|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
|Channels||Digital: 14 (UHF)
Virtual: 50 (PSIP)
(Detroit Television Station WKBD, Inc.)
|First air date||January 10, 1965|
|Call letters' meaning||W
(reference to original owner Kaiser Broadcasting)
|Sister station(s)||WDZH, WOMC, WWJ, WWJ-TV, WXYT, WXYT-FM, WYCD|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
50 (UHF, 1965–2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1965–1967, 1967–1986 and 1994–1995)
United Network (1967)
Fox (1986–1998, primary until 1994)
|Transmitter power||185 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WKBD-TV, virtual channel 50 (digital channel 14), is a CW owned and operated station located in Detroit, Michigan. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation, and is part of a duopoly with CBS station WWJ-TV (channel 62). Its studio facilities (which it shares with WWJ-TV) and transmitter are located at 11 Mile and Inkster Roads in Southfield, Michigan.
- 1 History
- 2 Digital television
- 3 Programming
- 4 Newscasts and public affairs programming
- 5 Out-of-market cable coverage
- 6 Station Talent from over the Years
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Prior history of channel 50
Channel 50 in Detroit was originally allocated to WBID-TV in 1955. Owned by Max Osnos' Woodward Broadcasting (Osnos also owned 9% of WITI in Milwaukee), WBID planned on broadcasting from the Cadillac Tower in downtown Detroit. However, WBID never made it to the air – and neither did WTOH-TV (channel 79) in Toledo, Ohio, another proposed station owned by Woodward Broadcasting (both WBID and WTOH planned on taking at least some programming from the failing DuMont Television Network.). It would be another decade before Detroiters would finally see programming on Channel 50.
As an independent station
WKBD first went on the air on January 10, 1965, under the ownership of Kaiser Broadcasting, owned by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. It started with an all-sports format, predating ESPN by some 14 years; WKBD signed on at 5 p.m. on that date, with its first program being a college basketball game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Iowa State Cyclones. It eventually became a typical UHF independent station running cartoons, sitcoms and older movies. WKBD has been broadcast in color since it first went on the air in 1965. Some locally produced programs such as The Lou Gordon Program were broadcast in black and white until the station upgraded to color studio cameras in the late 1960s. WKBD briefly gained a network affiliation in the spring of 1967, when it became the Detroit affiliate of the short-lived United Network. For many years, it aired an afternoon movie hosted by Detroit legend Bill Kennedy. WKBD also produced a hard-hitting weekly talk show, The Lou Gordon Program, which aired from the late 1960s until 1977 and was seen on all Kaiser stations (and a few non-Kaiser outlets). However, sports remained a central part of WKBD's schedule, and it was the over-the-air home for Red Wings hockey and Pistons basketball for many years, as well as Tigers baseball for a decade.
In 1972, the Kaiser Broadcasting Corporation partnered with Field Communications in Kaiser Broadcasting Co. which included WKBD-TV, four other Kaiser stations and Field's single station in Chicago. In 1977, the bulk of Kaiser Broadcasting Corporation including WKBD was sold to Field.
In 1982, Field put all its stations up for sale; however, Field had a difficult time selling WKBD-TV for the amount of money it wanted, despite its success. As a result, Field was forced to hold onto channel 50 for almost two years. In late 1983, Cox Enterprises offered to buy the station, which the company finally did on January 30, 1984. Shortly thereafter, the station dropped the -TV suffix, becoming simply WKBD once again. The programming remained the same as before, with one notable exception: in the late 1980s, WKBD began airing Late Night with David Letterman when NBC affiliate WDIV (channel 4) declined to clear it; this mirrored a similar situation in the mid-1970s, when WDIV (then known as WWJ-TV) declined to air Saturday Night Live – the first two seasons of the show originally aired in the Detroit market on WKBD. Ironically, one of the show's original cast members, Gilda Radner, was born in Detroit.
The Ghoul Show aired in Detroit on WKBD from 1971 to 1975; the show featured late-night horror movie host Ron Sweed in the title role and was produced by WKBD's Kaiser-owned Cleveland, Ohio sister station at the time, WKBF-TV. When Kaiser dropped the program, the show's production moved to Detroit where it was produced by and aired on WXON (channel 20, now WMYD). The show moved briefly to WGPR (channel 62, now WWJ-TV) and then back to WXON. Although never produced at WKBD itself, the program was very popular and was one of the few local programs that aired on WKBD that was not related to sports.
From Fox to UPN
On October 9, 1986, channel 50 became a charter affiliate of the Fox network, later adopting Fox 50 as its on-air branding. However for much of its run as a Fox station, WKBD was still programmed essentially as an independent station, as the network did not run a full week's worth of programming until 1993. Owing to its large cable footprint, the station served as the default Fox affiliate for the Traverse City/Cadillac/Sault Sainte Marie and Marquette markets as well (both markets are now served by Fox through in-market affiliates WFQX-TV and WLUC-DT2).
Channel 50 was later sold to the Paramount Stations Group in June 1993. Even though WKBD was one of Fox's strongest affiliates, Fox announced that it would move its Detroit affiliation to WJBK-TV (channel 2), Detroit's longtime CBS affiliate, at the end of 1994. This was a result of WJBK's owner, New World Communications, making a group deal with Fox to switch the affiliation of nearly all of its stations to Fox (which then bought most of the New World stations in 1997). CBS then approached WKBD for an affiliation after being turned down by WXYZ-TV and WDIV, since it was the only non-Big Three station in Detroit that had a functioning news department. However, Viacom, which had just bought Paramount, turned the offer down because it was about to switch all of its non-Big Three stations to the United Paramount Network, of which it was half-owner.
WKBD lost Fox to WJBK on December 11, 1994. It briefly went independent again until January 1995, when it joined UPN. It was the first network O&O in Detroit in ten years since ABC sold off WXYZ-TV to the E. W. Scripps Company, predating the sale of WGPR (now WWJ-TV) to CBS in 1995. Channel 50's programming was unchanged from its days as a Fox affiliate, except for the prime time programming provided by UPN. Eventually, the older sitcoms were replaced with more first-run syndicated talk or reality shows. Fox Kids stayed on WKBD until 1998, when it moved to WADL (channel 38). WKBD continued to carry morning/afternoon cartoon blocks supplied by UPN (first with UPN Kids, and then Disney's One Too) until the network stopped running children's programs in August 2003.
In 2000, Paramount's post-1994 parent Viacom acquired CBS, a move that united channel 50 with WWJ-TV (channel 62), which CBS acquired in 1995 after losing its affiliation contract with WJBK. After the merger, WWJ-TV moved from its facilities in downtown Detroit to WKBD's Southfield studios. Unlike the other duopolies involving CBS and UPN (and later CBS and CW) stations, WKBD is the senior partner.
The CW in Detroit
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation (which WKBD and WWJ-TV became part of as a result of the December 2005 split of the original Viacom, which became CBS Corporation, from CBS) and the Warner Bros. Television unit of Time Warner announced that they would merge UPN and The WB into a single network called The CW Television Network. On the same day, the new network signed a 10-year affiliation deal with 11 UPN stations owned by CBS, including WKBD. However, it is likely that WKBD would have been chosen over WB affiliate WDWB (now WMYD, which affiliated with another upstart network that debuted around the same time as The CW called MyNetworkTV) in any event, as it was the higher-rated station. WKBD continued to carry UPN programming until September 15, 2006, when UPN ceased operations. The CW made its debut on September 18, 2006. Today, WKBD has a format primarily of first-run syndicated talk, courtroom and reality shows, some recent off-network sitcoms and CW first-run programming in prime time. On July 9, 2009, the "-TV" suffix was added back to station's legal call sign.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|50.1||1080i||16:9||WKBD-HD||Main WKBD-TV programming / The CW|
WKBD was first licensed for its digital facility in January 2001. As part of the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, WKBD-TV shut down its analog transmitter on June 12, 2009, and continued to broadcast on its pre-transition digital channel 14. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WKBD-TV's virtual channel as 50.
Syndicated programs carried on WKBD-TV include The Simpsons, The People's Court, Steve Harvey, Two and a Half Men, Family Guy, and The Big Bang Theory. WKBD carries The CW's entire network schedule; however in April or May 2013, the station moved The CW's Saturday morning block, now known as Vortexx, to Sunday mornings, still airing in the same 7 a.m.-12 p.m. time slot (this makes channel 50 the third CBS-owned CW station to air the network's children's block on a tape-delayed basis, alongside Sacramento's KMAX-TV and Atlanta's WUPA, the latter of which also airs Vortexx on Sundays).
WKBD produced and broadcast Detroit Red Wings hockey telecasts from 1965 to 2003, with a two-year hiatus in the 1980s, when the team's games were carried on WXON (now WMYD) through the subscription television service ON-TV. Detroit Tigers baseball games were broadcast on the station from 1994 to 2005 (with WJBK occasionally airing Tigers games from 2004 to 2007), while Detroit Pistons basketball games were broadcast from 1972 to May 2004 (when rights moved to WMYD, which carried the Pistons telecasts until 2008); Detroit Lions preseason football was broadcast 1992 to 1996 and again from 2004 to 2008 (all three teams are now exclusively on Fox Sports Detroit). The station also produced occasional pre-game and post-game shows for all four professional teams. WKBD aired special coverage of the Red Wings' Stanley Cup Celebration and parade ceremonies in 1997 and 1998, as well as carrying the final Tigers game played at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 1999. During the final year of its Fox affiliation, WKBD was the primary station for the Lions for much of the 1994 NFL season (the team's last game on WKBD was the December 10 game at the New York Jets, with the games moving back to WJBK the next week).
On occasion (and regularly during preseason games), WKBD produced broadcasts of Detroit Lions football games, as well as Detroit Pistons basketball games, until the late 1980s when the Pistons decided to produce and distribute the games itself, with WKBD responsible for advertising. Both teams' games were simulcast on a handful of other stations across Michigan.
On April 16, 2008, CBS O&O sister station WWJ-TV entered into an agreement to carry Detroit Lions exhibition games. The departure of longtime sports producer Toby Cunningham (whose termination was part of budget cuts imposed by CBS Corporation at all of its television stations) closed the book on the storied history of sports coverage by WKBD. WWJ-TV broadcast preseason Lions games until 2010, when WXYZ-TV was signed as their new flagship station.
Newscasts and public affairs programming
Under Field Communications ownership, WKBD aired a brief newscast at various times of the day, typically called Newscene (or alternately News Scene), similar to that of other Field-owned stations at the time, such as its Chicago outlet WFLD. In 1968, WKBD began producing a nightly newscast at 10 p.m. For much of its existence under Cox, Paramount and Viacom ownership, WKBD produced the only television newscast in Detroit at 10 p.m. Originally a half-hour program, The Ten O'Clock News expanded to a full hour in 1989. In 2001, WKBD began producing a bare-bones newscast for WWJ-TV. WKBD tried to brand its own newscast as a younger, more unconventional program and WWJ-TV's as a more traditional Big Three O&O operation. However, the two stations used the same anchors, reporters and equipment.
After going through several name changes to coincide with the changes in ownership and network affiliations over the years, the station's news department was shut down in December 2002 (WKBD's newscasts were called UPN Detroit Nightside by this time) after having been existed in one form or another for 34 years. The newscast that the station produced for WWJ-TV was cancelled as a result of the discontinuance of channel 50's in-house 10 p.m. program. ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV then entered into a news share agreement with WKBD to continue producing a 10 p.m. newscast for the station that would be produced at WXYZ's studios and would feature some of WKBD's former news staff, but many longtime Channel 50 employees simply lost their jobs; the WXYZ-produced 10 p.m. broadcast was cancelled in 2005. As a result, WKBD no longer broadcasts news programming at 10 p.m., with the time slot being filled by off-network syndicated shows, such as repeats of sitcoms like The King Of Queens and According to Jim.
No news programming aired on the station until February 7, 2011, when a two-hour extension of sister station WWJ-TV's weekday morning newscast First Forecast Mornings premiered in the 7-9 a.m. time slot. The live program showcases weather, traffic and news headlines. The extension competes against national morning newscasts and WJBK's highly-rated morning newscast. WKBD-TV, along with its WWJ-TV, began broadcasting all locally-produced programming in high definition on February 2, 2012, making them the final CBS-owned properties with an in-house news operation to upgrade to HD. First Forecast Mornings was cancelled on December 28, 2012 due to low viewership. The stations continue to air syndicated programming in place of traditional evening and late-night newscasts. In September 2013 it was announced that First Forecast with Jim Madaus would air on the station at 10:58 every weeknight as part of WKBD's fall lineup.
- TV-50 Newscene (1970s–1980s)
- TV-50 Ten O'Clock News (1980s–1995)
- UPN 50 Ten O'Clock News (1995–2002)
- UPN Detroit Nightside (2002)
- UPN Detroit Action News (produced by WXYZ-TV; 2002–2005)
- First Forecast Mornings (2011–2012; 7-9 a.m. extension of WWJ-TV morning newscast)
- First Forecast With Jim Madus on CW50 @ 10:58pm (2013–present, WWJ-TV weathercast)
- Street Beat (2010–present)
- "In Detroit, The Choice Is Yours, on TV 50" (1978–1983; localized version of Field Communications O&O ad campaign)
- "In Detroit, The Kids' Choice is TV 50" (1978–1983; localized version of Field Communications ad campaign during children's programming)
- "A Good Hour Ahead" (used for news promotion 1989–1992)
- "Everybody Knows It's on Fox 50" (1994)
- "Your Ten O'Clock News Station" (1996–1997)
- "Straight To The Point" (used for news promotion, 1998–2004)
- "You’ll Find Your Friends" (1998–2000)
- "It’s One Hot Number" (2000–2001)
- "Big" (2001–2002)
- "Contagious Watching" (2007–2009)
- "Made in Michigan" (2009–2012)
- Ken Bryant - fill-in host
- Rob Stone - fill-in host (also heard on WYCD)
- Roxanne Steele - fill-in host (also heard on WDZH)
Notable former on-air staff
- Randy Bhirdo - First Forecast Mornings traffic reporter
- Syma Chowdhry - First Forecast Mornings news anchor
- Rich Fisher - anchor
- Byron MacGregor - anchor
- Amyre Makupson - anchor
- Ray Lane - sports anchor
- Roger McCoy - anchor
- Glenn Ray - anchor
- Tara Wall - anchor
- Jill Washburn - First Forecast Mornings weather anchor
Out-of-market cable coverage
WKBD is available on many cable systems in Southeast Michigan, Southwestern Ontario and Northwest Ohio. Outside of the Detroit area, however, most programming on WKBD is subject to territorial syndication exclusivity restrictions placed on cable systems by the local broadcast rights holders to certain syndicated programs. During the affected programming, cable systems either switch to a feed from another channel, or run an on-screen text notice acknowledging the blacked out programming (such as "This channel is being blacked out due to FCC regulations").
In 1994, when Fox moved its Detroit affiliation from WKBD to WJBK, many Michigan cable systems outside the Detroit area replaced WKBD with the network's Cadillac affiliate WGKI, in order to keep Fox programming available in the Upper Peninsula. However, in areas where Fox was already available locally, mainly in television markets located in southern and central Michigan (especially the Tri-Cities), much of WGKI's programming was blacked out. In 1996, some systems that dropped WKBD for WGKI brought WKBD back.
Following the launch of The CW, WKBD began to be dropped from cable providers outside of the Detroit market, in favor of local or nearby CW or MyNetworkTV affiliates. Coverage on cable systems outside of the Detroit/Windsor market may be subject to syndication exclusivity rules and network blackouts in the United States.
Station Talent from over the Years
Lou and Jackie Gordon from "The Lou Gordon Program"
- "Contact Us." WKBD-TV. Retrieved on December 8, 2012. "26905 W. 11 Mile Road Southfield, MI 48033"
- "Michigan: Detroit: WBID; Ohio: Toledo: WTOH". Broadcasting - Telecasting: 148, 206. 1955-1956. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- "All Systems Go for Channel 50". Windsor Star. January 9, 1965. p. 18. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- Oviatt, Ray (December 21, 1964). "New Detroit UHF Station to Open". The Toledo Blade. Retrieved 6 September 2012. via Vintage Toledo TV.
- "TV - Radio Sports Menu". Windsor Star. January 9, 1965. p. 18. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- "Group Ownership: Kaiser Broadcasting Stations". Broadcasting Yearbook: A–34. 1975. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- Wilkinson, Gerry. "WKBS Signoff". Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
- Walters, Donna K. H. (August 4, 1985). "An Empire Fades Away, but Its Legacy Lingers On : Final Chapter Is Being Written for What Once Was West's Greatest Industrial Power". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Detroit Station To Paramount". The New York Times. 17 June 1993. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
- "WB, UPN plan to merge networks for fall as the CW". The Detroit News. January 25, 2006. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- TV goes digital this morning, Catherine Jun and Santiago Esparza • The Detroit News • June 12, 2009
- CDBS Print
- Detroit News August 6, 2008 Lions will debut on new home station, WWJ-TV[dead link]
- FSN Detroit Nets Pro Sports 3 pointer
- Malone, Michael (Dec. 12, 2012). "Exclusive: WWJ Detroit Scrapping Morning News". WWJ-TV. Retrieved Dec. 12, 2012.
- WWJ-TV, CBSDetroit.com. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
- Official website
- TV Ark Database: WKBD-50 UPN Detroit - Archive from Internet Archive Wayback Machine
- The Lou Gordon Program
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WKBD
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WKBD-TV