WKBT-DT is the CBS-affiliated television station for Western Wisconsin including the Chippewa Valley. Licensed to La Crosse, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 8 from a transmitter on Silver Creek Road in Galesville. Owned by Morgan Murphy Media, the station has studios on South 6th Street in downtown La Crosse. Syndicated programming on WKBT includes Entertainment Tonight, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Dr. Oz Show among others.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|8.1||1080i||16:9||WKBT-HD||Main WKBT-DT programming / CBS|
WKBT signed-on August 8, 1954 as a sister station to WKBH radio (AM 1410) now WIZM. In the call sign, the "T" for "television" replaced the "H" to differentiate the stations. It originally carried programming from all four major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, and DuMont) but has always been a primary CBS affiliate. It lost DuMont after that network shut down in 1956 and lost NBC in 1958 after La Crosse and Eau Claire were collapsed into a single market. WKBT then shared ABC with NBC affiliate WEAU-TV (based in Eau Claire) until WXOW signed-on from La Crosse in 1970.
On April 16, 1965, during the worst of the famous 1965 flood, the downtown La Crosse building that housed both WKBT and WKBH burned to the ground; WKBT would rebuild its current building on the same site. WKBT was sold to Harold F. Gross, a businessman from Lansing, Michigan in 1970, who owned WJIM-AM-FM-TV in that city. Gross Telecasting sold both stations to Backe Communications in 1984, following a licensing dispute involving WJIM-TV (which changed its call letters to WLNS-TV). Backe sold WLNS and WKBT to Young Broadcasting in 1986. In March 2000, Young sold WKBT to current owner Morgan Murphy Media (ironically, the original owner of WEAU).
In the summer of 2011, WKBT became the first station in the market to air newscasts in 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen. In October 2012, WKBT was in the national spotlight when morning news anchor Jennifer Livingston addressed a viewer who criticized her about her weight and issued an on-air commentary about bullying and being a role model.
WKBT's transmitter, in Galesville, is located about thirty miles north of the actual station in order to provide their signal to the entire market (it also serves as the CBS affiliate for the Chippewa Valley). If put up next to Chicago's Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), the WKBT transmitter would surpass the upper roof and fall just about 100 feet short of the highest antenna on top.
On January 30, 2006, WKBT signed-on a new second digital subchannel to serve as the market's UPN affiliate. Class A station KQEG-CA had previously dropped its affiliation with the network at the end of the previous week. As a result of UPN and The WB merging in September 2006, ABC affiliate WXOW (and its semi-satellite WQOW) gained The CW affiliation on digital subchannels. This was a result of their association with The WB through a cable-only station ("WBCZ" on channel 15) through The WB 100+. Meanwhile, WKBT-DT2 joined the other new broadcast network, MyNetworkTV.