WMBD-TV is the CBS-affiliatedtelevision station for North-Central Illinois that is licensed to Peoria. It broadcasts a high definitiondigital signal on UHF channel 30 (or virtual channel 31.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Pinecrest Drive in East Peoria, a section of Groveland Township. Owned by the Nexstar Broadcasting Group, WMBD operates Fox affiliate WYZZ-TV (owned by Cunningham Broadcasting) through a local marketing agreement (LMA). The two outlets share studios together on North University Street in Peoria.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|31.1||1080i||16:9||WMBD-DT||Main WMBD-TV programming / CBS|
|31.3||Escape (Launch date TBD)|
|31.4||Laff (Launch date TBD)|
The station signed on January 1, 1958 as the third television outlet in the Peoria market after WEEK-TV (channel 25) and WTVH (channel 19, now WHOI). Airing an analog signal on UHF channel 31, it was originally owned by John Fetzer along with WMBD radio (AM 1470 and FM 93.3, now WPBG). All three stations took their calls from a local legend that PresidentTheodore Roosevelt once described Grandview Drive (original home of WMBD radio) as "the World's Most Beautiful Drive."  WMBD radio had long been a CBS affiliate, so naturally channel 31 took over the CBS affiliation from WTVH.
WMBD-TV shared it studios along with its radio sisters on the second level of what was then the Majestic Theatre. Fetzer had previously won a construction permit for VHF channel 6 as early as 1949, but those plans were shelved when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made Peoria/Bloomington an all-UHF market.
The WMBD stations were sold to Midwest Television Incorporated of Champaign (owner of fellow CBS affiliate WCIA) in 1960 for $1.85 million. In addition to sharing resources with WCIA, WMBD has also carried some original programming from the former. In the early-1960s, WMBD was the first Peoria station to broadcast color television. Along with WEEK-TV, it maintained a repeater, W71AE channel 71, in LaSalle in the 1960s and 1970s in order to expand its signal reach. The broadcast license for this low-powered outlet was granted on 15 November 1962. A picture of W71AE's 485-foot (148 m) Rohn tower and its sixteen bay antenna is shown in a Rohn advertisement in the 1 July 1963 issue of Broadcasting.
WMBD moved to its current location on North University Street in June 1977 and still remains Peoria's only commercial television station with studios in the city itself. It became the area's first outlet to broadcast in stereo in September 1988. In 1999, Midwest Television sold controlling interest in its Illinois television stations to Nexstar. In 2001, Midwest sold its remaining interest in WMBD, WCIA and WCFN to Nexstar while the WMBD radio stations were sold to Triad Broadcasting.
In 2002, Nexstar and the Sinclair Broadcast Group entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) in which WMBD took over WYZZ's operations. As part of the deal, WYZZ moved into WMBD's studios in Peoria. In August 2005, a similar agreement would be established between Nexstar's WROC-TV and Sinclair's WUHF in Rochester, New York. WMBD was the last station in the market to sign-on a digital signal and has been broadcasting digital-only since February 17, 2009.
On June 15, 2016, Nexstar announced that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Katz Broadcasting for the Escape, Laff, Grit, and Bounce TV networks (the last one of which is owned by Bounce Media LLC, whose COO Jonathan Katz is president/CEO of Katz Broadcasting), bringing one or more of the four networks to 81 stations owned and/or operated by Nexstar, including WMBD-TV.
In April 2002, WMBD established a news share agreement with WYZZ. The arrangement resulted in the launch of a half-hour, prime time newscast on the Fox affiliate. Known as Fox 43 News at 9, the broadcast was originally seen every night. At some point in time, the weekend edition of the newscast was dropped. The program did not have any direct competition in the time slot until June 5, 2006 when WEEK-TV introduced its own weeknight-only prime time news program on MyNetworkTV affiliate WAOE.
On March 2, 2009, WHOI consolidated its operations with WEEK-TV. As a result, there was a noticeable increase in viewership on WMBD since this left the market with only two unique news departments that cover the area. On May 7, 2015 beginning with the weekday noon newscast, the station became the first news operation in the market to produce local news in full high definition. On the same date, WYZZ's weeknight 9 o'clock show was included in the change. In addition to its primary studios, it operates a Twin Cities Bureau on East Lincoln Street in Bloomington (that were WYZZ's original studios before entering into the LMA with WMBD).
Notable former personnel
- Cheryl Burton (1990) — later co-anchor on WLS-TV 7 Chicago
- Colleen Callahan — agribusiness reporter (1974-1997)
- John Coleman — weather anchor, later founded The Weather Channel then went to KUSI in San Diego, now retired
- Bob Jamieson — from Peoria; later at ABC News; Jamieson School in Peoria is named for his father
- Jim Jensen — later at WBZ (AM)/FM/TV Boston then main anchor at WCBS-TV 2 New York City; died in 1999
- Paul Moyer — later anchor at KNBC-TV 4 Los Angeles
- Faith Daniels — later news anchor for CBS Morning News and Today Show
- Randy Salerno — also worked at WHOI 19 Peoria; later at WGN-TV 9 then WBBM-TV 2 Chicago
- Martin Savidge — anchor; now at CNN
- Dave Snell — from Pekin; still on WMBD (AM) as Bradley Braves men's basketball announcer
- Bob Starr (1960s) — later a sports announcer in Boston, St. Louis, and Los Angeles
- Lisa Sylvester — later ABC News and CNN correspondent
- Anne Marie Tiernon — reporter (1989-1991; now at WTHR in Indianapolis)