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WGN America
WGN America 2009 logo.svg
Launched October 1978
Network The WB/Kids' WB (1995-1999)
Owned by Tribune Company
(Tribune Broadcasting)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Slogan Everywhere America Calls Home (general)
Chicago's Very Own (used during WGN newscasts) [1]
Country United States
Language English
Broadcast area United States
Headquarters Chicago (programming)/
New York (sales)
Formerly called WGN (1978-2001)
WGN Superstation (2001-2002)
Superstation WGN (2002-2008)
Sister channel(s) WGN-TV, CLTV
Galaxy 14 Transponder 13 (DVB)
DirecTV Channel 307
Dish Network Channel 239
Verizon FiOS Check local listings for channels (Also in HD)
Available on most cable systems Check local listings for channels

WGN America (formerly known as "Superstation WGN" or "WGN Superstation") is a Chicago-based American superstation for WGN-TV, owned by Tribune Broadcasting Company. WGN America offers its national programming across North America without the CW network programming that is carried on the Chicago area feed. It is the only remaining national superstation after TBS became a regular cable channel on October 1, 2007 (although WGN is still not available in most New England cable services).

WGN America is available via satellite to DirecTV and Dish Network as well as cable in the United States as well as through some smaller Canadian cable companies; most Canadian viewers which previously received the previous Superstation WGN feed now receive the WGN-TV Chicago feed. In the Chicago metropolitan area, WGN America is not available on cable or terrestrial digital but is available to DirecTV, and Dish Network.

WGN America has no separate East and West Coast feeds; as such, promos refer to shows airing at the same time on the Eastern Time Zone and the Pacific Time Zone (ex., America's Funniest Home Videos would be advertised as airing at "7 p.m. East/4 p.m. West", which it has used since the rebrand in lieu of referring to those zones as Eastern and Pacific).




Differences between Chicago and national

In October 1978, United Video uplinked the signal of WGN-TV Channel 9 in Chicago to the Satcom-3 satellite for cable and satellite subscribers nationwide. For over 11 years, the national program schedule was the same as Chicago's.

In 1989, a new law known as Syndication Exclusivity Rule, or "SyndEx", was passed. This law means that whenever a local station has the exclusive rights to air a syndicated program in their market, it must be blacked out on any out-of-town stations by the local cable company. On January 1, 1990, a separate national feed of WGN-TV was launched to avoid any blackouts, save for some sports programming, similar to WWOR-TV's "WWOR EMI Service", only with fewer blackouts.

One major programming difference between the national and Chicago area feeds is that WGN America does not carry CW Network programming (which does appear on WGN-TV Chicago), as that network is available in most markets around the country. Superstation WGN did carry programming from the former WB Network nationwide (which Tribune had an ownership interest in) from the network's launch in 1995 until 1999, when local station coverage was deemed sufficient enough by Time Warner and Tribune to discontinue airing The WB on Superstation WGN, giving the network an early advantage over UPN (which declined to allow former superstation WWOR to carry their network nationwide). Moreover, some markets with Tribune-owned stations do not have WGN America on analog or digital cable. During this period, Superstation WGN also carried Kids' WB, which was carried only on the Superstation due to WGN's local morning newscast (It was seen in Chicago at the time on WCIU-TV, channel 26).

Change to WGN America

On May 24, 2008, Superstation WGN formally changed its name to WGN America. Initially, its use was limited to promos, as the Superstation WGN idents remained in use. The new name and logo (which was similar to the 1988-1997 logo used by The Movie Channel) went into fulltime use on the channel on Memorial Day, May 26, 2008. The channel would soon begin a slow change in its programming lineup, starting with the Sunday night "Out of Sight Retro Night" block, featuring older programs such as WKRP in Cincinnati, Newhart and The Honeymooners, some of which aired on WGN prior to the syndex era, or even after the start of syndex on the Chicago signal only.

A few shows, such as former WGN staples U.S. Farm Report and Soul Train, had been dropped, mostly due to the dissolution of Tribune's television studio division. The transition process for a full rebranding was expected to take 12 to 18 months.[2] In late July 2008, the network's logo bug was revised - the eyes element of the logo morphed into the words WGN America, and have also remained a part of the general logo in all other uses until the beginning of 2009. From January to April 2009, the text of the WGN America logo bug became the main logo with the eyes element.

Tribune Chairman/CEO Sam Zell and CEO Randy Michaels have also stated to the media during a nationwide tour of Tribune properties that they would like to lure comedian Jay Leno into the Tribune fold as the host of a new late night program after the end of Leno's run as host of The Tonight Show on NBC in 2009, by launching it on Tribune stations and using WGN America as a lynchpin for the show [3]. However, in December 2008 NBC retained the rights to Leno by moving his show to 10:00 and creating The Jay Leno Show.

In April 2009, WGN America rebranded the channel, with a new retro-style logo, a new five note sounder equivalent to the NBC chimes (this same sounder is also in use on WGN Radio in Chicago), new graphics, a new slogan ("Everywhere America Calls Home"), and new original programming. The channel did so to increase cable carriage outside the network's traditional carriage area and position itself as a general entertainment channel that programs to the entire nation, not just Chicago and the Midwest. [2]


The network now relies primarily on a variety of re-runs and movies, such as I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies, America's Funniest Home Videos (from the Bergeron and Fugelsang/Fuentes era of that series), Scrubs, 7th Heaven, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Cosby Show, South Park, In the Heat of the Night, Nash Bridges, and Matlock. Other programs that the network features at times are Coach and NewsRadio. As of September 2009, the only "SyndEx-proof" shows airing on WGN America that air on the local Chicago feed are the religious program Singsation!, the local public affairs program People to People, Legend of the Seeker, Smash Cuts and WWE Superstars.

Films, which formed the majority of the station's primetime schedule until the "Superstation WGN" branding era, also continue to air on the network, but mostly in weekend time periods. However, the channel does still air movie presentations on weeknights with the "Drive-in Theater" on Tuesdays (the title is also used for its weekend matinee presentations), "Way Back Wednesday with Winslow", featuring films released in the 1980s and hosted by Michael Winslow of Police Academy fame and the Friday night "Movie Underground", hosted by Marc Chase and April Rose (portraying "The Night Watchman" and "The Nightie Watchman", respectively). Monday primetime is reserved for a three-hour block of America's Funniest Home Videos and Thursday primetime is reserved for WWE Superstars and America's Funniest Home Videos.

The channel at present is heavily reliant on classic series during the late morning and afternoon hours, and also airs a Sunday night classic comedy block called Outta Sight Retro Night, which consists of reruns of The Cosby Show, Newhart, Barney Miller and Cheers.[4] The lineup starts at 5:00 p.m. ET, breaks away at 10:00 p.m. ET for WGN News at Nine and Instant Replay, and resumes from 11-2 a.m. ET.[5]

WGN America programming chief Sean Compton revealed the new fall 2010 line-up in an October edition of Variety. It was revealed that for over a year WGN America had been quietly buying hit off-network sitcoms. In September 2010 the hit TV shows How I Met Your Mother, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Entourage join the line-up. It was also revealed that 30 Rock will be joining the line-up in September 2011 along with another sitcom Compton would not reveal. The syndicated edited version of South Park recently joined the network's line-up. In a Chicago Tribune article it was mentioned that the network will look entirely different come fall 2010 when the new shows sign on.

Original programming

On August 21, 2008, it was announced that radio hosts Bob and Tom would join the WGN America line-up on November 3, 2008; the video simulcast of that show is produced for Tribune's Indianapolis sister operation WXIN/WTTV by B&T flagship station WFBQ.[6] WGN America also simulcasts or airs on a delayed basis many Chicago-based programs produced by WGN's local department, such as local parades, event coverage, or retrospective shows on WGN's past.

On December 19, 2008, WGN America confirmed a deal with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to show WWE Superstars as a one hour program every week, starting April 16, 2009.[7]

Newscasts and other WGN-TV programming

WGN America's national feed does not carry the WGN Morning News (it is claimed that the newscast was dropped in 1996 due to "SyndEx" rules on some segments) as well as the 11 a.m.-noon portion of the WGN Midday News and the 5 p.m. newscast (there is no known explanation as to why the 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. newscasts are not cleared on the superstation feed; these newscasts are however carried via live streaming on, but it does air the Noon-1 p.m. portion of its midday newscast as well as the 9 p.m. newscast (All Central Time) and the Sunday night sports highlight show Instant Replay. The Illinois Lottery drawings on weekdays around 12:40 p.m./CT during the midday newscast and nightly around 9:20 p.m./CT during the 9 p.m. newscast, as well as the Tuesday and Friday night Mega Millions and Wednesday and Saturday night Powerball multi-state lottery drawings airing immediately after the 9 p.m. news also air on WGN America. WGN America will carry out all of the newscasts of WGN-TV in the coming future.

The nightly newscast is occasionally pre-empted on WGN America due to certain sporting events that air on WGN-TV that are not cleared to air outside of Chicago, or if a movie or special on WGN America runs past 10:00PM/ET; an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos (either one from the 1997-1999 Daisy Fuentes-John Fugelsang run if a scheduled primetime movie ends at 10:30PM/ET, or an episode from the 2001-present Tom Bergeron run may air at 10:00PM/ET if the newscast is preempted outside of Chicago due to a sporting event not cleared to air on WGN America) will typically air in its place in the event the newscast is to be preempted.

Other local programs carried on the local Chicago area feed that are also carried on the Superstation feed include the Saturday morning public affairs program People to People and movies.

Sports programming

WGN America airs all Cubs and White Sox baseball games televised on WGN-TV's local Chicago feed, as well as a select amount of Bulls basketball games. Due to NBA broadcast rights restrictions, most Bulls games contracted to air on WGN-TV are seen in the Chicago area only; WGN America airs movies and other syndicated programming instead. With former superstation TBS having moved its national broadcasts of the Atlanta Braves to its local Atlanta WPCH-TV feed in 2008, it leaves WGN as the only superstation broadcasting local sports to a national audience.[8] WGN gained the over-the-air rights for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks in 2008; however, these games are exclusive to WGN-TV and syndicated programming or movies air in its place on WGN America as these games are not cleared to air nationally (this is despite the fact that many Chicago Blackhawks games are not aired often on other cable channel outlets nationally to a wide audience, except for on the NHL Center Ice pay-per-view package and select telecasts on NBC, NHL Network, Versus and ESPN).

WGN in Canada

On January 17, 2007, many cable systems in Canada, as well as Star Choice (now Shaw Direct), switched to the WGN-TV Chicago feed, duplicating CW Network and many syndicated programs already available on other channels. This is a result of Shaw Broadcast Services (the main supplier of the WGN feed in Canada) switching to the local feed. It is believed that the switch was made to avoid fees required to carry Superstation WGN. WGN America continues to be carried on other cable systems in Canada (such as MTS TV), however Bell TV has been carrying the WGN-TV Chicago feed for several years.

WGN America HD

WGN America HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast of WGN America. It is available on AT&T U-verse, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS, and other systems. Cubs and White Sox baseball, Bulls basketball, WWE Superstars, WGN newscasts, and most episodes of Corner Gas are in high definition. WGN began broadcasting its news in high definition on July 19, 2008.


  • Chicago's Very Own (1983–present; used during WGN newscasts)
  • Entertaining America (1997–2001)
  • It's Great to Be Home (2005–2008)
  • TV You Can't Ignore (2008–2009)
  • Everywhere America Calls Home (2009–present)
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