For the AM radio station, see WGN (AM).
the cable channel that formerly served as the national feed of WGN-TV, see NewsNation.
Not to be confused with WGGN-TV, a religious independent television station in Sandusky, Ohio; WGNT, an affiliate of The CW in Portsmouth, Virginia; or WWGN, a religious radio station in Ottawa, Illinois.
WGN-TV (channel 9) is an independent television station in Chicago, Illinois, United States.
Owned by Nexstar Media Group, it is sister to the company's sole radio property, news/talk/sports station WGN (720 AM).
WGN-TV's studios are located on West Bradley Place in Chicago's North Center community; as such, it is the only major commercial television station in Chicago which bases its main studio outside the Loop.
Its transmitter is located atop the Willis Tower in the Loop.
Like concept progenitor WTBS in Atlanta, WGN-TV—which, alongside WGN radio and the now-defunct regional cable news channel Chicagoland Television (CLTV), was among the flagship broadcasting properties of Tribune Media (formerly known as the Tribune Company until August 2014) until the company's purchase by Nexstar was completed in September 2019—was a pioneering superstation; on November 8, 1978, it became the second U.S.
television station to be made available via satellite transmission to cable and direct-broadcast satellite subscribers nationwide.
Later renamed WGN America, the former superstation feed was converted into a conventional basic cable network in December 2014, enabling it to be added to local cable providers, and later soft re-launched as NewsNation in September 2020.
A charter affiliate of both The WB and of successor network The CW, WGN-TV reverted to being an independent station in 2016.
The Chicago Tribune Company, headed by Chicago Tribune editor and publisher Robert R.
McCormick and the owner of WGN and WGNB[a] submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on September 13, 1946, and under the "WGN Incorporated" subsidiary, to build a television station on VHF channel 9.
After the FCC awarded the permit on November 8, the group originally requested to assign WGNA as the station's call sign.
By January 1948, however, the company decided to call its new television property WGN-TV after WGN, which had been owned by the Tribune since 1924.
The three-letter base call sign served as an initialism for "World's Greatest Newspaper", a tagline and slogan used by the Tribune since 1909.
WGN-TV began test broadcasts on February 1, 1948, then informally signed on the air on March 6 to broadcast the 1948 Golden Gloves boxing finals from the Chicago Stadium.
Regular programming commenced on April 5, 1948, at 7:45 p.m. with a two-hour-long special, WGN-TV Salute to Chicago.
Originating from WGN Radio's studios at the Tribune Tower's Centennial Building annex in the Magnificent Mile district, the inaugural broadcast included dedicatory speeches from McCormick,[c] Chicago Mayor Martin Kennelly, U.S. Senator Charles W. Brooks and Governor Dwight Green.
Performances were led by, among others, musician Dick "Two Ton" Baker, comedian George Gobel, and bandleader Robert Trendler and the WGN Orchestra (WGN's in-house band).
Afterwards, a film previewed WGN-TV's initial program offerings.
At the time it signed on, there were only 1,700 operational television sets in Chicago; that number would jump dramatically to around 100,000 sets by April 1949.
WGN-TV was the second commercial television station in both Chicago and Illinois to sign on, as WBKB (channel 4) launched on September 6, 1946, but had operated on an experimental basis since 1940 as W9XBK.
Two other stations joined WBKB and WGN-TV later in 1948: ABC's WENR-TV (channel 7) on September 17 and NBC's WNBQ (channel 5) on October 8.
The Tribune quickly followed up WGN-TV's launch with WPIX in New York City on June 15, 1948.
Initially, WGN television and radio operated from the Chicago Daily News Building on West Madison and North Canal Streets, occupying space previously used by WMAQ radio from 1929 until relocating to the Merchandise Mart in 1935; WGN-TV also based its 586-foot (179 m) transmission tower atop the building.
Originally broadcasting for 6½ hours per day from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. and from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m.
seven days a week, Channel 9 started out as an independent station, then began carrying programming from DuMont on September 26, 1948, and also CBS on December 1.
On January 11, 1949, WGN-TV—along with WNBQ and WENR-TV—began transmitting network programming over a live coaxial feed originating from New York City; this allowed Channel 9 to be able to carry a regular schedule of CBS and DuMont programs that could be transmitted as they aired in the Eastern Time Zone.
WBKB-TV assumed primary rights to CBS programming on September 5, 1949; as such, WGN began dropping many CBS shows from its schedule but continued to carry certain network programs that channel 4 declined to broadcast (eventually being reduced strictly to CBS's weekday morning soap opera block by 1952).
During its tenure with DuMont, WGN-TV became one of that network's strongest affiliates, as well as one of its major production centers.
Several DuMont programs were produced from the station's facilities during the late 1940s and the first half of the 1950s, including The Al Morgan Show, Chicago Symphony, Chicagoland Mystery Players, Music From Chicago, The Music Show, They Stand Accused (the first televised courtroom drama program), This is Music, Windy City Jamboree and Down You Go.
WGN-TV had also telecast performances of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, beginning in 1953, during Fritz Reiner's tenure as the orchestra's music director.
On January 25, 1950, the WGN stations relocated their operations to the Centennial Building.
Renovated to accommodate production and office facilities for WGN-TV, the facility included one master (which was situated on inflated rubber bags to eliminate outside noise and vibrations) and two auxiliary studios as well as a sub-basement studio situated 75 feet [23 m] below street level that could allow WGN-TV-AM and WGNB to continue broadcasts in the event of an atom bomb attack on Chicago.
As part of United Paramount Theatres (UPT)'s merger with ABC, on February 6, 1953, CBS assumed ownership of WBKB-TV through a $6.75-million acquisition designed to allow UPT[d] to acquire ABC-owned WENR-TV (which subsequently assumed the WBKB call letters and management staff that previously belonged to channel 4), in compliance with FCC regulations that then forbade common ownership of two television stations within the same market.
As a consequence of the deal, CBS moved the remainder of its programming to the rechristened WBBM-TV on April 1; this left Channel 9 exclusively affiliated with the faltering DuMont.
(WBBM would move from VHF channel 4 to VHF channel 2 on July 5, 1953, in accordance with allocation realignments dictated by the FCC-issued Sixth Report and Order.)
By 1954, WGN-TV expanded its broadcast schedule to 18 hours per day (running from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.).
After McCormick succumbed from pneumonia-related complications on April 1, 1955, ownership of WGN-TV-AM, the Chicago Tribune and the News Syndicate Company properties would transfer to the McCormick-Patterson Trust, assigned to the Robert R.