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Wgtu variation.png
Traverse City/Cadillac, Michigan
United States
CityTraverse City, Michigan
BrandingABC 29 & 8 (general)
UpNorthLive News on ABC 29&8 (news)
TV 7 & 4 (DT2)
SloganGet Connected (general)
Fair. Accurate. Honest. (on DT2)
ChannelsDigital: 29 (UHF)
Virtual: 29 (PSIP)
TranslatorsWPBN-DT 7.2 (47.2 UHF) Traverse City
WTOM-DT 4.2 (35.2 UHF) Cheboygan
Affiliations29.1: ABC
29.2: NBC
OwnerCunningham Broadcasting
LicenseeTraverse City (WGTU-TV) Licensee, Inc.
OperatorSinclair Broadcast Group
(via LMA)
First air dateAugust 23, 1971 (48 years ago) (1971-08-23)
Call sign meaningGrand Traverse UHF
Sister station(s)broadcast: WPBN-TV / WTOM-TV
cable: Fox Sports Detroit[1]
Former channel number(s)Analog:
29 (UHF, 1971–2009)
31 (UHF, until 2009)
Transmitter power68.4 kW
Height393 m (1,289 ft)
Facility ID59280
Transmitter coordinates44°44′53″N 85°4′8″W / 44.74806°N 85.06889°W / 44.74806; -85.06889
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license informationProfile
(satellite of WGTU)
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
United States
Brandingsee WGTU infobox
Slogansee WGTU infobox
ChannelsDigital: 8 (VHF)
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
Affiliations8.1: ABC
8.2: NBC
8.3: Comet
OwnerCunningham Broadcasting
LicenseeTraverse City (WGTU-TV) Licensee, Inc.
OperatorSinclair Broadcast Group
(via LMA)
First air dateOctober 29, 1976 (43 years ago) (1976-10-29)
Call sign meaningdisambiguation of WGTU or
Grand Traverse Quality
Sister station(s)see WGTU infobox
Former channel number(s)Analog:
8 (VHF, 1976–2009)
9 (VHF, until 2009)
Transmitter power15 kW
Height288 m (945 ft)
Facility ID59279
Transmitter coordinates46°3′8″N 84°6′38″W / 46.05222°N 84.11056°W / 46.05222; -84.11056 (WGTQ)
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license information
satellite of WGTU) Profile

satellite of WGTU) CDBS

WGTU, virtual and UHF digital channel 29, is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Traverse City, Michigan, United States, serving the northern Lower and eastern Upper peninsulas of Michigan. Owned by Cunningham Broadcasting, it is operated under a local marketing agreement (LMA) by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, making it a sister station to Traverse City-licensed NBC affiliate WPBN-TV, channel 7 (and its Cheboygan-licensed full-time satellite WTOM-TV, channel 4). However, Sinclair effectively owns WGTU as the majority of Cunningham's stock is owned by the family of deceased group founder Julian Smith. The two stations share studios on M-72 just west of Traverse City and transmitter facilities east of Kalkaska, Michigan. There is no separate website for WGTU; instead, it is integrated with that of sister station WPBN-TV.

Like other network affiliates in this vast and mainly rural area, WGTU operates a full-time, full-power satellite in Sault Ste. Marie, WGTQ (virtual and VHF digital channel 8), whose transmitter is located approximately 30 miles (48 km) south-southeast of the city near Goetzville in southeastern Chippewa County. WGTQ is a straight simulcast of WGTU; on-air references to WGTQ are limited to Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-mandated hourly station identifications during newscasts and other programming. Aside from the transmitter, WGTQ does not maintain any physical presence locally in Sault Ste. Marie.

Together, the two stations are known on-air as ABC 29&8 and serve the largest television market by land area east of the Mississippi River: 23 counties in the Northern Lower Peninsula, three counties in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, and portions of Northern Ontario including Sault Ste. Marie's Canadian sister city.

In addition to its own digital signal, WGTU is simulcast in high definition on WPBN-TV's second digital subchannel (UHF channel 47.4 or virtual channel 7.2 via PSIP) from the same Kalkaska transmitter facility.


WGTU began broadcasting on August 23, 1971. Before that, ABC programming in Northern Michigan was split between CBS affiliates WWTV/WWUP (soap operas, game shows) and WPBN/WTOM (weekend sporting events). During mid-1975, translator K55AW, channel 55, was added to serve the Alpena area. On October 29, 1976, it added WGTQ in Sault Ste. Marie to bring the full ABC schedule to the Eastern Upper Peninsula.

For many years, WGTQ was available in large portions of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. However, it has not been carried on cable in Canada since the early 2000s. In Sudbury, the Persona cable system pulled WGTQ in favor of WXYZ-TV from Detroit. In Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d'Or, Quebec, Cablevision replaced WGTU with Boston's WCVB-TV. In the Canadian Sault, local cable provider Shaw Communications opted instead for Flint's ABC affiliate WJRT-TV though it was later replaced by WXYZ.

From the start, WGTU was locally owned, most recently by Tom Scanlan (who at one time also owned Marquette's WBUP until its 2003 sale to Max Media. In 1998, the station began to provide promotional and advertising services for cable-only WB affiliate "WBVC" which was based at WGTU's original studios on East Front Street in Downtown Traverse City. In early November 2006, WGTU and WGTQ upgraded their digital signals to begin offering ABC in high definition which can also be seen on Charter digital channel 788.

On September 19, 2007, an application was filed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by Max Media to sell WGTU/WGTQ and its CW cable-only station to Tucker Broadcasting for $10 million. After FCC approval, Tucker entered into a shared sales agreement with Barrington Broadcasting. According to the FCC filing, WPBN would sell advertising time and provide other programming for WGTU. The same was approved in April 2008. After WPBN renovated its studios over the summer, WGTU moved its operations from its longtime studios in Traverse City into WPBN's studios.

At some point in time, what had become CW affiliate "WBVC" was added to a new second digital subchannel of WGTU. This was done to offer non-cable viewers access to its programming. It also began using the WGTU-DT2 call sign in an official manner.

On June 12, 2009, WGTU and WGTQ reverted their digital signals back to the previous analog signal locations as part of the switch to digital-only broadcasting. On the same day, WGTU dropped WBVC from its second digital subchannel, replacing it with a simulcast of WPBN. This is because WTOM's digital signal no longer covers the Upper Peninsula side of the market. WGTU no longer operates WBVC.

On February 28, 2013, Barrington announced that it would sell its entire group, including WPBN/WTOM, to Sinclair Broadcast Group. At the same time, WGTU/WGTQ were acquired by Cunningham Broadcasting. Sinclair also acquired the LMA with WGTU/WGTQ; all but one of Cunningham's stations are operated by Sinclair under LMAs.[2] The sale was completed on November 25.[3] Nearly all of Cunningham's stock is held by trusts for the Smith family, founders and owners of Sinclair. Thus, for all intents and purposes, Sinclair owns both stations. Cunningham, previously known as Glencairn, has long been used as a shell corporation to allow Sinclair to operate duopolies where Sinclair cannot legally own them.[4][5] The Traverse City–Cadillac–Sault Ste. Marie market has only seven full-power stations, too few to legally permit a duopoly. Also, even if the market had enough full-power stations to allow a duopoly, a WPBN/WGTU duopoly still wouldn't be legal as both are among the top four stations in the market.

Digital television[edit]

The stations' digital signals are multiplexed:

WGTU digital channels[edit]

Channel Video Aspect PSIP short name Programming[6]
29.1 720p 16:9 ABC Main WGTU programming / ABC
29.2 1080i NBC Simulcast of WPBN-TV / NBC

WGTQ digital channels[edit]

Channel Video Aspect PSIP short name Programming[7]
8.1 720p 16:9 WGTQ Main WGTQ programming / ABC
8.2 1080i WTOM Simulcast of WTOM-TV / NBC
8.3 480i Comet Simulcast of WPBN-DT3/WTOM-DT3 / Comet


Due to the station's 6:30 p.m. newscast, the station has aired ABC World News Tonight at 7 p.m. on a 30-minute tape delay. Syndicated programming on the station includes The Dr. Oz Show, Rachael Ray, Entertainment Tonight and Judge Judy. It clears the entire ABC schedule, even though through 2008, network programming on the last Sunday in January was preempted for the yearly CBN/700 Club telethon as a part of its commitment to airing The 700 Club weekday mornings since the 1980s. This was also due to CBN personality Tim Robertson (son of Pat) owning an interest in former station owner Max Media. This caused complaints about preempted ABC Sports programming. The issue became moot when The 700 Club moved to Fox affiliates WFQX/WFUP in fall 2008.


WGTU presently broadcasts 5 hours, 25 minutes of locally produced newscasts on weekdays (at 6:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.). The station does not produce newscasts on Saturdays or Sundays, opting for syndicated programming.[citation needed]

News department history[edit]

WGTU initially had a full-fledged news department. However, it made little headway against WWTV and WPBN. The news department was significantly cut back in 1984, and for more than a quarter-century it aired almost no local newscasts at all. The only local news on the station were weekday morning news, weather, and sports cut-ins at :25 and :55 past the hour during Good Morning America as well as a ten-minute news and weather update seen weeknights at 11.

After WGTU consolidated its operations with WPBN, it became possible that a full-fledged local newscast would return to WGTU. On September 13, 2010, that station finally took advantage of this channel being housed in the same facility and launched a weeknight newscast at 6:30 on WGTU, known as UpNorthLive News. The news/weather update seen weeknights at 11 remains as well but it is taped in advance as was the case before this station merged with WPBN.

One notable former news anchor from WGTU is Marc Schollett who is now the weeknight anchor on WPBN, and in 2013 began to anchor UpNorthLive News at 6:30 on WGTU/WGTQ.


  1. ^ Miller, Mark K. (August 23, 2019). "Sinclair Closes $10.6B Disney RSN Purchase". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheckMedia. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  2. ^ Malone, Michael (February 28, 2013). "Sinclair's Chesapeake TV Acquires Barrington Stations". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Glencairn's dicey LMAs, Broadcasting & Cable, March 29, 1999.
  5. ^ FCC fines Sinclair for Glencairn control, Broadcast & Cable, December 10, 2001.
  6. ^ http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=station_search&callsign=WGTU#station
  7. ^ http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=station_search&callsign=WGTQ#station

External links[edit]