WHNS, virtual and UHF digital channel 21, is the Fox-affiliated television station for Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina that is licensed to Greenville, South Carolina, United States. Owned by the Meredith Corporation, WHNS maintains studio facilities located on Interstate Court (just northwest of Interstate 85) in Greenville, and its transmitter is located atop Slick Rock Mountain in Transylvania County, North Carolina (5 miles (8 km) southeast of Brevard).
The Federal Communications Commission issued a construction permit to build a television station on UHF channel 21 in Greenville as early as 1953. Over the next quarter-century, the permit went through about a dozen owners who were unable to overcome numerous legal and environmental hurdles to receive permission to build a station. Technical issues also played a role—the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market is within a vast and mountainous area and UHF television signals usually do not get good reception in rugged terrain. In the meantime, Christian station WGGS used channel 21 as a low-powered relay to improve its coverage in Asheville.
After several false starts, Fresno, California-based Pappas Telecasting bought the channel 21 license in 1979. In 1981, after numerous delays, Pappas found a transmitter site in the Spartanburg area that was close enough to Greenville to meet FCC requirements which stated that a broadcast station's transmitter be located no more than 15 miles (24 km) away from its city of license. Construction on the transmitter tower began in 1982.
The station first signed on the air on April 1, 1984; originally operating as the first general entertainment independent station that served the entire Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market. By contrast, its main competition, Anderson-based WAXA-TV (channel 40, now WMYA-TV), was practically unviewable in most of the North Carolina side of the market. The Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market is one of the largest east of the Mississippi River, and several parts of it are very mountainous WHNS needed every watt of its five million watts of effective radiated power—the maximum allowed for a full-power analog station—to cover it. The WHNS call letters stand for Harry 'N (representing "and") Stella, after company founder Harry Pappas and his wife.
WHNS initially ran a schedule typical of an independent on the UHF band, consisting of cartoons, sitcoms, classic movies, drama series and select sporting events. It became the dominant independent station in the region, placing well ahead of WAXA in the ratings. As a result of the station's sign-on, religious independent WGGS-TV (channel 16) reached a deal with the owners of WASV-TV (channel 62, now WYCW) in Asheville to convert it into a satellite station to serve areas not covered by WGGS's signal.
WHNS's original slogan, "It's Your Station" (which was later changed to "We're Your Station" in 1988) would also be used on then-sister stations KMPH-TV in Fresno and KPTM in Omaha, Nebraska. WHNS' first logo, which was used until 1988, consisted of the call letters in a logo resembling Subway's logo of the time period with the channel number placed at the bottom-center.
Despite a stronger signal and wealthier ownership, WAXA beat out WHNS for a charter affiliation with the upstart Fox Broadcasting Company, which launched in October 1986. However, WAXA was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the fall of 1988 due to financial and management problems that occurred after the death of owner Frank Outlaw; Pappas Telecasting quickly snapped up the Fox affiliation for WHNS. WAXA never recovered from the loss of Fox programming and went off the air on August 31, 1989. Channel 40 wouldn't return until 1991 as a satellite of ABC affiliate WLOS (channel 13). After joining the network, WHNS abandoned its "TV21" brand and changed its on-air branding to "FOX 21".
In 1990, Pappas sold WHNS to Cannell Communications (a broadcast group owned by television producer and author Stephen J. Cannell), earning a handsome return on its original investment. Cannell sold WHNS to First Media Television in 1994. On January 16, 1995, WHNS took on a secondary affiliation with the United Paramount Network (UPN), airing the network's programming during late night time periods. First Media merged with Meredith Corporation in 1997. In October of that year, UPN's programming moved to WASV—which ironically had been acquired by Pappas two years earlier in 1995. The station became exclusively affiliated with Fox as a result, only to add a secondary affiliation with Pax TV when that network launched on August 31, 1998; WHNS carried select programs from the network until 2003. In the fall of 2002, WHNS began branding itself as "FOX Carolina".
In March 2009, the Meredith Corporation announced that WHNS and Nashville sister station WSMV-TV would have their master control operations moved to a new master contol hub based out of the studio facilities of Atlanta sister station WGCL-TV, which began operations in the fall of 2009. Three other Meredith-owned stations, in Kansas City, Hartford/New Haven and Bay City, Michigan were later added to this hub in 2010. Meredith operates a similar hub at KPHO-TV in Phoenix to handle its stations in the Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington markets.
On September 8, 2015, Media General announced that it would acquire Meredith for $2.4 billion, with the combined group to be renamed Meredith Media General if the sale had been finalized. Because Media General already owns WSPA, and the two stations rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville market in total day viewership, the companies would have been required to sell either WHNS or WSPA to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as recent changes to those rules regarding same-market television stations that restrict sharing agreements; CW affiliate WYCW (channel 62) was the only one of the three stations affected by the merger that could have been legally be acquired by Meredith Media General either by forming a new duopoly with WHNS or maintaining its duopoly with WSPA, as that station's total day viewership ranks below the top-four ratings threshold. However, on January 27, 2016, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Media General, resulting in the termination of Meredith's acquisition by Media General.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|21.1||720p||16:9||WHNS-DT||Main WHNS programming / Fox|
From 2007 to 2015, WHNS carried a 24-hour local weather channel on its second digital subchannel, which was branded as "Fox Carolina 3D Radar". Through separate affiliation agreements involving Meredith Corporation and those networks' respective owners (NBCUniversal and Katz Broadcasting) that were signed within days of each other, on March 23, 2015, WHNS announced it would affiliate its second digital subchannel with Cozi TV and launch a third subchannel affiliated with Escape onto its digital signal that spring. On April 15, 2015, the 21.2 subchannel became a Cozi TV affiliate, while the new 21.3 subchannel launched as an Escape affiliate. In June 2017, a fourth subchannel was added, launching 21.4 as a Bounce affiliate.
WHNS discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 21, 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 57, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era UHF channel 21.
Out-of-market cable carriage
Syndicated programs broadcast by WHNS include Friends, The Simpsons (which also airs first run episodes), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Big Bang Theory and The Doctors. In addition, WHNS produces Better Carolinas, which airs weekday mornings at 10:00 a.m. and features a mix of segments from the Meredith-distributed syndicated program The Better Show and segments produced locally at WHNS' Greenville studios.
WHNS presently broadcasts 43½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 7½ hours on weekdays and three hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). In terms of the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the largest local output among the market's individual stations (WLOS, along with sister station WMYA-TV along with WSPA and sister station WYCW produce more hours of newscasts with their combined operations).
WHNS launched the first primetime newscast in the Greenville-Spartanburg market in September 1996, when CBS affiliate WSPA-TV (channel 7) began to produce a nightly half-hour newscast at 10:00 p.m. through a news share agreement. The program was produced from WSPA's main news set at its International Drive studio facility in Spartanburg and utilized WSPA's anchors and reporters; however, the newscast had a different on-air identity and graphics package than that seen on WSPA's newscasts. Meredith Corporation terminated the news share agreement in 1999, when the station began developing its own in-house news department; its news operation launched that fall with the debut of an hour-long 10:00 p.m. newscast.
On May 14, 2007, assignment editor Joe Loy was filming the aftermath of a traffic accident on a local highway when another accident occurred right behind him. Loy managed to tape that accident as a white van, which possibly went out-of-control because of a red pickup truck, spun towards and hit him, killing him instantly. In September 2009, WHNS expanded its news programming into early evenings with the debut of a half-hour newscast at 6:30 p.m.
In September 2012, the station canceled their 6:30 p.m. newscast due to low ratings, but the following week launched an 11:00 p.m. newscast, airing Monday through Friday. In October 2014, WHNS added a weekday hour-long 4:00 p.m. newscast, called The Four O'Clock News. 
In 2016, the station expanded the Morning News to the 4:00 a.m. hour and added a two-hour long weekend morning show on Saturdays and Sundays.
The station's 10:00 p.m. newscast is the highest-rated primetime newscast in the market in that timeslot (outranking the WLOS-produced newscast on WMYA-TV and the WSPA-produced newscast on WYCW) and its other newscasts are seen as competitive in the market.
WHNS operates five translators across the mountains of western North Carolina. These translators serve as low-power, limited-area repeaters that bring the network's signal to towns in deep mountain valleys where the parent signal is blocked by the surrounding terrain. All digital translators use PSIP virtual channel 21.
|Station||City of license||Channel||ERP|
|Facility ID||Transmitter Coordinates||Notes|
|Franklin||15 (UHF)||5||651 m (2,136 ft)||72305||Former callsign W64BO.|
|West Asheville||34 (UHF)||7||377 m (1,237 ft)||72302||Former callsign W14AS.|
|Bryson City||40 (UHF)||4.9||602 m (1,975 ft)||72306||Former callsign W69CN.|
|Sylva||44 (UHF)||5||691 m (2,267 ft)||72301||Former callsign W66BU.|
|Canton / Waynesville||47 (UHF)||5||442 m (1,450 ft)||72304||Former callsign W57BG.|
WHNS has one decommissioned translator.
|Station||City of license||Channel||ERP|
|Facility ID||Transmitter Coordinates||Notes|
|W35AV||Black Mountain||35 (UHF)||0.59||688 m (2,257 ft)||72303||Permit cancelled on 11/18/2015.|