WHIZ-TV started broadcasting on May 23rd, 1953. The original signal was broadcast on channel 50, using a RCA TTU-1, 1,000-watt transmitter. A year later, WHIZ-TV changed to channel 18. As time progressed, the RCA transmitter was modified into a TTU-12A transmitter. This change allowed us to increase our effective radiated power to 186,000 watts.
In 1983, the decision was made to upgrade to a newer transmitter. We purchased a used RCA TTU-60 from a station in Texas. Chief engineer Elmer Hartmeyer made the journey to Texas to dismantle the transmitter and ship it to its new home here in Zanesville. The transmitter was installed with a new heat exchanger and a new Harris exciter. This transmitter used Varian Klystrons (model 8908) as amplifiers. These large tubes sat inside even larger magnets. This transmitter allowed us to increase power to our current 589,000 watts of power.
1985 brought a large stumbling block. The RCA TV antenna mounted at the top of our tower shorted out. Within 2 days, WHIZ-TV returned to the air using a low power stand-by antenna side mounted to the tower. A new antenna was then purchased, and the new antenna and new feed line was installed. This antenna was used for the station until replaced in 2002.
As the turn of the century approached, so did digital television. WHIZ-DT was assigned channel 40 by the FCC. Many decisions then had to be made as to how to provide the best digital coverage to our viewers, while continuing to provide our channel 18 analog signal. After several months of planning and engineering studies it was decided that we would need to build a new tower and transmitter facility. Our existing tower would not be able to handle the additional weight of a digital TV antenna in conjunction with our existing antennas. The first hurdle was to find a new home for the AM-1240 transmission facility. After the AM was moved construction of the new WHIZ-TV-DT-FM tower began. The new tower was built less than 100’ from our old tower.
The skyline in Zanesville was very interesting for a while as both towers stood side by side. The new TV antenna and a new antenna for Z-102 were mounted on the tower. The new TCI-888 TV antenna is a very unique antenna. It is capable of handling both our channel 18 analog signal as well as our new digital channel 40. When the antenna was ready for operation, WHIZ-TV was moved to the new tower, followed by Z-102. Then the dismantling of the old tower began. As soon as the old tower was taken down, construction of a new transmitter building began. This building was completed in early 2003. Another hurdle to cross was what to do about a new transmitter for WHIZ-DT. Once again after several months of research, it was decided to purchase a new Harris Sigma digital transmitter. This transmitter uses a single IOT common amplifier. At the same time, we were faced with a dilemma with the RCA TTU-60 analog transmitter. The transmitter had been out of production for several years, and RCA no longer built transmitters, which made acquiring spare parts difficult. At the same time we ordered the new transmitter for digital, we ordered a new transmitter for the existing channel 18. The new channel 18 transmitter is also a Harris Sigma. Both transmitters were installed side by side in the new building. Since both transmitters are the same model, we will be able to convert the main part of the analog transmitter to be part of the digital transmitter when we are finished broadcasting an analog signal.
WHIZ-DT went on the air in the summer of 2003. Our digital channel is 40. DTV receivers are able to receive our digital signal on channel 18-1. We currently broadcast 1 standard definition channel. The conversion of the existing analog transmitter to digital will give us a very redundant transmission system.
The master control room for WHIZ-TV/DT does double duty. Studio productions such as news cast and show promo production is also handled in the same room. Our commercial playback system uses computer hard drives for the storage of commercials. The primary videotape format is DVC Pro25 and MII. We utilize 2 different switchers. For spot insertion we use a Vital switcher while for production we currently use an ISI production switcher. NBC programming and most syndicated shows are delivered via satellite. Currently we use 14 different satellite receivers and we are in the process of adding updated digital receivers.