|Shaker Heights/Cleveland, Ohio|
|City||Shaker Heights, Ohio|
|Channels||Digital: 10 (VHF)|
(shared with WUAB)
Virtual: 19 (PSIP)
|Branding||CBS 19 (general)|
19 News (newscasts)
MeTV Cleveland (on DT2)
|Slogan||First. Fair. Everywhere. (newscasts)|
|Owner||Gray Television |
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
First air date
|May 19, 1985|
Former channel number(s)
19 (UHF, 1985-2009)
Call sign meaning
|HAAT||304 m (997 ft)|
|Translator(s)||24 (UHF) Shaker Heights|
Public license information
WOIO, virtual channel 19 (VHF digital channel 10), is a CBS-affiliated television station serving Cleveland, Ohio, United States that is licensed to Shaker Heights. The station is owned by Atlanta-based Gray Television, as part of a duopoly with Lorain-licensed CW affiliate WUAB (channel 43). The two stations share studios on the ground floor of the Reserve Square building (on East 13th Street and Chester Avenue) in Downtown Cleveland, and transmitter facilities in the West Creek Reservation (between West Ridgewood Drive and the Rustic Trail) in Parma.
The UHF channel 19 allocation in the Cleveland television market dates back to the 1950s, when The Plain Dealer was granted a construction permit to build and license to operate a new television station on UHF channel 19 for a television sister to local radio station WHK (1420 AM) was issued to. When WHK was sold to Metropolitan Broadcasting (later Metromedia) in 1958, the construction permit for what was to have been WHK-TV was surrendered to the FCC. However, the channel 19 allocation remained.
On May 22, 1968, a new construction permit was issued to Community Telecasters of Cleveland Inc. for a new station with the call letters WCTF-TV. The limited programming available and the rising cost of building WCTF kept delaying plans and the sign on date for the station. In August 1972, an agreement was made to sell the construction permit to Joseph T. Zingale. Zingale backed out of the agreement in February 1974 due to a price dispute. On January 1975, United Artists Broadcasting tried to buy the permit and move WUAB to channel 19, but Zingale filed a protest claiming that Community Telecasters still held the construction permit. In May 1976, the FCC took the WCTF-TV permit away from Community Telecasters during a review board. Zingale then tried to acquire the license for WCTF, but the dispute eventually caused the construction permit to be deleted by the FCC.
The history of WOIO traces to two groups that competed for approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a construction permit to build and license to operate a new television station on UHF channel 19. Cleveland Television Corp. (a group led by Aben E. Johnson Jr. and Clifford Beresh, who respectively served as president and majority stockholder, and sales manager at WXON [now WMYD-TV] in Detroit) filed the initial application on November 18, 1977. Later, in 1978, Diamond Broadcasting Inc. (a group led by Hubert B. Payne, a former local sales manager at NBC owned-and-operated station WKYC-TV (channel 3, now an NBC affiliate) who was the first African-American local sales manager at a local network affiliate, and William Derrick), and Metroplex Communications (owned by Robert Weiss and Norman Wein) filed competing applications. In early 1980, Cleveland-based Malrite Broadcasting Co. (owned by media executive Milton Maltz, and which owned local radio stations WHK and WMMS (100.7 FM) as well as Cincinnati's WXIX-TV) approached the Payne group about an offer in which Malrite would own non-controlling, non-voting preferred stock (with the voting interest being divided between the principals of the permit), under an FCC waiver for broadcasters that provider substantial financing for a minority-controlled station; Malrite's principal shareholders would also supply one-third of the capital equity in the station. The FCC awarded the permit and license for channel 19 to the Malrite/Diamond/Metroplex group (doing business as Channel 19 Inc.) in 1983.
WOIO - its call letters standing for the station's home state, "OhIO" - first signed on for the air on May 19, 1985. (Prior to that time, the WOIO call letters were assigned to a radio station on 1060 AM [now WILB] in Canton.) Originally operating as an independent station, the station maintained a programming lineup typical of an independent, consisting of off-network sitcoms, classic movies, off-network drama series and religious programs. The station identified as "WOIO nineteen" (often referred to as simply "nineteen" in station promotions), with the "nineteen" spelled out visually and rendered in script font. (The station revised its moniker to "Fox nineteen" by 1988, as that network began requiring affiliates to include the Fox name in their local branding.)
WOIO was the third independent station to operate in the Cleveland market. Its main competitors were WUAB (channel 43, now a CW affiliate), which signed on the air on September 15, 1968, and WCLQ (channel 61, now Univision owned-and-operated station WQHS-DT), which signed on March 3, 1981; WOIO gained a fourth competitor when WBNX-TV (channel 55) signed on the air on December 1, 1985. That fall, WOIO began carrying animated series and cartoon showcases on Monday through Saturday mornings and on weekday late afternoons. By the end of 1985, channel 19 had surpassed WCLQ as the market's second highest-rated independent station, falling behind WUAB.
In early 1986, Malrite Communications Group purchased the 51% controlling stock interest in WOIO from the principals of Diamond Broadcasting and Metroplex Communications for $1.2 million. Malrite also retained ownership of WHK and WMMS under an exception to FCC rules prohibiting common ownership of television and radio stations under the agency's "one-to-a-market rule," which allowed such combinations that involved a UHF station.
WOIO became a charter affiliate of the Fox when the fledgling network inaugurated programming on October 9, 1986; WUAB--despite its status as one of the strongest independent stations in the country--turned down an offer to become an affiliate because its status as a regional superstation made it unattractive for then-owner Gaylord Broadcasting to sign with the network, as most of the markets located within WUAB's cable television footprint had enough commercial stations for Fox to maintain a local affiliate. Though it was technically a network affiliate, Channel 19 continued to be programmed as a de facto independent station. Even after the network's programming expanded with the launch of a three-hour Sunday night lineup in April 1987, Fox offered prime time programs exclusively on weekends until September 1989, when it began a five-year expansion towards a nightly prime time schedule (Fox would not air prime time programs on all seven nights of the week until January 1993). WOIO continued to air a movie at 8:00 p.m. on nights when network programs did not air.
Soon afterward, it became the over-the-air flagship of the Cleveland Cavaliers--a relationship that continued for six years--and also carried Cleveland Browns preseason games (along with other team-produced programming, notably the weekly show Browns Insider), Cleveland Force MISL indoor soccer and Cleveland State Vikings college basketball. It also appeared on cable providers in the Youngstown market, which did not have a Fox affiliate of its own until WYFX-LP signed on in 1998; WOIO continues to be carried on cable in that market to this day.
On May 23, 1994, Fox network parent News Corporation and New World Communications signed a long-term affiliation agreement in which thirteen television stations affiliated with either CBS, ABC or NBC (five that New World had already owned, and eight that the company was in the process of acquiring through separate deals with Great American Communications and Argyle Television Holdings) would switch to Fox. WJW-TV (channel 8) - which had served as Cleveland's CBS affiliate since March 1955 - was among the New World stations slated to join Fox as part of the group affiliation deal once individual contracts with each of the stations' existing affiliated networks expired. Fox wanted to upgrade affiliates in certain markets in response to its acquisition of the National Football Conference's broadcast television rights, which had been carried by CBS for the previous 38 years, starting with the 1994 NFL season.
With WJW's CBS network contract set to expire on or shortly after September 1, 1994, the Fox-New World deal gave CBS only a five-month window to find a replacement for WJW-TV as its Cleveland affiliate (by comparison, depending on the station, the affiliation contracts of other New World stations named to join Fox did not expire until between December 1994 and September 1996, depending on the term of their agreements with CBS, NBC or ABC). The agreement with New World concerned CBS executives, as New World planned to switch several stronger-performing CBS affiliates in other markets to Fox, which would force the network to sign with either a former Fox affiliate or a lower-profile independent station, as many of the Big Three stations and--with the exception of those in Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix--some higher-rated independents it approached rejected offers to join CBS due to its faltering ratings and the older-skewing programming slate it had at the time. To prevent such a situation from happening in Cleveland, CBS approached Scripps-Howard Broadcasting to lure ABC affiliate WEWS (channel 5) to switch to the network. The threat of Scripps-Howard moving WEWS (along with Detroit sister station WXYZ-TV, which it also courted to replace fellow outgoing CBS affiliate WJBK-TV) to sign a ten-year agreement with ABC on June 16, 1994, in which the group renewed its affiliation contracts with WEWS and WXYZ and agreed to switch three other stations to the network.
In June 1994, Malrite had entered into a local marketing agreement with then-WUAB owner Cannell Communications, under which WUAB assumed responsibility for providing production, advertising and promotional services and master control operations for channel 19. Both stations moved to facilities located at the first floor of the Reserve Square apartment/hotel complex on East 12th Street in downtown Cleveland. The area currently occupied by the WOIO/WUAB newsroom and the soundstage housing the stations' news set was once occupied by a movie theater for the Reserve Square Apartments, which began operation when the facility opened as the Park Centre Apartments in 1973 and was closed in 1978 after the Park Theater's ownership sold the leased space; the former theater was gutted and renovated in preparation for WOIO/WUAB's relocation into Reserve Square and the expansion of WUAB's news department to include newscasts for WOIO.
On July 8, CBS reached an agreement with Malrite Communications to move its programming to WOIO, originally slated to take effect August 29. The fact that the LMA with WUAB resulted in WOIO being tied to the only Cleveland station not affiliated with any of the "Big Three" networks that had a functioning news department played a factor in CBS's decision to sign an affiliation agreement with channel 19. WOIO became the Cleveland market's CBS affiliate on September 3, 1994; WJW-TV concurrently switched to Fox, ending its affiliation with CBS after 40 years and becoming the first New World station to switch to Fox under the group's agreement with that network. As a consequence of the affiliation swap, Channel 19 moved most of its recent off-network and first-run syndicated sitcoms and syndicated animated series to WUAB, which also assumed the local over-the-air television rights to the Cavaliers as WOIO's switch to CBS (which maintains a network-dominated program schedule) left channel 19 without enough room on its schedule to continue airing the NBA team's game broadcasts. The Fox Kids block moved instead to independent station WBNX-TV (channel 55) as WJW, like most of the New World stations affected by the Fox affiliation agreement, declined carriage of the block to focus on its news-intensive program schedule; WBNX also picked up the local rights to some of the older sitcoms then in WOIO's inventory that WUAB lacked room for on its schedule.
On April 6, 1998, Raycom Media announced that it would acquire Malrite Communications for an undisclosed price; the LMA with WUAB was included in the deal. The sale was finalized six months later on September 17. In September 1999, WOIO and WUAB underwent a unified rebranding, adopting the respective brands "Hometeam 19" and "Hometeam 43". The rebranding was intended to signify an emphasis on local news and sports coverage placed by both stations as well as play on the fact that at the time they carried all three of Cleveland's major professional sports teams--Indians and Cavaliers games were carried on WUAB, with Browns games airing on WOIO by way of CBS' NFL rights (channel 19 has held the role as the Browns' unofficial 'home station' since their reactivation in 1999). On March 2, 2000, six months after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) relaxed its local ownership rules to allow common ownership of two commercially licensed television stations in the same media market, Raycom exercised an option to acquire the station outright from Cannell Communications; the sale was finalized two months later on May 10.
In January 2001, Raycom hired controversial station manager Bill Applegate as WOIO and WUAB's general manager; subsequently in February 2002, WOIO and WUAB ditched the uniform "Hometeam" branding, with the former replacing it in favor of identifying as "Cleveland's CBS 19" for general promotional purposes and newscasts seen on both stations being reformatted as 19 Action News. On August 24, 2015, as part of a universal rebranding of WOIO and WUAB, channel 19 changed its branding to the uniform "Cleveland 19". (Concurrently, WUAB similarly rebranded as "CLE 43," with "C-L-E" spelled out audibly.)
On June 25, 2018, Atlanta-based Gray Television announced it had reached an agreement with Raycom to merge their respective broadcasting assets (consisting of Raycom's 63 existing owned-and/or-operated television stations, and Gray's 93 television stations) under Gray's corporate umbrella, in a cash-and-stock merger transaction valued at $3.6 billion. The sale was approved on December 20, and was completed on January 2, 2019. Upon completion of the deal (and not counting WWSB in Sarasota, Florida being part of the Tampa Bay market), WOIO/WUAB became Gray's largest television stations by market size (as it was for Raycom), a title formerly held by the company's Knoxville, Tennessee duopoly of fellow CBS affiliate WVLT-TV and CW affiliate WBXX-TV as well as having a new sister station in the nearby Toledo market, ABC affiliate WTVG (while separating it from fellow CBS affiliate WTOL).
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|19.1||1080i||16:9||WOIO-DT||Main WOIO programming / CBS|
|19.2||480i||MeTV||MeTV / MyNetworkTV|
On August 1, 2011, WOIO became the Cleveland affiliate of the classic TV network MeTV, which is carried on digital subchannel 19.2; that subchannel had previously operated as "Weather Now", consisting of a 24-hour loop of weather forecasts and local radar. 19.2 is also carried on some northeast Ohio cable providers.
In December 2019, 19.3 was activated with a "coming soon" slide with no information about what would air on the subchannel. After a couple of months passed, Dabl - a ViacomCBS-owned lifestyle network featuring cooking and home decor oriented shows - would eventually debut on February 24, 2020.
WOIO shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 19, 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 continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition VHF channel 10. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 19.
WOIO operates a digital fill-in translator station in Akron on UHF channel 24, which began operating on August 12, 2011. The translator serves the south-central portion of the Cleveland market where viewers lost WOIO's signal after the June 2009 digital transition. Cleveland's west side suburbs still cannot receive this channel reliably to this day.
The channel 10 digital signal causes co-channel interference with CTV 2 owned-and-operated station CFPL-DT (channel 10) in London, Ontario during temperature inversion and tropo skip events. On October 22, 2009, WOIO boosted its effective radiated power to 9.5 kW.
WOIO and the Cleveland Browns entered into a television partnership in April 2005--in effect, resuming an agreement that ended with the original team's 1995 relocation to Baltimore. Replacing former longtime television partner WKYC-TV, WOIO acquired the rights to air all preseason games as well as a preseason draft show, exclusive training camp reports and a Monday night coaches' show.
On July 18, 2006, the Browns announced that the team was ending its partnership with WOIO, the result of a controversy over the station's coverage of the drowning of team owner Randy Lerner's six-year-old niece. On its newscasts, WOIO aired a 9-1-1 recording of Nancy Fisher, Lerner's sister, calling for assistance. Although WOIO was within its legal bounds to air the tape and it was public record under Ohio's laws regarding 911 call audio, the Browns thought that it was an unnecessary invasion of the family's privacy. WOIO subsequently filed a lawsuit against the Browns on July 26, 2006, alleging breach of contract and seeking to retain the broadcast rights to Browns games as the agreement had one year left to run. The Browns' contract with WOIO ended on August 1, 2006; two days later.
As aforementioned, since their 1999 re-activation, WOIO is the primary home station of the Browns, but since 2014, games that involve them playing an NFC team at home or another AFC team can be moved to WJW from WOIO through the NFL's 'cross-flex' broadcast rules.
WOIO presently broadcasts 42 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 7½ hours each weekday, two hours on Saturdays and 2½ hours on Sundays). It also produces an additional 14½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week for WUAB (with 2½ hours each weekday and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays). Combined across both stations, WOIO produces a total of 56½ hours of newscasts each week.
WOIO originally had no intention to start a news department; however, CBS informed WOIO that it "preferred" that the station air newscasts. With just months before WJW was due to switch to Fox, there was little time to form a full-scale news division from scratch. Instead, WOIO had LMA partner WUAB (which had been producing a 10:00 p.m. newscast since 1988) produce its newscasts. WOIO began airing newsbriefs during CBS This Morning with Julie Hanahan, WOIO's first news employee, and Betty Haliburton. Early additions to the news staff were Emmett Miller, Denise Dufala (former longtime anchor at WJW); weeknight meteorologist Dave Sweeney; weeknight sports anchor Jeff Phelps; weekend co-anchors Gretchen Carlson and Dave Barker; weekend sports anchor Ronnie Duncan; and weekend meteorologist Julie Hanahan.
WOIO started airing newscasts at 6:00, 6:30, and 11:00 p.m. on February 5, 1995. The now-shared news operation of WOIO and WUAB became collectively known as Cleveland Television News. Romona Robinson and Jack Marschall remained as anchors for WUAB, maintaining their long history of ratings success at 10:00 p.m.; however, WUAB's ratings success with its prime time newscast did not yet translate to WOIO's newly created 11:00 p.m. newscast. One of the first big stories aired on WOIO featured the "glasses cam", which Dave Barker used to show how he could just walk into a school without being stopped. In 1996, WOIO and WUAB dropped the Cleveland Television News moniker; WOIO began identifying as CBS 19 and titled its newscasts CBS 19 News. WJW had been one of the strongest CBS affiliates in the country, and WOIO hoped that viewers would associate the network with a high-quality local newscast. Emmett Miller left and Gretchen Carlson joined Denise Dufala, creating a two-woman anchor team for its weeknight newscasts. This had rarely been tried in other markets around the nation and had never been tried in Cleveland at the time. It failed to catch on, and Carlson left WOIO, finding success later at the Fox News Channel. Later that year, WOIO added a weekday morning newscast at 6:00 a.m. and pre-empted most of the first hour of CBS This Morning with local news; the station also added a noon newscast around the same time. Still, WOIO failed to win viewers.
Also in 1997, WOIO tried to operate its news studio at street level so pedestrians could see the newscasts being taped (similar to what CHUM Limited tried out with its "NewNet" stations in the Canadian province of Ontario). The street-level studio concept did not last long in Cleveland, but today this concept is being used by Good Morning America and Today, as well as several television stations in larger markets.
After Carlson's departure, Kevin Cokely joined Denise Dufala at the anchor desk for the 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. newscasts. This lasted until 1999, when Jack Marschall was brought in to replace Cokely, while still continuing to anchor the 10:00 p.m. news on WUAB with Cynthia Tinsley. Several months later in February 2000, WOIO's newscasts were rebranded as Hometeam 19 News and introduced a new look that coincided with Raycom's takeover of WOIO and WUAB. After WUAB lost the broadcast rights to the Cleveland Indians in 2001, the Hometeam branding was dropped and WOIO's newscasts were simply known as 19 News. Because of the continued low ratings, Bill Applegate was brought in as general manager, who would make sweeping changes at WOIO and WUAB over the next several months.
In May 2002, WOIO and WUAB's newscasts were uniformly re-branded as 19 Action News. A popular press format was put into place, using Shelly Palmer's Palmer News Package, a theme based on the musical signature used and adapted by fellow CBS station WBBM-TV in Chicago (a station that Applegate managed in the 1980s; incidentally enough, WBBM never used that specific theme). The pacing, the look, the style and the language of each newscast took on a dramatically different look and feel. Soon after, the newscasts on both WOIO and WUAB would officially be retitled to 19 Action News. Ratings improved almost immediately, especially at 11:00 p.m., where that newscast became the only late news program to gain viewers four years in a row, as WKYC, WEWS and WJW's late newscasts either remained flat or lost viewers. The station added an hour-long newscast at 5:00 p.m. in 2002, joining WEWS and WJW's late afternoon newscasts for a three-way competition for second place in the time slot at the time (as WKYC's airing of Dr. Phil at 5:00 p.m. had long been in first place until recently). In June 2004, WOIO debuted Cleveland's first 4:00 p.m. newscast. It premiered in last place, but began to grow steadily and eventually fought for second place with WJW's Judge Judy (which that station bumped in favor of its own 4:00 p.m. newscast in July 2013), but still trailed WEWS' The Oprah Winfrey Show at that hour (Winfrey's program ended in 2011).
WOIO's 11:00 p.m. newscast mounted a serious challenge to WKYC that began in 2004 and had success in marginally overtaking WKYC once in 2008. In recent years the 11:00 p.m. news race in the Cleveland area has been highly competitive, with WOIO taking part in this spirited competition; often, no more than one ratings share point separates first place from third place among the three newscasts which air in that time slot (to the point where all three stations have claimed victory in different demographics at various points within the past year[when?]). However, WOIO's newscasts frequently finish at a distant third or in fourth place in most other dayparts (though it has won the noon time slot in recent[when?] ratings periods due to the lead in of The Price Is Right hosted by Cleveland native Drew Carey).
The theme music used for the newscasts beginning in 2005 was from "The CBS Enforcer Music Collection", a package by Gari Music created for the CBS owned-and-operated station group which also has its roots with WBBM-TV's signature tune, based on an old folk song, "I Love Chicago, Chicago My Home".
After 2002 when the 19 Action News branding was implemented, WOIO developed a reputation in the Cleveland market for having a "tabloid" news format, viewed at times as going to extremes in order to cover news and generate publicity. Examples include:
WOIO began to broadcast its newscasts in high definition on October 21, 2007, with the station's 6:30 p.m. newscast, making the Cleveland market the first in the nation to have all of its Big Four affiliates broadcasting news in the format. The 10:00 p.m. newscast on WUAB also broadcasts in HD, though in 720p (originally due to MyNetworkTV's default resolution, and remaining as such after WUAB moved to a channel share of WOIO's bandwidth), while Action News programs on WOIO air in CBS' 1080i format.
Although elements of the tabloid-style news format remained, in 2012, WOIO began shifting towards a more traditional newscast format. Under vice president-general manager Dominic Mancuso and news director Fred D'Ambrosi (who was hired by the station in March 2015), the station decided to completely overhaul the tone of its newscasts.
On August 19, 2015, WOIO announced that it would rebrand its newscasts as Cleveland 19 News. In describing the change to a more conventional format for its newscasts, Mancuso cited that while the Action News format was "attention-getting" albeit "more about the brand and the presentation," the change toward a traditional news format would place more of an emphasis "about the stories, with less of the hyperbole," although it would retain an emphasis on investigative journalism that was expanded upon by the news department during the Action News era. The rebranding and format change officially debuted on August 24, 2015, beginning with WOIO's noon newscast; the station also implemented a standardized graphics package for the Raycom stations that originated on Wilmington sister station WECT in December 2014, and adopted "This is the Place" by Stephen Arnold Music as the theme for its newscasts.
On April 8, 2019, WOIO rebranded itself as "CBS 19" and its newscasts as "19 News", with the slogan of "First. Fair. Everywhere."; a nod to its Action News-era slogan of Honest. Fair. Everywhere.
On September 14, 2020, WOIO debuted a new weekday 3 p.m. newscast, making it the first station in Cleveland to air news in that time slot.
The station is available over-the-air in Kingsville, Leamington and Pelee Island in southern Essex County, Ontario and was once listed in the TV Guide edition for those communities (and Windsor, Ontario until 2000 though the station's signal was not strong enough to reach Windsor and Detroit). Unlike WKYC, WEWS and WJW, it was not one of the Cleveland stations carried on local cable providers in those three locations. WOIO is available on cable in St. Thomas and was briefly available on the digital tier in London in early 2005.
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