WDIO-DT (digital channel 10) and WIRT-DT (digital channel 13) are the ABC and MeTV-affiliated television stations for North Central and Northeastern Minnesota, and Northwestern Wisconsin. WDIO's studios and transmitter are located on Observation Road in Duluth.
WDIO-TV first went on the air on January 24, 1966. WDIO's original owner was Frank Befera, a trained engineer who owned a chain of radio stations across northeastern Minnesota. WIRT went on the air on August 31, 1967. He sold channels 10 and 13 to publishers Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1977, who sold the stations to Hubbard Broadcasting in 1986.
The red 10/13 disk logo is the oldest TV logo in Duluth, having been in use since the 1980s. The lettering used in the logo (which blends a number "10" into the "IO" lettering) dates back to as late as the early 1970s. Since the 1980s, changes to the 10/13 logo have merely depended on changes to ABC's logo and branding guidelines. The most recent change was in fall 2013 upon ABC's newest rebranding, which saw the 10/13 ball take on the same subtle reflection of the current ABC logo. WDIO/WIRT has broadcast in color since they first went on the air.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
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Both stations discontinued regular programming on their analog signals, on February 17, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television (which Congress had moved the previous month to June 12). The station's digital channel allocations post-transition are as follows:
- WDIO discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 10; the station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 43 to VHF channel 10.
- WIRT discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 13; the station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 36 to VHF channel 13.
In addition to ABC network programming, syndicated programming featured on WDIO/WIRT includes: Live! with Kelly and Michael, The Rachael Ray Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, Criminal Minds, Discover Wisconsin and Numb3rs.
Every New Year's Eve, WDIO often cuts in to Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve to broadcast the SMDC New Year's Eve Ball; which was a fundraiser for the hospital. In 2008, after 17 years of televising the event, WDIO announced that it would stop its annual broadcast. This decision, along with declining attendance, led to the decision to cancel the event. The Ball itself ran for 23 years and at its peak hosted 4,000 guests.
WDIO/WIRT's newscasts were branded throughout the 1970s and 1980s as Action News. The station changed its branding to Eyewitness News in the early 1990s. It shares this branding with sister station KSTP in Minneapolis/St. Paul. However, the Eyewitness News branding is the station's only resemblance to KSTP. WDIO uses its own graphics and music packages.
WDIO and KSTP team up when breaking news happens (example: the I-35W Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis) or for major election debates.
Longtime WDIO news anchor Dennis Anderson joined the station in 1969, initially as anchor of the nightly news' Action Line segment. He was promoted to chief anchor of the evening newscasts in 1970; he later was the first local TV anchor to announce the sinking of the ore freighter Edmund Fitzgerald which sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Anderson retired Wednesday, May 25, 2011, after 42 years with the station. Darren Danielson, previously of WDSE, replaced Anderson as anchor the following day, Thursday, May 26.
In October 2009, 20-year veteran Deborah Anderson stepped down from being the lead anchor of the weekend newscasts. The station management filled the vacancy with reporters already employed with the station rather than searching for a replacement.
At some point in late 2010 or early 2011, WDIO became the third station in the Duluth area to broadcast its local newscasts in 16:9 enhanced-definition widescreen.
In the May 2007 ratings race, WDIO took first place in all timeslots except at 5 p.m., where they fell to NBC affiliate KBJR. In February 2008, WDIO won with number of viewers in the morning, and at 6 and 10 p.m. KBJR once again came out slightly ahead at 5 p.m. In July 2009, WDIO topped the ratings again. The 10 p.m. newscast had about 7,000 more viewers than second place KBJR. WDIO also won in the weekend ratings.
In November 2009, WDIO doubled the ratings of KBJR at the 10 p.m. newscast with a 12 share compared to KBJR's 6 rating and KDLH's 3. The station also swept the 5 and 6 p.m. time-slots and with a 14 and an 11 rating respectively. KBJR rated a 10 at the same timeslots . Take note that this ratings period marks one full year anniversary of WDIO's market dominance.
Besides WIRT, WDIO is seen on several outlying digital translators in the Iron Range of northeastern and north-central Minnesota. All of these translators are licensed as repeaters of WIRT; via PSIP virtual channel numbering, each translator station remaps to channel 13.
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