WLRN-TV

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WLRN-TV
The letters WLRN in blue. The W is composed of two parallelograms in a slightly larger shade and a triangle. Beneath the "LRN" is the text "Miami / South Florida".
CityMiami, Florida
Channels
Programming
Affiliations17.1: PBS
Ownership
Owner
OperatorFriends of WLRN
WLRN-FM
History
First air date
September 7, 1962; 60 years ago (1962-09-07)
Former call signs
WSEC-TV (1962–1973)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 17 (UHF, 1962–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 20 (UHF, 2003–2019)
NET (1962–1970)
Call sign meaning
"Learn"
Technical information
Licensing authority
FCC
Facility ID66358
ERP1,000 kW
HAAT301.7 m (990 ft)
Transmitter coordinates25°58′47.9″N 80°11′45.5″W / 25.979972°N 80.195972°W / 25.979972; -80.195972Coordinates: 25°58′47.9″N 80°11′45.5″W / 25.979972°N 80.195972°W / 25.979972; -80.195972
Links
Public license information
Websitewww.wlrn.org

WLRN-TV (channel 17) is a secondary PBS member television station in Miami, Florida, United States. It is owned by the Miami-Dade County Public Schools district alongside NPR member WLRN-FM (91.3); the two outlets are operated under a management agreement by Friends of WLRN, the stations' fundraising arm.[1] Both stations share studios on Northeast 15th Street and Northeast 1st Avenue in Miami, while WLRN-TV's transmitter is located at McTyre Park in Miami Gardens.

WLRN-TV is one of two PBS member stations serving the Miami–Fort Lauderdale market, the other being WPBT (channel 2), owned by South Florida PBS. Originally a secondary station to channel 2 when it was WTHS-TV, the effective split of community and public licensee in the late 1970s made channel 17 the only TV station operated by the school system. WLRN-TV's local productions include documentaries and special-interest programs on South Florida, and it also airs independently produced Spanish-language programs on Sundays.

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

In 1959, the Dade County school board purchased a transmission facility in Hallandale that had last been used by WITV, a one-time ABC affiliate that had broadcast from 1954 to 1958, struggling through the launch of VHF television stations that took away its network programming and economic viability. After making the $200,000 acquisition, the school board received an exemption to use the site, five miles (8 km) too close to Daytona Beach's channel 2 station otherwise, to relocate WTHS-TV, its educational station, from a facility in Miami.[2] The project would expand the reach of the station, which had previously been limited to Dade County since its 1955 sign-on,[3] to include areas in Broward and Palm Beach counties.[4] To support the heavier channel 2 antenna, the tower height was reduced from 1,049 feet (320 m) to 700 feet (210 m).[5]

For the school board, it was a trivial task from a facilities standpoint to reactivate channel 17: WTHS-TV already had studios, and it had just purchased the old WITV plant. In June 1960, it authorized its attorneys to prosecute a plan to reactivate channel 17 for educational.[6] This application was designated for hearing by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), along with the license renewal for WITV, in 1961.[7] An FCC hearing examiner sided with the school board,[8] and the channel was shifted from Fort Lauderdale to Miami and reserved for non-commercial use so that the school board could use the same Miami studios for both facilities.[9]

Operations of WSEC-TV began with program tests on June 26, 1962,[10] with several high school courses moving over from WTHS-TV and sets in the schools being fitted with UHF converters.[11] This allowed the WTHS-TV programs to be aimed at elementary and junior high school students.[12]

In 1973, the call sign was changed to the present WLRN-TV, but channel 17 continued to be dedicated to use by the schools with little public recognition. The station cost just $60,000 a year to operate.[13] A 1976 column by Sherry Woods, radio and TV editor for The Miami News, referred to it as "Channel What?" and noted that "few viewers outside of those in Dade County classrooms even know of its existence"; that year, it began its first effort at evening programming, a nightly variety show titled Something on Seventeen.[14]

Out of obscurity[edit]

While channel 17 kept broadcasting to an audience that almost exclusively consisted of students, channel 2 had emerged as the primary public broadcasting outlet in South Florida. Long a joint effort between the school board and the private Community Television Foundation of South Florida (CTF), this arrangement was consecrated as two separate FCC licenses sharing the channel in 1970. WTHS-TV continued to broadcast during weekday daytime hours to provide in-school programs, while non-school fare was provided by the foundation under the new call sign of WPBT.[15] The stated intention was to sunset WTHS-TV after five years and transition its broadcasts to a closed-circuit system connecting the schools, ceding channel 2 to WPBT full-time.[16]

The arrangement went sour in 1975, when CTF sought to take full control. However, the school board refused, stating that WLRN-TV and other services were not yet available to a majority of students.[17] The inadequate WLRN-TV facilities were cited by one school board member as a poor compensation for giving up half of channel 2; by 1978, the station was operating at an effective radiated power of 38,000 watts, using a transmitter it had acquired used from WHRO-TV in Hampton, Virginia, in 1961.[18] However, relief was on the way in the form of a major signal upgrade to WLRN-TV. In August 1978, a rebuilt facility was activated and effective radiated power increased to 2.83 million watts, extending the station's city-grade coverage to take in Cutler Ridge to the south and Boca Raton to the north.[19] In addition to Something on Seventeen and educational courses for schools and the general public, the station also aired local government meetings.[20]

In 1983, WLRN radio and television moved from the decaying Lindsey Hopkins High School building, where radio had been since 1948 and where television operations of the district began in 1955, to a new facility on the same site.[21] By 1985, the station was producing a panoply of local shows to supplement PBS productions, ranging from panel discussions on public issues to sewing advice and how-tos on acting, as well as high school sports telecasts.[22] When an appeals court ruling that year struck down FCC regulations requiring must-carry carriage of all TV stations in a local area, two Miami cable systems with 70,000 subscribers pulled WLRN.[23] The station boasted, in response to it being dropped by a system in Fort Lauderdale, that its local programming output was only surpassed by WGBH-TV in Boston.[24] The high school sports broadcasts were dropped in 1993,[25] while school board meeting coverage on television was also curtailed to end at 6 p.m. even if the meeting was still in progress.[26]

Friends of WLRN management[edit]

In 2017, a proposal to shift some news staffers from being employed by an independent nonprofit to directly by the school district led to controversy.[27] A task force convened by the school board to determine the WLRN stations' future suggested four options, including restructuring the advisory board, spinning off WLRN radio and television, or selling them to another entity.[28] The district opted to take proposals to outsource management while continuing to own the stations, receiving two bids. One came from Friends of WLRN, which had been established to provide fundraising support to the stations in 1974. The other came from South Florida PBS, the umbrella organization owning WPBT. The school district recommended the South Florida PBS bid, but after Friends of WLRN challenged the decision in court, a vote on the topic was postponed.[29]

After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Florida PBS withdrew its bid in April 2020.[30] A final agreement for Friends of WLRN to run the stations was reached in February 2022.[31] The deal was also reached in the context of superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho leaving Miami to run the Los Angeles Unified School District.[32]

Local programming[edit]

In addition to airing PBS programs and daily children's programming, WLRN-TV specializes in the production of local interest programs as well as documentaries which are syndicated for national distribution, making available 30 such shows to PBS stations since 2005.[33] For four hours on Sunday afternoons, WLRN presents Spanish-language programming from independent producers.[34]

Technical information[edit]

WLRN broadcasts one channel of programming.

Subchannels of WLRN-TV[35]
Channel Video Aspect Short name Programming
17.1 1080i 16:9 WLRN-HD Main WLRN-TV programming / PBS

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WLRN-TV terminated its analog signal, on UHF channel 17, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[36] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 20; it was then repacked to channel 26 a decade later.[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Venta, Lance (February 14, 2022). "Friends Of WLRN To Take Over Management Of South Florida Public News/Talker". RadioInsight. Archived from the original on February 14, 2022. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
  2. ^ Meyer, Phil (September 12, 1959). "School TV Site Gets Nod". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. p. 1-B (PB). Archived from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 15, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Educational TV Begins Tonight On Channel 2". Miami Daily News. Miami, Florida. August 12, 1955. p. 10A. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Expand Channel 2: Educational TV Gets $100,000". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. UPI. October 14, 1959. p. 8-C. Archived from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 15, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Anderson, Jack (June 13, 1977). "With New Tower and Transmitter, Channel 2's Signal Power to Increase". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. p. 11-C. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Dade Board Approves TV Channel Plans". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. June 2, 1960. p. 3-C. Archived from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 15, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Notice: Board of Public Instruction". Fort Lauderdale News. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. June 6, 1961. p. 8-B. Archived from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 15, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Second School TV Channel Virtually Assured For Dade". The Miami News. Miami, Florida. July 30, 1961. p. 7A. Archived from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 15, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "The FCC last week..." (PDF). Broadcasting. March 12, 1962. p. 61. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 8, 2021. Retrieved February 15, 2022 – via World Radio History.
  10. ^ FCC History Cards for WLRN-TV
  11. ^ "ETV: The Bargain of Education". The Miami News. Miami, Florida. August 19, 1962. p. Back to School 10. Archived from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 15, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "Channel 2 Is Something Special". Fort Lauderdale News. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. August 31, 1962. p. 35. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ Woods, Sherry (April 20, 1977). "Channel 17's Don Webb has a few things to learn". The Miami News. Miami, Florida. p. 7C. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ Woods, Sherry (April 12, 1976). "Anchorman tossing out his cigarets". The Miami News. Miami, Florida. p. 20C. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ "It's WPBT Now: Ch. 2 Changes Call Letters". Fort Lauderdale News. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. May 1, 1970. p. 14F. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "Channel 2 Gets New Call Letters". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. May 1, 1970. p. 10-D. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ Woods, Sherry (November 5, 1975). "School Board to take back channel 2 daytime hours". The Miami News. Miami, Florida. p. 6B. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "School Board Could Settle Ch. 2 Scrap Today". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. May 10, 1978. p. 11-D. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ Owen, Elizabeth (August 10, 1978). "Ch. 17 Hikes Power, Reception Area". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. p. 17-C. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ Barry, Rick; Brown, Ken (May 25, 1978). "Florida Stations At A Glance". The Tampa Tribune. Tampa, Florida. p. 2-D. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ Berger, Ellis (June 27, 1983). "Airwaves plight: WLRN faces cuts". The Miami News. Miami, Florida. p. 5A, 8A. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ "South Florida's Channel 17: The viewer's alternative". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. August 25, 1985. p. TV 4, 5. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ Cottman, Michael H.; Shaw, Cathy (December 6, 1985). "Culture channel dropped: Decision affects 70,000 viewers". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. p. 1B, 6B. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ "Is There A Grinch?". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. December 18, 1986. p. 13E. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ Marvez, Alex (January 27, 1993). "Channel 17 telecasts will end". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. p. 8D. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ "Heard but not seen". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. January 27, 1993. p. 10A. Retrieved May 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ Falk, Tyler (February 21, 2017). "Proposed changes at Miami's WLRN seen as threat to newsroom independence". Current. Archived from the original on March 14, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  28. ^ Lapin, Andrew (January 23, 2019). "In Miami, stakeholders weigh future of WLRN's relationship with school-board licensee". Current. Archived from the original on March 14, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  29. ^ Wyllie, Julian (December 5, 2019). "Miami school board postpones vote on management of WLRN". Current. Archived from the original on March 14, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  30. ^ Wyllie, Julian (April 1, 2020). "South Florida PBS withdraws bid to manage Miami's WLRN". Current. Archived from the original on March 14, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  31. ^ Wyllie, Julian (February 17, 2022). "WLRN friends group reaches agreement with school district to manage station". Current. Archived from the original on March 14, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  32. ^ Brugal, Sommer (February 23, 2022). "Miami-Dade school district finalizes deal with Friends of WLRN to manage station". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on February 24, 2022. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  33. ^ "About: Television". wlrn.org. Archived from the original on April 10, 2022. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  34. ^ Castropé, Daniel (June 16, 2021). "Afirman "buscar más audiencia" con cambios a programas en español del canal 17" ["Looking for more viewers" with changes to Spanish-language programs on channel 17]. Diario Las Américas (in Spanish). Archived from the original on March 24, 2022. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  35. ^ a b "RabbitEars query for WLRN-TV". rabbitears.info. Archived from the original on March 16, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  36. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. May 23, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2021.

External links[edit]