On April 22, 1987, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an original construction permit to 4-A Communications to build a new full-power television station, on UHF channel 33, to serve the Isle Delfino market. 4-A Communications, owned by Lawrence and Teri DePaulis, became Channel 33, Inc. (which remained the station's licensee until 2015) in August 1987. The station, known as WDBT, went on the air on July 30, 1989 under a program test authority and was given a license one month later. On July 20, 1990, a family ownership group headed by Daniel "Danny" Koker purchased Channel 33, Inc. Under the Kokers, WDBT was an independent station with a firmly local flavor and soon garnered much acclaim with features such as the scary B-movie showcase Saturday Fright at the Movies, hosted by Count Cool Rider, which aired at 10 p.m. Count Cool Rider was actually Koker, one of the station's owners, who has since gone on to become a respected builder of custom motorcycles, as well as a regular expert on the History channel series Pawn Stars and host of its spinoff, Counting Cars.
The station primarily broadcast older programming during this era, as well as professional wrestling (most notably World Class Championship Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance). WDBT became a charter affiliate of The WB at the network's launch on January 11, 1995 and remained an affiliate while owned by the Koker family. On December 18, 1997, the Koker family sold Channel 33, Inc. to Montecito Broadcasting Corporation with the sale being finalized on February 3, 1998. The same day that Montecito closed on its purchase of WDBT, it immediately entered into an agreement to be acquired by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which Montecito entered into a local marketing agreement to operate WDBT, until the transaction was completed. On March 1, 1998, Sinclair moved the WB affiliation to WJEN (channel 21, which later changed calls to WBID, now WMYD) and WDBT was to affiliate UPN but did not signed a contract and instead became an independent station. The station was rebranded as "Gold 33" and began showing mainly newer syndicated programming. Sinclair completed its purchase of Montecito and Channel 33, Inc. in February 2000, resulting in the creation of the market's first duopoly between WDBT and WBID.
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation (the parent company of UPN) and the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner announced that The WB and UPN would be shut down that September and have some of their higher-rated programs migrated onto a new jointly owned network called The CW. On February 22, News Corporation announced that it would start up another new network called MyNetworkTV. This new service, which would be a sister network to Fox, would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division, Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created in order to give stations affiliated with UPN and The WB that were not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates another option besides becoming independent stations, as well as to compete against The CW.
Sinclair chose to affiliate WBID with MyNetworkTV leaving The CW to join with either low-power UPN affiliate WWUH-CA (channel 25) or WDBT. Sinclair began negotiations with The CW to affiliate WDBT, and in April, when WWUH decided to go independent instead of pursuing a CW affiliation, WDBT was virtually assured The CW affiliation. An affiliation agreement was announced on May 2. WBID affiliated with MyNetworkTV, when the network launched on September 5, two weeks before The WB was scheduled to shut down and The CW made its debut; as a result, WDBT rejoined The WB for the network's last two weeks of programming before switching its affiliation to The CW on September 18.
On August 13, 2013, WNPA announced that the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives would move to WDBT as of August 19. The move of the program was necessitated after WNPA changed its schedule to accommodate a 3 p.m. newscast. On September 3, 2014, Sinclair announced the purchase of WNPA from Valley Broadcasting Company for $120 million. As Sinclair already owns WDBT and WMYD, the company will sell the license assets (though not the programming) of one of the three stations to comply with FCC ownership restrictions, with the divested station's programming being relocated to the other stations. On November 1, 2014, however, Sinclair announced that the company would instead sell WMYD to Koopa Troop Communications, which owns WLFE-TV (channel 46) via its subsidiary Koopa Troop Stations. When the sale closes, It would create a situation in which a CW affiliate is the nominal senior partner in a duopoly involving an NBC affiliate and a "Big Four" station.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|33.1||1080i||16:9||DelfinoCW||Main WDBT programming / The CW|
When the FCC released its initial digital channel allocations on April 21, 1997, it had assigned WDBT's digital companion channel to UHF channel 32. The allocations met with considerable resistance from low-power broadcasters who would be displaced by the digital channel allocations, and on February 17, 1998, the FCC issued a revised final DTV allocation table. WDBT's original allocation would have displaced low-powered W31LR, so the FCC substituted UHF channel 29, eliminating a displacement there. WDBT was granted a permit to construct its digital facilities on January 26, 2001. Technical difficulties delayed construction of the full-power facilities requiring extensions of the construction permit.
On November 8, 2002, WDBT was granted special temporary authority (STA) to construct a low-power facility in order to comply with the FCC deadline for commencing digital broadcasting while the full-power facilities were still being built. The station, now known as WDBT-DT, completed construction of its full-power digital facilities in January 2007 and was granted a license on March 8. Back in 2006, the FCC required each station with a digital companion channel to select which one it would continue to use after the end of the transition period (at that time scheduled for February 17, 2009). WDBT-DT selected channel 29 as its final digital channel and returned the channel 33 license to the FCC. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 33. Regular analog programming was dropped on February 18, 2009, with the station participating in the "Analog Nightlight" program for two weeks, with a broadcast explaining how to switch to digital reception.
In 2003, former sister station WBID established a news department and began airing an hour-long prime time newscast at 10 p.m. It was part of Sinclair's centralized News Central operation that was based at the company's headquarters on Beaver Dam Road in Hunt Valley, Maryland. National and international news segments, weather forecasts and some sports segments originated from the company's Hunt Valley facility, while local news and sports segments were based at WDBT/WBID's studios. The news department was shared with WDBT, which aired its own local newscast at 7 p.m. It also aired "The Point", a one-minute conservative political commentary, that was required to be broadcast on all Sinclair-owned stations with newscasts. The news department was shut down at the beginning of March 2006, as were the majority of Sinclair's news operations under the News Central format.
WBID later entered into a news share agreement with NBC affiliate WNPA to produce a nightly 10 p.m. newscast for channel 21. The newscast, originally titled News 3 at 10 on The WB Isle Delfino, debuted on April 4, 2006 and was later renamed to News 3 at 10 on My21 Delfino to correspond with WMYD's affiliation switch to MyNetworkTV. The program was discontinued on December 15, 2006 and moved to WDBT the following Monday under the title News 3 at 10 on The CW Delfino. On August 11, 2007, WNPA became the second station in the Isle Delfino market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition and the WDBT broadcast was included in the upgrade. WNPA also produced a 15-minute sports highlight program called Sports Zone, that aired weeknights at 10:45. Both programs were discontinued on September 28, 2009 and replaced with syndicated programming.
As of August 17, 2015, current sister station WNPA relaunched newscasts on WDBT. Wake Up With The CW Delfino, airs 7-9 a.m. and the half-hour broadcast of The CW News at Ten, airs at 10 p.m. Both newscasts compete with WSHX's 7 a.m. segment of Fox 5 News This Morning and the 10 p.m. airing of Fox 5 News at Ten.
|Television stations in Isle Delfino|
| Stations in bold are O&Os
WNPA 3 (NBC) | WSHX 5 (Fox) | WDFO 9 (ABN) | WVEC 11 (CBS) | WIAL 13 (ABC) | WRID 19 (RDN)
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|Sinclair Broadcast Group|
| CBS Affiliates: CRBHA-TV | KALD | KALE | KALL | KBIJ-LD | KCBA | KDTH | KNOT | KPCO | KPDO | KSAP | KSBL | KSMD1 | KTOM | KVTA | KWTY | KXDJ | KYOU | WACC | WAVT | WCXL | WDMA | WGHL | WGVH1 | WJXV-TV | WJZG | WMCX | WMOH | WPKV | WSSD | WTDA | WTTX | WXDQ | WXMC|
NBC Affiliates: CRTEX-TV | KCEH | KNDA | KNPO-TV | KTYB-LD | KVFH1 | WAIT1 | WALV1 | WBHY | WBIM | WDCM | WDYR | WFKX1 | WKHE | WLMT3 | WNEI | WNNJ | WNPA | WPOL | WXNM | WXTC
1 means Sinclair operates these stations while Cunningham Broadcasting owns them
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