|Branding||WICU 12 (general)
WICU 12 News
The CW Erie (on DT2)
WSEE (on DT3)
|Slogan||Coverage You Can Count On: Your News. Now.
TV to Talk About (on DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 12 (VHF) &
WSEE-DT 16.3 (UHF)
Virtual: 12 (PSIP) &
WSEE-DT 35.3 (PSIP)
12.2 The CW
(operated through SSA
by Lilly Broadcasting)
(SJL of Pennsylvania License Subsidiary, LLC)
|First air date||March 15, 1949|
|Call letters' meaning||ICU (sounds like
"I see you")
|Former channel number(s)||12 (VHF analog, 1949-2009)
52 (UHF digital, 1995-2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS (1949-1954)
|Transmitter power||5.4 kW|
WICU-TV, channel 12, is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Erie, Pennsylvania, USA. WICU-TV is owned by SJL Broadcasting, which also operates CBS affiliate WSEE-TV (channel 35) and its CW subchannel (owned by Lilly Broadcasting, LLC) through a local marketing agreement. The two stations both share studios on State Street in downtown Erie, and a transmitter located in Greene Township, Pennsylvania. 
WICU began broadcasting in Erie on March 15, 1949  as an affiliate of all four networks of the time (NBC, CBS, ABC, and DuMont). It was one of the last stations to be granted a construction permit before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) froze new applications. Channel 12 was founded by Edward Lamb, an attorney from Toledo, Ohio who also owned the now-defunct Erie Dispatch-Herald, and other broadcast properties including WTVN-TV (now WSYX) in Columbus, Ohio, which went on the air six months later. In 1952 Lamb purchased WIKK radio (1330 AM, later WICU and now WFNN), giving channel 12 a sister station on radio.
The station was a major beneficiary of a quirk in the FCC's plan for allocating stations. In the early days of broadcast television, there were twelve VHF channels available and 69 UHF channels (later reduced to 55 in 1983). The VHF bands were more desirable because they carried longer distances. Since there were only twelve VHF channels available, there were limitations as to how closely the stations could be spaced.
After the FCC's Sixth Report and Order ended the license freeze and opened the UHF band in 1952, it devised a plan for allocating VHF licenses. Under this plan, almost all of the country would be able to receive two commercial VHF channels plus one noncommercial channel. Most of the rest of the country ("1/2") would be able to receive a third VHF channel. Other areas would be designated as "UHF islands" since they were too close to larger cities for VHF service. The "2" networks became CBS and NBC, "+1" represented non-commercial educational stations, and "1/2" became ABC (which was the weakest network usually winding up with the UHF allocation where no VHF was available).
However, Erie was sandwiched between Pittsburgh (2, 4, 11, and 13) and Wheeling/Steubenville (7 and 9)to the south, Cleveland (3, 5, and 8)and Youngstown to the west, Buffalo (2, 4, 7,)to the east, and London, Ontario to the north. This created a large "doughnut" in Northwestern Pennsylvania where there could only be one VHF license. WICU was fortunate to gain that license, and as a result has been the market leader in Erie for most of its history. Channel 12 held a monopoly on Erie television until WSEE-TV signed-on in 1954 as a CBS affiliate. The two stations, then separately owned, shared ABC programs until WJET-TV (channel 24) signed-on in 1966.
Edward Lamb nearly lost WIKK (renamed WICU [AM] in 1957) and WICU-TV in 1954 due to allegations that he associated with Communists, but was exonerated in 1957. A decade later, in August 1967, Lamb reorganized his business interests, selling off all non-broadcast holdings as well as WICU radio. Lamb's company, later renamed Great Lakes Communications, continued to hold channel 12; ownership passed on to Edward Lamb's family following his death in 1987. WICU-TV's family ownership era ended in 1996 when it was sold to SJL Communications, a subsidiary of SJL Broadcast Management and Alta Management. SJL purchased Alta's interest in 2005. A Consummation Notice was filed with the FCC in February 2007 to voluntarily transfer control of the station from SJL Communications to SJL Broadcast Management Corporation. This transaction was then authorized by the FCC.
In 2002, the station became the senior partner in a local marketing agreement with WSEE. From that point until June 1, 2009, WSEE continued to operate from its own studios on Peach Street (U.S. 19) in Downtown Erie. On that date, that station along with its CW subchannel merged into WICU's facilities. On June 12, WICU returned to channel 12 when the analog to digital conversion was completed. It turned off its analog signal at noon on June 8 to prepare for the change. It was the last analog station serving the Erie region to make the switch.
Its broadcast signal reaches the city of Erie, surrounding communities, and across Lake Erie in parts of Ontario, Canada. It is available on all cable systems in Erie, Warren and Crawford counties in Pennsylvania and in selected cable networks in Venango County, Pennsylvania, Southwestern New York State, and Northeastern Ohio which are part of the Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Youngstown markets respectively. As recently as the 1990s, it was available on cable as far east as Olean, New York well out of WICU's broadcast range and in competition with Buffalo NBC affiliate WGRZ-TV. The station was the subject of a television special entitled WICU: The First 40 Years that was aired on March 15, 1989. WICU and WSEE merged their Web sites in June 2011.
WICU has carried an annual telethon for the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation since 2008.
In September 2012 WICU began to air syndicated programing in HD, but it was limited to Katie Couric's talk show. Also in October 2012, WICU began construction of a new news set. The set debuted November 2, 2012, with the station's first HD news broadcast. WICU and WSEE were the first stations in the Erie market to broadcast local news in high definition.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|12.1||1080i||16:9||WICU HD||Main WICU-TV programming / NBC|
|12.2||480i||4:3||WBEP||Simulcast of WSEE-DT2|
|12.3||WSEE SD||Simulcast of WSEE-TV|
Although the shared services agreement between WICU and WSEE was established in 2002, the actual beginning of newscast consolidation between the two did not start until WSEE actually moved into WICU's studios. WSEE aired the final newscast from its separate Peach Street studios on May 28, 2009. With the challenges of moving, that station went without local news for nearly four days while technical and logistical arrangements were finalized.
When it resumed broadcasts, WSEE's weeknight show at 11 moved to its CW-affiliated subchannel so it would no longer directly compete with WICU's newscast. The program in its new time slot now began to air against another prime time newscast seen for an hour on WFXP.
In November of 2012, Lilly Broadcasting invested close to a million dollars to build the first HD local news studios with WICU and WSEE. Both WICU and WSEE gather news in the field in full HD and present the news in the same high definition format.
WICU airs a midday show during the week at 12:30 as opposed to noon in order for WSEE to offer a live newscast in the traditional time slot. On weekends, the two television stations jointly produce local news at 11 while WICU only provides an early evening broadcast at 6 on Saturdays and Sundays. These shows are known as Weekends Now and can be delayed or preempted on one station due to network obligations.
During the week, WICU and WSEE maintain primary personnel such as news and sports anchors that only appear on one station. Most video footage and content is shared, however. In cases of breaking news, severe weather, or election coverage the two simulcast newscasts and occasionally include the CW subchannel as well. On weekday mornings, WSEE-DT2 provides a simulcast of the first hour of 12 News Today at 5 and WICU's midday show at 12:30.
- TV Query, Video Division, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- Call Sign History, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- Postwar Television
- About SJL Broadcast Management Corporation
- Broadcast and Cable Magazine, 18 September 2000
- PR News Wire, 29 September 2005
- Note that SJL has obvious links to Montecito Broadcast Group, but URLs for Montecito no longer function. See SJL Host to see linkage and lack of function of Montecito URL.
- Correspondence, Federal Communication Commission
- Public Notice Comment, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- FCC authorization
- About SJL Broadcast Management Corp
- Biography of Walter W. Ward says Ward works with WICU-TV and WSEE-TV (LMA).
- WICU-TV Television Services
- Tom Kleinschmidt's Video and Audio Collection
- ErieTVNews.com - Official WICU/WSEE-TV Website
- CWErie.com - Official CW Erie Website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WICU-TV