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Columbus, Ohio
United States
Branding NBC 4
Channels Digital: 14 (UHF)
Virtual: 4 (PSIP)
Subchannels 4.1 NBC
4.2 Me-TV
4.3 Ion Television
Affiliations NBC
Owner Media General
(Media General Communications Holdings, LLC)
Founded November 1946[1]
First air date April 3, 1949; 70 years ago (1949-04-03)
Call letters' meaning Columbus Municipal Hangar
(CMH = Columbus's IATA airport code)
Former callsigns WLWC (1949–1976)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
3 (VHF, 1949–1953)
4 (VHF, 1953–2009)
Transmitter power 902 kW
Height 264 m (866 ft)
Facility ID 50781
Transmitter coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.nbc4i.com

WCMH-TV, channel 4, is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Owned by Media General, the station's studios are located on Olentangy River Road near the Ohio State University campus, and its transmitter is based on Twin Rivers Drive, west of downtown Columbus.


Columbus' first television station began operations on April 3, 1949 as WLWC on channel 3.[2] The station's original owner was the Cincinnati-based Crosley Broadcasting Corporation, a division of the Avco Company. Crosley also owned WLW radio and WLWT television in Cincinnati, as well as WLWD television (now WDTN) in Dayton. Together these stations comprised the "WLW Television Network", a regional group of inter-connected stations.[3][4] Until the early 1960s, they emphasized their connection to each other within their on-air branding; the Columbus station was known as WLW-C. The station's studios were originally located in the Seneca Hotel in downtown Columbus before WLWC moved into their present facility on Olentangy River Road, five months after the station signed-on.

Like all of the WLW television stations in Ohio, WLWC was an NBC affiliate, though it carried some programming from the DuMont network until WTVN-TV (now WSYX) took the DuMont affiliation when that station launched in September 1949. In 1952, following the release of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Sixth Report and Order which ended the four-year freeze on station license awards, a VHF frequency realignment resulted in WLWC being forced to move to channel 4, trading channels with NBC-owned WNBK (now WKYC-TV) in Cleveland;[5][6] the switch took place in June 1953.[7]

The Crosley TV station group would later grow to include WLWI (now WTHR) in Indianapolis, WOAI-TV in San Antonio, and WLWA (now WXIA-TV) in Atlanta. Along with NBC programming, the Crosley stations in Ohio and Indianapolis also aired common programming, including The Paul Dixon Show, Midwestern Hayride, The Ruth Lyons 50-50 Club (later to become The Bob Braun Show), The Phil Donahue Show, and telecasts of Cincinnati Reds baseball. The Crosley broadcast division took the name of its parent company in 1968, becoming Avco Broadcasting Corporation.

1969 Advertisement for The Bob Braun Show appearing in TV Guide.

In 1969 the FCC enacted its "one-to-a-market" rule, which prohibited common ownership of AM radio and television stations with overlapping coverage areas under certain conditions while grandfathering some already existing instances. WLWC's channel 4 coverage area covered portions of the Dayton and Cincinnati markets, and Avco's ownership of WLWC, WLWT, WLWD, and WLW radio (a 50,000-watt, clear-channel station which can also be heard throughout much of eastern North America at night) was granted protection under the clause. In 1975, Avco announced the sale of its broadcasting outlets; channel 4 was sold in February 1976 to the Providence, Rhode Island-based Outlet Company, who changed the station's call letters to the current WCMH-TV.[8][9][10] The call letters were selected to match the ATA airport code for Port Columbus International Airport, "CMH".

The old WCMH TV "Chopper 4" landed at Wellston Heliport Base while covering a breaking news story as, Grant Lifeflight II's BK 117 N4493X sits on the pad. It was later replaced by the helicopter pictured below in the early 2000 (picture taken by Earl Wilbur and was used with the photographer's permission).
WCMH-TV logo, 2008 to 2011.

Outlet merged with NBC in 1996, and channel 4 became an NBC owned-and-operated station, spending much of the next decade as one of two stations in the market to hold such status; the other was UPN's WWHO (owned by that network from 1997 to 2005; it was later sold to LIN TV and is now owned by Manhan Media and controlled by WSYX).

WCMH-TV was placed up for sale by NBC-Universal on January 9, 2006, along with sister stations WJAR-TV in Providence, WVTM-TV in Birmingham, Alabama, and WNCN-TV in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Media General, the Richmond, Virginia-based company which already owned five NBC affiliates in the southeastern United States, announced it would purchase the four stations on April 6, 2006; the sale was finalized on June 26, 2006.[11] As a result, channel 4 became Media General's first station in the Great Lakes region.

For several months after the sale closed, WCMH's website and those of the other three stations remained in the format used by the websites of NBC-owned stations. In December 2006, WNCN and WJAR launched redesigned websites, which are no longer powered by Internet Broadcasting. On December 11, 2006, WVTM's website followed suit, followed by WCMH on December 14. Media General has since located the master control for all Media General NBC affiliates at its Columbus studios.[12] In 2013, Media General migrated its television station web sites to Worldnow (who provided video services to the company's in-house web site operations prior to the hosting deal).

Digital television

Digital channels

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[13]
4.1 1080i 16:9 WCMH-DT Main WCMH-TV programming / NBC
4.2 480i 4:3 Me-TV Me-TV[14]
4.3 16:9 ION TV Ion Television

The station's digital signal is multiplexed. WCMH replaced RTV with Me-TV on September 26, 2011, as part of a groupwide affiliation agreement with Media General; the channel replaced RTV on some Media General-owned stations in other markets.[15]

Analog-to-digital conversion

WCMH-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 4, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[16] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 14,[17] using PSIP to display WCMH-TV's virtual channel as 4 on digital television receivers.

News operation

WCMH-TV's former studio in downtown Columbus.
WCMH's former helicopter.
1957 TV Guide Advertisement for WLW-C (WCMH) News with longtime anchor Hugh DeMoss, later Franklin County, Ohio Commissioner.

For most of its history, WLWC/WCMH-TV has been second in the Columbus ratings, except for the station's 11:00 p.m. news, which occasionally beats market leader WBNS-TV.

News programming is also on the subchannel during the time that its primary channel is air network programming.[18]

From 1957 to 1980 Hugh DeMoss anchored channel 4's evening newscasts, called The DeMoss Report; following the sale of the station to Outlet, the broadcasts were rebranded as NewsWatch 4. By the late 1970s into the early 1980s, however, the NBC affiliate languished in third place. In 1983, the station brought in veteran news anchor Doug Adair and his then-wife, reporter Mona Scott, from WKYC-TV in Cleveland as the station's main anchoring team. They brought a "happy talk" format to the market for the first time, as well as launching the 5:30 p.m. newscast. WCMH began a slow rise that would result in the station overcoming WBNS to reach number-one in the market, and in the process, the mid-1980s NewsWatch 4 team of Adair, Scott, meteorologist Jym Ganahl (with the station since 1979), and sportscaster Jimmy Crum (who joined the station shortly after its 1949 debut) became the most popular anchor team in Columbus television history. This also coincided with NBC's becoming the number one network during that time.

The 1990s brought changes to the normally stable WCMH-TV. In 1990, Mona Scott decided to leave channel 4, and was replaced by Angela Pace. Pace would leave for WBNS-TV in 1992, and Doug Adair and Jimmy Crum both retired in 1994. Pace's and Adair's replacements, respectively, were Colleen Marshall and Cabot Rea, and the pair have helmed WCMH-TV's evening newscasts since then. The changes resulted in an earlier audience fall-off, but channel 4 once again passed WBNS-TV for the overall lead for a time in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and often won 11 o'clock news ratings over WBNS (due to NBC winning prime time and late night ratings over CBS during those years). For a few years, from 2000 until 2003 WCMH also won the morning news race with the combined anchor team of Tylar Bacome, Anietra Hamper, Bob Nunally and Beth Dalponte/Kellie Hanna covering traffic. WCMH would win the morning news ratings again in 2004-2007 with Andy Dominianni, Hamper, Nunally and Hanna, but the ratings dropped precipitously after the broadcast was moved into a downtown studio location in 2008. WCMH is currently the #2 station in the market in all other time slots except at noon when it trails both WBNS and WSYX. WCMH and WSYX have also been trading second and third place during the evening time slots.

On Saturday January 4, 2008 WCMH became the second major Columbus station to begin broadcasting local newscasts in high definition. Prior to the opening of NBC 4 on the Square on May 27, NBC 4 had planned to move its entire news operation to that facility. However, when those plans fell through, WCMH's main studio was upgraded to high definition. (Ultimately, NBC 4 on the Square was used only for some of the station's weekday morning shows.) Like most other stations with high-definition newscasts, WCMH relied mostly on upconverted 16:9 widescreen standard definition footage for its remote field reports until the summer of 2014 where all remote field operations were upgrade to 16:9 1080i HD. On May 11, 2011, NBC 4 on the Square came to an end due to dismal ratings (it has remained a distant second to WBNS-TV on weekday mornings ever since NBC4 on the Square was founded), with the morning newscast productions returning to the main WCMH facility full-time. Rival station WBNS-TV leased the space from Casto (owner of the property) and the well recognizable NBC 4 logo was replaced by WBNS's logo.[19]

In January 2011, the station debuted a new rounded logo and new image promos emphasizing its long-time personalities and community involvement.

Notable alumni


  1. "Crosley receives two video grants." Broadcasting - Telecasting, November 25, 1946, pg. 92.
  2. "WLWC starts; Columbus video outlet opened by Crosley." Broadcasting - Telecasting, April 4, 1949, pg. 41.
  3. "Television transmission; Crosley plans interconnection facilities." Broadcasting - Telecasting, March 14, 1949, pg. 35.
  4. Crosley Broadcasting Corp. advertisement Broadcasting - Telecasting, April 11, 1949, pg. 193.
  5. "TV coverage; RTMA predicts expansion." Broadcasting - Telecasting, May 19, 1952, pg. 78.
  6. "Crosley is granted; FCC okays channel changes." Broadcasting - Telecasting, December 15, 1952, pg. 59.
  7. "WLW-C first in Columbus." Broadcasting - Telecasting, April 2, 1962, pp. 169-170 (Crosley Broadcasting Corp. special supplement pp. 23-24). [1][2]
  8. "Avco sells off another TV." Broadcasting, May 26, 1975, pg. 42.
  9. "Changing Hands–Approved." Broadcasting, January 19, 1976, pg. 33.
  10. WCMH-TV/Outlet Broadcasting advertisement. Broadcasting, February 23, 1976, pg. 77.
  11. [3]
  12. "Media General Mid-Year Media Review" (PDF). Media General. Retrieved 2008-03-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. RabbitEars TV Query for WCMH
  14. Where to watch Me-TV: WCMH
  15. Me-TV Beefs Up Roster With 10 New Stations, TVNewsCheck, September 15, 2011.
  16. List of Digital Full-Power Stations
  17. CDBS Print
  18. Marszalek, Diana (July 23, 2013). "News Finds A New Home Among Diginets". TV News Check. Retrieved August 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. [4]

Video links

External links

  1. Cincinnati Television By Jim Friedman, Page 48 https://books.google.com/books?id=qwg6e3yc2kMC&lpg=PA48&ots=R5pCjfREoU&dq=%22three%20city%20final%22&pg=PA48#v=onepage&q=%22three%20city%20final%22&f=false