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W07CB
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W07CB

Channel 7 Philadelphia, W07CB, was founded in 1992 as Philadelphia's first VHF television station in nearly 30 years. It was the first Philadelphia-licensed VHF since May 1948. Bearing the callsign W07CB, it broadcast with significantly lower power than standard television stations did. The history of the station is less about its programs than about how petty jealousy, backbiting, and grandstanding can tear apart even the most inconsequential of enterprises.

W07CB was not affiliated with a major TV network, and instead at first showed many reruns and old B-movies. General Manager Ron Joseph, who was also a part-owner and former dance-show host, telecast his '70s-era disco shows as well. The station achieved an interesting amount of success under Joseph's stewardship. But a dispute between the four part owners escalated, and Joseph was forced into exile by the others. He relocated to Hollywood, California, and was forced to stay silent on station issues.

Within a year, the station underwent a series of management changes. Infectious Diseases specialist Dr. Walter Moxley IV was named the new general manager. He had had no previous broadcasting experience, but had high hopes for W07CB. His son Michael was brought in as an assistant, but soon thereafter abandoned the station for a position in the U.S. Military.

By June 1994, the station's parent company, Morton Broadcasting, named George Brusstar, operater of a tiny, yet profitable cable television operations in the Philadelphia suburbs, as its Director of Programming. All of the station's programming was abruptly scrapped along with the station's name ("T-V Heaven, Channel 7"). New call letters were announced, and the station's new logo became "The Bell". Brusstar later claimed the model for the new image was Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. Gone were the old disco shows, classic westerns, and vintage sitcoms. The new format was a 24-hour "two-way talk" program featuring live TV hosts sitting at a desk with a phone. Viewers could call in live and sound off on issues of the day with hosts. Brusstar hired former Philadelphia radio performer Dennis Marcucci and Modesto, California television personality Al Mario to host shows on the new lineup. In addition, Brusstar himself was a featured host, and he brought on 17-year-old Port Richmond resident Mike Phillips to appear as a comedic stooge. The station achieved notoriety by featuring the first on-air personality to ever announce his homosexuality live on-air. Advertising revenue picked up, and the A.C. Nielsen Company (which rates television audience size) reported viewership increases sixfold.

A contractual dispute in late 1994 resulted in Brusstar's sudden departure, and all local programming ceased. He was replaced by Mario, who hired local college students, activists, and radio personalities in an attempt to cement a stable evening line-up. Programs included music ("Dr. Soul's Radio on TV"), comedy ("A Sermon from the Reverend Spoonicci"), along with current events commentaries from Mario, homeless activist Leona Smith, and libertarian Sean McBride. From 11 PM to 7PM the following morning, programming consisted of live TV psychics from a low-power New York City station brought in via satellite. By June of 1995, infighting between owners again forced all programming off the air.

When Channel 7 next appeared, it was clear Ron Joseph was back in control; for weeks on end, a two hour VHS loop of his recent wedding played ad nauseum. Joseph attempted to take the station back entirely via a loophole in the partnership agreement (partner Moxley was inprisoned for the assault of a family member), but was unsuccessful. He later opened a similar low-power TV channel in Atlantic City, New Jersey (W08CR, later WELL-TV).

In 1996, with almost no advertisers left, the company was dissolved and the FCC license for Channel 7 was sold to Shooting Star Productions. SSP owner Jerry Leazer defaulted on payments, and the channel eventually went to Barnes Foundation director Richard Glanton. Glanton attempted to launch an all-news product, but deserted the idea after brokering air-time on a more powerful UHF station out of Reading, Pennsylvania.

By the end of the 1990s, Channel 7 operated at an even lower power than it originally did, and programs modern rap music videos. It can only be seen 1.5 miles from its Philadelphia transmitter, as opposed to a 14 miles radius just a few years before.

The station's name is best known for being featured in the Touchstone Pictures 1995 film, Up Close And Personal starring Michelle Pfeiffer as a television reporter at the station. (Pfeiffer never appeared on the actual Channel 7.)