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WPWR-TV
MyWPWR.PNG
Gary, Indiana - Chicago, Illinois
Branding My50 Chicago, Cable 8
Slogan The Power Station
Channels Digital: 51 (UHF)
Subchannels 50.1 MyTV
Affiliations MyNetworkTV (since 2006)
Owner Fox Television Stations
(Fox Television Stations, Inc.)
First air date April 4, 1982
Call letters’ meaning PoWeR
Sister station(s) WFLD
Former callsigns Digital:
WPWR-DT (2000's–2009)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
60 (1982–1987)
50 (1987–2009)
Former affiliations Independent (1982-1995)
UPN (1995-2006)
Transmitter Power 1000 kW
Height 523 m
Facility ID 48772
Transmitter Coordinates 41°52′44″N 87°38′10″W / 41.87889°N 87.63611°W / 41.87889; -87.63611
Website http://www.my50chicago.com

WPWR-TV, channel 50, is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station licensed to Gary, Indiana, and serving the Chicago, Illinois area. WPWR-TV is owned by Fox Television Stations, a division of the News Corporation, and is a sister station to Fox network outlet WFLD-TV (channel 32). The two stations share studio facilities in the Chicago Loop, and WPWR's transmitter is located atop the Willis Tower.

History

The station began as a split, two-station operation on April 4, 1982 on channel 60 and licensed to the Chicago suburb of Aurora. Fred Eychaner's Metrowest Corporation (later to become Newsweb Corporation), which was the original applicant for the channel 60 license in 1978, launched WPWR-TV with a large percentage of its broadcast schedule dedicated to a new pay television service called Sportsvision, which Eychaner had developed in a deal with Chicago White Sox co-owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn. For the service, viewers had to pay for a set top converter and subscription fees to watch their favorite sports teams. However, Sportsvision was not a success and moved to cable in January 1983. With Sportsvision gone, Eychaner began running public domain movies and old sitcoms from the early to middle-1950s as well as old cartoons. In 1984, familiar classic sitcoms and newer barter cartoons were mixed in.

WPWR shared the channel 60 frequency with another station, Spanish-language WBBS-TV, owned by Chicago resident Marcelino Miyares, who assisted Eychaner in completing the construction of channel 60. WBBS featured an array of Spanish-language programs, including telenovelas,movies, as well as locally-produced shows, such as, the popular music video show, Imagen, hosted by the Chicago Spanish-language television personality (and now media executive) Rey Mena and co-host Vivianne Plazas. One of WBBS's notable events occurred in 1984, when the station introduced the teen group Menudo (which included a young Ricky Martin), to Chicago's spanish audiences. WBBS programmed channel 60 from 7:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. seven days a week, with WPWR broadcasting the rest of the time.

Another twist in this arrangement was that although WBBS broadcast from the same transmitter, WBBS-TV was actually licensed to West Chicago while WPWR-TV, as per the FCC's channel assignment table, was licensed to Aurora.

The 1985 announcement of WSNS-TV's affiliating with the Spanish International Network (the forerunner to today's Univision) caused WBBS to end weekday programming at the end of 1985, with the exception on weekends when it ran Spanish movies into 1986.

Meanwhile, Eychaner spent $1.5 million for WGMI, a channel 56 construction permit licensed to Gary that had been held by a group of Indiana businessmen since 1976, but was never built. Then, in 1985, Eychaner acquired the educational broadcast license for WCAE, licensed to channel 50 in St. John, Indiana. He then swapped the licenses and channel 56 became WYIN (now licensed to Gary). Eychaner then proceeded to rebuild channel 50 as a commercial station, with plans to move WPWR's programming there.

In early 1986, Eychaner bought WBBS's share of channel 60 for $11 million, ending the split-channel arrangement. A year later, Eychaner sold channel 60 to the Home Shopping Network for $25 million. The channel switch occurred on January 18, 1987: HSN changed channel 60's call letters to WEHS (it is now WXFT) and at the same time, WPWR moved to channel 50. WPWR's first program on its new frequency was an episode of the anthology series Night Gallery.

WPWR logo from 1990-1995.

The additional swap to channel 50 was claimed to be needed because channel 56 supposedly was unable to move its transmitter to the Sears Tower due to the presence of Channel 60 there. WYIN, the PBS station on channel 56 in Gary, later tried to move its transmitter to the Sears Tower, but was rebuffed by Chicago PBS stations WTTW and WYCC due to market-exclusivity issues with PBS programming. The swap was delayed due to a failed suit by WGBO-TV (channel 66). WGBO maintained the additional channel move from 56 to 50 was to isolate WGBO at the far end of the dial and so that no one would mistake 56 for 66 both which end in 6 and could be accidentally punched on a keyboard like remote control.

First logo as a UPN affiliate, 1995-Fall 2002

As time went on, WPWR began acquiring many cartoons, more recent off-network sitcoms, drama shows, movies, and first-run syndicated shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987 and War of the Worlds in 1988. At least one Star Trek spinoff would air on WPWR from that time until June 2005, when the last network episode of Star Trek: Enterprise was broadcast. In January 1995, WPWR became a charter UPN affiliate and continued adding syndicated programming to its lineup.

Second UPN logo, used from Fall 2002-January 2006.

In July 2002, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Newsweb Corporation sold WPWR to the News Corporation for $425 million -- a handsome return on Eychaner's original investment. The sale closed on August 21, 2002. As a result of this transaction, Fox now owned UPN's three largest affiliates. It already owned WWOR-TV in New York City and KCOP-TV in Los Angeles as a result of buying most of the television holdings of Chris-Craft Industries the previous year. Although rumors abounded that UPN's future was in jeopardy due to its three largest stations being effectively owned by another network, Fox quickly signed a new affiliation deal with UPN.

Power 50 logo used temporarily after the CW announcement, January 2006-July 2006.

On January 24, 2006, the UPN and WB networks announced they would merge into a new network called the CW Television Network. The new network signed a 10-year affiliation deal with Tribune, which called for most of Tribune's WB affiliates including Chicago's WGN-TV to join the new network. The new network's affiliate list didn't include any of Fox's UPN affiliates. In response, Fox stripped all UPN branding from its UPN affiliates and stopped promoting UPN programming. It was very unlikely that WPWR would have been selected as The CW's Chicago affiliate, however. Officials with The CW were on record as preferring the "strongest" UPN and WB affiliates for their network, and WGN-TV had been well ahead of WPWR in the ratings for some time.

A month later, Fox announced the formation of its own network, MyNetworkTV with WPWR and the other Fox-owned UPN affiliates as the nuclei. WPWR had reverted to its pre-UPN branding of "Power 50," and used it for most of the Summer of 2006. However, at the same time the station began to use the "My 50" moniker in some advertising to promote the change, particularly at sponsored events such as the Taste of Chicago. In July 2006, WPWR officially rebranded itself as My 50.

Occasionally as time permits, WPWR may now air Fox network programming whenever WFLD cannot in the event of an emergency. Also, WPWR breaks into live programming when WFLD does to deliver breaking news coverage.

Starting in the 2008 season, WPWR now airs Chicago Fire Major League Soccer games. The station aired 18 games in the 2008 season. In a homecoming of sorts, WWE SmackDown also returned to WPWR as it was picked up by MyNetworkTV from The CW in October 2008.

Digital television

WPWR is now digital-only. WPWR-TV is also broadcasting digitally on its current digital channel, 51, and digital television receivers are displaying WPWR-TV's virtual channel as 50.1. WPWR's former analog channel 50 frequency is now used by the post-DTV transition signal of TeleFutura station WXFT-DT. On June 12, 2009, the "WPWR-TV" callsign was legally and officially transferred from the now-defunct analog channel 50 to digital channel 51, and the "WPWR-DT" callsign was retired.

External links

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