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PBS WHYY logo (2019).png
Wilmington, Delaware/
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
United States
CityWilmington, Delaware
ChannelsDigital: 13 (VHF)
(shared with WMCN-TV)
Virtual: 12 (PSIP)
BrandingPBS WHYY
SloganWhere you go to know
OwnerWHYY, Inc.
Sister stationsWHYY-FM
First air dateSeptember 2, 1957 (64 years ago) (1957-09-02)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 35 (UHF, 1957–1963)
  • 12 (VHF, 1963–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 55 (UHF, 1999–2009)
  • 12 (VHF, 2009–2020)
Former affiliationsNET (1957–1970)
Call sign meaningWider Horizons for
You and Yours
Technical information
Licensing authorityFCC
Facility ID72338
ERP24 kW (STA)
30 kW (CP)
HAAT188.1 m (617 ft) (STA)
294 m (965 ft) (CP)
Transmitter coordinates40°2′30.9″N 75°14′21.9″W / 40.041917°N 75.239417°W / 40.041917; -75.239417Coordinates: 40°2′30.9″N 75°14′21.9″W / 40.041917°N 75.239417°W / 40.041917; -75.239417
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Public license informationProfile
Satellite of WHYY-TV
Seaford/Dover, Delaware/
Salisbury, Maryland
United States
CitySeaford, Delaware
ChannelsDigital: 24 (UHF)
Virtual: 64 (PSIP)
Brandingsee WHYY-TV infobox
Slogansee WHYY-TV infobox
  • 64.1: PBS
  • 64.2: Y2
  • 64.3: PBS Kids[2]
OwnerWHYY, Inc.
First air dateDecember 4, 1981 (40 years ago) (1981-12-04)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 64 (UHF, 1981–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 44 (UHF, 2005–2019)
Call sign meaningDelaware Public
Technical information
Licensing authorityFCC
Facility ID72335
ERP65.2 kW
HAAT195 m (640 ft)
Transmitter coordinates38°39′16″N 75°36′39″W / 38.65444°N 75.61083°W / 38.65444; -75.61083 (WDPB)
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Public license informationProfile

WHYY-TV, virtual channel 12 (VHF digital channel 13), is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States that is licensed to Wilmington, Delaware. Owned by WHYY, Inc., it is sister to National Public Radio (NPR) member station WHYY-FM (90.9). The two stations share studios on Independence Mall in Center City, Philadelphia; WHYY-TV maintains a secondary studio in Wilmington and transmitter facilities in Philadelphia's Roxborough section. It is one of four PBS member stations serving the Philadelphia market, alongside Philadelphia-licensed WPPT (channel 35), Allentown-based WLVT-TV (channel 39), and NJ PBS (channels 23 and 52).

WDPB (virtual channel 64, UHF digital channel 24) in Seaford, Delaware, operates as a full-time satellite of WHYY-TV, serving the Delmarva Peninsula region; this station's transmitter is located on Virginia Avenue in Seaford. It is one of two PBS member stations serving the Salisbury, Maryland market, alongside Maryland Public Television transmitter WCPB (channel 28). WDPB is a straight simulcast of WHYY-TV; on-air references to WDPB are limited to Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-mandated hourly station identifications during programming. Aside from the transmitter, WDPB does not maintain any physical presence locally in Seaford.


WHYY-TV logo used from 2000 to mid-November 2019.

The station signed on the air on September 2, 1957, originally broadcasting on UHF channel 35. It was the 23rd non-commercial educational television station in the United States, and the second to operate in Pennsylvania (WQED-TV in Pittsburgh had signed on three years earlier). It was owned by the Metropolitan Philadelphia Educational Radio and Television Corporation. It broadcast from a studio on Chestnut Street in Center City, which had previously been occupied by WCAU-TV (channel 10).

The station found the going difficult at first, in part because television sets were not required to have UHF tuning capability (it wasn't until 1962 that UHF tuning was made mandatory on all TV sets). Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had collapsed most of Delaware, the Lehigh Valley and South Jersey into the Philadelphia market. It soon became apparent that the channel 35 transmitter was not nearly strong enough to serve this large area. UHF stations, then as now, do not cover large areas very well.

File:WHYY-TV ID.jpg
Ykids ID, 2011.

Then, in 1958, WVUE, a station on VHF channel 12 in Wilmington which had lost its NBC affiliation and then struggled as an independent station, went off the air. WHYY's owners applied to move to the vacant channel 12, which was the nearest available VHF allocation to Philadelphia. A few years earlier, the FCC had changed its rules to allow a station to have its main studio in a city outside its official city of license. The FCC granted WHYY's request to move the station to channel 12 in 1963, and WHYY began broadcasting on that allocation for the first time on September 12. It operated from WVUE's old tower in Glassboro, New Jersey. However, for all intents and purposes, WHYY has always been a Philadelphia station; to this day it identifies its service area on-air as "Wilmington/Philadelphia". A similar situation exists in New York City; its flagship PBS station, WNET is licensed to Newark, New Jersey. As part of an agreement with Delaware officials and the FCC, WHYY-TV also opened a satellite studio in Wilmington, and began producing a newscast focused on Delaware issues, Delaware Tonight.

Later in 1963, WHYY moved its main studio in Philadelphia to the former facility operated by WFIL-TV (channel 6, now WPVI-TV) on 46th and Market streets. In 1971, WHYY-TV moved its transmitter to the Roxborough tower farm, home to most of Philadelphia's television stations. The new tower provides at least grade B coverage as far west as Lancaster; as far south as Dover, Delaware and as far north as New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 1979, channel 12 moved to its current facilities on Independence Mall, first in the old Living History Center museum and theatre before it was transformed into their current building in 1999 as part of the redevelopment of the Independence Mall area.

In 1984, WHYY bought Seaford-based WDPB, which had signed on three years earlier in 1981, and turned it into a full-time satellite of channel 12. Controversy erupted in the summer of 2007, when station CEO Bill Marrazzo was cited by the watchdog group Charity Navigator as the highest paid CEO in all of public broadcasting. Frustrated by a perceived lack of local coverage, in December 2009, the city of Wilmington filed a challenge to WHYY's license with the FCC.[3]


Besides viewer donations and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) funding, WHYY receives grants from the State of Delaware and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Government grants are not underwriting grants and are not used to produce individual programs, and are used mainly to help ensure service to constituents. There are some who have criticized WHYY programs produced using its Delaware funding, raising conflict of interest issues about the program's ability to report independently on Delaware's state government and its current officeholders, though this has proven in time to be mainly unfounded.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The stations' digital signals are multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[1][2]
1080i 16:9 WHYY
Main programming / PBS
480i WHYY2 Y2
Ykids PBS Kids

WHYY-TV also has plans for a Mobile DTV feed of subchannel 12.1.[4][5]

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WHYY-TV's digital signal initially operated at so low a power that even those who lived in some areas of the city of Philadelphia could not receive it reliably.[6][7] The station shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 55 to VHF channel 12 for post-transition operations.[8]

After the problems with VHF digital signals emerged, WHYY was permitted to increase its transmitting power upon the transition.[9] However, the problems with digital broadcasts in the VHF spectrum remain the same at the increased power level and still prevent many people in the Philadelphia area from being able to view the high-band VHF signal of WHYY—especially when also attempting to view ABC owned-and-operated station WPVI on channel 6, which operates in the low-band VHF spectrum, and requires a different VHF antenna configuration.[10][11][12][13][14]

Programs produced by WHYY[edit]

WHYY-TV has long been a major producer of PBS programming. It currently produces regular series that are distributed to PBS member stations:

PBS shows[edit]

  • Hometime (1986–2016; no longer in production but still syndicated in repeats)

Syndicated programs[edit]

  • Articulate with Jim Cotter – Weekly arts and culture magazine show
  • Christina Cooks
  • Daring to Resist (2000; PBS)
  • Flavors of America with Chef Jim Coleman
  • Flicks – A weekly three-minute program hosted by film critic Patrick Stoner featuring reviews of the latest films released in theaters, plus interviews with celebrities.
  • MoneyTrack
  • Scenes from Modern Life (2002; PBS)

The station has also developed several television specials, such as The Great Comet Crash and Trading Women.

Additionally, the station's old Independence Mall studios served as the original home of Nickelodeon's game shows, including Double Dare and Finders Keepers, along with the 1992–93 Bill Cosby iteration of You Bet Your Life.

Local programming[edit]

  • Check, Please! Philly – A local restaurant series exploring dining in the Greater Philadelphia region[15]
  • Creative Campus – Art and culture program focusing on Greater Philadelphia's colleges and universities
  • Experience – Art and culture program
  • First – Weekly 30-minute news magazine focused on the state of Delaware; replaced Delaware Tonight, which aired nightly from the WHYY Delaware Broadcast Center in Wilmington.
  • Friday Arts – Monthly art and culture program
  • Movers & Makers - A program exploring the arts and culture making an impact on the region[16]
  • On Tour – Program that spotlights Philadelphia's cultural and ethnic heritage
  • You Oughta Know – A show about the people, places and events happening in the Greater Philadelphia region[17]

See also[edit]

  • List of television stations in Delaware
  • List of television stations in Pennsylvania


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Digital TV Market Listing for WHYY". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Digital TV Market Listing for WDPB". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  3. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/79116362.html
  4. http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=atscmph
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 17, 2016. Retrieved March 13, 2013. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. http://www.seedship.com/dtv/problems.htm
  7. http://www.phillyblog.com/philly/showpost.php?p=967651&postcount=6
  8. "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2012.
  9. Grotticelli, Michael (June 22, 2009). "DTV transition not so smooth in some markets". Broadcast Engineering. Archived from the original on July 9, 2013.
  10. http://www.dtv.gov/consumertips.pdf
  11. http://www.hdtvmagazine.com/columns/2012/01/hdtv-expert-useful-gadgets-superflat-indoor-tv-antennas-do-they-really-work.php
  12. http://www.tvtechnology.com/news/0110/fixing-vhf-dtv-reception-problems/202489
  13. http://www.dtvusaforum.com/dtv-hdtv-chat/30906-low-band-tv-spectrum.html
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2013. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. "Check, Please! Philly". WHYY. Retrieved 2020-02-15.
  16. "Movers & Makers". WHYY. Retrieved 2020-02-15.
  17. "You Oughta Know". WHYY. Retrieved 2020-02-15.

External links[edit]