Watching FOX 5, you may not realize how much of a pioneer the station has been. WTTG was one of the first television stations in the world. FOX 5 began operating on May 19, 1945, as the first station in Washington, D.C. and the second station of the now-defunct DuMont Television Network.
The station was known as W3XWT: "W" meant North America, "3" was the region of the country, "X" meant experimental and "WT" were the station's call letters. DuMont Labs, the manufacturer of TV sets and transmission equipment, owned the station. Founder Allen DuMont saw the television station as a prime way to sell more DuMont brand TV sets."
WTTG is an owned-and-operated TV station of the Fox Broadcasting Company. It is located in Washington, D.C. and serves the entire Washington metropolitan area (including Northern Virginia, Maryland, and the Martinsburg, West Virginia area) from a studio and transmitter located in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington.
The station traces its history to May 19, 1945, when television set and equipment manufacturer Allen B. DuMont founded W3XWT, the second experimental station in the nation's capital (after NBC's W3XNB, the forerunner to WRC-TV).
Later in 1945, DuMont Laboratories began a series of experimental coaxial cable hookups between W3XWT and its other television station, WABD in New York City (now WNYW). These hookups were the beginning of the DuMont Television Network, the world's first licensed commercial television network. DuMont began regular network service in 1946. Almost a year later on [January 3, 1947, W3XWT received a commercial license--the first in the nation's capital--as WTTG. The station was named for Thomas T. Goldsmith, Dr. DuMont's best friend, and the DuMont network's chief engineer.
Like its New York sister station, WTTG was far more successful than the network as a whole. In 1956, after DuMont ended network operations, WTTG and WABD were spun off as the "DuMont Broadcasting Corporation". It later changed its name to Metropolitan Broadcasting due to the failure associated with DuMont. In 1958, Washington investor John Kluge bought a controlling interest in Metropolitan Broadcasting and installed himself as to its chairman. He changed the company's name to Metromedia in 1961. Goldsmith sat on Metromedia's board for over a quarter-century.
At first, WTTG ran on a low budget. However, in the late 1960s, it benefited from Metromedia's aggressiveness in acquiring top syndicated programming, giving it a significant leg up on WDCA, which signed on in 1966. By the 1970s, WTTG was one of the leading independent stations in the country, running a broad lineup of cartoons, off-network sitcoms, first-run syndicated shows, old movies, local news, and locally produced programs. During this time period, and well into the early 1990s, WTTG was the flagship station for the Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team. Its main claim to fame was Panorama, an afternoon talk show hosted by John Willis, and Maury Povich. WTTG offered Japanese cartoons dubbed into English including Astro Boy and Marine Boy.
When cable television began in the 1970s, WTTG became a regional superstation. At one point, it appeared on every cable system in Maryland and Virginia, as well as most of Delaware and in parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Though not distributed as widely as it once was, the popularity of WTTG has kept it available on cable on several Maryland and Virginia cable systems. It still serves as the default Fox affiliate for the Harrisonburg, Virginia market. Additionally, it is still carried on cable in Charlottesville, Virginia despite the city recently gaining a Fox affiliate out of WAHU-CA. It also served as the default Fox affiliate for Salisbury, Maryland until the debut of new default Fox affiliate, Fox21 Delmarva, a subsidiary of WBOC-TV on August 21, 2006).
Metromedia owned the station until 1986 when Rupert Murdoch, after buying 20th Century Fox, purchased the Metromedia television stations to form the nucleus of the Fox network. WTTG became one of 6 (now 16) Fox owned-and-operated stations (O&O), all the while retaining consistently high ratings, a rarity for a Fox station then. Initially, its programming was similar to what it had run as a true independent station since Fox only programmed for a few hours on weekends. Then, in the summer of 1990, the morning cartoon block was ended in favor of Fox 5 Morning News. It was the second Fox O&O to have a morning newscast and the fourth or fifth Fox affiliate with the morning news.
In the 1990s, Fox 5 added more syndicated talk shows and reality shows. It continued to air afternoon cartoons from Fox Kids until the fall of 2001 when they moved to WDCA (only to be cut to Saturdays everywhere in 2002). But WTTG, later on, brought back Fox children's programming under the banner 4Kids TV. On October 29, 2001, WDCA became WTTG's sister station when Fox bought it from Viacom. Fox 5 continued to run top-rated off-network sitcoms in the evenings. In 2002, it added an evening 5 to 6 p.m. newscast. Today, it has 40 hours a week of local news.
On May 15, 2006, WTTG launched a new website, which features more news and video with the "MyFox" name and interface. (The "My" in the MyFox name may be a reference to Fox's new network My Network TV, which is now shown locally on WDCA.)
The new logo and set premiered on June 25, 2006. WTTG launched "NewsEdge" (previously titled "The Edge" until October 2006), it's 11–11:30 pm newscast, on July 31, 2006. "NewsEdge", which is anchored solo by 10 pm co-anchor Brian Bolter, follows its 10–11 pm newscast. Also with the launch of the 11 pm broadcast, Fox 5 has now expanded its 5 pm broadcast to 7 days a week. The 5 pm on the weekend is only a half-hour long as opposed to the weekday hour-long broadcast. Plus the new "NewsEdge" has also gone to 7 days as well. The weekend 11 pm broadcast is 15-minutes long, followed by "Sports Extra."
On September 4, 2006, WTTG began simulcasting its weekday morning and daily 10 PM newscasts on Baltimore's Fox-owned WUTB, under the banner of My 24 News. The higher-ups at both stations cite the decision to simulcast as a by-product of cross-regional news interests and increasing overlap between the Baltimore and Washington media markets. In October 2006, while WTTG aired Fox Sports' coverage of the 2006 Major League Baseball postseason, the first half-hour of the 10 PM newscast was seen on Washington's Fox-owned WDCA under the banner of Fox 5 News at Ten Special Edition. The same has occurred in 2007, with a banner name of My 20 News at 10.
On July 2, 2007, WTTG discontinued its noon newscast and replaced it with an hour-long newscast at 11 am, titled Fox 5 News Midday. On September 10, 2007, the station added "NewsEdge" at 6 pm which is also anchored solo by Brian Bolter. The 6 pm edition of "NewsEdge" follows its 5–6 pm newscast. The addition of "NewsEdge" at 6 pm was due in part to the success of its current 11 pm counterpart.
On January 14, 2009, WTTG entered into talks with local NBC O&O WRC-TV to share helicopters and pool news video.
On January 30, 2009, starting with their 6 pm newscast, WTTG became the third station in DC (behind CBS affiliate WUSA and ABC affiliate WJLA) to launch news in high definition. With the change to HD came new FOX O&O HD graphics currently used on sister FOX stations WNYW and KTTV.