|Madisonville, Kentucky-Evansville, Indiana|
|Slogan||The Tri-State's Home of The CW|
|Channels||Digital: 20 (UHF)|
|Owner||Ion Media Networks
|First air date||October 15, 1983|
|Last air date||March 24, 2011 (WAZE-TV)
January 3, 2013 (repeaters)
|Former callsigns||WLCN (1983-1997)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
|Former affiliations||Independent (1983–1997)
The WB (1997–2006)
The CW (2006–2013)
|Transmitter power||1.1 kW (digital)|
|Height||216 m (digital)|
WAZE-TV was a television station in Madisonville, Kentucky, in the United States, serving the Evansville, Indiana DMA from 1983 to 2013. The station was an affiliate of the CW Television Network. It broadcast a digital signal on channel 20 from a transmitter at Hanson, Kentucky; which redirected to former analog channel 19 via PSIP.
The station continued to broadcast via low-powered Class A repeater WAZE-LP channel 17 and low-powered translators WJPS-LP channel 4 and WIKY-LP channel 5, all licensed to Evansville, until January 2013, when all three were shut down. They served as in-town relays of the main signal. WAZE's transmitter was located farther south than the other major Evansville stations because of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations requiring a station's transmitter to be no more than 15 miles from the city of license—in this case, Madisonville, which is 50 miles south of Evansville. As a result, despite its 2.7 million watt ERP, the channel 19 signal provided only a grade B ("rimshot") signal to Evansville itself, and was practically non-viewable north and east of the city.
The station relied on cable coverage to reach most of its viewing area. However, many cable carriers in the market (particularly outside the Evansville and Owensboro areas) didn't carry it.
WAZE signed on October 15, 1983 as WLCN, the market's first independent station. It originally ran mostly Christian programing (the call letters presumably stood for "Local Christian Network") along with segments of HSN Spree. After WEVV-TV, which signed on a month later, became a charter Fox affiliate in 1987, WLCN was the only over-the-air source of non-network programming in the Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio tri-state area for 11 years. However, cable systems piped in either WTTV in Indianapolis or KPLR-TV in St. Louis, depending on the location.
During the early 1990s, "WAZ TV 52" filmed and broadcast local Evansville, IN high school varsity sports and NCAA games Live and on delay, such as basketball, baseball football, and soccer. Darrin Smith (play-by-play), Doug Emig and Warren Distler were the local sports broadcasters for all games. Darrin Smith (who was also co-host of Saturday Morning's SportsTalk Live) called over 1000 televised games for WAZ-TV52 and WAZE-TV19 from 1990-2001. Smith was also the 12 year "Voice of the USI Basketball Screaming Eagles" and hosted the Bruce Pearl Show during college basketball season. Smith also did several free lance play-by-play jobs for ESPN, SportsChannel and the IHSAA. Darrin Smith retired from broadcasting in 2001 and returned to his home state of Massachusetts where he began a very successful career in Sales. He currently resides in Newport, Rhode Island with his wife Kim Avallon (also a native of Massachusetts) The original location was in the South Central Communications building. Later, they occupied a facility just down the hill from there in a remodeled nursery/plant store that was later expanded to include a studio. Rob Underwood was one of the longest lasting employees at the station, starting before Connie Keeling and remaining until the end. Mr. Underwood went on to work at WEVV in Evansville, while Connie Keeling went on to work as a broadcast engineer of Instructional Technology Services at the University of Southern Indiana
South Central Communications, based in Evansville, bought the station in 1997. On November 1 of that year, it became a WB affiliate and changed its calls to WWAZ-TV, activating a series of repeaters to better cover the market. In 1999, it began branding as WAZE-TV, after its Evansville repeater, and changed its call letters to match in 2000. The WWAZ-TV call letters were used by a station in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, which has since changed calls to WIWN.
South Central sold WAZE to Roberts Broadcasting in 2006. Soon after taking control, Roberts disabled the station's old Website at wazetv.com. A new site at cwaze.com debuted in 2008, but that site was itself closed down in mid-2009. In mid-2007, Roberts moved the station's master control to company flagship WRBU in St. Louis, leaving only a sales staff in Evansville. In January 2009, the Evansville office was closed altogether.
Sister, repeater, and translator stations
WJPS-LP was a low-power (100w) analog repeater-television station in Evansville, Indiana, broadcasting locally on VHF channel 4. Until 2002, WJPS-LP was an affiliate of the All News Channel, a 24-hour news network. WJPS-LP was a translator of WAZE-LP, extending that station's signal into parts of Evansville that could not receive either the WAZE-LP signal or its parent station, WAZE, prior to the latter's analog signal shutdown on June 12, 2009. WJPS-LP broadcast from the same tower as sister-station WIKY-LP. On January 3, 2013, all of WAZE-TV's translators, including WJPS-LP, were shut down.
Botched sale and legal troubles befall the station
According to FCC documents filed in March 2009, Roberts had agreed to sell WAZE and the station's three Evansville translators to BGT Communications, LLC for $50,000—a mere fraction of what it paid to buy the station three years earlier. However, as of 2012, no approval has been given. The station's most recent biennial FCC ownership report, in 2010, listed only Roberts Broadcasting as the owner with no mention of the BGT transaction.
Additionally, Roberts Broadcasting was sued on three separate occasions by CBS Corporation, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. for failure to pay for programming aired on WAZE and its sister stations—WRBU in St. Louis, WZRB in Columbia, South Carolina and WRBJ in Jackson, Mississippi. The company reached an agreement with Fox in the summer of 2010; however, in March 2011, CBS won its lawsuit against Roberts and was awarded a $1 million judgment. CBS later filed an injunction against Roberts seeking payment. The result has been major changes in syndicated programming as distributors have pulled their programming from the Roberts stations, leaving the station to air lower profile series that are sold under much less expensive barter arrangements such as the long-cancelled Judge Hatchett and Cash Cab. Warner Bros. would win its case as well in October 2011; on October 7, Roberts Broadcasting filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
DTV transition issues and closure
As part of the digital TV transition, on June 12, 2009, WAZE turned off its full-power analog signal on channel 19. The station's digital signal on channel 20 operated under Special Temporary Authority at only 1,110 watts (equivalent to a low-power analog station). The signal was so painfully weak that it was barely viewable more than 15 miles from the transmitter near Hanson. As a result, it did not even reach Evansville itself, and was barely watchable in the market's second-largest city, Owensboro. By 2010, Evansville Courier & Press media columnist and Owensboro resident Jacob Newkirk reported that the station's digital signal had deteriorated to the point of unacceptability; the video often froze, skipped and shook. The picture from the translators was only marginally better; it was rather snowy.
The station had been issued a construction permit on at least two occasions to increase its power to a full million watts, which is equivalent to 5 million watts in analog. However, the station never began construction on its full-power digital facility due to a number of issues, including difficulty acquiring land. When the station failed to build out its digital facility by an FCC-imposed deadline, the FCC revoked the license on March 24, 2011. On July 15, 2011, Newkirk reported that WAZE's digital signal was still on the air (or at the very least had resumed operations at some point following the FCC's cancellation of its license) without any official approval from the FCC; according to FCC rules, unauthorized broadcasting of a television station can result in a minimum fine of $10,000. However, by spring 2012, the station's digital signal had gone off the air.
Despite the loss of its full-power signal, WAZE remained on several area cable systems, as well as the Evansville DirecTV and Dish Network feeds, for over a year. Cable and satellite companies are not legally obligated to carry low-power stations. However, on January 3, 2013, the station's analog repeaters went off the air with no advance warning, leaving the Tri-State without a CW affiliate. Roberts had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012, but did not file to renew the repeaters' licenses at the time the Evansville stations filed for renewal, meaning their licenses would have expired on August 1, 2013. In a filing with the FCC, Roberts filed a temporary request to halt operations due to the bankruptcy proceedings. However, Newkirk reported that the receiving equipment had been removed from the transmitter site, making it very unlikely that WAZE would return to the air in the foreseeable future. In any event, a prospective buyer would not only have to be approved by the bankruptcy court, but such approval would have had to have been granted before April 1 in order to give the new owner time to file for a license renewal. The repeaters would have been forced off the air in any event if they hadn't converted to digital by 2015; as of late 2012 no conversion applications had been filed with the FCC.
On January 28, 2013, The CW announced WTVW as its new Evansville affiliate. In the interim, NewWave Communications imported another Roberts-owned CW affiliate, Columbia's WZRB, on its systems in southeastern Illinois and southwestern Indiana (other NewWave systems relied on existing carriage of WTTV for CW programming), while DirecTV imported WDCW in Washington, D.C. Other cable and satellite companies—including Insight Communications, the largest cable provider in the region—lost The CW altogether until WTVW officially joined the network on January 31.
Sale to Ion Media Networks
On December 11, 2013, the United States bankruptcy court gave initial approval for a plan by Roberts' creditors to transfer WAZE-LP/WJPS-LP/WIKY-LP, along with WRBU and WZRB, to a trust with Ion Media Networks (a creditor in Roberts' chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings) as its beneficiary, with Roberts' attorney subsequently stating that Ion would purchase the stations and return the WAZE stations to the air. Roberts had earlier proposed an alternate plan that would have had only the WAZE stations be transferred to the trust, with WRBU and WZRB instead being sold to Tri-State Christian Television. The FCC approved the deal on February 2, 2014, and WZRB and WRBU became an Ion Television affiliate, same for WAZE, which continued on Class A Channel 17.
At one point, WEHT produced a 9 p.m. newscast for WAZE.
- Harding, Kevin (March 24, 2011). "Re: WAZE-TV, Madisonville, Missouri". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
- Jake's DTV Blog: "WAZE-TV translators shut down", January 3, 2013.
- Connie Keeling, broadcast engineer of Instructional Technology Services at the University of Southern Indiana
- Newkirk, Jacob; WAZE's signal, promises are weak; Evansville Courier & Press; 2009-10-01.
- Newkirk, Jacob (October 10, 2011). "WAZE owner Roberts Broadcasting files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
- Newkirk, Jacob. A snowy picture is better than a frozen one, I guess ... Jake's DTV Blog, March 13, 2010.
- Newkirk, Jacob. How is this possible? WAZE-DT is still on the air!?, Jake's DTV Blog, July 15, 2011.
- Newkirk, Jacob. THE WAZE SHUTDOWN: Roberts Broadcasting notifies FCC, calls WAZE shutdown "temporary". Jake's DTV Blog, January 10, 2013.
- Newkirk, Jacob (January 28, 2013). "Local 7 picking up CW programming". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
- Newkirk, Jacob (January 30, 2013). "Former anchor comes home". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Mueller, Angela (December 11, 2013). "Judge approves creditors' proposal in Roberts Broadcasting bankruptcy". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
- Brown, Lisa (December 11, 2013). "Roberts' TV stations to be sold". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WAZE-LP
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WIKY-LP
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WJPS-LP
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WAZE-TV