|Green Bay, Wisconsin|
|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)|
Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
|Branding||Local 5 (general)|
Local 5 News HD (newscasts)
|Slogan||Your Stories. Our Community.|
5.2: Bounce TV
5.3: True Crime Network
|Owner||Nexstar Media Group |
(Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc.)
First air date
|December 10, 1953|
May 20, 1955
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|Wisconsin's Fox River Valley|
|HAAT||363.9 m (1,194 ft)|
Public license information
WFRV-TV, virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 22), is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Green Bay, Wisconsin, United States. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group. WFRV's studios are located on East Mason Street in Green Bay, and its transmitter is located north of Morrison. On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channel 6 and in high definition on digital channel 1006.
WJMN-TV (channel 3) in Escanaba, Michigan operates as a semi-satellite of WFRV, serving the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Master control and some internal operations originate from WFRV's Green Bay facilities; WJMN does maintain studios, sales offices and engineering operations in Marquette.
The station signed on the air on December 10, 1953 on UHF channel 42 from Neenah as ABC affiliate WNAM-TV, owned by the Neenah-Menasha Broadcasting Company, sister station to the radio station with the same call sign.
Television in northeast Wisconsin changed rapidly through 1954. When WNAM-TV began operations, the market consisted of one VHF station (WBAY-TV, Green Bay, affiliated with all four broadcast networks) and two UHF stations: WOSH-TV, Oshkosh, an independent; and WNAM-TV. Televisions capable of receiving UHF signals were rare in 1954, and consumers did not adopt it quickly due to its added expense and a perception that reception on UHF was inferior to VHF. WOSH-TV folded in late March. WMBV-TV, a new NBC affiliate, began broadcasting on VHF in September 1954. By November, a second VHF station, WFRV-TV, had a transmitter construction site but had not yet acted on the permit. On November 26, 1954, WNAM-TV and WFRV-TV announced that they would merge, end WNAM's UHF broadcasts on channel 42, and devote their joint future to WFRV-TV's VHF permit. On December 31, 1954, the vice-president of WNAM-TV announced that it would be temporarily ceasing broadcast operations as of January 2, 1955. UHF television service would not return to northeast Wisconsin until 1968.
WNAM-TV's pause in broadcasting allowed the newly merged company to lease and move into unused FM studio and broadcast facilities of WJPG-FM in De Pere (the license of which was sold to the Norbertine Fathers and used to launch what is today WIXX), and to set up microwave relays between the WNAM (Neenah) studio and the WFRV (Green Bay) one. The new station and facility went online with 100,000 watts of power on May 20, 1955 as WFRV-TV, an ABC and DuMont affiliate, presenting pre-recorded "programs on film". Its first live broadcast was scheduled for June 1, 1955 at 4:45 PM.
In 1959, it changed its network affiliation to NBC (in 1958, the station was also part of the short-lived Badger Television Network alongside Milwaukee's WISN-TV and Madison's WKOW-TV). WFRV's early claims to fame included being the first television station in Northeastern Wisconsin to broadcast in color in 1958 (doing so after joining NBC), the first station to cover a live lunar eclipse in 1959 (a studio camera was wheeled to the station parking lot and aimed at the moon), and Green Bay's first color local news broadcasts (beginning in 1965).
In the mid-1960s, WFRV was acquired by the Norton Group, a company owned by the Norton family of Kentucky, who also owned Louisville's WAVE (the Norton Group would change its name to Orion Broadcasting by 1969). One of the Norton Group's early decisions was to move WFRV's transmitter, which was still located further south of Green Bay and closer to the Fox Valley (a legacy from its original days in Neenah) and as such put WFRV at a disadvantage to other Green Bay stations. The Nortons would gain permission from the Federal Communications Commission to move channel 5's transmitter to Scray's Hill in the Ledgeview section of Glenmore (located just south of Green Bay), one of the highest geographical points in the area and the longtime home to other Green Bay broadcast transmitters.
On October 7, 1969, WFRV expanded into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by signing on semi-satellite WJMN-TV in Escanaba. WJMN's creation was the result of The Norton Group's earlier agreement with the FCC to move WFRV's tower, as the station had to address short-spacing issues with another station on VHF channel 5, Chicago's WMAQ-TV (every analog channel allocation in the Green Bay and Wausau media markets was shared by a Chicago television station). As part of the agreement to transmit from Glenmore, Orion Broadcasting launched WJMN so that WFRV's service to the U.P. and far Northeastern Wisconsin could continue, and so that a second station in central Upper Michigan could be added (before WJMN, WLUC-TV was the only commercial station serving the U.P.).
Orion Broadcasting would merge with Cosmos Broadcasting (a subsidiary of the Liberty Corporation) in 1981. Two years later, in April 1983, WFRV would affiliate with ABC for the second time (NBC would return to WLUK-TV, channel 11). Later in the 1980s, WFRV was sold to Midwest Radio and Television, owned by the Murphy and McNally families, who also owned the WCCO stations in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. The Murphys and McNallys would announce a sale of Midwest to CBS in the summer of 1991; the sale was completed in early 1992. CBS had been affiliated with WBAY-TV (channel 2) for almost 40 years, and was unwilling to sever ties with one of its strongest and longest-standing affiliates. It put WFRV and WJMN on the market, but was unable to find a buyer. However, in 1992, the FCC relaxed its ownership restrictions, leading CBS to keep WFRV and move its programming there. On March 15 of that year, WFRV became become a CBS owned-and-operated station, with the ABC affiliation moving to WBAY. This swap would make WFRV one of the few stations in the United States to be affiliated with all of the Big Three television networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) during its lifetime. With it, the station became the unofficial home station for the Green Bay Packers (succeeding WBAY in that role); the station would only serve in this role for two seasons, 1992 and 1993, when the majority of games moved to WGBA for one season in 1994 (with Fox's acquisition of the rights to broadcast National Football Conference games), then to WLUK-TV the next year in 1995 (when it became a Fox station; WLUK-TV has served as the Packers' unofficial home station since). Today, the station airs at least two Packers games each season when the team plays an AFC team at Lambeau Field, or, starting in 2014, with the institution of 'cross-flex' rules, games that are moved from WLUK to WFRV (except for Fox's current run of Thursday Night Football).
By 2001, WFRV would change its longtime Orion Broadcasting-era logo, used since the mid-1970s, for an earlier version of its current logo. One year later, in 2002, WFRV would become the first station in the Green Bay market to begin broadcasting a digital signal. By 2003, WFRV would begin identifying itself as "CBS 5", in line with other CBS-owned stations; the station also adopted a green-and-gold logo to reflect its connection to the Green Bay Packers (WFRV would begin airing Packers preseason broadcasts in 2003). The station's current blue-and-yellow logo and graphic scheme was unveiled on July 10, 2006, along with a new news set to coincide with the return to the station of former reporter/anchor Tammy Elliott.
The week of April 16-18, 2007, Liberty Media (a media company unrelated to The Liberty Corporation, and a spin-off of TCI, an American cable-television group) completed an exchange transaction with CBS Corporation pursuant to which Liberty Media exchanged 7.6 million shares of CBS Class B common stock valued at $239 million for a subsidiary of CBS that held WFRV and approximately $170 million in cash. As part of the transaction, Liberty Media acquired WFRV and WJMN, becoming the only over-the-air television properties to be owned by the company. In May 2007, operations of the stations' websites would move from CBS Television Stations Digital Media Group to a redesigned site powered by Inergize Digital Media (then a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, now a division of Nexstar). By summer 2007, WFRV phased out the "CBS 5" branding, slowly transitioning to simply "Channel 5," its branding before 2003.
WFRV-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 5, at midnight (occurring within a commercial break during The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson) on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 39. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 5. As part of the SAFER Act, WFRV kept its analog signal on the air until March 3 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters.
On April 7, 2011, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced it would acquire WFRV and WJMN-TV from Liberty Media. The $20 million deal was approved by the FCC on June 28, 2011 and closed three days later on July 1, when Nexstar tapped Joseph Denk to become vice president and general manager of both stations; Denk replaced Perry Kidder, who announced his retirement shortly after the sale was announced (Kidder had spent 37 years with WFRV and WJMN). The website URL and operations of WFRV and WJMN also changed to Nexstar's in-house format (they had been maintained by Broadcast Interactive Media since April 2010); in the case of WFRV, the station's main web address changed from "wfrv.com" to "wearegreenbay.com" (the former has been retained to discourage cybersquatting).
On January 23, 2012, WFRV was rebranded as Local 5, a branding style which originated with Post-Newsweek Stations (now Graham Media Group) and which has since been adapted by several of Nexstar's operations. WJMN continued to be branded as Channel 3 until it launched its in-house news operation in April 2014, as most stories in WFRV's newscasts were not local to Upper Michigan.
On January 27, 2016, Media General announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Nexstar. Because Media General owns WBAY, the new company was required to sell that station or WFRV to another owner. On June 3, 2016, it was announced that Nexstar would keep WFRV and its Quad Cities sister station WHBF-TV and sell Media General stations WBAY and its Quad Cities sister station KWQC-TV to Gray Television for $270 million.
The station launched their second subchannel on September 1, 2016 with Bounce TV as part of a group deal made between Bounce TV's parent company and Nexstar (Bounce was the only Katz network available to WFRV in Green Bay, as Scripps' WGBA-TV and WACY-TV carry Katz's other three networks as subchannels under a previous agreement, which will likely be maintained as Scripps purchased Katz at the start of October 2017).
On September 19, 2019, Nexstar closed their merger with Tribune Broadcasting, giving WFRV its first co-owned Milwaukee sister station in Fox affiliate WITI (channel 6), which already carries Locker Room from WFRV, though the pair-up was short-lived with Fox Television Stations re-acquiring WITI as part of Nexstar and Fox exchanging several stations in a number of NFC markets at the start of March 2020.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|5.1||1080i||16:9||WFRV-HD||Main WFRV-TV programming / CBS|
|5.3||TCN||True Crime Network|
As of September 2020, WFRV-TV is one of the few American TV stations which does not carry any current-day syndicated programming on weekdays, with their entire schedule, outside a mid-afternoon hour block of Friends, being made up of local news or network content, and two late night paid programming slots leading in and out of a replay of the station's 10 p.m. newscast. It has two other syndicated series on weekends; NCIS airs in late night on Saturday evenings, while Hearst Television's Matter of Fact with Soledad O'Brien is at the start of the broadcast day Sunday mornings, along with other various barter sports interview programs in overnight timeslots. At times when a late-night weekend time slot cannot be filled, an automated loop of current conditions and the upcoming forecast from the station's weather computer is used to fill that time.
From 2003 to 2011, WFRV carried Green Bay Packers pre-season games and related official team programming, with the station branding as "Your Official Packers Station." Packer-related programming on WFRV has included Larry McCarren's Locker Room, a Monday night program which featured WFRV sports director and former Packer lineman Larry McCarren analyzing the previous day's Packer game and interviewing with the team's players and staff. In March 2012, the Packers entered into an agreement with Journal Broadcast Group to air Packers pre-season games and official programming on Journal-owned WGBA-TV (channel 26), making it the "official Packers station" in Green Bay;
WFRV-TV presently broadcasts 35½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, one hour on Saturdays and a half-hour on Sundays). In addition to its main studios on East Mason Street in Green Bay, WFRV also operates a Fox Valley bureau in Little Chute, located on Patriot Drive near US 41 freeway. The Valley bureau also has a second Doppler weather radar tower to provide extended radar coverage for the station's weather operation.
On June 23, 2011, after a six-month upgrade process, WFRV became the first station in the Green Bay market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition; the changeover to HD included an upgrade in the "Storm Team 5" weather technology, including real-time street-level radar. In January 2012, the station launched a new graphics package that is designed solely for 16:9 presentation in mind, cutting off portions of text in 4:3 presentation.
Beginning in September 2012, WFRV would greatly expand the number of hours of news content, including the addition of an hour-long afternoon newscast at 4 p.m. and the expansion of its 6 p.m. newscast from 30 minutes to one hour; the 6 p.m. newscast is reduced to 30 minutes during the NFL season on nights when WFRV airs Packers-related programming.
On December 31, 2012, the station's morning newscast Local 5 First News was retitled to Local 5 This Morning, with a new anchor team and a set used specifically for the morning program. The new version of the program takes cues from CBS This Morning, including a local-specific "Eye Opener" segment at the start of each half-hour.
On September 2, 2013, WFRV launched an hour-long local mid-morning program Local 5 Live!, which is a mix of advertorial and news content. Live! with Kelly and Michael, which had aired on the station in the 9 a.m. timeslot dating back to the late 1980s while still an ABC affiliate, moved to WLUK in the same timeslot.
For most of its history, WFRV-TV's newscasts have been competitive with longtime leader WBAY-TV and runner-up WLUK-TV in most time slots although WFRV's newscasts have usually been in third place. However, since Nexstar purchased the station in mid-2011, the station has seen heavy turnover, with many veteran staff members, including Tammy Elliott, Dana Tyler, Olga Halaburda, Ryan Popkey and Larry McCarren departing the station for other opportunities. Anchors, especially on the weekends, are working longer shifts, and even doing both the morning and evening newscasts. As mentioned above, Nexstar has dropped most syndicated programming from the station on weekdays outside the 3 p.m. hour; outside of Oprah and Live!, the station has struggled since the late 1990s, often picking up short-lived talk and game shows which provided no long-terms ratings traction, and lost Wheel of Fortune (which aired leading into prime time) and Jeopardy! (aired at 3:30 p.m.) to WLUK-TV in 2005, despite having been distributed by a sister division when WFRV-TV was under CBS ownership.