WCAX-TV, channel 3, is a television station in Burlington, Vermont, USA. WCAX-TV is affiliated with the CBS Television Network and has been locally owned by the Hasbrook/Martin family and their company, Mount Mansfield Television, since the station's inception. WCAX-TV has studios on Joy Drive in South Burlington, and its transmitter is based on Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak.

Aside from its primary coverage area of the Champlain Valley and environs, WCAX-TV's over-the-air signal also carries across the U.S.-Canadian border into portions of southern Quebec. The station can be seen on cable in Montreal, as far north as Saguenay, and as far east as Gaspé. It is also available on every cable system in Vermont.


WCAX was the call sign of a station, run by students, that made the first radio broadcast from the University of Vermont campus, October 10, 1924.[2]

Vermont's first television station, channel 3 first signed on-air on September 26, 1954 as WMVT, licensed originally to the capital city of Montpelier. The station was owned by Charles P. Hasbrook, former publisher of the now-defunct Burlington Daily News along with WCAX radio (620 AM, now WVMT), which he purchased in 1939 and sold in 1963. In May 1955 WMVT's community of license was moved from Montpelier to Burlington, the state's largest city,[3] and one month later the station's call letters were changed to WCAX-TV to match its radio sister.[4] In 1958 Hasbrook turned over the station's ownership to his stepson, Dr. Stuart T. "Red" Martin Jr., who ran the station until his death in 2005. An engineer by trade, Red Martin assisted his stepfather in building the station from the ground-up, and upon channel 3's sign-on was installed as its first general manager.[5] Peter R. Martin, Red Martin's oldest son, is the station's current president and general manager.

Although WCAX radio was originally affiliated with NBC before moving to CBS in 1940, WCAX-TV has always been a CBS affiliate. As such, it is one of the few stations in the country (not counting network owned-and-operated stations) that has had the same owner, channel number, and primary network affiliation throughout its history. The station did hold a secondary Fox affiliation from 1994-1997, carrying Fox Sports and Fox Kids programming; through this arrangement, WCAX-TV was able to carry Fox's NFL coverage, which consisted of the rights to NFC games that had been held by CBS (and thus aired on WCAX-TV) until 1994. The secondary Fox affiliation ended when WFFF-TV signed on in 1997.[6] On October 25, 2006, WCAX-TV upgraded its digital signal to broadcast CBS programming in high definition.

Viewership in Canada

The station has long had significant viewership in Montreal, which is more than ten times as large as its American coverage area. In the past, it has identified itself as serving "Burlington/Plattsburgh/Montreal" to acknowledge its Canadian viewership, though this practice largely ended in the 1990s.

Like other Champlain Valley stations, WCAX-TV once made a significant portion of its advertising sales across the border. However, Canadian advertising business has almost completely dried up mostly due to the arrival of newer stations such as CKMI-DT-1, coupled with the Canadian simultaneous substitution regulations and the availability of network affiliates from other United States markets (such as Boston and Detroit) on Canadian satellite systems.

Local programming

This channel's longest-running local programs (both dating to the founding of the station) are a daily twenty-minute agricultural information program entitled Across the Fence produced in association with the University of Vermont Extension Service and a thirty-minute weekly public affairs show called You Can Quote Me. In September 2006, WCAX-TV introduced its third local program called Late Night Saturday. It was produced in conjunction with Champlain College for its Media Arts Department. The program was hosted by Tim Kavanagh and aired weekly on Saturday nights. It offered local musicians and artists a chance to perform in front of a live studio audience and showcase their work. It also featured local celebrities such as Rusty DeWees and national celebrities such as Luis Guzman. It ended after three seasons [7]


In 2007, WCAX-TV began to operate a 24-hour local weather and news channel on a new digital subchannel. Originally called "Weather 3.2", and later "WCAXtra", it featured news updates and live local weather along with the FCC-required three hours of E/I-compliant children programming per week. On weekends, if sports games ran long, the news could be found on the secondary channel, though that practice ended in recent years. A 10 p.m. newscast was run for a while exclusively on 3.2. After it was cancelled, the 5:30 program "The :30" was run as a repeat in that timeslot. On April 30, 2015, the channel was replaced with the Movies! network.[8] On digital cable, WCAX-DT2 can be seen on Comcast channel 331, Burlington Telecom channel 303, Charter channel 295, and Time Warner channel 165.

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[9]
3.11080i16:9WCAX-HDMain WCAX-TV programming / CBS

Analog-to-digital conversion

WCAX-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 53, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to UHF channel 22 (formerly the analog channel position for ABC affiliate WVNY which continues on channel 13).[10] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 3.

News operation

WCAX-TV grew out of a newspaper and has long been committed to local coverage. The station is the only one in the market that broadcasts news at noon during the week (it only airs for ten minutes however leaving the rest of the half-hour for Across the Fence). It has more of a Vermont focus compared with NBC affiliate WPTZ which is based across Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh. In 1997, WCAX-TV launched its weekday morning show that originally ran for one hour. It later expanded to a full two-hour broadcast. It has been carrying CBS News Up to the Minute since October 2005 following thirteen years of not airing it. In August 2006, it launched the first website designed for mobile phone browsers. Until early 2009, it was the only wireless website in the market when WPTZ added the service.

Starting July 16, 2007, WCAX-TV began to produce a weeknight 10 o'clock broadcast on "WCAXtra" known as The Channel 3 News at 10. Although it was the first prime time show in the area, Fox affiliate WFFF-TV started a 10PM newscast in 2008. In 2010, WCAX-TV put the 10PM newscasts on a hiatus, due to the majority of viewers not receiving WCAXtra Digital Channel 3.2 through their cable companies. On November 14, WCAX-TV relaunched its newscasts with a new look and became the first broadcaster in the area to air local news in 16:9 widescreen enhanced standard definition. However, this was not true high definition unlike WFFF-TV who has been airing its broadcasts in full 1080i resolution. In addition to its main studios, the station operates four news bureaus. An outpost in Montpelier was established in 1964 and is located on State Street (U.S. 2) in Vermont's state capital. That was followed by bureaus located in Rutland, Vermont (on North Main Street opened in 1967), Plattsburgh (opened in 1973) and West Lebanon, New Hampshire (launched in 2002).

On December 2, 2008, the station laid-off three of its employees and cut two vacant jobs. Although it declined to identify the laid off employees, the channel stated that they were both on-air and off-air personnel. Shawna Lidsky (weekday morning sports anchor and sports reporter) and Rachael Morrow (weekday morning news producer and reporter) were two on-air personnel that were laid-off. Also, longtime "photog" Steve Longchamp was among the personalities let go. Owner Peter Martin said that declining advertising revenues along with the economic crisis caused the layoffs. Those were the first job cuts seen in the station's history.

On January 19, 2009, WCAX-TV announced that it had laid off several more employees. It specifically mentioned the declining automobile commercial revenue, which is a major source of advertising for the station, as the cause of the second round of layoffs.

On May 12, 2009, at the end of the weeknight 6 o'clock broadcast, Marselis Parsons announced that he would be retiring as weeknight anchor and News Director. He stepped down as News Director at the end of May and anchored the 6 p.m. newscast throughout the Summer. Parsons has been with WCAX-TV since 1967 and was News Director and weeknight anchor from 1984 until 2009. The station had won dozens of awards under his direction including the Radio and Television News Director Association's "Best Television Newscast in the United States" in 2003. Parsons continued with the station as a part-time features reporter until his death in 2015. Former WCAX-TV news reporter Anson Tebbetts took over as News Director at the end of May 2009 and Senior Reporter Darren Perron began anchoring the broadcast when Parsons vacated the position.

On June 23, 2009, WCAX-TV upgraded its local news to high definition. The station switched its studio cameras to high definition (field cameras made the transition to HD later in the Fall). New graphics, flags, and intros were also put in place. The previous graphics had been used in all of its newscasts since 2000. On September 16, 2009, WCAX-TV announced that it would be hiring a full-time news reporter for the re-opening of its bureau in Rutland. During Summer 2010, WCAX-TV announced that it will be starting a weeknight 5 o'clock newscast beginning September 13. Weeknights at 5:30, a talk show was introduced and is known as The :30. WCAX-TV also re-opened its Plattsburgh Bureau full-time. Although it had previously not aired newscasts in the weeknight 5 p.m. hour, WCAX-TV delays the CBS Evening News until 7 because it still airs an hour-long show weeknights at 6.

On September 7, 2013, WCAX-TV launched the area's second weekend morning newscast. The newscast airs on both days from 8:00-9:00 a.m.[2]