WBNX-TV, virtual channel 55 (UHF digital channel 30), is a CW-affiliated television station serving Cleveland, Ohio, United States that is licensed to Akron. The station is owned by the Winston Broadcasting Network, a subsidiary of Ernest Angley Ministries. WBNX maintains studio facilities located in suburban Cuyahoga Falls, and its transmitter is located in the Cleveland suburb of Parma.
Prior history of channel 55
UHF analog channel 55 in northeast Ohio was originally allocated to Akron as WCOT-TV. The license was awarded to Rex Humbard in the late 1970s. The plan was for the station to sign on by 1981, with Christian programming being broadcast for two thirds of the day and some family-oriented entertainment programming a third of the day. Construction on the station began in 1978, but ran out of funding and was on hold by 1980. The secular programming that was to air on the station was sold to a new station, WCLQ (channel 61, now WQHS-DT), and the plan to build WCOT was abandoned in 1981. In 1982, Humbard sold the construction permit to Winston Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Ernest Angley Ministries. Construction of the station resumed in 1983.
WBNX-TV first signed on the air on December 1, 1985, as a secular for-profit independent station. The WBNX call letters were previously used by a radio station in New York City on 1380 AM (now WKDM) until 1984. Before WBNX signed on, its owner Ernest Angley bought Humbard's television production facilities in Cuyahoga Falls to start the new station, and later bought Humbard's Cathedral of Tomorrow complex (the current Grace Cathedral). The unfinished concrete tower which still stands behind Grace Cathedral was originally intended to hold WCOT's transmission tower. That tower was never purchased or used by WBNX, but is owned by Krieger Communications and used for cellular phone transmissions.
The station, then branded as "WBNX TV55", carried a general entertainment format with classic sitcoms, dramas, westerns, low-budget movies, syndicated game shows, cartoons, and a twice daily airing of station owner Angley's religious talk/variety show The 90 and 9 Club. During this time, WBNX aimed its programming at family audiences and imposed censoring standards that were similar to that used by The Family Channel, Nick at Nite and other kids and teens' oriented cable channels.
WBNX's original transmitter was located on Snowville Road in Brecksville, which was originally used by WKYC-TV (channel 3) in its earlier days. The old technology for the transmitter forced WBNX to broadcast its audio feed in monaural rather than in stereo. In 2000, WBNX built a new transmitter and tower in Parma, becoming the tallest television broadcast tower in the Cleveland market.
Fox Kids and other shows
In September 1994, WJW-TV (channel 8) and WOIO-TV swapped network affiliations, with FOX Network going to WJW, and CBS affiliation going to WOIO as part of a groupwide affiliation deal between Fox and WJW's then-owner New World Communications. However, WJW (just like other Fox stations owned by New World) declined to carry the Fox Kids block.
WBNX-TV acquired the local rights to carry Fox Kids programming instead, along with syndicated programs that got displaced from the two stations as part of the affiliation shakeup. WBNX became home to the largest Fox Kids Club in the country; besides carrying Fox Kids, channel 55 also aired syndicated children's programs and eventually added competing children's program lineup Kids' WB when The WB moved to the station in September 1997; because of this, the station promoted itself at one point as "Cleveland's Kids Superstation!", the only other station to carry the same children's programming inventory as WBNX was Phoenix's WB affiliate KASW. Cable providers throughout northeast Ohio began to carry WBNX around this time. The lineup during this period included more contemporary children's shows, sitcoms, movies, and dramas. WBNX-TV's censoring standards adapted to the newer contractual "air as is" programming formats.
On September 1, 1997, WBNX-TV affiliated with The WB Television Network, assuming the affiliation from WUAB, which carried the network's primetime programming from the network's January 11, 1995 launch as a secondary affiliation; the station then branded itself as "WB 55". After becoming a WB affiliate, WBNX-TV continued to grow and eventually took the overall ratings lead above WUAB by 2004. From 1998 to 2004, WBNX approached Cleveland late night icon The Ghoul (portrayed by Ron Sweed) to host the station's Friday night (later on Sunday nights, towards the end of the program's run) movie showcase.
WBNX consistently ranked in the top 11 of all WB affiliates in the country and was the #1 WB affiliate in overall ratings among the 19 largest television markets during the November 2005 sweeps ratings period.
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. Following the announcement, both WBNX and WUAB were in the running to become Cleveland's affiliate of the new network.
On March 1, 2006, Winston Broadcasting and CW network management confirmed that WBNX would become the Cleveland market's CW affiliate, as one of the first four strongest stations outside of the network's core Tribune Broadcasting- and CBS Television Stations-owned affiliate groups to join with the network. WBNX affiliated with The CW when it officially debuted on September 18, 2006, and began branding as "WBNX, The CW". On April 30, 2007, WBNX began broadcasting CW network programming in high definition and 5.1 stereo surround sound.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|55.1||1080i||16:9||WBNX-HD||Main WBNX-TV programming / The CW|
|55.2||480i||4:3||WBNX-SD||The Happy Channel|
|55.4||Heroes||Heroes & Icons|
On October 11, 2010, WBNX's second digital subchannel debuted as an independent station (branded as The Happy Channel) airing religious/family-oriented programming, such as Ernest Angley Ministries-produced programs such as The 90 & 9 Club, The Ernest Angley Hour and the gospel music series Sing, Sing, Sing Come on Let's Sing, along with other select family programs. Digital channel 55.2 is currently available over-the-air and on select cable providers.
On March 20, 2012, WBNX activated a new subchannel, which six days later became the new Cleveland affiliate of This TV, which had previously been carried on WUAB until that station's affiliation contract with the network expired. Digital channel 55.3 is available over-the-air and on most cable providers in northeastern Ohio including Time Warner, Cox Cable, Massillon Cable and others. On March 23, 2015, WBNX replaced This TV with the Movies! network.
WBNX-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 55, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 30. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 55, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.
In addition to carrying the entire CW network programming lineup, syndicated programs broadcast on WBNX (as of September 2015) include Divorce Court, Mike and Molly, Bones, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Rules of Engagement, Cougar Town and Friends.
In September 1994, after WJW became a Fox affiliate, the station made an arrangement with WBNX to air a rebroadcast of WJW's 10:00 p.m. newscast each night at 11:00 p.m.; this continued until September 1996.