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Chicago, Illinois
Branding Telemundo Chicago
Slogan Mas de lo que esperas
Channels Digital: 45 (UHF)
Virtual: 44 (PSIP)
Subchannels 44.1 Telemundo HD
44.2 Programa Pagado SD
Affiliations Telemundo
Owner NBC Universal
(NBC Telemundo License Company)
First air date April 5, 1970
Call letters’ meaning Essaness (former owner)
Sister station(s) WMAQ-TV
Former channel number(s) Analog:
44 (UHF, 1970–2009)
Former affiliations Independent (1970–1985)
ON-TV (1980–1985)
SIN (1985–1987)
Univision (1987–1989)
Transmitter Power 467 kW
Height 472 m
Facility ID 70119
Transmitter Coordinates 41°52′44″N 87°38′10.2″W / 41.87889°N 87.636167°W / 41.87889; -87.636167

WSNS-TV, channel 44, is an owned-and-operated station of the Spanish-lanuguage Telemundo network, located in Chicago, Illinois, USA. This station is owned by NBC Universal, which is also the parent company of Telemundo. WSNS-TV shares its studio facilities with sister station WMAQ-TV (channel 5) within the NBC Tower, and its transmitter is based on the Willis Tower.





WSNS-TV, Chicago's fourth-oldest commercial UHF station, station began broadcasting on April 5, 1970. It was initially owned by a consortium of investors including Harriscope (which owned 50 percent) and the Essaness Television Corporation, from which the station's call letters arose. The transmitter and small studio were located on the 97th floor of the John Hancock Center.

The station programmed an all-news format in its early days. During the day, the station aired an alphanumeric feed of news reports supplied from wire services. The lower third of the screen displayed a commercial banner for Continental Bank, while elevator music played continuously. Every seven minutes a four-sided board would turn in front of a camera to show headlines, traffic reports, sports scores and birthdays.

The first program added to the format was the 10-minute long Underground News. It began on July 1, at 11:50 p.m. when the AP wire feed changed to local news, produced and directed by Howie Samuelsohn, and written by Linda Freedman. At that time, the banner ad changed to "Head Imports" and the music changed to The Grateful Dead. Most of the news concerned the Anti-War Movement. On November 16, 1970, the station moved to newly constructed studios on Grant Place in Chicago's Lincoln Park (they have since been demolished). With a staff consisting of local talent and a team of recent graduates from Southern Illinois University, the station went "live." One of the first live-on-tape programs was a revamped version of "Underground News", called Underground News hosted, reported and co-produced by Chuck Collins. Collins was a 21-year-old recent graduate in political science. Eventually, the show was bought by Collins and Samuelsohn and became syndicated in more than a dozen cities. Later, Collins went on to capture seven Emmy Awards for NBC News, two Peabody Awards, a duPont Award and the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award.

To secure a mattress store advertiser, the station ran a news show titled Heart of the News, which featured an anchorwoman reading the news in a provocative manner on a heart-shaped bed. [1]. That program was short-lived, but the second anchorwoman, Judith Wright, anticipated by years current-day shows such as Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, as she would make funny and ironic commentaries on news stories picked off the AP wire during the day. Judith Wright later went on to become a Ph.D. geochemist, an ironic twist for a young starlet. She later invented a method of using fish bones to clean up heavy metal contamination in water and soil.


By the mid-1970s, the station was running a general entertainment schedule. Basically, WSNS was the "also ran" station in the market, running some off-network sitcoms, old movies, religious shows, etc.

WSNS obtained the broadcast rights to the Chicago White Sox baseball team in 1973 from WFLD and aired their games until 1980. The White Sox games at the time were announced by legendary play-by-play man Harry Caray; WGN-TV actually produced the games for WSNS via contract (Caray appeared on WGN's newscasts in the 1970s and was thus an employee of that station). Later, the games returned to WFLD and WGN proper (twice).

In 1972, WSNS aired (via satellite) hockey's 1972 Summit Series that featured Team Canada vs. the Soviet Union. WSNS also aired Chicago Bulls basketball games from 1973–76, as well as Chicago Cougars WHA hockey from 1972-75. From 1976 until 1980, WSNS aired the NHL Game of the Week on Mondays, and started airing Chicago Blackhawks road games from 1978–1980 (those games were also simulcasted with WCFL-AM, which was the Blackhawks' radio outlet at the time). That marked the last free TV outlet for the Blackhawks until 2008, when WGN-TV resumed airing their games. Through the 1970s, WSNS aired college basketball featuring the Purdue Boilermakers, the Indiana Hoosiers, and in the late 1970s, the DePaul Blue Demons.


Following an effort by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to promote alternative programing efforts by the UHF broadcasting spectrum, such as subscription TV, WSNS filed for and received one of the many subscription TV licenses awarded in the US. The subscription service was known as ONTV. Most major cities had one or two licensed subscription TV operators. To obtain a subscription TV license the station had to provide the FCC with the proposed programing in detail (usually first run movies, morning children's shows and late night adult entertainment, much like HBO or Showtime offers)The station was required to install a unscrambling device in each home that would unscramble the TV signal that was broadcast by the station. During one of the license renewal periods a group filed a motion with the FCC to contest the license for WSNS using the argument that the FCC did not have the right to allow a station the use of public airwaves for a subscription fee. This case was ultimately settled and WSNS later decided that the subscription TV model was not viable commercially. Then WSNS became a full-time affiliate of the Spanish International Network (which became Univision a few years later) with a three year deal. WCIU was the original S.I.N. affiliate, running programming after 5 PM and business news during the day. WCIU then switched to Net Span (which would become Telemundo in 1987).

WSNS then switched to Telemundo in 1989. A majority controlling stake (74.5 percent) of the station was sold to Telemundo in 1996 (with Essaness retaining a 25.5 percent stake). This provided Telemundo with their first # 1 market penetration of the US and allowed Telemundo to establish themselves as a viable Hispanic Language outlet against their principle competitor, Univision. In 1990, the station began to broadcast Spanish-language newscast at 5 and 10. These were anchored by Luisa Martinez and Augusto Torrez and featured Elio Montenegro as lead reporter and fill-in anchor.


When NBC purchased Telemundo in 2002, WSNS became part of the newly enlarged conglomerate, creating Chicago's first commercial duopoly between two full-power television stations. At that time, WSNS moved its operations to the NBC Tower, the home of WMAQ-TV. One year later, NBC became the sole owner of WSNS when it bought out Essaness' stake in the partnership.

Digital television

On June 12, 2009, WSNS-TV ended analog broadcasts on UHF channel 44 as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station remained on channel 45 for its post-transitional operations, using PSIP to display its virtual channel as 44. WSNS-TV's main transmitter was also transferred from the John Hancock Center to the Willis Tower.

The station's signal is multiplexed:

44.1 1080i 16:9 Main WSNS-TV/Telemundo programming in HD
44.2 480i 4:3 Programa Pagado (infomercials) in SD


  • In the 1970s, the Emergency Broadcast System required many stations to shut down in the event of a national emergency. When a false alarm took place on February 20, 1971, WSNS was the only station to respond correctly and shut down.[citation needed]


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