Radio-TV Broadcast History

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Knoxville, Tennessee
City of license Knoxville
Branding "Channel 10" (general)

"10 News" (newscasts)

Slogan "Straight from the Heart"
Channels Digital: 10 (VHF)
Subchannels 10.1 NBC

10.2 WX+

Affiliations National Broadcasting Company
Owner Gannett Company, Inc.

(Gannett Pacific Corporation)

First air date August 12, 1956
Call letters' meaning We're Best In Radio
Former channel number(s) Analog:

10 (VHF, 1956-2009) Digital: 31 (UHF)

Former affiliations CBS (1956-1988)
Transmitter power 40.9 kW
Height 529.6 m
Facility ID 46984
Transmitter coordinates 36°0′19″N 83°56′23″W / 36.00528°N 83.93972°W / 36.00528; -83.93972 (digital)


[hide]*1 History

  • 2 Digital television
    • 2.1 Analog-to-digital conversion
  • 3 Programming
    • 3.1 The Heartland Series
    • 3.2 Our Stories
  • 4 News reporters and journalists
    • 4.1 Current staff
    • 4.2 Former on-air staff
  • 5 News/station presentation
    • 5.1 Newscast titles
    • 5.2 Station sogans
    • 5.3 Newscast themes
  • 6 External links
  • 7 References

[edit] History[]

WBIR-TV signed on the air on August 12, 1956 as an affiliate of the CBS television network, taking that affiliation away from WTVK (channel 26, now WVLT-TV on channel 8). During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[1] WBIR-TV was owned and named after Jesse W. "Jay" Birdwell, who also owned WBIR radio (1240 AM, now WIFA; and 103.5 FM, now WIMZ). Although WBIR radio's sign off was "We are the Best In Radio," which spelled out WBIR, the TV station's call letters actually came from the first three letters of Jay Birdwell's last name.

Birdwell was also one of the partners who had put WJHL-TV (channel 11), the CBS affiliate in the Tri-Cities, on the air in 1953. Shortly after signing Channel 10 on the air in Knoxville, Birdwell gave up his interest in WJHL-TV because channel 10's city-grade signal covered the area between Morristown and Greeneville, which is part of the Tri-Cities market. At the time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) normally did not allow common ownership of two stations with overlapping signals, and would not even consider granting a waiver for a city-grade overlap. Birdwell, who now had lesser partners in the ownership of WBIR-TV, opted to keep WBIR-TV because he still owned WBIR-AM-FM.

However, in 1957, Birdwell abruptly sold his majority interest in the radio-TV station combination to a group of investors: general manager John P. Hart, Gilmore Nunn, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ashe, and Taft Broadcasting of Cincinnati. On October 29, 1959, Nunn, the Ashes, and Hart sold their 70 per cent of the station outright to Taft, which owned the station for just over a year. On Nov. 16, 1960, Taft sold WBIR-AM-FM-TV to the News-Piedmont Company of Greenville, South Carolina; owner of WFBC-AM-FM-TV in its hometown. In 1967, News-Piedmont merged with Southern Broadcasting to form the Southeastern Broadcasting Corporation. Soon afterward, Southeastern sold all of its radio stations, purchased four more television stations and changed its name to Multimedia, Inc. WBIR-TV and WFBC-TV were its flagship stations.[2]

In 1988, WBIR became an NBC affiliate, swapping affiliations with WTVK just before it moved to channel 8 as WKXT-TV. Ironically, this marked CBS' return to its original affiliate in Knoxville. At the time, NBC was the top-rated network while CBS was in third place near the midpoint of the Laurence Tisch period of that network's history. The biggest reason was that most of Multimedia's stations were NBC affiliates. Companies that own several stations affiliated with the same network generally have more clout with that network. NBC was more than willing to make the switch, since WKXT had been one of its weakest affiliates while WBIR was a solid runner-up to WATE-TV. With the switch, Channel 10 became the last major commercial station in Knoxville to change affiliations. The switch also made channel 10 the third station in Knoxville to carry NBC; the network had previously aired on WATE from 1953 to 1979 before moving to WTVK in 1979.

Multimedia merged with Gannett in 1995.

[edit] Digital television[]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Digital channel

Channel Programming
10.1 main WBIR-TV/NBC programming
10.2 NBC Plus

National feeds for NBC Weather Plus ended December 2008

[edit] Analog-to-digital conversion[]

After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion on June 12, 2009, WBIR-TV moved its digital broadcasts back to its former analog channel number, 10.

[edit] Programming[]

[edit] The Heartland Series[]

Main article: The Heartland SeriesThe Heartland Series, hosted by Bill Landry, was a popular documentary series produced by WBIR from 1984 until 2009. It was conceived in 1984 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It continued to celebrate the people and the land of the entire Appalachian region, presenting re-enactments of historic events and feature stories about regional culture.[3] In February 2009, WBIR announced that it would suspend production of the series in September 2009, but would continue to show the hundreds of episodes already produced "for as long as the viewers like them."[3] The last episode was taped at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris on August 8, 2009 before an audience estimated at 10,000 people, one of the largest crowds in the museum's history.[4] [5]

During its 25-year history, The Heartland Series received several awards, including four Emmy Awards[6] United States embassies around the world keep tapes of The Heartland Series broadcasts as an information resource on life in Appalachia.[7]

[edit] Our Stories[]

In 2006, WBIR celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special report on some of the past stories captured on WBIR for the past 50 years. These reports were called "Our Stories" and included retrospectives on events such as U.S. Presidents visiting Knoxville and East Tennessee, major crimes and even the 25th Anniversary of the 1982 World's Fair.

[edit] News reporters and journalists[]

[edit] Current staff[]

News anchors

  • Robin Wilhoit (6pm and 11pm weekdays)
  • John Becker, (6pm and 11pm weekdays) Inside Tennessee
  • LaSaundra Brown (Noon)
  • Abby Ham (Weekday mornings)
  • Russell Biven (Weekday mornings and Live @ Five @ four)
  • Beth Haynes (Live @ Five @ four)
  • Brittany Bailey (8am,7am and 9am Weekends)
  • Sean Dreher (6pm and 11pm Weekends)


  • Steve Phillips (Weekdays)
  • Kris Budden (Weekends) Weekday fill-in

News reporters

  • Brittany Bailey
  • Steve Butera
  • Erin Donovan
  • Sean Dreher
  • Hillary Lake
  • Jim Matheny
  • Alison Morrow
  • Stoney Sharp
  • Emily Stroud
  • Anthony Welsch
  • Ken Schwall (Positively Schwall)
  • Bill Williams (Monday's Child)

"Live at Five at Four" hosts

Prior to September 15, 2008, this show was aired at 5:00 p.m. on weekdays under the title "Live at Five." The program was moved to 4:00 p.m. and was temporarily renamed "Live at Five at Four" with WBIR asking for viewers' opinions on a new name. The quirky temporary name, however, was embraced by viewers and "Live at Five at Four" has remained the brand for the 4:00 p.m. program. Hosts are:

  • Russell Bivens
  • Beth Haynes


  • Todd Howell
  • Mike Witcher
  • Cheryl Scott


  • Ed Rupp

[edit] Former on-air staff[]

  • Cheryl Jones, weather
  • Bill Williams, anchor and reporter (retired from anchor duties, but does weekly "Monday's Child" adoption segment)
  • Lisa Cornwell, weekday mornings and Noon (now at Big Ten Network)
  • Moira Kaye, "Style" host
  • Dan Farkas, reporter and sports
  • Ben Senger, anchor (now weekend anchor at WXII-TV, Winston-Salem, NC
  • Josh Roe, sports {now at WWMT-TV)
  • Seth Grossman, anchor
  • Mark Schnyder, anchor and reporter (now at KMOV-TV, St. Louis)
  • Teresa Woodard, anchor and reporter (now at KTVI-TV, St. Louis)
  • Ted Hall, anchor and reporter (now anchor at WXIA-TV, Atlanta)
  • Gary Loe, sports (now anchor of Hockey LoeDown WVLT-TV, Knoxville)
  • Steve Burgin, anchor
  • Byron Webre, weather
  • Jim Early, anchor and news director (deceased)
  • Cassandra McGee, anchor
  • Jennifer Mabe, reporter
  • Rob Braun, anchor and reporter (now anchor at WKRC-TV, Cincinnati)
  • Scott Sams, weather and sports (now anchor at KTVT-TV, Dallas)
  • Rex Rainey, weather
  • Carl Williams, anchor
  • Marti Skold, weather (now at KTVX, Salt Lake City)
  • Terri Gruca, anchor (now 6pm/10pm anchor at KVUE-TV, Austin)
  • Bob Kesling, sports (now Voice of the Vols with Vol Network)
  • Chip Carter, sports
  • Doc Johnston, anchor
  • Gene Patterson, anchor and reporter (now Anchor at WATE-TV, Knoxville)
  • Sara Allen, host of "Live at Five"
  • Nicole Henrich, host of "Style"
  • Jim Cline, sports
  • Judy Jenkins, anchor and reporter
  • Kristin Hoke, anchor and reporter
  • Kim Carson, weather
  • Larry Smith, reporter
  • Todd Summers, sports
  • Jim Holliday, sports
  • Phil Rainey, sports
  • Greeley Kyle, reporter
  • JaQuitta Williams, anchor and reporter (now reporter/weekend anchor at WSB-TV, Atlanta)
  • Bret Dark, anchor
  • Al Klensch, anchor and reporter
  • Van Hackett, reporter
  • Charles Thompson, reporter
  • Steve Dean, reporter
  • Pauletta Jackson, reporter
  • Janet Cunningham, weather
  • Sonja Smith, reporter
  • Edye Ellis, anchor (retired)
  • Margie Ison, weather (retired)
  • Mark Packer, sports (now First at 4 anchor, Sports Overtime Anchor at WVLT-TV Knoxville)
  • Greg Zorb, sports
  • Mark Smith, sports
  • Jennifer Broome, weather
  • Missy Kane, reporter
  • Valerie Hyman, reporter
  • Lindsey Nelson, reporter (deceased)
  • Tony Perkins, reporter
  • Kim Stephens, anchor
  • Faith Fancher, reporter
  • Carol Marin, reporter (now political reporter at WMAQ-TV, Chicago)
  • Deborah Roberts, reporter
  • Bill Harris, weather
  • Mark Nagi, sports (now at WATE-TV, Knoxville)
  • Adina Chumley, anchor and reporter
  • Steve Oglesby, reporter, anchor, newscast producer
  • Jim Acosta, reporter
  • Renee Jameson, reporter
  • Jennifer Leslie, reporter
  • Mark Johnson, weather
  • Alysiah Bond, sports
  • Krista Goldhair, reporter
  • Tom Poe, anchor
  • Wallene Dockery, weather
  • Cheryl Mazur, anchor
  • Alan Williams, sports (now anchor at WVLT-TV, Knoxville)
  • Lori Perry, weather
  • Tim Cox, anchor and reporter (now with WXIN-TV, "Fox 59" Indianapolis as Gene Cox, which is his first name)
  • Lance West, anchor and reporter
  • Lisa Argen, weather
  • Julya Johnson, weather
  • David Nelson, anchor and reporter
  • Mary Nelson, anchor and reporter
  • Jason Pack, reporter
  • Jim Ragonese, reporter
  • Syan Rhodes, anchor and reporter (now weekday morning anchor at WESH-TV, Orlando)
  • Carmen Ainsworth, reporter
  • Mary Loos, weather (now at NWCN)
  • Stephanie Wines, reporter
  • Chuck Denney, reporter
  • Foster Arnett, reporter (now Knox County Clerk, Knoxville)
  • Janice Williamson, reporter
  • Ben Bailey, weather (now at WJBK, Detroit)
  • Gina Miller, sports
  • Jay Beeler, reporter
  • Laura Hatch, reporter

[edit] News/station presentation[]

[edit] Newscast titles[]

  • The Esso Reporter (1956-1960)
  • The Big News (1960-1970)
  • 24 Hours (1970-1974)
  • NewsCenter 10 (1974-1977)
  • Action 10 News (1977-July 2004)
  • 10 News (July 2004-present)

[edit] Station sogans[]

  • Straight from the Heart (1990-present)
This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.===[edit] Newscast themes===
  • The Action News Theme by Unknown Composer (1970-1972)
  • NBC TV-Radio Newspulse by NBC-TV (1974-1980)
  • WBIR 1982 News Theme by Unknown Composer (1982-1983)
  • Theme From Firepower by Gato Barbieri (1983-1985)
  • Power News V.1 and V.2 by 615 Music (1985-1997)
  • Newsmark by 615 Music (1997-2000)
  • Heartland by 615 Music (2000-2008)
  • Gannett News Music Package by Rampage Music (2008-present)

[edit] External links[]

[edit] References[]

  1. ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice: 13, November 10, 1956,
  2. ^ Television Factbook #49, WBIR-TV, WFBC-TV Histories, 1980 Edition)
  3. ^ a b Terry Morrow, WBIR stops production of 'The Heartland Series', Tele-Buddy's Tinseltown Tales,, February 12, 2009
  4. ^ Fred Brown, 'Heartland Series' says goodbye; Many turn out to celebrate longtime WBIR series, Knoxville News Sentinel, August 9, 2009
  5. ^ Terry Morrow, 10,000 fans turn out for last 'Heartland Series' taping,, August 12, 2009
  6. ^ Knoxville News / Knoxville Weather, website, accessed October 6, 2009
  7. ^ WBIR-TV, Gannett website, accessed October 6, 2009