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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 channel number(s)||Analog:
55 (until 2009)
|Former affiliations||NBC (1970–2016)|
|Transmitter power||575 kW|
WHAG-TV channel 25, is an Independent television station located in Hagerstown, Maryland. The station is owned by the Nexstar Broadcasting Group. WHAG-TV's studio facilities are located in the Alexander House Hotel on East Washington Street in downtown Hagerstown, and its transmitter located in Fairview Mountain west of Clear Spring.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming |
|25.1||1080i||16:9||WHAG-DT||Independent & H&I|
The station signed on the air on January 3, 1970. It was originally owned by Warren Adler 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. The station was an NBC affiliate; network anchors Chet Huntley and David Brinkley welcomed the station to the NBC television network during their newscast that night. Adler Communications sold WHAG-TV to Sheldon and Samuel Magazine of Washington D.C. in 1973. The Magazine Brothers then sold it to local aviation pioneer Richard Henson in 1977. Henson then sold the station to Great Trails Broadcasting in 1981. Great Trails exited broadcasting and sold WHAG along with 2 of its stations—WFFT-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana and KSVI in Billings, Montana to Quorum Broadcasting in 1998 for $65 million.
On September 8, 2003, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it would acquire Quorum Broadcasting and its stations (including WHAG-TV) for $230 million. The sale was completed on December 31, 2003.
NBC confirmed to The Herald-Mail that it was declining to renew its affiliation with WHAG on February 19, 2016, with the station officially ceasing to broadcast the network's programming "in the summer"; it was later announced that the affiliation would end on July 1, 2016. A factor in this decision was perceived competition with network-owned WRC-TV. The two stations are technically in the same market, a situation which also caused the Philadelphia-Atlantic City market's WMGM-TV to lose its affiliation in 2015 in favor of network-owned WCAU. WHAG-TV will continue to produce local programming, including local newscasts, with the expansion of the station's local news department. WHAG-TV also carries programs from Heroes & Icons.
WHAG-TV is located on the Washington, D.C. market, however, the station is operated like a small market station focusing on areas west of Montgomery County. It serves the 4-state area of Chambersburg, PA, Hagerstown, MD, Frederick, MD, Martinsburg, WV, and Winchester, VA with a more local perspective.
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". 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 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.
On February 19, 2016, concurrent with the announcement that WHAG would lose its NBC affiliation, Nexstar announced plans for a major expansion of the station's news operation that launched on July 1, 2016 (the same day WHAG lost its NBC affiliation), promising 20 hours of additional news programming per-week, including Maryland and Northern Virginia-specific coverage and "West Virginia's only available state-wide local news" (Nexstar had previously announced its purchase of the West Virginia Media Holdings chain).
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 had also been seen on Dish as the default NBC affiliate for the Salisbury television market, as that market did not have an NBC affiliate of its own until June 2014, when WRDE-LD in nearby Rehoboth Beach, Delaware switched its affiliation to NBC.