WWAY's logo; depending on the channel, the ABC or CBS logo is shown to the right of the "3" on-air.
|Wilmington, North Carolina|
|Branding||WWAY-TV 3 (general)|
WWAY News (newscasts)
WWAY ABC (on DT1)
WWAY CBS (on DT2)
Cape Fear CW (on DT3)
|Slogan||This is the Place|
Dare to Defy (on DT3)
|Channels||Digital: 24 (UHF)|
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
3.4: Quest (soon)
|First air date||October 30, 1964|
|Call sign meaning||Wonderful Watching All Year|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
3 (VHF, 1964–2008)
46 (UHF, until 2020)
|Transmitter power||652 kW|
|Height||590 m (1,936 ft)|
|Public license information||Profile|
WWAY, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 24), is an ABC/CBS/CW-affiliated television station licensed to Wilmington, North Carolina, United States and serving the Cape Fear region. The station is owned by Morris Multimedia. WWAY's studios are located on Magnolia Village Way in Leland, and its transmitter is located west of Winnabow in Town Creek Township. On cable, the station is carried on Charter Spectrum channel 10 (independent station WILM-LD, which broadcasts over the air on channel 10, is instead carried on Spectrum channel 12).
WWAY signed-on October 30, 1964 as the second television station in Wilmington, 10½ years after NBC affiliate WECT (channel 6). It was originally owned by Cape Fear Telecasting, a firm controlled by local interests. Logically, it should have signed on as a CBS affiliate. However, it has been an ABC affiliate from the very first day. This was somewhat unusual for a two-station market, especially one of Wilmington's size. For most of its first 20 years in television, ABC was relegated to secondary status on existing stations in most two-station markets. However, at the time channel 3 signed on, no ABC affiliate put even a grade B signal into Wilmington. In contrast, WBTW in Florence, South Carolina put a fairly strong grade B signal into the area, and that station consequently remained CBS' affiliate of record for southeastern North Carolina until WJKA-TV (channel 26, now WSFX-TV, a Fox affiliate) signed on 20 years later; the former continued to serve some portions of the market until WILM-LD switched its affiliation to CBS in 2000. Cape Fear thus figured that if it signed with ABC, it would not get much local competition.
In 1968, Cape Fear sold WWAY to Clay Broadcasting (later to become Clay Communications). In 1981, a military jet destroyed the WWAY broadcast tower near Winnabow. The tower was replaced with one nearly 2,000 feet (610 m) tall. In 1987, Clay sold its broadcasting interests, including WWAY, to Price Communications, setting off a revolving door of owners over the course of the next two decades. In 1988, Price sold WWAY to Adams Television  who flipped the station to Hillside Broadcasting in 1995. Hillside then sold WWAY to Cosmos Broadcasting, a subsidiary of the Liberty Corporation, in 1999. That company sold off its insurance interests two years later, bringing WWAY directly under the Liberty banner.
In 2005, Liberty merged with Raycom Media, which already owned WECT. That company could not keep both stations as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) duopoly rules do not allow common ownership of two of the four largest stations in a single market. As a result, Raycom opted to keep the higher-rated WECT and spun off WWAY to current owner Morris Multimedia in 2006. However, the station retained the Liberty-era logo that was introduced in 2003. On May 8, 2008, the FCC announced that Wilmington had been selected as a test market for the 2009 national digital television transition. Five stations in Wilmington, including WWAY, also agreed to voluntarily cease analog broadcasting on September 8. Channel 3 made its transition from analog to digital at Noon on that date. On June 15, WWAY started broadcasting the Retro Television Network on its second digital channel. This had previously served as a 24-hour local weather channel.
In September 2013, WWAY announced that it would add The CW on a digital subchannel. The new channel launched on September 30, 2013 under the branding "Cape Fear CW". The addition of The CW pushed RTV to channel 3.3, before Cozi TV took over the tertiary frequency in January 2015. On March 30, 2016, CBS announced that it would move its local affiliation to WWAY-DT2 from WILM-LD on January 1, 2017. The move shifted Cape Fear CW to 3.3, thereby bumping Cozi TV from that spot.
In March 2017, the station's parent announced the purchase of the former Thunder Alley bowling center in Leland, to be converted to the station's new state-of-the-art broadcast studios.. On April 29, 2018, WWAY began on-air programming from the Leland facilities at 1224 Magnolia Village Way, completing the move from the 615 North Front Street studios in Downtown Wilmington that the station had occupied since 1969.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|3.1||720p||16:9||WWAYABC||Main WWAY programming / ABC|
|3.2||1080i||WWAYCBS||WWAY-DT2 / CBS|
|3.3||480i||WWAY-CW||Cape Fear CW|
After CBS moved to WWAY-DT2 from WILM-LD (which became an independent station), the multiplex bandwidth was switched around so that the main ABC signal continued to be carried in 720p, with WWAY-DT2 broadcasting in CBS' default 1080i resolution. Due to this, WWAY-DT3's high definition signal is now exclusive to cable.
In North Carolina, WWAY is still carried in Rowland which is part of the Myrtle Beach–Florence market. Rowland and all of Robeson County used to be part of the Wilmington market and even earlier the Raleigh–Durham–Fayetteville DMA. Lumberton, the county seat of Robeson County, used to carry WWAY as well until around 1999. Jacksonville still carries WWAY even though it is part of the Greenville–Washington–New Bern market. In South Carolina, WWAY used to be carried in Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach up until the late-1990s. It was carried along the South Carolina borderbelt communities near the North Carolina state line but no longer is. WWAY is not carried on satellite outside of the Wilmington market. In Brunswick County, the station is carried on ATMC channel 5.
Rival WECT has been the longtime market leader in terms of attaining consistent viewership and higher Nielsen ratings. WWAY is the only other Wilmington station that produces local news since WILM-LD did not operate a news department of its own while it was affiliated with CBS (unlike most big three network-affiliated television stations). However, that outlet does simulcast some newscasts from WRAL-TV in Raleigh with Wilmington-specific weather inserts (that are taped in advance), but there is no news coverage of the Cape Fear region. In order to provide WILM with more localized coverage, a news share agreement was established with WWAY allowing this ABC outlet to produce a live newscast weeknights at 7 p.m. This half-hour production aired from March 10, 2008 until February 27, 2009.
On August 1, 2009, WWAY stopped airing weekend newscasts, leaving WECT as the only option for viewers. Although it would eventually bring back a Sunday night show at 11 p.m. on October 3, 2010, WECT retained its ratings and viewership dominance throughout all dayparts. On January 6, 2014, WWAY launched a thirty-minute weeknight newscast on WWAY-DT2 under the title Cape Fear CW Primetime News at 10. This is the first competition to Fox affiliate WSFX-TV, which has a well-established nightly newscast at 10 p.m. produced by WECT. Unlike most ABC outlets, WWAY does not air a full two-hour weekday morning show (its Good Morning Carolina program is only seen from 5:30 a.m. until 7 a.m.). It also does not carry a 4 p.m. newscast during the week.
On January 2, 2017, WWAY began producing a midday newscast and a full-hour 7 p.m. newscast for WWAY-DT2, when the subchannel became a CBS affiliate. The 10 p.m. newscast currently on WWAY-DT2 moved with the rest of the CW Plus schedule to WWAY-DT3. In addition, WWAY-DT2 simulcasts all of the main WWAY subchannel's other newscasts.
Notable current on–air staff
- COMPANY NEWS; Clay-Price Pact On 4 TV Stations - New York Times
- COMPANY NEWS; BRIEFS - New York Times
- Company News; Liberty Subsidiary Buys Tv Station In \North Carolina - New York Times
- "WWAY launching over-the-air CW affiliate". Star-News Online. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
- Holloway, Daniel. "CBS to Make North Carolina Affiliate Change". Variety.
- "WWAY purchases property in Leland for new home for TV station". WWAY. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WWAY
- A Wilmington update between WWAY and WILM.
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