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WICD is the ABC-affiliated television station for Champaign and Urbana, Illinois. It broadcasts ahigh definition digital signal on UHF channel 41 from a transmitter west of Fairmount along theVermilion and Champaign County line. The station can also be seen on Mediacom channel 5 and Comcast channel 8. There is a high definition signal offered on Mediacom digital channel and Comcast digital channel 908. Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, WICD has studios on South Country Fair Drive in Champaign. Syndicated programming on the station includes:Entertainment Tonight, Judge Judy, Dr. Phil, and Live with Regis and Kelly.

WICD (semi-satellite of WICS Springfield/Decatur, Illinois)
Wicd 2010
Champaign/Urbana/Danville, Illinois
City of license Champaign
Branding ABC 15 (general)

ABC NewsChannel15

Slogan More Local Coverage
Channels Digital: 41 (UHF)Virtual: 15 (PSIP)
Subchannels 15.1 ABC
Owner Sinclair Broadcast Group

(WICD Licensee, LLC)

Founded April 23, 1959
Call letters' meaning WICS

Champaign/Danville

Sister station(s) WICS, WYZZ-TV
Former callsigns WCHU-TV (1959–1967)
Former channel number(s) Analog:33 (1959–1967)

15 (1967–2009)

Former affiliations NBC (1959–2005)
Transmitter power 950 kW
Height 375 m
Facility ID 25684
Transmitter coordinates 40°4′11″N87°54′45″W
Website wicd15.com

OverviewEdit

Although identifying as a separate station in its own right, WICD is considered a semi-satellite of sister station WICS in Springfield. It simulcasts that station's network and syndicated programming but airs separate commercials, identifications, and weekday local newscasts. Although WICD maintains its own studios, master control and some internal operations are based at WICS' facilities on East Cook Street in Springfield.

Outside weekday newscasts, commercials on WICD are controlled at the Springfield studios. WICS serves the western portion of the market (Springfield and Decatur) while WICD serves the eastern portion (Champaign/Urbana/Danville). This station also serves as the default ABC affiliate for the Illinois portion of the Terre Haute, Indiana DMA since that market does not have an affiliate of its own.

HistoryEdit

WICD94

WICD (TV) for NBC's "The Stars Are Back" campaign from 1993

The station signed-on April 23, 1959 as WCHU-TV. It was an NBC affiliate and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 33. It was owned by Plains Television Partners and was a low-poweredfull-time satellite of Springfield's WICS. The WCHU signal traveled about 15 miles from a transmitter at its studios atop the Inman Hotel in Downtown Champaign. However, getting a decent signal from Springfield (85 miles west of Champaign) was usually hit-or-miss. Plains Television had to build a microwave tower in Northwestern Champaign to send the WICS signal to the WCHU studios. With a more reliable signal, the station began a more routine schedule on September 14. It began broadcasting in color the next year.

In July 1960, Plains Television Partners bought WDAN-TV in Danville. That station had debuted on December 19, 1953 as a low-powered ABC affiliate broadcasting on channel 24 with a signal radiating about 25 miles from its transmitter. WDAN was owned by Northwest Publishing, owner and publisher of the Danville Commercial-News newspaper, along with WDAN radio (1490 AM). After the sale, Plains Television changed WDAN-TV's call letters to WICD (Federal Communications Commission [FCC] regulations at the time required separately-owned stations to use different call signs, and the Commerical-News retained WDAN radio) and made it a full repeater of WCHU.

From 1960 until 1967, WCHU/WICD aired some locally originated programs from the WCHU studios in Champaign. However, WICD's transmitter was not capable of broadcasting local programming in color. In June 1966, Plains Television announced WCHU and WICD would merge into a single full-power station broadcasting on channel 15. It would operate under the WICD call letters, but use WCHU's license and studios at the Inman Hotel in Champaign. The new station would broadcast at a million watts from the tallest tower in Illinois, at 1,385 feet. The new station was to have gone on-air in January 1967, but an ice storm toppled the tower. It was eventually rebuilt and the new WICD went on-air in July. However, there are unconfirmed reports of a delay in the final paperwork for the new station and it may have originally gone on as WCHU. While the old WICD's call letters stood for WICS Danville, the current station's calls stand for WICS Champaign/Danville.

The station moved from the Inman Hotel to its current studio facility on Country Fair Drive in 1978.

In 1986, WICS was purchased by Guy Gannett Broadcasting (no relation to the much larger Gannett Company) but WICD remained under the ownership of Plains Television. The two stations operated as a regional network simulcasting most network and syndicated programming. This arrangement nearly brought down WICD, and for much of the 1980s it looked like it would revert to being a full-time satellite of WICS. In 1994, Plains Television sold WICD to Guy Gannett, which pumped significant resources into the station particularly its news department. Guy Gannett then sold most of its television properties, including WICD/WICS, to the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1999. Soon after Sinclair took over, it turned around and announced it was selling WICS and WICD (which are counted as one station for regulatory purposes) as well asKGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Sunrise Television.

However, the FCC did not allow Sunrise to buy WICD/WICS due to Sunrise's ownership structure. Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst (HMTF), an investment firm controlled by then-Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks, owned a large block of Sunrise stock. HMTF is majority stockholder of the LIN TV Corporation then-owner of WAND in Decatur. The FCC ruled HMTF held enough stock in Sunrise that an acquisition of WICD/WICS would result in a duopoly between two of the four highest-rated stations in the market which is forbidden by FCC rules. Sinclair subsequently withdrew the offer to sell the three stations in 2000. The station's 46-year affiliation with NBC ended on September 5, 2005 when, as part of a larger national deal, WICD and WICS swapped affiliations with WAND and became ABC affiliates.

With this switch, WICD replaced WAND as the default ABC affiliate for the Illinois side of the Terre Haute market, which has not had an ABC affiliate of its own since longtime affiliate WBAK-TV (now WFXW) switched to Fox in 1995. The network swap actually improved reception for ABC programming on the Illinois side of the market. WICD's transmitter is not far from the Indiana line while WAND's transmitter in Argenta is near the middle of the state. Due to contracts with satellite providers, WICS is the ABC station in the market uplinked on the Champaign/Urbana/Springfield local feeds. Nielsen Media Research counts WICD and WICS as one station and identifies this station as "WICS+" in its ratings books. For the same reason, when Dish Network dropped WRTV from Indianapolis as the local ABC affiliate for the Terre Haute feed, it uplinked WICS rather than WICD.

News operationEdit

Wicd news

News open weeknights at 6.

WICS has a slightly larger news department that WICD because it has more personalities. Several on-air personnel at this station perform "one-man-band" journalism duties such as shooting, editing, and producing. On Saturday nights at 10:35, the two stations co-produce and simulcast a lifestyle/entertainment show called Illinois Central. Airing in a magazine-type format, the thirty minute program features more in depth feature stories from the entire area.

Even though WICD and WICS operate separate news departments, there is a considerable sharing of resources between the two such as video footage and personnel. This can be the case particularly when covering Decatur which is located between each of the station's facilities. Since WICD focuses more the eastern side of the market, it is more likely to provide coverage from the Illinois portion of the Terre Haute, Indiana DMA. Likewise, WICS provides this station with coverage from the Illinois State Capitol.

Lately, WICD/WICS have been very competitive in the local news race after years of being a distant second behind longtime dominant WCIA. Beginning with the November/December 2006 Nielsen ratings, the two actually briefly led with viewership in East Central Illinois. This is because the station's ratings are combined by Nielsen Media Research and considers WICD and WICS to be a single station for counting purposes. This station is identified as "WICS+" in ratings books and has continued battling WCIA for the top spot splitting the position over various time slots. Basically, WICD's existence benefits WICS even though this station is technically combined with the other. The stations did not participate in the wider implementation of Sinclair's now-defunct, controversial News Central format for their newscasts but did air "The Point" (a one-minute conservative political commentary) that was also controversial and a requirement of all Sinclair-owned stations with newscasts until the series was discontinued in December 2006. The segment's host, Mark Hyman, can now be seen in another on-air commentary.

On September 11, 2006, a news share agreement was established with the area's Fox affiliates, WRSP-TV/WCCU (locally-owned by GOCOM Media of Illinois, LLC). As a result, a nightly prime time newscast began airing on those stations co-produced by WICD/WICS. Known as NewsChannel at 9 on Fox Illinois, it airs for a half-hour from WICS's Springfield studios but provides market-wide coverage. There is a separate weather forecast featuring both station's meteorologists. From the start, NewsChannel at 9 competed with a newscast seen on then-UPN affiliate WCFN produced by CBS affiliate WCIA. Unlike the WRSP/WCCU show, WCFN's broadcast originated from Champaign and was targeted specifically at a Springfield audience. On September 28, 2009, WCIA cancelled the show and launched an hour-long weeknight newscast at 7 on WCFN. On June 26, 2010, rival WAND became the first station in East Central Illinois to upgrade local newscasts to high definition level. Broadcasts on WICD/WICS and WRSP-TV/WCCU remain in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition and it is unknown if and/or when there will be an upgrade to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen or full high definition.

WICS' weekday morning meteorologist Joe Crain provides CW affiliate WBUI (sister station of WRSP-TV/WCCU) with on-air and online weather forecasts. The segments are appropriately titled "C-More Weather". In has been announced WICD will drop its weekend newscasts and simulcast those seen on WICS starting March 26, 2011. However, Champaign-based reporters will still provide coverage. This arrangement will also affect the WRSP/WCCU weekend show because a single weather segment will be offered instead of two. The change represents the second attempt at a joint market-wide product by WICD/WICS. At one point in time, there had been a simulcasted newscast weeknights at 5 originating from Springfield. [1]

Newscast titlesEdit

  • The Dunkel/Eaton Report (1960s-1967)
  • Channel 15 News (1967-1970s)
  • TV-15 News (1970s-1979)
  • Channel 15 News (1979-1993)
  • NewsWatch 15 (1980s)
  • WICD 15 News (1980s)
  • News 15 (1993-1994)
  • NewsChannel 15 (1994-1997 & 2003-2005)
  • NBC NewsChannel 15 (1997-2003)
  • ABC NewsChannel 15 (2005-present)

Station slogansEdit

  • "The Tower of Power" (1967, used when the tallest in Midwest went on-the-air)
  • "Channel 15 There, Be There" (1983-1984, local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Where Local News Comes First" (1993-1994)
  • "The News Source for Champaign and Vermilion Counties" (1994-2004)
  • "Coverage You Can Count On" (2004-2007)
  • "More Local Coverage" (2007-present)

News teamEdit

+ denotes personnel not seen on WICS

Anchors

  • Kate Springer - weekday mornings and 11 a.m.
    • agricultural reporter
  • + Rick Schutt - weeknights at 5, 6, and 10
  • + Erin Murphy - weeknights at 5, 6, and 10
  • Marianne Manko - weeknights at 9 and reporter
  • Liz Foster - weekends and reporter
  • Kevilee Douglas - Illinois Central host


Storm Team 15

  • + Doug Quick - Chief seen weeknights and Public Service Director
  • + Matt Brickman - weekday mornings and 11 a.m.
  • Danny Russell - weekends
  • Kelly Curran - fill-in and news reporter


Sports

  • + Steve Breitweiser - Director seen weeknights at 6 and 10 (also Fast Break 15 host)
  • Krista Lander - weeknights at 9
  • Andrew Hansen - weekends and news reporter


Reporters

  • Mark Hyman - "Behind the Headlines" segment producer
  • A.J. Bayatpour - Vermilion County Bureau Chief
  • Armstrong Williams - political commentator
  • Kate Springer - agriculture
  • Heather Hubbs - education
  • Katie Heinz - Springfield
  • Jerry Lambert
  • Trey Paul


Photographers

  • Mike Brooks - general assignment and Illinois Central (also "Sunrise on the Farm" segment producer)
  • Blake Eddleman - Illinois Central
  • Aaron Sheehan.- Illinois Central
  • Brent Barrow - Illinois Central
  • Jason Boyer - Illinois Central
  • James Fillmore
  • Bret Buganski
  • Liz Lohuis


Notable former personnel


*Maira Ansari


ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://www.news-gazette.com/news/living/2011-03-05/wicd-share-weekend-newscasts-wics.html

External linksEdit

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