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Chicago, Illinois
Branding ABC 7 Chicago (general)
ABC 7 News (newscasts)
Slogan People Make the Difference
Chicago's #1 News
Your News. Your Way.
Channels Digital: 44 (UHF)
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
Subchannels (see article)
Translators 7 (VHF) Chicago
Affiliations ABC
Owner Disney/ABC
(WLS Television, Inc.)
First air date September 17, 1948
Call letters’ meaning World's
(reflecting its sister radio station's past ownership by Sears)
Former callsigns Analog:
WENR-TV (1948–1953)
WBKB (1953–1968)
WLS-TV (1968–2009)
WLS-DT (1996–2009)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
7 (1948–2009)
52 (1996–2009)
7 (6/12/2009–10/31/09)
Transmitter Power 346 kW
Height 475 m
Facility ID 73226
Transmitter Coordinates 41°52′44″N 87°38′8″W / 41.87889°N 87.63556°W / 41.87889; -87.63556

WLS-TV is a television station in Chicago, Illinois. The station is owned and operated by Walt Disney Company-owned American Broadcasting Company. The station operates their full power digital operations on UHF channel 44, with their digital fill-in translator on VHF channel 7. Both operating frequencies are transmitted from the Willis Tower. WLS-TV produces its broadcasts at 190 North State Street in The Loop and The WLS-TV call letters stand for "World's Largest Store," recognizing their AM sister station's founding part-owners, Sears, Roebuck and Company.



The station first went on the air as the third TV station in Chicago (after WBKB-TV which later became WBBM-TV and WGN-TV) on September 17, 1948 as WENR-TV. It was named after WENR-AM, ABC's Chicago radio affiliate. As one of the original ABC-owned stations on channel 7, it was the second station after WABC-TV in New York City to begin operations, ahead of WXYZ-TV in Detroit, KGO-TV in San Francisco and KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

In 1953, ABC merged with United Paramount Theatres, the former theater division of Paramount Pictures. UPT owned WBKB on channel 4 (which shared a CBS affiliation with WGN-TV) but the new ABC could not keep both, because of Federal Communications Commission regulations at that time. As a result, WBKB was sold to CBS and renamed WBBM-TV; while WENR was renamed WBKB-TV. The old WBKB's talent stayed at WBBM (which moved to channel 2), while the old WBKB's call letters and management moved to channel 7.

The general manager from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s was Sterling "Red" Quinlan,[2] who was a giant in early Chicago television. He was instrumental in the careers of Tom Duggan, Frank Reynolds, and Bob Newhart. The station courageously aired The Tom Duggan Show in the mid-1950s, which was the most popular show in Chicago far out drawing other network competition. The station became WLS-TV on October 7, 1968,[1] after WLS-AM, which ABC had owned since 1959. Today, the WBKB-TV calls are used by a CBS affiliate in Alpena, Michigan.

Digital Television

WLS-TV's operation is multiplexed:

RF Channel
Name Programming
7.1 44.1 720p 16:9 WLS-DT Main WLS-TV programming/ABC HD
7.2 44.2 720p 16:9 Livwell Live Well HD Network
7.3 44.3 480i 4:3 WLS-SD ABC 7 News Now/The Local AccuWeather Channel

Upon completion of the digital transition, WLS officially transferred the "WLS-TV" legal callsign from the now-defunct analog channel 7 to the original post-transition digital channel 7, and discontinued the "WLS-DT" callsign. In late 2009, after moving full-power digital operations to UHF channel 44, the "WLS-TV" callsign was moved to channel 44. with the callsign "WLS-LD" Even though WLS-TV converted VHF channel 7 into a digital fill-in translator and it is a -LD facility (-LD meaning "Low-power Digital"), it uses the same call letters like their main full power facility. However, the PSIP identifier for WLS-TV's virtual channels still continues to identify the station as "WLS-DT."

After the digial transition on June 12, 2009, WLS moved from out-of-core UHF Channel 52 to their pre-analog VHF channel 7 for their digital operations. WLS operated their digital signal at low power (4.75 kW) to protect the digital signal of WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan (which also broadcasts on channel 7, but with much higher power). As a result, many viewers were not able to receive the station.[2] The FCC sent extra personnel to Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City to deal with difficulties in those cities. WLS had received 1,735 calls just by the end of the day on June 12 (WBBM only received 600), and an estimated 5000 calls in total by June 16.

WLS-TV was just one station which needed to increase its signal strength or move its frequency to solve its problems, but a power increase required making sure no other stations were affected.[3] WLS received a two-week experimental permit for a power increase late in June.[4] WLS had also applied for a permit to construct a low-power fill-in digital translator station on UHF channel 32, (the former analog frequency of WFLD)[5] but abandoned that plan. Eventually the FCC granted it a permit to transmit on a second frequency, Channel 44,[6] formerly occupied by WSNS-TV, and WLS announced the availability of that frequency on October 31, 2009. [7] WLS is operating channel 7 as a fill-in translator with a power of 4.75 kW & operating their new full power operations on channel 44 with a power of 346 kW under an STA for six months. Through PSIP technology, both operating frequencies are re-mapped and displayed as virtual channel 7, which would cause some digital tuners to have two versions of virtual channels 7.1, 7.2 & 7.3. They are expected to operate channel 44 at the 473.3 kW power level in the near future.

Since WLS-TV officially moved their full power operations to channel 44, they are the only ABC O&O to vacate from their analog channel for their digital operations and the 2nd ABC O&O to operate their full power operations on the UHF band, after KFSN-TV.



Station oddities

WLS-TV airs Jimmy Kimmel Live! in a one-hour delay at 12:07 a.m. instead of 11:07 p.m. due to airing the re-broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show after Nightline. It is also the only ABC owned-and-operated station not to air Live with Regis and Kelly, with the WABC-TV-produced show on WGN-TV instead.[8]

Syndicated programming produced in Chicago

Other WLS-TV produced programs

  • 190 North - local life style program named after the station's studio address at 190 N. State St. in the Loop - began broadcasting in HD on Sunday, May 6, 2007
    • Sundays 10:35 p.m., reruns Saturdays 11:05 p.m. (airs later during the fall season)
  • Chicagoing - local public affairs program
    • Sundays 11 a.m. (11:30 a.m. during the fall season)
  • The Chicago Huddle - local sports program about the Chicago Bears hosted by Ryan Chiaverini [9]
    • Sundays 10:30 a.m. (during football season)
  • Let's Dish, for the Live Well HD Network[10]
    • Shown locally on Channel 7.2.[11]

News operations

WLS, like the other ABC owned-and-operated stations, adopted the Eyewitness News format in the late 1960s after it became a hit at flagship WABC-TV in New York. Fahey Flynn, a local broadcaster known for his bow ties and Joel Daly served as the anchormen of the newscasts from the mid 1960s until the early 1980s. In 1973, Eyewitness News surpassed WMAQ-TV to become Chicago's top-rated new operation, a lead it held until WBBM-TV surpassed it in 1979. For much of the 1970s and 1980s, it waged a spirited battle for second place in the Chicago news ratings.

WLS-TV's ABC 7 News opening.

By 1983, a disastrous anchor change had dropped WLS into third place. That prompted two major changes. First was the hiring of Dennis Swanson as General Manager, who in turn, hired Bill Applegate as News Director. Secondly, ABC commissioned Frank Gari to write an updated version of the Cool Hand Luke theme widely associated with the Eyewitness News format. The result was News Series 2000, which was quickly picked up by the other ABC O&Os.

Swanson was instrumental in hiring Oprah Winfrey to host its then low-rated morning talk show, "AM Chicago," in 1983. Within a year, it had shot to first place. It was picked up nationally in 1986 and renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. Channel 7 still airs it today, along with most other ABC O&Os. Swanson also hired lead anchor John Drury, who had previously worked at WLS, WBBM and WGN-TV and Floyd Kalber, who had led WMAQ-TV to the top of the ratings in the 1960s.

Drury and Mary Ann Childers were a popular anchor team at WLS during the 1980s and 1990s, accompanied by weatherman Steve Deshler and sportscaster Tim Weigel. In March 1986, WLS passed WBBM as the highest-rated news station in Chicago. It has held the lead ever since, aside from a brief period when WBBM managed to forge a tie for first.

WLS-TV's State Street Studio Sign, c. 2007.

As of 1996, the station currently brands its newscast as "ABC7 News" even though it still uses the same basic format from its Eyewitness News days. The station has been using its current news music package, News Series 2000 Plus by Frank Gari since 1992. It also updated the on-air graphics for its newscasts on Saturday, June 3, 2005.

The new State Street Studio officially debuted Monday, April 10, 2006 during the stations' morning newscast, but they started broadcasting their newscast from the new studio on Saturday, April 8, 2006.[12]

On the weekend of April 29-30, 2006, WLS-TV began using Chopper 7 HD.

On Saturday, January 6, 2007, WLS-TV became the first Chicago station to broadcast its entire news and local programming in high definition.

On Sunday, December 23, 2007, the State Street Studio became breaking news when a minivan drove through a reinforced studio window two minutes into the 10 p.m. newscast, startling anchor Ravi Baichwal on air and creating a 20° draft, but injuring no one.[13]

News Team

Current on-air talent

Left to right: Ron Magers and Kathy Brock.
Ron Magers and Cheryl Burton anchor the June 16, 2006 edition of ABC 7 News at 5:00, as seen from State Street.

Current Anchors

  • Stacey Baca - weekend mornings (also weekday field reporter)
  • Ravi Baichwal - weekend evenings (also weekday field reporter)
  • Kathy Brock - weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Cheryl Burton - weeknights at 5 p.m.
  • Judy Hsu - weekday mornings (also field reporter)
  • Karen Jordan - weekend evenings (also weekday field reporter)
  • Alan Krashesky - weekdays at 4 and 6 p.m. (also host of "NewsViews")
  • Ron Magers - weeknights at 5 and 10 p.m.
  • Sylvia Perez - weekdays at 11 a.m. (also "Healthbeat" reporter)
  • Kevin Roy - weekend mornings (also weekday field reporter)
  • Hosea Sanders - weekday mornings (also field reporter)
  • Linda Yu - weekdays at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

ABC 7 MetroVision Weather

  • Jerry Taft (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Mark Bishop (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; Saturday mornings
  • Tracy Butler (AMS/NWA Seals of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings and 11 a.m.
  • Mike Caplan - Weather Anchor; weekdays at 4 p.m.
  • Phil Schwarz (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; Sunday mornings and weekend evenings
  • 1 WLS-TV Weather Anchor Carries AMS/NWA Seals of Approval Except Mike Caplan

Sports Team

  • Mark Giangreco - Sports Director; weeknights at 5 and 10 p.m.
  • Ryan Chiaverini - Sports Anchor; weekend evenings (also sports reporter and host of the "Chicago Huddle")
  • Jim Rose - Sports Anchor; weekdays at 4 and 6 p.m.


  • Roz Varon - weekday mornings
  • Thom Johnson - weekday morning fill-in

Local Program Hosts

  • Bill Campbell - "Chicagoing" host
  • Janet Davies - "190 North" host (also features and entertainment reporter)
  • Theresa Gutierrez - "The ñ Beat" host (also field reporter)


  • Michelle Alegria - "190 North" contributor
  • Dave Ball - "190 North" contributor
  • Doug Banks - "190 North" contributor
  • Ben Bradley
  • Steve Dolinksy - food reporter
  • Michelle Gallardo
  • John Garcia
  • Chuck Goudie - chief investigative reporter
  • Theresa Gutierrez
  • Evelyn Holmes
  • Leah Hope
  • Jason Knowles
  • Frank Mathie - feature reporter
  • Paul Meincke
  • Karen Meyer - disablilty issues reporter
  • Mark Nilsson - "190 North" contributor
  • Sarah Schulte
  • Charles Thomas - political reporter

News directors

  • Phyllis Schwartz (1993-1998)
  • Eric Lerner (1999-2001)
  • Jennifer Graves (2001-present)
Television.svg This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.

Past personalities

  • Mike Adamle - sports anchor (1983-1988, now at WMAQ-TV)
  • Diane B. Allen - anchor/reporter (1979-1982)
  • Andy Avalos - weather anchor (1983-1993, now at WMAQ-TV)
  • Jim Avila - reporter (1980-1984)
  • Roberta Baskin - investigative reporter (1980-1984)
  • Nancy Becker - anchor (1974-1977)
  • Jay Berry - sports anchor
  • Jeff Blanzy - sports anchor/reporter (1998-2009)
  • Carol Bogart - reporter (1978-1981)
  • Diann Burns - anchor/reporter (1985-2003)
  • Lou Canellis - "190 North" contributor (1999-2008, now at WFLD-TV)
  • Jann Carl - reporter (1983-1984, most recently of Entertainment Tonight)
  • Susan Carlson - traffic reporter (1998-2002, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Mary Ann Childers - anchor/reporter (1980-1994, now Senior Consultant at Res Publica Group)
  • Lauren Cohn - anchor/reporter (1994-1998, now at WFLD-TV)
  • John Coleman - longtime meteorologist (1968-1979)
  • Liza Cruzat - "190 North" contributor (1999-2002)
  • John Culea - reporter (1977-1980)
  • Joel Daly (longtime anchor from 1967-2005, also part-time legal contributor 2005-2007, now retired)
  • Gary Deeb - media critic/commentator (1983-1995) - now retired in Matthews, N.C.
  • Steve Deshler - weather anchor (1980-1993)
  • John Drury - anchor (1970-1979 and 1984-2002, deceased)
  • Tom Duggan - talk show/mob basher (1954-1956, deceased)
  • John Edwards
  • Steve Edwards - A.M. Chicago host (1975-1978), now host of Good Day LA at KTTV in Los Angeles
  • Dr. Dave Eiser - weather anchor (1981-1984)
  • Joan Esposito - anchor/reporter (1981-1989)
  • Russ Ewing - investigative reporter (1981-1995)
  • Fahey Flynn - anchor (1968-1983, deceased)
  • Bill Frink - sports anchor (1968-1979, deceased)
  • Judie Garcia - anchor/reporter (1996-2001, now at WGN-TV)
  • Mike Jackson - anchor/reporter (1983-1989)
  • Dick Johnson - anchor/reporter (1982-2002, now at WMAQ-TV)
  • Rob Johnson - weekend anchor/reporter (1998-2006, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Jack Jones (1980-1984, deceased)
  • Floyd Kalber - anchor (1984-1998, deceased)
  • Lonnie Lardner- weekend anchor (1983-1986)
  • Jay Levine - reporter, weekend anchor, 6PM anchor (1974-1990, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Al Lerner - sports anchor (1978-1984)
  • Dr. Walt Lyons - meteorologist (1976-1979)
  • Johnny Mountain- meteorologist (1977) Later to KABC in LA now on KCBS and KCAL in LA
  • Cora Ann Milhalik - anchor (1982-1984)
  • Kent Ninomiya - reporter (1993-1998)
  • Mike Nolan - sports anchor (1975-1978)
  • Terry Murphy - reporter/5PM anchor (1976-1980), later co-anchor of Hard Copy
  • Brad Palmer - sports reporter/anchor (1985-2006)
  • Kim Peterson - anchor/reporter (1979-1982)
  • Bob Petty - weekend anchor/reporter/host of Weekend Edition (1971-2002)
  • Dan Ponce - reporter (2006-2009)
  • Harry Porterfield - features reporter/host of People, Places, & Things/Someone You Should Know (1985-2009, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Jim Ramsey - weather anchor (1980-1983, now at WGN-TV)
  • Frank Reynolds - anchor/reporter (early 1960s?-1967, later at ABC News, deceased)
  • Charlie Rose - A.M. Chicago host (1978-1979), now host of his own self-titled late-night talk show on PBS
  • Jim Rosenfield - anchor/reporter (1989-1998)
  • Charles Rowe - anchor/reporter (1969-1973). Last worked for KREM-TV in Spokane, WA from 1987-2007. Currently retired.
  • Tim Ryan - reporter (1983-1989)
  • Warner Saunders - host of For Blacks Only (1965-1972), later at WBBM-TV and WMAQ-TV, now retired
  • Mark Schanowski - sports anchor/reporter (1990-1998, now at Comcast Sportsnet Chicago)
  • Andy Shaw - political reporter (1983-2009, now Executive Director at Better Government Association)
  • Jack Smith - reporter (1970-1976), later at ABC News, deceased
  • Joe Templeton - anchor (1964-1967)
  • Paul Udell - anchor 4:30 The Eyewitness Newsmagazine (1980-1982)
  • James Ward - restaurant/food critic (1985-2005, deceased)
  • Tim Weigel - sports anchor/short time anchorman (1977-1994, deceased)
  • Oprah Winfrey - anchor/host of A.M. Chicago, which evolved into her current program (1984-1988)
  • Robb Weller - A.M. Chicago host (1980-1983), later co-anchor of Entertainment Tonight
  • Larry Yellen - reporter/producer (1982-1993 now at WFLD-TV)

News/Station presentation

Newscast titles

  • Tomorrow's News Tonight (early 1950s)
  • Channel 7 News (mid-late 1950s)
  • Flynn-Daly News (early 1960s)
  • Flynn-Daly Eyewitness News (mid 1960s)
  • Channel 7 Eyewitness News (late 1960s-1996)
  • ABC7 News (1996-present)

Station slogans

  • Still The One on Channel 7 (1977-1980; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • You and Me, and Channel 7 (1980-1981; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • 7's On Your Side (1980-1983)
  • Now is the Time, Channel 7 is the Place (1981-1982; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • 7's On The Move (1984-1985)
  • The Chicago Area's Leading News (late 1980s-1991)
  • You'll Love It on Channel 7 (1985-1986; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
  • Chicago's #1 News (1991-present)
  • People Make the Difference (2000-present)
  • Your News. Your Way. (2008-present)
Television.svg This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.

News Music Packages

See also


  1. ^ Television News section, Chicago Tribune, October 6, 1968.
  2. ^ Eggerton, John (2009-06-17). "Weigel's Analog Nightlight Could Help Chicago Stations With Reception Issues". Broadcasting & Cable. 
  3. ^ Wong, Wailin (2009-06-17). "DTV Transition Problems Linger; FCC Beefs Up Role". Chicago Tribune.,0,5744081.story. 
  4. ^ Eggerton, John (2009-06-29). "Boise Station Gets Power Boost". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "ABC7 is adding a DTV frequency; UHF frequency should help reception". October 31, 2009. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Live Well HD Network debuts". April, 2009. 
  11. ^ "TV Schedule for Chicago, Illinois". Live Well HD Network. 
  12. ^ ABC7 Unveils State Street Studio, ABC 7 Chicago, April 25, 2006
  13. ^ YouTube - WLS-TV Studio Car Crash

External links


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