WMBD-TV, Peoria, IL
1958-Present

WMBD files for Channel 8

In June of 1952, Peoria Broadcasting Company would apply for Peoria's channel 8. The proposed station would have a power of 316-kW and would broadcast from a tower of 995 feet. The construction cost was given at $550,474 with a first-year operating cost of $320,000 and expected first-year revenue to be around $400,000. The Peoria Broadcasting Company studios were listed as being at 212 South Jefferson with a transmitter one mile south of Groveland, Illinois. The transmitter was going to be a DuMont model with a General Electric antenna. The applicant is the licensee of WMBD AM/FM with principals being Charles C. Caley, 25% (general manager of WMBD AM/FM and 25% owner of WDZ Radio, Decatur, Illinois); Carl P. Slane, 12.6% (president of the Peoria Journal Transcript and Morning Star newspapers); Elizabeth P. Talbott, 31.2% (director for the Peoria newspapers listed).

 

In January of 1953, a new application for channel 8 was filed by a newly formed WMBD, Incorporated. The group underwent a change in ownership during the last months of 1952 but the desire for a television property would continue. The major changes to the initial application included the tower height now listed as 543 feet, instead of 995 feet. The construction cost was now listed as $538,369 with operating cost at $428,819 with proposed revenue at $512,662. The principals were now listed as Charles Caley, 66.67% (owner of WMBD AM/FM, 25% owner of WDZ Radio, Decatur, Illinois); John Fetzer, 33.33% (52% owner of WKZO AM/TV, Kalamazoo, Michigan and WJEF AM/FM Grand Rapids, Michigan). The application sought FCC approval of the assignment of the license of WMBD Peoria from the previous ownership, Peoria Broadcasting Company.

 

WMBD amended its application in May of 1953 to increase the tower height to 996 feet and would also change the tower/transmitter site to 3.3 miles south of Groveland, Illinois.

 

This filing for channel 8 by Peoria Broadcasting wasn't its first attempt at owning a television station. There were actually two permits issued to two different Peoria broadcast entities. One of which was Peoria Broadcasting. It was listed as having a permit to operate a television station with the call letters of WMBT(TV) on channel 6 in 1948. Peoria Broadcasting never acted on the construction of a television station as it would have been costly, well beyond the ability of a radio station in Peoria to finance. The permit was either turned back to the FCC or deleted by the Commission during the “freeze” as new allocation tables eliminated the two VHF channels from Peoria. More on the second permit later.

Channel 8 Debate Heats Up

In a rare display of cooperation, the owners of WEEK AM/TV and WTVH-TV petitioned the FCC in mid-September of 1954 to make all commercial channels licensed to Peoria UHF to prevent the creation of a new intermixed UHF-VHF market. The petition pointed out that the area presently is virtually all UHF, it also asked that the educational reservation affixed to channel 37 be switched to channel 8. An alternative suggestion submitted by the stations was to add channel 31 to Peoria and to reassign channel 8 to some other metro area containing other VHF stations. Channel 31 would have been the natural addition since UHF stations were assigned at 6-channels apart.

 

By November, the FCC denied the petition and its proposal to de-intermix the Peoria television allocation table. In fact, both suggestions were turned down by the Commission. Later in the month, an initial decision was made proposing to grant the WIRL group channel 8 and deny the application of WMBD. The examiner concluded that WIRL should be given preference on the basis of integration of ownership and management, its experience in actual TV operation by a full-time stockholder, its program proposals, its use of separate staff and operation, and the diversification of the ownership and control of its broadcasting units. This “favored” status did not go as far as the issuance of a construction permit, it merely stated that IF a decision was to be made the permit would be granted to WIRL.

 

The examiner noted that Charles C. Caley's position of 2/3rd owner of WMBD was also a 25% owner of WDZ Radio in Decatur, Illinois. At the same time, John E. Fetzer 1/3rd owner of the station also owns and operates WKZO AM/TV in Kalamazoo, Michigan, KOLN-AM/TV in Lincoln, Nebraska and WJEF AM/FM in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Is Peoria a UHF Island?

The FCC was being faced with several deintermixture challenges across the country including the central Illinois situation with Springfield's channel 2 allocation told in great detail in previous chapters. Along with Peoria and Springfield, other markets were facing similar challenges of deintermixture. Albany, New York; Evansville, Indiana; Hartford, Connecticut, and Madison, Wisconsin were all facing the VHF/UHF or all UHF station questions.

 

In early July 1955, the FCC would hold hearings over two days to try to find answers to several questions among them the deintermixture controversy. Other questions were discussed including if there should be a freeze on the granting of new VHF and UHF stations, is a new allocation table necessary to reassign channels to cities and markets all across the country, how soon would these and other questions be decided to not harm the growing local television industry?

 

An attorney for a group of New England UHF stations, James A. McKenna submitted a deintermixture plan which proposed a number of UHF-only “islands” among them, the Springfield-Decatur, Illinois market and the Peoria-Bloomington, Illinois market. This would have eliminated the VHF allocations of channel 2 in Springfield and channel 8 in Peoria among others around the country.

 

He also suggested that those deleted VHF stations be reassigned to other nearby VHF markets. More specifically, channel 2 be sent to St. Louis, and channel 8 be moved to the Rock-Island-Davenport (Iowa)-Moline, Illinois market.

 

He argued that this proposal would create many UHF “strongholds,” create competitive TV stations operating on the same level playing field, plus save as many UHF stations as possible, give UHF stations and their investors support and keep enough UHF stations in operation to justify further research and development in UHF receivers and television manufacturing. He also supported the elimination of the excise tax on UHF television sets.

 

Virtually all of the recommendations of Mr. McKenna would come to pass over time. At the time, though, the FCC was torn between admitting they botched the intermixture concept of VHF stations co-existing with UHF stations, and their desire to help ensure the success of more UHF stations.

 

It may not seem like it, but it was a complex issue. There were questions from Commissioners at the FCC concerning why UHF stations were having problems competing with single VHF stations in the same market. Some of the other questions included concerns about “white” areas or locations where only VHF reception would be possible because UHF signals wouldn't reach into some rural areas and the technical differences between VHF and UHF broadcasting.

 

Since the FCC began issuing permits for UHF stations, up to that point it has granted 324 commercial UHF stations and among those 115 had ceased broadcasting. The position of UHF stations was summed up by representation of one group of UHF stations, Benito Gaguine who asked, “The question is not who killed UHF, the question is that you have a dying patient and what are you going to do about it?”

FCC Deny Deintermixture Petitions

The FCC in early November of 1955 was reported to be ready to deny petitions from several cities to make those cities all UHF markets. Among those were petitions from WEEK-TV and WTVH-TV in Peoria.

 

The next week, the FCC wiped the entire deintermixture slate clean and began to set the stage for what could be a complete overhaul of the TV allocation table for stations across the country. Later in the month, both WEEK-TV and WTVH-TV would refile against the issuance of channel 8 in Peoria.

 

By February of 1956, the FCC would deny petitions from the Peoria UHF stations saying their appeal to intervene in the hearing was too late. It was also repeated that WIRL was the winner of the initial decision for channel 8, over WMBD.

 

The ever-wavering FCC later came up with a similar solution that WEEK and WTVH proposed based on months of hearings. In June of 1956, the Commission said that a case-by-case consideration of deintermixture petitions would take place. The FCC commissioners were ready to reconsider the move of the VHF allocations from Peoria and Springfield, Illinois after months of not considering the move.

FCC Reconsiders Channel 8

It didn't take long for the FCC to waiver once again. In July the FCC issued three final television decisions granting “favored” status to WMAY-TV channel 2 in Springfield and WIRL to channel 8 in Peoria. The catch, both grants would deny those winners actual construction permits which meant that the Commission forbade any construction on either “favored” owner on their granted VHF station.

By late September of 1956, the FCC seemed to float another trial balloon that would take channel 8 from Peoria and send it to Rock Island, Illinois. The FCC proposal also included the addition of channel 25 to the Peoria allocations. That would give Peoria the following channels: 19, 25, 43, and 37 as an educational service. No mention was made of channel 31. Channel 8 would be assigned to Rock Island along with channels 4, 6, 36, and 42 with 30 dedicated to educational television. It would also assign channel 40 to Galesburg.

FCC Clears the Way for WMBD to Apply for Channel 31

On February 28, 1957, the FCC would decide that the allocation of channel 8 would be moved to the Quad Cities (Rock Island, Illinois). The move was made on a 4 to 3 vote of FCC commissioners. Along with the decision to move channel 8, a move to assign another UHF allocation to the Peoria allocation table was approved. Channel 25 would add to the available channels. It was assumed that WIRL-TV would apply for channel 25 and it would be immediately granted and approved to begin construction. The other new official addition to the Peoria allocation table was for channel 31.

WMBD-TV Applies for Channel 31

After the announcement of the final FCC decision on the channel 8 move and the establishment of channel 31 as an added channel to the Peoria allocation table, WMBD, Incorporated would apply again for a television station. This time for the new channel 31 position. The proposed television station would go on the air with an initial power of 288 kW from an antenna/tower 620 feet above average terrain. Ultimately the specs of Channel 31 would be even more impressive.

 

The studio would be with the current radio stations at the site of the former Majestic Theatre built in 1906. The theater was closed in 1946, then put into use as a broadcast studio for the radio stations.

 

In July of 1957, it was announced that the new Channel 31 would go on the air as an interconnected primary affiliate of CBS. The news came from Edward P. Shurick, CBS-TV network vice president and director of station relations.

 

In September of 1957, the use of the call letters of WMBD-TV would be granted by the FCC. WMBD AM/FM/TV, Robert O. Runnerstrom, vice-president and station manager, would sign a contract with E.C. Tracy, RCA broadcast equipment manager for a 25kw transmitter along with a high gain antenna which would give Channel 31 a one-million watt (1000kw) effective radiated power. The contract also included a studio equipment package worth $500,000.

 

Staffing the new Peoria station was underway with the November announcement of the hiring of Gordon F. Max as the station's new production manager. He previously had the same title at WREX-TV in Memphis, Tennessee. Charles “Chuck” Harrison was added as news director having been hired from WCKT(TV), Miami, Florida. Also in late 1957, W.P. “Win” Baker was appointed program director at WMBD-TV.

 

The former promotion director at WNDU-TV, South Bend, Indiana, Joseph Franzgrote was hired as promotions director at Channel 31. James J. Johnston, the continuity director at KTVH(TV), Hutchison, Kansas was appointed operations manager. Jack Sawyer, producer-director at WLWA(TV), Atlanta, Georgia, and Brian Scruby a producer-director at WTOP-TV, Washington, D.C. was hired as producer-directors.

 

WMBD-TV Goes On the Air

 

An ad published in Broadcasting-Telecasting stated that WMBD-TV was currently on the air with a test pattern getting ready for its initial commercial broadcast set for January 12, 1958, although the official sign-on would be revised to occur even earlier.

 

At sign-on, the management team included: Charles C. Caley; president, Robert O. Runnerstrom; vice-president, Robert M. Riley, Jr. sales manager; Samuel F. Jackson, national sales manager; Winthrop P. Baker, Jr., program director, and film buyer; Charles F. Harrison, Jr., news-director and George A. Pyle as chief engineer.

 

On January 1, 1958, WMBD-TV, would go on the air at 6 pm broadcasting a half-hour dedicatory program with Charles Caley and Robert Runnerstrom along with introductions of the talent lineup of the station, as well as a short sample of news, sports and weather before proceeding with the CBS prime time schedule. At 6:30 pm, there was a ceremony with George Pyle, the chief engineer flipping the switch to bring CBS to air.

WMBD-TV Goes On the Air

 

An ad published in Broadcasting-Telecasting stated that WMBD-TV was currently on the air with a test pattern getting ready for its initial commercial broadcast set for January 12, 1958, although the official sign-on would be revised to occur even earlier.

 

At sign-on, the management team included: Charles C. Caley; president, Robert O. Runnerstrom; vice-president, Robert M. Riley, Jr. sales manager; Samuel F. Jackson, national sales manager; Winthrop P. Baker, Jr., program director, and film buyer; Charles F. Harrison, Jr., news-director and George A. Pyle as chief engineer.

 

On January 1, 1958, WMBD-TV, would go on the air at 6 pm broadcasting a half-hour dedicatory program with Charles Caley and Robert Runnerstrom along with introductions of the talent lineup of the station, as well as a short sample of news, sports and weather before proceeding with the CBS prime time schedule. At 6:30 pm, there was a ceremony with George Pyle, the chief engineer flipping the switch to bring CBS to air.

 

Television Programming on New Year's Day 1958, the First Day of WMBD-TV

 

WMBD-TV's first-day broadcast schedule is unique in many many ways. First, it's a holiday, New Year's Day, 1958. It also notes the sign-on of Peoria's third television station in an all-UHF television market. It was also a bad day for WTVH-TV which would lose the affiliation and the network income of compensation from CBS to WMBD-TV. Meanwhile, you'll note that WTVH-TV was still airing CBS programming up until the last minute, when at 6 pm, WMBD-TV would sign on. Even with that, there were still a few programs during the next few weeks from CBS which would air on WTVH-TV until the individual contracts would expire.

WMBD-TV Files to Move to Channel 25

After the forfeiture of channel 25 by WIRL-TV, Incorporated, WEEK-TV was seeking a lower channel number for the reasons stated earlier. No station wanted to be left on the edge of the channel listings as people in that era would begin to scan channels from the lower number to the higher number. No one wanted to be on the upper end of the scale. That's when, just weeks after the sign-on of Channel 31, WMBD-TV would seek a modification of its construction permit to move to channel 25, changing its effective radiated power to 290kw with their existing 626-foot antenna/tower. That request was announced on February 14, 1958.

Bloomington Pantagraph

The Munsters
The Munsters

1964-1966

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The Red Skelton Show
The Red Skelton Show

1953-1970

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The Jackie Gleason Show
The Jackie Gleason Show

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The Munsters
The Munsters

1964-1966

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A Selection of CBS Shows from 1958-1965
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

September 16, 1959, Bloomington Pantagraph

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

September 12, 1959, Bloomington Pantagraph

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

September 16, 1959, Bloomington Pantagraph

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

from December 31, 1957, the day before WMBD-TV would go on the air. Doug Quick Collection

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

Weekend News from 1958, TV Guide® Doug Quick Collection

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

1957 Photo, The former Majestic Theater, contributed by Ron Moses

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

from December 31, 1957, the day before WMBD-TV would go on the air. Doug Quick Collection

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

Tom Kelly, May 31, 1958, TV Guide, Doug Quick Collection

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

Joe Rex, May 27, 1958, TV Guide. Doug Quick Collection

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

Jim Jensen, February 8, 1958, TV Guide, Doug Quick Collection

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

Tom Kelly, May 31, 1958, TV Guide, Doug Quick Collection

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

"What's My Line" was a long-running game/panel show which aired on CBS from 1950 to 1967. This particular selection was from January 1958, just after WMBD-TV went on the air with CBS programming.

(YouTube)

The Ann Southern Show was produced by Desi Arnaz.  In this 1959 episode, Lucille Ball was the guest star to prop up the ratings of one of the Desilu shows.  It aired on CBS and WMBD-TV.
(YouTube)

It is Christmastime 1959, and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper visits the Desilu Studios. Fledgling producer Lucille Ball is working with a group of young performers and introduces them to Hedda. This was a part of the Desilu Playhouse sponsored by Westinghouse.
(YouTube)

From 1961 a segment of the Cinncinatti Reds and San Francisco Giants, CBS's Game of the Week.
(YouTube)

A CBS network produced program length promo for the 1961-62 season. "Seven Wonderful Nights" was the theme.
(YouTube)

"The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" ran on CBS from 1959-1963. The series starred Dwayne Hickman and Bob Denver(pre-Gilligan).
(YouTube)

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

WMBD AM/FM/TV Sold to Midwest Television

In March of 1960 the announcement came for the sale of the WMBD radio and television properties from WMBD, Incorporated to Midwest Television, Incorporated. The sale price for the AM/FM/TV combo was $1,850,000 for all assets. Midwest would also pay $229,000 to Charles C. Caley for an agreement not to compete and to serve as a consultant.

 

By now, or at least after reviewing the story of WCIA, you're familiar with the principles of Midwest Television. They include August C. Meyer and wife, 51%; Helen M. Stevick, 10%; Marajean Stevick Chinigo, 10%; Illinois Broadcasting Company 20% and six other stockholders, none with more than 5%. The principals of Illinois Broadcasting Company include those stockholders with WSOY AM/FM, Decatur, Illinois; the Decatur Herald-Review newspaper. Other holdings of stockholders from Midwest Television include principals of the Champaign News-Gazette newspaper and WDWS AM/FM.

 

WMBD-TV was associated with the radio properties, WMBD AM, 1470kc at 5kw, and WMBD-FM, 92.5 at 2.5kw. All stations were affiliates of CBS Radio and Television.

Central Illinois'
           The Hop

WCIA's Saturday Afternoon Dance Party hosted by John Coleman, shown here. It was later hosted by Ed Mason. The theme music has been removed due to a copyright challenge. For more on this central Illinois teenage dance party show(no reference to the theme song)

(Ed Mason Collection and YouTube) 

WCIA's Saturday Afternoon Teenage Dance Party Program was also seen on WMBD-TV on Saturday late afternoons.  At the time of this kinescope, the program was hosted by Ed Mason. In this segment, he is interviewing Margaret Whiting, who recorded several hits of the 1940s and '50s and was a frequent guest on TV variety shows of the 1950s. Part 1 of the interview is also available. It is one of the only kinescopes found of the program which ran from the late 1950s into the early 1960s. Due to a copyright challenge, the theme music has been eliminated from this video, as any mention here of its real title.

(Ed Mason Collection and YouTube)

CBS "Face the Nation" from October 2, 1960, right before the election of 1960 in which Kennedy would win, and he would be the Vice-President. 
(YouTube)

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

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

News coverage of the JFK assassination, starting with the interruption of "As the World Turns" at 10:00 during the first hour and ten minutes after the shooting occurred. For the next several minutes, the network alternates between the soap opera/commercials and the bulletin. Then at 17:43, the network stays with the bulletin and at 30:14 the news anchor appears. Starting at 40:00 came the first of many unconfirmed reports from a Dallas affiliate reporter that Kennedy was dead. Finally, at 1:06:43, the news anchor makes the sad official confirmation that Kennedy died 38 minutes earlier.
(YouTube)

The two-hour CBS News Extra, “November 22nd and The Warren Report,” was aired Sunday, September 27, 1964 on WMBD-TV. It featured Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather showing taped interviews with witnesses of the Kennedy assassination and those closest to Lee Harvey Oswald. They also explained the Warren Commission’s findings.
(YouTube)

A CBS Sports promo with Chris Schenkel (who was more associated with ABC). This is from 1964.
(YouTube)

CBS Coverage of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy as seen on WMBD-TV June 5, 1968
(YouTube)

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

Gomer Pyle-USMC
Gomer Pyle-USMC

1964-1970

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The Lucy Show
The Lucy Show

1962-1967

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CBS
CBS

CBS Color Logo 1967

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Gomer Pyle-USMC
Gomer Pyle-USMC

1964-1970

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A Selection of CBS Shows from 1966-1980
WMBD-TV Channel 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Channel 31 Peoria

1964, TV Guide®, Doug Quick Collection

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WMBD-TV Channel 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Channel 31 Peoria

1964, TV Guide®, Doug Quick Collection

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WMBD-TV Channel 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Channel 31 Peoria

June 1977, TV Guide®, Doug Quick Collection

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WMBD-TV Channel 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Channel 31 Peoria

1964, TV Guide®, Doug Quick Collection

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WMBD-TV
WMBD-TV

February 1971, TV Guide®

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WMBD-TV
WMBD-TV

March 9, 1966, TV Guide®

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WMBD-TV
WMBD-TV

November 8, 1958, unknown source

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WMBD-TV
WMBD-TV

February 1971, TV Guide®

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The WMBD-TV Story

Midwest Television would continue to operate the station from the old Majestic Theater location in downtown Peoria until 1978. I visited the station in the mid-1970s and found it to be a less-than-desirable facility. It was converted from a theater and still had many of the theater artifacts including slanted floors in the former auditorium which included the WMBD AM/FM radio stations. The AM studio was extremely dirty and cluttered, while the FM automation was placed on boxes to level the rack panels holding the array of reel-to-reel decks (of which several were not functioning). The floors had peeling and broken tiles, dirt was caked in the corners where the floor met the walls, and the hallways were populated with desks from where employees were expected to work. Even though I didn't get to see the TV studio, I had no reason to believe it was any better.

 

In exploring the improvements of WMBD-TV through the late 1970s I have found very little activity. Other than the installation of a microwave link that would allow for audio/video transfers to take place between Springfield and WMBD-TV and between WCIA(TV) and WMBD-TV there appeared to be very little investments in the technology of the day. WMBD-TV would be able to pass CBS Network color programming in color in the early 1960s but CBS didn't have much of a color programming schedule until the late 1960s. (continued below)

CBS "Looking Good" promo from 1979.
(YouTube)

A Selection of CBS Shows from 1981-2000

WCIA/WMBD-TV News late 1970s

How many of these former WCIA and WMBD people do you recognize?

 

How many of these former WCIA and WMBD people do you recognize? 

 

Top row left to right: Paul Davis, John Slattery, Mary Sue Krugar, Stan Childress, unknown, Ann Anderson, Orrin Benjamin, unknown, Joe Rex, Carl Caldwell, Duane Wallace, Bob Larson: 

 

Middle row left to right: Larry Wood, Colleen Callahan, Dave Shaul, Willie Brownlee, Mr. Roberts, Dick Adams, Jack Margraves, Don Wilcox, Bruce Asbury, and Sally Larvik.

Bottom Row left to right: Unknown, Steve Williams, Mike Stanton, unknown, Diane Barber, unknown.

WMBD-TV "Action Cam" promo from the late 1970s.
(YouTube)

WCIA Channel 3/WMBD Channel 31
WCIA Channel 3/WMBD Channel 31

Sept 28, 1979, Bloomington Pantagraph

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WCIA Channel 3/WMBD Channel 31
WCIA Channel 3/WMBD Channel 31

Sept 24, 1979, Bloomington Pantagraph

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WMBD-TV Newscope
WMBD-TV Newscope

Newscope with Martin Savage, September19, 1983, Bloomington Pantagraph

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WCIA Channel 3/WMBD Channel 31
WCIA Channel 3/WMBD Channel 31

Sept 28, 1979, Bloomington Pantagraph

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Trapper John M.D.
Trapper John M.D.

1979-1986

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Rescue 911
Rescue 911

1989-1996

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60 Minutes
60 Minutes

News Magizine

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Trapper John M.D.
Trapper John M.D.

1979-1986

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

John Day, 1960s

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

1970s, "Action News"

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

Dan Breinholt, 1980s

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WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria
WMBD-TV Ch 31 Peoria

John Day, 1960s

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A number of commercials from 1985 from CBS network commercial clusters including several commercials, program promos and station ID(KIRO, Ch 7, Seattle). All but the staton Id would have aired on WMBD-TV.
(YouTube)

A Selection of CBS Shows from 1980-1990

Various WMBD-TV promos from 1989, most promoting the fact that Channel 31 was broadcasting in stereo.
(YouTube)

Weekend news open from 1994 with Kristyn Hartman.
(YouTube)

This is the WMBD-TV News open/close from 1999.
(YouTube)

From 2001, a WMBD-TV News promo with Bob Larson and Amy Paul. 
(YouTube)

This is a complete 10pm newscast from June 20, 2004. It features anchor, Jay Verner, Justin Sacher with weather and John Alois with sports. Krystal Morris was off that night.
(YouTube)

Here is another WMBD-TV 10pm newscast. This is from March 24, 2015. It features anchors Paul Cicchini and Maria Chandler, weathercaster Rachael Kaye and Kurt Pegler with sports.
(YouTube)

A number of WMBD-TV promos from 2001.
(YouTube)

This is a segment of the 6pm WMBD-TV News from February 3, 2010 with anchor Bob Larson, Marcus Bailey weathercaster.
(YouTube)

Mark Welp, after being with WHOI in Peoria, made his way to WMBD-TV to join the morning show of Channel 31. The morning show includes Clay Goron, Lindsey Mills and Lauren Rainson on WMBD This Morning and Good Day Central Illinois on WYZZ, FOX-43.
(YouTube)

The Rest of the Story

WCIA and WMBD-TV would share resources and programming during much of the 1960s and even into the 1970s. Midday newscasts would include a simulcast of farm markets and news, weekends might include a shared weathercast done live from the sidewalk in front of the WMBD studios on South-West Jefferson in downtown Peoria. Newsgathering would also include shared stories occasionally.

 

The largest improvement to the facility took place in 1977 when the studios of the radio-television group would move to 3131 University Drive in Peoria. The street address would match the channel of WMBD-TV, twice, channel 31. One notable technological advancement would come in 1988 when it was the first Peoria television station to broadcast in stereo.

 

Nextar would purchase a controlling interest in WMBD-TV in 1999. Two years later Midwest would sell the radio properties to Triad Broadcasting. Triad was a company of managers of the radio group. Also in 2001, Nexstar would purchase the remaining shares of WMBD-TV held by Midwest Television after the sale of the radio stations. The call letters of WMBD-AM would continue, although the call letters for WMBD-TV would fall under different owners.

 

Also in 2002 Nexstar would come to an agreement with competitor Sinclair Broadcast Group to operate its WYZZ(TV), Channel 43 in Bloomington, Illinois. Later after Sinclair's purchase of WHOI(TV), Channel 19, Peoria, Illinois, it would spin off WYZZ under its co-owned Cunningham Broadcasting to avoid FCC duopoly challenges.

 

Under Nexstar, WMBD-TV would still be the odd sibling of its central Illinois core group of stations. It seems that WMBD-TV has been the last to receive the latest technology.

Ron Moses, WMBD Memories

Ron Moses was a director at WMBD-TV from 1965 to 1970, before moving east to direct at WPRI-TV in Providence, Rhode Island. After finding this website, he related to me that "those five years were my happiest and most rewarding of my entire career and life."

"You may be familiar with the name of Barbara Novak who performed weather on WCIA-TV and then moved to Peoria where I actually taped daily weather with her feed to WCIA on our reversible microwave.  By the time I got to Providence, Rhode Island she was Barbara Novak Marshall doing weather on WLVI-TV, Channel 56 in Boston..."

"Roger O'Neil was a news anchor and reporter at WMBD during my time there. For many years he was with NBC as a correspondent...  He was also a producer at WMBD-TV for a time following the Jerry Bidle days with Dave Nicols was hired to be the 10 pm, news anchor. I never crossed with Jim Jenson but ran into him in the early 70s when visiting WCBS-TV in New York... I also ran into Paul Moyer who was anchoring weekend news at WCBS-TV before going to KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. Paul was an anchor at WMBD-TV for part of the time I was there and recall him anchoring "Weekend World" sponsored entirely by Caterpillar."

"You may recall Don Hein who did sports at WMBD and Bob Gregory who did the weather on WMBD-TV and a lot of radio on that station...both wound up at WLWI(now WTHR), Channel 13 in Indianapolis."

Ron retired in 2005. I thank him for his contribution to this site...and thank him for his contribution to the WMBD studio (Majestic Theater) picture from 1957.

Larry King, WMBD Memories

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own textLarry King was a former member of the studio crew at WMBD-TV and eventually a director.  He also spent time at the other Peoria stations during his tenure in Peoria.  He contacted me with his recollections of the original studio at the former Majestic Theatre:

"Let me describe...how I remember the radio set up at the time I was there. 
I walked up the grand staircase from the front hall and you turned to your right there would have been the fledgling FM automation in the first room.  Going a little further you would walk into the main AM control room.  On the left side was a larger room that was a studio for extra guests.  In the mornings Milton Bud and Bob Carlton were in there.  Bob ran the board and Milton was in the studio.  Behind the control room was another little studio that was also the record library.  John Lyon would practice his guitar in there during Cubs or Cardinal baseball games."

"If you turned to your left coming up the stairs was the door to the production control room.  And outside of the production control room was a very old wire service that ran sports scores.  We would come out of the TV studio during the10pm news and check the wire to keep the sports guys up to date.  That (was) long before we had video from every sports game."

"When I first started as a floor director about January 1965, they were doing the TV version of street scene at Noon and later they would do the6pm weather from on the street under that great marquee.  Charlie Tate was the cameraman on the Noon block and a variety of the other engineers(Neil Burke who would later become the Chief, Yogi and Dale Bargeman) would do the weather."

"My job was to get the weatherboard out on the street and have it cleaned off.  The weatherboard consisted of two Plexiglas maps that slid in and out.  The weatherman stood behind the board and had to write backward for the camera.  The guys that did the weather also were the afternoon talent on WMBD radio.  They would get off the radio and then do the weather.  A couple of the names I worked with were John Lyons, Bob Gregory.  Who could forget John Day reporter and weatherman?"

"Besides having to get the weatherboard on the street, another job of the floor director at that time, the weather had a live read for a beer company and a floor director had to do a live pour of beer to end the commercial.  Well, pouring beer wasn't my greatest job, but at least we got to drink the leftovers."

"I got to the station a little late because I missed working with Jim Jenson who went to Boston and New York.  I did a little time with Bob Jamison who ended up at ABC and it was great enjoying a sportscast (from) the late Bob Starr.  Don Heim took his place and then I think he went to Indy."

"Great real NEWS reporting was done from the WMBD News Room (along with) Joe Rex and Farmer Bill.  One weekend I was trying to break into the news business, so I was hanging around the 
newsroom when there was supposed to be a protest in one of the project areas.  This was in the 60's.  So I begged John Day if I could ride along in one of the great white station wagons with big letters screaming "WMBD NEWS."  (After arriving at the scene) nothing happened.  I think I am glad.  I think I really decided at the time that studio production was more in my line than sitting in a well-marked car and waiting."
 

sources:
Broadcasting-Telecasting

Wikipedia
TV Guide®(the Doug Quick collection)
YouTube
Bob Lee's screengrabs
WEEK's CINewsNow.com
Meanwhile Back in Peoria-blog
houseofjitters.com

Matt Metcalf

WCIA
Bloomington Daily Pantagraph(through the Abraham Lincoln Library and the Danville Public Library)
newspapers.com
Larry King for his contribution details of working at WMBD-AM/FM-TV
Ron Moses for his memories of WMBD-TV and WCIA and his picture of the WMBD studios from
1957.