WSYR-TV is the ABC-affiliated television station for Central New York State that is licensed to Syracuse. It originally signed on the air as WNYS on VHF channel 9 on September 9, 1962. Its call letters changed to WIXT in 1978, and to WSYR in 2005. It currently broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 17 from a transmitter on Sevier Road in Pompey. The station can also be seen on Time Warner channel 9 and in high definition on digital channel 1240. Owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group, it has studios on Bridge Street (NY 690) in East Syracuse.
Channel 9 was the last of Syracuse's major network affiliates to sign on, doing so September 9, 1962 after a channel shuffle involving rival WHEN-TV and Rochester's WROC-TV allowed a third analog VHF station in Syracuse. The original call letters were WNYS-TV (now assigned to Syracuse's MyNetworkTV affiliate). It signed-on under the ownership of a group of local investors. The station has always been an ABC affiliate. Channel 9's original studios were located in the basement of the Shoppingtown shopping center on Erie Boulevard in DeWitt. Fire overtook the studios in April 1967, forcing the station to temporarily move to WCNY-TV's studios in Liverpool until its facilities were rebuilt.
In 1969, then-owner W.R.G. Baker Television Corporation applied for a WNYS-TV translator on channel 7, W07BA; this facility, serving Syracuse and nearby Nedrow, came on the air in 1972. W07BA, which later moved its second city of license to DeWitt, remained a repeater of channel 9 until 2014; its license was canceled on March 24, 2014. The station was purchased by The Outlet Company in 1971.
First call sign change
The Outlet Company sold WNYS in 1978 to WNYS Acquisition Corp., which was a joint partnership of Coca Cola's New York bottling division and former Washington Post president Larry H. Israel. The call sign was then changed to WIXT-TV on March 1st with "IX" standing for Roman numeral 9. The Ackerley Group bought the station in 1982. The station moved its studios to the current location on Bridge Street in 1985.
In 1999, WIXT-TV implemented a digital central-casting control hub for Ackerley's New York State cluster that included stations in Rochester, Watertown, Binghamton, Elmira, and Utica to help with the upcoming digital television transition. The central-casting still exists today; however, now that Nexstar owns WSYR-TV and most of the other stations in New York State that were previously owned by Ackerley, the hub is in the process of being relocated to now sister station WROC-TV. Other stations throughout Ackerley's New York cluster have received updated studios.
Second call sign change
Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) bought Ackerley in 2001, putting WIXT-TV under the same ownership as WSYR radio (570 AM). The call sign was then changed to the current WSYR-TV in July 2005. This created a small amount of confusion, as rival NBC affiliate WSTM-TV had been known as WSYR-TV from February 15, 1950 until its sale to the Times Mirror Company in 1980. The WIXT call letters were moved to sister station WLFH in Little Falls, New York.
On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its entire television stations group to Newport Television, a broadcasting group established by Providence Equity Partners. WSYR radio was not part of the sale as it remains owned and operated by iHeartMedia. Nevertheless, the WSYR-TV call letters were retained.
WSYR-DT2 was affiliated with the Variety Television Network (operated by Newport Television) until its demise in early-January 2009. This station once served on cable as the default ABC affiliate in Northern New York State communities such as Ogdensburg, Potsdam, Massena, and Malone. Since then, most of those areas have been replaced with WSYR-TV's sister station and fellow ABC affiliate WWTI. However, both were available in these markets for a short time with WVNY from Burlington, Vermont now serving Malone.
On July 19, 2012, Newport Television announced the sale of WSYR-TV and all of its stations in New York State except WXXA-TV in Albany and WHAM-TV in Rochester to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group as part of a 22-station deal that involved Nexstar, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Cox Media Group. The transaction was completed on December 3.
On December 22, 2006, Nancy Duffy (a former general assignment reporter for the station) died after a long illness. She became the first woman police reporter in Central New York after joining the Syracuse Herald-Journal in 1966. She was Syracuse’s first female television reporter when she moved to WHEN-TV (now WTVH) in 1967. Duffy became the first woman to join the Syracuse Press Club and later served as its president. In 1970, Duffy served as press secretary at Syracuse City Hall. She returned to WHEN-TV after a year and moved to WNYS-TV as a weekday morning anchor and reporter in 1977. She had also founded the local St. Patrick's Day Parade and was active in the community.
In 2004, WIXT-TV premiered the area's only locally produced daytime talk/entertainment/lifestyle magazine show known as Bridge Street (named from the address of the studios). The program airs weekdays at 10 a.m. from a secondary set. In July 2008, 46-year station veteran Mike Price retired. The station's news studio was renamed the "Mike Price Studio" on July 9 in dedication to his work on Bridge Street. On December 29, Maureen Green (a former WSYR-TV anchor) was featured as a substitute co-host on Bridge Street filling in for Rick Gary. This was the first time Green was seen on the airwaves since being fired from her position at WTVH as main weeknight anchor in December 2007.
On March 20, 2009, Keith Kobland (former weekday morning and noon anchor on WTVH until its consolidation with WSTM-TV) joined Carrie Lazarus to co-host Bridge Street filling in for Rick Gary. On April 24, WSYR-TV announced that Rick Gary had left the station after serving for more than two decades. Dan Cummings and Keith Kobland joined Carrie Lazarus as temporary replacements until February 1, 2010 when Bridge Street was relaunched with a new look hosted by Chris Brandolino with an occasional guest. The show is currently hosted by Jim Teske and Sistina Giordano as of January 2014.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|9.1||720p||16:9||WSYR-HD||Main WSYR-TV programming / ABC|
|9.4||Laff (Launch date TBD)|
On June 15, 2016, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, owners of WSYR-TV, announced that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Katz Broadcasting for the Escape, Laff, Grit, and Bounce TV networks (the last one of which is owned by Bounce Media LLC, whose COO Jonathan Katz is president/CEO of Katz Broadcasting), bringing one or more of the four networks to 81 stations owned and/or operated by Nexstar, including WSYR-TV. As a result, WSYR-TV will shortly renew its DT3 subchannel's affiliation with Bounce TV and add a new fourth subchannel carrying programs from Laff (Grit is already available in Syracuse on WTVH-DT2).
WSYR-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, 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 17. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 9.
Although technically operating as a separate station in its own right, WWTI in Watertown is now a semi-satellite of WSYR-TV. As such, WWTI clears all ABC programming and most local newscasts (see below) as provided by WSYR-TV but airs separate commercials and legal identifications. The Watertown station airs its own lineup of syndicated programming.
After going from third to first place in Syracuse news ratings, work commenced on a new facility on Bridge Street in East Syracuse in 1985. Construction was completed in 1986 and WIXT-TV moved there soon afterward. In 2000, a new news set and newsroom built by NewSet debuted. Also that year in response to declining ratings, WIXT-TV began a new segment called "Your Stories". This feature is where viewers can call the station, not an automated phone system, and get right on-line with a staffer for help with questions. The most popular topics are turned into segments which air at 5:16 during the weeknight news at 5. "Your Stories" was reinvented in 2007 when WSYR-TV started the "Consumer Protection Unit". This is divided into three different parts: "Your Stories", "The Real Deal", and "Consumer Reports".
As of July 2008, WSYR-TV remains number one in Nielsen ratings in Central New York for the whole day-part. However, this station and WSTM-TV are in a tight battle for weekday mornings and weeknights at 11. WSYR-TV makes up for this with huge leads during the week at noon, 5, 5:30, and 6. With the consolidation of WTVH and WSTM-TV on March 2, 2009, there has been a noticeable decline in viewership especially on WTVH which now only airs separately-branded newscasts on weeknights with the same coverage. As a result, WSYR-TV has seen increased viewership. Currently, there are only three news operations that cover the area including cable-only Time Warner Cable News.
Sister station WWTI in Watertown was hit by across the board cuts from Newport Television in June 2009. Eventually, it began simulcasting WSYR-TV's news every night at 11 and added half-hour reports from the Buffalo Bills training camp produced by fellow ABC affiliate and sister station WHAM-TV in Rochester. On September 8, 2009, WWTI began simulcasting WSYR-TV's weekday morning and nightly 6 o'clock newscasts. After letting go the few on-air news staff that it had, the station became a news bureau of WSYR-TV with contributions of content from the North Country from a single reporter.
On September 7, 2010, WSYR-TV added a prime time newscast weeknights at 10 on WSYR-DT2. However, unlike the hour-long weeknight and half-hour weekend broadcasts on low-power CW affiliate WSTQ-LP (produced by WSTM-TV), WSYR-DT2's newscast only airs live for the first fifteen minutes and is then repeated four times in the 10 p.m. hour. The station also added a half-hour to the weekday morning show, which now starts at 4:30, becoming the first station outside of New York City to make such a launch. WSYR-TV was an affiliate of CNN Newsource, but in a late-2008 cost-cutting move Newport Television chose to terminate all station affiliations with the network. That leaves ABC NewsOne as its lone source of national and world material.
Weekday and weekend live newscasts that air on the main channel are repeated on WSYR-DT2 with the exception of the weekend news at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. However when the live news is delayed or pre-empted altogether by live ABC Sports programming, the newscast is then replaced by another show on WSYR-DT2. The station operates its own weather radar at its transmitter site known as "Live Doppler 9" making it the only local weather radar based in the Syracuse area. The radar is specifically tuned to be more sensitive to displaying lake-effect snow bands, which the station argues may not always appear on the further-out public NOAA National Weather Service radars out of Montague, Binghamton and Buffalo. There is a live streaming video feed of "Live Doppler 9" on its website. WSYR-TV also offers a live video stream of all its weekday newscasts.
On January 29, 2011, WSYR-TV became the first station in Central New York (and as of 2015, the only station in the Syracuse area) to broadcast local news in true high definition. With the switch to HD came a new set, a new logo (which uses the same "Circle 9" design as fellow ABC affiliate KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Missouri, though with the 2007 version of the ABC logo placed on the bottom right side) and a new slogan ("The Local Station"). WRGB in Albany, New York, in January 2008, became the first station in upstate New York to broadcast their local newscasts in high definition. Back in mid-December 2010 WSTM-TV and CBS affiliate WTVH (at the time operated by WSTM-TV) became the first two stations in the market to offer local newscasts in 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen. Although not truly high definition, the broadcasts match the aspect ratio of HD television screens.
On June 27, 2011, WSYR-TV's 25-year-duo Rod Wood and Carrie Lazarus were inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. As one of the longest-running anchor teams in the United States, their names join those of Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters and other broadcast legends.
WSYR-TV have previously used many versions of Frank Gari's "News Station" music package including customized vocal versions of the theme using old station slogans, "Making A Difference" and "Central New York's News Source". They used the theme from 1993 until August 19, 2013, in favor of "Aerial" by Stephen Arnold Music.