Charlotte, North Carolina
Branding Carolinas' NewsChannel 36
Slogan Carolinas' News Channel (primary)
Looking Out For You (secondary)
Channels Digital: 22 (UHF)
Virtual: 36 (PSIP)
Translators W30CR Biscoe, NC
W24AY Lilesville, NC
Affiliations NBC
Live Well Network (DT2)
Owner Belo Corporation
(WCNC-TV, Inc.)
First air date July 9, 1967
Call letters' meaning Charlotte, North Carolina
(and Carolinas' News Channel)
Former callsigns WCTU-TV (1967-1971)
WRET-TV (1971-1980)
WPCQ-TV (1980-1989)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
36 (UHF, 1967-2009)
Former affiliations independent (1967-1978)
Transmitter power 791 kW (digital)
Height 577 m (digital)
Facility ID 32326
Transmitter coordinates 35°20′49″N 81°10′15″W / 35.34694°N 81.17083°W / 35.34694; -81.17083
Website www.wcnc.com

WCNC-TV is the NBC affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina. It broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 22 (virtual channel 36) and is carried on cable channel 6 on most area cable systems. It is owned by the Belo Corporation. Its studios are located in the Wood Ridge Center office park, off Billy Graham Parkway in south Charlotte just east of the Billy Graham Library, at 35°11′9.3″N 80°53′50.7″W / 35.185917°N 80.897417°W / 35.185917; -80.897417, and its transmitter is located in north-central Gaston County, North Carolina. It offers Live Well Network on its digital subchannel 36.2. WCNC's studios are next door to NBC News' satellite news feed headquarters, NBC News Channel.

WCNC's programming is repeated on low-powered translator W30CR (formerly W29BC[1]) in Biscoe, North Carolina.



Original Channel 36 allocation

The first station on the channel 36 frequency in Charlotte signed on in December 1953, and was known as WAYS-TV and then WQMC-TV. However, it made no headway against WBTV (channel 3) because television set manufacturers were not required to include UHF tuning capability. It left the air in March 1955. A plan to return it to the air under different ownership in 1957 was unsuccessful. Cy Bahakel bought the station's license in 1964 and returned it to the air as WCCB, which broadcast on channel 36 before moving to its final analog location on channel 18 in 1966.

Early history

The current incarnation of channel 36 debuted on July 9, 1967, as WCTU-TV, owned by Twisdale-Steel Stations. It was North Carolina's first independent station, beating Hickory's WHKY-TV by only a few months.

WCTU was a typical UHF independent, airing a lineup of cartoons, sitcoms, old movies and sports. It was also the original home of Jim Bakker's television ministry after he broke off from Pat Robertson and CBN. The station hit hard times financially and was sold to Ted Turner in 1970. Turner renamed it WRET-TV (after his initials, Robert Edward Turner). He significantly upgraded the station's programming and made it profitable almost immediately, as he did in Atlanta with what became WTCG, and later WTBS. Briefly, Turner tried putting WRET on cable systems outside the immediate Charlotte area, as he did with his Atlanta station, via microwave transmission; this effort was not quite as successful as WTCG's was in states adjacent to Georgia.

WRET-TV logo from the 1970s.

In 1978, ABC moved its Charlotte affiliation from WCCB to the higher-rated WSOC-TV (channel 9). Conventional wisdom suggested that the longer-established WCCB should have taken the NBC affiliation from WSOC-TV. However, in a considerable upset, NBC moved its affiliation to WRET-TV, even though channel 36 had been on the verge of closing down earlier in the decade. NBC chose WRET over WCCB as its new affiliate on the basis of a commitment by Turner to invest $2.5 million in upgrading the station, increasing its signal strength and launching a local news department comparable in size to channel 9's, and twice the size of WCCB's existing small-scale operation. WCCB's owner, Cy Bahakel, was not willing to spend the money required to make the upgrades NBC wanted.[2] (This was the first news operation ever owned by the future founder of CNN.) Within a few months, Action News 36 had become competitive with longer-established WBTV and WSOC-TV. Robert D. Raiford was the first news anchor. Upon becoming a network affiliate, Turner sold about half of WRET-TV's programming to WCCB, including older sitcoms, movies and most of its inventory of syndicated cartoons.

Group W era

Turner's ambitious ownership of the station would not last long, however. In 1980, he sold WRET-TV to Westinghouse Broadcasting (also known as Group W), using the proceeds to start CNN. The $20 million sales price was then the highest ever paid for a UHF station. Westinghouse changed the call letters to WPCQ-TV (People [of the] Carolinas [and the] Queen [City]), and added more syndicated game shows and talk shows to its lineup. It was Group W's only station on UHF, and at the time the only one not located in a top-25 market (however, due to the area's large population growth since then, Nielsen Media Research ranks Charlotte the 23rd-largest market as of fall 2010).

Under Westinghouse, channel 36 went into a ratings slump that lasted for almost two decades. Despite the record purchase price, Group W did not have much interest in financing the station. The news department was significantly cut back. Group W immediately dropped the station's weekend news programs, and moved the 11 p.m. newscast to 12:30 a.m. before canceling it altogether in 1981. The early evening newscast was shifted between the 5:30 and 6 p.m. time slots until the fall of 1982, when it was canceled as well. For the remainder of Group W's ownership, the station's only remaining local news programming consisted of a half-hour broadcast at noon, hourly cut-ins, five-minute local inserts during the Today show, a weekly magazine program and occasional specials. Network news also suffered; WPCQ dropped NBC Nightly News on weekends in 1980, and on weeknights in 1982 (making it the only NBC affiliate not to carry Nightly News). The David Brinkley-anchored NBC Magazine, an early-1980s attempt to compete with 60 Minutes, was bumped from its prime-time network time slot to Sunday at midnight in Charlotte. Even Westinghouse's own productions were not guaranteed an audience on the station; Group W's nationally popular PM Magazine had been seen on WBTV since before Westinghouse's purchase of WPCQ, while Hour Magazine moved to WBTV after being canceled due to low ratings on WPCQ.

By the fall of 1982, and for the rest of Group W's ownership, the station's programming lineup and on-air look resembled those of an independent station rather than a major-network affiliate. In addition to airing minimal news programming, the station pre-empted significant amounts of NBC's schedule, probably figuring that local ad revenues would be much higher than network payments, which were comparatively small due to low ratings. Its daytime and late afternoon lineup consisted mostly of syndicated cartoons (long after other major-network affiliates in markets of Charlotte's size dropped cartoons from their daytime schedules) and reruns of 1960s and 1970s situation comedies. Local pre-emptions of network programs were common practice for Group W's affiliates, even though NBC was historically far less tolerant of this than the other networks at the time. However, in contrast to WPCQ, most of Group W's other stations (including its two NBC affiliates) turned profits, ran full-time newscasts, and aired Group W's syndicated programs but still aired most of their network's programming.

Not long after Group W took over, it reduced channel 36's transmitter power to only 100,000 watts, far lower than expected for a major-network affiliate on UHF. It only provided grade B coverage of many inner-ring suburbs (such as Gastonia and Rock Hill) and was virtually unviewable over-the-air in much of the South Carolina and western portions of the market.

For most of the 1980s, WPCQ was the third station in what was essentially a two-station market, even though this was a very prosperous period for NBC as a whole. Besides having to compete with WBTV and WSOC-TV, it also lost significant audience share to WXII-TV in Winston-Salem, WIS-TV in Columbia and WFBC-TV/WYFF in Greenville, all of which were much longer-established NBC affiliates on the VHF band and whose grade B signals reached into the outer portions of the Charlotte market. For instance, many viewers on the South Carolina side of the market got a better signal from Columbia's WIS, whose transmitter is 80 miles south of Charlotte, even though WPCQ's transmitter was only 20 miles north of the state line.

Renaissance and Journal

Renaissance Broadcasting bought the station from Group W in 1984. NBC Nightly News returned to the schedule in the spring of 1985, but the local newscast at noon was discontinued. It also dropped cartoons from the weekday schedule, though syndicated reruns continued to make up a significant portion of the station's daytime programming. In 1986, WPCQ restarted a full-scale news department. At first, WPCQ scheduled its early-evening newscast for 5:30 p.m., knowing at the time that it couldn't compete with WBTV and WSOC-TV at 6 p.m. After a few fits and starts, it turned out to be the first truly successful attempt to program a drive-time newscast in the Charlotte market. In 1987, WPCQ expanded the 5:30 news to one hour, and added a 6 p.m. newscast on weekends.

Renaissance also gave WPCQ a significant technical facelift. For many years, WPCQ had operated from a transmitter and tower located at its studio in the Newell neighborhood of northeast Charlotte. However, in 1987 it built a more powerful transmitter and tower in Dallas, near WBTV's tower. It boosted the signal to 2.1 million watts. Not long afterward came another power boost to 5 million watts, the maximum power allowed for a UHF station by the FCC. This gave it a coverage area comparable to WBTV and WSOC-TV. WPCQ heavily promoted its stronger signal, billing itself as "Coming in Proud and Clear!" For a brief time, it was the most powerful station in Charlotte, until WJZY (channel 46) signed on from a nearby tower later in 1987.

WCNC-TV's former news logo, used from 1996 to 2006

Renaissance sold WPCQ to The Providence Journal Company in 1988. Journal Broadcasting renamed the station WCNC-TV (for Charlotte, North Carolina) on September 3, 1989 and added a distinct 6 p.m. newscast to the weeknight schedule. On the same day of the call letter change, it moved to channel 6 on all Charlotte area cable systems, and began promoting itself as "WCNC-TV 36, Cable 6." In 1991, the station moved from its longtime studios in Newell to its current studios. From 1995 to 2003, the station was known on-air as NBC6, after its cable location. It called itself "channel 6" on-air for some years after dropping the NBC6 moniker.

Despite making a more credible effort at news than ever before, WCNC continued to drag along in the ratings until Journal Broadcasting merged with Belo in 1997.

Belo era

When Belo took over in 1997, it invested large amounts of money in the station. Among the improvements were new sets, a news helicopter, a powerful live Doppler weather radar system and other equipment.

WCNC-TV's news logo from 2006 to 2008.

Belo also began poaching talent from the other major stations. The first major hire came when Terri Bennett moved from WSOC-TV. Bennett had been in the running for the chief meteorologist spot upon Ray Boylan's retirement, but channel 9 opted instead to hire Steve Udelson, chief weatherman at WFLA-TV in Tampa. Coincidentally, Boylan filled in at WCNC until Bennett's non-compete clause was up. (Bennett left the station in the fall of 2007 when her contract was not renewed.) Sonja Gantt, formerly of WBTV, was lured back to her hometown from Chicago, where she had been working at WGN-TV.

For much of the early part of the 21st century, it waged a spirited battle with WBTV for second place behind WSOC-TV, though it has recently returned to a distant third place in most timeslots. However, it almost ties WBTV at 6 a.m. WCCB's 10 p.m. newscast also draws a larger audience than WCNC's at 11 p.m. [1]

WCNC is most successful in Mecklenburg County (home to Charlotte itself), and it actually leads WSOC and WBTV in higher income neighborhoods in Charlotte (as opposed to the outlying suburbs and rural counties). WCNC has a higher percentage of college-educated viewers than WSOC and WBTV.

Digital programming

WCNC-TV's advertisement for a DTV test transmission.

The station's digital signal, UHF 22, is multiplexed.

Channel Video Aspect Programming
36.1 1080i 16:9 Main WCNC-TV programming / NBC
36.2 480i Live Well Network

WCNC 36.2 had carried NBC Weather Plus; national network feeds for this service ceased operation in December 2008. Since January 2009, it became known as the First Warn Storm Channel, a in-house version of NBC Weather Plus. On November 8, 2010, First Warn Storm Channel was replaced by The Live Well Network (owned by Disney/ABC)

WCNC-TV ended analog operations on June 12, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States.[3] The station now broadcasts on channel 22.

Out-of-market cable coverage

In North Carolina, WCNC is available on Charter Communications in Troy, which is part of the Greensboro DMA.

In South Carolina, WCNC is available on Time Warner Cable in Hartsville, which is part of the Myrtle Beach DMA.

News operation

In late 2005, WCNC added Charlotte's first 4:30 p.m. newscast, creating a two-hour local news block running from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. In 2007, the station phased out its longtime brand of "6News" and re-branded itself "WCNC, the Carolinas' News Connection." In August 2008, it re-branded to "News Channel 36" – the first time it had used its over-the-air channel number in its branding in 12 years. In September 2008, WCNC moved its 4:30 p.m. newscast to 4 p.m., and now airs Judge Judy at 4:30 p.m.

On May 18, 2009, WCNC began broadcasting its local newscasts in 16:9 widescreen standard definition; this change came alongside the revamping of the station's on-air news graphics. Due to the slumping economy and declining revenues, Belo has not given WCNC the funds needed to upgrade its studio for HD. WCNC is the only Charlotte station which broadcasts its local newscasts in widescreen but has not yet upgraded to full high definition.


Despite still being in third place in the ratings, WCNC's news operation is one of the country's most frequent recipients of Regional Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards. In 2011, WCNC won an award for Investigative Reporting.

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • NewsWatch/NewsFinal (c. 1967)
  • Action News 36 (1978–1980 and 1981–1982)
  • Q-36 Action News (1980–1981)
  • Channel 36 News (1982–1984)
  • 36 News (1986–1989)
  • News 36 (1989–1996)
  • NBC 6 News (1996–2003)
  • 6 News (2003–2007)
  • WCNC, the Carolinas' News Connection (2007–2008)
  • Carolina's NewsChannel 36 (2008–present)
  • NewsChannel 36 Nightcast (11 p.m. newscast; 2008–present)

Station slogans

  • "36, Proud As A Peacock!" (1979–1980; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Action 36, Our Pride Is Showing" (1981–1982; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "We're 36, Just Watch Us Now" (1982–1983; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Channel 36 There, Be There" (1983–1984; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Your News is Brighter on Today's 36" (1987–1988; primary slogan)
  • "Today's 36, Coming in Proud and Clear!" (1987–1988; secondary slogan)
  • "Come Home To The Best, Only on 36" (1988–1990; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Charlotte's Up And Coming" (1989)
  • "Making a Difference" (1989–1996)
  • "WCNC, is The Place To Be!" (1990-1992; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "It's A Whole New 36" (1992-1993; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "The Stars Are Back on 36" (1993-1994; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Carolinas' NewsChannel" (1996–2007 and 2008–present; primary slogan since 2011)
  • "Carolinas' News Connection" (2007–2008)
  • "Looking Out For You" (2011–present; secondary slogan)
Television.svg This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.

Notable on-air staff

Current on-air staff[4]

Current anchors

  • Jeff Campbell – weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.; also weeknight reporter
  • Amy Cowman – weekend mornings ("NewsChannel 36 Today")
  • Anjanette Flowers – weekday mornings ("NewsChannel 36 Today") and noon
  • Sonja Gantt – weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Dion Lim – weekdays at 4, and weeknights at 5:30 p.m.
  • Kellie Patterson – weekday mornings ("NewsChannel 36 Today") and noon
  • Bobby Sisk – weekdays at 4, and weeknights at 5:30 p.m.
  • Dave Wagner – weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.

First Warn Storm Team

  • Brad Panovich (AMS Seal of Approval) – chief meteorologist; weeknights at 4, 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Meghan Danahey (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and NWA Seals of Approval) – meteorologist; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Larry Sprinkle – weather anchor; weekday mornings ("NewsChannel 36 Today") and noon
  • John Wendel (AMS Seal of Approval) – meteorologist; weekend mornings ("NewsChannel 36 Today"), also primary weekday fill-in

Sports team

  • Greg Bailey – sports director; weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Ira Cronin – sports anchor; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m., also sports reporter


  • Greg Argos – general assignment reporter
  • Brittney Begley – weekday morning traffic reporter
  • Rad Berky – investigative reporter
  • Michelle Boudin – general assignment reporter
  • Tony Burbeck – general assignment reporter
  • Glenn Counts – general assignment reporter
  • Amy Cowman – general assignment reporter
  • Richard Devayne – general assignment reporter
  • Amy Lehtonen – general assignment reporter; also WCNC.com managing editor
  • Diana Rugg – weekend reporter; also freelance reporter/writer for NBC News Channel
  • Beth Shayne – general assignment reporter
  • Ann Sheridan – general assignment reporter
  • Stuart Watson – investigative reporter

Charlotte Today

  • Colleen Odegaard – co-host
  • Rob Tanner – co-host; also host of "Tanner in the Morning" on WSOC-FM 103.7

Former on-air staff

  • Terri Bennett – meteorologist (now president/CEO of DoYourPart.com[5]
  • Karen Adams – anchor (1986–1989; later at WPRI-TV in Providence from 1989-2010)[6]
  • Sharon Crews – reporter/talk show host/community affairs manager (1986–1989; now screenwriter in Los Angeles, CA)
  • Amanda Davis – anchor (1978–1982; now at WAGA-TV in Atlanta)[7]
  • Hope Hines – sports anchor (1979–1980l now sports director at WTVF in Nashville, Tenn.) [8]
  • Paul Ingles – reporter (1979; now a public radio reporter, NPR contributor and music documentarian living in Albuquerque, NM)[9]
  • Rick Jackson - reporter 1986-1988, anchor, 1988-1995; (left for CBS News, NY, now at WVIZ in Cleveland)
  • Doug McKelway – reporter (1980–1982; later at WRC-TV and WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.)
  • John McKnight – anchor (1986–1988; now in public relations in Atlanta) [10]
  • Bob Raiford – anchor and talk show host (1978–1986; now on The John Boy and Billy Big Show)
  • Hannah Storm – sports anchor (1988–1989; later at NBC Sports and on The Early Show on CBS, now with ESPN)
  • Mike Thompson – meteorologist (early 1980s; now at WDAF-TV in Kansas City)[11]
  • Lou Tilley – sports anchor, 1979–1982)

World record

On October 30, 2009, the NewsChannel 36 team broke the record for most Halloween costumes during its morning show. The record now stands at 11. Jeff Campbell, Colleen Odegaard, Natalie Schwarz (Producer) and Larry Sprinkle were involved in the setting.[12]


External links

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