Radio-TV Broadcast History

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WSET-TV is the ABC television network affiliate for the Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia market. The station is licensed to Lynchburg, and transmits its digital signal on VHF channel 13. WSET is owned by the Allbritton Communications Company. Its transmitter is located near Thaxton, Virginia. WSET also began airing Retro Television Network, owned by Equity Media Holdings Corporation, on a digital subchannel starting April 2008.[2]

[1] [2]
Lynchburg/Roanoke, Virginia
Branding ABC 13

ABC 13 News

Slogan The Heart of Virginia (general)

Coverage You Can Count On (news)

Channels Digital: 13 (VHF)
Subchannels 13.1 ABC

13.2 RTV

Translators W05AA 5 Roanoke, Virginia
Affiliations ABC
Owner Allbritton Communications Company

(WSET, Inc.)

Founded February 8, 1953
Call letters' meaning NeWSET 13
Former callsigns WLVA-TV (1953-1977)
Former channel number(s) Analog:

13 (1953-2009) Digital 34 (2004-2009)[1]

Former affiliations CBS/ABC (1953-1954)
Transmitter power 200 kW
Height 568.4 m
Facility ID 73988
Transmitter coordinates 37°18′54.6″N 79°38′5.1″W / 37.315167°N 79.63475°W / 37.315167; -79.63475

[edit] History[]

WSET-TV signed on the air for the very first time on February 8, 1953 as WLVA-TV (W-Lynchburg-VirginiA) from a transmitter on Tobacco Row Mountain. The station was owned by Lynchburg Broadcasting, which also owned WLVA radio. It was the first station in Virginia to operate at full power, and also served Charlottesville as well. It was originally a CBS affiliate, but also carried programs from ABC, NBC, and DuMont as well.[3] By the end of 1954, Roanoke and Lynchburg had been collapsed into a single market. Accordingly, channel 13 moved its transmitter and tower to Evington, Virginia in 1954 in an attempt to better serve Roanoke and the western part of the market. It also dropped NBC from its schedule, becoming a primary ABC affiliate--Virginia's first. The two stations then split CBS until WDBJ-TV signed on from Roanoke in 1955.

In the late 1960s, former ABC World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson was a reporter/anchor for the station.

In 1965, Lynchburg Broadcasting sold the WLVA stations to the Washington Star Company, which also owned the Washington Star newspaper and WMAL-AM-FM-TV. Joseph L. Allbritton bought the Star in 1976. Allbritton sold off the company's non-television assets, including WLVA radio, in 1977, and in 1978 WLVA-TV changed its call letters to the current WSET-TV to coincide with its new branding, "NeWSET-13."

For most of its first 30 years on the air, channel 13 provided spotty coverage to the western part of the market because it is sandwiched between WLOS-TV in Asheville, North Carolina and WOWK-TV in Huntington, West Virginia. The station made numerous requests to move its transmitter closer to Roanoke but was turned down by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) each time due to concerns about interference, principally with WOWK. This was despite the fact that the Roanoke/Lynchburg and Huntington/Charleston markets do not border each other. However, the FCC believed that the two markets were close enough that the two channel 13 transmitters had to be as far apart as possible to avoid interference. Its signal was so weak in Roanoke that ABC actually granted an affiliation to a second station in the market, WRFT-TV (channel 27), for much of the 1960s and 1970s.

In 1970, channel 13 sought to move its transmitter to Poor Mountain near Roanoke, where the other major stations in the market operated their transmitters, but was turned down by the FCC even though Poor Mountain is over 220 miles from WOWK's transmitter. In 1980, WSET finally won FCC approval to relocate its transmitter from Evington to Thaxton Mountain near Bedford, halfway between Roanoke and Lynchburg. WSET activated its new transmitter in 1982, providing a city-grade signal to portions of the western part of the market for the first time. However, the FCC required WSET to significantly conform its signal to protect WOWK. As a result, some areas of the western part of the market, including parts of Roanoke itself, only got a grade B signal. To make up for this shortfall in coverage, WSET set up a low-powered translator on channel 5 in Roanoke, W05AA. With the analog shutdown in 2009, this is the station's only known method of analog broadcasting.

Since returning its digital signal to VHF channel 13 in October 2009, WSET's over-the-air coverage in much of the western part of the market, especially the New River Valley, is somewhat marginal due in part to the mountainous terrain.

WSET's newscasts primarily focus on the eastern part of the Roanoke/Lynchburg market. In 2005, it was one of only two ABC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone to air ABC's World News Tonight at 7 p.m. rather than 6:30; WSB-TV in Atlanta is the other. However, WSET has returned the national program to the 6:30 p.m. time slot, shifting its local newscast to 7:00 p.m.

[edit] Out of market coverage[]

WSET is carried in Roxboro, North Carolina on Charter Cable. It is also picked up in Yanceyville, North Carolina on Comcast Cable.

[edit] Digital television[]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

[edit] WSET-DT[]

WSET-DT broadcasts on digital channel 13.

Digital channels

Channel Name Programming
13.1 WSET-DT main WSET-TV/ABC programming
13.2 RTV Retro Television Network

[edit] Once and Again controversy[]

On March 11, 2002, WSET pre-empted an episode of Once and Again which contained a scene in which two female characters kiss one another, and ran a prime-time infomercial instead.[4] WSET was the only ABC affiliate to pre-empt the episode. The decision, which station management refused to explain, provoked condemnation from GLAAD[5] and praise from Lynchburg resident Jerry Falwell.[6]

[edit] On-air staff[]

[edit] Current on-air staff[]


  • Pattie Martin - weekday mornings "Good Morning Virginia" (5-7 a.m.)
  • Shelley Basinger - weekdays at noon (and general assignment reporter)
  • Len Stevens - weeknights at 6, 7 and 11 p.m.
  • Noreen Turyn - weeknights at 6 p.m.
  • Donna Harris - weekends at 6 and 11 p.m. (also news producer)


  • Sarah Bloom - Danville bureau reporter
  • Lauren Compton - general assignment reporter
  • Jeremy Mills - general assignment reporter
  • Dhomonique Ricks - 11 p.m. reporter
  • Ashley Singh - Danville bureau reporter
  • David Tate - Roanoke bureau reporter

Weather team

  • Sean Sublette (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 6, 7 and 11 p.m.
  • Matt Ferguson (Member; NWA/AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings "Good Morning Virginia" (5-7 a.m.) and noon

Sports team

  • Dennis Carter - Sports Director; weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Justin Feldkamp - Sports Anchor; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.

[edit] Non-news on-air staff[]

  • Tab O'Neal - Living in the Heart of Virginia, Weekdays at 12:30pm

[edit] News/station presentation[]

[edit] Newscast titles[]

  • WLVA-TV News (1953-1964)
  • The Jack Martin Report (1964-1971)
  • Channel 13 News (1971-1977)
  • NeWSET 13 (1977-1987; presented on air as News 13 from 1977 until 1980)
  • NewsCenter 13 (1987-1990)
  • News 13 (1990-1997)
  • News 13 ABC (1997-2001)
  • ABC 13 News (2001-present)

[edit] Station slogans[]

  • Something's Happening On Channel 13 (1987-1990; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • The Heart of Virginia (1987-present; general slogan)
  • Friends You Can Count On (early-mid 1990s)
  • Coverage You Can Count On (2004-present; news slogan)

[3] This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.==[edit] References==

  1. ^ Lynchburg-based WSET goes on air with digital signal
  2. ^ Equity Media Holdings Corporation - RTN Announces Expansion to Roanoke
  3. ^ "Radio and TV Programs". The Bee (Danville, VA): pp. B-11. 1954-08-26.
  4. ^ "ABC Affiliate Pulls 'Once and Again' Episode",, 2002-03-12. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
  5. ^ "Lynchburg ABC Affiliate Refuses to Air Once and Again",, 2002-03-13. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
  6. ^ Jerry Falwell, "A hero in our midst",, 2002-03-16. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.

[edit] External links[]