WIBW-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 13, is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Topeka, Kansas, United States. The station is owned by Gray Television. WIBW-TV maintains studio facilities located on Commerce Place (next to the interchange of I-70, I-470, US 40, US 75 and K-4) in southwestern Topeka, and its transmitter is located on Windy Hill Road in Maple Hill. To serve portions of the market that cannot adequately receive the main signal, WIBW-TV operates a digital fill-in translator in Topeka (WIBW-LD, which broadcasts on UHF channel 44).
On cable, WIBW-TV is available in the Topeka area on Cox Communications cable channel 13 in standard definition and digital channel 2009 in high definition, and on AT&T U-verse channel 13 in standard definition and channel 1013 in high definition.
Early history as a hybrid CBS/NBC/ABC/Dumont affiliate
The station first signed on the air on November 15, 1953. WIBW-TV was the first television station to sign on in the Topeka market, and the third to sign on in the state of Kansas (after KCTY in Kansas City, which operated a transmitter in Overland Park, which signed on in June 1953; WIBW signed on the same day as KTVH (now KWCH-DT) in Wichita; it is the second-oldest surviving television station in Kansas (behind KWCH, as KCTY ceased operations in February 1954). The television station originally operated from studio facilities located on 6th Street and Wanamaker Road in west Topeka, near the Menninger Clinic, where it shared the facility with WIBW radio. The facility, which was later abandoned, was severely damaged by fire on January 5, 2012.
Channel 13 was originally owned by the family of the late Kansas Senator Arthur Capper, and was co-owned with the Topeka Daily Capital and radio station WIBW (580 AM). The station has been a CBS affiliate since its sign-on, although it originally also carried programming from the three other major networks of the time (NBC, ABC and the DuMont Television Network) as secondary affiliations, with CBS serving as its primary affiliation. On the day of its sign-on, following an introductory program presented by the station's staff, WIBW-TV aired its first program, a DuMont network broadcast of an NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns.
WIBW-TV was the only commercial television station in the Topeka market for fifteen years. This was largely because the only other VHF frequency in the Topeka area, channel 11, had been designated for non-commercial broadcasting use; that allocation eventually was occupied by KTWU, which signed on the air in October 1965. However, area residents did not have to worry about missing their favorite network programs since the Kansas City stations all provided decent signal coverage within Topeka, with these stations being added onto local cable providers in the rest of the market in the 1960s. In September 1954, the station relocated its transmitter facilities to a 950 feet (290 m) broadcast tower located 500 yards (460 m) west of the original tower (the tower was later leased to KTWU for use when that station signed on). In 1961, the WIBW television and AM radio stations were joined by a second radio sister, WIBW-FM (94.5 FM). The station lost the DuMont affiliation when that network ceased operations in August 1956.
WIBW is one of the few television stations located west of the Mississippi River that utilizes a call sign that begins with the letter "W". Capper purchased the license to a radio station in Logansport, Indiana in 1927, and added a "W" to the initials of the Indiana station's owner, Indiana Broadcast Works. The permission for this was that, before the "W/K" divide for call signs was shifted to the Mississippi River by the FCC, Kansas was located on the eastern side of the original call divide.
In 1957, Capper Publications merged with Stauffer Publications, owner of Topeka's other newspaper, the Topeka State Journal. The two newspapers, which later merged as the Topeka Capital-Journal in 1981, and WIBW-AM-FM-TV remained the flagships of Stauffer Publications (later renamed Stauffer Communications). Although Topeka was originally part of the Kansas City market, the Cappers persuaded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to spin Topeka off into its own television market in 1963. While the city itself and its close-in suburbs receive strong signals from the stations based out of Kansas City, some parts of northeastern Kansas to the west of the city only get a marginal signal at best. In 1966, WIBW-TV became the first television station to broadcast in color. The station lost its NBC affiliation when KTSB (channel 27, now KSNT) signed on in December 1967.
As an exclusive CBS affiliate
WIBW-TV and KSNT continued to split the local rights to ABC programming for 16 years, until KLDH (channel 49, now KTKA) signed on the air as the market's third television in June 1983. In 1995, Stauffer merged with Augusta, Georgia-based Morris Communications. Because the FCC's "one to a market" rule (which, when it went into effect in 1968, protected the Stauffer's print and broadcast properties from being split up under a grandfather clause granted by the agency) barred companies from owning newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same market, as a condition of the sale, Morris had to sell Stauffer's television holdings. Most of the former Stauffer television holdings, including WIBW, were sold to Benedek Broadcasting in 1996.
In 2001, WIBW-TV relocated from its original studios on Southwest 6th Avenue, into a new state-of-the-art facility on Commerce Place in southwest Topeka (WIBW radio subsequently relocated to studio facilities located on Executive Drive in southwest Topeka's Huntoon Hill neighborhood).
Gray Television ownership
Benedek – which was already financially challenged – filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy declaration in 2002, due to debt incurred by the company's all-cash purchases of ABC affiliate KAKE in Wichita and NBC affiliate WOWT-TV in Omaha, Nebraska in exchange for NBC affiliate WWLP in Springfield, Massachusetts the previous year; the company then sold most of its stations, including WIBW-TV, to Atlanta-based Gray Television. The radio stations remain under the ownership of Morris Communications to this day, along with the Capital-Journal.
After that station signed on in September 2011, WIBW-TV began experiencing signal issues on Cox Communications channel 12, due to the over-the-air signal of KSQA (which broadcasts on channel 12 over-the-air) due to electromagnetic interference with the analog frequency on WIBW's cable slot. On June 13, 2012, KSQA, LLC filed a complaint with the FCC to invoke a must-carry request for Cox to carry it on channel 12, which would have displaced WIBW to a newly assigned a new channel slot. Although KSQA, LLC had its request denied by the FCC on the basis its cable placement should be determined by its PSIP channel (KSQA was mapped as virtual channel 22) and Cox previously informed that it preferred not to move WIBW-TV off its existing channel slot to replace it with KSQA, Cox eventually moved WIBW-TV to channel 13 on March 14, 2013, after the FCC granted a waiver by KSQA to move its PSIP channel to virtual channel 12, with that station being placed on WIBW's former cable slot on channel 12.
On May 23, 2012, a man broke into the WIBW studio lobby, stabbed two station employees and bit another employee. The station's sales manager Roger Brokke and sales associate Greg Palmer received non-life-threatening leg injuries in the attack. The attacker, identified as 48-year-old Ray Miles, was upset because WIBW news director Jon Janes was unable to help him with a problem involving the Department of Veterans Affairs. Miles was arrested on suspicion of six counts, including aggravated battery and burglary.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|13.1||1080i||16:9||WIBW-HD||Main WIBW-TV programming / CBS|
|13.2||480i||4:3||WIBW-DT||MyNetworkTV / MeTV|
On March 13, 2006, Gray Television signed a multi-station affiliation agreement with MyNetworkTV (a network founded by then-Fox parent News Corporation through its Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television units) to affiliate 13 of the company's stations with the network; as part of the deal, WIBW was named as MyNetworkTV's Topeka affiliate.
On September 18, 2006, WIBW-TV launched a second digital subchannel, serving as a primary affiliate of MyNetworkTV and a secondary affiliate of Colours TV. In 2009, the subchannel became a secondary affiliate of the film and classic television-focused network This TV, at which time the station added syndicated and locally produced programming to WIBW-DT2. On September 10, 2012, the subchannel switched its secondary network affiliation to MeTV (both MeTV and This TV were owned at the time by Weigel Broadcasting; Tribune Broadcasting assuming Weigel's part-ownership of the latter network in November 2013).
WIBW-TV signed on its digital signal on UHF channel 44 in 2002. The station shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 13, on February 16, 2009, the day to the prior to the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were set to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later rescheduled for June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 44 to VHF channel 13.
However, since the transition, some viewers in urban areas of the Topeka market have experienced difficulty receiving the station's channel 13 signal over-the-air. On December 7, 2009, the FCC granted WIBW a construction permit to build transmitter facilities for a fill-in digital translator on the station's pre-transition UHF digital channel 44. The translator serves the immediate Topeka area and nearby areas to the west of the city, operating from WIBW-TV's main transmitter in Maple Hill. As its main digital signal continues to operate on VHF channel 13, WIBW-TV remains the only commercial television station in Topeka that broadcasts on the VHF band (non-commercial PBS member station KTWU broadcasts its digital signal on its former analog allocation on channel 11).
WIBW-TV carries the entire CBS programming schedule; however, the station splits the network's CBS Dream Team educational programming block over two days: the first two hours air on Saturdays (following the station's morning newscast), while the last hour airs on Sunday mornings (in the hour before its airing of CBS News Sunday Morning). Syndicated programs broadcast on WIBW-TV (as of August 2015) include TMZ on TV, Two and a Half Men, Blue Bloods, AgDay, Modern Family and Wheel of Fortune. The station also produces Moms Everyday, a half-hour program featuring parenting advice from local experts, home organization tips and lifestyle segments; hosted by evening anchor Amanda Lanum, the program airs weekdays at 4:30 p.m.
In addition to carrying all of CBS Sports' event broadcasts, WIBW-TV broadcast Kansas Jayhawks men's college basketball games through the Jayhawk Television Network syndication service until 2006, and again from 2011-2015, when Jayhawk basketball broadcasts moved to Cox 22 as part of a deal with Time Warner Cable Sports in Kansas City.
WIBW-TV presently broadcasts 26½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours on weekdays, and two hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). The station's Sunday 5:00 p.m. newscast is subject to preemption due to network sports coverage; as such, the station broadcasts live half-hour editions of that newscast on WIBW-DT2 on certain weeks in which a CBS Sports telecast (usually major golf tournaments sanctioned by the PGA and National Football League games with kickoff times of 3:05 p.m. or 3:25 p.m.) is scheduled to air past their scheduled end-time on the station's main channel.
For as long as viewership records have been kept, WIBW's newscasts have traditionally placed first due to its longer establishment in the market, even after gaining competitors in KSNT when that station signed on as KTSB in 1967, and KTKA-TV (the perennial third-place finisher among the market's newscasts for most of its history, except during its four-year tenure without a news department from 2002 to 2006) after that station signed on in 1983 as KLDH. In 1972, WIBW-TV acquired the first live weather radar in the Topeka market for broadcasting use. The station was also the first to bring several news-gathering and technical innovations in the market: it was the first television station to use microwave LNC live trucks (in 1982), and is the only Topeka station with a live truck for electronic news-gathering (having acquired such a vehicle in 1989).
The station is noted for its coverage of a destructive F5 tornado that killed 16 people and injured 450 others as it tracked northeast across Topeka on the early evening of June 8, 1966. A then-unknown Bill Kurtis – at the time, a 26-year-old balancing duties as a reporter for WIBW-TV while also a law student at Washburn University – wanted to get a message across to viewers watching the station's storm coverage to take shelter from the impending twister before it struck their particular area; ultimately, he advised viewers to get to safety by urging in a calm but stern manner, "for God's sake, take cover!". Channel 13 provided 24 consecutive hours of coverage beginning when the tornado struck Topeka, later transitioning to coverage of the storm's aftermath. In the days after the tornado hit the city, the station was flooded with viewer letters thanking Kurtis and channel 13 for the urgent warning.
On November 11, 1998, WIBW announced that it would cancel its noon newscast (known for most of its history as Midday in Kansas) due to unspecified economic conditions, replacing the program with Martha Stewart Living; the move to cancel the program (at the time and presently, the only midday newscast among the Topeka market's television stations) after the November 25 broadcast, which would have resulted in the layoffs of 12 staffers, resulted in viewer letters protesting the move to convince then-WIBW vice president/general manager Gary Sotir "get creative" to save the highly rated program, which received its highest viewership among farmers and senior citizens, leading the station to reverse course on the decision.
WIBW (along with former ABC-affiliated sister station KAKE-TV in Wichita) was one of two partners in Kansas Now 22, a cable channel available on fellow partner Cox Communications' systems throughout Kansas. WIBW and KAKE each produced five-minute pre-recorded news segments that ran on the channel in 15-minute intervals as well as an additional three-minute weather segment that was also taped. The two stations alternated time slots for both news and weather segments. Live news or weather bulletins from KAKE in Wichita would interrupt the channel's regular taped programming schedule. Kansas Now 22 ceased operations on January 2, 2009, before relaunching four weeks later on January 28 as Kansas 22, with content originating from the respective NBC affiliates in Wichita and Topeka, KSNW and KSNT (then both owned by LIN Media).
In September 2007, WIBW began producing local newscasts for its second digital subchannel, in the form of a one-hour extension of its weekday morning newscast 13 News This Morning (initially running from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m., with a rebroadcast immediately afterward; before expanding to a full two-hour broadcast in September 2009) and a half-hour prime time newscast at 9:00 p.m. each weeknight; these newscasts were cancelled in September 2014, and replaced by classic television series provided by the subchannel's secondary MeTV affiliation. On February 23, 2012, beginning with its 6:00 p.m. newscast, WIBW-TV became the first television station in the Topeka market to being broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.
Notable former on-air staff
- Gary Bender – former play-by-play announcer for the NFL on CBS and NBA on CBS
- Kevin Harlan – summer sports intern (1979); now at CBS Sports and Westwood One radio
- Mike Jerrick – anchor/reporter; now at Fox News Channel
- Gordon Jump – later actor, known for his role in WKRP in Cincinnati; deceased
- Bill Kurtis – sports anchor
- Steve Physioc – sports anchor; now play-by-play announcer for Kansas City Royals radio and television broadcasts
- Devin Scillian – anchor/reporter; now at WDIV in Detroit, and a children's author
- Justin Surrency – anchor/reporter (2012–2015); now at WHO-TV
- Fred White – sports anchor; also former broadcaster for Kansas City Royals baseball games; deceased
WIBW-TV has won numerous awards for numerous newscasts and reporting throughout its history: