call_letters = WETP-TV / WKOP-TV
station_branding = ETPtv
East Tennessee Public Television
WETP: 2 (VHF)
WKOP: 15 (UHF)
WETP: 41 (UHF)
WKOP: 17 (UHF)
affiliations = PBS
airdate = WETP:
March 15, 1967
August 15, 1990
location = WETP: Sneedville/Johnson City/Kingsport/
Bristol, Tennessee- Virginia
callsign_meaning = WETP:
KnOxville Public Television
former_callsigns = WETP:
owner = East Tennessee Public Communications Corporation
former_affiliations = NET (1967-1970)
effective_radiated_power = WETP:
100 kW (analog)
445 kW (digital)
2240 kW (analog)
100 kW (digital)
HAAT = WETP:
536 m (analog)
566.6 m (digital)
513 m (analog)
551.3 m (digital)
facility_id = WETP: 18252
coordinates = WETP:
homepage = [http://www.etptv.org/ www.etptv.org]
It has two channels in operation, both airing the same programs:
*WETP-TV, Channel 2 (DT-41), Sneedville (serving the Tri-Cities)
*WKOP-TV, Channel 15 (DT-17), Knoxville
WETP-TV was founded on
March 15 1967as WSJK-TV (Sneedville-Johnson City-Knoxville), the first in a series of four stations that the Tennessee state board of education would establish over the next decade or so, the others being WLJT-TV in Martin, WTCI-TVin Chattanoogaand WCTE-TVin Cookeville. The transmitter was built on Short Mountain near Sneedville, not by choice, but by necessity (see below) and studios were located at the University of Tennesseecampus in Knoxville. A satellite studio was located at East Tennessee State Universityin Johnson City. Reception was spotty at best, especially in the counties to the south and west of Knoxville, due to the long distance the signal had to travel and the rugged, mountainous terrain between that area and Short Mountain. Even in the Tri-Cities, many areas also received a less than adequate signal. The Tri-Cities wouldn't get a city-grade signal from PBS until WSBN-TV in Norton, Virginiasigned on in 1971 as a satellite of WBRA-TVin Roanoke.
However, WSJK was constrained by two matters. First, the 1955 legislation authorizing a public television system in the state mandated that these stations serve the school populations in their areas first, before all other considerations. Also, the channel 2 signal travels a very long distance under most conditions and WSJK was short-spaced to WDCN-TV in
Nashville(now WNPT on channel 8; the channel 2 frequency is now occupied by WKRN-TV), WSB-TVin Atlantaand WFMY-TVin Greensboro, North Carolina. Sneedville, located about halfway between the Tri-Cities and Knoxville (and just a few miles south of the Virginiastate line), was the only location that could best serve the school populations in the most efficient way, while at the same time protecting WDCN, WSB-TV and WFMY from interference. In fact, the FCC mandated that WSJK's transmitter couldn't be moved even one mile in "any" direction. (Moving it west would cause co-channel interference with WDCN, moving it east would cause interference with WFMY and moving it south would cause interference with WSB-TV. While moving it north would not expose it to potential interference, it would prevent the Knoxville area from getting even a rimshot signal.) They also called the Short Mountain transmitter site "a broadcasting island," surrounded by possible interference. It's one of only a few broadcasting transmitter sites around the country that cannot be physically relocated in any direction.
The FCC had already allocated channel 15 to Knoxville for noncommercial use, and plans to activate it as a satellite of WSJK cropped up from 1972 onward. There were also attempts to activate a satellite in the Tri-Cities on channel 41. However, they all collapsed, due to a lack of state funding to match the available federal funding, a situation largely caused by the 1970s economic recessions affecting state revenues. As a result, WSJK became, quite by default, the only public television station in the northern two-thirds of East Tennessee. This left Knoxville as one of the largest markets in the country without a city-grade signal from PBS.
A Knoxville station at last
In 1981, the state legislature passed a law that allowed the state board to transfer its four stations to community organizations (
WKNO-TVin Memphis and WDCN in Nashville were operated by respectively, a community board and the local school board, and were never part of the state system). WSJK was the first to complete the separation, in 1983; operational control was transferred to the East Tennessee Public Communications Corporation. Eventually, the state discontinued even token financial support of all ETV operations after the stations were emancipated; this did not adversely affect the stations, because their release to community boards had already encouraged them to develop different sources of financial support.
Almost immediately, the new authority approved plans to build WKOP as the PBS station for the Knoxville area, with WSJK reoriented to serve the Tri-Cities (though it still provides "rimshot" coverage of Knoxville over the air). WKOP began broadcasting on
August 15, 1990on channel 15 from a transmitter and tower located on top of Sharp's Ridge.
For many years, WSJK used leased space in UT's communications building for their studios. In the late 1980s the station's facilities were moved to their current home on East Magnolia Avenue.
In 2000, WSJK-DT (channel 41) and WKOP-DT (channel 17) signed on. In 2002, WSJK-TV was renamed WETP-TV and both stations started using the brand "ETP-TV" (East Tennessee Public TV). In 2005, the East Tennessee Public Communications Corporation changed its name to ETPtv Broadcasting, though its license still bears the former name.
As of July 2008, due to an equipment malfunction, WKOP no longer broadcasts an analog signal over channel 15.
* [http://www.etptv.org/ ETPtv website]
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