|Moline-Rock Island, Illinois/Davenport, Iowa|
|Slogan||Quad Cities PBS|
|Channels||Digital: 23 (UHF)
Virtual: 24 (PSIP)
24.2 MHz Worldview
|Translators||W48CK-D Sterling Digital|
|Owner||Western Illinois University-Quad Cities|
|First air date||November 2, 1983|
|Call letters' meaning||We're
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
|Transmitter power||80 kW|
WQPT-TV is the PBS member station for the Quad Cities region of northwestern Illinois and eastern Iowa, broadcasting on digital channel 23 (remapping to former analog channel 24 via PSIP). It is owned by Western Illinois University-Quad Cities, which is located in Moline, Illinois; where the station is licensed. The station also currently operates a translator W48CK-D in Sterling, Illinois on channel 48.
In May 2010, Black Hawk College sold WQPT to Western Illinois University-Quad Cities. At that time, the station moved from its longtime home on Black Hawk's campus to rented space in the Crown Center office complex in Moline. A new studio is being built on WIU-QC's Riverfront Campus, and WQPT expects to move there in the near future.
Early educational television in region
Iowa was a pioneer in early educational television broadcasting.
In 1933, Dr. E.B. Kurtz, electrical engineering professor at the University of Iowa, established an experimental TV station W9XK, later W9XUI, providing twice a week video programming in cooperation with the university's AM radio station WSUI which provided the audio channel. This historical early television station and its educational broadcasts ceased with outbreak of World War 2. The concept of pure educational television which Dr. E.B. Kurtz and his Iowa colleagues pioneered was buried by the commercial television system which dominated development of the electronic media in the United States after World War II.
After World War II, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosted the National Association of Educational Broadcasters for the establishment of broadcast allocations (AM/FM radio and TV channels) for non-commercial education programming. The outcomes from these meetings established the foundation for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System.
In 1969, Iowa Public Television was established and began broadcast operations on KIIN, Channel 12 at West Branch, IA on February 8, 1970. KIIN was the renamed WSUI-TV, on channel 12, that had served the eastern Iowa and Quad Cities markets (Davenport and Betendorf in Iowa; Rock Island and Moline in Illinois) after World War II. Iowa Public Television became a charter member of Public Broadcasting System that same year. Translators were placed in Ft. Madison and Keokuk to provide coverage in the southeastern corner of Iowa.
That same year, 1969, Bradley University and Peoria supporters led by Phil Weinberg, academic dean at Bradley University, began discussions for establishing an educational TV station, WTVP to serve the needs of the Peoria, Bloomington and Galesburg markets.
Dr. Weinberg's viewing of Sesame Street, produced by the Children's Television Workshop, since November 10, 1969 convinced him that the people (and children) in the Peoria community and region should have this quality of educational programming. Weinberg arranged for the program to be broadcast on WMBD-TV the local CBS affiliate, for six months, before the program moved to the new WTVP station in June 1971. Broadcast operation studios and offices were at Jobst Hall on Bradley University's campus.
Commercial broadcast television networks (CBS, NBC, ABC) and their local Quad Cities affliates provided some educational programming for children in the 1950s and 1960s, but this program content disappeared by 1970. Western Illinois south of the Quad Cities (Forgottonia) and the Sterling/Rock Falls market were under-served regions for educational television.
Establishing an Educational Consortium
In 1970, the western Illinois region was one of the few areas in the United States without a PBS station. Parts of north-western Illinois and the Quad Cities region were served from PBS stations: WTTW-TV in Chicago; KIIN in West Branch, Iowa; or WTVP in Peoria. Cable television networks in north-western Illinois and Quad Cities market carried Iowa Public Television, WTTW, or WTVP PBS programming to their subscribers.
A number of meetings were held with western Illinois civic organizations, businesses, elected public representatives, private and public educational institutions from 1970 to 1976. The outcome of these discussions was the establishment of The West Central Illinois Educational Telecommunications Corporation incorporated in the State of Illinois on February 9, 1976. The corporation was composed of these Illinois educational institutions serving the region: Blackhawk Community College in Moline, Bradley University in Peoria, Western Illinois University in Macomb, and Sangamon State University in Springfield. Its mission was "to establish an educational television network, provide educational content, create local and public affairs programming to serve the residents and businesses of west-central Illinois". Bylaws for the corporation were approved on January 13, 1984.
The brand name Convocom was adopted in 1978 for the corporation and offices were established in Peoria, IL. The original vision for the Convocom television network would encompass 5 broadcast transmitters at: Quad Cities, Peoria, Macomb, Quincy and Springfield/Jacksonville. The master control would be located at Convocom headquarters in Peoria (at or near WTVP, Bradley University) with 3 microwave interconnections (links). A northern link to WQPT in Quad Cities; a western link to WIUM-TV in Macomb and WQEC in Quincy; and a southern link from Peoria to WJPT in Springfield/Jacksonville region. See Network Knowledge
WQPT began broadcast operations on November 2, 1983 owned by Black Hawk College, the junior college in Moline serving the area. As owner of WQPT and a founding member of Convocom, Black Hawk College elected to develop its own brand identity for the Quad Cities market and never joined the Convocom microwave network and control facilities in Peoria, as originally envisioned in the 1970s design. Bob Fletcher, was named as WQPT's General Manager and Rick Best appointed as the station's business manager. Rick Best later served as WQPT's General Manager from 1997 until June 2012.
After WQPT's establishment and sign-on in 1983, cable television systems in the region continue to carry PBS affliates from adjacent or overlapping television markets. The Quad Cities and north-western Illinois cable systems carry Iowa Public Television, the Sterling/Rock Falls area cable systems carry Chicago's WTTW and the Galesburg cable system carries Peoria's WTVP.
From 1992 to 2003, WQPT operated a satellite station, KQCT in Davenport, Iowa. After upgrades to improve the WQPT coverage area on the Iowa side of the market, KQCT was sold to Iowa Public Television to improve their coverage along the Mississippi River and Iowa's eastern border. IPTV changed the FCC callsign for this station to KQIN.
In August 2010, WQPT launched a 24-hour broadcast schedule on both its main/traditional service (channel 24.1) and its MHz Worldview subchannel affiliation (channel 24.2). WHBF-TV launched their 24-hour schedule in autumn 2011. Iowa Public Television's KQIN is the only Quad Cities station to continue to sign-off during the overnight hours.
Since its humble beginnings, WQPT has grown to over 500,000 viewers of local, regional, and national educational programs though open-air signals or local cable systems. The addition of MHz Worldview, originating from Washington D.C. in 2010, adds international, educational programming and provides diverse cultural perspectives for globally-minded audiences.
Digital Television Conversion
In 1998, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandated that broadcast stations migrate from analog (NTSC) to digital (ATSC) television transmission in United States. Specifically, an unfunded federal mandate for US television stations. See Digital television transition. Since 1993, auctions of former television spectrum to the wireless (cellular) telephone and broadband service companies by the FCC generated $52 billion dollars. That revenue was not used to mitigate the digital transition costs for the non-commercial, educational television stations.
For comparison, Iowa Public Television, which operates a state-wide television and telecommunications network with 9 high-power digital transmitters and 8 translators spent $47,000,000 to complete the digital television conversion. That capital expenditure was financially supported by the State of Iowa, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. More than 1,000,000 viewers watch IPTV each week. Contributing membership to the IPTV Foundation (Friends of Iowa Public TV) consists of approximately 55,000 households.
On May 25, 2009, WQPT-TV prematurely ended analog broadcasts when its analog transmitters failed. Repairs were estimated to cost over $20,000 and the station didn't believe that it would be feasible to repair the transmitter with less than three weeks left of broadcasting in analog. It remains on digital channel number 23 using PSIP to be displayed on digital televisions as virtual channel 24.
After the official end of the digital transition in June, WQPT transferred the "WQPT-TV" callsign from the now-defunct analog channel 24 to digital channel 23 and removed the "WQPT-DT" callsign from its digital operations. Also, at the same time, WQPT ended HDTV broadcasts on subchannel 24.2 and shifted them to the main subchannel 24.1, leaving the DT2 subchannel vacant of programs for a few months.
In August 2009, WQPT-TV launched an affiliation with MHz Networks' Worldview, which broadcasts international programming, on channel 24.2. WQPT is the only public television station serving the state of Iowa to offer this service.
WQPT is also the second PBS member station in the state of Illinois to offer programming from MHz Worldview; the first being WYCC in Chicago.
In July 2008, WQPT owned by Black Hawk College, an original member of the Convocom consortium, lost financial support when the station was removed from the college's FY2009 fiscal budget.
By May 2010, WQPT was sold to Western Illinois University-Quad Cities, with the primary objective to return WQPT to its original mission of creating more local and public affairs programming. The station was moved from its longtime home on Black Hawk's campus to rented space in the Crown Center office complex in Moline. Master control for the station was moved to Fusion Communications in Davenport. A new studio is being completed on WIU-QC's Riverfront Campus, where the station will be located in the near future.
WQPT-TV was added to the Comcast - Macomb cable television system after transmitter changes and ownership change to WIU-QC.
WQPT-TV's signal is multiplexed:
|24.1||23.1||1080i||16:9||WQPT-HD||Main WQPT Programming / PBS HD|
- "The FCC: Seventy-Six Years of Watching TV". FCC. Summer 2003. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Rick Plummer. "A Short History of Television Station W9XK/W9XU". Early Television Museum. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- "The Untold Story, W9XK - Iowa City". Wartburg College. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Hill, Harold (1954). "The National Association of Educational Broadcasters: a history.". National Association of Educational Broadcasters. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Former Bradley dean Philip Weinberg dies at 86". Peoria Journal Star. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- "FCC 323-E, Ownership Report For Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Station, Facility number 70537". 30 June 2003. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
- "George Hoffmann Papers, 1960-1991". University of Illinois at Springfield, Archives/Special Collections. 1960-1991.
- "WQPT". WQPT. Retrieved 17 July 2012. Text " About Your Quad Cities PBS " ignored (help)]
- "Under a mountain of debt, WSEC-TV struggles for survival". Illinois Times. 3 June 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Data Innovation Initiative: Spectrum Auctions - Data, Benefits Abound". Federal Communications Commission. 6 August 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Iowa Public Television - Independent Auditor's Report". State of Iowa. 30 June 2011.
- Bill Mayeroff (2 July 2008). "WQPT to save money by focusing on Q-C produced shows". The Q-C Leader. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011" (CSV). 2011 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2012-04. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
- Official site
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WQPT-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WQPT-TV