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WGTU / WGTQ
Wgtu variation.png

Tv7-4 logo.png
WGTU: Traverse City / Cadillac, Michigan
WGTQ: Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
Branding ABC 29&8
TV 7&4 (on DT2)
Channels Digital:
WGTU: 29 (UHF)
WPBN-DT2: 47.2 (UHF)
WGTQ: 8 (VHF)
WTOM-DT2: 35.2 (UHF)
Subchannels 29.1 / 8.1 ABC
29.2 / 8.2 NBC
Owner Tucker Broadcasting
of Traverse City, Inc.
(operated through SSA by Barrington Broadcasting)
First air date WGTU: August 23, 1971
WGTQ: 1976
Call letters’ meaning WGTU: Grand
Traverse UHF
WGTQ: Grand
Traverse Quality
Sister station(s) WPBN-TV / WTOM-TV
"WBVC"
Former channel number(s) WGTU:
29 (UHF analog, 1971-2009)
31 (UHF digital)
WGTQ:
8 (VHF analog, 1976-2009)
9 (VHF digital)
Transmitter Power WGTU: 68.4 kW
WPBN-DT2:
500 kW
WGTQ: 15 kW
WTOM-DT2: 78 kW
Height WGTU & WPBN-DT2:
393 m
WGTQ: 288 m
WTOM-DT2: 168 m
Facility ID WGTU: 59280
WPBN-DT2: 21253
WGTQ: 59279
WTOM-DT2: 21254
Transmitter Coordinates WGTU & WPBN-DT2:
44°44′53.3″N 85°4′8.6″W / 44.748139°N 85.069056°W / 44.748139; -85.069056
WGTQ:
46°3′8.2″N 84°6′38.8″W / 46.052278°N 84.110778°W / 46.052278; -84.110778 (WGTQ)
WTOM-DT2: 45°39′0.6″N 84°20′36.9″W / 45.650167°N 84.343583°W / 45.650167; -84.343583 (WTOM-TV)

WGTU is the ABC-affiliated television station for the Northern Lower and Eastern Upper Peninsulas of Michigan that is licensed to Traverse City. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 29 from a transmitter east of Kalkaska. Like other network affiliates serving this vast rural area, they operate a full-time satellite (WGTQ) that s licensed to Sault Ste. Marie. This station airs a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 8 from a transmitter approximately thirty miles SSE of Sault Ste. Marie near Goetzville in Southeastern Chippewa County. Together, the two are known on-air as ABC 29&8 and serve 23 counties in the Northern Lower Peninsula, three counties in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, and portions of Northern Ontario including Sault Ste. Marie's Canadian sister city.

ABC 29&8 is owned by Tucker Broadcasting of Traverse City but operated through a shared services agreement (a.k.a. SSA) by Barrington Broadcasting (owner of NBC affiliate WPBN-TV and its full-time satellite WTOM-TV). ABC 29&8 are based at TV 7&4's studios on M-72 west of Traverse City. WGTU / WGTQ operate the area's cable-only CW affiliate "WBVC" on Charter channel 61. ABC 29&8 airs 24 hours a day during the week although it airs a test pattern for a short period overnight on the weekends. Syndicated programming on the station includes: Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, According to Jim, and Judge Judy.

History

Previous version of their logo.

WGTU began broadcasting on January 23, 1971. Before that, ABC programming in Northern Michigan was split between CBS affiliates WWTV / WWUP (soap operas / game shows) and WPBN / WTOM (weekend sporting events). In 1976, they added WGTQ in Sault Ste. Marie to bring the full ABC schedule to the eastern Upper Peninsula. That station has not been available on cable in Canada since the early-2000s. In Sudbury, the Persona cable system pulled WGTQ in favor of WXYZ-TV from Detroit. In Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d'Or, Quebec, Cablevision replaced WGTU with Boston's WCVB-TV. In the Canadian Sault, local cable provider Shaw Communications opted instead for Flint's ABC affiliate WJRT-TV though it was later replaced by WXYZ.

From the start, ABC 29&8 has been locally owned-and-operated most recently by Tom Scanlan (who also owned Marquette's ABC affiliate WBUP) until the 2003 sale to Max Media. In early-November 2006, ABC 29&8 upgraded their digital signals to begin offering ABC programs in high definition which can also be seen on Charter digital channel 788. On September 19, 2007, an application was filed to the FCC by Max Media to sell WGTU / WGTQ and its CW cable-only station to Tucker Broadcasting for $10 million dollars. After FCC approval, Tucker entered into a shared sales agreement with Barrington Broadcasting. According to the FCC filing, WPBN / WTOM would sell advertising time and provide other programming for ABC 29&8. The same was approved in April 2008. After TV 7&4 renovated their studios over the Summer, the operations of WGTU / WGTQ and the CW station moved into that location. Originally, ABC 29&8 had studios on East Front Street in Downtown Traverse City.

At some point in time, "WBVC" was added to a new second digital subchannel of WGTU. This was done to offer non-cable viewers access to CW programming. It also began using the WGTU-DT2 call sign in an official manner. Another result of being in an operation agreement with TV 7&4 is the ability to transmit a digital signal from both ABC and NBC at each of their transmitter locations (in Cheboygan, Kalkaska, and Gatesville). NBC from WPBN now airs on WGTU-DT2 in place of "WBVC". On June 12, 2009, WGTU and WGTQ reverted their digital signals back to the previous analog signal locations as part of the switch to digital-only broadcasting. It is at this point when WGTQ began offering NBC from WPBN on a new second digital subchannel.

Programming

ABC 29&8 clear the entire ABC schedule even though through 2008 the ABC programming on the last Sunday in January was preempted for the yearly CBN / 700 Club telethon as a part of their commitment to airing The 700 Club weekday mornings since the 1980s. This was also due to CBN personality Tim Robertson (son of Pat) owning an interest in former station owner Max Media causing complaints about the pre-empted ABC Sports programming. The issue became moot when Tucker / Barrington discontinued airing the show in Fall 2008 when it moved to Fox affiliated WFQX / WFUP.

After ABC 29&8 consolidated their operations with TV 7&4, it became possible there would be full newscasts on this station produced by the latter. Since 1984, there have been virtually no local broadcasts except for weekday morning news and weather cut-ins during Good Morning America (which were dropped) as well as a ten minute news and weather update seen weeknights at 11. ABC 29&8's only on-air personality Lori Puckett (who continues to anchor the weeknight update) appeared on TV 7&4 in the local segments of the 2008 Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. One notable former news personality from WGTU / WGTQ is Marc Schollett who is now the weeknight anchor at TV 7&4.

External links

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