Coordinates: 42°26′52.5″N 83°10′23.1″W / 42.447917°N 83.173083°W / 42.447917; -83.173083
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BrandingDetroit Public TV PBS
OwnerDetroit Educational Television Foundation
First air date
October 3, 1955 (68 years ago) (1955-10-03)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog: 56 (UHF, 1955–2009)
  • Digital: 43 (UHF, 2000–2020)
NET (1955–1970)
Call sign meaning
"Television for Southeast Michigan"
Technical information[1]
Licensing authority
Facility ID16817
ERP345 kW
HAAT323 m (1,060 ft)
Transmitter coordinates42°26′52.5″N 83°10′23.1″W / 42.447917°N 83.173083°W / 42.447917; -83.173083
Public license information

WTVS (channel 56) is a PBS member television station in Detroit, Michigan, United States, owned by the Detroit Educational Television Foundation. Its main studios are located at the Riley Broadcast Center and HD Studios on Clover Court in Wixom,[2] with an additional studio at the Maccabees Building in Midtown Detroit.[3] The station's transmitter is located at 8 Mile and Meyers Road in Oak Park (on a tower shared with independent station WMYD, channel 20, and CBS owned-and-operated station WWJ-TV, channel 62). WTVS partners with the Stanley and Judith Frankel Family Foundation in the management of classical and jazz music station WRCJ-FM (90.9).


The station first signed on the air on October 3, 1955; WTVS began broadcasting in color in 1968. The studios were originally located at 9345 Lawton in Detroit, along with the studios of WRCJ; WTVS moved to the former WJBK studio facility in the New Center area of Detroit in 1971.[4][5] WTVS vacated the facility in the 1990s, and the building would be used for its fixed satellite services[6][7] until 2009, when it was sold to the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit;[5] it is currently being reconstructed for use as headquarters for the non-profit Midnight Golf Program.[8] WTVS broadcasts its digital signal from the same tower as at a height of 1,073 feet (327 m). Prior to the digital TV switchover, WTVS transmitted its signal from a 1,000-foot (305 m) tower located near the intersection of 11 Mile and Inkster Roads in Southfield, along with WMYD (channel 20) and then-CW O&O WKBD-TV (channel 50). Today, only WKBD-TV (now an independent station) and Ion Television affiliate WPXD-TV (channel 31) broadcast from that tower.

On January 11, 2016, Detroit Public Television announced a partnership with WKAR, the PBS station serving Mid-Michigan operated by Michigan State University, in which they will jointly operate a 24-hour children's television service to be carried by both stations.[9] The partnership culminated in the establishment of the Michigan Learning Channel in 1991 which is carried by all six PBS affiliate stations in Michigan.[10]


Locally produced programming on the station includes Great Lakes Now, Get Up! Get Out, In the Frame: Exploring the DIA, Leaders on Leadership, American Black Journal and Am I Right. WTVS is also a leading producer of fundraising programs for PBS.[citation needed] In the 1990s this station produced Club Connect.

In addition to locally produced programming, Detroit PBS also is the sole creator of all Il Volo (popular Italian singing group) concert DVDs and related CDs. The Detroit PBS Il Volo concerts were the October 2011 "Il Volo Takes Flight - Live from the Detroit Opera House", the March 2013 "Il Volo at the Miami Fillmore - We Are Love" concert, the March 2013 "Il Volo at the Miami Fillmore - Buon Natale" concert, the June 2015 "Il Volo - Live at Pompeii" concert, and July 2016 Il Volo - "Tribute to the 3 Tenors - in Florence" concert.


In 2005, WTVS declined to air the controversial Postcards from Buster episode "Sugartime!", even after the show's Boston-based producing station, WGBH, converted it to the status of being specifically shown to individual stations.[11][12] The decision was made after PBS received a complaint from then-newly-appointed Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who was upset its storyline, in which the main character, Buster Baxter, pays a visit to Hinesburg, Vermont, to learn how maple sugar is made, and interacts with several children who have lesbian parents.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20] The controversy surrounding the episode let to it being removed from PBS Kids Go!'s national broadcast schedule.

Technical information[edit]


The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Subchannels of WTVS[21]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
56.1 1080i 16:9 WTVS-HD Main WTVS programming / PBS
56.2 D-KIDS PBS Kids
56.3 480i D-CREAT Create
56.4 D-WORLD World
56.5 D-MLC Michigan Learning Channel

Many newer television receivers also list WTVS subchannels 43.177 and 43.193. These subchannels are artifact channels from the UpdateTV service.

WTVS also has plans for a Mobile DTV feed of subchannel 56.1.[22][23]

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WTVS became the first public broadcaster in the state of Michigan to offer a digital high-definition feed, launching their simulcast on UHF 43 in October 2000 (exact date not yet known). The station shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 56, at noon on April 16, 2009; the switchover occurred after a presentation of the national anthems of Canada ("O Canada") and the United States ("The Star-Spangled Banner").[24] WTVS management cited repeated failures of the station's 28-year-old analog transmitter as the reason for ceasing its analog signal on April 16 rather than the June 12 transition date for full-power stations (the analog transmitter had failed seven times between January 1 and April 16 alone). The station's digital signal continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 43.[25] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 56, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.

On October 12, 2009, WTVS upgraded to a new 600 kW transmitter, tripling its effective radiated power and vastly increasing the coverage area of its signal.[26]

On January 13, 2017, WTVS re-organized its digital subchannels when it added PBS Kids as a full-time 24/7 subchannel on 56.2, with PBS World moving to 56.4. This was in part of WTVS' larger plan of launching a statewide PBS Kids subchannel network in partnership with other PBS member stations within the state of Michigan, such as Lansing's WKAR-TV and Flint's WCMZ-TV.

On March 8, 2017, WTVS announced it would be moving its digital broadcast frequency from UHF Channel 43 to UHF channel 20 (currently occupied by WHNE-LD Channel 14), which was assigned VHF channel 3 as a replacement frequency.[27]

Cable coverage[edit]

WTVS is carried on most cable television providers in Southeast Michigan, Southwestern Ontario and parts of the British Columbia Southern Interior (WTVS is carried in that province despite the existence of KCTS-TV in Seattle, the PBS member station commonly found in that province). WTVS is one of five Detroit television stations available in Canada on cable through Shaw Broadcast Services and on satellite provider Shaw Direct; it began to be distributed by Cancom (now Shaw Broadcast Services) in 1983 as the PBS station signal for Canadian cable television systems too distant to receive a border station over-the-air. Since then, it had developed a strong base of Canadian viewer support in all provinces and territories.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Facility Technical Data for WTVS". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  2. ^ "Contact Us." WTVS. Retrieved on December 8, 2012. "Contact Us Riley Broadcast Center and High Definition Studios 1 Clover Court Wixom, MI 48393-2247"
  3. ^ "Detroit Public TV opens Midtown studio." Model D. Tuesday March 22, 2011. Retrieved on December 8, 2012.
  4. ^ Information on WTVS' former New Center building
  5. ^ a b Timothy Boscarino, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Cleveland. Elizabeth. Intermediate School (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on February 20, 2019
  6. ^ "Driving Directions." WTVS. Retrieved on December 8, 2012.
  7. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions." WTVS. February 4, 2005. Retrieved on December 8, 2012. "Detroit Public Television 7441 Second Avenue Detroit, MI 48202"
  8. ^ "Former long-vacant historic WJBK building to become Midnight Golf headquarters". September 1, 2022.
  9. ^ "WKAR to stay on air, launch 24/7 children's channel with Detroit Public TV". MLive.com. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  10. ^ "Michigan Learning Channel launches on WNMU-TV". Upper Michigan's Source. WLUC-TV. February 9, 2021. Retrieved October 9, 2023.
  11. ^ Smith, Lynn (February 11, 2005). "Children's Show Faces PBS Inquiry". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 12, 2022.
  12. ^ Walsh, David (February 4, 2005). "PBS Officials Cave in to Bush Administration Over Children's Program". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  13. ^ Salamon, Julie (January 27, 2005). "Culture Wars Pull Buster Into the Fray". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  14. ^ Salamon, Julie (February 5, 2005). "A Child Learns a Harsh Lesson in Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  15. ^ Moore, Frazier (February 11, 2005). "Fallout Continues Over Lesbian-Inclusive 'Postcards From Buster' Episode". Advocate. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  16. ^ Stasi, Linda (March 21, 2005). "No Bunny Needs to Worry About Lesbian 'Postcards'". New York Post. Retrieved November 11, 2022.
  17. ^ Smith, Lynn (March 14, 2005). "By Nixing Show, PBS Spotlights Gay Family". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  18. ^ Ryan, Maureen (February 3, 2005). "'Boy, That's a Lot of Moms'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
  19. ^ Moore, Frazier (February 9, 2005). "What's the Big Deal About 'Buster'?". Today. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  20. ^ Gaylord, Peggy R. (March 23, 2005). "Buster Exposed to Two Pairs of Moms". Umaffirm. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  21. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WTVS
  22. ^ "RabbitEars.Info".
  23. ^ "Mobile DTV Station Guide | www.omvcsignalmap.com". Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  24. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Detroit broadcasters go digital PART 1 OF 3". YouTube.
  25. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
  26. ^ WTVS Detroit Public TV Digital TV information page
  27. ^ "RabbitEars.Info".

External links[edit]