This article is about the Milwaukee commercial television station. For the student-run station at Villanova University please see WVTV (Villanova). For the southern West Virgina digital subchannel branded as WVTV, see WVNS-DT2.
WVTV (Channel 18) is CW 18, a television station located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and serves as Southeast Wisconsin's CW affiliate. With a transmitter located on Milwaukee's northwest side, its signal covers most of the market including the cities of Racine, Kenosha, Sheboygan and Waukesha. WVTV is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group and is sister station to WCGV Channel 24.
Early years (1953-1965)
The station went on the air as WOKY-TV on channel 19 on October 3
then purchased the station in 1954. This resulted in a call letter change to WXIX (for 19 in Roman numerals
). It became WXIX on February 27
. For four years, WXIX was the CBS O&O
in Milwaukee, but struggled because of UHF
's light penetration into homes at the time. The station shifted to its current Channel 18 position in 1958 in an FCC
channel alignment change. Shortly afterwards, CBS began to look for a stronger VHF
station, so in 1959 it shifted the affiliation to WITI
Channel 6. WXIX went dark, but went back on the air on July 20
after being purchased by Gene Posner, the owner of Cream City Broadcasting and others. From this point on WXIX was an independent station
, and in 1963
changed its call letters to WUHF after an ownership change.
calls now reside on Cincinnati
affiliate Channel 19, with the WUHF
call letters now based on Rochester, New York
's Channel 31 (another Fox station), a sister Sinclair station to Channels 18 and 24.
Independent era (1966-1998)
Gaylord Broadcasting bought the station in 1966, and changed its call letters to WVTV. This started Channel 18 on its path to become one of the most popular independent stations in the country, with strong local programming such as The Bowling Game
(which would eventually be syndicated across the Midwest), along with a strong slate of syndicated
programs such as cartoons, classic off network sitcoms, more recent sitcoms, drama shows, sports, and movies. Being a Gaylord station, the channel focused on programming geared towards a rural audience opposed to the more urban fare presented by Milwaukee's other stations. Long-time staples on WVTV included Hee Haw
(which was produced by sister division Gaylord Entertainment), The Lawrence Welk Show
as well as syndicated reruns of Green Acres
and The Andy Griffith Show
. Andy Griffith
is still part of the station's daytime lineup.
The station aired The Dick Cavett Show
from the early 1970s which was pre-empted by then ABC affiliate WITI
. The station also aired The Tonight Show
, due to WTMJ
(Channel 4) being denied permission by NBC
to air the program at a later time so that they could air syndicated programs after their late news.
became more popular, WVTV's signal started to be carried on most cable systems in Wisconsin. This resulted in the station becoming Super 18
in 1987, with the tagline 'Wisconsin's Superstation'. WVTV was also the longtime home of the Milwaukee Brewers
, Milwaukee Bucks
, and area college sports teams. The station was carried on Green Bay
area cable systems until June 2007, when WWAZ
(Channel 68) replaced it
The station had a one-hour primetime newscast called The 9 O'Clock Nightly News
starting in 1989
, which featured anchors Liz Talbot and Duane Gay. Previously the station aired news and weather in a capsule format of 2-5 minute segments in-between programming (example
WVTV continued to be the leading independent station until Fox's
programming over on competitor WCGV
(Channel 24) became popular. The station's ownership went into a state of flux after Gaylord decided to leave the television business (except for its stake in The Nashville Network
). By 1994 the station would agree to enter into a local marketing agreement
with WCGV, which was owned by Abry Broadcasting. The stations merged operations together into WVTV's studios at N. 35th St and Capitol Drive, and the newscast on WVTV was discontinued shortly thereafter. Duane Gay would then move on to WISN
(Channel 12), where he continued on as a reporter, even after being diagnosed with a vicious form of soft tissue cancer
in 1997; Gay would continue to work for Channel 12 in any capacity he physically could, and spoke well of his time at WVTV until he died on April 26
WVTV was originally supposed to be a charter WB affiliate in January 1995. However, the New World/Fox affiliation deal
in 1994 (which included Milwaukee's WITI
(Channel 6) shifted network affiliations in many markets, which included Dallas/Fort Worth
, where Gaylord owned then-independent KTVT
(Channel 11). Because New World's KDFW
(Channel 4) in that market shifted from CBS to Fox, Gaylord took the CBS affiliation for KTVT, then used that leverage to gain CBS affiliation for their Seattle
Though WVTV was relatively unaffected by all of these shuffles and didn't take the CBS affiliation for Milwaukee (which eventually went to then-small WDJT
(Channel 58)), Warner Bros. decided to not honor affiliation deals for Gaylord stations, keeping WVTV an independent and forcing Milwaukee viewers to watch The WB on cable via Superstation WGN
, which was then carrying the network nationally on cable. At this time Channel 18 was airing more syndicated talk shows during the day, and aired first-run syndicated programming such as Xena: Warrior Princess
and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
in prime time under the branding VTV Prime
In 1996, Gaylord would sell WVTV to Glencairn Corp., which continued the local marketing agreement with WCGV. Sinclair had become WCGV's owner as a result of a merger with Abry. Glencairn in turn was owned by a former executive of Sinclair; thus Channel 18 was by default in the control of Channel 24 and Sinclair.
The WB (1998-2006)
WVTV continued to be an independent station until early in 1998, when The WB
was pushing for more national distribution beyond the Tribune
stations and Superstation WGN. After Sinclair made a large WB affiliation deal for stations throughout their chain, WVTV picked up the network in 1998 and changed its identification to WB18
WVTV finally became fully owned by Sinclair in 2000, after a long legal battle between Sinclair and Jesse Jackson
and his Rainbow/PUSH
coalition about the racial issues of one concern holding two broadcast licenses in a market, the thinking being that the Glencairn ownership was making end-around as an arm of Sinclair, and used the LMA to gain control of the station. By this point however, the FCC had overturned these rules that had disallowed a duopoly
of stations in a market, and the sale to Sinclair did go through despite these objections.
The station resumed airing a newscast in August 2003 under the title of WB18 News at 9
, a mix of local news from WVTV's facility, and Sinclair's News Central
programming from its Baltimore, Maryland
studios, with the local segments on weeknights anchored by Lisa Fielding, and Tami Hughes usually doing weekends. The program was reduced to a half-hour in September 2005 due to ratings concerns, and was eventually discontinued
on March 31
due to cutbacks in Sinclair's news operations companywide. Fielding currently anchors and reports at various times on Chicago news radio
(780), while Hughes is now on WITI as a general assignment reporter.
Though some rumors indicated Channel 18 would resume a newscast which would be produced by another station in the market, there has not been any interest by Milwaukee's Big Four network stations.
Sinclair announced on May 2, 2006 that WVTV would become the CW's Milwaukee affiliate upon the network's launch on September 18, 2006. Sister station WCGV affiliated with My Network TV two weeks before on September 5, creating one of five Sinclair-owned and/or controlled CW/My Network TV duopolies in the country. WVTV continued to identify as WB 18 all through the summer, fully launching their new CW branding officially as CW 18 on September 18, though the week before the station's logo bug was changed to the CW18 logo with "premieres Monday" to the left side.
The CW (2006- )
WVTV's current schedule consists of all CW programming airing in pattern, as the station currently carries no sports programming. During the morning the station runs some paid religious programming and The 700 Club
, and early afternoon a double run of longtime station staple The Andy Griffith Show
, followed by Judge David Young
, Judge Karen
, and then the The CW Daytime
lineup, which features Judge Jeanine Pirro
and reruns of archive WB sitcoms. The station's early-evening lineup consists of the syndicated version of Deal or No Deal
, Everybody Loves Raymond
, and two episodes of Two and a Half Men
After The CW's primetime lineup, Scrubs airs twice along with The King of Queens, followed by second episodes of Raymond, Two and a Half Men and Friends. Single episodes of According to Jim, Sex and the City and Still Standing complete the station's late night lineup, followed by infomercials. A Late, Late Movie ends the broadcast day at 3am, usually featuring a b-movie or older films.
Varied sitcoms air through the weekends, along with several movies throughout Saturday and Sunday, along with a new locally-produced horror film presentation with local continuity from "Makovan", Dead of Night Theater, on early Sunday mornings. The station carries just over the minimum amount of educational and informational children's programming, as the The CW4Kids lineup features one hour of E/I shows, and the station airs Horseland and Sabrina's Secret Life weekday mornings at 7am.
2008 Packers Preseason games
Because of non-pre-emptable coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics on WTMJ, WVTV aired two Green Bay Packers preseason games against the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos on August 16 & 22, respectively, a role previously taken by WPXE (Channel 55) in the 2004 pre-season .
Cable carriage of WVTV-DT
On June 28, 2007, Time Warner Cable
began carrying WVTV's digital
signal on their southeastern Wisconsin systems on Channel 518, along with WCGV on Channel 524, after Sinclair and Time Warner came to a compensation agreement for the stations Charter Communications
, the other dominant cable provider in the area, came to a compensation agreement in April 2007, but has not announced when WVTV-DT and WCGV-DT will be added to their HD lineup.
, WVTV will remain on channel 18 when the analog to digital conversion is complete.