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Welcome to Central Illinois' On-Line Broadcast Museum. This website documents in detail the history of each of the viewable TV stations, past and present, across mid-Illinois in text, photos, and videos, as well as each station's current status. This site also includes some local radio history and automated analog formats, again told in pictures, videos, and text. 

Note that this website displays best on a full-size monitor, desktop or laptop computer.

If you are using your phone, use the "desktop" view. You can zoom in on the page if needed.

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Doug, taken in August 1980

 while in St. Louis.

Doug Quick 
Radio/TV Broadcaster/Historian, Author, Webmaster
complete bio available here.

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The Early Days of Videotape/Color 
A Central Illinois On-Line Broadcast Special Presentation

Before virtually anyone had even seen a working television, the FCC established the technical standards for television in 1941. It didn't take long to see that there would be problems with channel availability for cities throughout the eastern half of the country. There weren't enough channels from 2 to 13 to house the hundreds of applications the FCC expected when it would accept them from early TV station want-to-be owners. With the early beginnings of color television, the choice of whether or not it has compatible color with black and white transmissions and making that standard available to the public would have to be made. 

Those technical issues and others were why the FCC issued the "Freeze" of new television station construction permits by the FCC between 1948 and April 1952. For potential viewers, it wasn't until the FCC found solutions to the technical problems that they lifted the "Freeze" so that new TV stations could be issued construction permits. Lifting the "Freeze" would cause a "gold rush" situation as more broadcast entrepreneurs would apply for ownership in the new developing industry. 

Since then, other than stereo television audio in the mid-1980s, no significant changes have been made to technical standards for television through the end of the 20th century. Meanwhile, transmission technology and TV receivers improved, but overall, it was all within the basic NTSC standards, with 525 lines of resolution and 30 frames-per-second from 1941.

That changed in the late 1990s when a conglomeration of industry and broadcast engineers developed a new digitally based television system. By the early 2000s, television stations began switching from NTSC analog TV to digital ATSC 1.0. Higher video resolution up to 1080 lines was now standard. High Definition was the first step. 

Now, in the 2020s, we're in the process of going into NextGen TV, or ATSC 3.0. The new digital standards include many opportunities for broadcasters to offer new services, options based on the viewer's choices, channels, and web-based features included with future software updates. Many features will be combined with internet data options. Video of up to four times greater (4K) than the current resolution will be possible. Many markets across the US have already added ATSC 3.0 broadcasting; even though 4K program material is sparse now, it's still on the menu, with a promise of ongoing additional features to be added over time. Go to the TV Today pages on this website to see more about NextGen TV.

Let's go back, though, to the first significant technological advancement in analog television in the 1950s. Here, we're reviewing some of the first magnetic tape-recorded broadcasts, most in color. Unfortunately, most TV viewers at the time could not see color broadcasts. Color TVs at the time were in the $500 to $600 range when the average household income for a year was only $5,100. If they're still with us, those early viewers can now watch at least segments of those early programs in COLOR for the first time! That takes us to the Videos of the Week at Central Illinois Broadcast Museum!

Videos of the Week

The Edsel Show (1957) CBS Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney

(Above): From the Bloomington Pantagraph, TV listings for October 13, 1957

This video is from the oldest known videotape recording that still exists today. The recording is in black and white because CBS did not invest in color broadcasting technology then. The lack of enthusiasm for color at CBS was due to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) choosing the RCA method of compatible color broadcasting. CBS did not support the FCC's chosen technology because RCA had patents on its color technology.

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Getting involved in colorcasting would have required CBS to purchase equipment directly from their competitor, RCA/NBC. Due to this competition, CBS president William Paley hesitated to switch to color for many years.

 

The Edsel Show starred Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Rosemary Clooney. It was produced at CBS Television City on October 13, 1957. Seen live across the USA in all time zones except Pacific, The Edsel Show was tape-delayed for broadcast three hours later in the Pacific Zone. Few early videotapes were saved; most were erased and reused. Meanwhile, a black and white kinescope was also recorded. Both the tape and the kinescope exist today.

Kris Trexler, a Los Angeles video editor, Edsel enthusiast, and collector, suspected this videotape recording existed. He already owned a poor-quality 16mm film kinescope copy of "The Edsel Show."

 

He sought out the videotaped version, hoping it still existed. He knew it was broadcast via videotape to the Pacific time zone while the kinescope was recorded to film. CBS originally recorded the show on an Ampex VR1000 quadruplex videotape recorder using a 2-inch wide 3M "Scotch brand" magnetic videotape. Later, CBS used RCA TK-41 cameras in the studios, but with the brand name removed.)

 

One thing I notice about this video is how the corners are sometimes cut off depending on the camera the shot is coming from. That "cutting off the corners" was a trait of the RCA TK-40/41 cameras. Is it possible it was shot on RCA color cameras?

For you car fans, there is an Edsel Commercial broadcast taken from a broadcast of ABC's "Wagon Train" at about the same time in 1957 at the end of the video.

The original broadcast would have been on WCIA, KHQA, WTHI, and KWK-TV. An ad for "The Esel Show" from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from Sunday, October 13, 1957, is shown. 

President Dwight Eisenhower (1958) NBC 

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(Left):  From the Bloomington Pantagraph TV listings for

May 22, 1958. 

This video is the oldest surviving color videotape recording, engineered by RCA and NBC from WRC-TV in Washington, DC. The program was videotaped and presented on Thursday, May 22, 1958. 

In the video, President Dwight Eisenhower dedicates NBC's WRC-TV new color television studios in Washington D.C." The 30-minute program included President Dwight D. Eisenhower, NBC Founder Brigidere General David Sarnoff, and RCA CEO and Chairman of the Board Robert Sarnoff.

This NBC Special originated at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., but was broadcast on the network beginning at 1:30 pm CT. It was listed as "Dedication-WRC-TV." The special was broadcast over mid-Illinois on WICS, WEEK-TV, KSD-TV, and WNBQ-TV, all in color.

Price is Right segment/"Kraft Music Hall-Milton Berle Show" (1958) NBC

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(Top left): Ad for "Milton Berle" on the "Kraft Music Hall" from St. Louis Post-Dispatch for KSD-TV

(Top right): Listings from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch with Channel 5, KSD-TV

(Bottom Right): Listings for Oct 8, 1958, from the Bloomington Pantagraph

 

This video is the oldest surviving entertainment color videotape! Milton Berle owned it, and his widow donated it to the UCLA archive. This archived videotape (just posted April 29, 2024) was played at DC Video on an Ampex AVR-1 using special circuit modifications developed at DC Video laboratory. According to DC Video, it was shot using RCA TK-41 color cameras through an RCA color switcher.

"The Dinah Shore Chevy Show" on Easter of 1959 would have been seen on WICS, WEEK-TV, WGEM-TV, and KSD-TV.

The Dinah Shore Show (1958) NBC

This video is from a live broadcast of "The Dinah Shore Show" on Sunday, November 9, 1958. This 2" quad tape is the third oldest surviving color videotape. It was recorded at NBC Burbank on the RCA TRT-1 2" quad color VTR using the RCA "color labs" low-band proprietary recording system. It was played at DC Video on an Ampex AVR-1 using special circuit modifications developed at DC Video.

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(Right):  From the Bloomington Pantagraph TV listings for

Nov 9, 1958

This 3-minute segment was taken from the show, which is unavailable on YouTube. Research Video (DC Video) magnificently restored the program shown here. It looks like it was just recorded and is an excellent-quality video! 

The broadcast above would have been seen throughout mid-Illinois on WICS, WEEK-TV, WGEM-TV and KSD-TV. The Bloomington Pantagraph newspaper listing shows it aired on WNBQ-TV, WICS, and WEEK-TV.
 

Dinah Shore Chevy Show (1959) NBC

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(Above): From the Bloomington Pantagraph TV listings for March 29, 1959.

This program segment of "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show" was broadcast over the NBC Television Network on Easter Sunday, March 29, 1959.

It was broadcast live in the eastern/central/mountain time zones. It was recorded simultaneously on a black and white kinescope and in color on video tape to be aired in the Pacific time zone.

 

"The Dinah Shore Chevy Show" was recorded at NBC Burbank on the RCA TRT-1 2" quad color VTR using the RCA "color labs" low band proprietary recording system, sent live to New York, where it was sent out live to the affiliates in the three time zones. The show was recorded, presumably at the same time in Burbank, and relayed (live on tape) to the affiliates in the Pacific time zone.

This archived videotape was played at DC Video on an Ampex AVR-1 using special circuit modifications developed at DC Video laboratory. According to DC Video, it was shot using RCA TK-41 color cameras and an RCA color switcher. It featured one of the first uses of the Chroma Key (a blue background that is canceled out, then a replacement image is shown so the foreground image appears with a different background). I detail this in the narrative of the next video, "The Steve Allen Show."

"The Dinah Shore Chevy Show" on Easter of 1959 would have been seen on WICS, WEEK-TV, WGEM-TV, and KSD-TV.

Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1959) NBC

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(Above): From the Bloomington Pantagraph TV listings for Nov 16, 1959.

This NBC color presentation was for "The Steve Allen Plymouth Show" broadcast live (and recorded on videotape for the Pacific time zone) on Monday at 9 pm CT, November 16, 1959. The Chrysler Corporation and the Plymouth Division sponsored this weekly series. It showcased the new 1960 Plymouth models.

 

From a technical standpoint, look for the early use of Chroma Key, an RCA invention, in the opening credits! That was long before it was used for weathercasting. According to former NBC editor Arthur Schneider in his book "Jump Cut," Chroma Key wasn't until 1965 that it became a tool in the NBC production arsenal. Evidently, it had been developed long before 1965, and this one used in the "Dinah Shore Chevy Show" example above was perhaps a very early release of the process. CBS and William Paley had to have been incredibly envious after observing that special effect that CBS could not duplicate! 

Steve Allen was an NBC veteran, hosting the "Tonight" show from September 27, 1954, to January 25, 1957. Meanwhile, he began a prime-time weekly series on Sundays that premiered June 24, 1956 and aired through December 27, 1961. When the prime-time series premiered, he backed off on "Tonight" by only appearing Wednesday through Friday nights. The other nights were hosted by "guest" hosts.

Along with writing and performing music for the show, he introduced us to a supporting comedy cast that would grace our TV screens for decades. That cast included Loui Nye ("The Beverly Hillbillies"), Gene Rayburn ("The Match Game"), Tom Poston("Bob Newhart Show"), Gabe Dell ("The Bowery Boys"), Don Knotts ("The Andy Griffith Show," "Three's Company"), Pat Harrington Jr. ("One Day at a Time"), Bill Dana ("The Bill Dana Show"), Buck Henry ("Saturday Night Live"), The Smothers Brothers ("The Smothers Brothers Show"), and Tim Conway ("McHale's Navy," "The Carol Burnett Show")!

This program was broadcast on WICS, WCHU (in black and white), WEEK-TV, WGEM-TV, and KSD-TV. The newspaper clipping indicates that it was also broadcast in color on WNBQ-TV, WICS, and WEEK-TV.

Astaire Time (1960) NBC Fred Astaire

There were conflicting dates listed for "Astaire Time," Fred Astaire's third TV special on NBC and the second special of his in color. I verified the actual air date and time with newspaper listings of that day. It was broadcast on Wednesday, September 29, 1960. The first Fred Astaire color special was broadcast in 1958, and even though I believe the complete show was on YouTube at one time, I have not been able to locate it now.

 

Below is a short 1958 "An Evening with Fred Astaire" segment from the first Fred Astaire color special.

(Above): From the Bloomington Pantagraph TV listings for Sept 29, 1960.

An Evening with Fred Astaire (1958) NBC Fred Astaire

On October 17, 1958, "An Evening with Fred Astaire" was broadcast on NBC in color and sponsored by "The Chrysler Corporation."  This is a segment from that first Fred Astaire color special.

You'll notice that the color broadcasts were all from NBC broadcasts. NBC mastered the live variety shows, and founder Brig. General David Sarnoff felt that this was television's best entertainment, these epic live musical/comedy variety shows.

 

CBS didn't regularly broadcast in color as its founder, William Paley, didn't want to make the investment necessary to retool all of the studios and video switchers, plus what would have been essential to upgrade the network coax and the distribution amplifiers that would be required for the color broadcasts to be seen across the country. Meanwhile, Leonard Goldenson at ABC dealt with takeover bids and low cash reserves and needed more resources to make the color plunge. 

The Jetsons-opening (1962) ABC

ABC broadcast its first full-color program on September 23, 1962, as "The Jetsons" premiered. This was accomplished despite ABC having no color equipment and only a few affiliates being able to broadcast color. 

According to the Eyes of a Generation website (linked on the Early Days of Television page on this site, you'll find it by clicking here), here's how it happened: "Each week, ABC took a 35 and a 16mm copy (master and safety) to NBC Burbank on Sunday afternoons. NBC would rack both and play them simultaneously (in case the 35mm film broke) down two AT&T lines to ABC New York for the East Coast broadcast. They would do the same later each Sunday when they fed the signal to ABC Hollywood."

"'The Flintstones' was produced in color and preceded this show ("The Jetsons") by two years, but those first couple of years (shows) were broadcast in black and white. When "The Jetsons" debuted in color, the Bedrock bunch made their color debut the next week, which also included NBC Burbank."

KTVI, Channel 2 in St. Louis, broadcast both the shows scheduled that evening in color. Meanwhile, in central Illinois, neither WTVP Channel 17 Decatur nor WTVH Channel 19 Peoria was yet able to broadcast in color.

The ads above were placed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

on September 23, 1962.

The Hollywood Palace (1965) ABC First Time in Color

ABC's first color ability came in late 1964 when they installed an RCA color film chain in New York. The network's first live color ability came the next year when "The Hollywood Palace" got 4 RCA TK41s.

The video above of "The Hollywood Palace" segment was the first live non-animated show broadcast in color on ABC, using the 4 RCA TK41s mentioned above!

 

Bing Crosby was the host and sang about what would be seen during the 1965-66 season. This was one of the first shows broadcast in color in central Illinois on WTVP and WTVH. When WTVP, Channel 17, broadcasts an ABC show in color, a scroll message runs across the bottom of the screen during the ABC color introduction, reading, "This is a WTVP Color Presentation."

Hollywood Palace (1965) ABC Host: Bing Crosby

This is a Christmas show, but it was one of the first ten color installments of "The Hollywood Palace," and it really showcases the epic look and feel of the variety show that NBC utilized in its many live color extravaganzas, which were broadcast each week from the late 1950s through the 1960s.

 

This ABC presentation was broadcast on Christmas Day, 1965, and "der Bingle," as he was called then, took the opportunity to promote his own production company show, "Hogan's Heroes," which aired in color on CBS! The major cast members of "Hogan's Heroes" were presented and even performed for the Holiday TV audience.

This was also one of the first uses of the 10-second ABC color presentation animated graphics. Local stations that could not broadcast color were provided with a black-and-white graphic of the ABC logo filmed with just the music as an audio background.

It's also notable that Bing Crosby pioneered the use of audio tape recording of his classic radio series from the 1940s and the development of videotape through his investments in the AMPEX companies. 

 

I know I'm a TV nerd, but I think how great it would be for the networks or nostalgic TV streaming channels to obtain the rights for these and other TV gems restored and remastered to be rebroadcast late at night or even on weekends. The selections (good and bad) would be exciting and a living "time capsule" of life in the U.S.

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Previously on Videos

of the Week...

 

If you've missed any of the "Videos of the Week" or "Classic Radio" recordings, you'll find them here. Unfortunately, there's no narrative to go along with each. You have to visit each week for that.

The Howdy Doody Show (1958) NBC

Popeye Cartoons (1938) WCIA Paramount Studios

The Three Stooges Film Festival (televised 1960s) WICS/WCHU/WICD

 

Hercules Cartoons ()1960s) WTVP(later WAND)

 

Bugs Bunny (1943) WICS/WCHU/WICD

Popeye Cartoons (1960s) WICS/WCHU/WICD

DIck Tracy Show Intro (1960s) WTVP(later WAND)

Dick Tracy Cartoon (1960s) WTVP(later WAND)

Space Angel (1960s) WTVP(later WAND)

Woody Woodpecker (1960) ABC/Syndication

Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-62) Syndicated

Deputy Dog (1960-62) CBS/Syndicated

Rocky and Friends (1959-64) ABC/NBC/Syndication

The Little Rascals (1922-44) Theatrical Features/Syndicated

King Leonardo/King and Odie (1960s) CBS/Syndicated

Candid Camera (1960) CBS Arthur Godfrey

The Martin Short Show (1994) NBC

The Avengers 1967) ABC

Fantasy Island (1978) ABC

The Name of the Game (1971) NBC Robert Stack

WIRL Radio 1968) Peoria VLJ

Way Out Intro (1962) WCIA

Aircheck (1987) WCIA

Reach for the Stars (1982) WCIA

The Hop Interview with Margaret Whiting-Part 1 (1964) WCIA Ed Mason

Weather Rewind (2014) WICS Joe Crain

60th Anniversary (2013) WICS

67th Anniversary (2020) WAND

Station Break/ID (1991) WAND/ABC

Aircheck SNL (1987) WICD/NBC

Sunrise Today (1998) WICD

Aircheck (1996) WICD

Commercial Reel (1980s) Doug Quick

Dave Shaul's 25th Anniversary (1987) WCIA

Schlitz Beer Commercial (early 1960s) Gene Robinson

The Hop (early 1960s) Ed Mason Interview

Paul Davis/Mr. Roberts (1970s) WCIA

WAND Aircheck (1982) ABC Monday Night Movie

WAND Aircheck (1982) Late Night Vegas

WAND Aircheck (1985) ABC during 45/85

6pm News (1986) WAND

6pm News segment (1996) WICS

6pm News segment (1997) WICS

WICS 60th Anniversary Logo Montage (2014)

70 Years of WICS (2023) Doug Quick Interview

Roundtable PA Program (1983) WICD

6pm News Segment (1999) Urbana Sweetcorn Festival

6pm News (2001) WICD

Sunrise Clips (1998-2002) WICD

Dick Van Dyke Show (1962) CBS Classic Episode

WKRP in Cincinnati (1982) CBS To Err is Human

Good Morning World (1967) CBS

NewsRadio (1995) NBC Pilot Show

Mary Tyler More Show (1973) CBS Walter Cronkite

Lou Grant (1977) CBS Pilot Show

The Green Hornet (1966) Episode 2

Goodnight Beantown (1983) Open/Close

WLS Radio (1973) John Landecker

The Man/Girl from U.N.C.L.E (1960s) NBC

The Best of Get Smart (1965) NBC Don Adams

The Saint (1967) NBC Roger Moore

Amos Burke-Secret Agent (1965) ABC Gene Barry

I Spy (1965) NBC Pilot

Mission Impossible (1966-1973) CBS

It Takes a Thief (1968) ABC Robert Wagner

Dangerous Assignment (1949) NBC Radio

TV Tidbits Vol 15 (1950s-70s) FredFlix

WKRP in Cincinnati (1980) CBS

American Bandstand (1969) Dick Clark

Love American Style (1969) ABC

Love American Style (1972) ABC

I Dream of Jeannie (1965) NBC Pilot

Alcoa Premiere Presents: Million Dollar Hospital (1963) ABC William Shatner

WCVS Springfield, IL (1971) Steve West

The Phil Silvers Show (1955) CBS First Pilot

The Phil Silvers Show (1956) CBS Guest:

Dick Van  Dyke

McHale's Navy (1962) ABC Pilot

The Roaring 20s (1960-62) ABC

Happy Days (1974-1984) ABC

Airwolf (1986) CBS

Fridays (1980) ABC First Show

Fridays (1980) ABC Infamous Brawl episode

Fridays (1981) ABC Guest Host: Andy Kaufman

Fridays (1980) ABC 

Fridays (1981) ABC Guest Host: Henny Youngman

Fridays (1981) ABC Guest Host: Valerie Bertinelli

Fridays (1981) ABC Musical Guest: Boz Scaggs

Classic Radio

WDNL (1981) Doug Quick

The Joey Bishop Show (1968) Guests: Rat Packers

The Joey Bishop Show (1969) First Half Hour

The Dick Cavett Show (1972) Guests: Mel Brooks, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, and Frank Capra

The Dick Cavett Show (1973) Guest: Paul Newman

ABC Late Night (1980) Opening Titles

ABC Late Night (1982) Aircheck/Breaks from WAND

The Love Boat (1983) ABC Guest: Barry Van Dyke

KXOK (1967) Johnny Rabbitt Show

Perry Mason Promo (1960) CBS

Perry Mason-Opening Titles (1957-1995) CBS/NBC

Perry Mason (1957) CBS The Case of the Sulky Girl

Judd for the Defense (1967) ABC Carl Betz

Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law (1973) ABC Arthur Hill, Lee Majors, Reni Santoni

L.A. Law 100th Episode Special (1991) NBC Jan Pauly

Boston Legal (2004) ABC James Spader

Perry Mason (1943-1951) CBS Radio

New Stuff on this Site

March 19, 2024- Thanks to contributor Tom Arbogast, who has spent hundreds of hours collecting interviews from the history of WWCT-Peoria (formerly WWTO). We have added a link to his work and the many interviews he has conducted. See it all by clicking here.

Coming soon is a complete narrative on the history of the 1980s edition of WBLN-TV and its change into WYZZ. Be watching for it!

April 13, 2024-I updated the TV Today pages to show additional subchannel networks in Mid-Illinois listings. Check out Dr. Phil's Merit Street Media Channel, which has been added to the WYZZ subchannel 43.3.

April 13, 2024-I Updated the other pages of TV Today with new subchannels and movements.

April 23, 2024-The Peoria TV Today page has been updated to show a new channel line-up on W27EQ-D. Thanks to Daniel Kolb for the info.


 

Next Week on 
Videos of the Week

 

This week's Videos of the Week will be posted until Saturday, May 25th, at 7 pm.

I'll have a new group of Videos beginning around 7 pm on Saturday, May 25th.

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Central Illinois On-Line Broadcast Museum and dougquick.com supports the work of the St. Louis Media History Foundation. 

Visit their website at:

stlmediahistory.org

 

Be watching forSomething New!

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Weigel Broadcasting Co., the owner of MeTV, a classic TV network, has announced the launch of a new national TV network called MeTV Toons. The new network will focus on classic animation, featuring everything from Hollywood-era shorts to made-for-television favorites. MeTV Toons will be programmed 24/7 and separate from the original MeTV network.

 

MeTV has collaborated with Warner Bros. Discovery for licensing content featuring its animated characters, which include Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Scooby Doo, Tom & Jerry, George Jetson, Top Cat, Yogi Bear, Popeye, Johnny Quest, and Fred Flintstone. Moreover, the new network will also feature the MGM cartoon collection, including Tom and Jerry, the Jay Ward Productions library, including Rocky and Bulwinkle, classic cartoons with Popeye, Betty Boop, and even some of the Marionette kid shows like The Thunderbirds and Fireball XL-5.

 

The new network will launch on June 25, and Weigel is negotiating with stations that have already programmed MeTV as a subchannel on their signal. MeTV already airs a daily program called “Toon In With Me,” which heavily features Warner Bros. animated shows.

If you want to view MeTV Toons, please contact your local station with MeTV and express your support for the new channel! In central Illinois, call WAND-Decatur at (217) 424-2500, or in west-central Illinois, call WGEM-TV-Quincy at (217) 228-6600 and ask them to add MeTV Toons!

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