|Miscellaneous Television History
Introduction to the background of Peoria Television History...and St.
Louis....and Terre Haute....and the Quad Cities.
Chicago television market was
considered at the time to be an all VHF market, which would allow
viewers to receive all of their local television signals from the VHF
band, channels 2-13. This would eliminate the need for them to have UHF
and antennas. It would also give Chicago five television stations
which would broadcast to a much larger geographic area at lower power
levels than that of UHF stations. Even an "all VHF" market, may
include a few UHF channels, such as St. Louis. To be considered
"all VHF" a market it appeared, had to have at least 3 commercial VHF
stations plus an educational VHF station.
The Central Illinois set up
Springfield, Illinois also
an allocation for a VHF commercial station at Channel 2 and very
similarly, there were at least three groups battling for the license
in the intermixed VHF-UHF market. Meanwhile Champaign, Illinois was
granted an allocation for Channel 3 and just like the other two
markets, there was a prospective ownership battle.
A similar move was to take
place in the St. Louis market when it came to granting the permit for
channel 4. A number of prospective station owners ended up
merging so each would have a share in what would be the second
VHF station in St. Louis.
ABC wants/needs VHF affiliates
the other ownership battles
raged. At the same time, it became obvious that the Quad Cities and
St. Louis did not have enough channels allocated to give those
markets VHF service to the new and fledgling ABC TV network. St.
Louis had channel 4 and 5 allocated and was waiting for the granting of
channel 11 which wouldn't take place for a number of years.
(Adjacent channels were only
allowed in same markets between channel 4 and 5 as well as 6 and 7
because there is frequency spectrum padding between the two adjacent
channels) The Quad-Cities had channel 4 and 6.
Terre Haute gets re-aligned
1964 another channel 2
allocation was also awarded to Terre Haute, Indiana. This would become
WTWO, Channel 2, Terre Haute's NBC affiliate(and secondary ABC
affiliate along with WTHI) in 1965. Earlier, after
the “freeze,” in February of 1954, Terre Haute also picked up the
allocation for channel 10 which was taken away from Bloomington,
Indiana. WTTV changed frequency from channel 10 to channel 4 at that
time. Channel 10 would become WTHI-TV,Terre Haute, Indiana's CBS(and
secondary ABC affiliate along with WTWO). WIIL-TV, Channel 38
wouldn't come along until the April of 1973 and become Terre Haute's
full time ABC affiliate(call letters changed in the 1980's to WBAK-TV,
then to FOX as WFXW in the 90's, now is back at ABC as WAWV as of
September 1, 2011).
UHF station, WTVI, Channel 54
began broadcasting in August of 1953. It was licensed to Belleville,
Illinois, but broadcast from Alton, Illinois to the St. Louis metro
area. In those early months
WTVI was a full time DuMont affiliate and a part time ABC station, as
well as a part time CBS affiliate before KWK-TV, Channel 4 went on the
from St. Louis in July of 1954. After which, CBS moved its
affiliation to the more desirable VHF station, leaving WTVI with
DuMont. WTVI also lost ABC affiliation after the sign-on of KSTM-TV,
St. Louis next UHF station to go on the air. After the failure of
KSTM-TV, WTVI then picked up the primary affiliation with ABC and
moved to St. Louis and channel 36 to the former home of KSTM-TV, which
operated at channel 36 from October of 1953 to August of 1954.
That facility was located at 5915 Berthold in St. Louis.
WTVI found it ideal for their use and moved
right in becoming Channel 36, KTVI in 1955.
The Peoria to Quad-Cities War and its
WQAD-TV became the
affiliate when it signed on the air in 1963 under the ownership of
Moline Television. In spite of other objections raised by the
ownership of fellow ABC affiliate WIRL-TV, Channel 19 in Peoria, in
that the coverage area of Channel 8 would overlap significantly
across the market area of WIRL-TV. That dispute was settled by
|Non-Heritage Central Illinois Television Stations|
|WCIX, Channel 49, Springfield, Illinois (W-49-AA, WCFN)|
|WRSP, Channel 55, Springfield, Illinois (WPNG, WBHW)|
|WCCU, Channel 27, Urbana, Illinois|
Channel 23, Decatur, Illinois (WFHL, WPXU)
Channel 7, Hannibal-Quincy, Illinois
Channel 10, Quincy, Illinois
Channel 14, Jacksonville, Illinois
|Other Television Stations|
|WGN, Channel 9, Chicago|
|Non Starters of Central Illinois|
|Here are a few of the
most well known proposed TV stations from central Illinois. None
of which ever made it air. I'm assuming there were probably
others which maybe were discussed, others may have reached legal status
with filings with the FCC, but no evidence exists of them now and they
have faded in time.
Champaign-unknown call letters, Channel 21
In early 1953, there was yet another request for a Champaign TV station filed, this one on the UHF frequency band, channel 21. This group, Champaign Television, Inc. was organized and represented by Phillip Zimmerly. After the request for the license was filed, there were a series of questions about the proposed broadcast tower's location from area air fields, including nearby Chanute Air Field in Rantoul. The proposed tower was called "a hazard and danger to air navigation." A number of hearings and meetings were held in July of 1953, and resulted in the permit for the tower to be built. It was a proposed 750-foot tower and antenna which was to be located near the US 150 and Lake of the Woods Road and was eventually approved by the equivalent to the F.A.A. at the time.
The principals of the Champaign Television, Inc. were Dallas Smyth, professor of economics and communication research at the U of I; David F. Holshouser, assistant professor of electrical engineering at the U of I; Vernon Fryburger, assistant professor of journalism and communications. The controlling bulk of the stock was owned by a group of New York realtors.
The group in published stories, also hoped to be the first station with a color transmitter in the market. There was no projected on-air date stated. The owners in other newspaper reports said they were not in any hurry to sign-on preferring to wait on "new technological changes: which would change their plans. They stated that changes in lighting, projection systems and th advent of color TV would want to be incorporated in their future plans.
In July of 1953, the FCC granted a construction permit to build the new UHF station at Channel 21.
The owners of Champaign Television during 1954 went through a series of changes and was reorganized under a new President, Norman Blankman of New York City, and a new company name "Champaign-Urbana Television Inc... By June of 1954, almost a year later, the FCC dismissed the application stating that the company's "failure to prosecute the application." That was were the story ended.
Decatur-Unknown call letters, Channel 23
At the time of the walkout/firings of the general manager, Harold Cowgill and 20 other WTVP employees, including News Editor(News Director) James E. Crowell the announcement was made by Cowgill of his plans to apply for and operate a competing TV station in Decatur. He said in news paper reports in January of 1954 his plan to file and application for Channel 23 in Decatur. He was quoted as saying he could be on the air with the new station in as little as 90 days. His alliance with his former workers at WTVP was evident when he went on to say he hoped that some of his former WTVP staff members would follow him to his new station. Whether or not, the application went forward from there is unknown, but there is no evidence that the license was ever granted or that it was even filed with the FCC.
Mattoon-WLBH-TV, Channel 10 or Channel 2
In 1960 it was reported from a story dated April 23, 1960, in the Champaign News Gazette, an FCC examiner recommended that the FCC reject a bid by Livesay Broadcasting Company(WLBH-AM/FM, Mattoon) to take over the TV channel 10 in Terre Haute, Indiana. WTHI occupied the channel and had requested a move to lower dial position Channel 2. The allocation was opened up in Terre Haute(at the same time channel 2 opened up in St. Louis) after it was moved from Springfield, Illinois. The examiner refused the bid by Livesay because of the Wabash Valley Broadcasters(owner of WTHI) "superiority in local ownership" and it's record of public service. It was unclear as to whether the proposed ownership of channel 10 would have moved the station to Mattoon or if it would have stayed in Terre Haute.
Springfield-WMAY-TV, Channel 2
TV Guide(the Doug Quick collection)
KTVI-You Tube Posts
Bloomington Daily Pantagraph(through the Abraham Lincoln Library and the Danville Public Library)
|The Small Print
What I have put together here covers the heritage stations in the Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, Springfield and Bloomington market which can take their history back to 1953. Even though I am employed technically by two of the stations listed, I have tried to be objective. The information here contains no authorized information from any of the stations, including the one to which I am employed, and this site simply exists for the entertainment and curiosity of those interested in local TV and radio broadcasting.
Many of the images are from my personal collection of TV programs and special TV historical perspectives recorded on local TV and satellite feeds from 1980 to the present. The original copyrighted information is owned by the networks, stations and/or publications and contained within this site simply for the historical significance of each item. If any of the copyright holders object to any images on this site e-mail me and it will be removed and an explanation will be in it's place.
Many contributors have donated digital images and their own recollection to this site.
gathered from TV Guide articles(they used to
include local TV station news), TV Guide ads, a few newspaper
articles(mainly the Springfield Journal Register, Decatur Herald and
News-Gazette, Urbana Courier, Bloomington Daily Pantagraph and the
Danville Commercial News) and my own memory growing up and watching
Central Illinois TV on various Philco, Sylvania, G.E., RCA and Zenith
TV's of the
contained on this website are copyrighted by their respective owners
where they apply and are presented here as part of a display showing
the history of local local television stations from central
Illinois. This site is in no way associated with any of the local
TV stations, or with any network or production company. The
commentary is copyrighted by the author of this site and is therefore
protected under all current statutes that apply.
Fair Use Law
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web master: Doug Quick
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