in Roman Numerals)
Former callsigns WFIL-TV (1947-1971) Former channel number(s) Analog:
6 (VHF, 1947-2009)
64 (UHF, 1997-2009)
Former affiliations DuMont (1947-1956) Transmitter power 30 kW Height 332 m Facility ID 8616 Transmitter coordinates Website www.6abc.com
WPVI-TV, channel 6, is an owned-and-operated television station of the Walt Disney Company-owned American Broadcasting Company, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. WPVI has its studios located on the border between Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd, and its transmitter is located in the Roxborough neighborhood. The station's signal covers the Delaware Valley area, comprising large portions of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
- 1 History
- 2 Digital programming
- 3 News operation
- 4 Cable and satellite carriage
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Philadelphia's second-oldest television station signed on the air on September 10, 1947 as WFIL-TV. It was owned originally by Triangle Publications, publishers of The Philadelphia Inquirer, along with WFIL radio (560 AM) and WFIL-FM (102.1 FM, now WIOQ).
WFIL radio had been an ABC radio affiliate dating back to ABC's days as the Blue Network. However, WFIL-TV started out as a DuMont affiliate, as ABC hadn't gotten into television yet. When ABC launched its television network on April 19, 1948, WFIL-TV became the fledgling network's first affiliate. Channel 6 joined ABC before the network's first owned-and-operated station, WJZ-TV in New York City (now WABC-TV), signed on in August. However, it retained a secondary affiliation with DuMont until DuMont shut down in 1956.
The WFIL stations were the flagship of the growing communications empire of Walter Annenberg's Triangle Publications, which owned two Philadelphia newspapers (the morning Inquirer and, later, the evening Philadelphia Daily News), periodicals including TV Guide, Seventeen, and the Daily Racing Form, and a broadcasting group that would grow to ten radio and six television stations.
The WFIL radio stations originally broadcast from the Widener Building in downtown Philadelphia. With the anticipated arrival of WFIL-TV, Triangle secured a new facility for WFIL, located at Market and 46th streets. In 1963 (according to the WPVI web site) Triangle built one of the most advanced broadcast centers in the nation on City (or City Line) Avenue in the Wynnefield Heights community, in a circular building across from rival WCAU-TV. The station still broadcasts from there today even as a new digital media building is finally in use for Action News and other original productions, while the original studio was turned over to public broadcaster WHYY-FM-TV.
Channel 6 has a long history of producing local shows. On Good Friday 1948 it broadcast a production of "Parsifal" from the John Wanamaker Store that featured Bruno Walter 50 players from the Philadelphia Orchestra, a Chorus of 300 and the Wanamaker Organ. Perhaps its most notable local production was Bandstand, which began in 1952 and originated from WFIL-TV's newly-constructed Studio B (located in the 1952 addition to the original 1947 46th and Market Street studio). In 1957, ABC included the program as part of its weekday-afternoon network lineup and renamed it to reflect its more widespread broadcast – American Bandstand.
Other well-known locally-produced shows included the children's programs Captain Noah and His Magical Ark; a cartoon show hosted by Sally Starr; and Chief Halftown (whose host, Traynor Ora Halftown, was a full-blooded member of the Seneca Nation), and two variety programs: The Al Alberts Showcase, a talent show emceed by the lead singer of the Four Aces; and the Larry Ferrari Show, on which the host played organ versions of both popular and religious music. WFIL-TV also produced an early, yet long-running, program on adult literacy, Operation Alphabet.
Channel 6 was the first station to sign on from the Roxborough neighborhood. It originally used a 600-foot (180 m) tower, but in 1957 it moved to a new 1,100-foot (340 m) tower which it co-owned with NBC-owned WRCV-TV (channel 3, now KYW-TV). The new tower added much of Delaware and the Lehigh Valley to the station's city-grade coverage.
In 1968, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) barred companies from owning newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same market -- the so-called "one to a market" rule. However, the FCC "grandfathered" several existing newspaper and broadcasting situations in several markets. Triangle approached the FCC for permission to grandfather its combination of the Inquirer, the Daily News and WFIL-AM-FM-TV, but was turned down. As a result, in 1969, one year after the new regulation was made official, Triangle sold the Inquirer and the Daily News to Knight (later Knight-Ridder) Newspapers.
In 1971, the FCC forced Triangle to sell off its broadcasting properties due to protests from then-Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp. Shapp complained that Triangle had used its three Pennsylvania television stations -— WFIL-TV, WLYH-TV in Lebanon and WFBG-TV (now WTAJ-TV) in Altoona -- in a smear campaign against him. The WFIL stations, along with radio and TV outlets in New Haven, Connecticut and Fresno, California, were sold to Capital Cities Communications. As a condition of the sale, Capital Cities had to spin-off the radio stations to other entities (WFIL radio to LIN Broadcasting and WFIL-FM to Richer Communications, which changed the call letters to WIOQ), and channel 6 changed its call letters to the current WPVI-TV on April 27, 1971.
Despite the ownership change, channel 6 continued preempting ABC programming in favor of locally-produced and syndicated shows. In 1975, when ABC entered the morning news field with AM America, WPVI did not carry it. Nor would channel 6 pick up AM America's successor, Good Morning America, in its entirety for nearly three years, choosing instead to carry Captain Noah and His Magical Ark in place of the second hour of GMA. WPVI-TV also did not run other ABC daytime programming, notably The Edge of Night and numerous sitcom reruns. ABC was able to get most of its daytime schedule on the air in Philadelphia anyway, through contracts with independent stations WKBS-TV (channel 48) and WTAF-TV (channel 29).
In March 1985, Capital Cities announced it was purchasing the American Broadcasting Company, a move that stunned the broadcast industry since ABC was some four times larger than CapCities at the time. Some have said that CapCities was only able to pull off the deal because WPVI-TV, the company's flagship property, had become very profitable in its own right. However, the merged company almost had to sell off channel 6 due to a large grade B signal overlap with WABC-TV. In the FCC's view, the merger gave the new company a duopoly prohibited by the regulations of the time—the same "one-to-a-market" rule that forced Triangle to split its newspaper/broadcast combination in Philadelphia many years earlier. Capital Cities sought a waiver of the rules to keep WPVI, citing CBS' then-ownership of WCBS-TV in New York and WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. The FCC granted the waiver, and when the transaction became final in early 1986, WPVI-TV became an ABC owned-and-operated station. The station was hitherto ABC's longest-tenured affiliate; this distinction went to Baltimore's WJZ-TV and then to Washington, DC's WJLA when WJZ dropped ABC in 1995. A decade later, the Walt Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ABC.
Even in the years after WPVI became an ABC-owned station, it continued to pre-empt an hour of ABC daytime programs in favor of other programs. Wildwood, New Jersey-based NBC affiliate WMGM-TV picked up the pre-empted ABC shows until 1987, when it moved back to channel 29, which was now WTXF-TV. The pre-empted programs were usually magazine shows, game shows or reruns of ABC primetime sitcoms. Some leeway was made in the early 1990s, when WPVI was down to pre-empting only the first half-hour the Home Show.
It was also after the CapCities-ABC merger that WPVI encountered infamy: On January 22, 1987, the station partially rebroadcast the suicide of Pennsylvania state treasurer R. Budd Dwyer on its noon newscast. Dwyer's suicide occurred at a press conference earlier that morning.
In 1997, in a directive from the new Disney ownership, WPVI-TV began carrying the entire ABC network schedule for the first time ever. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of its highly-rated local show, AM/Live (formerly AM Philadelphia), which was shifted to overnights to make room for ABC's then-new talk show The View. AM/Live was moved to 12:35 a.m. following Politically Incorrect and was renamed Philly After Midnight, where it lasted until 2001.
Today, WPVI carries the entire ABC line-up as well as syndicated programming such as Live with Regis and Kelly and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, both of which are provided by corporate cousin Disney-ABC Domestic Television. It also carries both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. In fact, its entire weekday line-up, including syndicated shows, is identical to that of WABC-TV. Since 1977, WPVI has also been airing the Pennsylvania Lottery live nighttime television drawings which occurs at 6:59 p.m. ET every night. The Powerball drawings on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the Mega Millions drawings Tuesday and Fridays air during the 11 PM editions of Action News on those days.
On January 28, 2010, WPVI entered into a multi-year agreement with Major League Soccer expansion team Philadelphia Union through which it will air every non-nationally televised game in HD, and show game rebroadcasts over their Live Well subchannel.
On December 4, 2010, WPVI updated its logo by placing a circle around the "6" logo (in a matter similar to other ABC O&Os) and replacing its red ABC logo with a black glossy network logo. The revised identity came with a brand new graphics package, but of course the classic "Move Closer to Your World" theme song remains the same as it has been for over 40 years. 
Channel Video Aspect Programming 6.1 720p 16:9 main WPVI programming / ABC 6.2 Live Well Network HD 6.3 480p 4:3 with 16:9 letterbox Live Well Network SD
WPVI-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, on June 12, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station had been broadcasting its pre-transition digital signal over UHF channel 64, but returned to channel 6 for its post-transition operations. Because of the nature of VHF-LO frequencies, WPVI-TV is difficult to tune without an outdoor VHF/UHF antenna. A temporary power increase to 30 kilowatts was granted, with WEDY in New Haven, Connecticut and WRGB in Schenectady, New York having to give their consent. Some viewers did notice an improvement in their signal. Because of potential interference to other stations and to FM radio, there was doubt as to whether this increase could be granted. Three months later, WPVI was still getting complaints.
The station is famous for pioneering the Action News format, which was used by many stations throughout the United States. When WFIL-TV premiered it on April 6, 1970, the format allowed the news program to have more stories than KYW-TV's Eyewitness News due to strict time limits on story packages. Within a few months, the station surged to first place for the first time in its history. It had previously been an also-ran behind KYW-TV and WCAU-TV, as was the case with most ABC affiliates. Despite channel 6's newspaper roots, it was hampered by the fact that ABC was not on par with CBS and NBC until the early 1970s.
In 1970, Channel 6 stole first place in the ratings in Philadelphia. It has dominated the ratings for most of the time ever since, winning virtually every time slot. Its dominance has only been seriously challenged twice—in the 1980s, when WCAU-TV briefly took the lead at 5 p.m.; and in 2001, when WCAU took first place at 11 p.m. for a few months for the first time in decades. Many top executives in ABC's television station group worked at WPVI. WPVI's longtime anchor Jim Gardner and weatherman Dave Roberts joined the station in 1976 and 1978 respectively, after each had spent time at WPVI's sister station WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York. Sports anchor Gary Papa joined in 1981 from another Buffalo station, WGR-TV.
The station's newscast has used the same theme music, "Move Closer to Your World" by Al Ham, since 1972. The composition has become as much a part of the Philadelphia consciousness as the Rocky theme and has helped WPVI stay number one in the Delaware Valley for 30 years. The station tried to switch to a fuller, thunderous and authoritative version of the song by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in September 1996, but switched back to the old version after four days of viewer complaints. Also, for nearly 30 years starting in the early 1980s, Jeff Kaye (of NFL Films) announced the familiar open: "Action News, Delaware Valley's leading news program," as well as rejoins and closings. Even through staff announcing changes for the station in general, Kaye remained the constant voice of Action News. However, as of the mid-2000s, his voice started to show signs of decaying; it got to the point where his newly-recorded opens in late January 2010 were pulled off in less than a week. On June 21, 2010, Kaye was replaced with veteran announcer Charlie Van Dyke, who has been WPVI's station announcer since 2006.
Years of being in the lead have led WPVI to maintain an "if it isn’t broken, don't fix it" mentality. For instance, it has had the same "6" logo since becoming WPVI, although the logo has been treated differently over the years. For instance, in the early 1990s, WPVI began placing its stylized 6 on top of a blue box, which lasted until 1997 when the station rebranded itself to "6ABC" and began placing a red ABC logo inside the 6. In December 2010, WPVI debuted a revised identity, including an updated logo. The 6 is now placed inside a blue circle, with a black, glossy ABC logo. Grayscale versions of the previous logo remain in use. WPVI has frequently remastered "Move Closer to Your World" to make it sound less dated.
In recent years, attempts have been made to modernize the newscasts. In 1998, it began downplaying its use of chromakey graphics. The magnet board used for weather forecasts gave way to a video screen in 2000 and a chromakey wall in 2005. On February 13, 2006, Action News debuted a revamped and fully modernized set which includes a glass etching background of several historical landmarks in Philadelphia positioned behind the anchor desk, shiftable lighting effects and a computerized Accu-Weather center. WPVI introduced a new HD-capable helicopter in February 2006. Live shots from the helicopter, officially named Chopper6 HD, were shown in high definition. Furthermore, on July 23, 2006, starting with the 6:00 p.m. broadcast, Action News began broadcasting from its studio in full 720p HDTV. The official announcement was made on July 24. All news cameras on Action News are HD. On September 12, 2009, WPVI debuted another new revamped and fully modernized set, wider than the last set at the original round building, with a bigger newsdesk, AccuWeather center and background of glass sketches of the several historic landmarks in Philadelphia (now adding one of the Comcast Center). It also added a touch-screen video wall, the first for any station in the country.
Most of WPVI's on-air staff has been at the station for over ten years, and several for twenty years or more. Jim Gardner has been with the station since 1976 and has been its main anchor since May 1977, the longest tenure as a main anchor in Philadelphia history. Rob Jennings has been the station's weekend anchor since 1977.
As there is no ABC affiliate or local station based in New Jersey, WPVI cooperates with WABC-TV in the production and broadcast of state-wide New Jersey political debates. When the two stations broadcast a state-wide office debate, such as Governor or U.S. Senate, they will pool resources and have anchors or reporters from both stations participate in the debate. Additionally, the two stations cooperate in the gathering of news in New Jersey where their markets overlap, sharing reporters, live trucks, and helicopters.
After the death of long-time sports director Gary Papa, Channel 6 took eighteen months to name a replacement. In January of 2010, Keith Russell was named as the 6pm and 11pm sports anchor, while Jamie Apody was named the 5pm sports anchor, a position vacant since the departure of longtime 5pm anchor Scott Palmer. Russell and Apody split responsibility for the weekday evening sports report during the interim.
In the ABC series Body of Proof (which is set around the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office and produced by ABC's television studio division), WPVI live trucks and microphones with the station's mic flag are seen in a fictional sense, though none of the station's staff have appeared in the course of the series.
Action News at 4pm
On May 26, 2011 Action News added a 4pm newscast to their schedule, the launch occurring the day after the airing of Oprah Winfrey's final episode. The newsteam for this broadcast includes news anchors Brian Taff and Shirleen Allicot, feature anchor Alicia Vitarelli, Meteorologist Adam Joseph, and reporter Sarah Bloomquist. Bloomquist will be utilizing the newest vehicle of 6abc, Mobile 6 for her reporting. This brings the total amount of "Action News" broadcasts to 40 hours and 5 minutes a week.
- The RCA Color Newsreel (1958-1960s)
- WFIL-TV News (1970-1971)
- Channel 6 Action News (1970-1971 as WFIL-TV; 1971–present as WPVI-TV)
- The Philadelphia Inquirer Station (1950s; as WFIL-TV)
- Move Closer to Your World (1970s; music still used by its Action News branded newscasts)
- Delaware Valley's Leading News Program (1975–present)
- Hello Philly/Say Hello (1980s; used during period station used Frank Gari's "Hello News" as image campaign)
- Philadelphia's Watching Channel 6 (1990–1992)
- More Stories... From More Places. That's Channel 6 Action News. (2009–present)
- "The Action News Theme" (1970–1972), an original composition by Tom Sellers; commissioned by Mel Kampmann while he was a student at Temple University. (Sellers was later an arranger on such hits as "Rock the Boat" by the Hues Corporation); it was also used by sister stations WNBF-TV (now WBNG-TV) in Binghamton, New York and WNHC-TV (now WTNH-TV) in New Haven; KTLA in Los Angeles; and KSTP-TV in St. Paul, Minnesota. 
- "Move Closer to Your World", composed by Al Ham for Mayoham Music (1972–present)
- An updated version of "Move Closer to Your World" by the London Philharmonic (four days in 1996)
Current on-air staff (as of May 26, 2011)
- Shirleen Allicot - weekdays at 4 p.m.
- Sarah Bloomquist - weekdays at noon; also Mobile 6 reporter for 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- Tamala Edwards - weekday mornings (4:30-7 a.m.)
- Jim Gardner - weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Nydia Han - Sunday mornings and noon; also consumer reporter
- Rob Jennings - weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Monica Malpass - weeknights at 5 p.m.; also host of The Inside Story
- Matt O'Donnell - weekday mornings (4:30-7 a.m.)
- Walter Perez - weekend mornings and Sundays at noon; also Lehigh Valley correspondent
- Brian Taff - weekdays at 4 p.m.
- Alicia Vitarelli - weekdays at 4 p.m. (Headline Blitz Anchor)
- Rick Williams - weekdays at noon and weeknights at 5 p.m.
- AccuWeather team
- Adam Joseph (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekdays at 4 p.m. & 5:30pm
- Melissa Magee (AMS Seal of Approval)- meteorologist; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m
- David Murphy (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings (4:30-7 a.m.)
- Karen Rogers (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings (4:30-7 a.m.)
- Chris Sowers(AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekend mornings and Sundays at noon
- Cecily Tynan (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6, and 11 p.m.
- Sports team
- Jamie Apody - sports anchor; weeknights at 5 p.m.
- Keith Russell - sports anchor; weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Jeff Skversky - sports anchor; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m., also sports reporter
- Matt Pellman - Traffic.com reporter; weekdays at 4, and weeknights at 5 p.m.
- Karen Rogers - weekday mornings (4:30-7 a.m.)
- Amy Buckman - "Saving with 6ABC" reporter/producer
- Dann Cuellar - general assignment reporter
- Cathy Gandolfo - New Jersey reporter
- Ali Gorman - "HealthCheck" reporter
- David Henry - general assignment reporter
- Kenneth Moton - Atlantic City Reporter
- Nora Muchanic - New Jersey bureau correspondent
- Vernon Odom - general assignment reporter; also host of Visions
- Erin O'Hearn - general assignment reporter; also "Right Now on the Net" reporter
- Chad Pradelli - general assignment reporter
- John Rawlins - general assignment reporter
- Katherine Scott - general assignment reporter
- Lisa Thomas-Laury - feature reporter
Notable former staff
- Al Alberts
- Dick Clark
- Larry Ferrari
- Dave Frankel
- Irving Fryar
- Traynor (Chief) Halftown
- Frank Hall
- Bob Horn
- Marc Howard (retired)
- Larry Kane
- Wally Kennedy
- Tug McGraw
- W. Carter Merbreier ("Captain Noah")
- Patricia Merbreier ("Mrs. Noah")
- SallyAnn Mosey
- Jim O'Brien (died in 1983)
- Gary Papa (died on June 18, 2009)
- Dave Roberts (retired)
- Sally Starr
- Don Tollefson
- Joe Torres
- Lucy Yang
Cable and satellite carriage
Outside of the Philadelphia market in central New Jersey, WPVI is carried in southern Middlesex County on Comcast in the municipalities of Plainsboro, South Brunswick, Monroe, Cranbury, Jamesburg, Helmetta, Spotswood, and East Brunswick on Channel 6. Cablevision Monmouth County also carries WPVI on Channel 6 on Cablevision Monmouth and Monmouth/Wall outlets. All of Ocean County carries WPVI on Comcast and Cablevision outlets. Due to a contract dispute with ABC, WPVI was blacked out on March 8, 2010 to Cablevision customers in Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer counties. Verizon FiOS carries WPVI on Channel 16 in Ocean County and extreme Southern Monmouth county. WPVI is also carried by Comcast in all of New Castle County, Delaware, and some of Kent County. As such, WPVI is significantly viewed in Warren, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
In the Lehigh Valley, WPVI is carried by Service Electric, RCN, and Blue Ridge Communications, which altogether encompasses nearly 1 million people. It can also be seen in Reading and most parts of Berks County.
- 6abc IKEA Thanksgiving Day Parade
- ^ Obituary of Walter Annenberg from Slate
- ^ Philadelphia Union To Air on 6ABC - Regional Broadcast Leader Partners with MLS Expansion Club
- ^ Union sign local TV deal with Channel 6
- ^ Dickson, Glen (2009-06-22). "WPVI Gets Power Boost From FCC". Broadcasting & Cable. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/295493-WPVI_Gets_Power_Boost_From_FCC.php?rssid=20068&q=digital+tv+/. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
- ^ Grotticelli, Michael (2009-06-22). "DTV Transition Not So Smooth in Some Markets". Broadcast Engineering. http://broadcastengineering.com/news/dtv-transition-not-smooth-markets-0622/. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- ^ Svensson, Peter (2009-09-18). "Don't change that channel: DTV woes still abound". MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32917495/. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- ^ a b Shister, Gail (October 2, 1996). "For Angry Ch. 6 News Viewers, The Theme Was: `Drop The Music'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. http://articles.philly.com/1996-10-02/entertainment/25666738_1_theme-wpvi-national-anthem. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
- ^ Meet the Team
- WPVI-TV website
- WPVI-TV mobile
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WPVI-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WPVI-TV
- Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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