WMRI-FTV

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WMRI-FTV
WMRI-WGA Logo.png
Fort Wayne, Indiana
United States
City of license Huntington, Indiana
Branding 9abc (general)
NewsCenter 9 (newscasts)
Slogan Fort Wayne's Own (general)
Fort Wayne's News Leader (primary)
Northeast Indiana's leading news program (secondary)
Channels Digital: 31 (UHF)
Virtual: 9 (PSIP)
Subchannels 9.1 ABC
9.2 local weather
9.3 weather radar
Affiliations ABC (1954-1984 and 2005-present; O&O 2016-present)
Owner ABC Fantasy Television Stations
(Indiana Media, LLC)
First air date January 4, 1954; 68 years ago (1954-01-04)
Call letters' meaning MaRion, Indiana
Sister station(s) WECW
Former callsigns WFAZ-FTV (1954-2004)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
36 (UHF, 1954-2003)
9 (VHF, 2003–2009)
Former affiliations Primary:
NBC (1984–2005)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 600 m (main signal)
Website WMRIFTV.com

WMRI-FTV, virtual channel 9 (UHF digital channel 31), is an ABC owned-and-operated fantasy television station located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States. The station previously was the flagship station of ATE Media Corporation from October 1982 until October 2016, as part of a duopoly with Univision affiliate WECW-FTV (channel 51). The two stations share studio faclilties located on East 38th Street in Marion, Indiana on the far east side of Marion near Gas City; WMRI-FTV, along with independent station WXXC, maintain transmitter facilities located on Garthwaite Road in Gas City.


History[edit]

The station first signed on the air at 6:00 p.m. on January 4, 1954 as WFAZ-FTV channel 36. Founded by Cole McClinton, owner of Indiana Media and owners of WHOO-FTV in Indianapolis (which would sign on on March 15, 1954). It was the second fantasy television station to sign on in the Fort Wayne market, after WFTW-FTV (channel 6), which signed on in May 1952. WFAZ-FTV originally operated as a primary ABC affiliate with a secondary affiliation with the DuMont Television Network. The station also carried several NBC programs until WPMA-FTV (channel 7, later WNDI and now occupied by Fox O&O WINO-FLP) signed on in 1961. WFAZ-FTV originally transmitted its signal from a tower it shared with WMRI radio; the following year, the station constructed a 1,000 foot transmitter tower, which allowed the station to improve its signal coverage in the market.

Indiana Media became the Corithian Broadcasting Corporation in 1957, Corithian sold its entire broadcasting unit to the ATE Media Corporation in October 1982 with WFAZ-FTV serving as the company's flagship station. In 1984, Patrice Rafferty persuaded NBC to move its programming to channel 36, taking that affiliation from WPMA. Conversely that same year, WFAZ-FTV lost the ABC affiliation to WPMA.

Switch to NBC[edit]

By the mid 1980s, NBC was searching for stronger affiliates in order to cement its status as the leading network in the country. Its existing affiliate, WPMA, was a distant third in the ratings, and did not have a news department until 1979. NBC's Indianapolis affiliate, WEVI (now a CW affiliate), and its South Bend affiliate, WSBI-FTV (now a Fox affiliate), were both preempting certain of the network's daytime programs, late night shows, and some of its Saturday morning cartoons. Because of these preemptions, NBC also wanted a station in Fort Wayne with a stronger over-the-air signal, able to reach Indianapolis and South Bend. In late 1983, NBC approached WFAZ, which provided at least grade B coverage from central Indiana all the way to South Bend and reached a deal. Almost by default, ABC was then left with WPMA.

On July 1, 1984, WFAZ and WPMA swapped affiliations. Under the deal, WFAZ was exempt from running NBC's soap operas after 2 p.m., since WEVI easily covered Fort Wayne. But WFAZ cleared the entire NBC schedule.

As NBC affiliate[edit]

By 1996, WMRI would begin its talk block at 2 p.m. during the week as first run talk shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show (at 4 p.m.), The Montel Williams Show (at 3 p.m.), and The Jerry Springer Show (at 2 p.m.). In the mornings, however, WFAZ would air the network's daytime schedule out of pattern with Days of Our Lives airing at 11:00 a.m. (instead of the recommended 1 p.m. time slot) and Another World (and later Passions) airing at 10:00 a.m. (instead of the recommended 2 p.m. time slot) Wheel of Fortune, Scrabble, and Trivia Trap took the 12:30 to 2 p.m. slot.

In 1998, WMRI-FTV began handling the master control operations of WHOO-FTV and fellow sister stations WSBL (now WTXI) in South Bend and WAWZ-FTV in Chicago.

In 1999, Comcast (Fort Wayne's largest cable system) dropped the Indianapolis network affiliates to make room for new cable channels. As a result, NBC afternoon soap viewers could no longer see Days of Our Lives or Passions (which had replaced Another World), while over-the-air viewers could still pick them up on WIND-FTV (which had become Indianapolis' NBC affiliate in 1999 before moving to WHOO in 2004, and has since moved to the network-owned WNBI).

In October 2003, the station moved from channel 36 (frequency occupied by now Fox owned WIND-FTV in Indianapolis) to channel 9 to alleviate interference with WKGR-FTV in Grand Rapids. The station celebrated its fiftieth anniversary on January 4, 2004 and changed its call letters to the current WMRI-FTV. The WFAZ calls would be used by its eventual Terre Haute sister station.

Return to ABC[edit]

On January 3, 2005, in a reversal of the 1984 switch, WMRI became an ABC affiliate for the second time to take advantage of the network's stronger programming. In another reversal, NBC was left with WNDI (which had changed its call letters from WPMA in 2003) by default. Ironically, within weeks after the affiliation shift, ABC's ratings overtook those of NBC with WMRI became the sixth strongest ABC affiliate in the United States, ranking up with KSTX-FTV in San Antonio, Texas, WKNX in Knoxville, Tennessee, WMMR-FTV in Madison, Wisconsin, and sister station WEAE Pittsburgh. By 2014, NBC has since regained the lead over ABC nationally and the NBC affiliation has since moved to WFTW.

A month after rejoining ABC on February 10, 2005, Birky Communications sold WB affiliate WBIO-FTV (channel 51, later a CW and MyNetworkTV affiliate, now Univision affiliate WECW) as well as its Indianapolis sister station WIWB (now WICW) to ATE Media for $85 million, creating a duopoly with WMRI-FTV when the sale was finalized that spring.


Sale to ABC Fantasy Television Stations[edit]

On June 3, 2016, the estate of Patrice Rafferty signed an agreement to be acquired by ABC Fantasy Television Stations. The deal will result in WMRI becoming an ABC owned-and-operated station and WECW an Univision affiliate.[1] The sale closed on September 2, 2016. With the completion of the deal, WMRI became the second network station in Fort Wayne to become an owned-and-operated station of its associated network after WINO/WMRN/WORT (formerly channels 12/38/58, now channel 7) and also marked WMRI's third ownership change. The sale to ABC ended 62 years of being locally owned by Corithian Broadcasting from 1954 until 1982 and ATE Media from 1982 to 2016. As a result, rival CBS affiliate WTOR (channel 41) through its ownership of NoSirGifts Fantasy Television Division became the only locally owned-and-operated station in Fort Wayne.

Ownership of WMRI became evident as a ABC Fantasy Television Stations unveiled a new logo for WMRI and Atlanta sister station WGA-FTV on August 6, 2018.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[2]
9.1 720p 16:9 WMRI-HD Main WMRI-FTV programming / ABC
9.2 480i 4:3 Skytrak LWS SkyTrak Weather Network
9.3 Radar Doppler 9 Skytrak VIPIR HD

WMRI-FTV operates a 24-hour local weather service on its second digital subchannel, branded as LWS (or "Local Weather Station"); the service expanded to include all ATE Media stations nationwide. Channel 9 carries a half-hour simulcast of the LWS service on its primary channel on Friday nights/early Saturday mornings. The station also carries a 24-hour feed of its Doppler radar system, "Doppler 9 Skytrak VIPIR HD," on its third digital subchannel.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WMRI signed on its digital signal on UHF channel 31 on December 17, 1998. The station shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 31. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 9.

Programming[edit]

Syndicated programs broadcast by WMRI include Entertainment Tonight (since its debut in 1981), Inside Edition (since its debut in 1989), The Insider (since 2007). The former two shows have aired on WMRI since their debuts and is one two ABC-owned stations that have aired them since their debuts–the other is Pittsburgh sister station WEAE.

For years, the station produced a syndicated soap operas, Fred and Claire Explains It (FCEIA) from 1961 until its 2004 cancellation, that aired at 9:00 a.m. The station also produced three syndicated game shows mostly airing on ATE Media stations: the daytime version of Wheel of Fortune from 1992 until 2004 (hosted by Ava Zinn and Holly Everman), revivals of Scrabble (hosted by Season Atkins) from 1993 until 2004 and Trivia Trap (hosted by Marshall Davidson, and later Laura Bakula) from 1990 until 2004.

From 1994 until 2007, WMRI had carried Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, acquiring the local rights to Wheel of Fortune from then CBS affiliate WFTW and Jeopardy! from then ABC affiliate WNDI; both game shows moved to Independent station WXXC in 2007 where both game shows have aired in the 7:00 p.m. slot until moving to WTOR in 2016.

When WMRI rejoined ABC in 2005, the station aired the network's daytime schedule out of pattern as the station, like most other ATE Media-owned ABC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, aired General Hospital at 10:00 a.m. instead of the network's recommended 3:00 p.m. time slot until 2012 when the network returned the 3:00 p.m. slot back to its affiliates.

WMRI clears the majority of the ABC network schedule, with exception of America This Morning, the weekend editions of Good Morning America, the weekend editions of the ABC World News Tonight, which instead air on WECW. As time permits, WECW may also take on the responsibility of airing other ABC programs that channel 9 is unable to air due to extended breaking news or severe weather coverage, or special programming; such an example has occurred frequently after the Indianapolis Colts play on Monday Night Football when WECW aired Dancing with the Stars while WMRI airs any MNF Indianapolis Colts games.

With WMRI now an ABC O&O, it remains to be seen that the station will clear the ABC schedule for the first time.


ATE Media Network (now ABC Indiana)[edit]

In October 1989, WMRI and its sister stations, then-CBS affiliates WHOO Indianapolis, WTHL Terre Haute, and WCIN Cincinnati, then Chicago independent station WAWZ, then South Bend Fox affiliate WSBL (now WTXI), then NBC affiliates WLOK Louisville and WOWO Dayton, and then ABC affiliate WEAI Evansville, created a statewide network called "ATE Media Network," ATE Media stations at the time in the five Indiana markets along with the four other non-Indiana markets (two in Eastern Indiana, Northwest Indiana, and Kentuckiana areas) to share resources. A tenth Indiana station, then NBC affiliate WLFY Lafayette would join the ATE Media Indiana network after being acquired from Mirimar Broadcasting (all except WTHL are now ABC affiliates) in 1995. One such program that aired on the ATE Media Indiana Network from October 1989 until November 2005, was ATE Media's rights to the Hoosier Lottery's daily drawings and its companion game show, Hoosier Millionaire that aired Saturday nights. In 2005, ATE Media acquired then-CBS affiliate WFAZ (channel 5, now an ABC affiliate).

Since a majority of the viewing area includes northern Indiana, WMRI is part of the ABC Indiana Network (formerly the ATE Media Indiana Network), a system designed to rapidly share information among former owner ATE Media's widespread group of television stations and websites in Indiana. A regional network has developed among Indianapolis' ABC 24 Eyewitness News (WHOO), Lafayette's News 19 (WLFY) (though WLFY is a semi-satellite of WHOO), South Bend's ABC 2 Eyewitness News (WTXI), Evansville's ABC 21 News (WEAI), Terre Haute's ABC 5 News (WFAZ), New Albany/Louisville, KY's ABC 13 News (WLOK), Cincinnati's ABC 15 News (WCIN), Gary/Chicago's ABC 39 News (WAWZ), and Dayton's ABC 33 News (WOWO) in which stations share information, equipment such as satellite trucks or even reporters' stories. Between them, these ten stations cover the entire of the state of Indiana. The ten stations also comprise the ABC Indiana Network and the ABC Indiana Weather Blog, where meteorologists from all ten stations post forecasts and storm reports, as well as live feeds from all of the cameras that the ten stations operate. The site also has live feeds of ABC 24 VIPIR (WHOO/WLFY), Live Skytrak Doppler 9 (WMRI), Live Doppler 39 StormVision (WAWZ), Doppler 33 StormVision (WOWO), Live Doppler 13 (WLOK), Live Doppler 15 (WCIN) and Pinpoint Doppler 21 (WEAI).


Sports programming[edit]

Indianapolis Colts[edit]

When WMRI became an NBC affiliate in 1984, the station gained a major ratings windfall as the Indianapolis Colts arrived from Baltimore in 1984. As an NBC affiliate, WMRI (through NBC's American Football Conference rights) aired the team's regular season games until 1997 with then-CBS affiliate WFTW from 1984 until 1993 (for select games televised by CBS in which the Colts play against an NFC opponent), with then-ABC affiliate WNDI--until 2004--carrying non-preseason games via ABC's Monday Night Football on occasions when a game involving the Colts was scheduled. After WMRI rejoined ABC in 2005, the station carried non-preseason games via Monday Night Football on occasions when a game involving the Colts was scheduled in 2005.

Since 2006, regular Indianapolis Colts season games currently televised over-the-air locally are split between WFTW from 1998 and since 2004 WTOR (channel 41, through CBS' rights to the team's AFC division), WTOR from 1994 until 2003, WFTW from 2004 until 2009, and since 2010 WINO/WMRN/WORT (channels 12/38/58, for select games televised by Fox in which the Colts play host to an NFC opponent at Lucas Oil Stadium (previously RCA Dome)), with WNDI from 2006 until 2015 and since then WFTW carrying non-preseason games and select Indianapolis Colts NFL games broadcast by NBC as part of the network's Sunday Night Football package. As an ABC O&O, WMRI serves as Fort Wayne's over-the-air broadcaster of Monday Night Football games involving the Indianapolis Colts, airing simulcasts of the team's ESPN-televised games (WMRI's corporate parent, the The Walt Disney Company, holds 80% majority ownership stake in ESPN, and the ABC Fantasy Television Stations have right of first refusal for simulcasts of ESPN's NFL telecasts within a team's home market).

Under ATE Media ownership, the station also acquired the local rights to two Colts regular season games during the 2013 season between the San Diego Chargers (on October 14, which aired on ESPN's Monday Night Football – whose Colts broadcasts were normally carried over-the-air by WXXC (channel 47)) and the Tennessee Titans (on November 14, which aired on NFL Network's Thursday Night Football).[3]

Because of this, atypical for a network-owned station outside of breaking news and severe weather coverage necessitating such situations, the station has had to reschedule ABC network programs pre-empted by the telecasts or move them to WECW. The preseason and MNF telecasts mark the only NFL games to have aired on WMRI since rejoining ABC in 2005 as ABC lost the rights to NFL games in 2006 onwards (as previously mentioned WMRI formerly aired Colts games the arrival of the Colts in 1984 until 1997 as an NBC affiliate for select games televised by NBC) on occasions when a game involving the Colts was scheduled.


Indianapolis 500[edit]

As ABC carries the Indianapolis 500, the ABC Indiana Network, including WMRI, airs the race in primetime on a tape delay rather than airing it live during the daytime, with that day's primetime schedule transmitted by ABC under a special dispensation early to the ATE Media Network to air in the afternoon during the race. This dates back to when WIND (now a Fox O&O) and WEVI (now a CW affiliate) were the ABC affiliate in Indianapolis when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway requires this arrangement to encourage residents and tourists in the Indianapolis metropolitan area to attend the race.


From 2005 until 2012, some fringe parts of the market were able to watch the race via affiliates outside the Indianapolis market, including WMRI. Starting with the 2013 race, WMRI joined WHOO and eight other stations to air the race in prime time. This did not sit well with race fans as they were angry that they could no longer were able watch the race live after nearly 30 years, especially with fans that were used to watching the race on WMRI. ATE Media President and CEO Patrice Rafferty imposed the restriction as a condition of WHOO's ABC affiliation contract. On May 25, 2016 with the event sold out, IMS and sister station WHOO announced that it would air the Indianapolis 500 live in the Indianapolis market for the first time as an ABC affiliate.[4][5]


News operation[edit]

WMRI-FTV presently airs 52½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 8½ hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends). In addition, the station produces 24½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week for WECW (with 4½ hours on weekdays and one hour on weekends), totaling 77 hours combined. WMRI cooperates with its Indianapolis sister station, WHOO-FTV, in the production and broadcast of statewide Indiana political debates. Whenever the two stations broadcast a statewide office debate, such as those involving gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races, WMRI and WHOO will pool resources and have anchors or reporters from both stations participate in the debate. Additionally, the two stations cooperate in the gathering of news in Grant, Blckford, Jay, Wabash, and Huntington counties in Indiana where their markets overlap, sharing reporters, live trucks, and helicopters.

The station is famous for pioneering the "NewsCenter" format for non-NBC affiliate, which was used by many NBC stations throughout the United States. When WFAZ-FTV premiered it on March 4, 1968, the format allowed the news program to feature stories than WPMA-FTV's Channel 7 News and WFTW's FTV6 News. Within a few months, the station dominated first place in all time slots, one of the few cases as most ABC affiliates at the time were in third place since ABC was not on par with CBS and NBC until the early 1970s.

Soon after WMRI signed on, the station hired Elaine Carson, who had just graduated from the University of Colorado, as its first anchor and news director. Carson would serve as the face of WMRI before leaving in 1969 for KIAA in Denver, Colorado where she became a legendary anchor. At the same time, the station also hired Sam Shingleton and Bernie Pantazi. One of the nation's first ever television news meteorologists, Shingleton reported weather for the station for more than five decades. Pantazi, who went on to run the station's award-winning sports department for more than three decades, is the only remaining original employee still working at the station, and is currently in his 64th consecutive year at WMRI. On February 6, 2013, Weaver was presented with the prestigious Golden Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, honoring Weaver for his more than 50 years of service to the Northeast Indiana television community. While many of Northeast Indiana's veteran television personalities have received the Silver Circle Award for marking 25 years in the business, the Golden Circle Award has been given only once before in Northeast Indiana, in 2009 when it went to Sam Shingleton, also a lifelong WMRI employee.


For many years, WMRI's dominance fostered an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality, the station's newscasts were the highest-rated in the Fort Wayne market from the station's 1954 launch until WTOR overtook it for the #1 position in 2014. The station's ratings success was largely attributed to the longevity of most of its news staff, some of whom have been at the station for over 20 years. Marshall Davidson was the station's main weeknight news anchor as well as the de facto face of its newsroom for more than 35 years (the longest tenure of anyone in Fort Wayne fantasy television history); he joined WMRI as a reporter in 1968 and was promoted to lead anchor in 1969, where he remained until his death in July of 2002. Patricia Edwards joined Davidson as co-anchor on the weeknight newscasts in 1983 and remained with the station until she retired on November 26, 2013. Sam Shingleton served as the station's main weather forecaster from the station's 1954 launch until 1981 as he moved to the morning and noon newscast until retiring in 2006, while Sabrina Everman served as anchor of the morning and noon newscast and entertainment reporter from 1982 to 2004. Lando Kelso, who left the station in 2014, was one of the longest-tenured news directors in local broadcasting. Laura Bakula served as weekend evening anchor from 1979 until 2002 when she replaced Marshall Davidson on the station's main weeknight newscasts until her death from ovarian cancer in 2006. Melinda Long served as anchor of the noon newscast from 1984 until 2003 and the 4:00 p.m. newscast from 2003 until 2011.

On October 6, 2003, WMRI debuted an hour-long 4 p.m. newscast, bumping The Oprah Winfrey Show to 3:00 p.m. where it remained for eight years until the show ended its 25-year syndication run on May 25, 2011; this edition broadcasts from a smaller news desk located next to the main anchor desk that only houses the anchors of that newscast and allows the team to utilize the Big Board more frequently. The station also introduced "Mobile 9," a news vehicle used for reports during the station's early evening newscasts. In the spring of 2012, the station expanded its weeknight 11 p.m. newscasts to one hour, pushing the ABC Late Night by a half hour.

Beginning in the 2010s, WMRI, along with other ATE Media stations, began to implement a new mandate for their newscasts. The station's newscasts rebranded from "ABC 9 News" to "NewsCenter 9" in 2011 (returning the NewsCenter format after eight years as NewsCenter 36). In 2011, the station hired Frank Davidson, son of Marshall Davidson, to anchor the main weeknight newscasts, making history as the second of the second-generation news personalities at WMRI (after Garfield Everman and Holly Everman, respectively the son and daughter of morning anchor Sabrina Everman, in 1997). Traci Davidson, the sister of Frank Davidson and daughter of Marshall Davidson, joined Frank in 2014. Frank Davidson left WMRI in May 2015 for WTOR.

For a time during the 1990s, WMRI-FTV advertised that "more people in Northeast Indiana get their local news from NewsCenter 36 than from any other source" at the close of many of its newscasts and in promos for its newscasts. The station's local newscasts are currently at a distant second place behind WTOR in most timeslots, except during the 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. period on weeknights, when both stations maintain a much tighter viewership margin. However, due to the strength of ABC's daytime lineup (as well as the fact its midday news served the lead-in for All My Children featuring Fort Wayne native Julia Barr from the show's premiere in 1970 until switching to NBC in 1984 and from 2005 until the cancellation in 2011) and in the interim while it was an NBC affiliate with the strength of NBC's daytime lineup (as well as the fact its noon news served the lead-in or leadout, depending on the time of year for Days of our Lives also featuring Fort Wayne native Drake Hogestyn from 1984 until WMRI rejoined ABC in 2005, WMRI has dominated in the 12:00 p.m. slot. The station's "I-Team 9" investigative reports have earned the station numerous journalism awards, including Regional Emmy, Peabody and Edward R. Murrow Awards (the station was awarded the latter in 1998 and 2006). In 1994 and 2008, the Indiana Associated Press Broadcast Association honored WMRI-TV with the "Outstanding News Operation" and "Outstanding Weather Operation" designations.

In 1990, WMRI-FTV implemented the "24-Hour News Source" concept that was originally developed that year by sister station WCOH-FTV in Cleveland; the format, which began spreading to other television stations nationwide around that timeframe, involves the production of 30-second news updates that air at or near the top of every hour during local commercial break inserts – even during primetime network and overnight programming – in addition to the station's long-form newscasts in regularly scheduled timeslots. The station continues to utilize the format to this day, even as stations elsewhere had discontinued the hourly update format by the early 2000s. As of June 2014, WMRI-FTV, Chicago and Cincinnati sister stations WAWZ and WCIN (which respectively brands their newscasts as 24-Hour News 39 and 24-Hour News 15), and Cleveland sister station WCOH are the only remaining U.S. fantasy television stations that still utilize the "24-Hour News Source" concept in some form.

Since 1991, the news themes that WMRI-FTV had commissioned have incorporated components (including the eight-note musical signature) from the song Back Home Again in Indiana; these include two custom packages by Stephen Arnold Music – "Newsleader" (used from 1991 to 1997) and the "WISH-TV News Music Package," a customized version of Arnold's "Counterpoint" package (used from 1997 to 2004) – an alteration of the V.3 package from 615 Music's "In-Sink" (used from 2004 to 2013).[6] A new custom package by Gari Communications – "ATE Media Indiana News Package," a customized version of Gari's "Eyewitness News" package also used on ATE Media's nine other stations in the ATE Media Indiana Network (WHOO Indianapolis, WLFY Lafyette, WTXI South Bend, WEAI Evansville, WFAZ Terre Haute, and four non-Indiana stations--WCIN Cincinnati, WOWO Dayton, WAWZ Chicago, and WLOK Louisville) introduced in September 2013 (all of them are ABC affiliates), is the first theme used by the station since returning to ABC combine both compositional ties to "Back Home Again in Indiana" and its network affiliation.

Since the ATE Media Indiana Network was launched in 1989, WMRI and the nine other Indiana sister stations have shared certain news resources (notably WHOO Indinaapolis, WTXI South Bend, WLFY Lafayette, WOWO Dayton); some reports filed by those personnel are occasionally used during WMRI's news broadcasts.

For over 40 years starting in the early 1970s, Paul Anthony announced the familiar open: "NewsCenter 36, Northeast Indiana's leading news program," as well as rejoins and closings. Even through staff and branding announcing changes for the station in general, Anthony remained the constant voice of NewsCenter 36 (1968-2003), NBC 36 News (2003), NBC 9 Eyewitness News (2003-2004), ABC 9 Eyewitness News (2005-2007), ABC 9 News (2007-2010), and NewsCenter 9 (2010-), His voice started to show signs of decaying in the mid-2000s, reaching a point to where Anthony's newly recorded opens in late January 2011 were pulled in less than a week. In February 2011, Anthony was replaced with veteran announcer Bill Rantner, who had become WMRI's station announcer in 2006.

On February 28, 2005, shortly after ATE Media announced its purchase of channel 51, WMRI took over production of WECW's 10:00 p.m. newscast from WNDI, which had produced the program from its inception on March 16, 1996; this partnership expanded to include a two hour-long extension of WMRI's weekday morning newscast at 7:00 a.m., which debuted in 2007 as well as an hour-long newscast at 11:00 a.m. and half-hour newscast at 7:00 p.m. WECW's 10 p.m. newscast, NewsCenter 9 at 10pm on Star 51, respectively utilizes most of the same anchors as WMRI's weekday 5:30 p.m. and weekend evening newscasts, with a noticeable difference. Frank Davidson did not appear on the weeknight broadcasts. On September 15, 2014 the 10:00 p.m. newscast was expanded to a full hour-long broadcast, making WECW the fourth station in the Fort Wayne market (along with competitors WFTW's The News at 10:00 on Fort Wayne 6 (that newscast has since moved to WGOM after switching to NBC and now known as The News at 10:00), WINO/WMRN/WORT's Fox 38/58 News at 10:00, and WXXC's INNCD 47 Action News at 10:00 PM--the latter operated by sister station WTOR) to carry an hour-long newscast at 10PM. Only competitor WNDI-FDT2 carries a 1/2 hour long newscast, 7 News at 10 and has since been cancelled after WNDI went dark in 2015. Shortly after WECW became a MeTV O&O, WMRI added an hour-long 9:00 p.m. newscast titled NewsCenter 9 at 9pm on Star 51. The newscast competes with the WTOR-produced INNCD 47 Action News at 9:00 PM.

On January 5, 2015, sister station WHOO debuted a half-hour weekday noon newscast titled Indiana News Tonight with Karly Ryder (similar to ABC's World News Tonight); the statewide newscast features news stories filed by reporters from all ten ATE Media-owned ABC stations serving Indiana as well as a sports segment produced by WLFY and WHOO, focusing on Indiana University and Purdue University athletics, called Hoosier Nation. The ATE Media Indiana Network stations simulcast the program at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (3:30 p.m. Central) and utilize their own on-air weather staff to provide local weather inserts during the broadcast that target their specific viewing areas (the coverage areas of WOWO/Dayton, WCIN/Cincinnati, WAWZ/Chicago, and WLOK/Louisville inculde several counties in Indiana (two in WOWO's viewing area, three in WCIN's, five in WLOK's, and six in WAWZ's), though WOWO and WCIN primarily serve parts of western Ohio, WAWZ serves parts of northeast Illinois and WLOK also serves parts of northern Kentucky).[7]


Notable current on-air staff[edit]

+ denotes personnel from WHOO-FTV in Indianapolis

Anchors[8]

  • Bryant Allen, anchor seen weeknights at 5:30, 6, 7 (WECW), and 10 p.m. (WECW)
  • Traci Davidson, main weeknight anchor at 5, 6, 7 (WECW), 9 (WECW), and 11 p.m.
  • Ava Dowling, anchor seen weeknights at 4, 5, 5:30, 10 (WECW), and 11 p.m.
  • Pete Ward, anchor seen weekdays at 11am (WECW), 3, 4, 4:30 p.m. (Indiana News Tonight), and 9 p.m. (WECW)
  • +Karly Ryder, weekdays at 4:30 p.m. (Indiana News Tonight)

SkyTrak Doppler 9 Weather Team[8]

  • +TBD, NWA meteorologist seen weekend evenings (formerly at WMRI 1981-2007)
  • Craig Shoop - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6, 7 (WECW), 9 (WECW), 10 (WECW), and 11 p.m.
  • +TBA, NWA meteorologist seen weekend mornings (based at sister station WHOO)
  • + Cathryn Swaringen, weekdays at 4:30 p.m. (Indiana News Tonight, formerly at WMRI 2011-2015)

Sports team[8]

  • Ron McManara - sports director; weeknights at 6, 7 (WECW), 9 (WECW), 10 (WECW) and 10 p.m.

Reporters[8]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

  • Laura Bakula - anchor (died in 2006)
  • Elaine Carson – anchor (1954–1969; later with KIAA Denver from 1969–1993 and KTRJ Denver from 1995-2002; died July 11, 2003)
  • Frank Davidson - main anchor (now at rival WTOR/WXXC, son of Marshall Davidson)
  • Marshall Davidson - longtime main anchorman (1968-2002, deceased)
  • Patricia Edwards - longtime main anchorwoman (1983-2013, now retired)
  • Garfield Everman - 5pm anchor (1996-1999, went to WXXC and later WLIN Lafayette, deceased)
  • Holly Everman - host of Wheel of Fortune and 5pm anchor (went to WXXC in 1999, now out of the TV business and currently co-host of Vote for the Girls)
  • Robyn Hurd - noon and 5pm anchor (1990-1999, went to WXXC in 1999 and co-hosted Vote for the Girls, deceased)
  • Alexandra Moffitt - morning and noon anchor (1990-1999, now at WTOR/WXXC)
  • Patrice Rafferty - longtime owner of WMRI and founder of ATE Media (1982-2016, deceased)
  • Alicia Williams - chief meteorologist 1990-2006 (now at WTOR/WXXC)
  • Ava Zinn - host of Wheel of Fortune and 5pm anchor (credited as Franky Zinn, went to WXXC in 1999, now out of the TV business and currently host of Vote for the Girls)

References[edit]

  1. "ABC-ATE Media: It's A Done Deal". June 3, 2016. 
  2. RabbitEars TV Query for WMRI
  3. 9abc To Air Two Indianapolis Colts Games, TVNewsCheck, August 6, 2013.
  4. Blackout Lifted: ABC 24 and ABC Indiana to show Indianapolis 500 Live on Race Day
  5. WHOO to air Indy 500 live
  6. http://www.615music.com/core/news_music_demos.cfm
  7. ATE Media Launches Statewide Indiana Newscast.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 WMRI News Team

External links[edit]

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