WHBQ-TV, channel 13, is a Fox affiliate located in Memphis, Tennessee. Its studios and transmitter are located in Memphis. WHBQ-TV was the first Band III VHF-TV station (Channels 7-13) in Tennessee, and was one of three Band III stations that signed on in the state in 1953 (the second was WSIX-TV, Channel 8, Nashville (now WKRN-TV on Channel 2), and the third was WJHL-TV, Channel 11 in Johnson City.
Under RKO General
WHBQ-TV began operations on September 27, 1953. The station was owned by General Teleradio, the broadcasting arm of the General Tire and Rubber Company, along with WHBQ radio (560 AMand 105.9 FM, now WGKX). It is Memphis' second-oldest television station, and the only one that has never changed its call letters or channel location. In 1955, General Tire purchased RKO Radio Pictures in order to give its television stations a programming source. RKO was merged into General Teleradio, and in 1957 General Tire's broadcasting and film divisions were renamed RKO General.
WHBQ-TV was originally a CBS affiliate, sharing ABC programming with WMCT (channel 5, now WMC-TV). Channel 13 lost CBS when WREC-TV (channel 3, now WREG-TV) signed on and took that affiliation due to CBS' long affiliation with WREC radio; WHBQ-TV then took the ABC affiliation full-time. In the 1960s and 1970s WHBQ-TV was Memphis' leader in television ratings, although since the mid-1990s, the station's news broadcasts has often been rated second-to-last.
Despite being one of ABC's stronger affiliates in the 1960s and 1970s, WHBQ-TV was known for not airing some ABC programming in pattern, particularly during the day. Many of these programs were pre-empted outright or delayed until late-night hours. In some cases, these programming decisions occurred because station management was skeptical of airing subject matter deemed even mildly controversial (presumably to keep from offending viewers in Memphis' more conservative suburbs and the surrounding rural areas). For example, it was one of several ABC affiliates that didn't clear Hot L Baltimore, a show which featured one of the first openly homosexual couples featured on American television. In September 1977, WHBQ-TV was one of eight ABC affiliates that refused to carry the controversial situation comedy Soap, opting to run repeats of My Three Sons instead. When Soap proved to be a runaway hit for the network, channel 13 acquiesced and allowed the series to be seen in late-night summer reruns. The following fall, the station carried Soap in its regular pattern.
In many other cases, however, channel 13 opted to pre-empt network shows in favor of local shows in hopes of getting more local advertising dollars. For instance, in 1972, WHBQ-TV stunned Mid-South viewers by dropping American Bandstand for 90 minutes of live professional wrestling, which it lost to WMC-TV in 1977. But even after losing that program, channel 13 continued to pre-empt Bandstand until 1984, just three years before ABC canceled the long-running show. Ironically, the pre-emption kept Memphians from seeing homegrown talent perform on the show, such as the Sylvers, Rita Coolidge, Anita Ward, and Rick Dees, who was hired by WHBQ radio as its new morning host during his "Disco Duck" days in late 1976. On the other hand, channel 13 made up for the preemption by airing Bandstand's syndicated rival, Soul Train, on Saturday nights until independent station WPTY-TV (channel 24) purchased the rights to that program from channel 13 in 1983. Additionally, it was one of the largest ABC affiliates to pass on Good Morning America when it debuted in 1975, not picking it up until 1977. Other popular shows that WHBQ-TV held out until later (when they became major out-of-the-box hits on ABC) included Dark Shadows (the program featured actor Don Briscoe, who would later reside and died in Memphis, TN), The Bionic Woman and S.W.A.T..
In 1980, the station received national criticism for carrying paid religious programming instead of ABC's coverage of the United States' Olympic men's hockey team's gold medal victory over Sweden in the 1980 Winter Olympics. In all likelihood, however, WHBQ-TV made the decision due to area residents' lack of knowledge about, let alone enthusiasm for, ice hockey and winter sports.
Locally, the station had a rivalry with WREC/WREG-TV over bragging rights for the largest movie library in the market. Through its ownership by RKO General, channel 13 had the entire RKO Pictures catalog at its disposal, and the station's reliance on classic and public-domain films in the 1960s and 1970s was evidenced in its daily 9-to-11 a.m. airing of Dialing for Dollars, which the station ran instead of popular daytime soap operas All My Children and Ryan's Hope. In September 1978 channel 13 finally began clearing the full ABC daytime lineup, though its noon newscast forced All My Children into a morning timeslot, where it aired on a one-day delay for many years.
RKO General was under nearly continuous investigation from the 1960s onward due to a long history of lying to advertisers and regulators. For example, it was nearly forced out of broadcasting in 1980 after misleading the FCC about corporate misconduct at parent General Tire. Under longtime general manager Alex Bonner, however, WHBQ-AM-FM-TV was never accused of any wrongdoing.
In 1987, an FCC administrative law judge ruled RKO General unfit to be a broadcast licensee due to a widespread pattern of dishonesty. After the FCC advised RKO that appealing the decision wasn't worth the effort, RKO began unwinding its broadcast operations. The WHBQ stations were the next-to-last to be sold, shortly after Bonner retired in 1990. The new owner, Adams Communications, sold off WHBQ-AM (105.9 FM had been sold off several years earlier).
On September 29, 1962, WHBQ-TV premiered Fantastic Features, a collection of classic horror films from the RKO Pictures library. The series was hosted by a Transylvanian-styled vampire named Sivad, played by Watson Davis. The show's opening sequence, which included film footage of Sivad riding through a misty forest in a horse-drawn hearse, proved so unsettling to some children that the series was moved from its original 6:00 p.m. timeslot on Saturday evenings to the later time of 10:30 p.m.. At the height of its popularity, Fantastic Features aired on both Friday and Saturday nights. The program concluded its run in 1972 after 623 episodes, though Sivad has remained a well-remembered local personality. There were several attempts to resurrect the character, though a retired Watson Davis refused all offers, the sole exception being promos for the syndicated run of Dark Shadows, acquired by channel 13 in April 1982.
In the 1960s and '70s, WHBQ produced several local programs featuring Memphis personalities. Disc jockey George Klein hosted Talent Party, an afternoon rock-and-roll series aimed at Memphis' teenage audience. Talent Party was hugely successful, giving many garage bands their first television appearances, and the ratings were so high that it regularly beat The Edge of Night, a nationally top-rated soap opera on CBS.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, news anchor Marge Thrasher also hosted a local talk show titled Straight Talk (a title used on other RKO General stations), aired at 8:00 a.m. on weekdays. WHBQ was also the Memphis station for the local/syndicated program PM Magazine featuring Byron Day and Lynn Sitler.
Transition to Fox
Adams was in severe financial straits by 1994, and sold the station to ComCorp. Only a short time later, ComCorp announced that it would sell WHBQ-TV to the News Corporation. The new owners made channel 13 the third station in Memphis to carry Fox programming. WMKW-TV (channel 30, now WLMT) had been the area's original Fox affiliate from 1987 to 1990, when Fox moved to WPTY-TV until the WHBQ-TV purchase. WPTY took channel 13's old ABC affiliation. Upon the network switch, channel 13 replaced the daytime ABC soap opera lineup with Fox Kids (now 4Kids TV) children's shows, unlike most of the other stations that switched to Fox during the Fox affiliate switches of 1994. WHBQ is the only Memphis television station owned and operated by any major network.
In 2006, WHBQ premiered a new graphic scheme similar to the one in current use on the Fox News Channel. This new look gradually became the standard for the other Fox-owned stations. WHBQ also adopted a new logo, which was borrowed from Tampa sister station WTVT.
On June 13, 2007, Fox's parent company, News Corporation, put WHBQ-TV and eight other stations up for sale. Local TV, a broadcast holding company controlled by the private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, purchased the other eight stations  on December 22, WHBQ-TV could not go to Local TV or any other affiliate of Oak Hill Capital Partners because Local TV already owned CBS affiliate WREG-TV. The FCC does not allow duopolies between two of the four largest stations in a single market; this is clearly the case with the CBS and Fox affiliates in Memphis. On January 16, 2009, Fox Television Stations withdrew WHBQ-TV from the market because none of the bids for the station were deemed high enough for NewsCorp to sell it.
WHBQ's newscasts, for many years, had been called Eyewitness News and stayed true to the Eyewitness News "Happy Talk" format, along with using the "Cool Hand Luke" music package the ABC O&Os used. WHBQ had a number of high-visibility anchors and reporters in the 1970s and 1980s, including Ed Craig, Tom Bearden, Marge Thrasher, Fran Fawcett, Jim Jaggers and Charlie B. Watson. After Fox acquired the station in 1995, the newscasts were briefly called Fox 13 Eyewitness News. In the late 1990s, WHBQ renamed its newscasts Fox 13 News. But despite this change (and even rivals WPTY-TV and WLMT picking up the name Eyewitness News in 2002), WHBQ has remained Memphis' "Happy Talk" station.
- Valerie Calhoun (Good Morning Memphis 6-9am)
- Steve Dawson (Weeknights at 5pm and 9pm)
- Ernie Freeman (Good Morning Memphis 6-9am)
- Curtis Jay (Good Morning Memphis 5-6am and Midday at 11am)
- Mearl Purvis (Weeknights at 5pm and 9pm)
- Melissa Scheffler (Weekend Anchor and also Reporting on Weeknights)
- Darcy Thomas (Good Morning Memphis 5-6am and Midday at 11am)
- Jason Carter
- Amy Cowman
- Tom Dees (Traffic Reporter)
- Tealy Devereaux
- Lauren Johnson
- Eric King
- Cori Lake (Good Morning Memphis Reporter)
- Lauren Lee
- Scott Madaus (Problem Solvers Reporter)
- Jill Monier
- April Norris
- Les Smith
- Heather York (Traffic Reporter)
- Ed Echols (Weekends)
- Leon Griffin (Good Morning Memphis)
- Holly Hancock (11am Midday)
- Joey Sulipeck (weeknights at 5pm and 9pm)
- Matt Stark (Weeknights at 5pm and 9pm)
- Kristin Tallent (Weekends)
- Marcus Hunter (Fill-in Sports Anchor)
- Greg Gaston (Correspondent/Sports Commentary)
- Eyewitness News (1970s-1995)
- FOX13 Eyewitness News (1995-1997)
- FOX13 News (1997-present)
- Where Local News Comes First (2005-present)