Weigel Broadcasting

Weigel Broadcasting Company is an American television broadcasting company based in Chicago, Illinois, alongside its flagship station WCIU-TV (Channel 26), at 26 North Halsted Street in the Greektown neighborhood. It currently owns 19 television stations.

The company was founded by Chicago broadcasting veteran John Weigel, whose career dated back to the 1930s. With $1,000 of his own money, and another $1,000 from his attorney, Daniel J. McCarthy, Weigel bought the broadcasting license for what became the first UHF television station in the Chicago area. WCIU signed on the air on February 6, 1964. One year later, in 1965, the company was the subject of a successful hostile takeover at the hands of the Shapiro family.

Over the years, the company started to acquire and also launch new stations in the adjacent markets of Milwaukee and South Bend, at first by placing WCIU translators in those markets to gain a foothold in each market, before programming the stations independently. Weigel would end up an unexpected beneficiary of the television industry realignment of 1994-95. Full-power independent station WDJT-TV in Milwaukee, which had only signed on five years earlier, ended up with the CBS affiliation in late 1994. WBND-LP became the home of ABC programming in South Bend the next year. In both cases, the longtime affiliates of the networks in those markets — WITI in Milwaukee and WSJV in South Bend — switched to Fox, and the Weigel-owned stations secured 11th-hour affiliation deals after no other viable replacement affiliates surfaced.

Also in that same year, WCIU dropped the Spanish-language Univision network and became Chicago’s only true full-power independent station when WGN-TV and WPWR-TV joined The WB and UPN networks respectively, while WGBO-TV became a Univision-owned station. These changes allowed WCIU to pursue sports rights and syndicated programming not previously available, ultimately giving WCIU some strength in the market.

Weigel’s MeTV format originated as a programming block that debuted on January 6, 2003, on television station WFBT-CA (channel 23) in Chicago, Illinois, an independent station that otherwise featured an ethnic programming format.

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