||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
|City of license||Detroit|
|Channels||Digital: 14 (UHF)
Virtual: 50 (PSIP)
(Detroit Television Station WKBD, Inc.)
|First air date||January 10, 1965|
|Call letters' meaning||W
(reference to original owner Kaiser Broadcasting)
|Sister station(s)||WDZH, WOMC, WWJ, WWJ-TV, WXYT, WXYT-FM, WYCD|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
50 (UHF, 1965-2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent / United Network (1965-1986)
|Transmitter power||185 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WKBD-TV, virtual channel 50 (digital channel 14), (branded as The CW 50) is an owned and operated station of the CW Television Network, based in Metro Detroit, Michigan. The station is owned and operated by the CBS Corporation, and is one-half of a duopoly with sister station WWJ-TV (channel 62). Its studios and transmitters are located at 11 mile and Inkster Roads in Southfield, Michigan. It currently operates with a power of 185 kW from a tower 1,000 foot in height but has filed an application to increase it to 370 kW.
Channel 50 in Detroit was originally allocated to WBID-TV in 1955. Owned by Max Osnos' Woodward Broadcasting (Osnos also owned 9% of WITI in Milwaukee), WBID planned on broadcasting from the Cadillac Tower in downtown Detroit. However, WBID never made it to the air—and neither did WTOH-TV in Toledo, Ohio, Channel 79, another proposed station owned by Woodward Broadcasting. (Both WBID and WTOH planned on taking at least some programming from the failing DuMont Television Network.) It would be another decade before Detroiters would finally see programming on Channel 50.
WKBD first went on the air on January 10, 1965, under the ownership of Kaiser Broadcasting, owned by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. It started as an all-sports station, predating ESPN by some 14 years; WKBD signed on at 5PM with its first program — a college basketball game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Iowa State Cyclones. It eventually grew into a typical UHF independent station running cartoons, syndicated sitcoms and old movies. WKBD has broadcasted in color since it first went on the air in 1965. Some locally produced programs such as Lou Gordon were broadcast in black and white until the station upgraded to color studio cameras in the late 60's. (WKBD briefly went network in the spring of 1967, when it became the Detroit affiliate of the short-lived United Network.) For many years it had an afternoon movie hosted by Detroit legend Bill Kennedy. WKBD also produced a hard-hitting weekly talk show, The Lou Gordon Program, which was seen between the late 1960s through 1977 on all Kaiser stations (and a few non-Kaiser outlets). However, sports remained a central part of WKBD's schedule, and it was the over-the-air home for Red Wings hockey and Pistons basketball for many years, as well as Tigers baseball for a decade.
In 1972 the Kaiser Broadcasting Corporation partnered with Field Communications in Kaiser Broadcasting Co. including WKBD-TV, four other Kaiser stations and Field's single station. In 1977, the bulk of Kaiser Broadcasting Corporation including WKBD was sold to Field.
In 1982, Field put all its stations up for sale. However, Field had a difficult time selling WKBD-TV for the amount of money it wanted, despite its success. As a result Field was forced to hold onto channel 50 for almost two years. In late 1983, Cox Enterprises offered to buy the station, which they did on January 30, 1984. Shortly thereafter, the station dropped the -TV suffix, becoming simply WKBD once again. The programming remained the same as before, with one notable exception: in the late 1980s WKBD began airing Late Night with David Letterman when NBC affiliate WDIV (channel 4) declined to clear it. This mirrored a similar situation in the mid-1970s when then-WWJ (currently WDIV) declined to air Saturday Night Live. The first two seasons of the show originally aired in the Detroit market on WKBD. Gilda Radner who was an original castmember on the show was born in Detroit, Michigan.
The Ghoul aired in Detroit on WKBD from 1971 through 1975. The show featured late-night horror movie host Ron Sweed in the title role and was produced by WKBD's sister station WKBF-TV in Cleveland, Ohio which was also owned by Kaiser Broadcasting. When Kaiser dropped the program, the show's production moved to Detroit where it was produced by and aired on WXON (channel 20, now WMYD). The show moved briefly to WGPR (channel 62, now WWJ-TV) and then back to WXON. Although never produced at WKBD itself, the program was very popular and was one of the few local programs that aired on WKBD that was not related to sports.
In 1986, channel 50 became a charter affiliate of the Fox network, later adopting the name Fox 50. However, for much of its run as a Fox station it was still programmed essentially as an independent. Owing to its large cable footprint, it was the default Fox affiliate for the Traverse City/Cadillac/Sault Sainte Marie and Marquette markets as well.
Channel 50 was later sold to the Paramount Stations Group in June 1993. Even though WKBD was one of Fox's strongest affiliates, Fox announced that it would move its Detroit affiliation to WJBK-TV (channel 2), Detroit's longtime CBS affiliate, at the end of 1994. This was a result of WJBK's owner, New World Communications, making a group deal with Fox to switch the affiliation of nearly all of its stations to Fox (which then bought most New World stations in 1997). CBS then approached WKBD for an affiliation after being turned down by WXYZ-TV and WDIV, since it was the only non-Big Three station in Detroit that had a functioning news department. However, Viacom, which had just bought Paramount, turned the offer down because it was about to switch all of its non-Big Three stations to the United Paramount Network, of which it was half-owner.
WKBD lost Fox to WJBK on December 11, 1994. It briefly went independent again until January 1995, when it joined UPN. It was the first network O&O in Detroit in ten years since ABC sold off WXYZ-TV to Scripps, predating the sale of WGPR (now WWJ-TV) to CBS in 1995. Channel 50's programming was unchanged from its days as a Fox affiliate except for the Prime time programming provided by UPN. Eventually, the older sitcoms were replaced with more first-run syndicated talk or reality shows. Fox Kids stayed on WKBD until 1998, when it moved to WADL (channel 38). WKBD continued to maintain a morning/afternoon cartoon block that became the "UPN Kids Disney Block" until UPN ended cartoons in the Fall of 2003.
In 2000, Paramount's post-1994 parent Viacom acquired CBS, a move that united channel 50 with WWJ-TV channel 62, which CBS acquired in 1995 after losing its affiliation contract with WJBK. After the merger, WWJ-TV moved from its facilities in downtown Detroit to WKBD's Southfield studios. Unlike the other CBS/UPN (and later CBS/CW) duopolies, WKBD is the senior partner.
On January 24, 2006, CBS and the Warner Bros. Television unit of Time Warner announced they would merge UPN and The WB into a single network called The CW Television Network. On the same day, the new network signed a 10-year affiliation deal with 11 of CBS' UPN stations, including WKBD. However, it is likely that WKBD would have been chosen over WB affiliate WDWB (now WMYD) in any event, as it was the higher-rated station. WKBD continued to carry UPN programming until September 15, 2006, when UPN ceased operations. The CW commenced operations on September 18, 2006. Today, WKBD has a format primarily of first-run syndicated talk, courtroom and reality shows, some recent off-network sitcoms and CW first-run programming in prime time. Effective July 9, 2009, the station's legal call sign became WKBD-TV once again.
In mid-May 2013, WKBD moved the CW's saturday morning block, Vortexx to Sunday mornings, still airing in the same 7am-12pm time slot.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|50.1||1080i||16:9||WKBD-HD||Main WKBD-TV programming / The CW|
WKBD was first licensed for its digital facility in January, 2001. As part of the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, WKBD-TV shut down its analog transmitter on June 12, 2009, and continued to broadcast on its pre-transition digital channel 14. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WKBD-TV's virtual channel as 50.
Under Field Communications ownership, WKBD aired a brief newscast at various times of the day, typically called Newscene (or alternately News Scene), similar to that of other Field-owned stations at the time, such as WFLD in Chicago. In 1968, WKBD began producing a nightly newscast at 10 p.m. For much of its existence under Cox, Paramount and Viacom, WKBD produced the only television newscast in Detroit at 10 p.m. Originally a half-hour program, The Ten O'Clock News expanded to a full hour in 1989. In 2001, WKBD began producing a bare-bones newscast for WWJ-TV. WKBD tried to brand its own newscast as a younger, more unconventional program and WWJ-TV's as a more traditional Big Three O&O operation. However, the two stations used the same anchors, reporters and equipment.
After going through several name changes to coincide with the changes in ownership and network affiliations over the years, in December 2002 UPN Detroit Nightside was cancelled after having been on the air in one form or another for 34 years. WWJ-TV's newscast was shuttered as well. WXYZ-TV, Detroit's ABC affiliate, agreed to continue producing a 10 p.m news for WKBD using WXYZ's studio and staff along with some of the former WKBD staff, but many long-time Channel 50 employees simply lost their jobs. This arrangement ended in 2005 and WKBD no longer broadcasts news at 10 p.m. The time slot was filled with off-network syndicated shows, such as repeats of sitcoms like The King Of Queens and According to Jim.
No news programming aired on the station until February 7, 2011, when a two-hour extension of sister station WWJ-TV's weekday morning newscast First Forecast Mornings premiered in the 7-9 a.m. time slot. The live program showcases weather, traffic and news headlines. The extension competes against national morning newscasts and WJBK's highly-rated morning newscast. WKBD-TV along with its sister station WWJ-TV upgraded all locally-produced programming to high definition on February 2, 2012, making them the final CBS-owned properties with an in-house news operation to upgrade to HD. First Forecast Mornings was discontinued on December 28, 2012 due to low viewership. The stations continue to air syndicated programming in place of traditional evening and late-night newscasts.
WKBD produced and broadcast Detroit Red Wings hockey telecasts from 1965 to 2003, with a 2-year hiatus in the '80s when they were on another station. Detroit Tigers baseball games were broadcast on the station from 1994 to 2005, while Detroit Pistons basketball games were broadcast from 1972 to May 2004. Detroit Lions preseason football was broadcast 1992 to 1996 and again from 2004 to 2008. The station also produced occasional Pre- and Post-game shows for all four professional teams. WKBD aired special coverage of the Red Wings' Stanley Cup Celebration and parade ceremonies in 1997 and 1998, as well as carrying the final Tigers game played at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 1999. WMYD held the rights to the Pistons from 2004–2008, and WJBK occasionally aired Tigers games from 2004-2007. All three teams are now exclusively on Fox Sports Detroit. WKBD was Detroit's first FOX affiliate, from 1986-1994 (for much of the 1994 NFL season, WKBD was the primary station for the Lions; the team's last game on WKBD was the December 10 game at the New York Jets, with the games moving back to WJBK the next week).
On occasion (and regularly during preseason games), WKBD produced broadcasts of Detroit Lions football games, as well as Detroit Pistons basketball games, until the late 1980s when the Pistons decided to produce and distribute the games itself, with WKBD responsible for advertising. Both were simulcasted to other stations across Michigan, on a select list of affiliate stations.
On April 16, 2008, it was announced that its sister station, CBS O&O WWJ TV, will be the new home of Detroit Lions exhibition games. The departure of long time sports producer Toby Cunningham (a part of CBS' budget cuts at all its O&Os) closes the book on the storied history of sports coverage by WKBD. WWJ-TV broadcasted preseason Lions games until 2010, when WXYZ-TV was signed as their new flagship station.
WKBD is available on many cable systems in Southeast Michigan, Southwestern Ontario, and Northwest Ohio. Outside of the Detroit area, however, most programming on WKBD is subject to Syndex territorial restrictions placed on cable systems by the local TV rights holders. During the affected programming, cable systems either switch to another channel, or place a text notice on the screen that says something like: "This channel is being blacked out due to FCC regulations."
In 1994, when Fox switched in Detroit from WKBD to WJBK, many Michigan cable systems outside the Detroit area replaced WKBD with WGKI from Cadillac, in order to keep Fox available in the Upper Peninsula. However, in areas where Fox was already available locally, mainly in the southern and central Michigan markets (especially the Tri-Cities), much of WGKI's programming was blacked out. In 1996, some systems that dropped WKBD for WGKI brought WKBD back.
Following the launch of The CW, WKBD began to be dropped from cable systems outside of the Detroit market, in favor of local or nearest CW or MyNetworkTV affiliates. Coverage on cable systems outside the Detroit / Windsor market may be subject to SyndEx and network blackouts in the United States.
Lou and Jackie Gordon from "The Lou Gordon Program"
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