WXIX-TV, (UHF digital channel 29), is a Fox-affiliated television station serving Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. Fox 19 broadcasts live news programs on their website.
WXIX-TV, virtual channel 19 (UHF digital channel 15), is a Fox-affiliated television station serving Cincinnati, Ohio, United States that is licensed to Newport, Kentucky (as such, it is the only commercial television station in Cincinnati to be licensed to a community on the Kentucky side of the market). The station is owned by Gray Television. WXIX-TV’s studios are located at 19 Broadcast Plaza on Seventh Street just west of downtown Cincinnati, and its transmitter is located in the South Fairmount neighborhood on the city’s northwest side.
On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channel 3 in Ohio and channel 4 in Kentucky, and on Cincinnati Bell channel 3.
WXIX-TV began operation as an independent station on August 1, 1968; it was founded by U.S. Communications Corporation, which also owned UHF independent stations WATL-TV in Atlanta, WPGH-TV in Pittsburgh, WPHL-TV in Philadelphia and KEMO-TV (now KOFY-TV) in San Francisco. It was jointly owned by the U.S. Communications Corporation (subsidiary of AVC Corporation) station group of Philadelphia holding an 80% interest and the remaining 20% by Daniel H. Overmyer. Overmyer had previously sold the majority interest (80%) in the construction permits for the stations in Atlanta, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Houston to AVC on March 28, 1967, with FCC approval of their sale coming December 8, 1967. Before the sale to AVC, Overmyer had planned on bringing channel 19 on the air in late 1966 as WSCO-TV, named for his wife Shirley Clark Overmyer. WXIX-TV was the first new commercial station in the market since 1949, and the second UHF station in the area (behind PBS member station WCET, channel 48). The original channel allocation tables set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not have channel 19 in the greater Cincinnati market. The construction permit awarded to Overmyer on March 10, 1965 was for channel 74. On August 10, 1965, a request was made by Overmyer to change the allocation from channel 74 to 19, which was done in the next allocation table release a year later. The lower channel number not only allowed WXIX to provide wider signal coverage at less cost, but was also thought to be more marketable.
While WXIX was running test transmissions before its inaugural broadcast, the station intermittently aired “mini-shows” featuring The Larry Smith Puppets that promoted the sale of UHF converters for use with pre-1964 television sets which were only equipped to receive VHF signals at the time. Larry Smith and his puppets (a witch named “Battie Hattie from Cincinnati” and her dog “Snarfy” among other characters) later hosted a daytime children’s program on weekday afternoons for several years. Afterward, “The Cool Ghoul”—played by Dick VonHoene, known for his weekend late night sci-fi/monster movie program Scream-In—also hosted a weekday afternoon children’s program. There was an afternoon show called Kimberly’s Cartoon Capers, a cartoon variety hour hosted by Kimberly, a 13-year-old girl.
By the early 1970s, U.S. Communications encountered financial difficulties, largely due to poor advertising revenues. The firm wound up taking its San Francisco, Atlanta and Pittsburgh stations off-the-air in 1971 (all would resume operations under different ownership) and also considered the same for WXIX-TV. Instead it put the station up for sale, and would sell WXIX-TV to Metromedia in 1972 for assumption of $3 million in debt. Metromedia’s deep pockets helped stabilize channel 19’s entire operation, and the station benefited from Metromedia’s aggressiveness in purchasing syndicated programming as well as developing its own first-run programming. After over a decade on air, channel 19 finally received competition in 1980 with the launch of WBTI (channel 64, now WSTR-TV), which ran general entertainment and religious programming before 7 p.m. and subscription television at night. However, that competition was short-lived, ending when WBTI became a full-time subscription station by 1982. The over-air subscription television phenomenon occurred in larger markets in the U.S. where cable had yet to penetrate city centers before the late 1980s.
Malrite Communications bought channel 19 from Metromedia in December 1983. The station remained the leading independent station in the market, even after WBTI returned to full-time general entertainment programming in 1985. On October 9, 1986, WXIX became a charter affiliate of the upstart Fox network (which, coincidentally, used some of WXIX’s former Metromedia sister stations as its charter owned-and-operated stations).
The station changed its on-air branding from “19XIX” to “Fox 19” in 1996. In 1998, Malrite Communications merged with Raycom Media. Around 2000, WXIX operated a large open space inside the Tri-County Mall called the “Fox 19 Station Break.