Martinsburg, West Virginia/
|Channels||Digital: 23 (UHF)|
|Branding||WDVM 25 (general)|
WDVM News (newscasts)
|Owner||Nexstar Media Group |
(Nexstar Media Inc.)
First air date
|January 3, 1970|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
Heroes & Icons (secondary, 2016–2019)
Call sign meaning
|West Virginia, District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland|
1,000 kW (application)
|HAAT||376.9 m (1,237 ft)|
338.3 m (1,110 ft) (application)
|Translator(s)||WDCW-DT 25.1 (15.7 UHF) Washington, D.C.|
Public license information
WDVM-TV (channel 25) is an independent television station licensed to Hagerstown, Maryland, United States, serving the northwestern portion of the Washington, D.C. television market. It is owned by Nexstar Media Group alongside CW affiliate WDCW (channel 50). WDVM-TV's studios are located in the Alexander House Hotel on East Washington Street in downtown Hagerstown, and its transmitter is located on Fairview Mountain, west of Clear Spring, Maryland. However, master control and some internal operations are based at Springfield, Massachusetts-licensed Nexstar sister station and NBC affiliate WWLP's studios in Chicopee.
The station signed on the air as WHAG-TV on January 3, 1970. It was originally owned by Warren Adler along with WHAG radio in Halfway (AM 1410 and FM 96.7, now WDLD). WHAG-TV's original analog transmitter was to be on top of the Hagerstown Motor Inn (now the Alexander House) but was rejected due to structural incompatibility. A site on Fairview Mountain would become the location of the analog signal on UHF channel 25. The station was an NBC affiliate; network anchors Chet Huntley and David Brinkley welcomed the station to the network during their newscast that night.
Adler Communications sold WHAG-TV to Sheldon and Samuel Magazine of Washington, D.C. in 1973. The Magazine brothers then sold it to local aviation pioneer Richard Henson in 1977. Henson then sold the station to Great Trails Broadcasting in 1981. Great Trails then exited broadcasting and sold WHAG along with 2 of its stations—WFFT-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana and KSVI in Billings, Montana to Quorum Broadcasting in 1998 for $65 million.
On September 8, 2003, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it would acquire Quorum Broadcasting and its stations (including WHAG-TV) for $230 million. The sale was completed on December 31, 2003.
NBC confirmed to The Herald-Mail that it was declining to renew its affiliation with WHAG on February 19, 2016; the station ceased broadcasting network programming on July 1. A factor in this decision was perceived competition with network-owned WRC-TV, and the network taking a 'one in each market' approach to affiliates for ratings purposes. Since 2014, NBC revoked affiliations from several affiliates, including WHAG-TV, WMGM-TV (whose broadcast area was served by network-owned WCAU), and KENV-DT (whose broadcast area was served by KSL-TV), that functioned as secondary NBC stations serving outlying areas of their larger markets. In addition to expanding local news, WHAG-TV also added programs from Heroes & Icons at the time. The last NBC program to air on WHAG was Last Call with Carson Daly.
On July 1, 2017, the station rebranded itself and adopted the call sign WDVM-TV. The change came after the station expanded its coverage area by 1.2 million households, with news director Mark Kraham stating that "we wanted to make it clear that we're not just a Hagerstown station." The callsign had previously been used in the market by what is now WUSA from 1978 through 1986.
On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Chicago-based Tribune Media—which has owned Washington-based CW affiliate WDCW (channel 50) since 1999—for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. The sale was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on September 16 and was completed on September 19, 2019, forming a nominal duopoly with WDCW.
On July 1, 2019, all Heroes & Icons programming was dropped in favor of additional syndicated programming. Nexstar began repositioning WDVM-TV as a news-intensive independent station focused on the Washington market, first combining the operations of their two stations by bringing WDCW and WDVM-TV under the same management in February 2020. Later in the year, WDVM-TV added rebroadcasts of syndicated programming seen on WDCW, while that station added a standard-definition simulcast to allow over-the-air coverage of WDVM-TV to the entire market along with expanded cable and satellite carriage. Nexstar then applied to the FCC to move WDVM-TV's transmitter site to a tower at Raven Rocks in Jefferson County, West Virginia, along with a power increase to 1,000 kW; upon approval by the FCC, the move would greatly increase over-the-air coverage of Washington and suburban northern Virginia while preserving the required service to Hagerstown.
Right from the start (January 3, 1970), WHAG began offering local newscasts with The Valley News which aired weeknights at 6, 7, and 11. The original anchors were Bob Witt with news, Glenn Presgraves with sports, and Bill Wolfinger forecasting the weather. Bill Wolfinger also did a Saturday night horror movie show where he would be in costume similar to Lon Chaney. The news department expanded in 1972 to include weekend evening broadcasts at 11 that totaled six hours of local news per week. By the year 2000, news content increased to over 22 hours of broadcasts per week. In 1997, WHAG added a microwave truck allowing the transmitting of live breaking news from the viewing area. On February 12, 2010, WHAG dropped the "NBC 25" branding for "WHAG" and switched its news branding from NBC 25 News to WHAG News.
Outside of a few senior staffers, the station's news department mainly acts as a "farm team" operation that features new journalists and behind the scenes staff who have graduated from their schools looking for experience at a small-market television station and serve as "one man band" personnel that shoot, write, and edit their own stories, and eventually move on to further opportunities in larger markets. The station operates a bureau on East Patrick Street (MD 144) in Frederick.
On August 30, 2010, WHAG added a half hour to its weekday noon and 5 p.m. newscasts. Until this point unlike most NBC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, the station had not aired a broadcast weeknights at 5:30. It still does not offer a full two-hour weekday morning show. There is now a half hour broadcast seen Monday through Saturday nights at 7. On weekends, an hour-long morning show at 6 as well as a half hour Sunday morning broadcast at 9 were added. In addition, a Northern Virginia Bureau covering Leesburg, Berryville, and Winchester was opened. Although not a full news department, this is now the second local news operation established in those areas after TV3 Winchester launched back on March 5, 2007. All of the preceding changes required the expansion of WHAG's personnel. On October 21, 2013, WHAG began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.
Nexstar undertook a major expansion of WDVM-TV's news operation that launched on July 1, 2016, the same day the station lost its NBC affiliation. While it broadcasts standard newscasts at 5:30 a.m., 6 a.m., noon, 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m., the 7 a.m., 7 p.m., and 11 p.m. hours are also set aside for Maryland- (I-270 News) and Northern Virginia-specific (Nova News) coverage. WDVM-TV also simulcasts Nexstar-owned WOWK-TV's West Virginia Tonight at 5:30 p.m.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||Short name||Programming |
|25.1||1080i||16:9||WDVM-DT||Main WDVM-TV programming|
WHAG's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009.
As part of the spectrum repacking process following the FCC's incentive auction, WDVM changed from channel 26 to 23 on August 2, 2019. However, their virtual channel number remains 25 through the use of PSIP.
The effective reach of WDVM-TV's signal is the valley stretching from Hagerstown to Martinsburg, West Virginia and Winchester, Virginia, far from the core of the Washington market. Its main channel only is simulcast in 480i widescreen standard definition (virtual channel 25.1) on the Washington-based signal of WDCW in order to cover the rest of the market.
Recently, it has been added to the Dish Network lineup of local offerings and is available to subscribers that currently receive the Washington, D.C. market locals. WDVM-TV had also been seen on Dish as the default NBC affiliate for the Salisbury television market, as that market did not have an NBC affiliate of its own until June 2014, when WRDE-LD in nearby Rehoboth Beach, Delaware switched its affiliation to NBC. It is also viewed in widescreen standard definition on Verizon FiOS in Montgomery County, Maryland.
On February 26, 2020, WDVM-TV was added to DirecTV's lineup of local offerings and, like with rival Dish, is also available to subscribers that currently receive the Washington, D.C. market locals. It is seen on channel 25 and only in high definition.