||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
|Channels||Digital: 25 (UHF)
Virtual: 24.1 (PSIP)
24.2 The Country Network
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group
(WCGV Licensee, LLC)
|Founded||March 24, 1980|
|Call letters' meaning||Wisconsin's Choice for Great Viewing|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
24 (UHF) (1980–2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1980–1986),
(December 1, 1994–January 15, 1995),
(January 1998-August 3, 1998)
Fox (1986-November 30, 1994),
UPN (January 16, 1995–1998,
August 4, 1998-September 2006)
CBS & NBC (secondary, 1981–1995)
The Tube (March–December 2006 on DT2)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
WCGV-TV, digital channel 25 (virtual channel 24.1), is a television station located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, affiliated with MyNetworkTV Its signal covers most of southeastern Wisconsin, including the cities of Racine, Kenosha, Sheboygan and Waukesha. The station is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group as part of a duopoly in Milwaukee with WVTV, and the station's transmitter site is on Milwaukee's northwest side, co-located with WVTV on the Milwaukee Public Television broadcast tower.
As an independent (1980–1986)
WCGV signed on the air on March 24, 1980. It was owned by B&F Broadcasting. At the time, it ran religious programs, old movies, cartoons, and drama shows during the day, along with daytime CBS and NBC programs which WITI and WTMJ passed on airing, such as the 1983 Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour and CBS Late Night. It also produced a local two-hour talk program called Tempo 24, which aired in the afternoon from 1980 to 1981. At night, the station ran programming from SelecTV, a subscription television provider running first-run films requiring a decoder box and payment to SelecTV to view. Friday evenings consisted of adult programming from the Playboy Channel outside of FCC safe harbor hours.
WCGV dropped SelecTV in 1984 once Warner Cable launched their Milwaukee area operations and brought traditional pay-TV cable networks to the area, and eventually became a more serious contender against now-sister station WVTV for the title of the area's leading independent station. The station was known simply as 'TV-24'. By then the station was owned by Arlington Broadcasting, which also owned WTTO Channel 21 Birmingham, WQTV (now WBPX)/Boston and KNXV/Phoenix. The latter two were later sold off.
Fox affiliation (1986–1994)
On March 15, 1987, WCGV joined Fox after Gaylord's WVTV turned down the network offer in 1986, becoming 'Fox 24'. The station joined on the condition that it be allowed to pre-empt The Late Show, which by the time WCGV received Fox affiliation had lost Joan Rivers as its host and was not doing well ratings-wise. The station also wanted to maintain as much of its existing schedule as possible, as WCGV had success counterprogramming the major network affiliates with a 10pm block of two episodes of The Bob Newhart Show every weeknight until 1989, when it was replaced by the syndicated Arsenio Hall.
By 1988, the station scored a major coup by acquiring the air rights to the Milwaukee Brewers and the Milwaukee Bucks, both previously seen on now-sister station WVTV. At this time, the station was based in studios on N. 27th St. which were formerly the home of WITI (Channel 6) until WITI's move to newer studios in Brown Deer in 1978. In the late 1980s, Arlington Broadcasting was sold and became known as HR (as in Hal Roach Studios, of Little Rascals/Our Gang fame) Broadcasting.
WCGV along with WTTO Birmingham came under the ownership of Abry in 1990. The station continued with the general entertainment format along with Fox shows. WCGV entered into a local marketing agreement with Gaylord's WVTV in 1994. The two stations also merged operations, and WCGV moved into WVTV's studios at N. 35th St. and Capitol Drive.
UPN affiliation (1995–2006)
In early 1994, WITI became the new Fox affiliate in 1994 as a result of a deal between its owner (New World Communications) and Fox. For a short time between September and November 1994, the station carried Green Bay Packers games in the market from the network's NFC package as a lame-duck affiliate, though without any pre-game programming, the only break in network coverage by WITI of the team since the 1977 affiliation switch between WISN and WITI, which took place in the off-season.
WCGV lost the Fox affiliation and briefly went independent again on December 4, 1994; however, it did not take the CBS affiliation dropped from WITI (which went to WDJT-TV), as the station would become a charter UPN affiliate in January 1995, following a pattern in which many former Fox affiliates in markets where New World owned a station decided to join either UPN or fellow upstart network WB. At this time the station was identified as "UPN 24", with a generic logo consisting of the station's call letters and channel number beneath the primary color UPN 'shapes' logo of that time.
In 1995, Abry would be acquired by Sinclair making them the owners of WCGV, WTTO, and other Abry stations. WVTV was purchased by Glencairn Corp. (which was owned by a former Sinclair executive). This arrangement, however, prompted Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow/PUSH coalition to bring forward litigation, citing their concerns on racial issues in the face of one entity holding two broadcast licenses in a market. (WVTV finally became fully owned by Sinclair in 2000, after the FCC overturned the rules that had prohibited duopolies.)
In January 1998, WCGV/Sinclair decided to drop the UPN affiliation over ratings and monetary matters, as did several other Sinclair stations in other markets when Sinclair signed a lucrative affiliation deal with The WB (which included WVTV) to shift several stations from UPN. For eight months, the station returned to being independent (opting the air syndicated movies instead) and Milwaukee was left without a UPN affiliate. However, it saw its ratings drop without the network. It also received complaints from vocal Star Trek fans who had to watch Voyager on stations from other markets or tape trade. Sinclair would then reverse its decision, and re-affiliated with UPN on August 4. Three months after reacquiring the UPN affiliation, WCGV made up for the pre-emptions by airing an all-day Voyager marathon, showing all 13 episodes missed over the last half of the 1997-98 season, with UPN's blessing. However, the station continued to omit the mention of UPN from its own branding, and called itself "Channel 24" until the beginning of the 2001–2002 TV season, when it readopted the "UPN 24" branding, one of only a very few UPN stations to do so, as UPN branding was required by the network.
WITI was not interested in airing Fox Kids programming after it became a Fox station; therefore, Fox Kids continued to air on WCGV for ten years after the affiliation switch (which included the station continuing to maintain a Fox 24 Kids Club through most of these years). However, as time went on, WCGV began to use its own logo bug to cover all Fox logos, and advertise the block sparingly on UPN's behest (which had its own children's block airing on the station up until its end in 2003). The station declined to renew the children's block, now known as Fox Box/4Kids TV, after the fall of 2004, and subsequently 4Kids TV moved to independent WMLW-CA (Channel 41), where it aired Sunday mornings until its end on December 28, 2008.
MyNetworkTV affiliation (2006-present)
On March 2, 2006 Sinclair announced that Channel 24 was to be the Milwaukee affiliate for MyNetworkTV, which was created by Fox Television Stations Group in the wake of the January 24, 2006 announcement that the UPN and WB networks would cease operations in September 2006, and merge into one network, The CW. Sister station WVTV, the former WB affiliate, is Milwaukee's CW affiliate. This resulted in the Milwaukee duopoly becoming one of five My Network TV/CW duopolies owned and/or controlled by Sinclair; the other four are KVMY/KVCW in Las Vegas, Nevada, WABM/WTTO in Birmingham, Alabama, WUXP/WNAB in Nashville, Tennessee and WRDC/WLFL in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina.
In the interim two weeks between the beginning of MyNetworkTV and UPN's end in early to mid-September, WCGV still showed select UPN programming on Sunday afternoons, airing Friday Night SmackDown, followed by Girlfriends, Everybody Hates Chris, All of Us from 12-5 p.m., all which were renewed by The CW and moved to Channel 18. WCGV is one of the few stations in the country to have been affiliated with both News Corporation-owned networks, Fox and MyNetworkTV.
July 2010 flooding incident and studio move
On July 22, 2010 the Milwaukee area experienced a major flash flooding event which caused major damage in several parts of Milwaukee County. The studios of WVTV/WCGV are located a half-mile south of Lincoln Creek and thus the building and equipment within the building suffered major damage, forcing the two stations off the air for the majority of the time after 6pm on July 22 until early morning July 24, when the two stations came back online, though not originating locally, but having programming brought into their master control via another unknown Sinclair master control. For both stations this resulted in most of the station's paid programming and other timeslots where the Sinclair facility did not have an episode of the series within the schedule replaced with reruns of Coach and advertising replaced with direct response national advertising. Both stations eventually resumed local operations later in the week of July 25, but were on basic 480i service featuring no digital on-screen bugs at all due to damage to the station's high definition broadcasting equipment for most of the following month. HD operations were restored on August 20, 2010.
Because the flooding caused irreparable damage to the building, Sinclair immediately began a search for new facilities for their Milwaukee stations, which would allow a full launch of high definition operations for local and syndicated programming without the complexities of rewiring an older and flood damaged studio and master control. On June 6, 2012, Sinclair received approval from the Milwaukee Common Council's Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee to move to an existing building near the 41/45 Interchange on Milwaukee's northwest side on Calumet Road in the Park Place office park and install receiving satellite dishes, generators, and a studio/transmitter link tower, with full Common Council approval coming a week later on June 12. Sinclair plans to have the new facility in operation by the fall of 2013.
For the time being since June 2012, the engineering and master control of WVTV/WCGV has transmitted 16:9 programming in full screen, but in standard definition as a stopgap solution until the move to the new studios.
The stations digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|24.1||720p||16:9||My 24||Main WCGV-TV programming / MyNetworkTV|
|24.2||480i||4:3||TCN||The Country Network|
On March 23, 2006, Sinclair announced that it would start multicasting The Tube onto the digital subcarriers of many of its stations across the country. The channel launched on WCGV's DT2 subchannel on June 15, 2006 . On December 31, The Tube was dropped by WCGV due to new E/I regulations put into effect by the FCC and The Tube not immediately inserting E/I programming within their schedule and putting the burden on local stations to do so, and the network went out of business on October 1, 2007, probably from several factors including the dropping by Sinclair. Also, no pay-TV providers in the market ever carried 24.2 during their time with The Tube.
In August 2010 Sinclair made a large group deal to bring The Country Network, a digital subchannel network featuring country music videos throughout their entire broadcast day to the majority of their stations, 28 in all. WCGV relaunched their 24.2 subchannel to carry The Country Network on October 26, 2010.
Charter added WCGV's 24.2 Country Network subchannel to their systems on Channel 964 on February 9, 2011, with Time Warner Cable following on September 27, 2011, placing it on Channel 988.
On February 17, 2009, WCGV continued digital broadcasts on its current pre-transition channel number, 25. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WCGV's virtual channel as 24.
On February 4, Sinclair announced that WCGV would still turn off their analog signal on February 17 despite the congressional action delaying the switchover to June 12. For the two weeks after February 17, WCGV and WVTV aired the NAB conversion nightlight programming on their signals. This was discontinued on March 4, 2009.
Cable carriage of digital signal
On June 28, 2007, Time Warner Cable began carrying WCGV's digital signal on their southeastern Wisconsin systems on Channel 524 (now 1024), along with WVTV on Channel 518 (now 1018), after Sinclair and Time Warner came to a compensation agreement for the stations . Charter Communications, the other dominant cable provider in the area, came to a compensation agreement in April 2007, but the HD signal was not added until June 9, 2009, when the HD signal began to air over Channel 614 on Charter's southeastern Wisconsin systems.
Currently, Channel 24's weekday schedule consists of mostly syndicated off-network sitcoms such as Frasier (in a long-time after primetime double run at 9 p.m.), and That '70s Show, along with many former UPN and Fox sitcoms in their off-network runs. The Simpsons has been syndicated on the station since that show's launch in syndication in September 1994 (four months before the station lost Fox), and airs weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m., followed by Family Guy in both timeslots. During daytime from 11 a.m.–1 p.m., the station airs a two-hour block of court shows, followed by talk programs such as Maury, The Jerry Springer Show (which has a weeknight midnight repeat), and Jerry spin-off The Steve Wilkos Show from 1–5 p.m.
During the weekend, the station airs off-network dramas like Burn Notice and Bones, along with a variety of sitcoms, lifestyle programs and shows produced by Entertainment Studios. On Sunday evenings, WCGV airs MyNetworkTV's Thursday night lineup during football season or a syndicated film, as MyNetworkTV does not air programming on weekend evenings. The station had continued to air Milwaukee Bucks games, sharing rights with FSN Wisconsin until the end of the 2006-07 season, when the team became FSN-exclusive.
The station airs some children's programming, with Made in Hollywood: Teen Edition on Mondays, Whaddayado on Tuesdays, Live Life and Win! on Wednesdays, M@dAbout on Thursdays and Real Life 101 on Fridays, along with Wild America and Animal Exploration with Jarod Miller on Saturday mornings to fulfill minimum FCC educational/informational programming requirements. WCGV was the last true Milwaukee commercial station (WVCY, although technically a commercial licensee, does not solicit advertising) to have some time where they were off the air, signing off for 4½ hours on early Monday mornings until March 10, 2008, when the station went with a full 168-hour schedule (although to note, the early Monday morning schedule consists of all paid programming due to the lack of a Shepard's Chapel program to air on Monday morning). WVCY followed with 24/7 programming in January 2010.
Since the 2007–08 season, the station has branded itself with the slogan "America's Hottest MyNetworkTV Station", based on the station's sign-on to sign-off ratings being the highest among the network's affiliates.
In late August 2010 the station began to air a live local high school football matchup under the title Allstate Thursday Night Lights every Thursday evening as part of Sinclair's push for more local programming on their MyNetworkTV affiliates. The later broadcasts in the season were presented in 480i widescreen format. In the 2011–12 season the franchise was further extended to also cover Thursday night high school basketball games throughout the winter. In 2011-12 WCGV also began to carry college basketball from Raycom Sports's ACC Network, which was the first non-network programming the station has presented in HD.
- Dudek, Duane (22 March 2013). "New boss at WVTV, WCGV speaks language of experience". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- Daykin, Tom (6 June 2012). "Plans for TV stations to relocate win approval". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
- "City of Milwaukee - File #: 111482". Substitute ordinance relating to the Second Amendment to a Detailed Planned Development known as Park Place, Stage 14, for installation of a transmission structure and satellite dishes, on land located on the north side of West Calumet Road, east of West Park Place, in the 5th Aldermanic District. City of Milwaukee, Legistar Database. Various. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
- CDBS Print
- Official Station Website
- History of Milwaukee television
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WCGV