WLS-TV, virtual channel 7, is a television station in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The station isowned and operated by Walt Disney Company-owned American Broadcasting Company. The station operates their full power digital operations on UHF channel 44, with their digital fill-in translator on VHF channel 7. Both operating frequencies are transmitted from the Willis Tower. WLS-TV produces its broadcasts at 190 North State Street in The Loop and The WLS-TV call letters stand for "World's Largest Store," recognizing their AM sister station's founding part-owners, Sears, Roebuck and Company.
|Branding||ABC 7 Chicago (general)ABC 7 Eyewitness News (newscasts)|
|Slogan||People Make the Difference
Chicago's #1 News Your News. Your Way.
|Channels||Digital: 44 (UHF)Virtual: 7 (PSIP)|
|Translators||7 (VHF) Chicago|
|Owner||Disney/ABC(WLS Television, Inc.)|
|First air date||September 17, 1948|
|Call letters' meaning||World'sLargest
Store (reflecting its sister radio station's past ownership bySears)
|Sister station(s)||WMVP, WRDZ|
|Former callsigns||WENR-TV (1948–1953)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
|Transmitter power||346 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||41°52′44″N 87°38′8″W|
- 1 History
- 2 Digital programming
- 3 Programming
- 4 News operation
- 5 Gallery
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The station first went on the air as the third TV station in Chicago on September 17, 1948 as WENR-TV. It was named after WENR radio, ABC's Chicago radio affiliate. As one of the original ABC-owned stations on channel 7, it was the second station after New York City to begin operations, followed by Detroit, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In February 1953 ABC merged with United Paramount Theatres, the former theater division of Paramount Pictures. UPT subsidiary Balaban and Katz owned WBKB on channel 4 (which shared a CBS affiliation with WGN-TV) but the new American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres, as the company was known then, could not keep both stations because of Federal Communications Commission regulations at that time. As a result, WBKB's channel 4 license was sold to CBS and renamed WBBM-TV; the station moved frequencies to channel 2 several months later. The old WBKB's talent stayed at the new WBBM-TV, while the WBKB call letters and management moved to channel 7.
The general manager from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s was Sterling "Red" Quinlan, who was a giant in early Chicago television. He was instrumental in the careers of Tom Duggan, Frank Reynolds, and Bob Newhart. The station courageously aired The Tom Duggan Show in the mid-1950s, which was the most popular show in Chicago far out drawing other network competition. The station became WLS-TV on October 7, 1968, after WLS radio (890 AM), which ABC had owned since 1959 -- subsequently (and ironically) merging WLS radio with WENR, its shared-time partner.
In 1963, Al Parker joined the station as an announcer and worked in that capacity for 26 years. Until his departure, he also served as an announcer for AM Chicago and The Oprah Winfrey Show. He died September 30, 2000 at the age of 74.
WLS-TV had claimed to be "Chicago's first television station" in its sign-ons and sign-offs during for its first three decades (implying a connection with the original WBKB on channel 4), but admitted to its true roots with WENR with its 30th anniversary in 1978.
On January 17, 1984, WLS-TV launched Tele1st, an ABC-owned overnight subscription television service that carried a mix of films and lifestyle programs for four hours per night six days a week after the station's sign-offat 2:00 a.m.; the service was similar in format to competitor ONTV (which was carried locally on WSNS-TV, channel 44 (now a Telemundo owned and operated station)) and other over-the-air pay services that existed during the early and mid-1980s. Tele1st was created with the concept of allowing users to record programming for later viewing; therefore, its decoder boxes were designed to unencrypt the signal only with the aid of a VCR. Scrambling codes that were sent to the box and relayed to the VCR were changed on a monthly basis, requiring subscribers to record additional footage airing immediately before and after that night's schedule to retrieve codes to play back the recorded programs properly; this resulted in any recordings being viewable only during that calendar month. Tele1st was deemed a failure, attributing only 4,000 subscribers at its peak, and ceased operations on June 30, 1984.
WLS-TV had claimed to be "Chicago's first television station" in sign-ons in the 1980s (implying a connection with the original WBKB on channel 4,) but admitted to its true roots with WENR with its 60th anniversary in 2008.
WLS-TV's operation is multiplexed:
|7.1||WLS-DT1||Main WLS-TV Programming / ABC (HD)|
|7.2||WLS-DT2||Live Well Network (HD)|
|7.3||WLS-DT3||Live Well Network (SD)|
Upon completion of the digital transition, WLS officially transferred the "WLS-TV" legal callsign from the now-defunct analog channel 7 to the original post-transition digital television channel 7, and discontinued the "WLS-DT" callsign. In late 2009, after moving full-power digital operations to UHF channel 44, the "WLS-TV" callsign was moved to channel 44. Even though WLS-TV converted VHF channel 7 into a digital fill-in translator and it is a LD facility (-LD meaning "Low-power Digital"), it uses the same call letters and suffix like their main full power facility. However, the PSIP identifier for WLS-TV's virtual channels still continues to identify the station as "WLS-DT."
After the digital transition on June 12, 2009, WLS moved from out-of-core UHF Channel 52 to their pre-analog VHF channel 7 for their digital operations. WLS operated their digital signal at low power (4.75 kW) to protect the digital signal of WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan(which also broadcasts on channel 7, but with much higher power). As a result, many viewers were not able to receive the station. The FCC sent extra personnel to Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City to deal with difficulties in those cities. WLS had received 1,735 calls just by the end of the day on June 12 (WBBM only received 600), and an estimated 5000 calls in total by June 16.
WLS-TV was just one station which needed to increase its signal strength or move its frequency to solve its problems, but a power increase required making sure no other stations were affected. WLS received a two-week experimental permit for a power increase late in June.WLS had also applied for a permit to construct a low-power fill-in digital translator station on UHF channel 32, (the former analog frequency ofWFLD) but abandoned that plan (the channel 32 RF frequency has since been claimed by WMEU-LD). Eventually the FCC granted it a permit to transmit on a second frequency, Channel 44, formerly occupied by WSNS-TV, and WLS announced the availability of that frequency on October 31, 2009.
As of June 2010, WLS is operating both channels 7 and 44 from their auxiliary transmitting facilities at the John Hancock Center under an extension of an existing STA, while construction continues of its maximized facilities at the Willis Tower. WLS is operating channel 7 as a fill-in translator with a power of 7 kW  & operating their full power operations on channel 44 with a power of 1 MW. Through PSIPtechnology, both operating frequencies are re-mapped and displayed as virtual channel 7, which would cause some digital tuners to have two versions of virtual channels 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3, while tuning sequentially. WLS-TV is expected to operate channel 44 at the 473.3 kW power level from the Willis Tower in the near future. On April 4, 2011, the station modified its construction permit application to boost its power level to 1 million watts from the Willis Tower. At this time, it has yet to be granted.
Since WLS-TV officially moved their full power operations to channel 44, it is the only ABC O&O to vacate its former analog allotment for its digital operations and the second ABC O&O to operate its full-power operations on the UHF band, after KFSN-TV.
Prior to February 24, 2011, WLS-DT3 aired ABC 7 News Now with weather programming from The Local AccuWeather Channel. The partnership between the ABC O&Os and AccuWeather ended in February 2011, with the ABC-owned stations replacing AccuWeather with a letterboxed standard-definition simulcast of their LiveWell subchannels.
- Jimmy Kimmel Live! airs with a one-hour delay at 12:02 a.m. since WLS-TV airs rebroadcasts of The Oprah Winfrey Show at 11:02 p.m. after Nightline.
- WLS-TV is the only ABC owned-and-operated station not to air Live with Regis and Kelly, with the WABC-TV-produced show airing on WGN-TV instead.
Syndicated programming produced in Chicago
- The Oprah Winfrey Show - former A.M. Chicago 9am local program, retained name about one year after Oprah Winfrey became host - originally created by WLS-TV, but now produced by Harpo Productions and CBS Television Distribution at Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios
- Weekdays 9 a.m., reruns Weeknights 11:02 p.m.
Former syndicated programming produced in Chicago
- At the Movies - nationally syndicated film review program, produced at WLS-TV's studios, and syndicated by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. It aired Saturdays 10:35 p.m. with reruns Sundays 10:30 a.m. The program was cancelled and aired its final original broadcast on Saturday, August 14, 2010.
Other WLS-TV produced programs
- 190 North - local lifestyle program named after the station's studio address at 190 N. State St. in the Loop and hosted by Janet Davies; began broadcasting in HD on Sunday, May 6, 2007
- Sundays 10:35 p.m., reruns Saturdays 11:05 p.m. (reruns airs later during fall college football season)
- Let's Dish, for the Live Well Network
- Shown locally on Channel 7.2.
- Windy City Live - local morning talk show set to launch on May 26, 2011, following the conclusion of the Oprah Winfrey Show.
- Weekdays 9 a.m. (beginning on May 26, 2011)
Former WLS-TV produced programs
- The Chicago Huddle - local sports program about the Chicago Bears hosted by Ryan Chiaverini  The program aired Sundays 10:30 a.m. during football season. It last aired during the 2009-2010 season.
- Chicagoing - local public affairs program hosted by Bill Campbell, aired Sunday mornings at 11:30 a.m. The program aired its final broadcast on Sunday, December 26, 2010.
WLS, like the other ABC owned-and-operated stations, adopted the Eyewitness News format in the late 1960s after it became a hit at flagship WABC-TV in New York. Fahey Flynn, a local broadcaster known for his bow ties and Joel Daly served as the anchormen of the newscasts from the mid 1960s until the early 1980s. In 1973, Eyewitness News surpassed WMAQ-TV to become Chicago's top-rated new operation, a lead it held until WBBM-TVsurpassed it in 1979. For much of the 1970s and 1980s, it waged a spirited battle for second place in the Chicago news ratings.
By 1983, a disastrous anchor change had dropped WLS into third place. That prompted two major changes. First was the hiring of Dennis Swanson as General Manager, who in turn, hired Bill Applegate as News Director. Secondly, ABC commissioned Frank Gari to write an updated version of the Cool Hand Luke theme widely associated with the Eyewitness News format. The result was News Series 2000, which was quickly picked up by the other ABC O&Os.
Swanson was instrumental in hiring Oprah Winfrey to host its then low-rated morning talk show, "AM Chicago," in 1983. Within a year, it had shot to first place. It was picked up nationally in 1986 and renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. Channel 7 still airs it today, along with most other ABC O&Os. Swanson also hired lead anchor John Drury, who had previously worked at WLS, WBBM and WGN-TV and Floyd Kalber, who had led WMAQ-TV to the top of the ratings in the 1960s.
Drury and Mary Ann Childers were a popular anchor team at WLS during the 1980s and 1990s, accompanied by weatherman Steve Deshler and sportscaster Tim Weigel. In March 1986, WLS passed WBBM as the highest-rated news station in Chicago. It has held the lead ever since, aside from a brief period when WBBM managed to forge a tie for first.
As of 1996, the station brands its newscast as "ABC7 News" even though it still uses the same basic format from its Eyewitness News days. The station has been using its current news music package, News Series 2000 Plus by Frank Gari since 1992. It also updated the on-air graphics for its newscasts on Saturday, June 3, 2005.
The new State Street Studio officially debuted Monday, April 10, 2006, during the station's morning newscast, but it started broadcasting its newscasts from the new studio on Saturday, April 8, 2006. On the weekend of April 29–30, 2006, WLS-TV began using Chopper 7 HD. On Saturday, January 6, 2007, WLS-TV became the first Chicago television station to broadcast its entire news and local programming in high definition news although most remote field footage remains in 16:9 widescreen standard definition.
On Sunday, December 23, 2007, the State Street Studio became breaking news when a minivan drove through a reinforced studio window two minutes into the 10 p.m. newscast, startling anchor Ravi Baichwal on air and creating a 20° draft, but injuring no one.
On October 26, 2013, WLS-TV reintroduced the Eyewitness News brand (as ABC 7 Eyewitness News), as part of an overall rebranding of its newscasts that included new graphics and a modernized update to the "Stimulus" theme. In an interview with media columnist Robert Feder, WLS-TV president/general manager John Idler cited the reasoning behind the restoration of the Eyewitness News brand, was that it "[still] resonated strongly with [viewers in] the Chicago market," despite being dropped by the station 17 years earlier. On November 2, 2013, WLS expanded the early block of its weekend morning newscasts, with the extension of its hour-long 6:00 a.m. newscast on Saturdays and Sundays to two hours at 5:00 a.m.
On February 10, 2014, WLS-TV entered into a partnership agreement with the Chicago Sun-Times to include the use of the station's weather team in the newspaper's weather section, replacing WMAQ-TV, whose previous partnership ended the day before; in addition, the station would air a 'look ahead' of the newspaper's front page and stories, with the Sun-Timespromoting WLS's newscasts and programming in turn.
On December 14, 2014, WLS-TV entered into a news share agreement with independent station WCIU-TV (channel 26) to produce a weeknight-only 7:00 p.m. newscast titled ABC 7 Eyewitness News at 7:00 on The U; the program debuted on January 12, 2015, and is the fifth newscast produced by ABC O&O for a separately owned station in the station's home market (along with existing programs produced by sister stations in Raleigh, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles for WLFL, WPHL-TV, KOFY-TV and KDOC-TV in the respective markets, and a since-cancelled newscast produced by KFSN-TV for KAILin Fresno).
On June 27, 2016, WLS-TV revived its 11:00 a.m. newscasts for the first time since 2013, becoming the fourth television station in Chicago to do so; which completes against with WMAQ-TV (who reviving its midday newscasts in September 2011 and moved to the time period in September 2014), WBBM-TV (who began airing a half-hour 11:00 a.m. newscasts in early 2000s), and WGN-TV (who began its midday newscasts in 1984; followed by some expansions in September 2008 and October 2009). In June 2016, after several years of unsuccessful syndicated talk show replacements for the cancelled All My Children(including Katie and FABLife), the station moved General Hospital to 2 p.m., then Windy City Live to 1:00 p.m. to accommodate the 11 a.m. newscast, with a replay of the latter late night after Nightline.
On July 29, 2019, It was announced that WLS-TV would end its news share agreement with WCIU-TV, ending the weeknight program for that station, the 7:00 p.m. newscast ABC 7 Eyewitness News at 7:00 on The U after 4 years, with the final broadcast on August 30 of that same year. The mutual parting of ways came as WCIU would become the market's CW affiliate on September 1, leaving no room for the newscast otherwise on the station's schedule.
According to the Nielsen local news ratings for the February 2011 sweeps period, WLS-TV remained in first place overall, with the 10 p.m. newscast getting a 9.7 rating share, down a tenth of a point from a 9.8 during the same time the previous year. The station remained in second place for its prime-time lead-in.
- Tomorrow's News Tonight (1949–1954)
- Chicago Report
- Flynn-Daly News (1968–1969)
- Flynn-Daly Eyewitness News (1969–1973)
- Channel 7 Eyewitness News (1973–1996)
- ABC 7 News (1996–2013)
- ABC 7 Eyewitness News (2013–present)
- Let's Get Together on Channel 7 (1970-1971; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- Welcome To The Bright New World of Channel 7 (1975-1976; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- Let Us Be The One on Channel 7 (1976-1977; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- We're Still The One on Channel 7 (1977-1978 and 1979-1980; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- We're The One You Can Turn To, Channel 7 (1978-1979; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- You and Me, and Channel 7 (1980–1981; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- 7's On Your Side (1980–1983)
- Now Is The Time, Channel 7 Is The Place (1981–1982; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- Come on Along with Channel 7 (1982–1983; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- That Special Feeling on Channel 7 (1983–1984; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- 7's On The Move (1984–1985)
- We`re With You on Channel 7 (1984–1985; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- You`ll Love It on Channel 7 (1985–1986; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- Stand Up and Tell'em Chicago's Great (1985–1992; image campaign based on Frank Gari's Turn To News)
- Together on Channel 7 (1986–1987; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- Something`s Happening on Channel 7 (1987–1990; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- The Chicago Area's Leading News (late 1980s-1991)
- Chicago`s Watching WLS-TV (1990–1992; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- Chicago's #1 News (1991–present)
- If It's Chicago, It Must Be Channel 7 (1992–1993; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- People Make the Difference (2000–present)
- Your News. Your Way. (2008–present)
Current on-air staff
- Tanja Babich - weekday mornings (4:30-7AM) and weekdays at 11AM
- Stacey Baca - weekend mornings; also weekday reporter and The n Beat contributor
- Ravi Baichwal - weekends at 5 and 10pm
- Terrell Brown - weekday mornings (4:30-7am)
- Cheryl Burton - weeknights at 5 and 10pm; weeknights at 7pm on WCIU
- Samantha Chapman - weekday mornings (4:30-7AM)
- Rob Elgas - weekdays at 4pm
- Judy Hsu - weekdays at 4pm and weeknights at 6pm
- Karen Jordan - weekends at 5 and 10pm
- Alan Krashesky- weeknights at 5, 6, and 10pm
- Mark Rivera - weekends mornings; also an reporter
- Hosea Sanders - weeknights at 7pm on WCIU
ABC 7 AccuWeather Team
- Cheryl Scott (AMS Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5 and 10 p.m.
- Tracy Butler (AMS and NWA Seals of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings (4:30-7AM) and 11 a.m.
- Larry Mowry (AMS Seal of Approval) - weekdays at 4pm, 6pm, and 7pm on WCIU
- Greg Dutra (AMS Seal of Approval) - saturday mornings
- Phil Schwarz (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; Sunday mornings and weekend evenings
- Mark Giangreco - sports director; weeknights at 5 and 10 p.m.
- Jim Rose - sports anchor; weekdays at 4, and weeknights at 6pm and 7pm on WCIU
- Dionne Miller - sports anchor; weekends at 5 & 10pm; also sports reporter
- Roz Varon - weekday mornings
- Thom Johnson - weekday morning fill-in
- Steve Dolinksy - food reporter/"Hungry Hound"
- Jessica D'Onofrio - general assignment reporter
- Greg Dutra - general assignment reporter
- Michelle Gallardo - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
- John Garcia - general assignment reporter
- Chuck Goudie - chief investigative reporter; also 6 p.m. "Intelligence Report" contributor
- Evelyn Holmes - general assignment reporter
- Leah Hope - general assignment reporter; also host of Heart & Soul
- Eric Horng - general assignment reporter
- Will Jones - general assignment reporter
- Jason Knowles - general assignment reporter
- Paul Meincke - general assignment reporter
- Liz Nagy - general assignment reporter
- Sarah Schulte - general assignment reporter
Local program hosts
- Doug Banks - 190 North contributor
- Ryan Chiaverini - Windy City Live co-host (beginning May 26)
- Roe Conn - Windy City Live contributor (beginning May 27)
- Janet Davies - 190 North host; also features and entertainment reporter; also fill-in anchor
- Mark DeCarlo - Windy City Live contributor (beginning May 26)
- Mark Nilsson - 190 North contributor
- Eva Saha - 190 North contributor (per diem)
- Valerie Warner - Windy City Live co-host (beginning May 26)
- Laura Washington - political analyst
Former on-air staff
- WLS (AM)
- Circle 7 logo
- Eyewitness News
- ^ Television News section, Chicago Tribune, October 6, 1968.
- ^ http://www.fuzzymemories.tv/screen.php?c=2929&m=xxsignonxx&p=1
- ^ http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=resources/inside_station/station_info&id=6397505
- ^ Eggerton, John (2009-06-17). "Weigel's Analog Nightlight Could Help Chicago Stations With Reception Issues". Broadcasting & Cable.
- ^ Wong, Wailin (2009-06-17). "DTV Transition Problems Linger; FCC Beefs Up Role". Chicago Tribune.
- ^ Eggerton, John (2009-06-29). "Boise Station Gets Power Boost". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
- ^ https://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101319886&formid=346&fac_num=73226
- ^ http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/prod/cdbs/pubacc/Auth_Files/1335680.pdf
- ^ "ABC7 is adding a DTV frequency; UHF frequency should help reception". ABC7Chicago.com. October 31, 2009.
- ^ http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/prefill_and_display.pl?Application_id=1363188&Service=DS&Form_id=911&Facility_id=73226
- ^ https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101370985&formid=911&fac_num=73226
- ^ https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101360475&formid=911&fac_num=73226
- ^ https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101335680&formid=301&fac_num=73226
- ^ http://licensing.fcc.gov/prod/cdbs/pubacc/Auth_Files/1335680.pdf
- ^ http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/prefill_and_display.pl?Application_id=1422856&Service=DT&Form_id=301&Facility_id=73226
- ^ 
- ^ "Live Well HD Network debuts". abc7chicago.com. April, 2009.
- ^ "TV Schedule for Chicago, Illinois". Live Well HD Network.
- ^ http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=sports&id=5620244
- ^ ABC7 Unveils State Street Studio, ABC 7 Chicago, April 25, 2006
- ^ YouTube - WLS-TV Studio Car Crash
- ^ Johnson-Sullivan anchor duo paying off for WBBM-Channel 2, Chicago Sun-Times, March 4, 2011.
- ^ http://feder.blogs.chicago.timeout.com/.../come-and-get-em-abc-7-morning-show-audience-tickets-up-for-grabs/
- ^ http://feder.blogs.chicago.timeout.com/
- ^ http://feder.blogs.chicago.timeout.com/.../come-and-get-em-abc-7-morning-show-audience-tickets-up-for-grabs/