|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2011)|
|Branding||ABC NewsChannel 15
|Slogan||More Local Coverage|
|Channels||Digital: 41 (UHF)
Virtual: 15 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||ABC (since 2005)|
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group
(WICD Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||April 23, 1959|
|Call letters' meaning||WICS Champaign/Danville|
|Sister station(s)||WICS, WRSP/WCCU,
WBUI, WYZZ-TV, WHOI
|Former callsigns||WCHU-TV (1959–1967)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
33 (UHF, 1959–1967)
15 (UHF, 1967–2009)
|Former affiliations||NBC (1959–2005)|
|Transmitter power||950 kW|
|Public license information:||
(semi-satellite of WICS
Springfield/Decatur, Illinois) Profile
(semi-satellite of WICS
Springfield/Decatur, Illinois) CDBS
WICD is the ABC-affiliated television station for Champaign and Urbana, Illinois. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 41 (or virtual channel 15.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter, northeast of Homer, along the Vermilion and Champaign County line. Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, WICD has studios on South Country Fair Drive in downtown Champaign.
Although identifying as a separate station in its own right, WICD is actually considered a semi-satellite of WICS in Springfield and Decatur. As such, it simulcasts ABC network and syndicated programming as provided by WICS but airs separate commercials, legal identifications, and weekday newscasts (see below). Although WICD maintains its own facilities, master control and some internal operations are based within WICS' studios on East Cook Street in Springfield's Eastside section. WICD serves the eastern half of the market, while WICS serves the western portion. The two stations are counted as a single unit for ratings and regulatory purposes.
Outside weekday newscasts, commercial insertion on WICD is controlled at the Springfield facility. WICS serves the western portion of the market (Springfield and Decatur) while WICD serves the eastern portion (Champaign, Urbana, and Danville). WICS also operates the area's Fox affiliate WRSP-TV (and its fill-time satellite, WCCU) as well as CW outlet WBUI (both owned by GOCOM Media, LLC) through joint sales and shared services agreements. WCCU's advertising sales operation is based out of WICD's studios.
The station signed-on April 23, 1959 as WCHU-TV (for CHampaign-Urbana). It was an NBC affiliate and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 33. It was owned by Plains Television Partners and was a low-powered full-time satellite of Springfield's WICS. The WCHU signal traveled about 15 miles from a transmitter at its studios atop the Inman Hotel in Downtown Champaign. However, getting a decent signal from Springfield (85 miles west of Champaign) was usually hit-or-miss at best. Plains Television had to build a microwave tower in Northwestern Champaign to send the WICS signal to the WCHU studios. With a more reliable signal, the station began a more routine schedule on September 14. It began broadcasting in color the next year.
In July 1960, Plains Television Partners bought WDAN-TV in Danville. That station had debuted on December 19, 1953 as a low-powered ABC affiliate broadcasting on channel 24 with a signal radiating about 25 miles from its transmitter. WDAN was owned by the Gannett Company along with the Danville Commercial-News newspaper and WDAN radio (1490 AM). After the sale, Plains Television changed WDAN-TV's call letters to WICD (for WICS Danville; Federal Communications Commission [FCC] regulations at the time required separately-owned stations to use different call signs, and the Commercial-News retained WDAN radio) and made it a full repeater of WCHU. From 1960 until 1967, WCHU/WICD aired some locally originated programs from the WCHU studios in Champaign. However, WICD's transmitter was not capable of broadcasting local programming in color.
In June 1966, Plains Television announced WCHU and WICD would merge into a single full-power station broadcasting on channel 15. It would operate under WCHU's license and studios at the Inman Hotel in Champaign, but use the WICD call letters—whose meaning was now altered to mean WICS Champaign/Danville. The new station would broadcast at a million watts from the tallest tower in Illinois, at 1,385 feet. The new station was to have gone on-air in January 1967, but an ice storm toppled the tower. It was eventually rebuilt and the new WICD went on-air in July. However, there are unconfirmed reports of a delay in the final paperwork for the revamped station. According to some reports, it may have still been using the WCHU call letters when it signed on at full power for the first time. The station moved from the Inman Hotel to its current studio facility on Country Fair Drive in 1978.
In 1986, Plains Television sold WICS to Guy Gannett Broadcasting (no relation to the much larger Gannett Company), but retained WICD. The two stations operated as a regional network simulcasting most network and syndicated programming. This arrangement nearly brought down WICD, even though it was a very prosperous period for NBC as a whole. For much of the 1980s it looked like channel 15 would revert to being a full-time satellite of WICS. In 1994, Plains Television sold WICD to Guy Gannett, who pumped significant resources into the station, particularly its news department.
Guy Gannett then sold most of its television properties, including WICD/WICS, to the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1999. Soon after Sinclair took over, it turned around and announced it was selling WICS/WICD as well as KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Sunrise Television. However, the FCC did not allow Sunrise to buy WICD/WICS due to Sunrise's ownership structure. Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst (HMTF), an investment firm controlled by then-Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks, owned a large block of Sunrise stock. HMTF is majority stockholder of the LIN TV Corporation, then-owner of WAND in Decatur. The FCC ruled HMTF held enough stock in Sunrise that an acquisition of WICD/WICS would result in a duopoly between two of the four highest-rated stations in the market, which is forbidden by FCC rules. Sinclair subsequently withdrew the offer to sell the three stations in 2000. The station's 46-year affiliation with NBC ended on September 5, 2005 when, as part of a larger national deal between LIN TV and NBC that also involved WDTN in Dayton, Ohio (who swapped affiliations with WICS/WICD's Dayton sister station WKEF the year before), WICD and WICS swapped affiliations with WAND and became ABC affiliates.
With this switch, WICD replaced WAND as the default ABC affiliate for the Illinois side of the Terre Haute market, which had not had an ABC affiliate of its own since longtime affiliate WBAK-TV switched to Fox in 1995. The network swap actually improved reception for ABC programming on the Illinois side of the market. WICD's transmitter is not far from the Indiana line, while WAND's transmitter in Argenta is near the middle of the state. Due to contracts with satellite providers, for a long time WICS was the only ABC station in the market uplinked on the Champaign/Urbana/Springfield local feeds. However, Dish Network's Champaign/Urbana/Springfield feed began airing WICD on February 23, 2013 alongside WICS. For the same reason, when Dish dropped WRTV from Indianapolis as the local ABC affiliate for the Terre Haute feed, it uplinked WICS rather than WICD. This ended at the start of the 2011-12 television season, when WAWV-TV rejoined ABC.
In March 2011, WICD added music video channel TheCoolTV to subchannel 15.2. The Cool TV was available on local cable on Comcast digital channel 807. On August 31, 2012, The Cool TV was dropped from all Sinclair stations, including WICD. On December 31, 2012, Sinclair Broadcast Group closed on the purchase of the non-license assets of GOCOM's three television stations, WRSP/WCCU and sister station WBUI for approximately $25.6 million. Sinclair is providing sales and other non-programming services to the stations pursuant to shared services and joint sales agreements. Both WRSP/WCCU and WBUI will nominally continue to operate from separate facilities from WICS/WICD for the foreseeable future. However, WCCU eventually moved its advertising sales operation from offices on South Neil Street/U.S. 45 in Champaign to WICD's studios.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|15.1||720p||16:9||WICD-DT||Main WICD programming / ABC|
WICD shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 15, 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 later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 41. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 15.
Even though WICD and WICS technically operate separate news departments, there is a considerable amount of resource sharing between the two outlets such as with video footage and personnel. This can particularly be the case when covering Decatur (which is located between each of the station's studios). WICS has a slightly larger news department than WICD because it has more personalities. Several on-air personnel at WICD perform "one-man-band" multimedia journalism duties such as shooting video, editing coverage, and producing. WICS provides coverage of the Illinois State Capitol for WICD, while the two stations share coverage of sporting events from the University of Illinois Fighting Illini with WICS. At one point, WICD also operated a Vermilion County Bureau on North Washington Street in Danville (home to WDAN-AM 1490, WDNL-FM 102.1, and WRHK-FM 94.9).
Lately, WICS/WICD have been very competitive in the local news race after years of being a distant second behind longtime dominant WCIA. Beginning with the November 2006 Nielsen ratings period, the two actually briefly led with viewership in East-Central Illinois. This is because the station's ratings are combined by Nielsen Media Research and considers WICS and WICD to be a single station for counting purposes. The latter is identified as "WICS+" in ratings books and has continued battling WCIA for the top spot splitting the position over various time slots. Basically, WICD's existence benefits WICS even though the semi-satellite is technically combined with the primary station.
Along with several other Sinclair properties, WICS/WICD did not participate in the wider implementation of the company's now-defunct, controversial News Central format for their newscasts. This operations saw local news operations reduced at some stations and combined with national news coverage, weather forecasting, and sports headlines based out of Sinclair's headquarters in Hunt Valley, Maryland. WICS/WICD, however, did air "The Point" (a one-minute conservative political commentary) that was also controversial and a requirement of all Sinclair-owned stations with newscasts until the series was discontinued in December 2006.
On September 11, 2006, a news share agreement was established with WRSP/WCCU (then separately controlled). As a result, a nightly prime time newscast began airing on those two stations that is jointly produced by WICS/WICD. Known as NewsChannel at 9 on Fox Illinois, it airs for a half-hour from a modified set at WICS's Springfield studios featuring unique duratrans indicating the Fox-branded show. From the start, NewsChannel at 9 competed with a newscast already established in the time slot on then-UPN affiliate WCFN (produced by WCIA). Unlike the WRSP/WCCU show, WCFN's broadcast originated from WCIA's Champaign facilities but was targeted specifically at a Springfield audience. Although the WRSP/WCCU newscast features market wide coverage, including contributions from WICD reporters, there is a separate weather forecast segment for WRSP and WCCU that is seen weeknights. WCFN's prime time broadcast would be eventually canceled by WCIA on September 28, 2009. On October 7, 2013, the weekday edition of NewsChannel at 9 was expanded to an hour.
The effort on WRSP/WCCU was further expanded on January 20, 2014 when WICS began producing a two-hour weekday morning show for the Fox affiliates. Known as Good Day Illinois, the program can be seen from 7 until 9 and offers a local alternative to the national morning programs seen on the big three networks. It also competes with another two-hour local newscast seen at same time on MyNetworkTV affiliate WCIX (produced by WCIA).
On June 26, 2010, rival WAND became the first television station in East-Central Illinois to upgrade news production to high definition level. It would not be until December 2012 that local newscasts seen on WICS would be upgraded to HD. Included with the change was a new set at the Sprigfield studios and updated Sinclair corporate graphics. WICD's separate weekday newscasts at its Champaign headquarters were not included in the upgrade because that set lacked high definition cameras  until October 13, 2014 when WICD upgraded their newscasts to HD.
On March 26, 2011, WICD ceased airing its own newscasts on weekends opting to simulcast those from WICS. These broadcasts are known as ABC NewsChannel and feature a common graphics package seen on WICS and WICD. Multimedia journalists based at WICD's Champaign studios still provide coverage of the eastern areas of the market. The change represented the second attempt at a joint market-wide product by WICS/WICD. At one point in time, there had been a newscast weeknights at 5 that was simulcasted on both outlets originating from Springfield. On weekend evenings, the two stations also co-produce and simulcast a lifestyle/entertainment show called Illinois Central. Airing in a magazine-type format, the thirty minute program presents more in-depth feature stories from the entire area.
Notable current on-air staff
- Armstrong Williams - The Right Side host
Notable former on-air staff
- RabbitEars TV Query for WICD
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- per WICD anchor Doug Quick's website
- WICD "ABC NewsChannel 15"
- WICS "ABC NewsChannel 20"
- WRSP/WCCU "Fox 55/27 Illinois"
- WBUI "CW 23"
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WICD