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Old 09-28-2004, 06:52 PM
Dick Nitelinger Dick Nitelinger is offline
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WISN-TV's 50th Anniversary

Yet another Milwaukee television station celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. On 27 October, WISN-TV will do so.

Its first nine months were, to put it mildly, eventful!

Prior to the FCC’s “freeze” of new TV applications on 30 September 1948, Milwaukee had been allotted three channels: 3, 10 and 12. Channel 3 was assigned to WTMJ-TV, which went on the air on 3 December 1947.

Prior to the lifting of the freeze, only three applications had been filed for Milwaukee's remaining VHF channels. These were received from the Hearst Corp. (which once had an evening newspaper called The Wisconsin News, and at the time owned both WISN radio, and the morning newspaper, The Milwaukee Sentinel), Milwaukee Broadcasting, Inc. (which owned WEMP radio), and Wisconsin Broadcasting System, Inc. (which owned WFOX radio). Hearst had applied for channel 10 just prior to the freeze.

When the FCC issued its sixth general order and report in 1952, it provided for 617 VHF, 1436 UHF, and 242 educational/non-commercial licenses. Channel 10 was allotted for educational/non-commercial use. Hearst was not pleased, and filed objections with the FCC, and (later) suit in federal court.

Midwest Broadcasting, the owner of WCAN radio, applied for channel 12, but sensing that the UHF channels would be less desirable, it amended its application to channel 25 in order to avoid lengthy license hearings. As I pointed out in a message last year, WCAN-TV became Milwaukee’s second TV station.

Hearst Radio, Inc. and the Wisconsin Broadcasting System, Inc. (WFOX) also asked that additional channels be allocated to Milwaukee. Both requests were rejected by the FCC.

There were numerous applicants for the remaining commercial VHF frequency (channel 12). Included were the Milwaukee Area Telecasting Company, Milwaukee Broadcasting, Co. (WEMP), the Wisconsin Broadcasting System (WFOX), and Kolero Telecasting Corp.

Meanwhile, Hearst showed the FCC that by shifting channel 6 from Green Bay to Marquette, MI (with Green Bay getting channel 5), it could allot VHF channel 6 to the area – in this case Whitefish Bay.

Milwaukee Broadcasting was confident of getting the license, and had purchased land for the tower in Lincoln Park. Since Milwaukee’s third TV station, WOKY-TV had its antenna on its tower, WEMP made some tests using the facilities of WOKY-TV. (Shots of Carl Zimmerman and the late Earl Gillespie – both of whom worked for WEMP at the time – can be found in the Milwaukee TV history page of my website.)

On 4 December 1953, the FCC allotted channel 6 to the village of Whitefish Bay. The same day, Cream City Broadcasting, Inc. turned in its permit for channel 31 and filed an application for channel 6. The following week, Hearst Radio, Inc. filed an application for the same channel.

On 31 December 1953, a hearing before the FCC began in Washington, D.C. regarding the applications for channel 12. A long battle for the license seemed likely.

In early May of 1954, the four applicants for channel 12 made public the fact that they had been holding merger discussions in order to avoid prolonged license hearings.

The three other applicants for channel 12 agreed to merge with the Milwaukee Area Telecasting Corp., and its application was approved by the FCC on 11 June 1954. (The merger agreement gave the other parties the option to purchase stock in the new corporation.) The commission turned down WCAN-TV's request to switch from channel 25 to channel 12.

On 27 October 1954, WTVW, owned and operated by the Milwaukee Area Telecasting Co., began broadcasting on channel 12. The calls stood for “Wisconsin’s Television Window”. They had a fall programming deadline from ABC (The first broadcast of “Disneyland”). They had a partially completed 300 ft. tower, and had poured a concrete slab in Lincoln Park swampland, originally purchased by Milwaukee Broadcasting. In order to begin operations, they erected a huge circus tent. Their first building was built inside the tent while they broadcast their first programs!) It became the ABC affiliate, and also carried Du Mont network shows. The station’s address was the Empire Building downtown – the original home to WEMP radio, from which its call letters derived.

It was a marriage of convenience. WTVW management complained that they received numerous calls from stockholders asking for jobs for relatives and friends.

In that atmosphere, Hearst decided to make a bid for the station, and entered into negotiations in December of 1954.

Despite objections from the chairman of the board of WTVW's parent company (who resigned in protest), the FCC approved the sale of WTVW to the Hearst Corp. on 4 March 1955. Hearst then dropped its application for channel 6. Its litigation over the designation of channel 10 as educational/non-commercial would not be settled until 1957.

Hearst completed the construction of an 1105 foot tower and changed WTVW’s call letters to WISN-TV at 11:30 a.m. on 25 July 1955.

The station moved to new facilities on 19th and Wisconsin in October of 1957.

On 2 April 1961, WISN-TV and WITI swapped affiliations, with WITI becoming the ABC affiliate, and WISN-TV the CBS. CBS had WISN radio as its local outlet, and had wanted to affiliate with WISN-TV as well. There were also reports of conflict between CBS and WITI’s parent, Storer Broadcasting.

On 27 April 1977, WITI and WISN-TV again swapped affiliations, with WISN-TV reverting to ABC and WITI to CBS. WISN-TV remains an ABC affiliate to this day.

- Dick
http://www.milwaukee-horror-hosts.com

Last edited by Dick Nitelinger; 10-01-2004 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 09-28-2004, 08:51 PM
Den Mayer Den Mayer is offline
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Interesting Milwaukee TV History....

From my 1949-51 TV viewing days in Racine on

Eisenhower Dr, I remember TMJ TV 3 News, Weather, & Sports

as Bob Hess, Bill Carlson, & Larry Clark.....

Then I moved to GBay in 52, no TV & no dial telephones...

In 1953 GBay WBAY-TV went on the air as Channel 2

and pushed TMJ from Chan 3 to Chan 4....
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Old 09-29-2004, 12:02 AM
Dick Nitelinger Dick Nitelinger is offline
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It may have contributed, but the primary reason WTMJ-TV shifted from channel 3 to channel 4 was because it interefered with another channel 3 in Kalamazoo, MI.

WBBM in Chicago shifted to channel 2 at the same time. (See the Milwaukee TV history page on my website.)

- Dick
http://www.milwaukee-horror-hosts.com
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Old 09-29-2004, 12:46 PM
Den Mayer Den Mayer is offline
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Thanks Dick N. for the even more Complete MKE

TV History & web side!! Superb.... After reading...,

Now, I believe there was much more to the TMJ move

from Chan 3 to Chan 4 than just GBay WBAY coming on

line for an 'open non adjacent channel slot'...


I have my TMJ correction: News was Bob Heiss, not
Bob Hess (Spelling & my memory fade)
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Old 10-05-2004, 05:39 PM
kwinrich kwinrich is offline
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In addition, the FCC wanted to slide a Madison channel 3.
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Old 10-10-2004, 02:42 PM
Dick Nitelinger Dick Nitelinger is offline
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WISC-TV certainly came later, but I don't know that it was in the works in 1952, when the FCC lifted the freeze. As late as May, 1956 Madison was an all-UHF city, with WHA on channel 21, WKOW on channel 27 and WMTV on channel 33. By January, 1957, WISC was on the air.

It might have been a part of the post-freeze channel assignment scheme, but I don't know that. It must have taken a LONG time for the license hearings to be resolved as well.

Is there anyone who knows?

- Dick
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Old 10-27-2004, 08:08 AM
BrewCityNews BrewCityNews is offline
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WISN 12 -- 50th Anniversary

I'm really surprised that WISN 12 hasn't promoted this.... and there' s been no mention in Cuprisin's column (that I've seen yet).

Anyway, Happy Anniversary, WISN 12!

(Today also marks the centennial of the NYC Subway)
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Old 10-27-2004, 08:15 AM
Gregg Lengling Gregg Lengling is offline
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Interesting as Channel 12 is just as old as the transistor radio!:D
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Old 11-16-2004, 02:38 PM
BrewCityNews BrewCityNews is offline
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Update: I guess WISN 12's 50th Anniversary will be a part of the upcoming 12 News On Assignment.

http://www.themilwaukeechannel.com/n...02/detail.html
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Old 11-16-2004, 05:14 PM
Dick Nitelinger Dick Nitelinger is offline
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Thanks for posting thie link! I'll be sure to watch!

- Dick
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