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WKKL
WKKL logo
Logo used since 2010.

Location

Chicago, IL

Branding

Channel 6 - WKKL-TV

Slogan

Chicago's News Place.

Channel(s)

Analog: 6 (VHF)
Digital: 6 (UHF)

subchannel(s)

6.1 WKKL HD

Affiliation

Independent

First air date

April 4, 2002

Former call letters

none

Former channel number

Analog: 1 (VHF) (2002-2007)
Digital: 1 (VHF) (2002-2007)

Former Affiliation

none

Owner

Berfield/Willis Broadcast Corporation

WKKL is an independent television station that serves the Chicago, IL broadcast area broadcasting on digital UHF channel 6.

History

The station began as a split, two-station operation on April 4, 2002. Raycom Media, which was the original applicant for the UHF channel 1 license in 1998, launched WKKL-TV with a large percentage of its broadcast schedule dedicated to a new pay television service called SportWorld, which Raycom had developed in a deal with Chicago White Sox co-owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn. For the service, viewers had to rent a set-top converter and pay a subscription fee to watch their favorite sports teams. However, SportWorld was not a success and became a cable channel in January 2003, eventually becoming The Sport Network Chicago. With SportWorld gone from its schedule, Raycom Media began acquiring public domain movies and sitcoms from the early-1950s until the late-1990s as well as old cartoons to fill WKKL's schedule. In 2004, familiar classic sitcoms and newer barter cartoons were mixed in.

WKKL shared the channel 6 frequency with another station, Spanish-language WJLF-TV, owned by Chicago resident Marcelino Miyares, who assisted Raycom Media in completing the construction of channel 6. WJLF featured an array of Spanish-language programs, including telenovelas, movies, as well as locally-produced shows. One of WJLF's notable events occurred in 2004, when the station introduced the Spanish-language dub of The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002) to Chicago's Spanish audiences. WJLF programmed channel 6 from 7:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. seven days a week, with WKKL broadcasting the rest of the time.

Another twist in this arrangement was that although WJLF broadcast from the same transmitter, WJLF was actually licensed to West Chicago while WKKL as per the Federal Communications Commission's channel assignment table, was licensed to Aurora.

The 2005 announcement that WIDE-TV (channel 35) would be affiliating with Telefutura (the forerunner to today's UniMas) effectively ended the split-channel arrangement. Realizing it could not hope to compete with Telefutura, WJLF cut back its schedule to Spanish-language movies on weekends.

Meanwhile, Raycom Media spent $1.5 million for WIDE, a channel 13 construction permit licensed to Gary. The permit had been held by a group of Indiana businessmen since 1976, but the station had never been built. In 2005, Raycom Media also acquired the license of WOIZ, a non-commercial station on channel 6 in St. John, Indiana. He successfully petitioned the FCC to move the non-commercial allocation from 13 to 6, and channel 6 became WKTU (now licensed to Gary). Raycom Media originally wanted to move channel 13's transmitter to downtown Chicago, but was unable to do it because of the presence of channel 1 there; FCC anti-interference regulations for analog UHF stations and digital UHF stations effectively required stations broadcasting from nearby sites to be spaced at least six channels apart. Raycom Media then decided to move channel 6's transmitter to downtown Chicago and move WJLF's programming there.

In early 2006, Raycom Media bought WJLF's share of channel 1 for $11 million, formally ending the split-channel arrangement. A year later, Raycom Media sold channel 1 to The Weather Channel for $25 million. The frequency swap occurred on January 18, 2007: The Weather Channel changed channel 1's call letters to WTHWC and at the same time, WKKL moved to channel 6. WKKL's first program on its new frequency was an episode of the syndicated game show Supermarket Sweep.

As time went on, WKKL began acquiring many cartoons, more recent off-network sitcoms, drama shows, movies, and first-run syndicated shows, including Steve Wilkos in 2007 and The Doctors in 2008. Within a year of starting full-time operation on channel 6, WKKL had firmly established itself as the second independent station in Chicago, behind WNCI-TV (channel 11).

Shortly after Great Holdings acquired WKKL from Raycom Media for $35 billion in November 2013, Great Holdings announced that WKKL will be part of a new primetime network called GBN to launch January 1, 2015. GBN will be operated by Great Television Stations, Inc. and Great Television Studios.

On August 27, 2016, Berfield/Willis Broadcast Corporation, owners of WIOQ and WJHT, acquired WKKL for $16 million.


Television stations in the Chicago area
WCVF 2 (A1)

WJSZ 3 (CBS)
WCGO 4 (ABC-TV)
WACH 5 (ABC)
WKKL 6 (IND)
WCHS 7 (ABN)
KFUF 8 (SLN)
WQCO 9 (Acme)
WKDA 10 (RKO)
WMAQ 11 (NBC)
WCID 12 (DBC)
WLUK-TV 13 (QTV)
WKRU 14 (KTV)
WUCH 15 (UBN)
WGNX 16 (Ind)
WCLI 17 (The WB)
WCHP 18 (UPN)
KCHGG 19 (Q)
WIOQ 20 (MyTV)
WCHG 21 (UDC)
WFXC 22 (FOX)
WCIL 23 (ABS)
WCHJ 24 (JFN)
WCQU 25 (TNT)
WJHT-DT 26 (CW)
WCRD 27 (RDN)
WCUU 28 (IND)
WCNLN 29 (New Line)
WQGC 30 (TBS)
WPC-DT 31 (PBC)
WARE-TV 32 (YesNet)
WCRB-TV 33 (IND)
WCMY 34 (MNTV)
WETV 35 (PBS)
WPAC-TV 36 (Paramount)
WIUN 42 (PBS)
WEIG 44 (IND)
WCKT 46 (KTTV)
WCHI 50 (The Big Network)
WNSN 55 (Telemundo)
WUVC 56 (Univision)
WCAE 58 (PBS)
WFPJ 68 (IND)

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