WAND News (newscasts)
|Slogan||The Only Source for Live, Local Radar, StormCenter 17|
|Channels||Digital: 17 (UHF)
Virtual: 17 (PSIP)
17.2 Cozi TV
|Affiliations||NBC (since 2005)|
|Owner||Block Communications, Inc.
(WAND (TV) Partnership)
|First air date||June 17, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||Area
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
17 (UHF, 1953–2009)
18 (UHF, 2002–2011)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WAND, virtual channel 17, is an NBC-affiliated television station serving the Decatur–Springfield–Champaign area. It is owned by Block Communications. It broadcasts on digital UHF channel 17 from a transmitter near Argenta with two translators, W31BX-D, in Danville and W40CF-D in Jacksonville, Illinois.
WAND began on June 17, 1953 as WTVP, owned by Prairie Broadcasting Company of Decatur and broadcasting from a tower in southwest Decatur. It is the oldest station in central Illinois and the state's second-oldest station on the UHF band. Initial hopes of carrying programs from all four networks of the time were dashed and WTVP had to settle for a primary affiliation with ABC and a secondary affiliation with DuMont. It was one of ABC's first fourteen primary affiliates and one of the few early ABC affiliates on the UHF band that survived the 1950s.
Like many stations in medium-sized markets, WTVP initially wasn't able to get a direct network feed. The station had to rely on kinescopes of ABC and DuMont programming from New York City and the programs often aired two weeks after the live broadcast. By October, however, WTVP was able to get ABC programming live from a microwave link in Danville. At this time, it also took on a secondary CBS affiliation. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. Even after WCIA signed on from Champaign in November, WTVP continued to air some CBS programs until 1959.
WTVP was sold to a Chicago-based group in 1958, only to be sold two years later to Metromedia. In 1961, the station activated a translator on channel 70 in Champaign. At the time, channel 17 provided only a grade B ("rimshot") signal to the Champaign-Urbana side of the market, and much of the area couldn't see it at all. It was sold to LIN Broadcasting at the end of 1965—the very first station in the LIN chain. On February 15, 1966, the call letters changed to the present WAND.
On October 8, 1966, WAND activated a new 1,100-foot (340 m) tower in Argenta. It was topped with an experimental RCA "Vee-Zee" antenna, and one of only two ever put into service. The second antenna was used by WJJY-TV in nearby Jacksonville. It was the first million-watt tower in the state, and added Champaign-Urbana to the station's city-grade coverage. As a result, WAND became the first station in the market to provide a city-grade signal to all four of the market's largest cities. At the same time, the channel 70 translator was moved to Danville, on channel 68 (with call sign W68AA).
On March 26, 1978, WAND's tower was brought down by a massive ice storm. All but 100 feet of the tower fell down under the weight of massive sheets of ice. The collapse exposed a serious design flaw in the tower. Due to WAND's location on the lower end of the UHF dial, the antenna had been one of the heaviest ever used for broadcasting. However, the tower had been designed with the specifications of a much lighter antenna, and was thus not properly engineered to handle so much weight. The same storm brought down WJJY's tower, which was of a similar design and had been assembled by the same company. The station was off the air for two weeks until it returned to the air from its original tower. The translator was moved back to Champaign, still on channel 68. This left Danville without over-the-air programming from ABC for several months.
In 1979, WAND activated its current 1,289-foot (393 m) tower, also in Argenta. It is the tallest broadcasting tower in Illinois, and with 5 million watts it was the most powerful analog signal in the state. The station also moved the translator back to Danville, this time on channel 31.
LIN wholly owned the station until March 2000, when it sold 67 percent of the station to Block Communications in exchange for 100 percent of WLFI-TV in Lafayette, Indiana. However, LIN continued to operate the station for several years as part of the deal. On September 5, 2005, WAND became an NBC affiliate as part of a larger nationwide deal.
LIN sold its 33 percent share of WAND to Block Communications on November 9, 2007. As a result, LIN no longer operates the station; however, WAND's website remained in the old format of most of the other LIN-owned stations of the time until the WAND web site was redesigned in late 2009 or early 2010.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|17.1||1080i||16:9||WAND-DT||Main WAND programming / NBC|
WAND shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 17, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 18. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 17.
On June 6, 2011, the FCC granted WAND a construction permit to move its digital frequency back to its former analog allotment on channel 17; and to operate its digital signal to the maximum 1 million watts—equivalent to 5 million watts for an analog transmitter.
In July 2011, WAND began work on its tower, which lasted one week. WAND produced commercials soon after, billing itself as "The most powerful TV station in east central Illinois".
On February 17, 2009, the Danville repeater shut off its analog signal, and had their digital signal launched. W31BX now maps via PSIP to channels 17.1 and 17.2.
WAND was the first station to bring high-definition television (HDTV) programming to central Illinois. Most syndicated television programming seen on the station is broadcast in 4:3 standard definition. High definition programming seen on the station that is broadcast by NBC is broadcast in 16:9 widescreen high-definition video.
WAND-TV began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition on June 26, 2010, becoming the first commercial television station in the Champaign-Urbana market to produce their local newscasts in HD.
WAND also airs some of its syndicated programming in HD, making it the only station in east central Illinois to do so.
The station is not the first in the market to broadcast in HD, that achievement belongs to WEIU-TV. Unfortunately, many area cable and satellite providers have not yet upgraded WEIU to its HD feed (Dish Network) became the first to do so in December 2011.
24-hour Doppler radar channel
WAND broadcasts on-demand weather, as well as portions of its newscasts, on its website, making it the first in the area to do so.
In 2009, WAND became the first TV station in the market to air a 30 minute newscast at 4:30. This was made possible due to the cancellation of Deal or No Deal. WAND immediately aired its 5 p.m. newscast, having a full hour of local news.
In late 1993, a live Doppler radar was installed atop the station. Then in 2006, new technology was introduced called "Live Doppler 4X". "Live Doppler 4X" consists of four real-time radars that run from various locations from Iowa, Missouri and Illinois. The Stormcenter 17 meteorologists can pinpoint storms locations from Iowa and Missouri and track them through all of Central Illinois. WAND became one of the few stations to have 3D Live Doppler using its previous Live Doppler 4X technology. The four radars still sweep and now the Stormcenter 17 meteorologists can give a storm rating and show three-dimensional storm views. WAND also has its own advanced weather vehicle to track severe weather occurring in Central Illinois called "Stormrunner 17". The vehicle provides real-time WeatherBug observations and streams live video back to the station.
WAND also features a Storm Runner vehicle, which shoots live pictures during inclement weather.
Former on-air staff
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice, November 10, 1956: 13
- RabbitEars TV Query for WAND
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- WAND Expands Noon News, Names Evening Anchor TVSpy, January 7, 2014.
- WAND-TV home page
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WAND
- Query the FCC's TV station database for W31BX-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for W40CF-D
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WAND-TV
- Channel 17 history with pictures