WCCB traces its roots to WAYS-TV, a primary ABC and secondary NBC affiliate, which signed on the air on January 5, 1954. Broadcasting on UHF channel 36, it was North Carolina's second UHF station (after WNAO-TV in Raleigh), as well as the second television station in the Charlotte market. It was owned by George Dowdy and his company, Inter-City Advertising, owners of WAYS radio (610 AM, now WFNZ); Intercity had filed for channel 11 prior to the 1948 TV freeze, amended its application to specify channel 9 in 1952, then sought channel 36 instead to avoid a comparative hearing.
In June 1964, businessman Cy Bahakel—who moved from Roanoke, Virginia, to Charlotte—bought the dormant channel 36 license and facilities from Century for $175,000. An addition would be made to the studio building as part of Bahakel's efforts to return the station to the air. He returned the station to air on November 1 of that year as WCCB-TV (for "Charlotte Cy Bahakel"). Charlotte had only two network-affiliated stations and no full-time ABC affiliate.
On November 1, 1966, WCCB moved from channel 36 to channel 18, broadcasting from a new tower located on Newell Hickory Grove Road in northeast Charlotte. The new channel 18 facility was capable of 1.35 million watts of power, giving WCCB a coverage area comparable to those of WBTV and WSOC-TV. In 1967, WSOC-TV dropped all ABC programming and became a full-time NBC affiliate; WCCB-TV then exclusively aligned with ABC. The state's largest market got a full-fledged ABC affiliate after the state's two smallest markets, Greenville/New Bern/Washington and Wilmington, received ABC affiliates of their own (WCTI-TV and WWAY respectively). However, despite the stronger signal and the first consistent airing of all network programs in Charlotte TV history, WCCB-TV remained a distant third in the ratings.
In 1977, ABC announced that it had lured away WSOC-TV, then an NBC affiliate, to be its new outlet in the Charlotte market beginning July 1, 1978, replacing WCCB-TV. That decision set off a two-station showdown between WCCB and WRET-TV channel 36 for the NBC affiliation in Charlotte. WCCB, which had a news department (unlike WRET-TV), was seen as the favorite; sources at NBC were said to see channel 36 as their last option, behind WCCB, with its stronger signal, and WBTV, which the network was trying to woo from CBS to no avail.
In 1986, WCCB became the last station in a top-50 market to join Fox as one of the upstart network's charter affiliates, since it was doing so well in the ratings as an independent. WCCB affiliated with the network when it launched on October 9 of that year.
Notes Stations are arranged alphabetically by state and territory, and based on the station's city of license or Designated Market Area. +Station carries CW programming on a digital subchannel, via The CW Plus. +1Local CW Plus affiliate operates as cable-only channel.
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