WJFW-TV, virtual channel 12 (UHF digital channel 16), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Rhinelander, Wisconsin, United States and serving north-central Wisconsin, including Wausau. The station is owned by Rockfleet Broadcasting. WJFW-TV's studios are located on County Road G (along WIS 17) in Rhinelander, and its transmitter is located in Starks, Wisconsin.
|Branding||NBC 12 (general)|
NewsWatch 12 (newscasts)
|Slogan||News from Where You Live|
|Channels||Digital: 16 (UHF)|
Virtual: 12 (PSIP)
|Translators||27 W27AU-D Wausau|
12.2: Antenna TV
(Northland Television, LLC)
|First air date||October 20, 1966|
|Call letters' meaning||Jasper F. Williams (former owner)|
|Sister station(s)||WVII-TV, WFVX-LD|
|Former callsigns||WAEO-TV (1966–1986)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
12 (VHF, 1966–2009)
|Former affiliations||Universal Sports (DT2, until 2011)|
|Transmitter power||269 kW|
|Height||362 m (1,188 ft)|
|Public license information||Profile|
Since WJFW's transmitter is located further north than the other north-central Wisconsin stations, it can only be seen in Wausau proper and not other areas in Marathon County to the south and west. Therefore, it operates a low-powered digital fill-in translator in Wausau (W27AU-D). This broadcasts on UHF channel 27 (also mapping to virtual channel 12 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Mosinee Hill southwest of the I-39/US 51/WIS 29 interchange.
The station signed-on October 20, 1966 as WAEO-TV named after its original owner, Congressman Alvin E. O'Konski. Airing an analog signal on VHF channel 12, its original studios were located next to the transmitter tower. This was at the time one of the tallest structures in the world. Before its launch, NBC was seen in the market through a secondary affiliation on CBS outlet WSAU-TV (now WSAW-TV), along with fringe coverage via Green Bay's WFRV-TV (then an NBC affiliate).
On November 17, 1968, a small plane with three passengers crashed into the transmitter tower knocking it out along with the station's building. It was off the air until a new tower was erected in the same location as the original. New studios were eventually built at the current location in Rhinelander. After the new transmitter's completion, WAEO was back on-air September 1, 1969. This updated transmitting tower was the 7th tallest structure in the world at 1,800 feet (549 m) and was also the first in the United States built exclusively for color television broadcasting.
On June 1, 1979, the station was sold to the Chicago-based minority-owned company Seaway Communications. As a result, it was the first VHF commercial television station in the United States to be owned by minority interests. On April 15, 1985, Dr. Jasper F. Williams (founder and CEO of Seaway Communications) was killed in a plane crash. In his memory, the call letters were changed to WJFW-TV on October 5, 1986.
In 1989, it activated a low-powered translator on channel 27 in Wausau. The station's main transmitter is located further north than other North-Central Wisconsin stations. This was a result of WISN-TV in Milwaukee which also aired on channel 12 in the analog era. The other two VHF and one UHF stations in the market had aired their analog signals on channels which were also in use by Chicago stations but they were farther away and less prone to interference. As a result, WJFW only provided Grade B coverage of Wausau itself and some parts of Marathon County could not even see the station at all except on cable.
Seaway merged with Rockfleet Broadcasting, the station's current owner, in 1998. In mid-March 2009, the main signal added Universal Sports as a second digital subchannel. After the translator performed a "flash-cut" to digital, it began to offer Universal Sports on its second subchannel as well. WJFW's broadcasts have been digital-only since February 17, 2009. Its former analog channel allotment (12) is now the home to the digital signal of CW affiliate WMOW. On May 23, 2011, WJFW replaced Universal Sports in favor of Tribune Broadcasting's Antenna TV digital subchannel network. WJFW-DT2 is also seen on Charter digital channel 967.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming |
|12.1||1080i||16:9||WJFW-DT||Main WJFW-TV programming / NBC|
- Carmody, John (April 26, 1979). "The TV Column". The Washington Post. p. C13.