WHMB-TV, virtual channel 40 (UHF digital channel 20), is a LeSEA owned-and-operated television station located in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The station is owned by the LeSEA Broadcasting Corporation (also known as World Harvest Broadcasting). WHMB maintains studio facilities located on Greenfield Avenue in Noblesville, and its transmitter is located on Walnut Drive in northwestern Indianapolis. On cable, WHMB is available on Comcast Xfinity channel 9, Bright House Networks channel 22 and AT&T U-verse channel 40 in standard definition and in high definition on Xfinity digital channel 1009 and Bright House Networks digital channel 1022.
Prior history of UHF channel 40 in Indianapolis
The UHF channel 40 allocation in Indianapolis was originally occupied by WURD, which was founded by local minister Dr. Wendell Hansen. When it signed on as an independent station in 1971, WURD was one of the earliest religious television stations to sign on in the United States; the station broadcast only for a few hours during the evening hours, carrying a modest selection of local and syndicated religious programs.
The station was run on a very tight operational budget; its most crowning achievement was the installation of a microwave receiver, which allowed the station to carry live telecasts of Chicago White Sox baseball games from independent station WFLD (now a Fox owned-and-operated station) in Chicago; Dr. Hansen was so proud of this that he broadcast the receiver's installation live on the station. The success was short-lived as WURD ceased operations within a few months of its sign-on.
WHMB station history
Shortly after WURD ceased operations, Assembly of God Minister Lester Sumrall acquired the channel 40 license, and changed its call letters to WHMB-TV. The station first signed on the air in 1972; originally signing on in the early afternoon and signing off nightly at midnight, the station primarily ran religious programs. In 1974, the station expanded its broadcasting hours, signing on in the late morning; it also acquired the local rights to The 700 Club, which WHMB ran twice each weekday (it eventually ran a 90-minute edition of the program live at 10:00 a.m., along twice daily repeats of the hour-long version of the program by the latter part of the decade). By that point, the station also began carrying additional secular programming, with a mix of children's programs and westerns airing from about 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. The station began broadcasting 18 hours a day in 1975; at that time, WHMB began airing The PTL Club, which it aired in its two-hour broadcast (which was reduced to one hour in 1982) as well as one-hour versions that aired twice a day; the station also aired religious programs from televangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart and Richard Roberts.
In addition, the station also aired a few locally produced shows; Von Saum hosted a weekday afternoon children's program from 1972 until shortly before his death from heart failure in 1993 titled Pirate Adventures with Captain Hook, in which Saum (whose left leg and arm were amputated after he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle at age 17 in 1960) and other cast members playing Hook's pirates used music and object lessons to teach children about Jesus Christ. Saum, who originated the Captain Hook character after a preacher encouraged him to a develop the character for Saum's children's ministry tours by acquiring a hook for his prosthetic arm and costume, was approached by Sumrall to bring his character to television. WHMB, which later syndicated the series to several countries, dropped the program when it returned recordings of the episodes to the now-deceased Saum years later. Channel 40 also ran twice-a-day airings of a locally produced weekday bible study program hosted by Lester Sumrall, as well as a Christian-oriented music and variety program hosted by the Sumrall family that aired three times a day.
The station began broadcasting on a 24-hour schedule by 1977; around this time, WHMB ran Christian programs from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.; cartoons (including the live action children's program Bozo) from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.; classic sitcoms (such as Little Rascals shorts, My Three Sons, Dennis the Menace Green Acres, Batman and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.; and a mix of sitcoms and occasional westerns (such as The Lone Ranger) from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. On Saturdays, the station ran children's and family-oriented secular programming (including cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes shorts, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, Underdog, The Banana Splits, The Great Space Coaster, The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jonny Quest and The Flintstones) from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and religious programming during the nighttime hours, and a schedule consisting entirely of Christian-oriented religious programs on Sundays.
By 1984, WHMB carried Christian programming for much of the broadcast day, with breakaway windows for secular programming (including sitcoms, westerns and public domain movies) each weekday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. By the 1990s, the station began acquiring somewhat more recent sitcoms from the 1970s and 1980s (including The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, Family Ties and The Odd Couple). WHMB eventually reduced its secular programming (consisting of sitcoms, drama series and lifestyle programs) to 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. each weekday and a scattered amount for a few hours a day on Saturdays, along with carrying children's programs complying with the Federal Communications Commission's educational programming guidelines for two hours on Saturday mornings and an hour on Sunday afternoons.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|40.1||720p||16:9||WHMB-DT||Main WHMB programming|
|40.2||480i||4:3||WHT||World Harvest Television|
WHMB-TV was the only LeSEA-owned station that was not included in a groupwide affiliation agreement with Cozi TV that was announced on June 17, 2014; the network, which primarily airs classic television series (including some that are currently or have previously aired on WHMB), has been carried locally on the second digital subchannel of NBC affiliate WTHR (channel 13) and its low-power sister station WALV-CD (channel 46) since March 2013 due to an existing agreement with the owners of both stations, the Dispatch Broadcast Group.
WHMB-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 40, on January 16, 2009. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 16. In May 2012, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Report & Order, approving a request by LeSEA to move the station's digital signal from channel 16 to its former analog-era UHF channel 20. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 40.
Syndicated religious programs broadcast by WHMB-TV include The 700 Club, the Believer's Voice of Victory, Life Today, Jack Van Impe Presents, and In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley. Syndicated secular programs seen on the station include Highway to Heaven, Little House on the Prairie, A Different World, Marty Stouffer's Wild America The Filling Station and Cosby.
In 1997, the Indiana High School Athletics Association awarded WHMB the local television rights to the statewide boys' and girls' high school basketball tournament finals and high school football championship games after UPN affiliate WTTV (channel 4, now a CBS affiliate) chose not to renew its contract to carry the games citing ratings declines; that year, the ISHAA converted its basketball tournament from a single-class to a multi-class format. WHMB opted against renewing the contract in 2004; the station continues to air high school football and basketball games on Friday nights during the ISHAA athletic season. The station also maintains rights to broadcast a handful of minor league baseball games annually from the Indianapolis Indians; during instances in which the station carries an away game featuring the team, WHMB instead transmits the home team's broadcast feed.
Since September 2012, WHMB-TV is the Indianapolis home to the syndicated package of Atlantic Coast Conference football and men’s basketball games originating from the ACC Network, an ad hoc syndicated sports network operated by Raycom Sports. The package includes some men’s basketball games involving the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish as that college’s sports programs (except football) joined the ACC in July 2012.