WAWS, ch. 30, is the FOX-affiliated TV station for the First Coast of Florida that is licensed to Jacksonville. It's transmitter is located in the Kilarney Shores section of the city. Owned by Newport Television, the station is sister to CBS affiliate WTEV-TV. The 2 stations share studios on Central Parkway in the Beechwood section of Jacksonville. Syndicated programming on WAWS includes: Family Guy, That '70s Show, Seinfeld & Judge David Young. The station operates the area's My Network TV affiliate on it's 2nd DT subchannel. Known on-air as My TV Jax, it's also offered on Comcast digital cable ch. 206. During the daytime, WAWS-DT2 airs programming from the Retro Television Network (RTN).
The station's DT channel is multiplexed.
|30.1||32.1||720p||16:9||main WAWS programming / FOX HD|
|30.2||32.2||480i||4:3||My Network TV / RTN|
WAWS first signed on the air on February 15, 1981 as an independent station. It was the 1st independent station in the Jacksonville area. The original owners of the station were Malrite Television. Initially, the station had a general entertainment format of cartoons, movies, sitcoms & drama shows. On October 9 1986, WAWS became one of the charter affiliates of the newly-launched FOX network. In 1989, Malrite sold the station to Clear Channel Communications, a fast-growing broadcasting conglomerate based in San Antonio, Texas. Clear Channel had earlier purchased the 1st independent station in the nearby Pensacola / Mobile, Alabama market, WPMI-TV (now an NBC affiliate). It was Clear Channel's 1st TV station. As was the trend for many FOX affiliates throughout the mid to late-1990s, WAWS began moving toward talk & reality shows & away from classic sitcoms. In 1993, Clear Channel began managing rival station WNFT ch. 47 (now WTEV-TV) under a LMA in which the 2 stations pooled programming & resources while running the strongest shows on WAWS. WNFT became a UPN affiliate in 1995 & Clear Channel bought the station outright in 2001.
In 2002, WJXT (the longtime CBS affiliate in Jacksonville) decided to end it's long relationship with the network after a squabble between CBS & WJXT's owners, Post-Newsweek Stations, over an affiliation contract. WAWS then added UPN as a secondary affiliation, running that network's programming from 11 PM-1 AM. WTEV decided to drop it's UPN affiliation so it could become the new CBS affiliate. On January 24 2006, The WB & UPN announced that they would end broadcasting & merge. The new combined network would be called The CW. The letters would represent the 1st initial of it's corporate parents, CBS (the parent company of UPN) & the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner. On February 22, News Corporation announced that they would start up another new network called My Network TV. This new service, which would be a sister network to FOX, would be operated by FOX TV Stations & it's syndication division, 20th Television. My Network TV was created in order to give UPN & WB stations, not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates, another option besides becoming independent. It was also created to compete against The CW. In March, it was announced that WB affiliate WJWB would become the CW affiliate for Jacksonville & change it's call letters to WCWJ. On July 12, it was confirmed that WAWS would carry My Network TV on a new 2nd DT subchannel instead of as a secondary affiliation.
However, until January 2007 (when the new 2nd DT subchannel was actually launched) WAWS's website listed My Network TV programming as airing @ 11 PM after the WTEV-produced newscast @ 10. With the sign-on of WAWS-DT2, My Network TV began airing @ it's regular time (8-10 PM) on a dedicated channel known on-air as "VTV". During the daytime, this station aired programming from the now defunct Variety Television Network. On April 20 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell it's entire TV stations group to Newport Television, a broadcaster controlled by Providence Equity Partners. Since WTEV was also included in the deal, this would have violated FCC rules preventing common ownership of 2 of the 4 largest stations in a single market. As a result, the FCC granted Newport Television a temporary waiver for the acquisition of WAWS & WTEV provided that Newport sells off either station within 6 months of consummation. The group deal closed on March 14, 2008. Newport originally planned to sell off WAWS to another company while keeping WTEV. However, in mid-May 2008, High Plains Broadcasting agreed to purchase the FCC assets of WTEV & 6 other stations from Newport Television due to ownership conflicts in the affected markets (including Jacksonville). But as this latest group deal was a sale in name only, Newport Television continues to operate the stations (and thus WTEV effectively remains a sister station to WAWS) after the sale closed on September 15. This effectively made High Plains Broadcasting a front company or "shell corporation" for Newport Television similar to the relationship which exists between Mission Broadcasting & Nexstar Broadcasting Group as well as Sinclair Broadcast Group & Cunningham Broadcasting. WAWS is the only Jacksonville TV station that has never changed it's affiliation.
On April 13 2009, WAWS completely revamped their news operation. All newscasts on WAWS & sister WTEV are now branded as Action News. This single branding of the newscasts is similar to the way Gannett operates rivals WTLV & WJXX. The transition to new branding also introduced an entirely new set, on-air graphics, weather operation & web look. Web operations moved to ActionNewsJax.com.
WAWS's first venture into local news was through a weeknight 10:00 newscast produced by then-ABC affiliate WJKS in the early-1990s. The news, branded FOX 30 First Coast News (not related to the current First Coast News that airs on WTLV & WJXX), would cease production in 1996 after the shutdown of WJKS's news department & eventual loss of it's ABC affiliation. WAWS established it's own news department & began producing 10 & 11 PM newscasts the day after the final WJKS-produced newscast aired. The station later moved the 11:00 news to 10:30. Through the years, more local newscasts were added @ 6:30 PM (on sister-station WTEV), weekday mornings & @ 4 PM (which was discontinued in 2007). Following WTEV's affiliation change to CBS, the WAWS morning newscast was effectively "moved" over to WTEV & the 6:30 PM news on WAWS was canceled.
In an effort to receive better ratings, WAWS & WTEV hired Mark Spain who was previously the anchor of First Coast News @ 7 on WJXX. He debuted as the new anchor for FOX 30 News @ 10 on August 27, 2007. The station hired Julie Watkins as their weekend meteorologist. She had worked @ WTLV & WJXX before moving to WFTV in Orlando.
Today, WTEV & WAWS share an entire news department.
WAWS uses National Weather Service Doppler Radar on their newscasts. Branded on-air as First Alert Doppler, it's located @ Jacksonville International Airport.
Action News uses the The Enforcer as their news music package. It was composed by Gari Media Group.
Action News @ 10 (10-11 PM)
- Mark Spain
- Paige Kelton
- Mike Buresh (Certified Broadcast Meteorologist)
- Brian Sexton
- Breaking News:
- John O'Connor
Action News @ 10 (10-11 PM)
- Céline McArthur
- Julie Watkins
- Brent Martineau
- Leslie Coursey
WAWS features additional news personnel from WTEV. See that article for a complete listing.