Telemundo ChicagoNoticiero Telemundo Chicago (newscast)
|Channels||Digital: 45 (UHF)
Virtual: 44 (PSIP)
|Subchannels||44.1 Telemundo HD
44.2 Éxitos TV SD
(NBC Telemundo License, LLC)
|First air date||April 5, 1970|
|Call letters' meaning||Essaness (former owner)|
Comcast SportsNet Chicago
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
44 (UHF, 1970–2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1970–1985)
|Transmitter power||665 kW|
WSNS-TV, virtual channel 44 (UHF digital channel 45), is a Telemundo owned-and-operated television station located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The station is owned by the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal, as part of a duopoly with NBC owned-and-operated station WMAQ-TV (channel 5). The two stations share studio facilities within the NBC Tower in downtown Chicago's Magnificent Mile district. WSNS's transmitter is located atop the Willis Tower in the Chicago Loop.
As an independent station
WSNS-TV, Chicago's fourth-oldest commercial UHF station, began broadcasting on April 5, 1970. It was initially owned by a consortium of investors including Harriscope (which owned 50 percent) and the Essaness Television Corporation, from which the station's call letters arose. The transmitter and small studio were located on the 97th floor of the John Hancock Center.
The station programmed an all-news format in its early days. During the day, the station aired an alphanumeric feed of news reports supplied from wire services. The lower third of the screen displayed a commercial banner for Continental Bank, Jewel Foods and other clients, while elevator music played continuously. Every seven minutes a four-sided board would turn in front of a camera to show headlines, traffic reports, sports scores and birthdays.
The first program added to the format was the 10-minute long Underground News. It began on July 1, 1970 at 11:50 p.m. when the AP wire feed changed to local news; the program was produced and directed by Howie Samuelsohn, and written by Linda Freedman. At that time, the banner ad changed to "Head Imports" and the music changed to progressive rock artists, such as The Grateful Dead. Most of the news concerned the anti-war movement. On November 16, 1970, the station moved to newly constructed studios on Grant Place in Chicago's Lincoln Park (which has since been demolished). With a staff consisting of local talent and a team of recent graduates from Southern Illinois University, the station went "live." One of the first live-on-tape programs was a revamped version of Underground News, which was hosted, reported and co-produced by Chuck Collins, a 21-year-old recent college graduate in political science. Eventually, the show was bought by Collins and Samuelsohn, and became syndicated in more than a dozen cities. Later, Collins went on to capture seven Emmy Awards for NBC News, two Peabody Awards, a Dupont Award and the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award; he died in July 2010 from a nerve disease.
To secure a mattress store advertiser, the station ran a news show titled Heart of the News, which featured anchorwoman Linda Fuoco reading the news in a provocative manner on a heart-shaped bed. That program was short-lived, but the second anchorwoman, Judith Wright, anticipated such current-day fare as Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, as she would make funny and ironic commentaries on news stories picked off the AP wire during the day. Wright later went on to become a Ph.D. geochemist, an ironic twist for a young starlet, and invented a method of using fish bones to clean up heavy metal contamination in water and soil.
During these early years, the Emergency Broadcast System required many stations to shut down in the event of a national emergency. When a false alarm took place on February 20, 1971, WSNS was the only station to respond correctly and shut down.
The news format was not particularly successful, and by 1972, WSNS began running a low-budget general entertainment schedule. Basically, WSNS was the "also ran" independent station in the market, running whatever programming that the larger and more established independents, WGN-TV (channel 9) and WFLD (channel 32), turned down. The lineup included some Japanese animated and adventure shows like Ultraman, Marine Boy and The Space Giants, along with low-budget cartoons, older off-network shows, old movies, and religious programming. They did have a few stronger shows such as I Love Lucy, The Munsters, Leave It To Beaver, Gomer Pyle USMC, and others, as well as for a time in the mid 1970's a local 1960-1962 era Popeye cartoon show hosted by Steve Hart. In the late 1970s for a couple years the station had The Merv Griffin Show, throughout most of the decade The Mike Douglas Show, and in the late 70's the Dinah! show. The station also had Chicago White Sox Baseball. In 1981, the station lost the White Sox to WGN before WFLD acquired the Chicago White Sox rights a year later in 1982. I Love Lucy was lost to WFLD as well. WSNS was looking for options to be viable. One option was for them to buy more movies and drama shows and focus on more adult fare as WOR TV New York City or KTLA Los Angeles was doing. But they were approached by ONTV, a National Subscription Television Programming service about selling time to them.
Following an effort by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to promote alternative programming efforts by the UHF broadcasting spectrum, such as subscription television, WSNS filed for and received one of the many subscription television licenses awarded in the United States, 32 of which went into use at one point. They then affiliated with ONTV. Most major cities had one or two licensed subscription television operators. To obtain a subscription television license, the station had to provide the FCC with the proposed programming in detail (usually first-run movies, morning children's shows and late night adult entertainment, much like that offered by HBO or Showtime). The station was required to install an unscrambling device in each home that would unscramble the television signal that was broadcast by the station. In September of 1980, WSNS began offering ONTV after 7 p.m. weeknights and after 5 p.m. on weekends. In November 1981, ONTV's broadcast day expanded to begin at 6 p.m. weeknights and noon on weekends. Starting in Summer 1982, WSNS began running ONTV 24 hours a day and would be scrambled the entire time, with the exception of an hour of public service programming (which also was listed as part of ONTV's schedule not WSNS's on TV Guide for example). During one of the license renewal periods, a group filed a motion with the FCC to contest the license for WSNS, arguing that a station should not be allowed to use the public airwaves for a subscription fee. This case was ultimately settled.
By 1985, WSNS decided the subscription model was not commercially viable, at a time when cable television was entering the Chicago market. That July, the station became a full-time affiliate of the Spanish International Network, which became Univision a year later, through a three-year deal. It displaced original SIN affiliate WCIU-TV (channel 26), which ran the network's programming after 5 p.m. and business news during the daytime hours; WCIU then affiliated with NetSpan (which would become Telemundo in 1987).
As a Telemundo station
WSNS swapped affiliations with WCIU in 1989 and joined Telemundo. Essaness sold a 74.5 percent controlling interest to Telemundo in 1996, retaining a 25.5 percent stake. This provided Telemundo with its first major-market owned-and-operated states and allowed Telemundo to establish itself as a viable Spanish outlet against Univision. When NBC purchased Telemundo in 2002, WSNS became part of the newly enlarged conglomerate, creating Chicago's first commercial television duopoly between two full-power television stations. At that time, WSNS moved its operations to the NBC Tower, where NBC O&O WMAQ-TV (channel 5) is based. One year later, NBC became the sole owner of WSNS when it bought out Essaness' stake in the partnership.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|44.1||1080i||16:9||WSNS HD||Main WSNS-TV programming / Telemundo|
WSNS-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 44, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 45. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 44. WSNS-TV's main transmitter was also transferred from the John Hancock Center to the Willis Tower.
WSNS obtained the broadcast rights to baseball games from the Chicago White Sox in 1973 from WFLD and aired the team's games until 1980. The White Sox games at the time were announced by legendary play-by-play man Harry Caray. Beginning in 1977, Caray was joined by former Boston Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall. WGN-TV actually produced the games for WSNS via an outsourcing contract (Caray appeared on WGN's newscasts in the 1970s and was thus an employee of that station). Later, the games returned to WFLD and WGN-TV proper (twice).
In 1972, WSNS aired (via satellite) hockey's 1972 Summit Series that featured Team Canada vs. the Soviet Union. WSNS also aired Chicago Bulls basketball games from 1973 to 1976, as well as Chicago Cougars WHA hockey from 1972 to 1975. From 1976 to 1980, WSNS aired the NHL Game of the Week on Mondays, and started airing Chicago Blackhawks road games from 1978 to 1980 (those games were also simulcasted with WCFL-AM, which was the Blackhawks' radio outlet at the time). That marked the last over-the-air television outlet for the Blackhawks until 2008, when WGN-TV resumed airing the team's games. Through the 1970s, WSNS aired college basketball featuring the Purdue Boilermakers, the Indiana Hoosiers, and in the late 1970s, the DePaul Blue Demons.
WSNS-TV presently broadcasts nine-and-a-half hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with half an hour each weekday). It doesn't produce newscasts on Saturdays or Sundays. In October 1985, the station began to broadcast local Spanish-language newscasts at 5pm and 10pm with the debut of Noticentro 44. These were first anchored by Enrique Gonzalez del Real, Roberta Nozicka, with reporting by David Cordova and Alberto Sillas. As the anchors and formats have changed over the years, WSNS' prime objective was to produce professional and insightful newscasts comparable to any other news station in the Chicago market.
In 2005, it began to have tremendous ratings. The 5pm and 10pm news shows, anchored by Esmeralda Medellín and Vicente Serrano, changed its branding from Noticiero44 to Noticiero Telemundo Chicago. It had received its own graphics package. Also, like some other Telemundo stations, it debuted En Contexto (In Context), a different kind of news broadcast anchored by Serrano. Then the departures happened: Esmeralda left and so Vicente was laid off due to monetary reasons. Weather reporter Tsi-Tsi-Ki Félix was promoted to news anchor.
It tried to expand its news offerings in 2008. It debuted a mid-morning news program hosted by Tsi-Tsi-Ki Félix, Telemundo Chicago Por la Mañana, a better newscast for the time slot that had nothing but paid programming. Felix continued to do the 5 p.m. show. (There had been a morning back in 2007 when Alfonso Gutierrez joined.) Gutierrez did morning updates at 5:55am titled En Vivo Por La Mañana while the 10:30am show still continued. Tsi-Tsi-Ki Félix anchored the 5pm show solo and Serrano continued to do En Contexto. WSNS-TV staff ousted Vicente Serrano  abruptly meaning that the Por la Manana show anchored by Félix would be replaced by Acceso Total in its time slot. In 2009, they hired Nelly Carreño not just to do the show Acceso Total, but to also be the weather presenter at 5 PM and 10 PM. Felix took the anchor desk and did the evenings, 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. After Vicente left the station, Felix became full-time anchor with no co-anchor, and Oscar Guzman still controlled sports. Alfonso at the time was just a reporter. Félix became the station's first and only local solo anchor. In 2011 Rolmàn Vergara joined as co-anchor (Rolmàn was at the station for 9 months) Later, Tsi and Rolman left the station a day apart, making Alfonso the main anchor.  . The departure of Rolman was not big news as he only worked there for 9 months, but Félix's departure came as a shock after working as Anchor/Reporter for the station nearly a decade.[clarification needed] They would hire a new meteorologist, Marcella Vazquez, who joined from WGBO-TV. When the Telemundo Network relaunched, it got a new graphics package for its newscasts, as did all the other Telemundo stations with news operations, including those not owned by NBC UNIVERSAL. Also, Alfonso Gutierrez got a new anchor in August named Edna Schmidt; she came from Univision Noticias. Weeks later, she departed from the station for unknown reasons; Alfonso was solo again. On September 18, 2014 Telemundo announced launching 4:30ct/5:30 p.m. newscast to all Telemundo-owned stations including WSNS. That means a new 4:30 p.m. newscast. The station added a co-anchor, Anabel Monge, from KWEX-TV. The new co-anchor replaces Edna Schmidt, who left the station two months after her debut because of alcohol addiction.  On December 19, 2014, it debuted a new talent to Alfonso Gutierrez and Anabel Monge: Marcella Vasquez. However, what made the new news team was the adding of Rodrigo Arana as sports anchor. Also, they debuted new graphics (part Telemundo O&O-only graphics package) and a new set for the first time in 11 years. WSNS currently now has 4:30, 5pm, and 10pm newscasts as to provide the Hispanic community with the best in the news that goes on in the world and their community. They still garner decent ratings but are still in fierce competition with WGBO/Noticias Univision Chicago.
- Changing Channels
- RabbitEars TV Query for WSNS
- Malone, Michael (December 1, 2014). "Telemundo Station Group Launches TeleXitos Multicast Net". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "Chicago Television Spotlite--Ed Morris".
- "Bob Luce: 1928 - 2007 A promoter extraordinaire Staging pro wrestling shows was a labor of love for Bob Luce". Chicago Tribune. February 13, 2007.
- Official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WSNS-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WSNS-TV