WCIU-TV: Wikis


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Chicago, Illinois
Branding The U
Slogan U'z got it!
Channels Digital: 27 (UHF)
Virtual: 26 (PSIP)
Subchannels (see article)
Translators WFBN-LP 33 Rockford, IL
Affiliations Independent
Owner Weigel Broadcasting
(WCIU-TV Limited Partnership)
Founded February 6, 1964
Call letters’ meaning Chicago's
I (first in Roman numerals)
UHF station
Sister station(s) WWME-CA, WMEU-CA
Former channel number(s) Analog:
26 (1964–2009)
Former affiliations SIN (late 1960s-1985)
Telemundo (1985–1989)
Univision (1989–1995)
Kids' WB (1995–2004)
Transmitter Power 160 kW
Height 510 m
Facility ID 71428
Transmitter Coordinates 41°52′44″N 87°38′8″W / 41.87889°N 87.63556°W / 41.87889; -87.63556
Website http://www.wciu.com

WCIU-TV is an independent television station, located in Chicago, Illinois. It operates on UHF digital channel 27 (virtual 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.



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. 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 thereafter. In 1989 Univision returned to WCIU after they and WSNS-TV traded network affiliations.

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. They also revived Svengoolie, which had previously run in the market on other stations.

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 children's programming from The WB Television Network (known as Kids' WB) in lieu of WB affiliate WGN-TV (channel 9), 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 Monday Night Football contests involving the Bears, which are produced by ESPN.

By 1999, WCIU dropped the afternoon kids block and kept children's 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.[1] This TV was officially launched on November 1, 2008 and is currently offered on digital channel 26.4.[2]

WCIU is also known for its "dog promos" where Chicagoan's pet dogs are filmed to promote shows on the station.[3] Casting calls are announced on the station's website every few months.

Weigel Broadcasting launched You and Me This Morning, a program that features entertainment news.[4][5]

Digital television

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

Channel Video Aspect Programming
26.1 720p 16:9 WCIU's regular schedule; offers some sports programming in high definition
26.2 / 23.1 480i 4:3 MeTV, simulcast of low-power analog channel 23 (WWME-CA), which has a "classic TV" format
26.3 / 48.1 480i 4:3 Me Too, simulcast of low-power analog channel 48 (WMEU-CA), an extension of "Me TV," with more classic programs
26.4 480i 4:3 This TV, a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Weigel Broadcasting[2]
26.6 480i 4:3 FBT, time brokered ethnic programming; formerly carried on WFBT-CA Channel 48, its ethnic programming is now exclusively on this digital subchannel. This subchannel is also simulcasted on WFBN-LP Channel 33 in Rockford.

WCIU-TV is broadcasting digitally on its current pre-transition channel number, 27.[6] However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers are displaying WCIU-TV's virtual channel as 26. Also, the "WCIU-TV" callsign was transferred from the now-defunct analog channel 26 to digital channel 27 on June 12, 2009 and the "WCIU-DT" callsign was removed.

Since June 13, 2009, WCIU-TV has also been simulcasted on low-power analog station WWME-CA Channel 23 to provide a nightlight service. From June 13 to July 12, 2009, they even aired newscasts from WMAQ-TV & WGN-TV for those viewers who either were unready or had problems since the June 12 digital transition.[7]

Station logo used from 1995 to 2008

Local programming

  • Ultrascope (a program sponsored by Sears which was used to sell UHF-capable televisions and converter boxes within their Chicago area 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
  • Green Screen Adventures 2007-present (also syndicated to This TV and other Weigel stations)
  • 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, 1970-1971 (syndicated thereafter)
  • The Bob Lewandowski Show, 1964-1995 (Fansite)
  • Outdoor Sportsman, 1970s-1982?; originally on WSNS Channel 44, it was produced and hosted by local outdoorsman Joe Wyer
  • Stock Market Observer, 1968-2000
  • WebFN, 2000-2003 (replaced SMO)
  • First Business, 2003-present (replaced WebFN, syndicated through MGM Television)
  • Kiddie-A-Go-Go, 1964-1967
  • Western Theatre with Two Ton Baker (1964–1965)
  • Marty Faye Show


External links

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