KLJB is the Fox-affiliated television station for the Quad Cities of Eastern Iowa and West-Central Illinois. Licensed to Davenport, Iowa, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 49 (or virtual channel 18.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter along US 150 in Orion of Western Township, Illinois. The station can also be seen on Mediacom channel 7 and in high definition on digital channel 707. Owned by Marshall Broadcasting, KLJB is operated by Nexstar Broadcasting Group, owners of CBS affiliate WHBF-TV and CW affiliate KGCW. All three stations share studios in the Telco Building on 18th Street in downtown Rock Island.
The station signed-on July 28, 1985 with the calls KLJB-TV. It was the Quad Cities' first Independent outlet and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 18. It became a Fox affiliate in 1987 but reverted to an Independent after a year following a dispute between General Manager Gary Brandt and the network. This occurred because Brandt was frustrated by the low ratings for Fox's Saturday night lineup and bumped it to overnight in favor of more profitable syndicated programming. However, following the success of The Simpsons, KLJB rejoined Fox in 1990.
On July 4, 1987, the station premiered Live on Tape (a late night comedy sketch show) which aired Saturday nights at 10 PM until 1990. It was produced at the station's studios in Davenport and was the area's only local entertainment show at that time, as well as the only original sketch comedy show produced in the Midwest.
Former owner Grant Broadcasting (overseen by Milton Grant) purchased KLJB on September 15, 1992. In 1996, the company obtained KJMH-TV (now KGCW) in Burlington, Iowa which then began to simulcast KLJB. That station had been a separate Fox affiliate serving the southern portion of the Quad Cities market but suffered interference and duplication from KLJB. In 2001, it broke off, becoming the area's first WB affiliate and adopted the call sign KGWB-TV.
KLJB began broadcasting its digital signal in high definition (network programming only) in January 2003. From September 14, 2004 until September 12, 2005, it aired the "Acri Creature Feature", which consisted of a personality from Acri Company hosting the show during a movie. It aired after MADtv from 11 PM until 1 AM. From September 18, 2005 to May 9, 2007, KLJB broadcast "Zomboo's House of Horror Movies" where another personality hosted and commentated during a movie. It initially aired after MADtv, but starting in fall 2006, the show was shown after Talkshow with Spike Feresten.
Prior to KGCW's digital conversion, its Burlington-based analog signal only operated at an effective radiated power of 200 kilowatts at a height of only 96 meters. This resulted in a limited coverage area compared with most full-powered UHF channels in the United States. Later, it experienced interference from low-powered WBQD-LP in the Quad Cities which transmitted on the same UHF channel 26 frequency. From 2001 until early 2015, the inadequacy had been made up by KGCW being available on cable systems in the area through a fiber optic link and a simulcast on KLJB-DT2.
KGCW's digital signal on UHF channel 41 covers most of the market except for the far northern parts. As a result, that station continued to benefit from having its signal simulcasted on KLJB-DT2 until Spring 2015, when the KGCW simulcast moved to WHBF-DT2.
On April 17, 2012, KLJB replaced the This TV simulcast on digital subchannel 18.3 with MeTV. KGCW digital subchannel 26.3 will serve as MeTV's primary affiliate for the Quad Cities market, while KLJB digital subchannel 18.3 will simulcast the network; This TV programming will continue to air on KGCW digital subchannel 26.2. However, as of Spring 2015, MeTV has been taken off of KGCW-DT3 and KLJB-DT3 and moved to KLJB-DT2.
On November 6, 2013, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it would purchase the Grant stations, including KLJB and KGCW, for $87.5 million. Due to Federal Communications Commission ownership regulations (Nexstar was also in the process of acquiring WHBF-TV), KLJB was to then be spun off to Mission Broadcasting, but operated by Nexstar through a shared services agreement. However, on June 6, 2014, Nexstar announced that it would instead sell KLJB and two other Fox stations to a minority-controlled company called Marshall Broadcasting—a new company headed by Pluria Marshall Jr., for $58.5 million. While this company will acquire much of the station's assets, Nexstar will enter into a shared services agreement to provide non-programming resources (such as master control) and advertising sales for Marshall's three stations. The sale was completed on December 1, 2014.
In November 2014, while Nexstar was still waiting for the completion of its sale of KLJB to Marshall Broadcasting, there was speculation by other local media that KGCW might move to a WHBF subchannel. On May 14, 2015, Nexstar relaunched WHBF's digital subchannel 4.2 with a standard definition simulcast of KGCW. Because KLJB is now owned by a separate company than KGCW, the simulcast of KGCW, which was previously aired on KLJB's 18.2 subchannel, moved to WHBF's 4.2 subchannel as Nexstar owns WHBF and KGCW, where Marshall Broadcasting owns KLJB.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|18.1||720p||16:9||KLJBDT1||Main KLJB programming / Fox|
Jewelry Television (overnights)
KLJB-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 18, at noon on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 49. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 18. Also after the digital transition, KLJB officially removed the "-TV" suffix from the now-defunct analog signal and the "-DT" suffix from its digital signal. It then began using KLJB as its legal call sign without any suffixes at the end.
On December 31, 1999, KLJB launched a thirty-minute prime time newscast known as Fox 18 Nine O'Clock News. Airing every night except Saturday, it was the flagship production of the Independent News Network (INN). The station served as the first customer for the Davenport-based centralized newscast operation which still has its own production facility on Tremont Avenue near KLJB's now former 53rd Street studios. News anchors, meteorologists, and sports anchors were provided by INN and other personnel from the outsourced production company would fill-in as needed. The station maintained two news reporters of its own who would contribute Quad Cities-specific content to the show which were taped in advance.
Monday through Saturday mornings at 5, sister station KGCW replayed Fox 18 Nine O'Clock News. On September 4, 2007, ABC affiliate WQAD-TV began repeating its weeknight newscast at 6 later in the evening at 9 on WBQD. However, since this was ultimately not live, there was not much competition to KLJB's broadcast. In a report in the Macon, Georgia Telegraph, it was announced the Independent News Network filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy and would end all news productions (including those for KLJB) by January 9, 2009. According to the newspaper, all INN broadcasts would then be reinstated under ownership of Fusion Communications (also based in Davenport).
On August 6, 2010, it was made public KLJB would be terminating its long standing partnership with INN and enter into a news share agreement with ABC affiliate WQAD (owned by Local TV). On September 6, that station began producing a nightly half-hour prime time show on KLJB still known as Fox 18 Nine O'Clock News. The newscasts began originating live from a secondary set at WQAD's studios on 16th Street in the Prospect Park section of Moline, Illinois. As a result of this arrangement being established, the repeat of news on WBQD was eventually dropped. KGCW continued to rebroadcast the previous night's KLJB show at 5 in the morning. On September 12, 2011, WQAD became the last major news operation in the Quad Cities market to upgrade its newscasts to high definition. The KLJB broadcasts were included in the upgrade.
Production of Fox 18 Nine O'Clock News changed again on December 31, 2012 when it was taken over through a new outsourcing arrangement by NBC affiliate KWQC-TV (owned by Media General). There was a separate weeknight news anchor featured on KLJB that can report for KWQC; otherwise, most other personnel from KWQC were seen on KLJB. The nightly half-hour broadcast at 9 originated from the NBC outlet's primary set at its studios on Brady Street/U.S. 61 (within the Palmer College of Chiropractic campus) in downtown Davenport but with separate duratrans indicating the Fox-branded show. The partnership between KLJB and KWQC ended on December 30, 2015.
On December 31, 2015, it was announced that KLJB's newscasts would be produced by KLJB's Nexstar sister station and SSA partner, CBS affiliate WHBF-TV, beginning with that evening's 9 pm newscast. Also, the KLJB newscasts were expanded from a half hour to a full hour. The newscasts are now branded as Fox 18 News at Nine as opposed to the previous Fox 18 Nine O'Clock News branding.