|West Lafayette, Indiana
|Branding||WLFI 18 (general)
News 18 (newscasts)
|Slogan||News From Where You Live|
|Channels||Digital: 11 (VHF)
Virtual: 18 (PSIP)
18.3 Ion Television
|Affiliations||CBS (Secondary through 1956)|
(sale to Heartland Media pending)
(Primeland Television, LLC)
|First air date||June 15, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||West LaFayette, Indiana|
|Former callsigns||WFAM-TV (1953–1967)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
59 (UHF, 1953–1957)
18 (UHF, 1957–2009)
|Transmitter power||30 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WLFI-TV, virtual channel 18 (VHF digital channel 11), is a CBS affiliated television station located in West Lafayette, Indiana, United States. The station is owned by Media General. WLFI maintains studio facilities located on Yeager Road in West Lafayette, and its transmitter is located on County Road 700 in rural northwestern Clinton County (southwest of Rossville); master control and some internal operations are housed at the studio facilities of sister station WISH-TV on North Meridian Street in northwestern Indianapolis. On cable, WLFI-TV is available on Comcast Xfinity channel 8 and Metronet channel 18 in standard definition and in high definition on Xfinity digital channel 1018 and Metronet channel 818.
The station first signed on the air at 6:00 p.m. on June 15, 1953 as WFAM-TV, broadcasting on UHF channel 59. It was founded by original owner Sarkes Tarzian, a radio manufacturer based in Bloomington, which also owned primary NBC/secondary ABC and DuMont affiliate WTTV (now a CBS affiliate) in Indianapolis and ABC affiliate WPTA in Fort Wayne. The station originally operated as a primary CBS and DuMont affiliate. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
WFAM-TV's transmitter had originally broadcast at low power, making it unreceivable in parts of west-central Indiana outside of the immediate Lafayette area. Out of its original 20-person staff, only one person had any experience in television; the rest were radio personalities who pulled double duty under the guidance of O.E. Richardson, owner of radio station WASK (1450 AM).
The station relocated its allocation to UHF channel 18 in 1957; the UHF channel 59 allocation would remain dormant until the Federal Communications Commission later reassigned the allotment to Indianapolis (later used by WPDS-TV (now WXIN), which signed on in February 1984). The station changed its call letters to WLFI-TV in 1967. In 1979, the station was purchased by Block Communications. In 2000, LIN TV Corporation acquired WLFI from Block in exchange for a 67% ownership interest in ABC affiliate WAND (now an NBC affiliate) in Decatur, Illinois (LIN TV later sold off its remaining 33% interest in WAND to Block Communications).
On March 21, 2014, Media General announced that it would merge with LIN Media in a $1.6 billion deal. The merger was completed on December 19. Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced on January 27, 2016 that it would merge with Media General in a $4.6 billion acquisition; it then announced on June 13, 2016 that it would sell WLFI-TV and four other stations to Heartland Media, through its USA Television MidAmerica Holdings joint venture with MSouth Equity Partners, for $115 million, to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership caps following the merger.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|18.1||1080i||16:9||WLFI-HD||Main WLFI-TV programming / CBS|
WLFI formerly carried TheCoolTV on digital subchannel 18.2 from 2011 to 2013, when LIN Media terminated its affiliation agreement with the music video network. The live feed of "Storm Team 18 Live Doppler Radar" moved from digital subchannel 18.3 to 18.2 in the fall of 2013. Sony Pictures Television’s GetTV network, which features classic movies, replaced the weather radar channel on WFLI-DT2 in early 2015. In Fall 2015, WFLI-DT3 was launched to serve as an ION Television affiliate.
WLFI-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 18, 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 remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 11, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 18.
WLFI-TV clears the entire CBS network schedule; however, it airs the CBS Dream Team lineup in two blocks – with the first two hours airing on Saturday mornings (leading into the Saturday edition of CBS This Morning, which itself airs two hours later than most CBS stations that carry the broadcast) and the final hour airing on Sunday mornings. The station also pre-empts the Saturday edition of the CBS Evening News in favor of running an hour-long 6:00 p.m. newscast. Syndicated programs broadcast by WLFI-TV include Dr. Phil, The Dr. Oz Show, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
WLFI-TV presently broadcasts 22½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays, 1½ hours on Saturdays and one hour on Sundays); unlike most CBS affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, the station's early evening newscast at 5:00 p.m. runs only for a half-hour, with the station opting to run syndicated programs during the 5:30 p.m. half-hour.
Even after Lafayette area residents became able to receive stations out of Indianapolis via cable television beginning in the 1970s, the station's newscasts have performed well in the ratings; its success was largely attributed to the longevity of most of its news staff, some of whom had been at the station for over 20 years, including former anchors Jeff Smith and Chris Morisse, sports anchor Larry Clisby and meteorologist Steve Scherer .
In September 2012, WLFI became the third television station in Central Indiana to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition; as part of the upgrade, the station unveiled a new graphics package (a modified version of the package used by CBS owned-and-operated station WBBM-TV in Chicago from when it upgraded its newscasts to high definition in 2008 until 2010) and a new set for its newscasts.
Notable former on-air staff
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice: 13, November 10, 1956
- "Media General to buy WISH-TV parent in deal worth $1.6B". Indianapolis Business Journal. Associated Press. March 21, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
- Sruthi Ramakrishnan (21 March 2014). "Media General to buy LIN Media for $1.6 billion". Reuters. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
- Media General Completes Merger With LIN Media, Press Release, Media General, Retrieved 19 December 2014
- Lafayette, Jon (January 27, 2016). "Nexstar Agrees to Buy Media General for $4.6B". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
- "Prather Buys 5 TVs From Nexstar-Media Gen.". TVNewsCheck. June 13, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WLFI
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Jane King