Action News is a local television newscast format in the United States. First conceived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it is characterised by a tight format with strict time limits on set packages, a focus on surrounding suburbs, and a focus on young talent. It was a competitor to the "Eyewitness News" format.

History

The "Action News" format was conceived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at WFIL-TV (now WPVI-TV) by news director Mel Kampmann in 1970 as a response to the "Eyewitness News" format that was used on rival station KYW-TV. At this time, WFIL-TV was said to be "#4 in a three-station market."

The main difference between Action News and Eyewitness News was that the former was far more tightly formatted. Time limits were placed on packages – for instance, a reporter package can be no longer than 90 seconds. This difference enabled the station to cover more storeys than its competitors. An Additional key difference was the focus on the surrounding Philadelphia suburban areas – a response to the movement of residents from the city to the suburbs. Finally, WPVI placed more emphasis on young talent – while WCAU-TV and KYW-TV used older, well-known news anchors like Vince Leonard, Tom Snyder, and John Facenda, WPVI had a young Larry Kane as its top anchor. Later, the station would add the quite popular Jim O'Brien as its main weathercaster.

The format was immediately successful, and after going back and forth with KYW for first place, WPVI took the lead in 1977 which it has held ever since. Capital Cities Communications, WPVI's owner at the time, took the format to most of its additional stations.

One of the major development stations for WPVI's Action News was its Capital Cities sister station, WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York. Under the leadership of news director Irv Weinstein, who had developed his own similar format under the name Eyewitness News (and before that, Pulse Beat News and Rock and Roll Radio News), WKBW developed much of the talent that WPVI would later hire to boost them to #1 in the market; anchor Jim Gardner (replacing Larry Kane when he moved to WABC in New York), weatherman Dave Roberts, and voice-over artist Jeff Kaye are the three highest-profile WPVI personalities to have come from WKBW.

WPIX in New York City, an independent station at the time, picked up the Action News concept (and music) successfully for its 10 p.m. newscast. The newscast won numerous awards, but the station never approached the ratings of longtime leader WNEW-TV (now WNYW).

In 2002 and 2003 (respectively), WFTS-TV in Tampa, Florida and KSHB-TV in Kansas City, Missouri (both owned by the E. W. Scripps Company) became the first stations in the country to identify themselves with the Action News as a full-time station branding (for both local newscasts and entertainment programming) with no station number.

Today, Action News innovations have been incorporated into newscasts across the country.

Outside the United States, the Action News title was used by the following television stations:

Theme

WFIL adopted the Action News format in 1970. Originally the programme was introduced with a brass band theme written by Temple University student Tom Sellers. The entire theme was offered through the Philadelphia Inquirer, as a single sided 45 RPM record for about 25¢. Two years later, the station (under its new call sign WPVI) replaced "The Action News Theme" with Al Ham's "Move Closer to Your World".[3][4]

WPVI continues to use this theme after four decades, even as others have stopped using it, although it has been remastered several times (which have included the removal of a bongo line) in order for the theme to sound less dated. In 1996, the station replaced the original Al Ham theme with a fuller, orchestral version performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Viewer outcry caused the station to drop the new version within five days. "Move Closer to Your World" is probably the only news theme to be offered as a ringtone, which is offered by WPVI free of charge.

Action News offered the first evening newscasts to be solo anchored by a woman: Diana Robinson, who was the first African-American female news anchor in American television. She was followed by Jacqui Mullen.

WPVI opens its broadcasts with a rapid montage featuring scenes of Philadelphia-area activities. The scenes are rotated to reflect the current season. For example, spring footage of the Phillies, NASCAR, CART and DIRT starts on March 21, while footage of the Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia Flyers, and 76ers starts on September 23, and footage of the Mummers Parade with additional winter scenes is shown from December 21 to March 21.

Although "Move Closer to Your World" is strongly associated with the Action News format, a large number of stations that have used the "Action News" name actually chose to use additional pieces of music for their newscasts. Conversely, stations that use "Move Closer to Your World" don't necessarily use the "Action News" name or format. WNEP-TV in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania used the original version of the theme for a large number of years before switching to a modern variation which only partially resembles the original.

Stations that use or have used the Action News format or name

DMA#DMA NameStationAffiliationCurrently UsesOther Notes
1.New York CityWPIXThe CWNoUsed as an Independent station from 1974 to 1984; station currently brands its newscast as "PIX 11 News"
2.Los AngelesKCBS-TVCBSNoUsed from 1989–1997, has identified as "CBS 2 News" from 1997–present, and "CBS 2 NewsCentral" from September–January 2010
3.ChicagoWBBM-TVCBSNoUsed briefly in the early 1970s, newscasts are now branded as "CBS 2 News"
4.PhiladelphiaWPVI-TVABCYesOriginator of the "Action News" format on April 6, 1970
WPHL-TVMyNetworkTVYesWPVI-produced broadcasts on WPHL are branded as "Action News @10 on PHL17"
5.San Jose/S.F./Oakland, CaliforniaKICU-TVIndependentNoNewscast defunct, station formerly referred to itself as "Action 36"
KTVU-TVFoxNoUsed from 1971 to the early 1980s. Newscasts are now branded as "KTVU Fox 2 News".
6.Dallas/Fort WorthKXAS-TVNBCNoUsed from 1979–1984, its years of using Move Closer to Your World; has identified as "NBC 5 News" after 1999
9.AtlantaWSB-TVABC (formerly NBC)YesIdentified as Action News from 1972–1988, has identified as "Channel 2 Action News" after 1988. The station's newscasts still remain quite fast paced, keeping a few aspects of the Action News format today.
11.DetroitWXYZ-TVABCYesUsed after 1972; currently identifies as "Channel 7 Action News"
12.Tampa/St. Petersburg, FloridaWFTS-TVABCYesHas identified as "ABC Action News" after 2002
WTSPCBS, formerly ABCNoIdentified as "Action NewsCenter" in 1977, then as "Action 10 News" from 1978 to 1979, and finally as "Action News" from 1979 to 1989. Currently identifies as "10 News"
13.Phoenix, ArizonaKPNXNBCNoUsed throughout the 1980s; has identified as "12 News" after 1992, and "12 News in HD" after November 2006.
15.Minneapolis/St. Paul, MinnesotaWCCO-TVCBSNoUsed throughout the early 1970s;[5] now identifies as "WCCO News"
16.Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FloridaWFOR-TV (formerly WCIX-TV)CBSNoUsed from 1989–1995; has identified as "South Florida's CBS 4 News" after 1999
17.Cleveland, OhioWOIOCBSNoHas identified as "19 Action News" from 2002-2015. Now identifies as "Cleveland 19 News" after September 2015, produces "Cleveland 19 News at 10 on CLE 43" for WUAB
WKYC-TVNBCNoIdentified as "Action 3 News" from 1974–1984; has identified as "Channel 3 News" after 1984; unrelated to WOIO
18.Denver, ColoradoKWGN-TVThe CWNoUsed from 1977–1983; has identified as "Channel 2 News" after June 2010
19.OrlandoWRDQIndependentNoNewscast produced by WFTV was rebranded to Eyewitness News.
20.Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto, CaliforniaKOVRCBS (formerly ABC)NoUsed as an ABC affiliate in the 1970s; has identified as "CBS 13 News" after 2005
KMAX-TVThe CW (formerly UPN, WB and independent)NoUsed in the 1990s; formerly unrelated to KOVR
21.St. LouisKTVIFox, formerly ABCNoUsed throughout the early and mid-1970s; has identified as "Fox 2 News" after 1995
22.PittsburghWTAE-TVABCYesUsed in 1970s–1989; Brought back again in 1995 as "Channel 4 Action News". One of the few that used the name to put emphasis on investigative reporting, with the slogan being "Taking Action For You."
24.BaltimoreWBAL-TVNBC (formerly CBS)NoIdentified as "Action News" from 1973–1985, has identified as "11 News" after 1995
26.CharlotteWAXN-TVIndependentNoProduced by WSOC-TV; newscasts are now branded as "Eyewitness News"
WCNC-TV (formerly WPCQ-TV)NBCNoIdentified as "Carolina's NewsChannel 36" from 2008-2012, has identified as "NBC Charlotte News" after 2012; unrelated to WAXN/WSOC
27.San DiegoKFMB-TVCBSNoUsed briefly in the 1970s; title was followed by the current year à la Match Game (i.e., "Action News '75"); has identified as News 8 after 1996
28.Hartford/New Haven, ConnecticutWTNHABCNoUsed from 1971–1996; has identified as "News 8" after 2010; former sister station of WPVI
29.Raleigh/Durham, North CarolinaWRAL-TVNBC, formerly CBS & ABCNoUsed throughout the 1970s and 1980s; Sister station of Fox affiliate WRAZ. Has identified as "WRAL News" after 2003.
31.Kansas CityKSHB-TVNBC, formerly FOXYesIdentified as "NBC Action News" from 2003-2012; has identified as "41 Action News" after early 2012, after the station rebranded.
WDAF-TVFox, formerly NBCNoUsed from 1974–1990; has identified as "Fox 4 News" after 1997; unrelated to KSHB
31.Salt Lake City, UtahKTVXABCNoIdentified as "Action News 4" from 1975-1979; has identified as "ABC 4 Utah" after 2013
32.Columbus, OhioWSYX (formerly WTVN-TV)ABCNoUsed as WTVN; has identified as "ABC 6 News" after 2006
33.CincinnatiWLWTNBCNoUsed from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s; has identified as "News 5" after 2004
34.MilwaukeeWISN-TVABC, formerly CBSNoUsed from 1976 (when it was still a CBS affiliate) to 1985; has identified as "12 News" after 2003, though the station's consumer news/investigation segments continue to be called "Action 12".
36.GreenvilleWYFF Formerly WFBC-TVNBCNoUsed from 1975–1981; has identified as "WYFF News 4" after 1996
38.West Palm Beach, FloridaWPTV-TVNBCNoUsed in the 1980s and early 1990s; has identified as "NewsChannel 5" after 1993
40.Birmingham, AlabamaWVTM-TVNBCNoUsed in the 1970s; identified as "NBC 13 News" until 2010; currently identified as "WVTM 13 News"
WIATCBSNoUsed in the 1980s and 1990s; currently identifies as WIAT News 42, unrelated to WVTM
41.Harrisburg/York/Lancaster, PennsylvaniaWLYH-TVThe CW (formerly CBS)NoUsed as a CBS affiliate; currently identifies as "CBS 21 News at Ten on The CW 15"
43.Las VegasKTNVABCYesHas identified as "Channel 13 Action News" after 2003
44.Memphis, TennesseeWMC-TVNBCYesHas identified as "Action News 5" after 1983
45.Albuquerque/Santa Fe, New MexicoKOAT-TVABCYesHas identified itself as "Action 7 News" after 1978
48.Louisville, KentuckyWHAS-TVABC, formerly CBSNoUsed from the mid-1970s to when it switched from CBS to ABC; has identified as "WHAS 11 News" after 1991
50.Jacksonville, FloridaWTLVNBCNoUsed throughout the mid- and late 1970s; currently identifies as "First Coast News", unrelated to WTEV and WAWS
WJAX-TV, formerly WTEV-TVCBSYesRebranded to title in April 2009, with sister station WAWS.
WFOX-TV, formerly WAWSFoxYesRebranded to title in April 2009, with sister station WTEV.
51.Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, MassachusettsWLNE-TVABC, formerly CBSNoUsed throughout its CBS days; has identified as "ABC 6 News" after 1995
52.Austin, TexasKVUEABCNoUsed from 1978–1997; has identified as "KVUE News" after 2001
53.Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PennsylvaniaWYOUCBSNoUsed circa 1999-2001; station ended its newscasts on April 3, 2009; newscasts have been branded as "Eyewitness News" after sister station WBRE began producing its newscasts in 2012
WNEPABCNoHas never been known as "Action News," but has used "Move Closer to Your World" theme for several years
55.Fresno/Visalia/Merced, CaliforniaKFSN-TVABC (formerly CBS)YesHas identified as "ABC 30 Action News" after 1994, but uses the "Eyewitness News" format of KABC and KGO; title began on September 14, 1970
56.Albany, New YorkWTENABC, formerly CBSNoUsed throughout its first few years as an ABC affiliate; has identified as "News 10" after 1995
57.Little Rock, ArkansasKTHVCBSNoNewscast name used before its purchase by Gannett; Currently identifies as "Today's THV"
59.Mobile, Alabama/Pensacola, FloridaWALA-TVFox (formerly NBC)NoUsed from 1990 to 1997; currently identifies as "Fox 10 News"
60.Knoxville, TennesseeWBIR-TVNBCNoUsed "Action 10 News" from 1970–1974 and 1978–April 2004; has identified as "10 News" after April 2004
63.Lexington, KentuckyWLEX-TVNBCNoUsed in the 1970s, 1980s, and the mid-late 1990s; has identified as "LEX 18 News" after 2000
WTVQ-TVABCNoIdentified as "Action News 36" from 2004–2009, identified as "ABC 36 News" after 2009.
65.Huntington/Charleston, West VirginiaWOWK-TVCBS (formerly ABC)NoUsed from its ABC days and with CBS up to 1993; currently identifies as "13 News"
68.Roanoke, Virginia/Lynchburg, VirginiaWSLS-TVNBCNoUsed throughout the 1980s. Has identified as "WSLS 10 On Your Side" after 2006
69.Green Bay, WisconsinWBAY-TVABC (formerly CBS)YesHas identified as "Action 2 News" after 1987
70.Honolulu, HawaiiKHON-TVFox (formerly NBC)NoUsed "Action 2 News" from 1979 to 1982; has identified as "KHON2 News" after 2003
71.Toledo, OhioWTVGABCYesIdentified as "13 Action News" until 2006, identified as "13 ABC Action News" after 2006; former sister station of WPVI; additionally known to use the "Eyewitness News" format
75.Omaha, NebraskaKMTVCBSYesNewscasts have been branded as "Action 3 News" after 2006
76.Springfield, MissouriKYTVNBCNoUsed from 1974 to 1993, as "KY3 Action News"; has identified as "KY3 News" after 1997
77.Lewiston, IdahoKLEW-TVCBSYesHas identified as KLEW Action News after 2008. The station is part of the Spokane, Washington market, but doesn't serve as the Spokane metro area's CBS affiliate; it is served by KREM-TV.
79.Syracuse, New YorkWSTM-TVNBCNoIdentifies as "NBC 3 News"
81.Shreveport, LouisianaKTBS-TVABCNoUsed throughout the 1980s; Currently identifies as "KTBS 3 News"
84.Huntsville, AlabamaWHNT-TVCBSNoUsed from 1975 to 1985, currently identifies as "WHNT News 19"
85.Madison, WisconsinWISC-TVCBSNoUsed in the 1970s; has identified as "News 3" after 2001
86.Chattanooga, TennesseeWTVCABCNoUsed throughout the 1970s 1980s and early 1990s; has identified as "NewsChannel 9" after 1995
87.Jackson, MississippiWAPT-TVABCNoUsed throughout the 1970s; has identified as "16 WAPT News" after 1999
89.Cedar Rapids, IowaKGANCBSNoUsed as WMT-TV; has identified as "CBS 2 News" after 2004
91.Rio Grande Valley, TexasKGBTCBSYesPreviously identified as "Team 4 News"
96.Rock Island, Illinois/Davenport, Iowa (Quad Cities)WHBF-TVCBSNoUsed throughout the 1980s; currently identifies as "Local 4 News"
97.Savannah, GeorgiaWJCLABCNoUsed from 1990s–1997; currently identifies as "WJCL News"
98.Altoona/Johnstown, PennsylvaniaWTAJ-TVCBSNoUsed throughout the 1980s; currently identifies as "WTAJ News"
99.El Paso, TexasKDBC-TVCBSNoUsed in the 1990s; has identified as "KDBC 4 News" after 2004
100.Charleston, South CarolinaWCBD-TVNBC formerly ABCNoUsed as an ABC affiliate; has identified as "News 2" after 1997
103.Youngstown, OhioWFMJ-TVNBCNoUsed from 1970s-2001; has identified as "21 News" after 2001
105.Florence/Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaWPDE-TVABCNoUsed from 1986–1993; has identified as "WPDE NewsChannel 15" after 1993
108.Tallahassee, FloridaWTXL-TVABCNoUsed in the 1990s; has identified as "ABC 27 News" after 2006
112.Lansing, MichiganWILX-TVNBCNoUsed throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Currently identifies as "News 10"
114.Augusta, GeorgiaWRDW-TVCBSNoUsed from the late 1960s to the late 1970s; has identified as "News 12" after 1998
WAGTNBCNoUsed from the 1990s-2003; currently identifies as "NBC Augusta"
115.Sioux Falls, South DakotaKSFY-TVABCNoIdentified as "KSFY Action News" from September 2008 to 2011; currently identifies as "KSFY News"
116.Peoria, IllinoisWMBD-TVCBSNoUsed from the early to late 1970s; has identified as "WMBD 31 News" after 2007
117.Montgomery/Selma, AlabamaWAKACBSNoUsed in the 1980s, currently identifies as "CBS 8 News"
120.Santa Barbara, CaliforniaKEYT-TVABCNoIdentified as "Action News" from 1977-1984; has identified as "NewsChannel 3" after 2013
122.San Luis Obispo, CaliforniaKSBYNBCNoOriginally Identified itself as "Action 6 News" (1970s-early 1980s), "6 Action News" (late 1980s-2007) and "KSBY 6 Action News" (2007–2010) and was a sister station of KSBW, which additionally uses the "Action News" format. Currently identifies as "KSBY 6 News" as of 2010.
124.Lafayette, LouisianaKATCABCNoUsed in the 1980s and 1990s; currently identifies as "TV-3 News"
125.Salinas/Monterey, CaliforniaKSBWNBCYesIdentified as "Action News 8" after 1987
126.Yakima/Pasco-Richland-Kennewick, WAKIMA-TV / KEPR-TVCBSYesFormerly NewsWatch. Has identified as Action News after 2007.
127.La Crosse/Eau Claire, WisconsinWKBTCBSNoIdentified as "Action 8 News" from 1976 to 1987; currently identifies as "News 8"
128.Columbus, GeorgiaWTVMABCNoIdentified as Action 9 News from the late 1960s to 1992; then identified as THE News Leader; has identified as "WTVM News Leader 9" after 1996
129.Corpus Christi, TexasKZTVCBSYesHas identified as "Action 10 News" after 2004
130.Redding/Red Bluff/Chico, CaliforniaKHSL-TVCBSYesMerged with KNVN to form NCN in 2001 to be later renamed as "Action News"
KNVNNBCYesMerged with KHSL after having lowest ratings out of all three of the area's news stations and to not waste money on a failing station
131.Amarillo, TexasKAMR-TVNBCNoUsed in the 1980s; has identified as "NBC 4 News" after 2002
133.Rockford, IllinoisWIFRCBSNoUsed from the 1980s. Has identified as "23 News" after 2003
139.Duluth, MinnesotaWDIO-TVABCNoUsed in the 1980s; has identified as "Eyewitness News" after 1988
142.Erie, PennsylvaniaWJET-TVABCYesIdentified as "Action News 24" after 1995
146.Lawton, Oklahoma/Wichita Falls, TexasKSWO-TVABCNoIdentified as "Action 7 News" 1979-1996, has identified as "7 News" after 1998
151.Terre Haute, IndianaWTHI-TVCBSNoStarted as "Action 10 News" in 1985 and later became "Action 10 News WTHI." Became "News 10" in 2006.
157.Binghamton, New YorkWBNG-TVCBSYesThe newscast has been called "Action News" after the station's inception in the 1950s.
163.Idaho Falls/Pocatello, IdahoKIDK (formerly KID-TV)CBSNoUsed throughout the mid-1970s
164.Abilene/Sweetwater, TexasKTXS-TVABCNoUsed throughout the early 1980s; currently identifies as "KTXS News 12"
166.Clarksburg, West VirginiaWDTVCBSNoUsed in the early 1970s as "Action News Central"
177.Rapid City, South DakotaKOTA-TVFox (formerly NBC)NoUsed from 1976 to 1995; currently identifies as "Black Hills Fox News"
179.Alexandria, LouisianaKLAX-TVABCNoUsed until its news department were shut down; newscast now produced by Independent News Network
181.Harrisonburg, VirginiaWHSV-TVABCNoUsed from 1977–1984; currently identifies as "WHSV News 3"
189.EurekaKVIQ-TVCBSNoTitle of now defunct operation
208.Alpena, MichiganWBKB-TVCBSNoUsed from 1980-2004: currently identifies as "Channel 11 News"
N/ABuffalo, New YorkWKBW-TVABCNoNever used the "Action News" title but used its news format, station calls itself "Channel 7 Eyewitness News"
N/AKitchener, OntarioCKCO-DTCTVNoUsed in the 1980s and 1990s
  • In an early episode of The Simpsons, a local station is shown using the Action News branding plus a similar intro – but portrays the show as having more action and explosions instead of being faster paced.
  • In Ray Stevens' 1974 hit "The Streak", he plays an "Action News reporter" on the scene of three different streaking events, every time interviewing the same person (also played by Stevens) who keeps warning his wife, "Ethel", not to look – "but it's too late." At the end of the piece, the streaker is joined by "Ethel", much to the husband's horror.
  • In the South Park episode "Quest for Ratings", the kids change the name of their school news programme from "Super School News" to "Sexy Action School News" and add additional outrageous elements in an attempt to get higher ratings from their rival program.
  • The 2004 comedy film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy parodies 1970s culture, particularly Action News.
  • The comic strip This Modern World, by "Tom Tomorrow," regularly depicts reporters from "Action McNews."
  • DJ Sega from the Philadelphia-based record label Mad Decent created a dance remix of the Action News intro song.