|Branding||WCIU, The U|
|Channels||Digital: 27 (UHF)
Virtual: 26 (PSIP)
(WCIU-TV Limited Partnership)
|Founded||February 6, 1964|
|Call letters' meaning||Chicago's
I (first in Roman numerals)
|Sister station(s)||WWME-CA, WMEU-CD|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
26 (UHF, 1964–2009)
|Former affiliations||SIN/Univision (1968 –1985 )
Net Span/Telemundo (1985 –1989 )
Univision (1989 –1994 )
|Transmitter power||550 kW|
WCIU-TV is an independent television station in Chicago, Illinois. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 27 (virtual channel 26.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter atop the Willis Tower. Owned by Weigel Broadcasting since its inception and serving as its flagship station, WCIU-TV is sister to Me-TV outlet WWME-CA (channel 23) and MeToo outlet WMEU-CD (channel 48), both are fellow Weigel flagship properties that are relayed on the station's third and fourth digital subchannels. All three stations share studios on Halsted Street (between Washington Boulevard and Madison Street) in the Greektown neighborhood.
Since going on the air with a black and white signal on February 6, 1964, WCIU spent much of its history carrying multi-ethnic entertainment. In 1970, Channel 26 was the birthplace of the ground-breaking African-American music program Soul Train, hosted by its creator (and then-WCIU station employee) Don Cornelius. The show later moved into national syndication and to Los Angeles the following year, though WCIU continued to produce Soul Train for its local viewers through 1976, initially and simultaneously with the Los Angeles-based version, with Cornelius himself as host, succeeded by Clinton Ghent, the main producer under Cornelius. Currently, WCIU is the home of the long-running locally produced show Svengoolie.
The switch to color
After the second-to-last all-black-and-white station WXXW went dark in 1974, the station remained the only Chicago-area television station to still be broadcasting in monochrome. Just prior to the Christmas season of 1974, the station installed and tested its color transmission equipment, broadcasting on a low-power relay station located in Lincoln Park. In November 1974, the color and black and white signals traded transmitters for the remainder of the holiday season, and on New Years Eve 1974, the translator was taken off-line with the new color Channel 26 coming fully online.
From the late 1960s to 1985, WCIU ran religious shows in the early morning. From about 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., it ran The Stock Market Observer (business news similar to today's CNBC) from the Chicago Board of Trade (whose building housed the WCIU studios). After 5 p.m. on weekdays, the station ran Spanish entertainment programming from the Spanish International Network, (including controverisal bullfighting) the forerunner to today's Univision. On weekends, WCIU ran a blend of religious shows, Spanish programming and various other paid programming ethnically-oriented shows. Beginning in the summer of 1985, SIN moved to WSNS-TV (channel 44) and WCIU picked up NetSpan, which would become Telemundo, shortly thereafter, but in 1989, Univision returned to WCIU, swapping affiliations back with WSNS-TV to their original configurations.
In 1994, Univision asked WCIU to drop Stock Market Observer and all other non-Spanish programs and become a full-time affiliate. WCIU refused, which led Univision to purchase WGBO-TV (channel 66) and move its programming there. On January 1, 1995, WCIU began to broadcast general entertainment programming, taking the leftover programming from WGBO, along with newly-purchased shows that were not on the air in Chicago, moving its remaining ethnic programming to its low-powered sister station on channel 23, then WFBT. They also revived Svengoolie, which had previously run in the market on WFLD. The shows run were mostly classic sitcoms and drama shows.
Initially, the station continued to run the Stock Market Observer from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and entertainment programming afterward and on weekends. WCIU then added a 7 a.m.–9 a.m. weekday kids block by March 1995. In the fall of 1995, the station began to air children's programming from The WB Television Network (known as Kids' WB) in lieu of WB affiliate WGN-TV (channel 9), which continued to air their morning newscast and afternoon sitcom block instead. The business news was pulled back to 9 a.m.–12 p.m. on the weekdays, and a couple years later it would move to their low power station on channel 23 as "WebFN", a joint venture between Weigel and Bridge Information Systems which also aired on Milwaukee sister station WMLW-CA, and featured several former anchors from WMAQ radio after that station converted to sports talk in 2000 as WSCR. By the late 1990s WCIU began adding more recent sitcoms and in 2000 they began to move more talk and reality first run syndicated shows into their daytime lineup.
In 2002, WCIU dropped the afternoon kids block and kept children's programming in the morning. In 2004, the station dropped Kids' WB, which moved to WGN-TV. Classic sitcoms gradually fell off WCIU's Schedule from 2001 to 2004. Today, WCIU focuses on more recent sitcoms, talk shows, court shows, and news magazines.
Early in 2005, the business news format was scaled back to a daily program, "First Business". On January 1, 2005 (exactly 10 years after WCIU became a general-market station,) channel 23's ethnic programming moved to channel 48, and 23 became "Me-TV" WWME-CA expanding a lineup of classic TV shows that had started several months earlier. These are shows that in many cases previously aired on WCIU. On March 1, 2008, channel 48 became "MeToo" WMEU-CA, an extension of Me-TV's "Classic TV" format and channel 48's ethnic programming returned to WCIU on a digital channel "FBT." FBT was dropped on December 1, 2010 and was replaced by a temporary simulcast of WCIU-TV.
In April 2006, WCIU began broadcasting home games of the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, and the Chicago Bulls in 720p HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on its digital signal. In April 2008, WCIU began broadcasting both home and away games of the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs in 720p HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on its digital signal.
In July 2008, Weigel announced the creation of This TV, a nationwide subchannel network operated as a joint venture of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Weigel Broadcasting. This TV was officially launched on November 1, 2008 and is currently offered on digital channel 26.5.
WCIU is also known for its "dog promos" (an idea borrowed from KOFY-TV in San Francisco) where Chicagoan's pet dogs are filmed to promote shows on the station. Casting calls are announced on the station's website every few months.
Weigel Broadcasting launched You and Me This Morning, a program that features entertainment news, lifestyle information and weather. In 2010, sports coverage on WCIU was rebranded as "WGN Sports on The U" to reflect the fact that the games are produced by WGN-TV. Even though WGN had always produced these telecasts, the coverage was previously referred to as "BullsNet," "CubsNet," and "SoxNet" rather than under the WGN name.
On January 4, 2011, MGM and Weigel Broadcasting announced plans to distribute Me-TV nationwide. In 2011, all White Sox, Bulls, and Cubs games televised on WCIU began to be simulcast to local stations in central Illinois and Iowa through what is referred to on-air as the "WGN Sports Network." Prior to this, select Bulls games on WCIU and WGN had been simulcast to these same stations.
Until mid-August 2012, WCIU was relayed on low-powered WFBN-LP (UHF analog channel 33) in Rockford, Illinois, which broadcasts from a transmitter on State Street and Smith Avenue in the city. At that time Weigel converted WFBN to a simulcast of Milwaukee Telemundo affiliate WYTU-LD (Channel 63) to bring Telemundo service into the Rockford market, where WSNS is sparingly available.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|26.1||720p||16:9||WCIU-HD||Main WCIU-TV programming|
|26.2||480i||4:3||U Too||Time-shifted simulcast of 26.1, w/ other syndicated programming|
|26.3||Me-TV||Simulcast of WWME-CA|
|26.4||MeToo||Simulcast of WMEU-CD|
WCIU-TV is broadcasting digitally on its current pre-transition channel number, 27. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers are displaying WCIU-TV's virtual channel as 26. Also, the "WCIU-TV" callsign was transferred from the now-defunct analog channel 26 to digital channel 27 on June 12, 2009 and the "WCIU-DT" callsign was removed.
From June 13, 2009 to January 9, 2011, WCIU-TV's main programming was simulcasted on low-power analog station WWME-CA Channel 23 to provide a nightlight service. From June 13 to July 12, 2009, they even aired newscasts from WMAQ-TV and WGN-TV for those viewers who either were unready or had problems since the June 12 digital transition.
The U Too
|The U Too|
|Launched||January 5, 2011|
|Owned by||Weigel Broadcasting|
|Sister channel(s)||WCIU-TV, WWME-CA, WMEU-CD|
On December 1, 2010, WCIU dropped its FBT foreign broadcasting digital subchannel and for two weeks aired a simulcast of WCIU-TV on digital subchannel 26.6. On December 15, WCIU-DT 26.6 disappeared and programming was shifted to subchannel 26.2 (replacing Me-TV, which moved to WCIU digital subchannel 26.3) where it continued to simulcast most of WCIU's main programming. In addition, PSIP channel 48.1 was discontinued (to be later used by the future WMEU-CA) while 23.1 reverted to being the virtual channel number for WWME-CA (23.2 was also discontinued at that time but has since returned to the air with programming from Bounce TV).
On January 5, 2011, a brand new digital subchannel, The U Too, was officially launched on digital subchannel 26.2. The new digital network airs some time-shifted programming from WCIU's main channel, including new syndicated programs airing for the first time in the Chicago market. It also broadcast a handful of DePaul Blue Demons and other Big East Conference Basketball games, along with being the main over-the-air broadcaster of Chicago Wolves hockey, sharing the rights with WPWR-TV and Comcast's CN100, which carries the bulk of Wolves games. As of January 10, 2011, the digital subchannel is also simulcast on WWME-CA analog channel 23.
- Ultrascope (a program sponsored by Sears which was used to sell UHF-capable televisions and converter boxes within their Chicago area stores. An early version of Music Choice featuring a clock/album cover display and album audio which aired from 9am-5pm daily)
- Ted and the Angel (talk show with Angel Tompkins), 1967–1968
- The Homework Show, 1995–2006
- Green Screen Adventures 2007–present (also syndicated to This TV and other Weigel stations)
- U Dance with B96, 1995–1997 (American Bandstand-type show with DJs from WBBM-FM)
- Svengoolie, 1994–present (also airing on to Me-TV and other Weigel stations)
- Stooge-A-Palooza, 2003–2010 (Three Stooges showcase with Rich Koz)
- Rock of Ages, 1970?–present (religious)
- A Black's View of the News, 1968–?? (news)
- Soul Train, 1970–1976 (local version only; nationally-syndicated version from Los Angeles was seen from 1971 to 2006, locally on WBBM-TV and later, WGN-TV)
- The Bob Lewandowski Show, 1964–1995 (Fansite)
- Outdoor Sportsman, 1978–1985; originally on WSNS Channel 44, it was produced and hosted by local outdoorsman Joe Wyer
- Stock Market Observer, 1968–2000
- WebFN, 2000-2003 (replaced SMO)
- First Business, 2003–present (replaced WebFN, syndicated through MGM Television)
- Kiddie-A-Go-Go, 1964–1967
- Western Theatre with Two Ton Baker (1964–1965)
- Marty Faye Show
- The Chicago Party (c. 1982)
- Eddie Korosa's Polka Party (c. 1978)
- You & Me This Morning (Morning news)
- America's Court: With Judge Ross
- Dr. Phil
- Steve Wilkos Show
- Jerry Springer Show (since 2010)
- The People's Court
- Judge Mathis
- The Doctors
- The Insider
- Are We There Yet? (since 2012)
- Meet The Browns (since 2009)
- Tyler Perry's House of Payne (since 2008)
- Family Guy (since 2011)
- Rules of Engagement (since 2012)
- The King of Queens (since 2002)
- Seinfeld (since 2012)
- Dog Tales
- Animal Exploration with Jarod Miller
- That 70's Show (since 2009)
- American Dad (since 2011)
- New Adventures of Old Christine (since 2010)
- Scrubs (since 2009)
- Malcolm and Eddie (since 2008)
- Futurama (since 2011)
- The Steve Harvey Show (2002-2006 ; 2011-present)
- Married... with Children
- Sister Sister (since 2008)
- Moesha (since 2010)
- Martin (since 2004)
- Soul Train Local, Chicago Reader, October 2, 2008
- MGM Links with Weigel Broadcdasting for Digital Subchannel Offering, Chicago Tribune, July 28, 2008
- Weigel, MGM Hope "This" Thing's a Hit, Broadcasting & Cable, October 27, 2008
- Magic & Blu on WCIU, YouTube.com
- Weigel Launching Morning Content Mix, Broadcasting & Cable, July 7, 2009
- Weigel's WCIU Getting Into A.M. News Fray -- In A Small, Unconventional Way, Chicago Tribune, July 6, 2009
- MGM, Weigel Taking Me-TV Nationwide, Broadcasting & Cable, January 4, 2011
- MGM Launches Classic TV Service to Roar Like the Fonz, Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2011
- WCIU Parent Weigel to Drop Foreign Subchannel, Launch The U Too, Chicago Tribune, October 5, 2010
- WCUU Launches The U Too Subchannel, Broadcasting & Cable, October 5, 2010
- CDBS Print
- Weigel's Analog Nightlight Could Help Chicago Stations With Reception Issues, Broadcasting & Cable, June 17, 2009
- Official website
- The U Too
- Me-TV and Me Too
- This TV site
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WCIU-TV