About WSAZ 3Although a building permission for channel 30 was obtained in 1984 under the call letters WUXA, no station came on until October 5, 1998, when WHCP went on as an affiliate of The WB. It added UPN programs in 2000 after Fox station WVAH-TV quit the network, broadcasting it off-pattern on weekends and after WB network time.
While its over 2 million-watt ERP, the station's analog transmitter was not powerful enough to serve the whole Huntington-Charleston area, despite identifying itself on the air as "Portsmouth/Charleston." The market, the biggest geographical market east of the Mississippi River, encompasses 61 counties in central West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southern Ohio. The majority of this terrain is a highly rough dissected plateau, making UHF reception problematic. WVAH ran into similar issues when it first went on on channel 23 in 1982, leading it to relocate to channel 11 in 1988. WHCP did not have that option and was unable to boost the strength of its analog station owing to potential interference with digital television stations in Roanoke, Virginia and Knoxville, Tennessee. It signed on two low-power translators shortly after getting on the air, WBWV-LP channel 69 in Huntington and WOWB-LP channel 53 in Charleston. Even in today's digital era, the station essentially relied on cable and satellite for the majority of its audience, which is all but needed for decent television in most of this wide area, particularly in Eastern Kentucky. Dish Network had aired the station since it began providing a local Huntington-Charleston feed in January 2006, with DirecTV following suit on January 25, 2006. On November 9, 2010, DirecTV began carrying the station in high definition, with Dish following on March 7, 2012.
When UPN and The WB combined to establish The CW in 2006, WHCP joined the new network almost by default. In preparation for the new affiliation, WOWB and WBWV were renamed WOCW-LP channel 21 and WVCW-LP channel 45, respectively, on May 26. On May 31, WHCP followed suit, changing its call letters to WQCW. It first rebranded as "The Q," with a logo that showed The CW's logo changing into a capital "Q," but subsequently adopted the network's generic regional branding style as "Tri-CW." State's
Longtime owner Commonwealth Broadcasting sold the station to Lockwood Broadcast Group on January 20, 2007. The transaction was completed on May 21, 2007. Lockwood's stations are all either major CW affiliates or carry The CW on a digital subchannel.
On June 1, 2012, Lockwood relinquished the WVCW-LP license to the FCC since he did not intend to convert the station to digital. The transmitter was relocated to the WOWK tower in Huntington for the digital changeover. Simultaneously, the station's strength was increased to a full million watts, which is comparable to five million watts in analog. This provided the station with coverage equivalent to the other stations in the market.
Lockwood stated on November 15, 2013, that it will sell WQCW and WOCW-LP to Excalibur Broadcasting for $5.5 million. WQCW would have gone into a shared services agreement with Gray Television, owner of NBC station WSAZ-TV, if the transaction had been allowed by the FCC. Don Ray, the president of Excalibur, was a former general manager of WSAZ. However, this arrangement was abandoned in February 2014 in favor of selling WQCW and WOCW to Gray outright for the same $5.5 million. Gray highlighted in the amended filing with the FCC that WQCW is not among the four highest-rated stations in the area and that with the WQCW acquisition, there would still be eight unique station owners, and in a statement said that "it made more sense to own the stations wholly." In the meanwhile, Gray took over WQCW and WOCW on February 1 through a local marketing agreement. The transaction was finalized on April 1.
The low power repeater WOCW was sold to DTV America Corporation for a nominal payment of $100 on January 14, 2015; WQCW's relocation to the WOWK tower rendered the repeater obsolete.