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WXFT-DT
WXFT Logo.png
Aurora/Chicago, Illinois
Branding TeleFutura 60
Channels Digital: 50 (UHF)
Subchannels 60.1 TeleFutura HD
60.2 TeleFutura SD
Owner Univision Communications, Inc.
(TeleFutura Chicago, LLC)
First air date April 20, 1982
Call letters’ meaning C(X)hicago/Xtreme TeleFuTura
(WCFT was already in use)
Sister station(s) WGBO-DT, WOJO, WPPN
Former callsigns WBBS-TV (1982–1987)
WEHS (1987–1992)
WEHS-TV (1992–2001)
WXFT (2001–2003)
WXFT-TV (2004–2009)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
60 (1982–2009)
Digital:
59 (until 2009)
Former affiliations Spanish independent (1982-1987)
HSN (1987-2002)
Transmitter Power 172 kW
Height 508.7 m
Facility ID 60539
Transmitter Coordinates 41°52′44″N 87°38′8.9″W / 41.87889°N 87.635806°W / 41.87889; -87.635806
Website TeleFutura

WXFT-DT is a TeleFutura-affiliated television station, offering Spanish language entertainment programming such as movies, serials, comedies, children's shows, and sports. Owned by Univision Communications, the station is licensed to Aurora, Illinois, but serves the Greater Chicago market.

History

The original station to transmit on channel 60 was WLXT-TV, which signed on in 1969 and operated on evenings and weekends. WLXT broadcast Northern Illinois Huskies football on tape delay and Mickey Mouse cartoons; both of these, as well as all other WLXT programming, were transmitted in black-and-white. One part-time WLXT employee was Jeff Skilling (then a high school student, and brother of WGN-TV's Tom Skilling), who later became well known as a member of Enron Corporation's management team. WLXT signed off for good in 1970.

Fred Eychaner's Metrowest Corporation originally applied for a new channel 60 license in 1978, but soon attracted competition from Marcelino Miyares, doing business as Hatco-60. Ultimately, the two sides would reach a compromise, in which Metrowest's station would be licensed to Aurora and broadcast from 2:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily, while Hatco-60's station would be licensed to West Chicago (located in western DuPage County, near the Kane County border) and broadcast from 7:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. daily. This made channel 60 something of an oddity, especially for a major market, in that it was a split-licensed station.

With the compromise reached, in April 1982, Eychaner signed on WPWR-TV, with a large percentage of its broadcast schedule dedicated to a new subscription television service called Sportsvision, which Eychaner had developed in a deal with Chicago White Sox owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn. To access the service, viewers had to pay for a set top converter and subscription fees to watch their favorite baseball team. However, Sportsvision achieved little success on WPWR, and moved to cable in January 1984. With Sportsvision gone, WPWR ran public domain movies and old sitcoms from the early to mid 1950s as well as old cartoons. In 1984, more familiar classic sitcoms and newer barter cartoons were mixed in.

During the hours in which Hatco-60 ran channel 60, it operated as WBBS-TV, broadcasting a Spanish language entertainment format. However, at this point in Chicago's television history, the market could only handle two Spanish language stations. Three were on the air, including WCIU, WSNS, and WBBS. Though ratings were good for WBBS, the 1985 announcement that WSNS was affiliating with the Spanish International Network caused WBBS to end weekday programming at the end of 1985; the station would continue to broadcast Spanish movies on weekends into 1986.

Eychaner had spent $1.5 million for WGMI (later WDAI), a channel 56 construction permit that had been held by a group of Indiana businessmen since 1976, but was never built; in 1982, Eychaner opted to build channel 60 with Marcelino Miyares. However, in 1985, Eychaner acquired the educational broadcast license for WCAE channel 50 (licensed to Gary, Indiana), which had belonged to Lake Central School Corporation of St. John, who had not been unable to sustain WCAE's operations and had shut the station down a year earlier. Eychaner then swapped the licenses for channels 50 and 56, resulting in channel 56 becoming WYIN and channel 50 becoming a commercial license, with plans to use WPWR's assets (including the call letters) to put that station on the air. The primary reason for swapping the licenses for channels 50 and 56 was that the channel 50 allocation was able to go on to the Sears Tower; this was not the case for channel 56.

In early 1986, Eychaner bought WBBS's share of channel 60 for $11 million. When channel 50 was ready to sign on, he sold channel 60 to the Home Shopping Network for $25 million. HSN, which owned the station through its Silver King Television arm, changed the calls to WEHS, and on January 17, 1987, switched channel 60 to HSN programming right in the middle of a sale. At the same time, WPWR moved to channel 50. Ironically, WXFT-DT's signal is now on channel 50 after the DTV transition was completed in 2009.

Barry Diller, who owned USA Network, acquired Silver King in the mid 1990s. By 1997, the company was known as USA Broadcasting. There were plans to convert WEHS to a general entertainment programming schedule, and USA almost sold to Disney (which would have made the station a sister to ABC-owned WLS-TV). However, the station was sold to Univision in a group deal. As a result, channel 60 became WXFT, and switched to Univision's new network, Telefutura.

WXFT's 5,000,000 watt transmitter malfunctioned in the early hours of December 6, 2006, causing an alarm which forced action by the Chicago Fire Department to extinguish the smoldering equipment [1]. The transmitter was destroyed, leaving only one-half power available. The station also remained available via cable, which were fed via a direct connection from the station. A new transmitter was commissioned on January 11, 2007, restoring normal operation.

In December 2009, WXFT and sister station WGBO, along with most other Univision-owned stations, upgraded their main channels to transmit in 16:9 1080i high definition in preparation for the arrival of HD programming from Univision and TeleFutura, which occurred in 2010.

References

External links

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