WCTE is a PBS member television station serving the north central counties of Tennessee, the so-called "Upper Cumberland" region. The station is licensed to the Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council; studios are located on the campus of Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee, its city of license. Although Cookeville is located in the Nashville market, the station also serves the western fringe of the Knoxville market. It broadcasts digitally on UHF channel 22, the frequency where its analog signal was located.
WCTE first signed on the air on August 21, 1978. It was the last in a series of stations launched by the Tennessee Department of Education over a 12-year period, finally bringing public television to the last remaining part of the state that previously had little or no access to it. Some of the western parts of the viewing area could pick up the signal of Nashville's WDCN (now WNPT) when it broadcast on channel 2 from 1962 to 1973, but WDCN's move to the weaker channel 8 in 1973 left most of the territory without PBS service for five years.
In 1984, the state relinquished WCTE and its other stations to community boards, such as the UCBC.
The station, like its former sister stations WLJT, WSJK (now known as WETP) and WTCI, emphasizes programming of local interest in addition to carrying a full schedule of PBS programs. The community programming is particularly important because, being a rural, relatively isolated area, the Upper Cumberlands gets little or no coverage from commercial broadcasters in Nashville or Knoxville, the two major media markets nearest the area.
For some time after the DTV transition in 2009, WCTE broadcast with an Effective Radiated Power (ERP) of 57 kW with an antenna height of 412 meters. Then, a early in 2011 increased ERP to 200 kW with an antenna height of 425 meters.
WCTE's is receivable in central Tennessee and in some adjoining parts of southern central Kentucky.
- Upper Cumberland Tonight (1980s-1990s)
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|22.1||1080i||16:9||WCTE-DT||Main WCTE programming / PBS|
WCTE shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 22, 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 relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 52, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its former analog-era UHF channel 22.