|City of license||Madison|
|Branding||WKOW 27 (general)
27 News (newscasts)
Me-TV 27.2 Madison (on DT2)
This TV Madison (on DT3)
|Slogan||We've Got You Covered|
|Channels||Digital: 26 (UHF)
Virtual: 27 (PSIP)
27.3 This TV
(WKOW Television, Inc.)
|First air date||June 30, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||K(C)OW (for Wisconsin's dairy industry)|
|Sister station(s)||WXOW/WQOW, WREX,
|Former callsigns||WKOW-TV (until 9/2009)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
27 (UHF, 1953-2009)
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WKOW is the ABC-affiliated television station for Madison, Wisconsin. The station broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 26 (PSIP virtual channel 27) from a transmitter in the city's Middleton Junction section; the station is also available on Charter Cable systems in the Madison market (SD channel 7 and HD channel 607). Owned and operated by Quincy Newspapers, WKOW has studios on Tokay Boulevard on Madison's west side. It is also the originating station for the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association's Madison-held boys and Green Bay-held girls high school basketball tournament championships in late winter, which are carried by its sister stations throughout the state, along with affiliates in Milwaukee and Appleton/Green Bay.
The station, Madison's oldest, launched on June 30, 1953. It was sister station to WKOW radio (AM 1070, now WTSO) and was a CBS affiliate. The station's call sign was an acknowledgment to Wisconsin's dairy industry, and featured a smiling bovine (or cow) alongside the emphasized "K-O-W" of the call sign.
WKOW-AM-TV shared studios on Tokay Boulevard on Madison's west side beginning in 1953. WKOW-TV remained with CBS until joining ABC in 1956, when CBS moved to the new WISC-TV. (ABC had been with WMTV; WKOW-AM remained with CBS Radio.) From January to August 1958, WKOW was part of the short-lived, Wisconsin-oriented Badger Television Network, alongside Milwaukee's WISN-TV and Green Bay's WFRV-TV.
By 1974, Terry Shockley took over control of WKOW and its fellow sister stations that were part of the Wisconsin Television Network (which included WAOW in Wausau and WXOW in La Crosse). Also during the 1970s, Shockley sold the radio stations in accordance with the FCC's "one to market" policy of that era. Despite the separate ownership, the renamed WTSO would remain at Tokay Boulevard alongside WKOW-TV through the 1980s and 1990s until becoming part of the Clear Channel Communications cluster, where it is today an all-sports station. (For a time in the 2000s, WKOW-TV supplied weather updates to the Clear Channel stations. As of October 2010, however, the station is no longer involved with WTSO or other Madison Clear Channel stations in any way.)
In 1986, Shockley sold WKOW-TV and its Wausau and La Crosse sister stations to Sharad Tak, whose Tak Communications would later purchase KITV in Honolulu, Hawaii and WGRZ-TV in Buffalo, New York. In the wake of the 1986 group deal, Shockley formed a new company, Shockley Communications Corporation, as a holding company for the radio stations which Shockley retained. Tak filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1991 and later went into receivership. As part of Tak Communications' bankruptcy sale, Shockley repurchased the four Wisconsin stations in 1995 (WKOW, WAOW, WXOW, and Eau Claire's WQOW). In June 2001, WKOW and its Wisconsin sister stations were acquired from Shockley by Quincy Newspapers, who own the stations today.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|27.1||720p||16:9||WKOWABC||Main WKOW programming / ABC|
On October 29, 1998, WKOW launched high definition broadcasts on digital channel 26, becoming at the time the smallest United States television station to launch HD broadcasts; WKOW is regularly used for digital television experiments, including an attempt in October 2014 in testing one of the competitors for the ATSC 3.0 standard in 4K resolution backed by LG and Zenith. WKOW would eventually add 2 digital subchannels, adding RTN on 27.2 in December 2008 and This TV on 27.3 in March 2009. RTV would be replaced by the similarly-formatted Me-TV on July 1, 2011, the result of an affiliation deal with Me-TV and WKOW owner Quincy Newspapers.
WKOW shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 27, at 1 p.m. on February 17, 2009, the original target 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 26. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 27.
Occasionally, WKOW's programming commitments will prompt the station to move programming from its main channel to one of its digital subchannels. For example, due to an August 21, 2010 commitment to a Green Bay Packers pre-season game, WKOW moved that night's live ABC NASCAR broadcast from channel 27.1 to 27.2, pre-empting RTV programming for the evening.
WKOW debuted a news department on the first day of its broadcasting in Summer 1953. Local news, weather, and sports were seen in the initial shows. From 1999 to 2011, the station produced, through a news share agreement, the market's first nightly prime time newscast on Sinclair-owned Fox affiliate WMSN-TV ("Fox 47 News at 9"); the newscast originated from a secondary studio at WKOW, and although it featured WKOW personnel in the broadcasts, WMSN maintained separate weeknight news and sports anchors, as well as using theme music and graphics packages that are found on other Sinclair stations and that are different from that on WKOW's newscasts. (WISC-TV subchannel TVW had aired a prime-time newscast from 2004 to 2011; a third station, WBUW, had its own 9PM newscast from 2003 until 2005.) WISC-TV took over the production of the WMSN newscast at the beginning of 2012.
On October 26, 2010, WKOW became the third station in Madison to upgrade newscasts to high definition, following WISC-TV and WMTV. The WMSN broadcasts, however, were still in 4:3 standard definition, as the station didn't have the necessary equipment to air local or syndicated HD programming.
- Golembiewski, Dick (2008). Milwaukee Television History: The Analog Years. Marquette University Press. pp. 213–270. ISBN 0-87462-055-4.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WKOW
- Winslow, George (22 October 2014). "Futurecast Broadcast System Tested at WKOW". Broadcasting and Cable. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "WKOW-TV ends its analog signal, becomes WKOW-DT", from wkowtv.com, February 17, 2009. The link includes a 4-minute video of its analog shutdown.
- WKOW.com - Official WKOW-TV Website
- MeTVMadison.com - Official Me-TV Madison Website
- Madison.ThisTV.com - Official This TV Madison Website
- WeatheRate TV Stations - WeatheRate TV Stations