Orlando, Florida
Branding WFTV Channel 9 (general)

Channel 9 Eyewitness News (newscasts)

Slogan Coverage You
Can Count On
Channels Digital: 39 (UHF)

Virtual: 9 (PSIP)

Subchannels 9.1 ABC

9.2 Mega TV

Translators W36DV-D 36 Sebastian
Affiliations ABC
Mega TV (DT2)
Owner Cox Media Group

(WFTV, Inc.)

First air date February 1, 1958
Call letters' meaning Florida TeleVision
Sister station(s) WRDQ
Former callsigns WLOF-TV (1958–1963)
Former channel number(s) Analog:

9 (VHF, 1958–2009)

Transmitter power 1,000 kW
Height 492 m
Facility ID 72076
Transmitter coordinates 28°34′7″N 81°3′13″W / 28.56861°N 81.05361°W / 28.56861; -81.05361
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile



WFTV, virtual channel 9 (UHF digital channel 39), is the ABC-affiliated television station located in Orlando, Florida, United States. The station is owned by the Cox Media Group division of Cox Enterprises, and is part of a duopoly with independent station WRDQ (channel 27). The two stations share studios on East South Street (SR 15) in downtown Orlando, and its transmitter is located between Bithlo and Christmas. WFTV is also carried on cable providers in Lakeland, which is part of the Tampa Bay market.


[hide] *1 Digital television

Digital televisionEdit

Digital channelsEdit

WFTV's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[1]
9.1 720p 16:9 WFTV-HD Main WFTV programming / ABC
9.2 480i WFTV-WX Mega TV

In April 2010, WFTV announced plans to add a simulcast of GenTV affiliate WAWA-LD on a third digital subchannel.[2][3][4] However, before the subchannel could launch, WAWA's chief investor pulled out, effectively closing that station and dissolving the partnership with WFTV.[5] On January 25, 2013, the station replaced its weather channel Severe Weather Center 9 on digital subchannel 9.2 with Spanish language service Mega TV.[6]

Analog-to-digital conversionEdit

WFTV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate.[7] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 39.[8][9] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 9. Since February 25, 2009, it has had an application filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate a auxiliary digital facility from a transmitter in northeastern Osceola County.


The station first signed on the air on February 1, 1958 under the callsign WLOF-TV (standing for "We Love Orlando, Florida"). It has been an ABC affiliate since the station's inception. For years, the station was owned by a consortium of local investors. Channel 9 changed its call letters to the current WFTV in 1963. In 1984, the station was purchased by the SFN Companies. SFN in turn sold the station to Cox Broadcasting (now Cox Media Group) in 1985. As of July 2006, WFTV is now seen on the co-owned Cox cable system in Ocala (basic on channel 9 and high definition on digital channel 729) in addition to Gainesville's WCJB-TV. Ocala and Marion County are both part of the Orlando market. Prior to this, the Cox system in Ocala only offered WCJB due to contractual obligations even though that city is not in the same television market as Gainesville. To further complicate matters for viewers in the area of Northwest Marion county, WNBW-DT an NBC affiliate located in Gainesville, Florida and in operation since 2008 also identifies itself as channel 9.


Syndicated programming on the station includes Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, The Dr. Oz Show, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Family Feud and Steve Harvey.

Pre-emptions over the years and today[edit]Edit

In the 1970s, WFTV preempted the ABC Sunday morning cartoon rerun lineup, which many affiliates also did not run. Until the $20,000 Pyramid moved to the noon slot, WFTV chose to not run whatever show ABC had on at noon on weekdays in order to run a local newscast. In May 1975, the station controversially preempted the Emmy Award-winning made-for-TV movie A Moon for the Misbegotten, due to the film's adult language. In 1978, Mork & Mindy was rescheduled by the station to air on Sunday afternoons, but was cleared to air in primetime after a few weeks. After Pyramid was moved to that slot, WFTV ran it earlier in the morning and a day behind. From the mid-1970s through the early-1980s, WFTV preempted the soap opera The Edge of Night, which was preempted by many other ABC affiliates as well. From 1985 to the early 1990s, WFTV ran only half of the shows ABC put in the 11 a.m. to noon slot. From 1994 to 1996, the station did not air ABC's weekday morning programs at 11 (The Home Show and Mike and Maty). The station began to carry such programming overnights starting in 1996, though WFTV did not start to air it in its proper timeslot until The View debuted in 1997. WFTV ran the entire Saturday morning cartoon lineup from ABC until 1990, when it began preempting two hours of the lineup in favor of a morning newscast. In 1993, WFTV expanded the newscast to three hours and dropped the entire Saturday morning ABC cartoon lineup, adding a few educational children's shows and other syndicated programming. In 1996, an hour of ABC cartoons was restored on Sunday mornings and another hour was restored to Saturday mornings early in 1997. In the fall of 1997, WFTV began to carry two hours of the lineup that were under the One Saturday Morning banner. In 1999, the station increased the amount of Saturday morning cartoons from ABC to three hours and increased it to four hours in 2002.

WFTV was one of the few ABC affiliates that preempted Jimmy Kimmel Live! during the program's early years. Its sister stations in Atlanta (WSB-TV) and Charlotte (WSOC-TV) as well as Allbritton-owned KTUL in Tulsa and Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned WEAR-TV in Pensacola also initially did not air the program. However on November 21, 2005, the station began airing the late night talk show and now airs almost the entire ABC schedule with little preemption. The only current regularly preempted program is the Sunday edition of Good Morning America; in the past, WFTV has declined some of ABC's other weekend morning programming. Four out of five hours of the ABC Saturday morning lineup were run through 2010, including three out of four hours of the ABC Kids lineup. The station began carrying the Saturday edition of Good Morning America in the beginning of July 2007 along with its sister stations in Atlanta and Charlotte. While the station now airs the entire three-hour Litton's Weekend Adventure lineup, which complies with federal E/I regulations, it preempted its predecessor block ABC Kids' former fourth hour that featured shows (such as the Power Rangers series, which ABC later dropped nationally on August 28, 2010) that did not comply with E/I standards. In 2004, all Cox-owned ABC affiliates preempted the movie Saving Private Ryan due to the graphic violence and profanity in the film after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stepped up its vigilance following the Janet Jackson / Justin Timberlake Super Bowl incident that year; the FCC declared the film as not indecent after the fact. Since the late 1990s, WFTV has not shown the ABC News Brief that airs during ABC daytime programming in favor of locally sold advertising.

From May to July 2011, ABC Daytime programming was moved over to sister station WRDQ due to WFTV's wall-to-wall coverage of the Casey Anthony trial.[10] This practice has been repeated to accommodate coverage of the George Zimmerman trial as of June 2013.[11]

News operationEdit

WFTV presently broadcasts 42 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with six hours each seven days a week); in addition, the station produces a half-hour sports highlight program called Sports Night on 9, that airs on Sunday evenings after the 11 p.m. newscast. The station operates a Baron Services weather radar called "Early Warning Doppler 9 HD" at its old analog transmitter site north of Bithlo along the Orange and Seminole County line. WFTV plans to upgrade the radar's power to one million watts, that would make it the second most powerful radar in central Florida (WOFL's also operating at one million watts).

For most of the time since the 1980s, WFTV has been the dominant news station in Central Florida. Although NBC affiliate WESH made some temporary advances in the 1990s, WFTV often enjoys ratings higher than the combined rating of the other network affiliates in the Central Florida market. In some airings, it has been the highest rated ABC station in the Southeastern United States. In the May 2009 sweeps period, only WESH's weekday morning news programs even came close to tying WFTV in the ratings race while the prime time programs on CBS affiliate WKMG-TV led overall. In fact, during much of the first half of 2009, WFTV's dominance was not as absolute as it had been in the past decade or so even though it continues to lead in most timeslots. However, in the November 2009 sweeps period, WFTV regained its dominance over the other stations in the market. It has been one of ABC's strongest affiliates over the years.

For the February 2012 sweeps period, WFTV continued to win morning, noon and evening time slots. However, WFTV finished in third place in the 25-to-54 demographic at 11 p.m. despite the return of Bob Opsahl to the anchor desk for the month. WKMG beat WFTV by 5,700 viewers while second-place WESH beat WFTV by 700 viewers.[12]

The main anchor duo on Eyewitness News, Bob Opsahl and Martie Salt, have been together on-air for over 15 years, from 1984 to 1994 and again since 2003. Opsahl has been the primary anchor at WFTV since 1984. Salt was originally an anchor from 1982 to 1994, departing for Tampa, Florida ABC affiliate WFTS-TV from when that station's news department began in 1994 until 2003 (where she anchored the news under her married name, Martie Tucker); she returned to WFTV in 2003. In 1992, WFTV dropped two of the five hours of ABC's Saturday morning cartoons in order to add a local newscast; the station ceased airing the block completely in 1993, when the broadcast expanded to three hours. Alongside its own Eyewitness News shows, WFTV has also been producing a nightly 10 p.m. newscast for sister station WRDQ since 2000. It added a two-hour long weekday morning newscast at 7 a.m. on WRDQ in 2007, and a half-hour 6:30 p.m. newscast on that station in 2010.[13]

On June 29, 2006, channel 9 became the first Florida station, the first station owned by Cox Enterprises and the tenth in the country to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.[14] With the switch to HD, came a new set from FX Group and graphics from Giant Octopus. On June 10, 2013, WFTV launched a new half-hour 4 p.m. newscast to compete against WESH's longer established and hour-long news program, which had been the only newscast at 4 p.m. since WKMG dropped its own 4 p.m. news in May 2009.[15] Around on the same day or afterwards, WFTV dropped the 6:30 p.m. news for WRDQ. [16]

News/station presentationEdit

Newscast titlesEdit

  • Mid Florida News (1958–1960s)
  • Newsline 9 (1970s–1976)
  • Eyewitness (1970s)
  • (Channel 9) Eyewitness News (1976–present)[17]

Station slogansEdit

  • "Powerful 9" (1960s)
  • "Eyewitness News is Everywhere!" (1977–1980)
  • "Central Florida's Leading News Station" (1982–1987)
  • "People You Can Count On" (1987–1991; general slogan)
  • "Central Florida's News Leader" (1988–1999; news slogan)
  • "Coverage You Can Count On" (1999–present)

Current on-air staffEdit

WFTV's primary news anchors are Nancy Alvarez (weekends at 6, 10 (WRDQ) and 11 p.m.), Bianca Castro (weekday mornings from 7-9 a.m. on WRDQ; also reporter), Vanessa Echols (weekday mornings from 5-7 a.m. on WFTV and weekdays at noon), Jorge Estevez (weeknights at 10 p.m. on WRDQ), Jamie Holmes (weekday mornings from 5-7 a.m. on WFTV and weekdays at noon), Mark Joyella (weekend mornings from 5-9 on WFTV and 9-10 a.m. on WRDQ and weekends at noon), Bob Opsahl (weekdays at 4 and weeknights at 5 and 6 p.m.), Martie Salt (weekdays at 4 and weeknights at 6, 10 (WRDQ) and 11 p.m.), George Spencer (weekday mornings from 7-9 a.m. on WRDQ), Greg Warmoth (weeknights at 5:30 and 11 p.m.; also host of Central Florida Spotlight) and Vanessa Welch (weeknights at 5 and 5:30 and p.m.; also reporter).[18]

The Severe Weather Center 9 team includes chief meteorologist Tom Terry (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval; weekdays at 4 and weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6, 10 (WRDQ) and 11 p.m.), and meteorologists Kassandra Crimi (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval; weekday mornings from 7-9 a.m. on WRDQ), Eboni Deon (meteorologist; weekend mornings from 5-9 on WFTV and 9-10 a.m. on WRDQ and weekends at noon), Brian Shields (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and NWA Seals of Approval; weekday mornings from 5-7 a.m. on WFTV and weekdays at noon) and George Waldenberger (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval; weekends at 6, 10 (WRDQ) and 11 p.m.).[18]

The station's sports team (both are seen on Sports Night on 9 Sundays at 11:30 p.m.) includes sports director Joe Kepner (Mondays-Thursdays at 6, 10 (WRDQ) and 11 p.m.) and sports anchor Christian Bruey (Fridays-Sundays at 6, 10 (WRDQ) and 11 p.m.; also sports reporter).[18]

The station's reporting staff includes Racquel Asa (weekday morning traffic reporter), Steve Barrett (weeknight 10 (WRDQ) and 11 p.m. reporter), Kathi Belich (weeknight 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m. reporter), Kenneth Craig (weeknight 10 (WRDQ) and 11 p.m. reporter), Jeff Deal (weeknight 10 (WRDQ) and 11 p.m. reporter), Ryan Hughes (weekday morning and noon reporter), Daralene Jones (weekday morning and noon reporter), Q. McCray (Monday, Tuesday and Friday 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m., and weekend evening reporter), Berndt Petersen (weeknight 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m. reporter), Kevin Smith (weekday morning and noon reporter), Blaine Tolison (Monday and Tuesday 10 (WRDQ) and 11, Friday at 5, 5:30 and 6 and weekend noon and 6 p.m. reporter) and Todd Ulrich (consumer and investigative reporter, Action 9).[18] The Brevard County reporter position (weeknights at 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m.) is currently vacant.

Former on-air staffEdit


  1. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WFTV
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Boedeker, Hal (September 30, 2010). "Investor pulls out of Spanish station, surprises WFTV". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Digital Switchover from WFTV-ORLANDO on 6/12/09
  8. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  9. ^ CDBS Print
  10. ^ "‘The View,’ ABC soaps to air on WRDQ starting today". The Orlando Sentinel. June 8, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  11. ^ Boedeker, Hal (June 21, 2013). "George Zimmerman trial to rearrange daytime lineup". The Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  12. ^ February ratings: WKMG, WOFL win in late news; WFTV tops in other slots, Orlando Sentinel, March 1, 2012.
  13. ^ WFTV to add 6:30 p.m. newscast on WRDQ, Orlando Sentinel, June 17, 2010.
  14. ^ WFTV-Channel 9 out of Orlando goes high-def, Engadget, June 29, 2006.
  15. ^ WFTV to add 4 p.m. news on June 10
  16. ^ WFTV drops 6:30 p.m. news on WRDQ Orlando Sentinel, June 17, 2013.
  17. ^ WFTV Eyewitness News open - 4/26/11
  18. ^ a b c d Eyewitness News Staff
  19. ^ Gustavo Almodovar’s signoff goes viral – four years later, Yahoo! News, November 19, 2012.

External links[edit]Edit

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