|Channels||Digital: 43 (UHF)
Virtual: 38 (PSIP)
|Owner||Ion Media Networks
(Ion Media Chicago License, Inc.)
|First air date||May 31, 1976|
|Call letters' meaning||
|Former channel number(s)||
|Transmitter power||200 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WCPX-TV, virtual channel 38 (UHF digital channel 43), is an Ion Television owned-and-operated television station located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The station is owned by Ion Media Networks. WCPX-TV maintains office facilities located on Des Plaines and Van Buren Streets in the Chicago Loop, and its transmitter is located atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Loop.
Chicago's channel 38 was originally a construction permit for WCFL-TV, which was to have been owned by the Chicago Federation of Labor, along with WCFL radio (1000 AM, now online. 1000 AM frequency now occupied by WMVP). The plans were for a fourth general entertainment independent station, but even a market as large as Chicago would not have been able to support one. The Chicago Federation of Labor was unable to obtain financing for the station, and by the summer of 1974 it had put the WCFL-TV construction permit up for sale. No mainstream commercial broadcaster at the time was interested, but there were several minority broadcasters that were. The Spanish International Network (forerunner of Univision), at that time seen in Chicago via a part-time clearance on WCIU-TV (channel 26), made a bid, but lost to a Christian group, Christian Communications of Chicagoland.
Christian Communications of Chicagoland had been founded in 1971, when Pastor Owen C. Carr approached his church's board of directors with a desire to begin a Christian television station for the Chicago area. Carr's then congregation, The Stone Church, raised $135,000 by the end of September 1973, at which point Christian Communications of Chicagoland was incorporated. In 1974, a commitment to purchase the WCFL-TV construction permit. The First National Bank of Evergreen Park financed $600,000 for the purchase of needed equipment and a studio. The transfer of the license was approved by the FCC in November 1975, and the sale was consummated in March 1976. On May 26, the call letters were officially changed to WCFC-TV (standing for "Winning Chicagoland For Christ"), and at 5 p.m. on May 31, 1976, from the Olympic Studios on the city's near west side, WCFC signed on with the Holy Bible opened to the first chapter of Genesis, read by Pastor Carr; this was followed by a broadcast of The 700 Club. WCFC was only the fourth full-time Christian station nationwide. Jerry Rose, who previously worked for KXTX-TV in Dallas and helped Pat Robertson build that station, was hired as the station's general manager. However, while KXTX was programmed as a family-friendly independent station with some religious programming, WCFC had no plans for any secular programming.
Initially only broadcasting from 6 to 9 p.m. during the week, and from 12 to 9 p.m. on Sundays, the station gradually expanded its broadcast hours; in the fall of 1976, the station was on the air six hours a day, and by 1977, aired for twelve hours a day. In 1979, WCFC began operating on a 24-hour schedule.
A locally produced show called Among Friends aired twice a day on weekdays. The station also ran the live, 90-minute version of The 700 Club from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on weekdays, with hour-long rebroadcasts in the evenings and early mornings. It also aired the two-hour PTL Club, repeating the primary hour in the afternoon. WCFC also aired programming from well known national evangelists such as Rex Humbard, Jimmy Swaggart, Kenneth Copeland and Oral Roberts. The station also ran a small amount of Catholic programming. One notable guest on Among Friends, was Mother Angelica, whose visit to WCFC inspired her to begin EWTN a couple of years later. The station also ran many Christian children's programs, including among others Joy Junction, Davey and Goliath, Bible Bowl, Sunshine Factory, Circle Square and Superbook, and re-runs of The Roy Rogers Show on Saturday afternoons.
WCFC-TV remained a full-time Christian station well into the 1990s. However, in 1996, Lowell Paxson started shopping for stations to serve as affiliates of his new family-oriented Pax TV network (later renamed i and then Ion Television); in 1998, Paxson Communications struck a deal to purchase WCFC, with the proceeds from the sale being used to start the Total Living Network (which then began to be carried on WCFC-LP in Rockford, which had been WCFC-TV translator W51CD, as well as KTLN-TV in San Francisco). Upon Pax's launch on August 31, 1998, the call letters were changed to WCPX (the television station in Orlando formerly known as WCPX had changed its callsign to WKMG-TV earlier in the year), and the Christian lineup was cut back to 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. daily to accommodate Pax programming, which aired from 12 p.m. to midnight, and programming from The Worship Network during the overnight hours. The morning Christian programming was gradually cut back from 2002 to 2005; this, as well as cutbacks in Pax's entertainment schedule, had resulted in much of WCPX-TV's schedule, as with Ion's other stations, consisting of infomercials – a situation that has been reversed since 2009, with gradual expansions of Ion's entertainment schedule.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Network|
WCPX also operates a Mobile DTV feed of subchannel 38.1, broadcasting at 1.83 Mbit/s. On April 2, 2009, WCPX officially began broadcasting Ion Television programming in HD (available in the 720p resolution format).
WCPX-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 38, 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 continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 43. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 38 (which, in its physical form, is now occupied by the post-transition digital signal of Univision owned-and-operated station WGBO-DT, virtual channel 66). The "WCPX" callsign was also transferred from the former analog channel 38 to digital channel 43, and the "WCPX-DT" callsign was discontinued; the callsign was modififed to "WCPX-TV" on June 15.
The station does not air any newscasts; however, it does carry some public affairs programming. WCPX Positive Living airs Tuesday mornings at 5 a.m., and The Calumet Roundtable, produced by students and faculty of the Communication & Creative Arts department at Purdue University Calumet in the Northwest Indiana suburbs, airs Thursday mornings at 5 and 5:30 a.m. During the time NBC was a partner in Pax TV, WCPX carried an encore presentation of WMAQ-TV (channel 5)'s 10 p.m. newscast at 10:30 p.m. before the dissolution of that agreement in the summer of 2004.
- "Paxson acquires Chicago station". Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WCPX
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.