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Martinsburg, West Virginia
"WHAG News" (newscasts)
|Slogan||"Your Local News Leader"|
|Channels||Digital: 26 (UHF)
Virtual: 25 (PSIP)
|Owner||Nexstar Broadcasting Group
(Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc.)
|First air date||January 3, 1970|
|Call letters' meaning||HAGerstown|
|Former callsigns||WHAG (1970-1979)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
25 (UHF, 1970-2009)
Digital: 55 (UHF)
|Transmitter power||575 kW|
WHAG-TV is the NBC-affiliated television station for Hagerstown, Maryland. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 26 from a transmitter on Fairview Mountain west of Clear Spring. Owned by the Nexstar Broadcasting Group, the station has studios in the Alexander House Hotel on National Pike (U.S. 40 eastbound) in Downtown Hagerstown (although the address says East Washington Street). Syndicated programming on WHAG includes: Steve Harvey,The 700 Club, and AgDay.
Despite being designated a part of the Washington, D.C. market (with its own O&O affiliate WRC-TV), WHAG operates like a small market station focusing on areas west of Montgomery County. It serves the 4-state area of Chambersburg, PA, Hagerstown, MD, Martinsburg, WV, and Winchester, VA with a more local perspective. The station's news department is mainly known as a training ground with few permanent personalities, as reporters often come fresh out of college and serve as "one man band" personnel that shoot, write, and edit their own stories. They often move on after a year or two to larger markets or other communications opportunities.
The station signed-on January 3, 1970. It was owned by Warren Adler and the Regional Broadcasting Company along with WHAG radio in Halfway (AM 1410 and FM 96.7, now WDLD). WHAG-TV's original analog transmitter was to be on top of the Hagerstown Motor Inn (now the Alexander House) but was rejected due to structural incompatibility. A site on Fairview Mountain would become the location of the analog signal on UHF channel 25. Regional Broadcasting Company wanted the station to affiliate with ABC (which was the number one network at the time) but had to join NBC, which was the number three network. In 1973, Regional Broadcasting Company sold WHAG-TV to the Magazine Brothers of Washington D.C. who in-turn sold it to local aviation pioneer Richard Henson in 1977. It added the -TV suffix to its callsign in 1979. The station was then sold in 1981 to Great Trails Broadcasting and then to Quorum Broadcasting in 1998.
Beyond NBC programming, WHAG's line-up has been stable and consistent. It does not carry the network's Early Today. Long blocks of infomercials have been shown on weekends since the early-1990s. In September 2006 following the lead of other Nexstar-owned stations, WHAG switched its website's URL from "nbc25.com" to "your4state.com". Around this time, infomercials began appearing on weekdays during the daytime. Recently, it has been added to the Dish Network lineup of local offerings and is available to subscribers that currently receive the Washington D.C. market locals. WHAG is also seen on Dish as the default NBC affiliate for the Salisbury television market (that market does not have an NBC affiliate of its own), despite there being closer affiliates such as WMGM-TV in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On June 12, 2009, WHAG moved to UHF channel 26 when the analog to digital conversion was completed.
Right from the start, WHAG began offering local newscasts with The Valley News which aired weeknights at 6, 7, and 11. The original anchors were Bob Witt with news, Glenn Presgraves with sports, and Bill Wolfinger forecasting the weather. Bill Wolfinger also did a Saturday night horror movie show where he would be in costume similar to Lon Chaney. The news department expanded in 1972 to include weekend evening broadcasts at 11 that totaled six hours of local news per week. By the year 2000, news content increased to over 22 hours of broadcasts per week. In 1997, WHAG added a microwave truck allowing the transmitting of live breaking news from the viewing area. On February 12, 2010, WHAG dropped the "NBC 25" branding for "WHAG" and switched its news branding from "NBC 25 News" to "WHAG News". This also happened at the same time a new set, music, and graphics package was launched. The station operates a bureau on East Patrick Street (MD 144) in Frederick.
On August 30, 2010, WHAG added a half hour to its weekday noon and 5 p.m. newscasts. Until this point unlike most NBC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, the station had not aired a broadcast weeknights at 5:30. It still does not offer a full two hour weekday morning show. There is now a half hour broadcast seen Monday through Saturday nights at 7. On weekends, an hour long morning show at 6 as well as a half hour Sunday morning broadcast at 9 were added. In addition, a Northern Virginia Bureau covering Leesburg, Berryville, and Winchester was opened. Although not a full news department, this is now the second local news operation established in those areas after TV3 Winchester launched back on March 5, 2007. All of the preceding changes required the expansion of WHAG's personnel.
On October 21, 2013, WHAG began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition, with a new news set, HD cameras and forecasting equipment.