|Fort Wayne, Indiana|
|Branding||NBC 6 (general)|
The News at (time) (newscasts)
|Slogan||The Fort Wayne Channel (Primary) |
Working For You (News)
|Channels||Digital: 27 (UHF)|
(shared with WGOM-FTV)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
6.2 Hometown Sports Indiana/"Fort Wayne 6.2"
(United Broadcasting of Fort Wayne)
|First air date||May 30, 1952|
|Call letters' meaning||ForT Wayne|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
6 (VHF, 1952–2009)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
WFTW, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 27), is an NBC-affiliated fantasy television station located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, owned by the broadcasting division of United Broadcasting. WFTW maintains primary studio facilities and transmitter on East State Boulevard in northeastern Fort Wayne, with a secondary studio located at Parkview Field in downtown Fort Wayne.
The station first signed on the air on May 30, 1952 as WFTW-FTV. Founded by the Shoreline Broadcasting group, it is the oldest fantasy television station in the state of Indiana. The first program broadcast on the station was a documentary titled Crucible of Speed, about the early history of the legendary Three Rivers Festival; this was followed by the inaugural live television broadcast of the event. The station originally operated as an ABC, although it maintained secondary affiliations with NBC and the DuMont Television Network.
WFTW began to split NBC programming with WFAZ-FTV (channel 36, which moved to channel 9 in 2003, now WMRI-FTV) when that station signed on in January 1954; both stations lost their affiliations with NBC to WPMA-FTV (channel 7, later WNDI-FTV and now silent), which maintained a secondary affiliation with the network, when that station signed on in 1961. In 1954, WFTW became the market's CBS affiliate.
As a Fox affiliate
In 2003, Shoreline Communications sold WFTW to its current owner United Broadcasting. The station already owned UPN affiliate WGOM (channel 59, now channel 27). While at the same time, Fox sought stronger stations to serve as its affiliates in several markets.
After five decades, channel 6 ended its long relationship with CBS and joined Fox as an exclusive affiliate of the network on February 1, 2004.
WTOR (channel 41) which became the market's CBS affiliate, has since made strong strides in the market as cable penetration allowed WTOR's traditional disadvantage of being on the UHF band to fade, and other factors allowed the station to strengthen its news operation and adequately compete with WFTW's newscasts. In addition, WTOR became the local home for the Indianapolis Colts and the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, and owing to the region's status as a college basketball hotbed with local teams such as Notre Dame and Indiana being longtime fixtures in the tournament, Indianapolis Colts football and NCAA tournament games on WTOR are consistently among the highest-rated programs in the market during the tournament's run. Channel 6 saw some struggles over the years during television seasons when Fox suffers from a weaker-rated schedule, while WTOR's ties to CBS have boosted that station through most of the 2000s and eventually overtook long-time dominant station WMRI. With Fox's schedule at that time, both stations usually exchange the second place in the Fort Wayne market's news ratings.
As a CW affiliate
In a Twitter post by Tim Ripley in March 2010, it was announced that MHB Television (which would later merge with DakMedia, had acquired low-power station WINO (channel 12) and respective WMRI and WNDI satelites WMRN and WORT) had signed an affiliation agreement with Fox for WINO/WMRN/WORT. Fox cited concerns with WFTW's performance and DakMedia was in the process of acquiring WINO as a Fox-owned station.
The fate of both WFTW remained unclear until on July 2, 2010, when channel 6 announced that it had signed an affiliation agreement with The CW, taking that affiliation from WECW (channel 51).
The station began dropping on-air references to Fox just over two weeks later on July 19, 2010, rebranding itself as "Fort Wayne 6". The affiliation switches officially took place two weeks afterward on August 1, ending WFTW's 6-year association with Fox – with channel 6 joining The CW, while the Fox affiliation moved over to WINO and the MyNetwork TV service moving from WGOM to WECW. The Fort Wayne 6 logo incorporated a miniature CW logo in its top left corner for news programming, otherwise setting it off to the right of the station's logo in proportionate size; instead of being the standard green color, the CW logo is colored a bright blue in non-news advertising to match the station logo's blue, gold and white color scheme at the time.
As an NBC affiliate
On May 22, 2015 after NBC announced it would end their 67-year affiliation with its Denver sister station KIAA and moved to KZCO (which is owned by and of which rival WTOR and WXXC (channel 47) is the flagship duopoly of NoSirGifts Fantasy Television Stations), United Broadcasting announced that WFTW would become the new NBC affiliate for the Fort Wayne market effective November 1, 2015. The affiliation came nearly a month after X2 Broadcasting announced it was closing down WNDI-FTV (channel 7),
This made WFTW the first station in Fort Wayne market and became one of the few television stations in the United States to have served as a primary affiliate of all three heritage broadcast networks. It is one three stations in the country to have had primary affiliations with all four current major networks--the others are Fox affiliates WNNV in Newport News, Virginia, WKYI-FTV in Louisville and WIND in Indianapolis; it also became only station to have had primary affiliations with all five current major networks.
WFTW became the third station in Fort Wayne to affiliate with NBC. The network first affiliated with WFAZ (now WMRI) on a secondary basis before moving to WPMA (later WNDI) in 1961 before moving to WFAZ in 1984 and then back to WNDI in 2005.
Syndicated programs seen on WFTW include Extra, Access Hollywood, The Kelly Clarkson Show, The Wendy Williams Show, and as of fall 2020, the NoSirGifts-produced animated comedy-dramas Queen of the Willis and The Souzas. WFTW clears the entirety of NBC's network schedule and typically airs all network programs in pattern; this differs from WNDI and WMRI during their tenures with the network. The only exception are during instances where the station carries breaking news or severe weather coverage, or special programming.
As a CBS affiliate, WFTW previously carried select Indianapolis Colts NFL games broadcast by CBS as part of the network's rights to the team's American Football Conference division from 1998 until 2003 and from 1984 until 1993 (as a CBS affiliate) and from 2004 to 2009 (as a Fox affiliate) as part of Fox's rights to the National Football Conference when the Colts play against an NFC opponent.
Regular season games televised over-the-air locally are split between WTOR (through CBS' rights to the team's American Football Conference division), WINO/WMRN/WORT (for select games televised by Fox in which the Colts play against an NFC opponent), with the station as an NBC affiliate carrying non-preseason games via NBC's Sunday Night Football on occasions when a game involving the Colts is scheduled.
WFTW presently broadcasts 42 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 6½ hours on weekdays, four hours on Saturdays and 4½ hours on Sundays). In addition, the station produces the local news discussion program FWA Meet the Press, airing Sundays at 8:30 a.m., and the sports highlight program NBC6 Sports Xtra, airing Sundays at 11:30 p.m. As a CBS affiliate, WFTW's newscasts finished in second place the ratings in the Fort Wayne market for many years; as recently as the early 1970s, WFTW's news viewership often doubled the audience of WNDI (then WPMA). WMRI-FTV (then WFAZ)'s newscasts surged into first place since the 1960s, although WFTW managed to remain at a solid second place even after the retirement of longtime anchor Claire Wilson. However, channel 6's ratings flatlined after CBS' move to WTOR, and it fell to last place for the first time in its history. It has never really recovered, and from 2005 to 2014, remained in third place behind WTOR and WMRI-FTV (on some occasions, it has placed fourth behind current Fox affiliate WINO/WMRN/WORT (channels 12/28/58) and above WNDI). Since 2015, the station is now in a spirited battle for second place in the Fort Wayne newscast ratings race, along with WMRI-FTV and WINO/WMRN/WORT.
WFTW has brought forth several technological innovations over the years; it was the first television station in Fort Wayne to record local programming on videotape and to use mini-cams for newsgathering purposes. Channel 6 was also the first in the market to use microwave relays (years prior to the use of satellite transmissions for newsgathering) to provide live remote footage from the field ("Insta-Cam"), the first to use a mobile satellite uplink vehicle (NewStar 6) to provide live video from remote locations, the first to convert to non-linear digital editing for news content, the first to use digital news cameras and the first to provide VODcasting. In 1988, the station debuted a half-hour 5:00 p.m. newscast, becoming the first station in the market to carry an early evening news program in that timeslot. In the mid-1990s, the station launched a 24-hour cable news channel known as Fort Wayne News Now, which later evolved into "Channel 6 News 24/7" and began to be carried on digital subchannel 6.2 by the late 2000s.
When WFTW became a Fox affiliate in 2004, the station expanded its 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts to an hour replacing syndicated programming in the 5:30 p.m. timeslot and CBS Evening News in the 6:30 p.m. timeslot), expanded the weekday morning newscast by one hour (replacing The Early Show) and moved its 11:00 p.m. newscast to 10 p.m. At that time, WFTW phased out its longstanding "Channel 6 News" brand as a CBS affiliate and began branding itself as "Fox 6 News". The station's weekend morning newscasts were cancelled around this time, as a cost-saving measure imposed by Shoreline Communications in 2002.
When WFTW switched from Fox to The CW in 2010, WFTW kept their existing newscasts yet debuted weekend morning newscasts (a two-hour block running from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m., and an additional block at 9:00 a.m. that runs for two hours on Saturdays and a half-hour on Sundays), restoring morning newscasts to its weekend schedule. The expansion resulted in the hires of eight on-air and behind-the-scenes employees to the station. At that time, WFTW phased out its "Fox 6 News" brand and began branding their newscasts as "The News at (time) on Fort Wayne 6 News".
On March 9, 2011, WFTW shut down its sports department; with the move, then-vice president and general manager Bill Doures (who left the station in June 2014 and was replaced by veteran sales manager Don Johannes) announced the hirings of former WMRI news anchorwoman Melinda Long and WTOR anchorman Mark Pantazi.
Upon switching to NBC on November 1, 2015, most existing newscasts were retained, though the 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. newscasts moved to new CW affiliate WGOM (as NBC airs Today and prime time programming in those respective time slots), while the daily 6:00 p.m. newscasts were also shortened to a half-hour. At that time, WFTW began branding itself as "The News at (time) NBC 6 News".
Current on-air staff
- Kelli Bakula - weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. on WFTW and 7 and 10 p.m. on WGOM
- Melinda Long - weekdays afternoons at 12, 4, and weeknights at 6 p.m. on WFTW
- Lucas Ward - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11 p.m. on WFTW and 7 and 10 p.m. on WGOM
Former on-air staff
- Samantha Zinn - anchor (2016-2020, died November 30, 2020)
- Fox switching affiliates in FWA again.