|Channels||Digital: 43 (UHF)
|Owner||Ion Media Networks, Inc.
(Paxson Chicago License, Inc.)
|First air date||May 31, 1976|
|Call letters’ meaning||Chicago's PaX TV|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
|Former affiliations||religious independent
Pax TV (1998-2005)
|Transmitter Power||200 kW|
WCPX-TV is the Ion Television owned and operated station in Chicago. It transmits its digital signal on UHF channel 43 using PSIP to display virtual channel 38.x on digital television receivers and digital-to-analog converter boxes. Previously, it transmitted an analog signal on channel 38 (now occupied by Univision station WGBO-DT).
Chicago's channel 38 was originally a construction permit for the Chicago Federation of Labor's WCFL-TV. The plans were for a fourth general entertainment independent station, but even a market as large as Chicago would not be able to support one. They were unable to obtain financing and so the station was never built.
By the summer of 1974, the Chicago Federation of Labor was looking for a buyer for its construction permit and five million watt transmitter for WCFL-TV, channel 38 which they had since the 1960s. No mainstream commercial broadcaster at the time was interested but there were several minority broadcasters that were. One was Spanish International Newtork (now Univision), which had a part time affiliate on Channel 26 WCIU. But they were outbid by a Christian group called Christian Communications of Chicagoland.
This group was founded in 1971 when Pastor Owen C. Carr approached his church's board of directors with a desire to begin a Christian television station for the Chicago area. Carr's then congregation, The Stone Church, raised $135,000 by the end of September 1973. At the same time, Christian Communications of Chicagoland was incorporated. In 1974, a commitment to purchase the construction permit of channel 38 was made. The First National Bank of Evergreen Park financed $600,000 for the purchase of needed equipment and a studio. The transfer of the Channel 38 license was approved by the FCC in November 1975. The sale was consummated in March of 1976. On May 26 they received permission to change WCFL-TV to WCFC- Winning Chicagoland For Christ, and at 5:00 pm, May 31, 1976, from the Olympic Studios on the city's near west side, WCFC signed on with the Holy Bible opened to the first chapter of Genesis, read by a proud Pastor Carr. The 700 Club then aired. The station was on the air daily from 6 to 9 p.m. On Sunday, the station was on from 12 to 9 p.m. WCFC was only the fourth full-time Christian station nationwide. Jerry Rose, who previously worked for a Channel 39 KXTX Dallas, was hired as general manager. He helped Pat Robertson build that station. KXTX, though, was a general entertainment station with Christian programming only a few hours a day and all day Sunday. WCFC had no plans for any secular programming.
By the fall of 1976, the station was on the air 6 hours a day, and by 1977, 12 hours a day. In 1979, WCFC began 24 hour a day operation. A locally produced show called Among Friends aired twice a day on weekdays. The station also ran the 700 Club live from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on weekdays. They ran the repeated the hour long portion of the show in the evenings and early mornings. They also ran both hours of PTL Club and repeated the primary hour in the afternoon. The station also ran well known national evangelists like Rex Humbard, Jimmy Swaggart, Kenneth Copeland, Oral Roberts, and many others. The station also ran a small amount of Catholic programming. One notable guest on their live local Christian program, Among Friends, was Mother Angelica. Her visit to WCFC inspired her to begin EWTN a couple years later. So WCFC had influence on the founding of EWTN.
The station also ran many Christian children's programs such as Joy Junction, Davey & Goliath, Sunshine Factory, Circle Square, Superbook, and others. WCFC continued to grow in the 1980s. The station remained a full-time Christian station well into the 1990s.
Then in 1996, Bud Paxson started shopping for stations to form his Pax Network of family oriented programming. As a result, WCFC was sold to Paxson Communications in 1998. The call letters were changed to WCPX, but the station continued with its Christian lineup from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. daily and Pax TV's family programs from 12 p.m. to midnight. Overnights consisted of Worship music. With the proceeds from the sale of WCFC-channel 38 to Pax, Jerry Rose founded the Total Living Network, a Christian television network that is popping up on cable systems across the country. Rose also purchased a low-power UHF station in Rockford on channel 51. Known as WCFC-LP, Rose is waiting on FCC approval to change the calls to WTLN. Christian Communications still also owns a full power UHF station in San Francisco, KTLN.
WCPX, however, remained a Pax TV network affiliate, which became i in 2005 and ION Television in 2007. Most of morning Christian programming was dropped gradually from about 2002 to 2005. A couple hours of daily Christian programming remains on WCPX. The rest of the day until 4 p.m. is filled with infomercials. From 4 to 10 p.m., WCPX offers family programming such as sitcoms, drama shows, movies, and game shows.
The station offers no news, but it does offer a public affairs show: i on Chicago, every Tuesday at 5AM.
WCPX-TV's signal is multiplexed:
|38.1||Ion HD (WCPX-HD 38.1) (720p)|
|38.2||qubo (Children's Programming)|
|38.3||Ion Life (Ion Health Channel)|
|38.4||Worship TV Channel (Religious Programming)|
As of April 2, 2009, the Chicagoland affiliate officially started to broadcast Ion television programming in HD (720p).
On June 12, 2009, WCPX-TV continued digital broadcasts on its pre-transition channel number, 43. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WCPX-TV's virtual channel as 38. Also, the "WCPX-TV" callsign was transferred from the former analog channel 38 to digital channel 43, and the "WCPX-DT" callsign was discontinued.
WCPX-TV's former analog channel 38 is now occupied by the post-transition digital signal of WGBO-DT.