top of page

The History of WAND, Channel 17, Decatur, IL




On December 23, 1965, Frederick Gregg Jr., President of LIN Broadcasting, announced the future expansion of WTVP.  The announcement also came with the announcement of the ownership change of WTVP to the Nashville, Tennessee-based company on December 15, 1965.  The purchase price was listed as $ 2 million.

The $800,000 expansion plans would involve a power increase of almost “five-fold” and a doubling of the height of its tower.  The plans also included converting to a color TV studio and broadcasting, which would begin in 1966.  The W-70-AF translator wasn’t included in the briefing, but according to the Urbana Courier, “others familiar with the station’s capabilities feel it can be eliminated.”

In late 1965, WTVP was stated as having a Grade B signal over 45% of Champaign-Urbana.  With the tower/antenna and transmitter upgrade, it was felt that WTVP would have a Grade A signal over the Twin Cities.

In February 1966, a press release read that all TV owners should be able to receive ABC programming from WTVP by May of that year.  The final engineering plans were completed and submitted to the FCC for approval.  WTVP Station Manager Len Carl said the upgrade would include a new 1-million-watt transmitter near Argenta, Illinois.  Some communities that would now be included in the coverage area were Melvin, Loda, and Rankin to the north, Ashland to the west, Danville to the east, and Mattoon to the south.  It was also revealed on February 10th that WTVP would become WAND the following Monday.

The plans began for building a tower and transmitter that an ice storm would eventually destroy.  That weather-related event would ultimately bring down the 1,135-foot structure during the late '70s...more on that later.

In the meantime, the Macon County Zoning Board approved the construction of the tower and transmitter building on a one-acre tract of land located 2 miles northeast of Oreana, Illinois, before the final FCC approval was granted.


(Above): WAND announces new call letters on February 13, 1966, one day ahead of the actual change from WTVP.  The VP and general manager's name was misspelled in the newspaper ad. It should read Len Carl...  (Right): He also appeared on WDZ on the first day of WAND to promote the change and the many changes that Lin Broadcasting had in store for the station.

(Decatur Herald-Review Newspaper) 

wand_wdz_1966-0213_ad for newWAND mgr_decher.jpg

Before the new transmitter and tower were installed, WAND went online on July 1st, 1966, with a new film chain with color capabilities and color VTR.  WTVP could broadcast the network in color as early as 1965.  Several months later, live studio color broadcasting was still planned for October of 1966.

In August of 1966, construction began on the new WAND tower.  Weather delays continued to plague the construction schedule for the new high-powered facility.  By August 16th, the tower's concrete forms began to be placed and readied for the tower's foundation.  The construction of the new concrete block-style transmitter building was underway as well.  Stainless, Inc. was the manufacturer and assembly contractor for the tower (the same company that built the WILL-TV/FM tower just a few miles to the northeast of the WAND tower).

More on the WAND tower/transmitter below...

These full-page ads for ABC for the 1965-66 season were also sponsored by WIRL-TV Channel 19, Peoria. WTVP was not inclined to share the cost with WIRL, so Channel 19 got the advantage of a full logo to be included in the ads.

(TV Guide from the Doug Quick Collection)

Click on button to see the program schedule from the dates indicated above.

Recollections of "Davey's Locker" and "Captain Scotty"

After marrying, he and his wife and family lived in Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Oklahoma, and Illinois.  Jon tells of attending six different grade schools.  Jon described his father's voice as having a deep resonance similar to James Earl Jones with a “touch of (an) English accent and a great cutting vocabulary.” His son also tells of him going “back and forth between being a pastor and radio/TV/Newspapers.”


Also at WAND, he anchored the Noon newscast for a time, but that was after he had already established himself as a kids show host, and according to his son, the move “didn't work."   After working at WAND, he ended up at WMIX radio in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, where he was station manager. He later returned to preaching, taking him to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where Dr. John Douglas Davey passed away in 2002.


So, the search continues to find any material, pictures, or any TV show artifacts and souvenirs from any of the WAND kid's shows. If you have any memories, personal photos your parents might have taken at the WTVP/WAND studios, or any photos showing the set, the host, and the kids, they would be a terrific addition to this website. You'll notice right now that there are none.

Pictures can be scanned and sent via e-mail to me. Digital pictures of objects can be taken, and scans of any printed material can also be emailed. Please go through your collection! Don't let this exciting time of local television disappear! Of course, you would be given contributor status.


I would also like to hear the story of your experience as a child participant. I'm looking forward to hearing from you soon!

During the 1950s and especially during the 1960s, local television included many local kids' shows that would feature a unique host, a panel of local kids, games that allowed kids to win prizes, and a stable of four to five-minute cartoons. At WTVP/WAND during the '60s, there was at least "Space Angel," " Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers," along with "Davey's Locker" and "Captain Scotty."

Dr. John Douglas Davey created and hosted Davey's Locker and Captain Scotty. His son Jon Davey, now a professor at a Midwest university, passed along some information about the life of Dr. Davey.


Dr. Davey was born in Northern Rhodesia, where his parents were missionaries. He was later educated in Wales and graduated from Swansea College before moving to Canada. He served in the Canadian Air Force during World War II, then went to seminary school.

wand_1965_Davey's Locker Membership Card_modified-Tom Barker.jpg

Other Children's Panel Shows of the 1960s on Channel 17

During a period when children's participation shows were themed around popular syndicated cartoon series, "Space Angel" was one such show. This episodic cartoon series, produced by Cambria Productions from 1962-64, used the unique "Synchro-Vox" lip animation technique, where only the lips of characters were animated. The voices for the characters were provided by Ned Lefebvre, who played Scott McCloud, aka "The Space Angel," Margaret Kerry, who played Crystal Mace, and Hal Smith, who played the Scottish-born engineer Taurus. Interestingly, it is believed that the character of "Scotty" from "Star Trek" was based on "Taurus."

Dick Tracy's Crimestoppers
This Chester Gould-based cartoon featured the famous comic strip character of Dick Tracy. UPA produced it from 1961 to 1962. This cartoon series would be considered culturally inappropriate today. For this one, the 5-minute cartoons would be interspersed with segments featuring local kids with activities based on the theme, "crime does not pay." It's unknown what the exact dates of this weekday installment ran on WTVP/WAND. If you ever participated in this series, I would like to include your story here on this site. Please contact me using the form on the Home Page!


ABC Network Shows from

WAND News Late 1960s
By mid-1966, local newscasts were being listed in time slots that previously were being filled with syndicated programming.  The last year of Metromedia ownership eliminated all weekend newscasts and reduced the lengths of other weekday and weeknight newscasts.  Now, under LIN  Broadcasting ownership, the trend has noticeably stopped.  As was indicated by the number of ads promoting local news on WAND, a new emphasis on local news was beginning to take shape.  The black-and-white broadcasts of local news would join those other local stations already broadcasting in color.   WICS, WICD, and  WCIA had already begun broadcasting their local news in color.


WAND's New RCA Antenna is a Monster
Further information on the subject of the antenna comes from the WJJY-TV website.   The WAND antenna,  along with the antenna of the ill-fated Jacksonville, Illinois station, 
was manufactured by RCA.  The WJJY-TV antenna was slightly larger because of a higher power level but wasn’t used until August of 1969.  According to the site listed above, “to gain such incredibly high power levels, WJJY-TV utilized an experimental antenna manufactured by RCA, and only three were ever constructed.  Because the station operated on channel 14, the lowest possible UHF frequency, the physical dimensions of the radiator elements were very large, making the antenna the most massive ever constructed for the commercial UHF market.”  “WAND-TV in Decatur, Illinois, purchased the second smaller unit.  The third antenna remained unsold and stayed on the ground at the Camden, New Jersey RCA test facility.  No one trusted such a large, heavy antenna.  Those fears would later be realized.” 

“The complete antenna (for WJJY-TV) was so massive that it had to be manufactured and shipped in three sections on three tracks.  Each part was individually lifted to the tower's top and stacked by the tower riggers.  The average antenna weight for a UHF antenna at that time was between two and nine tons.  The RCA “Vee-Zee” panel antenna weighed 26 tons, not counting the transmission line, radome covers, and mounting plates.”  The story of the antenna for WJJY would end the same weekend as the story of the new antenna for WAND.  The story of the tower
 failure on the day before Easter 1978 is coming later on this site.


Pictured left is a 1960s picture of the WTVP/WAND studios and broadcast tower. The tower described above would replace the broadcast function pictured here. Over 70 years later, this broadcast tower still stands at the WAND studios, although its only use now is to support the studio-transmitter link microwave antenna. 
(picture courtesy of Carol Barnes and WAND)



Here is a selection of ABC promos from 1962-1964, all seen on WTVP. It includes "The Tycoon," "Stoney Burke," "The Sunday Night Movie," "The Price is Right" and "The Patty Duke Show."

"The Flintstones" and "Jonny Quest" were the only two regularly scheduled shows airing on ABC and WTVP which were broadcast in color in 1965-66. Here is a sample of "Jonny Quest" in a color promo from 1964.

1966-1970 Promos selection from ABC featuring "The Music Scene," "The Immortal," "Marcus Welby M.D.," The Young Lawyers," "Batman," "The Brady Bunch," "The Odd Couple," and  "The FBI." All Seen on WAND.

More ABC promos from the 1971-72 TV Season.  This was recently updated to a high-quality video. All seen on WAND.

The ABC daytime schedule included a number of daytime dramas. Here is a 1964 promo with a sample of each one, all seen on WTVP/WAND.

A group of ABC promos from 1964 featuring the shows "The Addams Family," "The Flintstones," and "The King Family." All seen in prime time on WTVP.

ABC promo selection from 1968-1971 includes "The Mod Squad," "Room 222," and the "King Family." All seen on WAND.

This was one of ABC's cult series, "The Avengers" seen originally in black and white, it returned in 1968 in color for the last episodes with Diana Rigg as Emma Peel.  John Steed was Patrick McNee.

WAND becomes a Big Central Illinois Broadcaster

On October 3rd 1966, WAND General Manager Len Carl announced that the new WAND transmitter and the antenna were to be operational on Wednesday, October 5th.  It was also stated that the translator for WAND, W-70-AE, would be taken off the air from its location in Champaign since it was projected that WAND would throw a class A signal into the Champaign-Urbana area. It also appears that after tests were conducted about the signal strength of the new transmitter and antenna, the translator would be moved to Danville.  Channel 70 would be used to “fill in” the signal to a populated area located just inside the coverage area but had a questionable ability to receive the signal from channel 17.  Channel 70 got a class A signal over Danville, and channel 17, a class A signal over Springfield, Decatur, and Champaign-Urbana.  The achievement allowed WAND to pitch its 100-percent class A coverage area to national and regional advertising buyers.  This was necessary for the station to maximize potential households reached and hopefully WAND’s ratings.  This new situation would increase the chance to pick up its share of that all-important advertising market.

There was a delay in the initial broadcast from the new site, but it was only for a couple of days.  On Saturday morning, October 8th, 1966, at 6:40, WAND began broadcasting its 2-million-watt signal from its new tower and transmitter near Argenta, Illinois.  Reception reports were favorable for the most part from all over the area.  The only exceptions were complaints from viewers in Decatur, who failed to compensate for the new transmitter location and to re-direct their antennas toward the new broadcast site.

Syndicated Shows 1965-69

At the Least, WAND is on the Air
Central Illinois experienced an ice storm on January 26, 1967, which caused the collapse of the newly constructed 1,335-foot tower of WICD between Homer and Fithian, Illinois (See WICD).   This may have coincided with an ice storm that affected WAND as well.  I remember an ice storm that took WAND off the air with a power failure and/or damage to the station's studio transmitter microwave link.  WAND scrambled to return to the air with a temporary arrangement, which caused them to abandon their studio and move to the newly constructed transmitter building at the tower near Argenta, Illinois. I assume either that location had power or a back-up
 generator was used to keep the station on the air.  Unfortunately, there was probably no switching equipment or a network feed to keep the station with the look of normal programming.

Instead, the engineering staff wired in a camera, maybe a studio camera, and a couple of microphones wired into the transmitter to broadcast ongoing
 news and ice storm reports and weather from inside their transmitter building!  WAND also used a 16 mm movie projector to show movies, cartoons, and syndicated programming on the building wall and stuck a mike in front of a projector speaker.  The shows were “video jocked” by on-air staffers, of which I remember Bob Billman and Bill Wohlfarth doing at least one shift.  The two VJs would sit at a table with chairs. When it was time to go back to “programming,” you could hear the projector startup, and the studio camera would pan up to the wall and then focus on the projected image of a movie or whatever program on the wall. 

This was the arrangement for at least a few days, as the station would show countless old westerns, cartoons, and other movies and programs from the WAND film library.  I also remembered disappointment when the station regained power and resumed normal broadcasting.  I was impressed with how the staff handled the situation and solved a problem that would probably take most stations off the air during that time.  I wonder how stations now would handle such an event, as most wouldn’t have a library of programs to air in case of an emergency.

Romper Room Flashback

These pictures were contributed by Patty Spain-Smith, who appeared on WAND's Romper Room in April of 1971.  She is pictured above in the yellow dress. 

She says, "I would have been six years old.  It's so disappointing that there aren't tapes of this somewhere!  I would have loved to have been able to show my kids how I was a "TV superstar" for a day!"  

The Romper Room teacher was, in all probability, "Miss Jean," also featured in a Romper Room TV
Guide® ad in the early 1960s. 

(Thanks to Patty Spain-Smith for her contribution)

WAND Celebrities 1970-1999


Dick Westbrook
Dick Westbrook was WAND News Director during much of the
1970's and 80's. He was also a sometime anchor, an anchor for
"Looking In," WAND's public affairs features aired on weekdays.
It was the title of the station's midday newscasts with
various local interviews and local events. Westbrook was formerly the News Director at WDZ(AM) in Decatur during the mid to late 1960s.


Jerry Slabe
Jerry Slabe is pictured from the mid-1970s.  His broadcast history began in Wisconsin and Illinois radio, eventually becoming part of the staff of the ill-fated WJJY-TV in Jacksonville, Illinois, before moving to WAND in Decatur.  He eventually moved to WCIA, where he remained until the ownership changed from Midwest TV to Nexstar.  His leaving brought quite a controversy to WCIA.  See the History of WCIA for more details.


Mike Cheever
Mike Cheever was the WAND Promotions Director /Manager from 1970 to 1984. He took the job after a short stint at WJJY-TV in Jacksonville, IL  Pictures: top left  Mike at the "Tales of Terror" set at WAND in which he starred as
Dr. Terror.  There is another shot of Mike below on this web page from a TV Guide ad for the midday news program. He took many responsibilities at WAND, including that of an announcer, chief copywriter, producer, weekend weather, worked in audio control, and, in his words, "everything in between." He also kept an on-air presence with several features.  He was the host of "Looking In," the WAND public affairs program for a time, as well as playing the part of "Dr. Terror" on the Friday night movie series "Tales of Terror."  Mike was the "voice" of WAND, doing voice-over promotions for local programming, movies, topical promos, and public service announcements. Mike was also part of the midday news at
WAND and host of the "At Your Service" feature. 

Read the recollections of the late Mike Cheever when he contacted me several years ago by going to the button to the left.

ABC News promo from 1969-1970 with anchor Howard K. Smith and Harry Reasoner as seen on WAND.


Even in 1974, the ABC "slice of life" promos were going full speed and presenting ABC programming in a great light. The contemporary music soundtrack was spot-on and light-years ahead of the other networks. William Schallert, an anchor on many TV shows from the 1950s to the 1990s, narrated the premier show.



ABC Mini-Series

ABC was, in my opinion, running a terrific promotional machine with the use of its many themes, along with idyllic "slice of America" visions of people and places along with "feel good" clips from its prime time shows. The graphics were trendsetting long before digital video was invented. Here is a sample of the fall premiere special from 1971-part 1, as seen on WAND.


Note the salute to the heritage ABC shows of the past using the theme of "Still the One" from the 1977-1979 Fall Promo as seen on WAND.


ABC Shows from 1971-1990

An Easter Disaster for WAND
Easter weekend and Easter morning of 1978 in central Illinois was not your usual day of Easter church services and pastel Easter outfits.  Central Illinois was experiencing one of the worst ice storms in several years, damaging area trees, power lines, and structures.   The storm damage reports began on Good Friday with trees and power lines. By Saturday afternoon and early Easter morning, the list of damaged structures would include the loss of two TV broadcast towers in central Illinois. 

One was the former tower/antenna of WJJY-TV, licensed to Jacksonville, Illinois, during the very late 1960s and very early 70s.  This station went on the air from a sixteen hundred-foot tower and the antenna located on the bluffs of the Illinois River near Meridosia, Illinois.  By 1978, the former TV station was history, leaving the air just a short time later in 1970.   WJJY-TV went on the air in 1969, broadcasting at 4.5 million watts of power from one of the three highest structures in North America.  WJJY went dark within two years, and the broadcast tower was only a gravestone marking its short history.  Unfortunately, the tower was constructed using the typical specs for a much lighter antenna load.  This high-powered TV station used an experimental antenna that weighed much more than usual for any UHF station.  It was that extraordinary weight combined with the additional weight of solid ice that was said to cover the antenna and tower, some 3 feet thick,  which took it down in the pre-dawn hours of that Easter morning.


Photo 1- 5 above The Easter weekend of 1978, a central Illinois ice storm claimed two central Illinois broadcast towers, coincidentally both supporting similar RCA broadcast antennas.  One tower in west-central Illinois, west of Jacksonville, took the former WJJY-TV 1,600-foot tower to the ground. The same storm also destroyed the broadcast tower of WAND. 

Photo 6 above WAND Station Manager Barry Geoghegan holding a chunk of ice contributed to the tower's failure.

Photo 7 above A picture of the ceiling and open roof resulted from an ice chunk that fell through the studio roof above the control room from the former broadcast tower behind the facility at South Side Drive.

(left): Ice falling from the South Side Drive tower would be called back to service within days.

Coincidentally, WAND utilized a similar antenna as WJJY did with its new transmitter location near Argenta, Illinois.  Even though it wasn’t quite as large or heavy as the original antenna used by WJJY-TV, because of the frequency difference between UHF channels 14 and 17, along with the difference in power, didn’t require such an antenna, it was still quite heavy and larger than most other antennas being used on top of similar towers of the era.  On that Saturday before Easter, the 11-hundred-foot steel tower of WAND crashed to the ground.  It was reported that one WAND official had gotten a phone call shortly before 2 PM from a woman who said, “Oh my God, your tower just went down!”  The damage broke communication between at least one person, an engineer at the transmitter site, and the station.  When the tower fell, it took the phone lines with it.  Debris was said to have fallen through the roof of the transmitter building, but the engineer on duty wasn’t injured, nor did the transmitter receive any damage. 

The cause obviously was the buildup of ice on the tower and antenna, but the additional weight of the experimental antenna contributed to its own demise as well.  The scenario was very similar to the WJJY-TV failure of the next day when it was reported that two guy wires snapped and allowed the tower to buckle near the top and fall, taking out the other guy wires and pulling the rest down.


This was a trying time for several central Illinois TV broadcasters as well.  WCIA, Channel 3 was off the air from Friday afternoon to around 10 PM on Saturday due to a power outage at the transmitter site.  WICD was on the air but had lost its microwave feed from WICS.  At that time, WICD could not receive the NBC network from coax, and satellite reception was still quite a few years later.  WICD solved its problem of not receiving the network by quickly installing an antenna at the studio to receive the off-air signal of WTWO-TV, Channel 2 from Terre Haute, Indiana, and rebroadcasting the network signal.  It’s interesting to note that WTWO was suffering from a related problem of not receiving the network signal because of downed phone lines.  The Terre Haute station received an over-the-air signal from the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis and was rebroadcasting that to its viewers in the Terre Haute area.  I remember a description of the WICD tower that said that the tower wasn’t straight up and down because of the ice load and had a rather “S” configuration under the ice load.


The additional weight of the ice was putting great stress on the guy wires.  I was at WDAN/WDNL in Danville at the time, and even though the Danville area didn’t get the full brunt of the ice storm, there was some ice build-up on the 385-foot tower of WDAN and WDNL which was the former WDAN-TV and WICD tower pre-1967.  I remember seeing a bit of sway and hearing strange noises from the newly formed ice sculpture.

No doubt about it: WAND was in deep trouble with no way to return to the air quickly, but the station did have one ace in the hole that none of its competitors had.  That unique advantage was its former tower and antenna at its studio’s back door.  The original WTVP tower could be a way to get WAND back on the air....and soon. The station had two alternatives to get back on the air and only one way to solve its major problem, and that was to rebuild the tower.  The alternatives they faced to get a signal on the air as quickly as possible were to build a temporary tower at the Argenta site, which would be considerably shorter than 11 hundred feet, and limit its coverage area at least until a new tower could be built.  The second alternative was using the existing 600-foot tower and antenna behind the studio.  It would be a taxing two weeks before WAND would return to the airwaves.

In an April 1st story in the Urbana Courier, Dick Westbrook, WAND News Director, reported that the station would return to the air by April 3rd, broadcasting from its original tower.  He described what had been occurring during the last two weeks.  First, a plan was undertaken to broadcast from a temporary antenna placed at the 250-foot level of the existing tower.  Engineers were unsure how far the station would reach, and at that time, a decision would be made to perhaps utilize the station’s former antenna at the top of the tower later.  There was also a plan to purchase a used UHF antenna from Channel 17 in Philadelphia in case the old antenna was unusable. Westbrook said that if the old antenna were still operational by mid-April, it would allow WAND to broadcast again to the entire area.  This was a bit of an overstatement since the original antenna could not handle any major power increases over what it was using before 1966. 

The total damage from the ice storm of Easter weekend 1978 was reported at 1.5 million dollars!  LIN Broadcasting had insurance enough to handle a loss of 1.2 million dollars.  It was also reported that constructing a new tower would take another six to eight months, assuming it would be rebuilt at the site near Argenta.  There was also a consideration of another unspecified tower site.

By April 13th, WAND was again broadcasting from its original tower and antenna located on Southside Drive on Decatur’s southwest side.  The original antenna, abandoned in 1966, seems to be operational again in 1978.  During the cleanup and construction of facilities to contain a temporary transmitter at the studio location, plans were being made by LIN Broadcasting to create an even more powerful WAND to broadcast from an even taller tower!  T.J. Vaughn, Vice-President of Operations, stated that the company was “considering a substantial increase in the size of the tower and an increase in the power.”  Plans being considered included a 2-thousand-foot tower and an increase of power to 3 million watts.  Talk of 2-thousand-foot towers upsets the FAA, which would need to approve such a structure.  Ultimately, the FAA wouldn’t approve of such an obstruction to the flight paths of local aircraft, and the tower height of 13 hundred feet was all the governmental body would approve.  If there were going to be an increase in the coverage area of WAND, that increase would have to come from a power increase.


With WAND being on low power, WAND lost many, many households of viewing.  One way to increase the number of households able to view the station was to move the translator, which served no purpose in Danville.  The translator in Danville couldn’t receive WAND with a constant off-air signal for broadcast anyway.  I remember watching WAND from the translator then, and the signal would drop in and out at random, making viewing near impossible.  Moving the translator would take W-68-AA to Champaign-Urbana.  Once again, T. J. Vaughn announced that WAND would return to the Twin Cities through the “translator.”  This time, though, viewers in Champaign-Urbana would receive WAND, not on channel 70 as it did before 1966, but would be watching on channel 68.  The translator found a new home on the new 21-story University Inn near the heart of the Twin Cities.  This would allow the station to re-broadcast WAND and ABC to the viewers of Champaign-Urbana within a ten-mile radius.  The equipment was delivered on May 24th, and by May 29th, W-68-AA went on the air from Champaign-Urbana. 

It didn’t take long for the complaints to come rolling into the management of WAND.  The signal for W-68-AA was not reaching all points equally around Champaign-Urbana.  The complaints seemed to come from viewers from the east and west of the transmitter/antenna.  Larry Katt, WAND General Sales Manager, stated that work was being done to rectify the situation and that a better signal was promised to the area's viewers.  I assume that the problem was eventually solved.


WAND returned to the air from its original transmitter site at Southside Drive. Details above.

There were several delays in getting the tower built.  Besides getting governmental approval from the FAA, there was a matter of a power increase that took the FCC some time to approve.  There were also several equipment delays as well as tower construction delays as well.  The tower included more guy wires for support and a new transmitter building.

By March of 1979, WAND was finally back on the air with 5 million watts of UHF power at channel 17, on a 1,314-foot tower in the Argenta-Oreana area along I-72.

(TV Guide ad from the Doug Quick collection)


A commemorative plaque on what I would assume to be the replacement tower for the ill-fated tower that fell on Easter morning in 1978. When the station returned to the air, it also increased power to 5 million watts ERP.
(Thanks to Tom Buckley-who contributed this very special picture.)


(WAND Advertising from the Decatur Herald-Review)


This aircheck of ABC and WAND is from September 1982 with the presentation of the James Bond film "Moonraker." Includes promos/commercials and ABC movie graphics. Listen for Ernie Anderson's network voiceovers.


"Vegas" was part of ABC Late Night in 1982. Here is an air check from WAND. Watch for a local commercial for WNNS(FM), Springfield, voiced by Mike Cheever.  Also, there is a Perry Thomas commercial with the Decatur auto dealer on a horse.


This aircheck of WAND is from September 1985 with the broadcast of the historical documentary 45/85 produced by ABC News.


Here is a network station break from 1991 ahead of a presentation of "Twin Peaks" on WAND.


July 2001 WAND 6 pm News with Sean Streaty and Melaney Koch. Reporters include Chris Madarasz, Cindy Gutteridge, Rick Barrett, weather with Joe Bauer, and Sports with Ron Rector.


"Come on Along" was the ABC theme for the 1982-83 season. Check out this short ABC promo as broadcast on WAND.


This is a short segment with an ABC promo for "T.J.Hooker," "The Love Boat," and "Fantasy Island" all voiced by Ernie Anderson and broadcast on WAND in 1983.


This is, unfortunately, a poor recording of WAND, which includes short news open and close with Julie Moore and Wes Sims from 1990(recorded earlier in the evening, this is a late-night re-broadcast of the local news). It also includes Rick Zurak and Bob Murray. It also jumps to the final few minutes of the broadcast day, ending with the sign-off.


WAND news open from a weekend in 1992 with Jerry Goodman, Lisa Kiava, and Mike Cleff. It's a short snippet with an obvious audio problem which brought about the insertion of a PSA to correct the problem. 


From 4/12/2005 with Mikaela Hunt and Lee Davis, 5 pm newscast.


ABC Shows from 1991-2005

Peter Jennings anchored the ABC Evening News beginning in 1965-67, then 1983-2005 before his death at 67 from lung cancer.


The Story Behind "The Switch"
During 2004 the beginning of a network affiliation shake-up began. In April of 2004, the NBC affiliation agreement with WICS/WICD(NBC) in the Springfield, Decatur, Champaign-Urbana market expired, along with that of WKEF(NBC) in Dayton,  Ohio. NBC was involved in other business arrangements with LIN Television Corporation, which owned OTHER stations in both markets.

After April 2004, all stations' affiliation agreements were extended on a short-term basis, but would terminate the WKEF agreement in September of 2004 and the WICS/WICD agreement in September of 2005.

The Decatur Herald and Review's Tim Cain speculated, “...NBC has reached its limit with Sinclair, dissatisfied with the corporation's cavalier attitude toward its programming, including not running some of it.” In reality, it was most likely a business decision between NBC and LIN Broadcasting that would link the two companies already partnered with other ventures. 

Obviously, the affiliation switch was done as an "add-on" to a much larger agreement of an affiliation switch in Dayton and perhaps Dallas, Texas, two bigger markets, and had some consequence for NBC. WICS/WICD had a record of outperforming other NBC affiliates regarding local news and ratings.  NBC was set to lose in the switch here in central Illinois but gain in other larger markets. It would seem logical that if WAND were an NBC affiliate, WICS/WICD would end up with ABC. There was some speculation that FOX was a joker in the deck and could be teamed up with WICS/WICD, at least among some people involved, but fortunately for WICS/WICD, that was not to be.

It was also during this time, in March of 2005, that longtime former Director and eventually General Manager T.J. Vaughn retired to be replaced by Mike Johnston. Johnston was the former G.M. at WLFI-TV(CBS) in Lafayette, Indiana. Johnston was named to the post by LIN Television Corporation's Scott Blumenthal. By May of 2005, the timetable was announced, making WAND an NBC affiliate on Monday, September 5th, 2005(Labor Day).

Unfortunately, NBC was ending its run of good fortune. “Seinfeld” had already passed, “Friends” and “Frasier” were soon to end their runs, and “E.R.” wasn't what it used to be. WAND was left to air a shell of the former NBC success, and the former “Must See TV” became “Well Maybe.” There was one plus for WAND, and that was with the Olympic coverage. Johnston also told a local civic group that WAND would offer a “brighter, more colorful look.”

Based on local press coverage with the Herald and Review, local viewers weren't happy about the change. Johnston addressed many questions at local functions, including one for the local Chamber of Commerce. Columnist Tim Cain wrote, “Johnston will answer any complaints on September 5th, 'the scheduled date for the switch,' with patience, common sense, and a sense of humor. While Johnston gives the impression of being slightly harried by the impending change, his station has produced a brochure(to explain the change).”

Among Johnston's comments about the future of TV, he stated, “The future of television is in localism. It's something no one else can offer. Eventually, I think, stations will break away from the networks.”

At the network switch, WAND returned to brand itself as Channel 17 with the NBC Peacock on September 5th, 2005.


WAND, Channel 17, becomes an Affiliate of NBC


The WAND sign-on announcement from 2009.


From August 16, 2013, 60-year anniversary news story.


A clip from October 7, 2011, the end of a 6 pm newscast on a Friday night


WAND News at the Illinois State Fair, a 4 pm News broadcast from August 20, 2015




(Above right): Here is a recent picture of the WAND main studio and the lower sections of the original tower built in 1953. The original studios were built in 1952-53 and since has been added to several offices across the front of the building.

(Above left): The WAND main transmitter/tower is pictured alongside the transmitter/tower of WBUI, Channel 23. The WAND tower is the closest one to the larger transmitter building. It was replaced in 1978-79 after the original one erected in 1967 was built. It was lost on Easter Morning, 1978, when a tremendous ice storm occurred across central Illinois.


(pictures from the Doug Quick Collection)


Sean Streaty does a remembrance of WTVP and WAND after 67 years in 2020.



In 2018, during my book tour, I stopped into WAND for a visit and spent some time with my friend, Doug Wolfe. 

(Doug Quick Collection)

Network Switch Story

Broadcasting-Telecasting Magazine
The Urbana Courier Newspaper
The News-Gazette Newspaper
The Decatur Herald-Review Newspaper
TV Guides (1954-1959) from the Doug Quick Collection

Danville Public Library
Champaign Public Library
Decatur Public Library
Urbana Free Library
Tou Tube
The Complete Directory
to Prime Time Network TV Shows
   by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh
Total Television by Alex McNeil

WAND-TV, Channel 17, Decatur, Illinois
Bob Lee for the vast majority of program titles screengrabs
Bob Wilcott for his many photo contributions on this page and other pages
Elmer Ruple and his source of many pictures of the 1950s into the 1960s
Carol Barnes
J.R. Evans
Downey Hewey

Doug Wolfe
Michelle Eckes-Kaufman
Bruce Frey
Jim Wulliman
Marty Schopp for his contribution of "Marty's Dance Party"
Darrell Blue
Frank "Monte" Montagnino
Gary L. Prange
Tom Buckely
Sean Streaty

bottom of page