WAZE-TV

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WAZE-TV
(defunct)
Madisonville, Kentucky/Evansville, Indiana
United States
City Madisonville, Kentucky
Channels Digital: 17 (UHF)
Virtual: 19 (PSIP)
Translators WAZE-LP 17 (UHF) Evansville, IN
WJPS-LP 4 (VHF) Evansville, IN
WIKY-LP 5 (VHF) Evansville, IN
Affiliations Dark (WAZE-TV, 2011–present; WAZE-LP, 2013–2014, 2017–present; WJPS-LP & WIKY-LP, 2013–present)
Owner Ion Media Networks
(WAZE-LP only)
(Ion Media License Company, LLC)
Founded June 7, 1982
First air date October 15, 1983 (34 years ago) (1983-10-15)
Last air date March 24, 2011 (7 years ago) (2011-03-24)
(WAZE-TV)
January 3, 2013 (5 years ago) (2013-01-03)
(repeaters)
Former callsigns WLCN (1983–1997)[1]
WWAZ-TV (1997–2000)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
19 (UHF, 1983–2009)
Virtual:
19 (PSIP, 1983–2013)
Former affiliations Independent (1983–1997)
The WB (1997–2006)
The CW (2006–2013)
Ion Television (O&O) (WAZE-LP, 2014–2017)
Transmitter power 1.1 kW
Height 216 m (709 ft)
Facility ID 74592
Transmitter coordinates 37°24′56.6″N 87°31′29″W / 37.415722°N 87.52472°W / 37.415722; -87.52472

WAZE-TV is the call sign of a defunct television station licensed to Madisonville, Kentucky, United States, which served the Evansville, Indiana television market from 1983 to 2013. The station was an affiliate of The CW Television Network. It broadcast a digital signal on UHF channel 20 (or virtual channel 19 via PSIP) from a transmitter in Hanson, Kentucky. On March 24, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) canceled WAZE's license for failure to construct its full-power digital facilities.[2]

The station continued to broadcast via low-powered translators WAZE-LP (channel 17), WJPS-LP (channel 4) and WIKY-LP (channel 5), all licensed to Evansville, until January 2013, when all three were shut down.[3] They served as in-town relays of the main signal. WAZE's transmitter was located farther south than the other major Evansville stations because of FCC regulations requiring a station's transmitter to be no more than 15 miles (24 km) from the city of license—in this case, Madisonville, which is 50 miles (80 km) south of Evansville. As a result, despite its 2.7 million watt ERP, the channel 19 signal provided only a grade B ("rimshot") signal to Evansville itself, and was practically non-viewable north and east of the city.

The station relied on cable coverage to reach most of its viewing area. However, many cable carriers in the market (particularly on the Indiana side) did not carry it.

WJPS-LP and WIKY-LP's licenses have since been deleted. WAZE-LP continued to operate as an Ion Television owned-and-operated station, owned by Ion Media Networks. WAZE-LP broadcast in analog only; there were no plans to convert the station to digital. Due to this and Ion's inability to trigger must-carry on local providers due to said low-power status, Ion eventually decided to pursue other methods for full distribution across the Evansville market. The first is a sub-lease of the fourth digital subchannel of WTVW (channel 7), from station owner Mission Broadcasting and SSA partner Nexstar Media Group. The second is the carriage of Ion's national feed on Spectrum channels 37 and 270 in Evansville, along with the major satellite providers (Wide Open West does not carry the network at all on its local systems). The license for WAZE-LP has been canceled and its call sign deleted as of December 15, 2017.[4]

History[edit]

WAZE signed on October 15, 1983, as WLCN, the market's first independent television station. It originally ran mostly Christian programming (the call letters presumably stood for "Local Christian Network") along with segments of HSN Spree. After WEVV-TV, which signed on a month later, became a charter Fox affiliate in 1987, WLCN was the only over-the-air source of non-network programming in the Illinois–Indiana–Kentucky tri-state area for 11 years. However, cable systems piped in either WTTV in Indianapolis (now a CBS affiliate) or KPLR-TV in St. Louis (now a CW affiliate), depending on the location.

During the early 1990s, "WAZ TV 52" broadcast local Evansville high school varsity sports and NCAA games such as basketball, baseball, football, and soccer live and on delay. Darrin Smith (play-by-play), Doug Emig and Warren Distler were the local sports broadcasters for all games.[5] Darrin Smith, who was also co-host of SportsTalk Live, called over 1000 televised games for WAZ-TV52 and WAZE-TV19 from 1990 to 2001. The original location was in the South Central Communications building. Later, they occupied a facility just down a hill in a remodeled nursery/plant store that was later expanded to include a studio.

South Central Communications, based in Evansville, bought the station in 1997. On November 1 of that year, it became a WB affiliate and changed its call letters to WWAZ-TV, activating a network of repeaters to better cover the market. In 1999, it began branding as WAZE-TV, after its Evansville repeater, and changed its call letters to match in 2000. The WWAZ-TV call letters were used by a station in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, which has since changed calls to WIWN.

WAZE simulcast KSDK's coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals; this ended after the 2010 season, as Cardinals games not telecast nationally were moved exclusively to Fox Sports Midwest.

South Central sold WAZE to Roberts Broadcasting in 2006. Soon after taking control, Roberts disabled the station's old Website at wazetv.com. A new site at cwaze.com debuted in 2008, but that site was itself closed down in mid-2009. In mid-2007, Roberts moved the station's master control to company flagship WRBU in St. Louis, leaving only a sales staff in Evansville. In January 2009, the Evansville office was closed altogether.[6]

Sister, repeater, and translator stations[edit]

WJPS-LP[edit]

WJPS-LP was a low-power (100-watt) analog television station in Evansville, broadcasting locally on VHF channel 4. Until 2002, WJPS-LP was an affiliate of the All News Channel, a 24-hour news network. WJPS-LP was a translator of WAZE-LP, extending that station's signal into parts of Evansville that could not receive either the WAZE-LP signal or its parent station, WAZE, before the latter's analog signal shutdown on June 12, 2009. WJPS-LP was broadcast from the same tower as sister-station WIKY-LP. On January 3, 2013, all of WAZE-TV's translators, including WJPS-LP, were shut down.

As of April 2015, the FCC deleted WJPS-LP's license.

Spurned sale and legal issues with syndicated programming[edit]

According to FCC documents filed in March 2009, Roberts Broadcasting had agreed to sell WAZE and the station's three Evansville translators to BGT Communications, LLC for $50,000—a mere fraction of what it paid to buy the station three years earlier.[6] However, as of 2012, no approval has been given. The station's most recent biennial FCC ownership report, in 2010, listed only Roberts Broadcasting as the owner with no mention of the BGT transaction.

Additionally, CBS Television Distribution, 20th Television and Warner Bros. Television sued Roberts Broadcasting on three separate occasions for failure to pay for programming aired on WAZE and its sister stations—WRBU in St. Louis, WZRB in Columbia, South Carolina, and WRBJ in Jackson, Mississippi. The company reached an agreement with 20th Television in the summer of 2010; however, in March 2011, CBS won its lawsuit against Roberts and was awarded a $1 million judgment. CBS later filed an injunction against Roberts seeking payment.[7] The result was a deeply wounded syndicated programming schedule after those distributors pulled their programming from the Roberts stations, leaving WAZE to air less attractive series that were sold under much less expensive barter arrangements such as the long-cancelled Judge Hatchett and Cash Cab. Warner Bros. won its case as well in October 2011; on October 7, Roberts Broadcasting filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[8]

DTV transition issues and closure[edit]

As part of the digital TV transition, on June 12, 2009, WAZE turned off its full-power analog signal on channel 19. The station's digital signal on channel 20 operated under special temporary authority (STA) at only 1,110 watts (equivalent to a low-power analog station). The signal was so weak that it was barely viewable more than 15 miles (24 km) from the transmitter near Hanson.[6] As a result, it did not even reach Evansville itself, and was barely watchable in the market's second-largest city, Owensboro. By 2010, the Evansville Courier & Press media columnist and Owensboro resident Jacob Newkirk reported that the station's digital signal had deteriorated to the point of unacceptability; the video often froze, skipped and shook. The picture from the translators was only marginally better; it was rather snowy.[9]

The station had been issued a construction permit on at least two occasions to increase its power to a full million watts, which is equivalent to five million watts in analog. However, the station never began construction on its full-power digital facility due to a number of issues, including difficulty acquiring land.[6] When the station failed to build out its digital facility by an FCC-imposed deadline, the FCC revoked the license on March 24, 2011.[2] On July 15, 2011, Newkirk reported that WAZE's digital signal was still on the air (or at the very least had resumed operations at some point following the FCC's cancellation of its license) without any official approval from the FCC; according to FCC rules, unauthorized broadcasting of a television station can result in a minimum fine of $10,000.[10] However, by spring 2012, the station's digital signal had gone off the air.

Despite the loss of its full-power signal, WAZE remained on several area cable systems, as well as the Evansville DirecTV and Dish Network feeds, for over a year. Cable and satellite companies are not legally obligated to carry low-power stations. However, on January 3, 2013, the station's analog repeaters went off the air with no advance warning, leaving the Tri-State without a CW affiliate. Roberts had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012, but did not file to renew the repeaters' licenses at the time the Evansville stations filed for renewal, meaning their licenses would have expired on August 1, 2013.[3] In a filing with the FCC, Roberts filed a temporary request to halt operations due to the bankruptcy proceedings. However, Newkirk reported that the receiving equipment had been removed from the transmitter site, making it very unlikely that WAZE would return to the air in the foreseeable future.[11] In any event, a prospective buyer would not only have to be approved by the bankruptcy court, but such approval would have had to have been granted before April 1 in order to give the new owner time to file for a license renewal.[3] The repeaters would have been forced off the air in any event if they had not been converted to digital by 2015; as of late 2012 no conversion applications had been filed with the FCC.

On January 28, 2013, The CW announced WTVW as its new Evansville affiliate.[12] In the interim, NewWave Communications imported another Roberts-owned CW affiliate, Columbia's WZRB, on its systems in southeastern Illinois and southwestern Indiana (other NewWave systems relied on existing carriage of WTTV for CW programming), while DirecTV imported WDCW in Washington, D.C. Other cable and satellite companies—including Insight Communications, the largest cable provider in the region—lost The CW altogether until WTVW officially joined the network on January 31.[13]

Sale to Ion Media Networks[edit]

On December 11, 2013, the United States bankruptcy court gave initial approval for a plan by Roberts' creditors to transfer WAZE-LP/WJPS-LP/WIKY-LP, along with WRBU and WZRB, to a trust with Ion Media Networks (a creditor in Roberts' chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings) as its beneficiary. Roberts' attorney subsequently stated that Ion would purchase the stations and return the WAZE stations to the air. Roberts had earlier proposed an alternate plan that would have transferred only the WAZE stations to the trust, with WRBU and WZRB instead sold instead to Tri-State Christian Television.[14][15] The FCC approved the deal on February 2, 2014, and WAZE-LP, WZRB and WRBU all became Ion Television affiliates.

By April 2015, the licenses for WIKY-LP and WJPS-LP had been deleted, leaving WAZE-LP as the only remaining repeater station.

Newscasts[edit]

At one point, WEHT produced a 9 p.m. newscast for WAZE.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2014-11-20.
  2. ^ a b Harding, Kevin (March 24, 2011). "Re: WAZE-TV, Madisonville, Missouri". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Jake's DTV Blog: "WAZE-TV translators shut down", January 3, 2013. Archived December 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Cancellation Application
  5. ^ "1994 Evansvile, IN High School Boys Varsity Soccer - Central Bears vs Day School Eagles". youtube.com. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Newkirk, Jacob; WAZE's signal, promises are weak; Evansville Courier & Press; 2009-10-01.
  7. ^ http://m.courierpress.com/news/2011/apr/07/wazes-future-hazy-amid-licensing-lawsuits/
  8. ^ Newkirk, Jacob (October 10, 2011). "WAZE owner Roberts Broadcasting files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  9. ^ Newkirk, Jacob. A snowy picture is better than a frozen one, I guess ... Jake's DTV Blog, March 13, 2010. Archived from the original on April 28, 2014.
  10. ^ Newkirk, Jacob. How is this possible? WAZE-DT is still on the air!?, Jake's DTV Blog, July 15, 2011.
  11. ^ Newkirk, Jacob. THE WAZE SHUTDOWN: Roberts Broadcasting notifies FCC, calls WAZE shutdown "temporary". Jake's DTV Blog, January 10, 2013.
  12. ^ Newkirk, Jacob (January 28, 2013). "Local 7 picking up CW programming". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  13. ^ Newkirk, Jacob (January 30, 2013). "Former anchor comes home". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  14. ^ Mueller, Angela (December 11, 2013). "Judge approves creditors' proposal in Roberts Broadcasting bankruptcy". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  15. ^ Brown, Lisa (December 11, 2013). "Roberts' TV stations to be sold". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved December 11, 2013.

External links[edit]