WQAD-TV is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Moline, Illinois, United States, serving the Quad Cities area of northwestern Illinois and southeastern Iowa. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 38 (or virtual channel 8 via PSIP) from a transmitter in Orion, Illinois. Owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company, WQAD maintains studio facilities on Park 16th Street in Moline. On cable, the station is available on Mediacom channel 8 in standard definition and on digital channel 708 in high definition.
|Branding||WQAD News 8 (general)
My TV 8-3 (on DT3)
|Slogan||Hard Work, Determination (That's What We Stand For at WQAD News 8). (primary)|
|Channels||Digital: 38 (UHF) Virtual: 8 (PSIP)|
(WQAD License, LLC)
|First air date||August 1, 1963|
|Call letters' meaning||Q u a d Cities|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
8 (VHF, 1963–2009)
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Height||609 m (1,998 ft)|
WQAD-TV signed-on for the first time on August 1, 1963. It was owned by the Moline Television Corporation, a group of 24 local investors. They had actually won the license in 1961; however, concerns about interference with WIRL-TV in Peoria (now Comet TV owned-and-operated station WHOI) delayed sign-on for two years. Before WQAD signed-on, ABC programming had been split between NBC affiliate WOC-TV (channel 6, now KWQC-TV) and CBS affiliate WHBF-TV (channel 4). Viewers with a good antenna could watch the full ABC schedule on KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids.
From day one, WQAD aired ABC programming in color. Cowles Communications of Des Moines, Iowa purchased WQAD in 1978. In 1985, the Cowles family sold off their various media interests, with WQAD going to The New York Times Company. WQAD was branded in the early-1980s as "Active 8, Your 24 hour News Source" or "The Best News Around" and did hourly news cut-ins even during the overnight hours. WQAD started the "Active 8" branding in 1978 and used this branding until the early 1990s. WQAD was the first television station in the Quad Cities to be on the air 24 hours a day in late 1980.
On January 4, 2007, The New York Times Company sold its WQAD and its eight sister television stations to Local TV, a holding company operated by private equity group Oak Hill Capital Partners, for $350 million; the sale was finalized on May 7. On July 1, 2013, the Tribune Company (which formed a management company that operated both its own television stations and those owned by Local TV in 2008) acquired the Local TV stations for $2.75 billion; when the transaction was completed on December 27, it resulted in WQAD becoming a sister station to the company's television flagship, WGN-TV in Chicago.
Aborted sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that it would acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune. Had the deal received regulatory approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, the transaction would have brought WQAD under common ownership with several stations owned and/or operated by Sinclair in adjacent markets, including KGAN/KFXA-TV in Cedar Rapids, KHQA-TV in Quincy, WMSN-TV in Madison, WUCW in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, WVTV/WCGV-TV in Milwaukee (which would have become co-owned with Fox affiliate WITI through the deal as well), and fellow ABC affiliates KTVO in Kirksville–Ottumwa, KDNL-TV in St. Louis (barring a sale to alleviate conflicts with Tribune-owned Fox affiliate KTVI and CW affiliate KPLR-TV), WICS in Springfield (and its satellite station WICD in Champaign), as well as former fellow ABC affiliate WHOI in Peoria (which converted into a Comet O&O in a separate affiliation transaction involving Quincy Media in November 2016).
Less than one month after the FCC voted to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other M&A opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the DOJ over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties, and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell.
Pending sale to Nexstar Media Group and possible resale
On December 3, 2018, Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group—which has owned CBS affiliate WHBF-TV since March 2014, has owned CW affiliate KGCW (channel 26) since December 2014 and has operated Fox affiliate KLJB (channel 18) through a shared services agreement with Marshall Broadcasting in concurrence with the completion of its acquisition of KGCW—announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WQAD directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. (Furthermore, any attempt by Nexstar to assume the operations of WQAD through local marketing or shared services agreements may be subject to regulatory hurdles that could delay completion of the FCC and Justice Department's review and approval process for the acquisition.) As such, Nexstar will be required to sell either WQAD or both WHBF and KLJB (separately as it would break the grandfathered LMA) to separate, unrelated companies to address the ownership conflict. KGCW could either be retained by Nexstar (tied with either WQAD or WHBF) or sold to the new buyer if WHBF is sold, as KGCW does not rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Quad Cities market.
The station began news operations from the first day it signed on-the-air in 1963. At times, it shares news stories with sister station WHO-TV in Des Moines, and since the merger of Local TV and Tribune in December 2013, can also utilize the resources of Chicago sister station WGN-TV to the east. WQAD is also affiliated with CNN. WQAD's early years are closely linked to the station's prominent anchor/reporter, Jim King. He began as the station's original sports anchor. By 1964, he became the station's main anchorman, a post he would hold until 1998, doubling as news director for most of that time. His sign-off at the end of his newscasts was always "Thank you for inviting us into your home." King took cameras and gear to Vietnam for two tours of reporting on local troops. He was long the staple on the anchor desk and was known for his "On the Road" series of reports and for his longtime role as the emcee of the station's annual Muscular Dystrophy Association telethons from 1971 to 1998. He died of a heart attack while shoveling his sidewalk on January 2, 1999. 
On September 4, 2007, WQAD's weeknight 6 o'clock newscast started re-airing on WBQD at 9. Its hour-long midday newscast, News 8 at 11, debuted on September 22, 2008 and anchored by the weekday morning team. The station had dropped its midday newscast called Newsday in 1998.
Neil Kastor retired as Chief Meteorologist in April 2009 after 25 years with WQAD. James Zahara was subsequently named Chief Meteorologist moving from mornings to weeknights.
On August 6, 2010, it was announced that the station would enter into a news share agreement with Fox affiliate KLJB. This resulted in a nightly prime time broadcast at 9 for a half-hour on that station on September 6. Previously, KLJB had its prime time broadcasts produced by the Independent News Network which is based in Davenport. This agreement ended on December 31, 2012 when KLJB entered a news share agreement with competitor KWQC-TV which then began producing the 9 p.m. newscasts for KLJB. On December 30, 2015, the agreement between KWQC and KLJB ended and on December 31, 2015, WHBF-TV began producing a one-hour 9 p.m. newscast for KLJB.
On September 12, 2011, WQAD's news operation upgraded its newscasts to high definition becoming the last in the market to do so.
News anchor Matt Hammill left the station in January 2013 after 32 years.
On January 4, 2016, WQAD began producing a new live half-hour 9 p.m. newscast for WQAD-DT3. The new 9 p.m. broadcast competes directly against the 9 p.m. newscast on Marshall Broadcasting-owned Fox affiliate KLJB which has its newscasts produced by current SSA partner and Nexstar sister station WHBF-TV.
On July 24, 2018, investigative reporter Chris Minor retired 33 years to the day of her start at WQAD. A WQAD special presentaion "Chris Minor: A Storied Career" aired at 6:30 p.m. featuring Minor and the thousands of stories she covered in the Quad Cities during her time at the station.
- TV-8 News (1966–1969)
- Newscope 8 (1969–1975)
- Eyewitness News (1975–1978)
- Active 8 News (1978–1994)
- NewsChannel 8 (1994–2009)
- News 8 (2009–2011 & 2012–present)
- HD News 8 (2011–2012)
- The Most Complete Coverage of the Two-State Area
- The Best News of All (1985–1992)
- Your 24 Hour News Source (1992–1997)
- Live. Local. Latebreaking. (1997–2008, primary; 2009; secondary)
- The Quad Cities News Leader (2009–2012)
- Hard Work, Determination (That's What We Stand For at WQAD News 8)
Current on-air talent
- Jim Mertens - weeknights at 5, 6, 6:30 and 10:00 p.m.
- Johnnie Jindrich - weeknights at 6:30 p.m.; also reporter
- Jonathan Ketz - weekday mornings on Good Morning Quad Cities (4:30-7 a.m.) and 11 a.m.
- Angie Sharp - weekday mornings on Good Morning Quad Cities (4:30-7 a.m.) and 11 a.m.
- Denise Hnytka - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10:00 p.m.
- Eric Sorensen - meteorologist; weekday mornings on Good Morning Quad Cities and 11 a.m.
- James Zahara - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10:00 p.m.
- Andrew Stutzke - meteorologist; weekend evenings
- Matt Randazzo - sports director
- Kory Kuffler -