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WLS-TV's ABC 7 News opening.
WLS-TV's State Street Studio Sign, c.
WLS-TV channel 7 is a television station in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker. The station is owned and operated by Walt Disney Company-owned American Broadcasting Company. WLS-TV produces its broadcasts at 190 North State Street in The Loopmarker and transmits its signal from the Willis Towermarker. The WLS-TV call letters stand for "World's Largest Store," recognizing their AM sister station'smarker founding part-owners, Sears, Roebuck and Company.


The station first went on the air as the third TV station in Chicago (after WBKB-TV which later became WBBM-TV and WGN-TV) on September 17, 1948 as WENR-TV. It was named after WENR-AM, ABC's Chicago radio affiliate. As one of the original ABC-owned stations on channel 7, it was the second station after WABC-TVmarker in New York City to begin operations, ahead of WXYZ-TVmarker in Detroit, KGO-TVmarker in San Francisco and KABC-TVmarker in Los Angeles.

In 1953, ABC merged with United Paramount Theatres, the former theater division of Paramount Pictures. UPT owned WBKB on channel 4 (which shared a CBS affiliation with WGN-TVmarker) but the new ABC could not keep both, because of Federal Communications Commission regulations at that time. As a result, WBKB was sold to CBS and renamed WBBM-TVmarker; while WENR was renamed WBKB-TV. The old WBKB's talent stayed at WBBM (which moved to channel 2), while the old WBKB's call letters and management moved to channel 7. The general manager from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s was Sterling "Red" Quinlan,[78596] who was a giant in early Chicago television. He was instrumental in the careers of Tom Duggan, Frank Reynolds, and Bob Newhart. The station courageously aired The Tom Duggan Show in the mid-1950s, which was the most popular show in Chicago far out drawing other network competition. The station became WLS-TV on October 7, 1968, after WLS-AMmarker, which ABC had owned since 1959.

Today, the WBKB-TVmarker calls are used by a CBS affiliate in Alpena, Michiganmarker.

Digital Television

The station's digital channel is multiplexed.

Channel Programming
7.1 WLS-DT
7.2 Live Well HD Network
7.3 ABC 7 News Now

WLS is one of two stations in Chicago whose digital frequency is on VHF, the other being WBBM-TVmarker, Chicago's CBS affiliate.

WLS currently broadcasts its digital signal at low power (4.75 kW) to protect the digital signal of WOOD-TVmarker in Grand Rapids, Michiganmarker (which also broadcasts on channel 7, but with much higher power). As a result, many viewers were not able to receive the station. The FCC sent extra personnel to Chicago, Philadelphiamarker, and New York Citymarker to deal with difficulties in those cities. WLS had received 1,735 calls just by the end of the day on June 12 (WBBM only received 600), and an estimated 5000 calls in total by June 16. WLS-TV is just one station which may need to increase its signal strength to solve its problems, but doing this will require making sure no other stations are affected. WLS received a two-week experimental permit late in June. WLS had also applied for a permit to construct a low-power fill-in digital translator station on UHF channel 32, (the former analog frequency of WFLDmarker) but abandoned that plan. Eventually the FCC granted it a permit to transmit on a second frequency, Channel 44, formerly occupied by WSNS-TVmarker, and WLS announced the availability of that frequency on October 31, 2009.

News operations

WLS, like the other ABC owned-and-operated stations, adopted the Eyewitness News format in the late 1960s after it became a hit at flagship WABC-TVmarker in New Yorkmarker. Fahey Flynn, a local broadcaster known for his bow ties and Joel Daly served as the anchormen of the newscasts from the mid 1960s until the early 1980s. In 1973, Eyewitness News surpassed WMAQ-TVmarker to become Chicago's top-rated new operation, a lead it held until WBBM-TVmarker surpassed it in 1979. For much of the 1970s and 1980s, it waged a spirited battle for second place in the Chicago news ratings.

By 1983, a disastrous anchor change had dropped WLS into third place. That prompted two major changes. First was the hiring of Dennis Swanson as General Manager, who in turn, hired Bill Applegate as News Director. Secondly, ABC commissioned Frank Gari to write an updated version of the Cool Hand Luke theme widely associated with the Eyewitness News format. The result was News Series 2000, which was quickly picked up by the other ABC O&Os.

Swanson was instrumental in hiring Oprah Winfrey to host its then low-rated morning talk show, "AM Chicago," in 1983. Within a year, it had shot to first place. It was picked up nationally in 1986 and renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. Channel 7 still airs it today, along with most other ABC O&Os. Swanson also hired lead anchor John Drury, who had previously worked at WLS, WBBM and WGN-TVmarker and Floyd Kalber, who had led WMAQ-TV to the top of the ratings in the 1960s.

Drury and Mary Ann Childers were a popular anchor team at WLS during the 1980s and 1990s, accompanied by weatherman Steve Deshler and sportscaster Tim Weigel. In March 1986, WLS passed WBBM as the highest-rated news station in Chicago. It has held the lead ever since, aside from a brief period when WBBM managed to forge a tie for first.

As of 1996, the station currently brands its newscast as "ABC7 News" even though it still uses the same basic format from its Eyewitness News days. The station has been using its current news music package, News Series 2000 Plus by Frank Gari since 1992. It also updated the on-air graphics for its newscasts on Saturday, June 3, 2005.

The new State Street Studio officially debuted Monday, April 10, 2006 during its morning newscast, but they started broadcasting their newscast from the new studio on Saturday, April 8, 2006.

On the weekend of April 29-30, 2006, ABC7 began using Chopper 7 HD.

On Saturday, January 6, 2007, ABC7 became the first Chicago station to broadcast its entire news and local programming in high definition.

On Sunday, December 23, 2007, the State Street Studio became news when a minivan drove through a reinforced studio window two minutes into the 10pm newscast, startling anchor Ravi Baichwal on air and creating a 20° draft, but injuring no one.

ABC 7 News personnel

Current ABC 7 News anchors

  • Stacey Baca - Weekend Mornings; Field Reporter
  • Ravi Baichwal - Weekend Evenings; Field Reporter
  • Kathy Brock - Weeknights 6:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.
  • Cheryl Burton - Weeknights 5:00 p.m.
  • Judy Hsu - Weekday mornings; Field Reporter
  • Thom Johnson - Fill-in Weekday Morning Traffic
  • Karen Jordan - Weekend Evenings; Field Reporter
  • Alan Krashesky - Weekdays 4:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m.; "NewsViews" Sundays 9:00 a.m.
  • Ron Magers - Weeknights 5:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.
  • Sylvia Perez - Weekdays 11:00 a.m.; "Healthbeat"
  • Kevin Roy - Weekend Mornings; Field Reporter
  • Hosea Sanders - Weekday Mornings; Field Reporter
  • Roz Varon - Weekday Morning Traffic
  • Linda Yu - Weekdays 11:00 a.m. & 4:00 p.m.

ABC 7 Weather Team

  • Jerry Taft - Chief Meteorologist - Weeknights 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.
  • Mike Caplan - Weekdays 4:00 p.m.
  • Tracy Butler - Weekday Mornings & 11:00 a.m.
  • Phil Schwarz - Sunday Mornings; Weekend Evenings
  • Mark Bishop - Saturday Mornings

ABC 7 Sports Team

  • Mark Giangreco - Weeknights 5:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.
  • Jim Rose - Weekdays 4:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m.
  • Ryan Chiaverini - Weekend Evenings & Sports Reporter; Host of the "Chicago Huddle"

ABC 7 Local Programs

  • Bill Campbell - "Chicagoing"
  • Janet Davies - "190 North" Host; Feature/Entertainment Reporter
  • Theresa Gutierrez - "The ñ Beat"; Field Reporter

ABC 7 reporters

  • Michelle Alegria - "190 North" Contributor
  • Dave Ball - "190 North" Contributor
  • Doug Banks - "190 North" Contributor
  • Ben Bradley
  • Steve Dolinksy - Food Reporter
  • Michelle Gallardo
  • John Garcia
  • Chuck Goudie - Chief Investigative Reporter
  • Theresa Gutierrez
  • Evelyn Holmes
  • Leah Hope
  • Jason Knowles
  • Frank Mathie - Features Reporter
  • Paul Meincke
  • Karen Meyer - Disablilty Issues
  • Mark Nilsson - "190 North" Contributor
  • Sarah Schulte
  • Charles Thomas - Political Reporter

Past personalities

  • Mike Adamle - sports anchor (1983-1988)
  • Diane B. Allen - anchor/reporter (1979-1982)
  • Andy Avalos - weather anchor (1983-1993, now at WMAQ-TVmarker)
  • Jim Avila - reporter (1980-1984)
  • Roberta Baskin - investigative reporter (1980-1984)
  • Nancy Becker - Anchor (1974-1977)
  • Jeff Blanzy - sports anchor/reporter (1998-2009)
  • Carol Bogart - reporter (1978-1981)
  • Diann Burns - anchor/reporter (1985-2003)
  • Lou Canellis - "190 North" contributor (1999-2008, now at WFLD-TVmarker)
  • Jann Carl - reporter (1983-1984)
  • Susan Carlson - traffic reporter (1998-2002, now at WBBM-TV]])
  • Mary Ann Childers - anchor/reporter (1980-1994, now Senior Consultant at Res Publica Group)
  • Lauren Cohn - anchor/reporter (1994-1998, now at WFLD-TVmarker)
  • John Coleman - longtime meteorologist (1968-1979)
  • Liza Cruzat - "190 North" contributor (1999-2002)
  • John Culea - reporter (1977-1980)
  • Joel Daly (longtime anchor from 1967-2005, also part-time legal contributor 2005-2007, now retired)
  • Gary Deeb - media critic/commentator (1983-1995) - now retired in Matthews, N.C.
  • Steve Deshler - weather anchor (1980-1993)
  • John Drury - anchor (1970-1979 and 1984-2002, deceased)
  • Tom Duggan - talk show/mob basher (1954-1956, deceased)
  • John Edwards
  • Steve Edwards - A.M. Chicago host (1975-1978)
  • Dr. Dave Eiser - weather anchor (1981-1984)
  • Joan Esposito - anchor/reporter (1981-1989)
  • Russ Ewing - investigative reporter (1981-1995)
  • Fahey Flynn - anchor (1968-1983, deceased)
  • Bill Frink - sports anchor (1968-1979, deceased)
  • Judie Garcia - anchor/reporter (1996-2001, now at WGN-TVmarker)
  • Mike Jackson - anchor/reporter (1983-1989)
  • Dick Johnson - anchor/reporter (1982-2002, now at WMAQ-TVmarker)
  • Rob Johnson - weekend anchor/reporter (1998-2006, now at WBBM-TVmarker)
  • Jack Jones (1980-1984, deceased)
  • Floyd Kalber - anchor (1984-1998, deceased)
  • Lonnie Lardner- weekend anchor (1983-1986)
  • Jay Levine - reporter, weekend anchor, 6PM anchor (1974-1990, now at WBBM-TVmarker)
  • Al Lerner - sports anchor (1978 - 1984)
  • Dr. Walt Lyons - meteorologist (1976-1979)
  • Johnny Mountain- meteorologist (1977) Later to KABC in LA now on KCBS and KCAL in LA
  • Cora Ann Milhalik - anchor (1982-1984)
  • Kent Ninomiya - reporter (1993 - 1998)
  • Mike Nolan - sports anchor (1975-1978)
  • Terry Murphy - reporter/5PM anchor (1976-1980)
  • Brad Palmer - sports reporter/anchor (1985-2006)
  • Kim Peterson - anchor/reporter (1979-1982)
  • Bob Petty - weekend anchor/reporter/host of Weekend Edition (1971-2002)
  • Dan Ponce - reporter (2006-2009)
  • Harry Porterfield - features reporter/host of People, Places, & Things/Someone You Should Know (1985-2009, now at WBBM-TVmarker)
  • Jim Ramsey - weather anchor (1980-1983, now at WGN-TVmarker)
  • Frank Reynolds - anchor/reporter (early 1960s?-1967, deceased)
  • Charlie Rose - A.M. Chicago host (1978-1979)
  • Jim Rosenfield - anchor/reporter (1989-1998)
  • Charles Rowe - anchor/reporter (1969-1973). Last worked for KREM-TVmarker in Spokane, WA from 1987-2007. Currently retired.
  • Tim Ryan - reporter (1983-1989)
  • Warner Saunders - host of For Blacks Only (1965-1972)
  • Mark Schanowski - sports anchor/reporter (1990-1998, now at Comcast Sportsnet Chicago)
  • Andy Shaw - political reporter (1983-2009, now Executive Director at Better Government Association)
  • Jack Smith - reporter (1970-1976)
  • Joe Templeton - anchor (1964 - 1967)
  • Paul Udell - anchor 4:30 The Eyewitness Newsmagazine (1980-1982)
  • James Ward - restaurant/food critic (1985-2005, deceased)
  • Tim Weigel - sports anchor/short time anchorman (1977-1994, deceased)
  • Oprah Winfrey - anchor/host of A.M. Chicago, which evolved into her current program (1984-1988)
  • Robb Weller - A.M. Chicago host (1980-1983)
  • Larry Yellen - reporter/producer (1982-1993 now at WFLD-TVmarker)

Other WLS-TV produced programs

  • 190 North - local life style program named after the station's studio address at 190 N. State St. in the Loopmarker - began broadcasting in HD on Sunday, May 6, 2007
    • Sundays 10:35 p.m., reruns Saturdays 11:05 p.m. (airs later during the fall season)
  • Chicagoing - local public affairs program
    • Sundays 11 a.m. (11:30 a.m. during the fall season)
  • The Chicago Huddle - local sports program about the Chicago Bears hosted by Ryan Chiaverini
    • Sundays 10:30 a.m. (during football season)
  • Let's Dish, for the Live Well HD Network
    • Shown locally on Channel 7.2.

Syndicated programming produced in Chicago

News directors

News/Station Presentation

Newscast titles

  • Channel 7 Eyewitness News (late 1960s-1996)
  • ABC7 News (1996-present)

Station slogans

  • Still The One on Channel 7 (1977-1980; customized version of the ABC campaign)
  • You and Me, and Channel 7 (1980-1981; customized version of the ABC campaign)
  • 7's On Your Side (1980-1983)
  • Now is the Time, Channel 7 is the Place (1981-1982; customized version of the ABC campaign)
  • 7's On The Move (1984-1985)
  • You'll Love It (1985-1986; local version of the ABC fall campaign)
  • Chicago's #1 News (late 1980s-present)
  • People Make the Difference (2000-present)
  • Your News. Your Way. (2008-present)

News Music Packages

Station Oddities

WLS-TV airs Jimmy Kimmel Live! in a one-hour delay at 12:07 a.m. instead of 11:07 p.m. due to airing the re-broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show after Nightline.

See also


External links

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