WLEX-TV, virtual channel 18 (UHF digital channel 39), is the NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Lexington, Kentucky, United States, serving the east-central part of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The station is owned by Cordillera Communications. WLEX's studios are located on Russell Cave Road (KY 353) in Lexington, and its transmitter is located in Southern Lexington near Hamburg Pavilion on competitor WTVQ-DT's tower.

The station can be viewed within the Lexington area on Charter Spectrum channels 8 (SD) and 906 (HD) (channel numbers will vary throughout the market). It is also available on Frankfort Plant Board channels 7 (SD) and 507 (HD).[5][6]

History

Channel 18 signed on March 15, 1955 as Lexington's first television station and the third in Kentucky (following Louisville's WAVE-TV and WHAS-TV). It was co-owned with WLEX radio (1300 AM, now WLXG) and carried programming from all four networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, and DuMont). The DuMont network went out of business later that year. On February 18, 1956, WLEX broadcast the first-ever telecast of a Kentucky Wildcats basketball game. In 1957, CBS programming moved to WKXP-TV (channel 27, now WKYT-TV). After only one year, however, new owners switched channel 27 to primary ABC affiliation, leaving WLEX to pick up a secondary CBS affiliation once again.

In 1968, CBS moved to WKYT when WBLG-TV (now WTVQ-TV) signed on and took the ABC affiliation, making WLEX a full-time NBC affiliate. For many years, the station was owned by the Gay & Bell families until they sold WLEX to the Evening Post in 1999.

In November 2009, WLEX added the Wazoo Sports Network, which was dedicated to Kentucky sports, on a digital subchannel as part of a service branded as WZLEX.[7] Wazoo Sports filed for bankruptcy in December 2011; WLEX pulled the network at that time, with the station's general manager stating that Wazoo was "[not] strong enough to make a second commitment to it." Wazoo Sports would be replaced by MeTV.[8][9]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelPSIP Short NameVideoAspectProgramming[10]
18.1WLEX-TV1080i16:9Main WLEX-TV programming / NBC
18.2MeTV720pMeTV
18.3Bounce TV480i4:3Bounce TV

Analog-to-digital conversion

WLEX-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 18, at 7 a.m. 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 39.[11] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 18. The digital signal originates from the tower that also transmits the WTVQ-TV signal.[13][14]

TV spectrum repack

WLEX will plan to move its channel allocation from digital channel 39 to digital channel 28 and it will remain on virtual channel 18 once is completed.[5]

News operation

In the spring of 2007, WLEX-TV became the second station in Lexington and the entire state of Kentucky to broadcast local newscasts in high definition, and it debuted a new set in preparation for the transition. In September 2010, WLEX became the first station in Lexington to have an on-the-air 4:00 p.m. newscast.[15]

In the fall of 2013, the station's 6 p.m. newscast began to air on a half-hour delay on Louisville's independent station, WBNA (Channel 21); that station also airs the midday newscast of fellow NBC affiliate WAVE in Louisville.

Notable current on-air staff

Notable former on-air staff

Out-of-market coverage

In Tennessee, Lexington television stations WLEX and WKYT are carried in Jellico. In addition, some providers in the easternmost portions of the Louisville market carry WLEX, including Campbellsville and Bardstown.[5]