call_letters = WTOG
station_slogan = Tampa Bay's #1 Entertainment Station
station_branding = CW 44
analog = 44 (UHF)
digital = 59 (UHF)
other_chs = W23CN Sebring
affiliations = The CW
November 4, 1968
location = St. Petersburg -
licensee = CBS Operations, Inc.
former_affiliations = Independent (1968-1986 and 1988-1995)
effective_radiated_power = 5000 kW (analog)
600 kW (digital)
HAAT = 454 m (analog)
452 m (digital)
facility_id = 74112
coordinates = coord|27|49|47.5|N|82|15|58.2|W|type:landmark_scale:2000 (analog)
homepage = [http://www.cw44.com/ www.cw44.com]
WTOG, channel 44, is a television station in
St. Petersburg, Florida. Owned by the CBS Corporation, WTOG serves as the Tampa Bay Areastation for the co-owned CW Television Network. Its transmitter is located in Riverview, Florida.
WTOG-TV began operations on
November 4, 1968as an indepedent station. It was originally owned by the St. Paul, Minnesota-based Hubbard Broadcasting Corporation. In the station's early days, its slogan was: "WTOG...as far as the eye can see"", which was made famous by a [http://www.netbroadcasting.tv/wtog.html 1970s station identification package] . WTOG caught on with the viewers immediately; so much so, in fact, that it forced competitor WSUN-TV (channel 38, frequency now occupied by WTTA) off the air in 1970. For the rest of the 1970s and well into the 1980s, WTOG was the only independent station in the Tampa Bay area.
Becoming a superstation
This distinction finally ended in
1981, when WFTS-TV, then owned by Family Group Broadcasting, signed on. However, the station remained the clear leader in the market for the next two decades. In the early 1980s, the station's slogan was "We're 44...we show you the good life"".
During the 1970s and 1980s, WTOG was seen on many cable systems in central and southwestern Florida. In the 1980s, WTOG also had a network of low-powered repeaters, with repeaters in Sebring, Arcadia (in the Ft. Myers market), Ocala (Orlando market) and Okeechobee (West Palm Beach market). It billed itself as "Florida's Super Station", which "Covered Florida Like The Sun". There was also some consideration to put WTOG on cable in
Tallahassee, but that never came to fruition.
WTOG was one of the most profitable independent television stations in the country. In fact, during the late 1970s, a man named
Ted Turnercalled the station to ask how it was that WTOG could be so profitable. It is believed that WTBS in Atlanta was modeled after WTOG.
From Fox to UPN
In 1986, WTOG became a charter affiliate of the new
Fox Broadcasting Company. However, this relationship lasted only 2 years, as WTOG dropped the affiliation in 1988, sending it to WFTS, now owned by the E.W. Scripps Company. Of course though, the station was still effectively independent during its time as a Fox affiliate, as Fox programming only comprised a small part of its schedule.
WTOG was largely unaffected by the affiliation swaps of 1994, which saw longtime
CBSaffiliate WTVTswitch to Fox, WFTS going to ABC and longtime ABC affiliate WTSPgo to CBS, but WTOG did become a charter UPNaffiliate, aligning itself with the network at its launch in 1995. As with its days as a Fox affiliate, WTOG continued to program a traditional independent format during the day, with UPN programming shown during prime time. Paramount Stations Group, a subsidiary of Viacom purchased the station in the Spring of 1996, swapping NBCaffiliates WNYT in Albany, New Yorkand WHECin Rochester, New Yorkto Hubbard in the process. Paramount wanted to get rid of its non-UPN stations. This made WTOG the first O&O in Tampa Bay. Soon after taking control, Paramount changed WTOG's on-air branding to "UPN44", which it kept for the remainder of UPN's run. Viacom bought CBS in 2001.
WTOG's newscasts prior to 1982 was mainly at sign-on and sign-off, with the announcer reading the day's headlines over a slide. In the late-1970s and early-1980s, it featured a newsreader on camera reading the news during its morning discussion, "Florida Daybreak". WTOG started using the "
Eyewitness News" moniker in the late-1970s, though its news was still a rather staid, low-key affair, until they established a regular 10PM newscast in 1982. At first, WTOG continued to use the "Eyewitness News" name, with Barbara Callahan (former co-host of WTOG's " PM Magazine") and John Nicholson (formerly an anchor at WTVT) as co-anchors. In the early-1990s, it was renamed "44 News at Ten". By 1996, following Viacom's acquisition of WTOG, it became "UPN44 10 O'Clock News" (with the slogan "Live, Local, Late Breaking"), co-anchored by Callahan and Patrick Emory. WTOG's news department was discontinued in 1998due to financial reasons and competition from WTVT.
Ownership during the 2000s
There were rumors that
The E. W. Scripps Companywould buy WTOG from CBS Corporation (recently spun off from Viacom), thus creating a duopolywith WFTS (who ironically had taken the FOX affiliation from WTOG in 1988). As of 2005, this has not occurred.
January 24 2006, it was announced that UPN and The WBwould merge into a new network, The CW. The new network signed a 10-year affiliation agreement with 11 of CBS' UPN stations, including WTOG. The new network launched on September 18, 2006. Under current ownership, WTOG is one of two network O&O's in Tampa Bay, alongside Fox-owned WTVT.
WTOG had handled master control operations for its sister station, KEYE in
Austin, Texas, until WTOG's master control, along with that of Atlanta's WUPA, were moved to sister CW affiliate WGNTin Norfolk, Virginia; twenty employees were laid off from WTOG ( [http://mibuzzboard.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=15450] ), even though CBS had previously denied that such would happen ( [http://www.sptimes.com/2006/11/05/Artsandentertainment/Exec_says_local_TV_st.shtml] ). KEYE has since been sold to Cerberus Capital Management, through its Four Points Media Group.
On cable, WTOG can be seen throughout the Tampa Bay area on Bright House and
Verizon FiOSchannel 4, and on Comcastchannel 9 in the Sarasota and Venice headends. WTOG also has a repeater in Sebring (W23CN channel 23). As for the other repeaters, the Arcadia and Sebring facilities have shut down while the Ocala station (W29AB) has since become a repeater for Orlando's WKMG-TV.
In May 1999, after WTOG's news department closed, WTOG housed
WFLA-TVone day, when WFLA had a power outage at their main studios in Downtown Tampa.
WTOG is one of two stations to have studios located in St. Petersburg alongside
WTSP-- both studios are located about a mile from each other, on or near Gandy Boulevard.
*"WTOG News" (1968-1978?)
*"Eyewitness News" (1978?-1985)
*"Tampa Bay Tonight" (1985-1988)
*"44 News at Ten" (1988-1992)
*"WTOG 44 News at Ten" (1992-1995)
*"UPN 44 News at Ten" (1995-1998; newscasts were cancelled after 1998)
*"WTOG, As Far as the Eye Can See" (1970s)
*"Florida's Super Station, Your 44" (1980s-1995)
*"We're 44, We Show You the Good Life" (1981-1983)
*"Covering Florida Like the Sun" (1985)
*"Live, Local, Latebreaking" (1995-1998; this was the final slogan for WTOG)
10 O'Clock News Anchors
*Patrick Emory, anchor (1994-1998)
*Barbara Callahan, "
PM Magazine" co-host (1980-1982); anchor (1982-1986; 1993-1998)
*John Nicholson, anchor (1980s)
*Sandra Cole, anchor (1988-1989) (now at
*John ("J.P.") Peterson, sports (1997-1998, later worked at
WFLA-TV, now at WQYK-AM)
*Wendy Ross, weather (now at
*Justin Kiefer, weather (1997-1998, now at
*Kathryn Bursch, reporter (1980s-90s, now at
*Julie Brannon, anchor
*Jane Akre, anchor (1996)
*John Summer, anchor (1987-1994)
Greg Starddard, reporter, back-up anchor, public affairs talk show host, (1985-1987), left for WTVT
*Monica Stokes, weekend anchor (-1998)
Beasley Reece, sports (1986-1988, 1997-1998, now at KYW-TV).
*Bob Alvarez, sports (early/mid 1990s)
Rob Stone, sports (late 1990s)
*Diane Roberts, anchor (1989-1993)
*Carmen Roberts, reporter (1980s)
*Jay Villwock, feature reporter (1980s-1990s, now at
*Ken Suarez, reporter (1988-1998, now at
*Stan Rhoads, "Cinema 44 Cash Call"
*Harry Hairston, reporter (1980s, now at WCAU-TV)
*Dan Tylman, reporter (-1998)
*Marie Rhodes, reporter (-1998)
*Marcie Cipriani, reporter (-1998, now at
*Cindi Dohan, reporter (-1998)
*Stacey Phillips, reporter (-1998)
*Jack Harris, various spots (1970s-1983)
*Randy Scott, sports director (1982-1987)
*Ray Perkins, "The Buc Report"
*Mary Rogers, 10pm anchor (-1993)
* [http://www.cw44.com/ Station Website]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suhJiJjBnEM Channel 44 Station ID's - 1970's]
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