WWHO, channel 53, is a television station licensed to Chillicothe, Ohio, USA. Serving as the CW affiliate for the Columbus, Ohio television market, WWHO's broadcast license is owned by Manham Media, Inc., while the station's operations are controlled by the Sinclair Broadcast Group under a shared services agreement (SSA) b. WWHO shares studios with sister stations WSYX (channel 6) and WTTE (channel 28) on Dublin Road in Grandview Heights (though the mailing address says Columbus); WWHO's transmitter is located in Williamsport, Ohio.
WWHO also served briefly as the default The CW affiliate (on cable) for the Zanesville, Ohio media market from March 2008 thru early July 2008, after WHIZ-TV discontinued WBZV, its cable-only CW Plus affiliate. The CW Plus has since been reinstated to the Zanesville cable line-up.
The station began operating on August 31, 1987 as a independent station using the call letters WWAT, named after its owner, Wendell A. Triplett. It filled in a void created when future sister station WTTE joined Fox in 1986. The station originally operated from studios located on River Road (U.S. Route 23) in Chillicothe. It operated a Columbus translator on W17AI channel 17 (now WDEM, which is still owned by Triplett) until 1992, when WWAT was added to many cable providers in the Columbus market due to cable must-carry legislation. It quickly established himself as a solid competitor to WTTE, even with its signal limitations.
Triplett sold the station to Fant Broadcasting for $2 million in 1994 and changed its calls to WWHO. At the same time, the on-air name "Who-53" was adopted. At the same time, the station entered a Local marketing agreement with WCMH-TV (then owned by the Outlet Company), which included producing a nightly 10 PM newscast (the first such in the Columbus market) using WCMH's facilities and resources.
The station remained an independent station until January 11, 1995, when WWHO became a charter affiliate of The WB Television Network. WWHO (then branded on-air as "WB 53") retained this affiliation until the Paramount Stations Group (a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures, whose parent company is Viacom) agreed to acquire the station in 1997, along with sister station WLWC in Providence, Rhode Island and sell WVIT in New Britain, Connecticut to NBC in return. At that time the station became a secondary UPN affiliate, as UPN programming was moved from WTTE, primarily a Fox affiliate, to WWHO; while channel 53 retained a primary WB affiliation through the duration of its contract, the station nonetheless soon began calling itself "UPN 53." In 2000, WWHO switched its primary affiliation to UPN, but signed a deal with The WB to retain its programming on a secondary basis through what a Paramount Stations Group executive described as a "program license agreement." The station dropped the channel number from its branding in 2002, becoming "UPN Columbus." On February 10, 2005, it was announced that the Viacom Television Stations Group (the successor to the Paramount Stations Group as a result of Viacom merging with CBS in 1999) was selling WWHO and WNDY-TV (in the Indianapolis market) to LIN Television for $85 million.
On February 10, 2005, LIN Television announced its intention to bring 10 p.m. news, which had disappeared from WWHO following its acquisition by Paramount Stations Group, back to the station. This half-hour newscast was produced by WBNS-TV, and debuted on September 1, 2005, concurrent with a rebranding of the station as "UPN 53 WWHO." Unlike WCMH in previous years, WBNS chose to use its own station branding on the newscast rather than WWHO's, including WBNS's normal "10TV News HD" graphics beginning in 2007 (despite the fact WWHO's newscast was not broadcast in HD until mid-2008).
The rebrand proved to be short-lived, as UPN and The WB merged to form The CW in 2006. WWHO was the obvious choice as Columbus' CW affiliate since it already carried both UPN and WB programming. However, when the first list of affiliates outside the core group of CBS-owned UPN affiliates and Tribune-owned WB affiliates was announced, WWHO wasn't on the list. After some delay, LIN eventually agreed to affiliate four of its WB and UPN affiliates, including WWHO, with The CW, making WWHO the largest The CW affiliate owned by LIN. (WSYX, the area's ABC affiliate (and sister station to WTTE), launched a new digital subchannel featuring programming from My Network TV in September of that year.)
On July 31, approximately one month before The CW officially debuted, WWHO rebranded with a new logo and slogan, "The CW on WWHO-TV." Once more, the station's channel number was de-emphasized. However, the station today goes by "The CW Columbus."
On December 31, 2008, WBNS ceased production of WWHO's 10 PM newscast. Currently, at midnight on weekday nights WWHO repeats the WSYX "ABC 6 News at 11."
In November 2011, it was reported that the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of WSYX and who also effectively owns WTTE, was in talks to purchase WWHO from LIN for an estimated $7 million. This deal, if it were approved, would have given Sinclair control of four of the six largest network affiliations in the Ohio capital. This deal never materialized, however, and LIN filed instead to sell the station to Manhan Media. The sale was granted on December 20, 2011. In February 2012, after consummating the sale, Manhan Media entered into a shared services agreement (SSA) with Sinclair, making WWHO a sister station to WSYX and WTTE. (Manhan Media's owner, Stephen P. Mumblow, subsequently started Deerfield Media to acquire the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assets, including the licenses, of several stations that are being divested by Sinclair in the wake of its purchase of stations from Newport Television. However, Sinclair will retain control of those stations through joint sales and shared services agreements.) In a way, the SSA also reunited WWHO with WLWC, which Sinclair owned outright until April 2013 when that station was sold to OTA Broadcasting, LLC. Although Sinclair now controls WWHO, it initially continued to operate from separate studios several blocks east of the WSYX/WTTE studios; by October 2013, WWHO had moved in with WSYX/WTTE.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|53.1||720p||16:9||WWHO-DT||Main WWHO programming / The CW|
WWHO was one of only two full-power television stations in the Columbus market (the other being WTTE) that honored the original DTV transition date of February 17, 2009. WWHO shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 53, at 11:59 p.m. on that date, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 46, using PSIP to display WWHO's virtual channel as 53 on digital television receivers, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition. For approximately two weeks after the official shutoff, an information card could be seen on channel 53 directing viewers to WWHO's new location, as well as contact information regarding the DTV switchover. Analog channel 53 is now dark.