WFTV (Duluth)

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Duluth, Minnesota
Channels Analog: 38 (UHF)
Affiliations ABC/DuMont
Owner WEBC
Founded 1953 (defunct 1954)
Sister station(s) WEBC, WEBC-FM
Former affiliations CBS (1953 - March 1954)
NBC (1953 - March 1954)

WFTV Channel 38 was the first television station in Duluth, Minnesota.

The station signed on in 1953 carrying programming from all four TV networks of the time, ABC, CBS, NBC, and the DuMont Television Network.[1] It shared office space with WEBC radio and transmitted from the former WEBC-FM tower on Duluth's Observation Hill.[2]

WFTV faced challenges from the beginning, being a UHF station in an era when most television sets only included VHF tuners; set manufacturers were not required to include UHF tuning until 1964. Most Northland residents needed a converter to watch WFTV, and the picture quality left much to be desired even with one. Additionally, the Duluth market is a very large market geographically, and UHF stations do not carry well across large areas. As a result, the station never thrived; only the revenue from its radio sister kept it afloat.

In March 1954, VHF stations WDSM-TV and KDAL-TV - both co-owned with other radio stations in the market - signed on and took the NBC and CBS affiliations. This left WFTV with ABC and DuMont. Saddled with affiliations with the two weakest and smallest networks, as well as a weak signal, WFTV could not compete and left the air shortly thereafter.

Duluth would be a two-station market until WDIO-TV signed on in 1966. The market would not get another major UHF station until 1999 when KQDS-TV upgraded and affiliated with the FOX network.

The bottom portion of the tower used by WEBC-FM and WFTV still stands, and is used today for telecommunications.[3] Channel 38 was originally used for WDSE's digital signal, but went empty again in 2009 when WDSE moved digital operations to channel 8.

The WFTV callsign was adopted by the ABC affiliate on Channel 9 in Orlando, Florida, which was previously WLOF, in 1963.


  1. ^ TV Guide, January 8–14, 1954
  2. ^ A Technological History of WEBC Radio, A Graduate Thesis submitted by Roger J. Johnson
  3. ^ Tower Site of the Week, February 17, 2006

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