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WBUW 2016 Logo.png
Janesville/Madison, Wisconsin
United States
CityJanesville, Wisconsin
BrandingWisconsin's 57 Television (general)
WI57 (alternate)
SloganYour Home for Local
ChannelsDigital: 32 (UHF)
(to move to 21 (UHF))
Virtual: 57 (PSIP)
Subchannels57.1 Independent
57.2 Movies!
57.3 Heroes & Icons
57.4 Stadium
57.5 QVC
57.6 Laff
57.7 Escape
57.8 Grit
AffiliationsIndependent (2016–present)
OwnerByrne Acquisition Group, LLC
FoundedApril 26, 1989
First air dateJuly 5, 1999 (19 years ago) (1999-07-05)[1]
Call letters' meaningWIsconsin's Fifty-Seven
Former callsignsWHPN-TV (1999–2002)
WBUW (2002–2016)
Former channel number(s)Analog:
57 (UHF, 1999–2009)
Former affiliationsAnalog/DT1:
UPN (1999–2002)
The WB (2002–2006)
The CW (2006–2016)
ASN (DT4, 1/2017-9/2017)
Transmitter power200 kW
157 kW (CP)
Height387 m (1,270 ft)
Facility ID26025
Transmitter coordinates43°3′3″N 89°29′13″W / 43.05083°N 89.48694°W / 43.05083; -89.48694
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license information:Profile

WIFS, virtual channel 57 (UHF digital channel 32), is an independent television station serving Madison, Wisconsin, United States that is licensed to Janesville. Owned by Byrne Acquisition Group, the station maintains studios at 2814 Syene Road on Madison's far south side; its transmitter is located on Madison's southwest side.


As a network affiliate[edit]

The station's original construction permit was granted on May 2, 1998 with the call letters WJNW. After a few delays and an aborted attempt to become Wisconsin's first digital-only broadcast TV outlet, the station, now under the WHPN call sign, would begin analog broadcasting on channel 57 in the summer of 1999, with partial test airings occurring the week before the station's full-time launch on July 5, 1999.[2][3] The location of its then-transmitter, outside the Rock County community of Evansville, accorded WHPN to serve as the UPN affiliate for both the Madison and Rockford TV markets. Prior to WHPN's launch, UPN programming in Madison had aired on CBS affiliate WISC-TV on a secondary basis.

In the spring of 2002, after WHPN's owners had declared bankruptcy, the station's assets were acquired by ACME Communications, a station group run by Jamie Kellner, a founder of The WB network and former CEO of that network and TBS.[4] Though they would not close on the acquisition until the end of 2002,[5] ACME took over operations immediately through a local marketing agreement. The most evident change resulting from ACME's takeover was a network affiliation swap with WISC-owned cable channel/digital subchannel TVW the final week of August 2002; at that time, TVW became Madison's UPN affiliate, while WHPN joined The WB and adopted a new call sign, WBUW (an acknowledgement to its new affiliation and Madison's University of Wisconsin).

In 2004, WBUW moved its transmitter to its current location, a new tower located on property owned by Gray Television and next to the studios of Gray-owned WMTV in the Greentree neighborhood of Madison's southwest side.[6] The stronger signal the new tower provided WBUW allowed the station's coverage reach to extend throughout south-central Wisconsin and well into Northern Illinois, allowing WBUW to remain Rockford's default WB affiliate until the launch of The CW in September 2006, when Rockford's WREX-TV (channel 13) added The CW to its secondary subchannel.

WBUW's logo under the "Madison's CW" branding (c. 2006-2012)
WBUW's final logo as a CW affiliate (c. 2014-2016)

In March 2006, WBUW was confirmed as Madison's affiliate of The CW, the result of the WB and UPN networks amalgamating.[7] WBUW, branded as "Madison's CW," was one of eight ACME-owned WB affiliates who joined The CW as a group at the network's September 2006 launch.

On December 13, 2011, ACME announced a deal to sell WBUW to Byrne Acquisition Group; the $1.8 million transaction was part of ACME's gradual exit from the TV business (ACME would formally dissolve at the end of 2016).[8][9][10] The deal, which was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and consummated in February 2012,[11][12] gave the Byrne Group its second TV property (after low-power station "WHHI-TV" in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina). The Byrne Group would rebrand WBUW from "Madison's CW" to "CW 57" later in 2012. By that time, it would also subsequently upgrade the station's master control (to accommodate local and syndicated high-definition) and begin an expansion of locally-focused content. By 2015, the first two of what would become seven digital subchannels would be added.

As an independent station[edit]

An affiliation agreement announced by The CW and Gray Television in December 2015 included the addition of the network to the DT2 subchannel of Gray-owned Madison NBC affiliate WMTV.[13] WMTV-DT2 formally joined The CW on September 12, 2016, when WBUW's 10-year affiliation deal with the network, reached by then-owner ACME Communications at the network's 2006 launch, reached its expiration.[14][15] The September 10 airing of The CW's One Magnificent Morning E/I block (ending with Calling Dr. Pol) was the final network programming on WBUW. (Penn & Teller: Fool Us, airing the night before, was the final CW prime time show on the station.)

On-air wise, WBUW would begin its post-CW transition during the first quarter of 2016, when it first applied a simple "Channel 57" brand to its local programming. During its last week as a CW affiliate, it unveiled a new branding of "Wisconsin's 57," and would adopt a new call sign to go along with that brand—WIFS—on December 1, 2016. "Wisconsin's 57 Television," as WIFS now bills itself, operates as an independent station, retaining its mix of locally-produced and syndicated programming and mostly utilizing the latter to fill the prime time void left by The CW's departure.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

As WBUW, the station would begin multiplexing its signal with its first two digital subchannels in the summer of 2015, carrying the Weigel Broadcasting-owned Movies! and Heroes & Icons. After becoming WIFS, the station would add two more subchannels in the first quarter of 2017, the QVC shopping channel and the American Sports Network (the latter being superseded by Stadium in September 2017). In May 2018, WIFS would add three more channels, carrying the Katz Broadcasting-owned Laff, Escape, and Grit. (The addition of Grit marked a return of the network to Madison; it had been carried by WMSN-DT3 from 2014 until 2017.)

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[16]
57.1 1080i 16:9 WIFS-HD Main WIFS programming
57.2 480i MOVIES! Movies!
57.3 H&I Heroes & Icons
57.4 STADIUM Stadium
57.5 4:3 QVC QVC
57.6 16:9 LAFF Laff
57.7 ESCAPE Escape
57.8 GRIT Grit

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WIFS (as WBUW) discontinued programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 57, on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). From February 17, the analog station acted as a "nightlight", broadcasting a loop of digital transition instructions until signing off for good the first week of March 2009.

WBUW's (and later WIFS') digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 32.[17] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 57, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the digital transition. As part of the FCC's reallocation and repackaging of station signals, WIFS will relocate to UHF channel 21 at a date to be determined.[18]


WIFS' programming schedule includes syndicated series Access Live, The Doctors, and TMZ as well as The King of Queens, How I Met Your Mother, and Bones. The station also carries live college football and basketball broadcasts from the ACC Network, Chicago Bears preseason football,[19] and tape-delayed broadcasts of Madison Radicals ultimate and Notre Dame Fighting Irish football. WIFS also features nighttime second airings of Dr. Phil, The Dr. Oz Show, and Entertainment Tonight, all three of which air earlier in the day on other Madison stations (Phil on WKOW, Oz and ET on WISC-TV).

Local news and features[edit]

In September 2003, WBUW launched The WB57 Nine O'Clock News, a 35-minute, Monday-thru-Friday newscast produced in partnership with the news operations at NBC affiliate WMTV.[20] Geared toward The WB's younger, female-skewing audience, the newscast offered what WBUW station manager Tom Keeler called "a different energy" than that found on other newscasts in Madison.[21] Presented with anchors standing in a desk-free studio, WBUW's newscast featured a fast-paced format (most stories lasted no more than 30-to-60 seconds in length) that largely emphasized entertainment and lifestyle features. Nightly e-mail contests and sweeps-month "free gas giveaways" were also included, as were in-studio performances by local musicians during Friday editions of the newscast. Never gaining notice against competing 9 p.m. newscasts on WMSN-TV and UPN14, WBUW cancelled The WB57 Nine O'Clock News and its news-share relationship with WMTV in December 2005, restoring syndicated programming to the time slot.[22][23]

At the beginning of 2007, local content on WBUW resumed in the form of "Buzzed Into Madison." Airing each day during WBUW's broadcasts of The Daily Buzz (usually around 20 minutes after each hour), the "Buzzed Into Madison" vignettes included "positive" (the station's term) features on Madison-area news, events, and personalities, as well as features with and promotions from station sponsors. The success of "Buzzed into Madison" would lead ACME Communications, The Daily Buzz's then-producer (and WBUW's then-owner), to permit other Daily Buzz affiliates to insert their own local segments if they so desired.[24] Emmy Fink served as the original host and producer of "Buzzed into Madison," doing so from the feature's 2007 launch until she departed WBUW in June 2011.[25] "Buzzed" would air on a limited basis in the subsequent 12 months, with content that included entertainment previews from the Isthmus newspaper and, during the 2011-2012 academic year, a series of "junior reporters" from area schools, with a different student reporter each month. (Emmy Fink would resurrect "Buzzed Into Madison" as a recurring segment for Madison CBS affiliate WISC-TV in Summer 2016.)[26]

When it acquired what was then WBUW in 2012, The Byrne Group would begin a gradual yet eventually significant expansion of the station's local content, using an advertiser-friendly approach similar to that used by its South Carolina sister station. Today, notable blocks of WIFS' non-syndicated schedule includes locally-oriented discussion programs, sporting events, and other content that features station sponsors, other businesses, and community/non-profit organizations from Madison and Southern Wisconsin. Such past and current WIFS-produced programs have included the following:

Current regular features
  • Bordello of Horror - Saturday night presentations of classic and independent horror movies hosted by "Freakshow, the Deacon of Darkness"; the show previously aired on local cable access channel WYOU before moving to Channel 57
  • Dane Buy Local TV - A shopping channel-style program showcasing products and services offered by members of the same-named local business organization[27]
  • Girl Talk - discussions on issues and topics affecting women along with showcases of women-owned or women-oriented businesses
  • MaxLiving Madison - advice and insight on health, nutrition, fitness, and personal wellness from Dr. Patrick Andersen, a chiropractic orthopedist based at Madison's Maximized Living clinic
  • The Real Estate News - information about the real estate industry and advice from Southern Wisconsin realtors
  • The Restaurant Show - profiles, menu items, and recipe tips from area restaurants and culinary experts
  • The Sports News - a sportscast spotlighting Southern Wisconsin sports, primarily focusing on high school and college athletics
  • Talk of the Town - interviews with and profiles of local newsmakers, personalities, businesses, organizations, and upcoming events
  • Wisconsin Doctors - information, advice, and discussions on health, fitness, and well being from area physicians and health experts
  • Wisconsin Family - advice and business profiles oriented to helping families live better lives
Sports broadcasts

Tape-delayed, in-their-entirety broadcasts of the following sporting events:

  • Chosen Few Fighting Championships - occasional broadcasts of events staged by the Madison-based mixed martial arts promotion group
  • High school sports - seasonal broadcasts of sporting events primarily featuring schools from the Big Eight and Badger conferences
    • A-1 Furniture & Mattress Bowl Series - football broadcasts airing each fall (late August thru October), with the broadcasts featuring a different bowl game title each week (e.g. "The Isthmus Bowl," "The Beltline Bowl")
    • Big-Time Basketball - broadcasts airing each January and February since 2015
  • Mad Rollin' Dolls - home bouts from Madison's flat track roller derby league
Past features
  • Community Connections - two-minute features on local events and businesses throughout the broadcast day
  • Destination - profiles of businesses in specific communities in Madison and Southern Wisconsin (e.g. Destination Monona, Destination Wisconsin Dells)
  • Fusin' It with Joe Perkins - a Dinner and a Movie-style film showcase, with cutaway studio features on recipes and menu offerings presented by Joe Perkins, owner of the Cold Fusion restaurants.
  • Inside Badger Nation - a weekly half-hour show produced with Badger Nation magazine that offered highlights and profiles of University of Wisconsin—Madison athletics
  • Joyriding with Jokers - two-minute vignettes in the vein of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, with performers from Madison's Comedy on State club conversing while test driving vehicles from local dealerships[28][29]
  • Madison in the Morning - a partial simulcast of WIBA radio's weekday morning news and information show
  • Open Seating - a precursor to The Restaurant Show, hosted by Brian Lee of the website EatDrinkMadison.com and emphasizing profiles of and interviews with Madison-area restaurateurs[30]
  • Wisconsin CrossFit Affiliates - profiles of businesses involved in CrossFit-style fitness regimens
  • Workout Wisconsin - features on exercise, physical fitness, and healthy lifestyles hosted by Reggie Davis[31]


  1. ^ The exact sign-on date in 1999 is unclear; the Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says June 28, while the Television and Cable Factbook says July 5.
  2. ^ "Station's air time nears after two years of delays," from Wisconsin State Journal, 5/21/1999 (via HighBeam Research, accessed 8/25/2016)
  3. ^ "WHPN/57 On Air Monday," from The Capital Times, 6/30/1999 (via HighBeam Research, accessed 8/25/2016)
  4. ^ "Janesville TV station to be sold," from Milwaukee Business Journal, 4/2/2002
  5. ^ "Acquisition of Madison TV station completed," from Milwaukee Business Journal, 1/2/2013
  6. ^ "Lights change color depending on time of day," from Madison.com, 5/16/2006
  7. ^ "Channel 57 Officially Now CW Affiliate", from Capital Times, March 10, 2006
  8. ^ "Acme Selling WBUW Madison, Wis.," from TVNewsCheck, 12/13/2011
  9. ^ Malone, Michael (December 13, 2011). "Byrne Grabs Acme's Madison CW Station". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved December 14, 2011.
  10. ^ Press release from ACME Communications dated 12/20/2016
  11. ^ Consent to License Assignment (File# BALCDT-20111220AEX), posted by FCC 2/10/2012
  12. ^ "Acme to Byrne Madison TV deal is done". Television Business Report. February 22, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Kuperberg, Jonathan (15 December 2015). "Gray TV, The CW Ink Affiliate Agreement Extension, Add 4 New Stations". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  14. ^ Source: WMTV Engineering on Twitter (posted 9/9/2016)
  15. ^ ACME Communications 10-K filing for 2007 on WikInvest (accessed 8/7/2016)
  16. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WIFS
  17. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  18. ^ Source: Northpine.com (accessed 9/6/2017)
  19. ^ List of Chicago Bears preseason stations from ChicagoBears.com (accessed 8/7/2016)
  20. ^ "NBC 15 and WBUW 57 Team Up for Local News in Madison, Wisconsin," news release from Globe NewsWire, 6/26/2003
  21. ^ "The Changing Faces of TV News," from Wisconsin State Journal, 1/23/2005
  22. ^ "From Campus to Capital", from Broadcasting & Cable, June 9, 2006
  23. ^ "Why Local News Is in a Sharing Mood", from Broadcasting & Cable, August 4, 2006
  24. ^ "Catching a Homespun Buzz", from Broadcasting & Cable, March 3, 2008
  25. ^ "New host selected for 'Discover Wisconsin,'" from Wisconsin State Journal, 6/16/2011
  26. ^ "Buzzed Into Madison" on Channel3000.com (accessed 8/2016)
  27. ^ Source: Wisconsin's 57 on Facebook (posted 3/14/2017)
  28. ^ Joyriding with Jokers: Jackson Jones/Joey Bednarski on Facebook (5/17/2018)
  29. ^ Joyriding with Jokers: Nick Hart/Vanessa Pants on Facebook (6/1/2018)
  30. ^ "Open Seating" on Facebook
  31. ^ Workout Wisconsin official website

External links[edit]