WNEO, virtual and UHF digital channel 45, is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station licensed to Alliance, Ohio, United States. The station's programming is simulcast on satellite station WEAO, virtual channel 49 (UHF digital channel 50), in Akron. The two stations utilize the unified brand "Western Reserve PBS". WNEO is the PBS member station of record for the Youngstown market, while WEAO provides the Cleveland market with a second choice for PBS programming alongside the market's flagship PBS station, WVIZ (channel 25).
WNEO and WEAO are owned by Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, which is a consortium of the University of Akron, Kent State University and Youngstown State University. The two stations operate from studio facilities located on Kent State's campus in Kent, northeast of Akron and roughly west of Youngstown. WNEO's transmitter is located in Salem and WEAO's transmitter is located in Copley.
WNEO also operates W44CR-D, a low-power digital translator in Youngstown, which serves low-lying areas in the Mahoning Valley that are shadowed from the main WNEO signal. The digital translator, which signed on the air in 2009, is a conversion of a former analog translator, W58AM, which broadcast at the same location.
WNEO first signed on the air on May 30, 1973. It was originally intended to serve all of northeast Ohio from Youngstown to Cleveland. Its city of license, Alliance, is split between both major markets in the region. Most of the city is in Stark County, which is in the Cleveland market; a small portion is in Mahoning County, home to Youngstown. However, it was later decided to reorient WNEO to serve Youngstown and sign on a satellite station to serve Akron and Cleveland. That station, WEAO, signed on the air more than two years later on September 21, 1975. Prior to WEAO's sign-on, the channel 49 allocation in the Cleveland/Akron market was occupied by Akron-based WAKR-TV from 1953 to 1967, when that station moved to UHF channel 23 (WAKR now operates as Ion Television owned-and-operated station WVPX-TV).
Until October 1, 2008, WEAO and WNEO were jointly branded as "PBS 45 & 49". On October 1, 2008 at 5:30 a.m., WNEO and WEAO changed their on-air branding to "Western Reserve PBS", as part of the parent organization's overall branding change to Western Reserve Public Media. The rebranding was done to make the station's identity better reflect the viewing area, and due to the fact that the combined WNEO/WEAO operations are broadcast on different cable channels in their respective service areas.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
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|Main programming / PBS|
WNEO and WEAO carried Create on digital channels 45.3 and 49.3 and the Ohio Channel on digital channels 45.4 and 49.4 until August 2007, when the two subchannels were removed to make room for their high definition feeds. The analog simulcast of WNEO/WEAO remained on digital channels 45.2 and 49.2 until the June 12, 2009 digital transition, when they were replaced with Western Reserve PBS fusion, a local service which aired concerts and music-related programs until August 1, 2009 at which point, it switched to a mix of local programming; WNEO/WEAO then added MHz Worldview to digital channels 45.3 and 49.3 on June 13. WNEO and WEAO carried V-Me on digital channels 45.4 and 49.4 on September 19, 2009. The channel was discontinued in April 2017.
WNEO discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 45, on November 19, 2008. Two days later on November 21, the station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 46 to former UHF analog channel 45 for post-transition operations.
WEAO discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 49, 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 50, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 49.