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|Branding||Fox 13 (general)
Fox 13 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||The Most Powerful Name in Local News (primary)|
|Channels||Digital: 13 (VHF)|
|Subchannels||13.1 Fox HD|
|Owner||Fox Television Stations
(Fox Television Stations Inc.)
|First air date||September 27, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||We
(in reference to religious roots of WHBQ radio)
(after Harding University, original owner of WHBQ radio)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
13 (VHF, 1953-2009)
53 (UHF, 1995-2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS (1953-1956)
ABC (1953-1995; secondary until 1956)
|Transmitter power||95 kW|
WHBQ-TV, channel 13, is an owned-and-operated television station of the News Corporation-owned Fox Broadcasting Company, located in Memphis, Tennessee. The station's studios are located near the intersection of Highland St. and Midland Ave. on the south side of Memphis, and its transmitter is located off of I-40 and Raleigh LaGrange Road in eastern Memphis.
WHBQ-TV is a news-intensive Fox station with close to 50 hours a week of locally-produced newscasts, as well as first-run primetime series, sports events and Saturday late night programming from Fox; it also runs off-network sitcoms and drama series, and daytime talk and court shows.
The station's digital channel is VHF 13:
|13.1||720p||16:9||main WHBQ-TV programming / Fox HD|
On June 12, 2009, WHBQ-TV remained on channel 13 when the analog to digital conversion completed.
WHBQ-TV began operations on September 27, 1953. The station was owned by Harding College along with WHBQ radio (560 AM and 105.9 FM, now WGKX). WHBQ-TV was originally a CBS affiliate, sharing ABC programming with WMCT (channel 5, now WMC-TV). Channel 13 lost CBS when WREC-TV (channel 3, now WREG-TV) signed on and took that affiliation due to CBS' long affiliation with WREC radio; WHBQ-TV then took the ABC affiliation full-time. It is Memphis' second-oldest television station, and the only one that has never changed its call letters or channel location.
General Teleradio, the broadcasting arm of the General Tire and Rubber Company, purchased the WHBQ stations in 1954. In 1955, General Tire purchased RKO Radio Pictures in order to give its television stations a programming source. RKO was merged into General Teleradio, and in 1957 General Tire's broadcasting and film divisions were renamed RKO General.
Despite being one of ABC's stronger affiliates in the 1960s and 1970s (and as pointed out in a sales video that was made in 1964, was billed as the third most watched ABC affiliate in the United States), WHBQ-TV was known for not airing some ABC programming in pattern, particularly during the day. Many of these programs were pre-empted outright or delayed until late-night hours. In some cases, these programming decisions occurred because station management was skeptical of airing subject matter deemed even mildly controversial (presumably to keep from offending viewers in Memphis' more conservative suburbs and the surrounding rural areas). For example, it was one of several ABC affiliates that didn't clear Hot l Baltimore, a show which featured one of the first openly homosexual couples featured on American television. In September 1977, WHBQ-TV was one of eight ABC affiliates that refused to carry the controversial situation comedy Soap, opting to run repeats of My Three Sons instead. When Soap proved to be a runaway hit for the network, channel 13 acquiesced and allowed the series to be seen in late-night summer reruns. The following fall, the station carried Soap in its regular pattern.
In many other cases, however, channel 13 opted to pre-empt network shows in favor of local shows in hopes of getting more local advertising dollars. For instance, in 1972, WHBQ-TV (whose AM sister was a Top 40 powerhouse at the time) stunned Mid-South viewers by dropping American Bandstand for 90 minutes of live professional wrestling. The wrestling program was a late Saturday afternoon fixure when it first began airing in 1958, until its move to the Saturday morning 11 am-12:30 pm slot. WHBQ lost the show to WMC-TV in 1977. But even after losing that program, channel 13 continued to pre-empt Bandstand until 1984, just three years before ABC canceled the long-running show. The pre-emption kept Memphians from seeing homegrown talent perform on the show, such as The Sylvers, Al Green, Isaac Hayes, Anita Ward, and Rick Dees, who was hired by WHBQ radio as its new morning host during his "Disco Duck" days in late 1976. At the time Dees appeared on Bandstand, "Disco Duck" was never played on any of the radio stations in Memphis, including WHBQ-AM, because Dees was still employed at rival WMPS at the time.
Channel 13 made up for the preemption by airing Bandstand's syndicated rival, Soul Train, on Saturday nights until independent station WPTY-TV (channel 24) purchased the rights to that program from channel 13 in 1983.
It was one of the largest ABC affiliates to pass on Good Morning America when it debuted in 1975, not picking it up until 1977. Other popular shows that WHBQ-TV held out until later (when they became major out-of-the-box hits on ABC) included Dark Shadows (the program featured actor Don Briscoe, who would later reside and died in Memphis), The Bionic Woman and S.W.A.T..
In 1980, the station was criticized for carrying paid religious programming instead of ABC's coverage of the United States' Olympic men's hockey team's gold medal victory over Finland in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Locally, the station had a rivalry with WREC/WREG-TV over bragging rights for the largest movie library in the market. Through its ownership by RKO General, channel 13 had the entire RKO Pictures catalog at its disposal. The station's reliance on classic and public-domain films in the 1960s and 1970s was evidenced in its daily 12 Noon-to-2 p.m. airing of the "Million Dollar Movie" (and later, the 9-to-11 a.m. airing of Dialing for Dollars), which the station ran instead of popular daytime soap operas All My Children and Ryan's Hope, or in some cases, reruns of ABC prime-time sitcoms that aired in the mornings. In September 1978 channel 13 finally began clearing the full ABC daytime lineup, though its noon newscast forced All My Children into a morning timeslot, where it aired on a one-day delay for many years.
RKO General was under nearly continuous investigation from the 1960s onward due to a long history of lying to advertisers and regulators. For example, it was nearly forced out of broadcasting in 1980 after misleading the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about corporate misconduct at parent General Tire. Under longtime general manager Alex Bonner, however, WHBQ-AM-FM-TV was never accused of any wrongdoing.
In 1987, an FCC administrative law judge ruled RKO General unfit to be a broadcast licensee due to a widespread pattern of dishonesty. After the FCC advised RKO that appealing the decision wasn't worth the effort, RKO began unwinding its broadcast operations. The WHBQ stations were the next-to-last to be sold, shortly after Bonner retired in 1990. The new owner, Adams Communications, sold off WHBQ-AM (105.9 FM had been sold off several years earlier).
Adams was in severe financial straits by 1994, and sold the station to ComCorp, a sale that was finalized on August 17 of that year. Only a short time later, ComCorp announced that it would sell WHBQ-TV to the News Corporation, a sale which closed on July 5, 1995. When the station's affiliation agreement with ABC ran out in November 1995, the new owners made channel 13 the third station in Memphis to carry Fox programming. WMKW-TV (channel 30, now WLMT) had been the area's original Fox affiliate, from 1986 to 1990; Fox then moved to WPTY-TV until the WHBQ-TV purchase. WPTY took channel 13's old ABC affiliation. Upon the network switch, channel 13 replaced the daytime ABC soap opera lineup with Fox Kids (now 4Kids TV) children's shows, unlike most of the other stations that switched to Fox during the U.S. television network affiliate switches of 1994. WHBQ is the only Memphis television station owned and operated by any major network.
In 2006, WHBQ premiered a new graphic scheme similar to the one in current use on the Fox News Channel. This new look gradually became the standard for the other Fox-owned stations. WHBQ also adopted a new logo, which was borrowed from Tampa sister station WTVT. It shortly afterward switched to a slightly-modified version of the current logo.
On June 13, 2007, News Corporation put WHBQ-TV and eight other stations up for sale. Local TV, a broadcast holding company controlled by the private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, purchased the other eight stations  on December 22. WHBQ-TV could not go to Local TV or any other affiliate of Oak Hill Capital Partners because Local TV already owned CBS affiliate WREG-TV. The FCC does not allow duopolies between two of the four largest stations in a single market; this is clearly the case with the CBS and Fox affiliates in Memphis. On January 16, 2009, Fox Television Stations withdrew WHBQ-TV from the market because the only interested buyers (other than Local TV LLC) that were willing to pay anywhere close to the asking price were Newport Television (who already owns WPTY and WLMT) and Raycom Media (the owner of WMC-TV). None of the other bids for the station were deemed high enough for NewsCorp to sell it. By then, Fox had retired from cartoons due to the cancellation of 4Kids TV; Weekend Marketplace now occupies the final two hours of 4KidsTV's time slot.
On June 6, 2012, WHBQ-TV became the last Fox-owned station outside of its MyNetworkTV sister stations to switch from the EndPlay (spun off from Fox Interactive Media) CMS platform to a new Worldnow-hosted platform now used by all of the other Fox O&Os.
On September 29, 1962, WHBQ-TV premiered Fantastic Features, a collection of classic horror films from the RKO Pictures library. The series was hosted by a Transylvanian-styled vampire named Sivad, played by Watson Davis. The show's opening sequence, which included film footage of Sivad riding through a misty forest in a horse-drawn hearse (filmed at Overton Park), proved so unsettling to some children that the series was moved from its original 6:00 p.m. timeslot on Saturday evenings to the later time of 10:30 p.m. At the height of its popularity, Fantastic Features aired on both Friday and Saturday nights. The program concluded its run on February 5, 1972, after 623 episodes (although the final two years were rerunning older films because the station was getting more raunchier horror films that Davis did not feel comfortable with and wanted the show to be family friendly), though Sivad has remained a well-remembered local personality. There were several attempts to resurrect the character, though a retired Watson Davis refused all offers, the sole exception being promos for the syndicated run of Dark Shadows, acquired by WHBQ in April 1982. Mr. Davis died on May 23, 2005 and is buried in Monroe County, Arkansas.
In the 1960s and 1970s, WHBQ produced several local programs featuring Memphis personalities. Disc jockey George Klein hosted Talent Party, an afternoon rock-and-roll series aimed at Memphis' teenage audience. Talent Party was hugely successful, giving many garage bands their first television appearances, and the ratings were so high that it regularly beat The Edge of Night, a nationally top-rated soap opera on CBS.
Another staple of WHBQ's programming was Happy Hal's Funhouse and Cartoon Time, hosted by Hal Miller. While he hosted both shows twice daily and on Saturday morings, it also provided Miller with the opportunity to sell toy products from his local toy store during his telecasts. Miller continued to host both shows from 1957 to 1974. Another children's program that aired on WHBQ from 1955 to 1957, Mars Patrol, featured a young Wink Martindale as the titular character before he would go to be a game show host.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, news anchor Marge Thrasher also hosted a local talk show titled Straight Talk (a title used on other RKO General stations), aired at 8:00 a.m. on weekdays. WHBQ was also the Memphis station for the local/syndicated program PM Magazine featuring Byron Day and Lynn Sitler.
WHBQ broadcasts a total of 46.5 hours of local news a week (eight and a half hours on weekdays, two hours on Saturdays and Sundays), more than any other television station in Memphis and the state of Tennessee; however as is standard with Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts, WHBQ's Saturday and Sunday 5 pm newscasts are subject to preemption due to sports coverage.
WHBQ's newscasts, for many years, had been called Eyewitness News and stayed true to the Eyewitness News "Happy Talk" format, along with using the "Cool Hand Luke" music package the ABC O&Os used. WHBQ had a number of high-visibility anchors and reporters in the 1970s and 1980s, including Ed Craig, Tom Bearden, Marge Thrasher, Fran Fawcett, Jim Jaggers and Charlie B. Watson. After Fox acquired the station in 1995, the newscasts were briefly called Fox 13 Eyewitness News. In the late 1990s, WHBQ renamed its newscasts Fox 13 News. But despite this change (and even rivals WPTY-TV and WLMT picking up the name Eyewitness News in 2002), WHBQ has remained Memphis' "Happy Talk" station.
WHBQ is one of four Fox O&Os with a 5 p.m. newscast, but no 6 p.m. newscast (along with KTBC in Austin, KRIV in Houston and KMSP-TV in Minneapolis). WFXT in Boston was included in this until September 2009, when the reverse became true after the station "moved" its 5 p.m. newscast to 6 p.m.
WHBQ-TV began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition on June 23, 2009, making it the second television station in Memphis (behind WMC-TV) to do so. On September 7, 2009, Good Morning Memphis was expanded to five hours, running from 5-10 a.m. On April 26, 2010 an additional half-hour was added to the morning newscast, expanding it to 4:30-10 a.m.
WHBQ started a new 10 p.m. newscast on August 16, 2010, hosted by Ernie Freeman. This marks the first time since December 1, 1995 (when WHBQ became a Fox affiliate) that they are in direct competition with WREG-TV, WMC-TV, and WPTY-TV in the all-important late night news spot. The new newscast follows a similar format to what is already in use at some of its sister Fox stations including WTVT-TV (see NewsEdge at 11 article).
Fox 13 Weather