As W73AP and W17AG
This station was signed on over UHF channel 73 in the 1970s by its original owner WPIX, Inc. as W73AP. It was one of multiple television broadcast translators in New York City which operated at the upper end of the UHF television band in order to provide reliable coverage to certain New York boroughs whose reception was ultimately compromised by construction of the World Trade Center. This translator station relayed WPIX, which operates over VHF channel 11.
Originally, most of the New York City television stations operated their main transmitters from the Empire State Building. However, reliable reception was ultimately compromised for some viewers once the majority of the World Trade Center was constructed, thus necessitating the use of the UHF translators. In response, nearly all of the TV stations, including WPIX, relocated to the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 1975.
In 1982, UHF channels 70 through 83 were decommissioned for use as television stations, and the frequencies were reassigned for the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS), an analog mobile phone system standard developed by Bell Labs which was officially introduced in the Americas in 1983. TV stations operating on these channels were either displaced to in-core broadcast channels, sold, or deleted, depending on the owners desired intentions.
WPIX filed for displacement around this time, and their translator was reallocated to channel 17 with a new alpha-numeric call-sign of W17AG, reflecting the station's new channel number. The station continued to operate as a relay for WPIX.
WPIX ultimately decided it no longer needed channel 17, and sold the station in 1992 to Empire Broadcasting, LLC.
On November 9, 1992, the call sign was changed to alpha-numeric call-sign W17BM, reflecting the station's transfer of ownership. It was then programmed as an independent television station with some music videos and local programming. In 1995, the station branded as KTV airing KBS/Korean programming along with independent programming.
On April 22, 1997, the call-sign was changed to WEBR-LP, which stands for Empire BRoadcasting. The station was later sold to K Licensee, Inc., the owner of NY Radio Korea, who programmed the station as the affiliate of KBS and Korean programming. K Licensee, Inc. later changed their corporate name to K Media, Inc. Over the years it had added news programing called KTV news and 1 hour radio public affairs each week along with foreign news like YTN which was added later that year. Also community calendar during weeknights after the local news programing ends. During the day it air most of the KBS programing along with 30 minute children's programing from that station in Korean language.
On March 5, 2001, the call-sign suffix was changed to WEBR-CA, reflecting the station's new Class A status. Korean programming and KBS was moved up to 5pm to 1pm, while HSN esp ran from 1pm to 5pm on weekdays and on weekends. On September 11, 2001 the affiliate temporarily switch to CNN which airs news coverage as a backup after the planes hit the main transmitter on the north tower. In 2002, HSN esp was dropped to another Korean shopping channel as KNH. The format stays the same. Later that year it ran from 1am to 7am. This lasted until mid-2005, when the programming was temporarily changed back to KBS along with Korean programming. GCN (Global Christian Network) programming began on September 1, 2005. At that time it aired three hours repeated programming for six weeks. Some of the programing came from out of market religious ministries such as international evangelist Reverend Dr. Jaerock Lee sermon series (this still airs everyday over GCN), Quick Study, Day Of Discovery, and some of the promo programing throughout most of the day for a couple of weeks. Children's programming was added on Saturdays from 7-10am and from 8-10 pm to fill most of the gaps. Also testimony concert which airs each week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Additional programming was added in multiple languages on October 10, 2005. After the transition some of the promos was dropped and more religious programing was added most of the day. Thus children's programming was extended to one hour each day and 2 hours during the morning and evenings on weekends. The following year religious news programing was added from CBN along with Worship Network music videos. Later that year movies was added each week along with special programing such as Manmin Central church anniversaries and Dr. Reverend Jaerock Lee overseas crusades.
On September 16, 2009, the call-sign suffix was changed to WEBR-CD. The religious format stays most of the same except the station ID classified as WEBR 17 New York, While WEBR-CD 17 is only used on 17.2 re-branding as KTV.
As a condition for its continued operation on Channel 17, WEBR-CD may not cause harmful interference to operations on Channel 16, as frequencies on that channel are utilized for public safety communications systems within New York City. The station has an agreement with the New York Metropolitan Advisory Committee (NYMAC) which requires any operation on Channel 17 to be reduced or ceased should any interference occur from this channel 17 operation to the public safety operations on the first-adjacent channel below. Any proposed modifications to the respective operations by either the NYMAC or Channel 17 must be made known to the other party, and responses from the other party must be included within such public filings.
WEBR-CD operates at significantly less wattage than its analog predecessor. It also operates with a stringent mask filter which reduces emissions so the channel 17 signal will not exceed -123 DBM within the NYMAC assigned spectrum.
On March 20, 2012, K Licensee Inc., a company whose president is Young Dae Kwon, entered into an agreement to sell WEBR-CD to OTA Broadcasting, a company controlled by Michael Dell's MSD Capital, for $6.6 million. On April 30, 2012, the license was officially transferred. Deal closed on August 15, 2012. http://transition.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/tvq?call=WEBR. Prior to the transfer of ownership of OTA Broadcasting the GCN format stays the same for a couple of months before taking off the air in 2013. With GCN moving to sub channel 17.3 another format was added and it is currently airing Informercials. Later that year in 2013 it switch to Universal Affiliates Network which airs movies, local programing, religious, and most of the infomercials during the day. In 2015, WEBR moved to digital channel 49 for the first time in 32 years.
WEBR becoming the third Korean own and operated station behind WMBC-TV and WKOB-LD to be owned by K license from 1997 to 2012.
WEBR was the third over the air station behind WFME-TV now WNYJ-TV and WTBY-TV to air religious programing in NYC from September 1, 2005 to January 2013.
WEBR is the second over the air station behind WPIX, WMUN-CD, and WCBS-TV. WEBR the only low power station to operate 2 translator stations.
Conversion to digital transmission
In August 2009, the station flash-cut to its present low-power DTV signal, and the call-sign suffix was changed to CD, reflecting the station's Class A status using digital transmission.