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.
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, and experts agree W07CB found itself in a period of decline. 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 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, in an act of desperation, the station's parent company, Morton Broadcasting, named a young George Brusstar its Director of Programming. Brusstar had been operating tiny, yet profitable cable television operations in the Philadelphia suburbs. Brusstar quickly began devising a plan to salvage diminishing revenues and viewership. At 7 o'clock on Sunday evening, July 17, 1994, 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. Phillips' buffooneries were a staple on the channel. The station achieved notoriety by featuring the first on-air personality to ever announce his homosexuality live on-air (in the days when such topics were considered "taboo"). Advertising revenue picked up, and the A.C. Nielsen Company (which rates television audience size) reported viewership increases sixfold. A contractual dispute in 1995 resulted in Brusstar's sudden departure. He was replaced by Mario, who was dismissed within weeks for poor ratings performance. Joseph was allowed to come back from Hollywood and fix the damage, but even the station's founding partner could not work enough magic to rescue his creation. 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.
Today Channel 7 operates 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. At one point, it was visable about 14 miles in each direction.
The station became nationally known after 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.)