|Branding||WISN 12 (general)
12 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Leading the Way with Important Local Coverage (news)
WISN 12: Start Here (general)
|Channels||Digital: 34 (UHF)
Virtual: 12 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||ABC (1954–1961 and since 1977)|
|Owner||Hearst Television, Inc.
(WISN Hearst Television, Inc.)
|First air date||October 27, 1954|
|Call letters' meaning||The WISconsin News
(former Milwaukee newspaper owned by Hearst, that merged with The Milwaukee Sentinel)
|Former callsigns||WTVW (1954–1955)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
12 (VHF, 1954–2009)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
WISN-TV, virtual channel 12.1 (digital channel 34), is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The station is owned by Hearst Television and is one of the group's three flagship stations as well as the second-oldest television station to remain with the company in all of its various iterations. WISN's studios are located at North 19th and West Wells Streets, at the west end of the Marquette University campus, with the station's transmitter located within Lincoln Park in the northeastern part of Milwaukee, next to the Weigel Broadcasting tower which is used by CBS affiliate WDJT-TV (channel 58) and its sister operations.
- 1 History
- 2 Digital television
- 3 Programming
- 4 News operation
- 5 References
- 6 External links
First ABC affiliation
WISN first signed on the air on October 27, 1954 with the call letters WTVW and branded itself as "Wisconsin's TeleVision Window". In early 1955, the station was purchased by the Hearst Corporation, publishers of the Milwaukee Sentinel and owners of WISN radio (1130 AM); the new owners changed channel 12's call letters to the present WISN-TV (the former WTVW calls are now used by the CW affiliate WTVW in Evansville, Indiana). The station was originally affiliated with both ABC and DuMont. When DuMont ceased operations in 1956, WISN-TV became an exclusive ABC affiliate. WTVW's transmitter building was built under a tent, as rains threatened to delay construction. After the building was finished, a second tent was erected, and used for live automobile commercials, until it collapsed one day in early 1955.
In 1958, WISN-TV became the flagship of the short-lived local Badger Television Network, a three-station state network in Wisconsin that also included WFRV-TV in Green Bay and WKOW-TV in Madison. Programs broadcast by the network included Homemaker's Holiday, a quiz show hosted by Charlie Hanson; Good Housekeeping, hosted by Trudy Beilfuss using the name of the Hearst magazine of the same name; and Pretzel Party, a variety program originally hosted by Larry Clark. All three programs originated from WISN-TV's studios. During March 1958, the network also aired Senate Investigating Committee hearings during late-night hours. The Badger Network was launched in January 1958 and ceased operations on August 8 of that year.
Switch to CBS
In 1961, CBS, then carried by Storer Broadcasting-owned WITI-TV (channel 6), desired to affiliate with channel 12; the two stations swapped networks, WISN-TV switched its affiliation to CBS and WITI switched to ABC, on April 2, 1961. During its tenure with the network, WISN-TV cleared most of CBS's shows, even though by the early 1970s, it would drop Search for Tomorrow so it could expand its talk show Dialing for Dollars in the daytime and pre-empt or delay several primetime programs for Marquette University and Milwaukee Bucks basketball games.
Hearst retained WISN-TV and WISN radio in 1962 after it sold the Milwaukee Sentinel to Journal Publishing, the publishers of the Milwaukee Journal. The Journal also competed with the Sentinel in broadcasting as owners of WTMJ radio (620 AM) and WTMJ-TV (channel 4), which Journal Communications continues to operate in the present day.
Second ABC affiliation
In September 1976, just weeks into the 1976-77 season, CBS announced they were moving its Milwaukee affiliation back to WITI-TV. Storer Broadcasting had much better relations with CBS than they reportedly had with ABC; weeks earlier ABC opted to drop Storer's San Diego station from the network after a four year-long dispute. Meanwhile ABC had become the top-rated American television network, thanks in large part to two sitcoms based in Milwaukee: Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. WISN-TV and ABC agreed to terms about a month later, and the 1961 affiliation switch was officially reversed on March 27, 1977; channel 12 even used Happy Days star Henry Winkler (in character as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli) to herald its return to ABC with the slogan "Happy Days are Here Again" in on-air and print campaigns leading up to the switch. To this day, WISN-TV has been one of ABC's most successful affiliates, and bills itself as such in its own promotions.
Channel 12 was the first commercial station in the market to produce a high-definition broadcast, airing the Summerfest "Big Bang" fireworks show in HD on June 29, 2006. Milwaukee Public Television assisted WISN-TV in the production of the broadcast, and have continued to do so each year since, with additional help from sister stations in Sacramento and Boston in later years.
Former sister radio stations WISN and WRNW (formerly WLTQ/WQBW, 97.3) are now owned by Clear Channel Communications, and all ties between the stations and Channel 12 were severed on July 27, 2009, when WITI began a weather/news content agreement with the stations at the end of a longtime agreement with WISN-TV to provide forecasts to Clear Channel's six local stations. After the expiration of that deal, WISN-TV now provides news, weather and sports content to Saga Communications's five-station Milwaukee cluster (WKLH, WHQG, WJMR-FM, WJYI and WNRG-FM). This has an effect of having WISN-TV's news staff disclaim on-air and through their social networking channels that their station has no connections with WISN radio's conservative talk format and only holds the same calls, a point of contention and confusion during events such as live shots at the Wisconsin State Capitol for the 2011 state budget debate.
As Hearst and Time Warner Cable entered into a retransmission consent dispute that resulted in Hearst's stations being removed from TWC's systems on July 10, 2012, WISN was not removed from TWC's Milwaukee area systems immediately in an eleventh hour announcement, as the direct fiber connection between WISN and TWC is also provided by the cable provider to Charter Communications, which serves outer portions of the market such as western Waukesha County and most of Washington, Fond du Lac and Sheboygan Counties, under a side agreement between the providers which TWC and Hearst were contractually obligated to honor. It was the only Hearst station to remain on TWC during the dispute, but with both Start Over video on demand and the ability to record station programming to TWC DVR's completely removed.
Charter then tried to pursue a different method of transmitting WISN's signal to remove itself as an intermediary from the dispute, and was able to make the arrangements by July 12, allowing WISN's removal from Time Warner Cable on July 13, with WISN's SD and HD channel slots replaced with Hallmark Movie Channel. The dispute was resolved on July 19, returning the station to TWC's systems that evening.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|12.1||1080i||16:9||WISN-TV||Main WISN-TV programming / ABC|
In line with many of Hearst's ABC affiliates switching over to transmitting in 1080i rather than ABC's default 720p format, WISN-TV switched to transmitting their signal in the 1080i HD resulution format in mid-June 2011.
WISN-TV has never carried any digital subchannels; because of Weigel Broadcasting's presence in the market, the station has not been included in affiliation agreements involving Hearst stations to carry Weigel's Me-TV, along with former Weigel network and current Tribune Broadcasting channel This TV (which both air locally subchannels of WDJT-TV; Tribune is in the process of purchasing WITI) and it does not utilize Hearst's "More TV" subchannel station format as the market has an independent station of its own, which is also owned by Weigel; similarly, it never ran The Local AccuWeather Channel during Hearst's agreements to carry the network on its other stations due to WTMJ-TV and WMVS sharing local carriage rights to the network.
As part of the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, WISN-TV shut down its analog signal at 8:30 a.m. on June 12, 2009 coming out of a local news brief during Good Morning America with a retrospective on the station's history narrated by Jerry Taff, followed by a still of digital transition information staying on the air until 12 p.m. with the wind-down of its analog transmitter. WISN's digital signal continued to broadcast on its pre-transition UHF channel 34, however through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WISN's virtual channel as 12. The signal space for channel 12 was subsequently re-used by CBS for the digital signal of its Chicago owned-and-operated station WBBM-TV.
On May 17, 2010, WISN-TV filed an application to upgrade its digital transmitter to a power level of 1 megawatt, mainly to place the station's digital antenna at the taller height of the dormant analog antenna, which would be replaced by a new digital unit. The analog antenna was removed in September 2010, and the digital antenna was activated from the new placement in early October 2010.
Channel 12 presently clears all of the ABC schedule; however WISN airs Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Nightline on a half-hour delay to facilitate WISN's hour-long 10 p.m. newscast, and splits up the Litton Weekend Adventure block over the course of two days, with the regular Saturday block airing from 9-11 a.m. and an additional hour airing on Sundays from 11 a.m.-noon due to the July 31, 2010 expansion of the station's weekend morning newscasts. From September 2006 until the program was dropped by ABC on August 28, 2010, WISN preempted ABC Kids airings of the Power Rangers series due to lack of E/I content, as did Hearst's other ABC stations; the station tape-delayed Kim Possible and Power Rangers SPD for broadcast on early Monday mornings before World News Now during the 2005-06 season for the same reason.
The station airs most of the highest-rated programs in syndication and because of this usually has had very light schedule turnover each fall for the last few years, with syndicated programs presently including Live! with Kelly and Michael, Bethenny, Katie, The Dr. Oz Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Entertainment Tonight. Channel 12's local programming and select ABC programs is also available on Time Warner Cable's "Start Over" service, allowing viewing of a program after it has already started.
WISN was the flagship station for the Wisconsin Lottery from the agency's inception in 1989, playing host to the state lottery drawings and the weekly Wisconsin Lottery Money Game game show (later known as The Super Money Game Show). The lottery discontinued the Money Game at the end of 2003 due to budget cuts, and televised drawings at the same time, moving the drawings to the state lottery offices in Madison. WISN continues to announce the lottery numbers on-screen after being drawn in a bottom-screen ticker during programs airing in the 6:30 p.m. timeslot and during the 10:30 p.m. newscast, and also broadcasts Powerball drawings only in the case of a record-breaking jackpot pool.
The station had ran Oprah from 1994 until the show ended in 2011, through a groupwide distribution deal with most of Hearst's stations, and aired Dr. Phil from its September 2002 premiere until September 2011, when it moved to WDJT-TV (channel 58). On September 8, 2008, WISN became the first Milwaukee station to broadcast syndicated programming in high definition. Later that year, the station became the first in the market with HD tape-delay and character generator capabilities.
WISN has made the claim based on market size and household ratings percentages by Nielsen Media Research that it is among the top-rated ABC affiliates in the nation (an honor that was shared with WPTA-TV (channel 21) in Fort Wayne, Indiana). In fact, ABC's three highest-rated affiliates are all owned by Hearst (WISN, KOCO-TV (channel 5) in Oklahoma City and KMBC (channel 9) in Kansas City, Missouri). "One of America's Leading ABC Stations" had been the station's slogan until September 24, 2007, the top-rated station claim returned in on-air voiceovers in late 2009 until the station's switch to widescreen SD newscasts in late 2010.
Channel 12 also airs Green Bay Packers Monday Night Football games broadcast by ESPN. The same arrangement was in place for the 2007 NFL Network game against the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium the Thursday after Thanksgiving, and the station also airs Inside the Huddle from Fox affiliate WLUK-TV (channel 11) in Green Bay. WISN owner Hearst Corporation owns a 20% stake in ESPN, thus Hearst is allowed right of first refusal to these broadcasts in their markets, which it has never declined for WISN. In these situations, Dancing with the Stars is carried after the late newscast with a voting window opened up for the Milwaukee market, while Castle is carried during weekend afternoons.
WISN also carried select Milwaukee Brewers Sunday baseball games during the 2003 season (12 in total), sharing over-the-air rights with WCGV (which carried the remaining 38 of the 50 telecasts). All telecasts were produced by the team's longtime cable rights holder, Fox Sports Wisconsin.
The station also has a branding alliance with ESPN Radio affiliate WAUK (540), which carries a daily program hosted by sports director Dan Needles, including a co-marketed spotlight high school sports "game of the week" (in men's basketball or football, depending on season) under Hearst's "Operation Football" high school sports branding, which airs live Friday evenings on WAUK. As part of this, a Saturday evening program called The Big 12 Sports Show with 540 ESPN hosted by Needles and radio partner Drew Olson airs before ABC primetime on that evening, which analyzes the next day's Packer game and acts as a post-game or pre-game for that day's Badger football game, along with coverage of other sports.
WISN-TV presently broadcasts 31½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours each weekday, 4½ hours on Saturdays and Sundays); the station does not carry a weekday noon newscast, though as with most of Hearst's other ABC affiliates in the Central and Mountain Time Zones, WISN runs a two-minute news and weather update before its noon telecast of ABC's daytime talk show The Chew. The station utilizes two weather radars as part of its "Doppler 12 Radar Network", using both a radar at the National Weather Service's Sullivan office, and a radar operated by the station that is located atop Froedtert's Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls.
Longtime anchor Jerry Taff retired in May 2005, as WISN's newscasts began to climb in the ratings. Its success stems from hiring popular local anchors and reporters released from other stations, a stronger ABC schedule, and a period of change at rival WTMJ due to weaker NBC ratings and newsroom changes. The station's biggest acquisition from WTMJ was the dean of Milwaukee television journalism, Mike Gousha in 2007, a year after he retired as the anchor of WTMJ's main newscasts in order to focus on a new position as a distinguished fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University. Gousha currently serves as a political analyst for the station, and hosts the Sunday morning program UpFront with Mike Gousha, which is a mix of the interview segments familiar to viewers of his former WTMJ program Sunday Night, and local political analysis. The show has been syndicated to other stations statewide by Hearst, and in August 2010 all of the stations involved (along with MPTV, which provided technical assistance with HD production) broadcast a Gousha-moderated forum for the Republican candidates for Wisconsin governor called the "UpFront Town Hall Challenge" from Marquette's new law building, which was purposefully structured to avoid classification as a traditional debate where either candidate could use the format to "sell" themselves. The format was repeated in October 2010 between the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor and US Senate.
WISN has added more newscasts to its schedule since 2007, and is unusual in programming hour-long newscasts, starting that year with a Sunday at 10 p.m. show and for a couple of years, on Saturday at 6 p.m. (currently the 6:30 p.m. half-hour features either On the Money or 12 Sports Saturday). On July 30, 2010, WISN, like most of its Hearst-owned ABC-affiliated sister stations did on that date, added a one-hour extension of its weekend morning newscast from 8-9 a.m., which competes directly against the weekend morning newscast on NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV (channel 4) and as of the spring of 2012, the second hour of WITI's Weekend WakeUp. On September 6, 2010, WISN expanded its weekday morning newscast to 2½ hours, now airing from 4:30-7 a.m.
While WISN was still broadcasting its newscasts in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition, the station slowly implemented 16:9 graphical elements such as weather banners, news tickers and logo bugs, with the only HD segments until late June 2011 airing during newscasts on the day of the Summerfest "Big Bang" fireworks show in late June, usually scenic and human interest pieces, along with MPTV co-productions.
On April 21, 2009, the station began using full-time pillarboxing with the station logo and callsign on the respective sides of the screen for newscasts and other standard definition programming. In March 2010, the station unveiled 16:9-optimized weather graphics to allow the station to continue to show programming in HD rather than force a downscale to a modified 4:3 mode where the program was displayed in 3:3 (to much viewer complaint over the years, especially with ABC primetime programming), with the weather warnings taking up the remainder of the screen. On October 10, 2010, WISN-TV began broadcasting its newscasts in 16:9 widescreen standard definition, with the pillarboxes being removed. Then on June 28, 2011, WISN-TV became the third station in Milwaukee (behind WTMJ-TV and WITI-TV) to begin broadcasting its newscasts in high definition. While the station's studio shots are in HD, its live field reports and video footage are still in 16:9 widescreen standard definition. Since 2012, fully HD mobile units and cameras have begun to be added as equipment has needed replacement. In May 2013, the station unveiled their first HD skycam, overlooking the downtown Cathedral Square Park.
On January 24, 2011, WISN-TV expanded its 10 p.m. newscast to one hour (becoming the third Hearst-owned station with an hour-long late local newscast, along with Albuquerque's KOAT and Honolulu's KITV). This bumped Access Hollywood from its longtime 10:30 p.m. slot to 12:30 a.m., resulting in NBCUniversal Television Distribution asking for an early release from WISN's syndication contract for the program and the move of Access to a 6:30 p.m. slot on WTMJ on April 11, 2011, though it would eventually be relocated to 1:37 a.m. in January 2013 when WTMJ relaunched their 6:30 p.m. newscast that month.
According to the local Nielsen ratings for May 2010, WISN-TV was the #1 station in the market from sign-on to sign-off for the fifth consecutive year with a 3.7 rating for the month – the only station to show an increase in viewership for the broadcast day. In local news, WISN won first place in weekday and weekend morning news, and its 10 p.m. newscast showed a viewership increase and remained the #1 late newscast in the Milwaukee area. The early evening newscasts ranked #1, with a 7.1 share for the 5 p.m. newscast, and a 6.8 share for the 6 p.m. newscast; the station also ranked #1 in primetime for the May sweeps period, averaging a 7.0 rating.
For July 2010, WISN was #1 among the area's early evening newscasts with the 5 p.m. showing a 10% increase in viewers over the same time in 2009 to lead with a 6.8 rating; the station's 6 p.m. newscast ratings increased 26% with a 7.6 rating share. The station was also #1 among weekday and weekend morning news. The 10 p.m. newscast also grew 25% to an 8.1 share despite transmitter problems due to flooding on July 22, though the station earned a 7.2 share to win the 10 p.m. slot that night despite only 40% of homes in the market receiving WISN's signal that evening.
- Telenews 12 (late 1960s-1973)
- Eyewitness News (1973–1976)
- Channel 12 Action News (1976–1985; the station's consumer news/investigation segments continue to be called "Action 12")
- (The) Channel 12 News (1985–2000)
- (WISN) 12 News (2000–present)
- "Hello Milwaukee" (1977–1985; during period station used Frank Gari's "Hello News")
- "Together, We're Making a Difference" (1989–1996; during period station used Frank Gari's "Making a Difference")
- "Your 24-Hour News Service" (1989–1996; WTMJ-TV also used a "24 Hour News Source" format from 1990–1992)
- "Live. Local. Latebreaking." (1996–2004)
- "Leading the Way with Important Local Coverage" (2004–present; news slogan)
- "One of America's Leading ABC Stations" (2004–2010)
- "Your Breaking News Leader" (2010–2012; news slogan)
Current on-air staff
WISN-TV's primary news anchors are Craig McKee (weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.); Kathy Mykleby (weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.); Patrick Paolantonio, Marianne Lyles (weekday mornings on 12 News This Morning from 4:30-7 a.m.); Toni Valliere (Saturdays at 5 and 6, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10 p.m.; also weeknight reporter, also fill-in anchor); Toya Washington (weeknights at 5 p.m.); and Joyce Garbaciak (Sundays 10 p.m., also contributing news correspondent; and fill-in anchor) 
The Weather Watch 12 team includes chief meteorologist Mark Baden (AMS Seal of Approval; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.); Sally Severson (meteorologist; weekday mornings on 12 News This Morning from 4:30-7 a.m.) and meteorologists Jeremy Nelson (AMS Seal of Approval; weekend mornings on 12 News This Morning' also fill-in meteorologist); and Chris Gloninger (AMS Certified; Saturdays at 5 and 6, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10 p.m.; also fill-in meteorologist).
The Big 12 Sports team includes sports director Dan Needles (weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.), sports anchor Sephanie Sutton (Saturdays at 5 and 6, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10 p.m.) and sports reporter Trey Daerr.
The station's general assignment reporters are Mike Anderson, Nick Bohr, Ben Hutchison (also fill-in anchor), Thema Ponton (also weekend morning Anchor), Terry Sater (also fill-in anchor), Hillary Mintz (weekday morning reporter, also fill-in anchor) and Christina Palladino. Specialty reporters are Joyce Garbaciak ( anchor, Sundays at 10 p.m., contributing news correspondent; also fill-in anchor), Mike Gousha (political analyst; also host of UpFront with Mike Gousha), Colleen Henry (investigative reporter), Matt Salemme (weekday morning traffic reporter) and Kent Wainscott (investigative and political reporter). Reporters for the Hearst Television Washington Bureau are Hallie Jackson, Sally Kidd and Nikole Killion.
Notable former on-air staff
- John Coleman - weather anchor (later founded The Weather Channel, now at KUSI in San Diego)
- Shelby Croft - weekend anchor/reporter (now with WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio)
- Portia Young - anchor/reporter (2003-2013; currently Public Relations Director, Sargento Foods, 2013-)
- Dan Lewis - anchor (1982–1985; currently weeknight evening anchor for KOMO-TV in Seattle, Washington)
- Joel Kleefisch - reporter (1994–2003; current State Assemblyman for Wisconsin's 38th District)
- Rebecca Kleefisch - anchor (1999–2004; current Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, 2010-)
- Shaun Robinson - anchor (currently weekend anchor/correspondent of Access Hollywood)
- Jerry Taff - anchor (1979–2005; retired)
- Ben Tracy - anchor (currently a correspondent for CBS News in Los Angeles, California)
- "Hearst acquires WTVW (TV) Milwaukee; NBC buys WKNB-TV New Britain, Conn." Broadcasting - Telecasting, January 10, 1955, pg. 7. 
- Golembiewski, Dick (2008). Milwaukee Television History: The Analog Years. Marquette University Press. pp. 213–270. ISBN 0-87462-055-4.
- "Milwaukee stations to switch networks." Broadcasting, January 30, 1961, pg. 9. 
- "In Brief." Broadcasting, September 27, 1976, pg. 28.  (the text incorrectly states that WISN-TV had been a CBS affiliate since 1954, omitting the 1961 affiliation switch.)
- "Milwaukee connection." Broadcasting, October 18, 1976, pg. 36
- Accord puts Channel 6 weather, news on Clear Channel radio stations, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 24, 2009.
- Foxx tells 'Idol' contestants 'the real deal', Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 29, 2009.
- Veteran WISN Reporter Nick Bohr Heckled by Protestors in Madison, TVSpy, February 22, 2011.
- Kirchen, Rich (10 July 2012). – -for.html "Channel 12 stays on Time Warner Cable – for now". The (Greater Milwaukee) Business Journal. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- Dudek, Duane (10 July 2012). "Battles between cable systems, broadcasters alienating viewers". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- Dudek, Duane (11 July 2012). "WISN-TV disputes Time Warner's 'blackout' assertions". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- Dudek, Duane (12 July 2012). "WISN-TV off Time Warner Cable midnight Thursday". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- CDBS Print<! – Bot generated title – >
- Brewer games to air on Spanish network and WISN-TV, Milwaukee Business Journal, February 10, 2003.
- "WISN 12 To Launch Distinctive New Live Sports Show On Aug. 20 'Big 12 Sports Saturday With 540 ESPN' A Collaboration Between Stations". WISN.com. 9 August 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Michael R. Gousha - Distinguished Fellow in Law and Public Policy
- UpFront with Mike Gousha
- WISN-TV expands 10 p.m. news to one hour, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 14, 2010. Retrieved 12-15-2010.
- OnMedia: Channel 4 drops its 6:30 news, OnMilwaukee.com, March 24, 2011.
- WISN News intro
- WISN 12 News at 6 Show Open
- News Team
- "John Coleman bio". KUSI-TV. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- "Ben Tracy biography". CBS News. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- WISN-TV Official Homepage
- WISN-TV logos through the years
- Hearst-Argyle Television
- WISN's Channel on YouTube
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WISN
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WISN-TV