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WCIU

WCIU-TV

WCIU-TV is an independent television station, located in Chicago, Illinois. It operates on UHF channel 26 and is Chicago's oldest UHF station, signing on the air in 1964. WCIU-TV is the flagship station of Weigel Broadcasting, a locally-based broadcaster which has owned the station since its inception. Weigel Broadcasting also owns two low-powered sister-stations, WWME-CA (channel 23) and WMEU-CA (channel 48) in Chicago, as well as stations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and South Bend, Indiana.

WCIU-TV operates a low-power repeater station, WFBN-LP (channel 33), in Rockford, Illinois.

History

Since going on the air on February 6, 1964, WCIU spent much of its history carrying multi-ethnic entertainment. In 1970, Channel 26 was the birthplace of the ground-breaking African-American music program Soul Train, hosted by its creator (and then-WCIU station employee) Don Cornelius. The show later moved into national syndication and to Los Angeles the following year. The show is currently seen on WGN-TV (channel 9), and has been part of that station's Saturday daytime lineup for over two decades. Currently, WCIU is the home of the long-running locally produced show Svengoolie.

From the late 1960s to 1985, WCIU ran religious shows in the early morning. From about 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., it ran The Stock Market Observer (business news similar to today's CNBC) from the Chicago Board of Trade (whose building housed the WCIU studios). After 5 p.m. on weekdays, the station ran Spanish entertainment programming from the Spanish International Network, the forerunner to today's Univision. On weekends, WCIU ran a blend of religious shows, ethnic brokered shows, and Spanish programming. Beginning in the summer of 1985, SIN moved to WSNS-TV (channel 44). WCIU picked up NetSpan, which would later become Telemundo, shortly after. In 1989, Univision returned to WCIU, after WSNS-TV dropped the network.

In 1994, Univision asked WCIU to drop "Stock Market Observer" and all other non-Spanish programs and become a full-time affiliate. WCIU refused, which led Univision to purchase WGBO-TV (channel 66) and move its programming there. On January 1, 1995, WCIU began to broadcast general entertainment programming, taking some of the leftover programming from WGBO, along with newly-purchased shows that were not on the air in Chicago, moving its remaining ethnic programming to its low-powered sister station on channel 23, then WFBT.

Initially, the station continued to run the "Stock Market Observer" from 8:30AM until 3:30PM and entertainment programming afterward and on weekends. WCIU then added a 7-9AM weekday kids block by March 1995. In the fall of 1995, the station began to air Kids' WB in lieu of WB affiliate WGN-TV, which continued to air their morning newscast and afternoon sitcom block instead. The business news was pulled back to 9 a.m. to noon on the weekdays, and a couple years later it would move to their low power station on Channel 23 as "WebFN", a joint venture between Weigel and Bridge Information Systems which also aired on Milwaukee sister station WMLW, and featured several former anchors from WMAQ radio after that station converted to sports talk in 2000 as WSCR.

The channel broadcasted mostly sitcoms and old movies in the 1960s and 1970s, only later to broadcast syndicated shows and sports programming. Eventually more recent sitcoms were added, as well as first-run syndicated fare such as talk shows, court shows, and reality shows. WCIU also carries selected telecasts of the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, and Bulls, produced by WGN-TV. Occasionally, the station will air Bears Monday Night Football games, which are produced by ESPN.

By 1999, WCIU dropped the afternoon kids block and kept Kids' WB programming in the morning. In 2004, the station dropped Kids' WB, which moved to WGN-TV. Today, WCIU focuses on more recent sitcoms, talk shows, court shows, and news magazines.

Early in 2005, the business news format was scaled back to a daily program, "First Business." On January 1, 2005 (exactly 10 years after WCIU became a general-market station,) channel 23's ethnic programming moved to channel 48, and 23 became "ME-TV" WWME-CA expanding a lineup of classic TV shows that had started several months earlier. On March 1, 2008, channel 48 became "Me-Too" WMEU-CA, an extension of ME-TV's "Classic TV" format and channel 48's ethnic programming returned to WCIU on a digital channel "FBT."

In April 2006, WCIU began broadcasting home games of the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, and the Chicago Bulls in 720p HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on its digital signal. In April 2008, WCIU began broadcasting both home and away games of the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs in 720p HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on its digital signal.

In July 2008, Weigel announced the creation of This TV, a nationwide subchannel network operated as a joint venture of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Weigel Broadcasting. It is currently unknown if or where it would be offered on WCIU's digital channel.

WCIU is also known for its "dog promos" where Chicagoan's pet dogs are filmed to promote shows on the station. Casting calls are announced on the station's website every few months.

Digital television

WCIU's digital channel features multicasting of four digital channels:

Channel Programming
26.1 WCIU's regular schedule; offers some sports programming in high definition
26.2 "Me TV", simulcast of low-power analog channel 23 (WWME-CA), which has a "classic TV" format
26.3 "Me Too," simulcast of low-power analog channel 48 (WMEU-CA), an extension of "Me TV," with more classic programs
26.6 FBT--Time brokered ethnic programming; formerly carried on WFBT-CA Channel 48, its ethnic programming is now exclusively on this digital subchannel

Analog-to-digital conversion

After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on February 17, 2009, WCIU-TV will remain on its current pre-transition channel number, 27. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers will display WCIU-TV's virtual channel as 26.

Local programming

  • Ultrascope (a program sponsored by Sears which was used to sell UHF-capable televisions and converter boxes within their Chicagoland stores. An early version of Music Choice featuring a clock/album cover display and album audio which aired from 9am-5pm daily)
  • Ted and the Angel (talk show with Angel Tompkins), 1967-1968
  • The Homework Show, 1995-2006
  • U Dance with B96, 1995-1997 (American Bandstand-type show with DJs from WBBM-FM)
  • Svengoolie, 1994-present
  • Stooge-A-Palooza, 2003-present (Three Stooges showcase with Rich Koz)
  • Rock of Ages, 1970?-present (religious)
  • A Black's View of the News, 1968-?? (news)
  • Soul Train, 1968-1971 (syndicated thereafter)
  • The Bob Lewandowski Show, 1964-1995 (Fansite)
  • Stock Market Observer, 1968-2000
  • WebFN, 2000-2003 (replaced SMO)
  • First Business, 2003-present (replaced WebFN)
  • Kiddie-A-Go-Go, 1964-1967
  • Western Theatre with Two Ton Baker (1964–1965)
  • Marty Faye Show

Current Syndicated programming

Future Syndicated progaramming

Past Syndicated programming

External links

References

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