|City of license||Kenosha, Wisconsin|
|Channels||Digital: 40 (UHF)
Virtual: 55 (PSIP)
|Subchannels||55.1 Ion Television
55.3 Ion Life
|Owner||Ion Media Networks|
|First air date||June 1, 1988|
|Call letters' meaning||PaX MilwaukEe|
|Former callsigns||WHKE (1988–1998)|
|Former affiliations||LeSEA (1988–1995)
Pax TV (1998–2005)
|Transmitter power||830 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WPXE-TV, virtual channel 55 (UHF digital channel 40), is an Ion Television owned-and-operated station television station serving Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States that is licensed to Kenosha (30 miles (48 km) south of Milwaukee). The station is owned by Ion Media Networks. WPXE maintains offices located on North Flint Road, straddling the city line between Milwaukee and Glendale; its transmitter is situated within the traditional tower farm site on Milwaukee's Estabrook Park neighborhood with the antenna located on the Milwaukee Public Television tower. WPXE's facilities also serve as the main studio for FCC purposes for Antigo-based WTPX-TV, which serves the Wausau market and is the only other presence of Ion in the state of Wisconsin.
The station first signed on the air on June 1, 1988 as WHKE (for World Harvest Kenosha Evangelism), operating as a religious station; it was originally owned by LeSEA Broadcasting. The station's original transmitter was located in Kenosha, just north of the Illinois/Wisconsin state line (the tower is remains in use for the transmitter of radio station WWDV, 96.9 FM). Paxson Communications (now Ion Media Networks) purchased the station in 1995 and turned it into an all-infomercial format as part of the Infomail TV Network (inTV), though it also aired the daily greyhound racing recap program from Kenosha's Dairyland Greyhound Park for many years after WVTV (channel 18) stopped carrying that show in 1996, which met the station's local programming requirements.
In the late 1990s after its purchase by Paxson, the station moved its transmitter to a tower in northern Racine County (near Interstate 94) which was shared with WEZY (92.1 FM; now WVTY, which continues to use the tower). Despite the reason for the transmitter move being to serve more of the Milwaukee market, the southerly tower location from the traditional northeast side tower farm operated at a lower power, mainly to keep the channel 55 allocation open for an eventual new station in Wausau (which would eventually be given to Wittenberg-licensed WFXS in 1999), limited the station's coverage area in southeastern Wisconsin; this caused the station to not be available in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan counties, except through cable. The station became a charter affiliate of Pax TV (now Ion Television) when it launched on August 31, 1998, at which time it changed its call letters to WPXE-TV.
At times during summer due to tropospheric propagation in the analog era, WHKE/WPXE would receive heavy interference a few times and even have its signal overwhelmed by that of another distant station on channel 55, WBNX-TV from Cleveland, Ohio, which broadcast at a stronger power and had its signal brought over Lake Michigan into Wisconsin due to Lake Erie's heavy "trop effect" amplifying their signal across northern Indiana and lower Michigan.
The station was formerly involved a local marketing agreement with WTMJ-TV (channel 4) that resulted from that station's affiliated network, NBC, having a stake in Paxson Communications/Pax TV; this resulted in the two stations sharing programming (such as Martha Stewart Living and repeats of preseason Green Bay Packers games produced for WTMJ, and live games during the 2004 Summer Olympics, which aired on WPXE), WPXE airing repeats of WTMJ's evening newscasts for several years, and WTMJ selling advertising time for WPXE. This agreement was discontinued on July 1, 2005 after Pax TV rebranded as i: Independent Television.
The station airs the entire Ion Television schedule, with the only local programming consisting of paid programs for local businesses, and a public affairs program, Ion Milwaukee, which airs at various times throughout the week.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Network|
WPXE-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 55, 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 UHF channel 40. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 55, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition with that portion of the band being sold to Qualcomm for use in its nationwide MediaFLO system (later sold to AT&T Mobility for 4G LTE mobile device spectrum). When Qualcomm introduced MediaFLO to Chicago in 2008, WPXE-TV agreed to accept potential interference to 28.87% of the population within its Grade B contour resulting from the service, mostly occurring in fringe areas of Lake County, Illinois which also received Ion service from Chicago sister station WCPX-TV. WPXE's digital signal and subchannels were not affected.
On February 2, 2009, the station converted its main digital signal to air high definition content in the 720p format, ahead of Ion's eventual launch of its high definition program schedule. After various tests, however, Ion decided to wait on a full transition and switched back to 480i in April 2009 due to its concerns about a seamless digital transition (as days before February 2, the national transition date was moved by Congress from February 17 to June 12). Full permanent HD service for WPXE launched on April 28, 2010, with the station also receiving HD cable coverage via digital channel 1015 on Time Warner Cable and digital channel 615 on Charter Communications.