call_letters = WGN-TV
station_branding = WGN Chicago's CW (general)
WGN News (newscasts)
WGN Sports (sports telecasts)
station_slogan = Chicago's Very Own
analog = 9 (VHF)
digital = 19 (UHF)
subchannels = (see article)
affiliations = The CW
April 5, 1948
callsign_meaning = World's
(referring to the "
licensee = WGN Continental Broadcasting Company
WGN (AM) WGN America
The WB (1995-2006)
effective_radiated_power = 110 kW (analog)
645 kW (digital)
HAAT = 415 m (analog)
453 m (digital)
facility_id = 72115
coordinates = coord|41|53|55.7|N|87|37|23.9|W|type:landmark_scale:2000 (analog)
homepage = [http://wgntv.com/ wgntv.com]
WGN-TV, channel 9, is a
television stationin Chicago, Illinois. It has been owned by the Tribune Companysince its inception, and is an affiliate of The CW Television Network. WGN-TV's studios and offices are located in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago, and the station transmits its analog signal from the John Hancock Centerand digital signal from the Sears Tower.
WGN Television is one of several flagship properties owned by the Tribune Company, which also operates radio station WGN (720 kHz.) and publishes the "
Chicago Tribune", whose slogan ("World's Greatest Newspaper") was the basis for the call letters used by both stations. The Tribune Company also operates Chicago area cable news channel Chicagoland Television (CLTV), which shares resources from both WGN-TV and the "Chicago Tribune".
WGN-TV is also a pioneering
superstation, and continues to program an alternate feed for cable and satellite subscribers throughout the United States and Canada, known as " WGN America" (formerly "Superstation WGN"). Its longtime slogan, "Chicago's Very Own", was the basis for a popular image campaign of the 1980s and 1990s, as performed by Lou Rawls.
WGN Television began test broadcasts in February 1948 and began regular programming on
April 5with a two-hour special, "WGN-TV Salute to Chicago", at 7:45 p.m.
Early on, WGN-TV was affiliated with the
CBSand DuMont networks, sharing both with WBKB (channel 4). As a sidebar to the February 1953 merger of ABC and United Paramount Theatres, channel 9 lost its CBS affiliation. CBS had purchased the license to operate channel 4 in Chicago (now WBBM-TV, which later moved to channel 2), and moved all of its programming there, leaving channel 9 with DuMont. When DuMont ceased operations in 1956, WGN-TV became an independent station.
After becoming a full-time independent, WGN-TV spent much of the next two decades as the top-rated independent station in Chicago, offering a variety of general-entertainment programs including movies, sports, off-network reruns, and children's shows. For much of its existence, channel 9 produced a large amount of its own programming at its own studios. Notable WGN-TV productions included several incarnations of the immensely popular "Bozo's Circus", "
Ray Raynerand His Friends", and " Garfield Goose and Friends" (which was hosted by Frazier Thomas). WGN-TV also telecasted performances of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, beginning in 1953, when Fritz Reinerwas the orchestra's music director. From 1974 until 1982, Phil Donahue's syndicated talk program originated from WGN-TV. WGN offered Japanese cartoons dubbed into English including ' 8 Man", " Gigantor", " Marine Boy" and " Kimba the White Lion".
The station began broadcasting via
satellitein 1978. This signal was picked up by many fledgling pay-cable television systems, as well as directly by satellite dishowners. This continent-wide exposure elevated WGN-TV to superstationstatus. Along with WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) in New York Cityand WTBS (now WPCH-TV) in Atlanta, WGN-TV was among the first local stations to become a superstation.
But as WGN-TV gained national exposure, the station became vulnerable in the Chicago area and underestimated
WFLD-TV's ability to buy top-rate shows like "M*A*S*H", " Happy Days" and " All in the Family". As a result, WFLD (channel 32) finished ahead of WGN-TV in the ratings by the end of 1979. WGN-TV continued with its format, acquiring top-rate programming and competing with WFLD even after additional independent stations signed on.
1990, due to syndication exclusivityrules, WGN-TV launched a separate national feed with alternate programming about half the time. It was a similar situation at WWOR-TV and the national "WWOR-EMI Service".
1994weekday morning children's programming was replaced by " WGN Morning News". This was eventually dropped by the national feed because certain segments of the newscast are not allowed to air outside the Chicago area under SyndEx rules. The national feed still airs the station's other newscasts. Also in 1994, the "The Bozo Show" was moved from weekday mornings to Sunday mornings until 2001, when the program was controversially discontinued by station management.
1995WGN-TV became a network affiliate once again, this time with the newly-launched WB Television Network, which was operated by the Warner Bros. Televisiondivision of Time Warner, and of which the Tribune Company held a minority ownership. Channel 9 aired primetime WB network programming in the Chicago area but chose not to air " Kids' WB", the network's block of children's programs. Those shows aired instead on WCIU-TV(channel 26), which had dropped its Spanish-language Univisionaffiliation at the start of 1995 for an English-language, general entertainment schedule. Initially, Superstation WGN aired WB primetime and children's programming nationally. This was done to make WB programming available in areas not yet served by a WB affiliate. In 1999, at the network's request, Superstation WGN stopped carrying primetime WB and "Kids' WB" network programming.
In 2004, WCIU-TV dropped "Kids' WB" programming and it was moved to WGN-TV's Chicago area signal.
In January 2006, The WB and
UPNnetworks announced that they would merge to form a new network, The CW Television Network. On the same day the new network was announced, it also signed a 10-year affiliation agreement with most of Tribune's WB stations, including WGN-TV. The new network launched on September 18, 2006. The WGN America national feed does not carry any CW programming.
Although WGN America continues to be distributed in
Canada, the Chicago area feed of WGN-TV is also carried by Bell TVand Star Choicesatellite services, as well as most Canadian cable services. Bell TV has always carried the Chicago area feed but Star Choice and many cable services that carried Superstation WGN switched on January 17, 2007when Shaw Broadcast Services, a primary supplier of Superstation WGN in Canada, switched to the Chicago area feed.
April 2, 2007, Chicago-based investor Sam Zellannounced plans to purchase the Tribune Company, with intentions to take the firm private. The deal was completed on December 20, 2007. Prior to the close of the sale, WGN-TV was one of two Chicago commercial television stations to have never been involved in an ownership transaction (WCIU was the other, having been owned by Weigel Broadcastingsince its launch in 1964).
On July 19, 2008 during the 9:00 pm newscast, WGN became the third Chicago station after WLS and WMAQ to broadcast news in High Definition. Along with it, graphics and news music were also changed, with the news theme being changed to "Chicago's Very Own" by 615 Music (ironically,
Non-Stop Musicalso produced a news theme with the same name that was used from 1994-1997).
Max Headroom pirating incident
November 22, 1987, during "The 9 O'Clock News" sportscast, WGN-TV's Chicago area signal was hijacked for approximately 25 seconds by an unknown person wearing a Max Headroom mask. This was only the first incident of that night involving the interruption of a television station's broadcast signal. Approximately two hours later, Chicago PBS station WTTW(channel 11) had its broadcast interrupted by the same person. WGN-TV's analog transmitter is atop the John Hancock Centerand engineers were almost immediately able to thwart the video hacker by changing the studio-to-transmitter frequency, thus cutting the hacker off. Unfortunately for WTTW, its transmitter is atop Sears Towerand it was unable to stop the hacker before enduring almost two minutes of the hacker's interruption. These two stations are two of only three existing victims of what is called " broadcast signal intrusion". Subscription television network HBOis the other victim -- having its signal intercepted during a movie broadcast in April 1986.
* [http://www.wgntv.com/ WGN-TV Website]
* [http://www.wgnamerica.com/ WGN America]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5mzkt4N77s&mode=related&search= Streaming video of CBS Evening News coverage of the Max Headroom pirate incident]
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