WDCQ-TV, channel 15 (virtual channel 19) branded as Q-TV, is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member public television station for the Flint/Tri-Cities television market. It is owned and operated by Delta College in University Center, an unincorporated community in Frankenlust Township in southwestern Bay County; and licensed in Bad Axe.

History

The station first signed on the air on October 12, 1964 as WUCM-TV channel 19, licensed to University Center; the "UCM" stood for University Center Michigan. The station was initially affiliated with National Educational Television until 1970, when the present-day PBS replaced NET. In 1986, WUCM established a satellite, WUCX-TV channel 35 in Bad Axe, to better cover Michigan's Thumb area. In 1997, when the station first adopted the "Q-TV" branding, both stations changed their calls, with WUCM becoming WDCQ-TV, and WUCX becoming WDCP-TV.

The channel 15 digital tower is located in Quanicassee, in northwestern Tuscola County. The analog channel 19 transmitter was located on a 496-foot (151 m) tower on the campus of Delta College, near the corner of 4-mile and Delta Roads near Delta College in Bay County. The analog channel 35 tower was located just south of Ubly.

The WUCX calls are still used today for Delta College's Public Radio station, WUCX-FM 90.1, Q90.1. That station is owned by Central Michigan University, and jointly-run by Delta College and CMU.

WDCQ is currently the third most-watched PBS affiliate in Michigan, behind WTVS in Detroit and WGVU-TV in West Michigan. As of 2008, Barry Baker is the general manager of WDCQ and WUCX-FM.

Programming

Programming on WDCQ is the general primary PBS fare, with some locally produced shows, such as Currently Speaking, a weekly, live current events discussion program hosted by Andy Rapp, who's been a personality at WDCQ since the early-1970s, when he hosted a daily discussion program, Day By Day, which ran on the old WUCM into the 1980s.

Starting in 2005, Q-TV began to produce local documentaries which looked at aspects of local history in the Great Lakes Bay Region and surrounding areas. These documentaries received many state and national awards including four Michigan Association of Broadcasters "Excellence in Broadcasting" Awards, numerous "Telly" awards among others. Documentaries produced include:

"Vanishing Voices of World War Two"

"Sawdust & Shanty Boys - Logging the Saginaw Valley White Pine"

"Margin of Victory - Saginaw Valley's Role in Winning World War II"

"Tracks Through Time - Michigan Railroads - History & Impact"

"Breaking New Ground - Women of the Saginaw Valley"

"Restored To Glory - Classic Automobiles, Collectors & Their Stories"

"The Korean War - Voices from the 38th Parallel"

Many cable and satellite systems in the Flint-Saginaw-Bay City market often carry WDCQ, as well as Mount Pleasant's WCMU-TV (or its satellite station, Flint's WCMZ-TV).

Digital television

Digital channels

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[2]
19.1720p16:9WDCQ-DTMain WDCQ-TV programming / PBS
19.2480i4:3MHz WorldView
19.3Create
19.4PBS Kids

Analog-to-digital conversion

With the impending end of analog broadcasting in the United States, Delta College decided to use one digital station to cover its entire coverage area. Since it was widely believed that digital signals would travel further than analog signals, Delta College anticipated this would make up for the main WDCQ signal's shortfall on the Thumb. When each analog station was assigned a digital channel, WDCQ University Center was assigned channel 18 while WDCP Bad Axe was assigned channel 15 for digital. For practicality and monetary reasons, school officials opted to activate only channel 15, from a location that was close enough to the Tri-Cities to provide city-grade coverage to the area. Accordingly, on November 28, 2003; the two stations switched callsigns, with channel 19 becoming WDCP, and channel 35 now WDCQ.

WDCQ-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 35, 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 15,[3] using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as channel 19. Reflecting the analog channel position of WDCP. Even though FCC regulations regarding PSIP would usually mandate that WDCQ use "35" as its virtual channel, Delta College sought and received permission to use "19" instead. This is because most of its viewers live in the Flint/Tri-Cities area and had watched the station on channel 19 for almost half a century.