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WHYY Logo.svg
Wilmington, Delaware/
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
United States
CityWilmington, Delaware
BrandingWHYY TV12
SloganWhere you go to know
ChannelsDigital: 12 (VHF)
(shared with WMCN-TV; to move to 13 (VHF))
Virtual: 12 (PSIP)
OwnerWHYY, Inc.
First air dateSeptember 2, 1957 (62 years ago) (1957-09-02)
Call letters' meaningWider Horizons for
You and Yours
Sister station(s)WHYY-FM
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 35 (UHF, 1957-1963)
  • 12 (VHF, 1963-2009)
  • Digital:
  • 55 (UHF, 1999-2009)
Former affiliationsNET (1957-1970)
Transmitter power30 kW
Height294 m (965 ft)
Facility ID72338
Transmitter coordinates
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license informationProfile
Seaford/Dover, Delaware
United States
CitySeaford, Delaware
Brandingsee WHYY-TV infobox
Slogansee WHYY-TV infobox
ChannelsDigital: 24 (UHF)
Virtual: 64 (PSIP)
  • 64.1: PBS
  • 64.2: Y2
  • 64.3: PBS Kids[2]
OwnerWHYY, Inc.
First air dateDecember 4, 1981 (37 years ago) (1981-12-04)
Call letters' meaningDelaware Public
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 64 (UHF, 1981-2009)
  • Digital:
  • 44 (UHF, 2005-2019)
Transmitter power65.2 kW
Height195 m (640 ft)
Facility ID72335
Transmitter coordinates
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license informationProfile

WHYY-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 12, is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States that is licensed to Wilmington, Delaware. Owned by WHYY, Inc., it is sister to National Public Radio (NPR) member station WHYY-FM (90.9). The two stations share studios on Independence Mall in Center City, Philadelphia and transmitter facilities in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia; WHYY-TV also operates a secondary studio in Wilmington. It is one of three PBS member stations serving the Philadelphia market, alongside Allentown-based WLVT-TV (channel 39) and NJTV (channels 23 and 52).

WDPB (virtual channel 64, UHF digital channel 24) in Seaford, Delaware, operates as a full-time satellite of WHYY-TV, serving the Delmarva Peninsula region. WDPB's transmitter is located on Virginia Avenue in Seaford. It is one of two PBS member stations serving the Salisbury, Maryland market, alongside MPT (channel 28).


The station signed on the air on September 2, 1957, originally broadcasting on UHF channel 35. It was the 23rd non-commercial educational television station in the United States, and the second to operate in Pennsylvania (WQED-TV in Pittsburgh had signed on three years earlier). It was owned by the Metropolitan Philadelphia Educational Radio and Television Corporation. It broadcast from a studio on Chestnut Street in Center City, which had previously been occupied by WCAU-TV (channel 10).

The station found the going difficult at first, in part because television sets were not required to have UHF tuning capability (it wasn't until 1962 that UHF tuning was made mandatory on all TV sets). Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had collapsed most of Delaware, the Lehigh Valley and South Jersey into the Philadelphia market, and the channel 35 transmitter was not nearly strong enough to serve this large area.


Then, in 1958, WVUE, a station on VHF channel 12 in Wilmington which had lost its NBC affiliation and then struggled as an independent station, went off the air. WHYY's owners applied to move to the vacant channel 12, which was the nearest available VHF allocation to Philadelphia. A few years earlier, the FCC had changed its rules to allow a station to have its main studio in a city outside its official city of license. The FCC granted WHYY's request to move the station to channel 12 in 1963, and WHYY began broadcasting on that allocation for the first time on September 12. It operated from WVUE's old tower in Glassboro, New Jersey. WVUE is now the call sign that belongs to the Fox affiliated station in New Orleans. However, for all intents and purposes, WHYY has always been a Philadelphia station; to this day it identifies its service area on-air as "Wilmington/Philadelphia". A similar situation exists in New York City; its flagship PBS station, WNET is licensed to Newark, New Jersey. As part of an agreement with Delaware officials and the FCC, WHYY-TV also opened a satellite studio in Wilmington, and began producing a newscast focused on Delaware issues, Delaware Tonight.

Later in 1963, WHYY moved its main studio in Philadelphia to the former facility operated by WFIL-TV (channel 6, now WPVI-TV) on 46th and Market streets. In 1971, WHYY-TV moved its transmitter to the Roxborough tower farm, home to most of Philadelphia's television stations. The new tower provides at least grade B coverage as far west as Lancaster; as far south as Dover, Delaware and as far north as New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 1979, channel 12 moved to its current facilities on Independence Mall, first in the old Living History Center museum and theatre (which served as the taping location for Nickelodeon game shows such as Double Dare, Finders Keepers, Think Fast, and the Bill Cosby revival of You Bet Your Life) before it was transformed into their current building in 1999 as part of the redevelopment of the Independence Mall area.

In 1984, WHYY bought Seaford-based WDPB, which had signed on three years earlier in 1981, and turned it into a full-time satellite of channel 12. Controversy erupted in the summer of 2007, when station CEO Bill Marrazzo was cited by the watchdog group Charity Navigator as the highest paid CEO in all of public broadcasting. Frustrated by a perceived lack of local coverage, in December 2009 the city of Wilmington filed a challenge to WHYY's license with the FCC.[3]


WHYY receives grants from the states of Delaware and Pennsylvania. Government grants are not underwriting grants and are not used to produce individual programs, and are used mainly to help ensure service to constituents. Some people believe WHYY programs are produced with funding from the state of Delaware, raising conflict of interest issues about the program's ability to report independently on state government and current officeholders. The historical review of the programs confirms that this concern is invalid.

Digital television

Digital channels

The stations' digital signals are multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[1][2]
1080i 16:9 WHYY
Main programming / PBS
480i WHYY2 Y2
Ykids PBS Kids

WHYY-TV also has plans for a Mobile DTV feed of subchannel 12.1.[4][5]

Analog-to-digital conversion

WHYY-TV's digital signal initially operated at so low a power that even those who lived in some areas of the city of Philadelphia could not receive it reliably.[6][7] The station shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, 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 55 to VHF channel 12 for post-transition operations.[8]

After the problems with VHF digital signals emerged, WHYY was permitted to increase its transmitting power upon the transition.[9] However, the problems with digital broadcasts in the VHF spectrum remain the same at the increased power level and still prevent many people in the Philadelphia area from being able to view the high-band VHF signal of WHYY--especially when also attempting to view ABC owned-and-operated station WPVI on channel 6, which operates in the low-band VHF spectrum, and requires a different VHF antenna configuration.[10][11][12][13][14]

Programs produced by WHYY

WHYY-TV has long been a major producer of PBS programming. It currently produces regular series that are distributed to PBS member stations:

PBS shows

  • Hometime (1986-2016; no longer in production but still syndicated in repeats)

Syndicated programs

The station has also developed several television specials, such as The Great Comet Crash and Trading Women.

Local programming

  • Creative Campus - Art and culture program focusing on Greater Philadelphia's colleges and universities
  • Experience - Art and culture program
  • First - Weekly 30-minute news magazine focused on the state of Delaware; replaced Delaware Tonight, which aired nightly from the WHYY Delaware Broadcast Center in Wilmington.
  • Friday Arts - Monthly Art and culture program
  • On Tour - Program that spotlights Philadelphia's cultural and ethnic heritage

See also


  1. ^ a b "Digital TV Market Listing for WHYY". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Digital TV Market Listing for WDPB". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/79116362.html
  4. ^ http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=atscmph
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 17, 2016. Retrieved 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ http://www.seedship.com/dtv/problems.htm
  7. ^ http://www.phillyblog.com/philly/showpost.php?p=967651&postcount=6
  8. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012.
  9. ^ http://broadcastengineering.com/news/dtv-transition-not-so-smooth-some-markets
  10. ^ http://www.dtv.gov/consumertips.pdf
  11. ^ http://www.hdtvmagazine.com/columns/2012/01/hdtv-expert-useful-gadgets-superflat-indoor-tv-antennas-do-they-really-work.php
  12. ^ http://www.tvtechnology.com/news/0110/fixing-vhf-dtv-reception-problems/202489
  13. ^ http://www.dtvusaforum.com/dtv-hdtv-chat/30906-low-band-tv-spectrum.html
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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