Is WBAY a little too excited about its 69th anniversary?

WBAY, the ABC affiliate in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is celebrating its 69th anniversary in a big way on St. Patrick’s Day 2022.

It’s OK to giggle.

Now take your mind out of the gutter.

The station has the distinction of sharing its birthday with St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, each year, which also happens to share the color green with “Green” Bay.

Why the station is marking its 69th anniversary so prominently isn’t entirely clear because there’s no prominent link to the numeral in the station or city’s history.

It didn’t appear to celebrate its 68th birthday with the same gusto March 17, 2021 according to archives of its social media accounts and website, and the 70th anniversary that would hit March 17, 2023 would presumably be more of a milestone.

It’s perhaps particularly odd because of the double entendre that comes with the number “69.”

The station’s social media and newscasts have been filled with tributes to the big 6-9 with retrospective clips airing and posted to the station website.

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No matter what the reason, the station’s creative team put together a vintage style black and white animation that evokes classic production cards such as Warner Bros. and (the late) 20th Century Fox’s heavy use of a 3D elements with a long vanishing point blended with historic footage from the station’s history.

As TV stations in the U.S. begin hitting times when key anniversaries approach, many have been marking the occasion with modified logos that incorporate their channel numbers (such as KSDK in St. Louis and KTLA in Los Angeles did).

With WBAY’s being on Channel 2 (digital 23), there doesn’t seem to be a clear cut way to morph a “2” into a “69” — or “70” for that matter.

The number 69 isn’t common in TV station channel numbers. Once the U.S. switched to digital TV transmission in 2009, channels 52 to 69 were removed from possible channel numbers, with the frequencies coinciding with them mostly turned over the mobile phone providers. 

Independent WFMZ in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was originally assigned UHF Channel 69 in 1975, having occupied Channel 67 prior to that. Its unusually high channel number was needed to avoid interference with stations in the New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey tristate area, which all have some overlap into the Allentown region.

After the digital conversion, WFMZ used PSIP technology, like most stations, to still allow users to tune in using the channel number 69 for the over the air signal, though it technically moved to digital channel 9.

WFMZ sold its portion of the spectrum in 2017 and shares virtual channel 60 with WBPH. Some of its subchannels use KJWP’s signal, though PSIP still makes them all still appear as 69.1 through 69.3.

WFMZ still retains its “69 News” branding with one of the only other examples of a full power station in the U.S. to using “69” in its branding being Atlanta’s CW 69 (WUPA). Several other stations occupy the channel but don’t prominently use the number “69” in branding. At least some of them use their cable channel instead (WUPA also uses the sub-brand of “Cable 10”).

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