TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: 'K' v. 'W' Television Station Callsigns

Re: 'K' v. 'W' Television Station Callsigns

Mark Roberts (
Fri, 22 Oct 2004 01:19:16 -0000

Neal McLain <> had written:

> Anthony Bellanga <anthonybellanga@withheld> wrote:

>> Louisiana and Minnesota both "straddle" the Mississippi River.

> In my experience (mostly in cable TV), the Mississippi-River rule can be
> more accurately stated as follows:

> "K" = west of the Mississippi River plus the entire state of
> Minnesota.

> "W" = east of the Mississippi River plus Louisiana parishes
> located in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans DMAs.

> But even with this version of the rule there are numerous exceptions,
> especially in the case of low-power television stations (LPTV, Class
> A, translators, and boosters).

The rules also seemed to weaken, especially after WWWK(FM) Granite
City, Illinois won the right in 1982 to assume the KWK-FM calls after
its St. Louis AM simulcast partner.

Back in the 1950s, when WTAD(AM) Quincy, Illinois put a TV station on
the air, it was licensed to Hannibal, Missouri, and thus went under
the calls KHQA-TV. Those are still the calls of channel 7, whose
studio and transmitter are now on the Illinois side of the river.

The best explanation of the K/W split, and the most
throughly-researched, is Thomas H. White's "United States Callsign
Policies", at <>. I highly
recommend it to anyone interested in the topic.

> Bonomi's list included:

>> WOI (AM, FM, and TV ... ), Ames, Iowa

> WOI(AM) and WOI-FM are licensed to Iowa State University. WOI-TV is a
> commercial station (ABC affiliate) serving the Des Moines/Ames/
> Marshalltown DMA; it's still licensed to Ames, but it claims "Des
> Moines" in its publicity. ISU does not operate a TV station (most
> public television stations in Iowa are operated by Iowa Public
> Television, a state agency independent of the state universities).

>> WWL Waterloo, Iowa. Intrestingly, KWWL is in the same town.

> WWL(AM) and WWL-TV are now located in New Orleans, LA.

>> WSUI Iowa City, Iowa Also the home of KSUI. *SAME* owner,
>> even. :)

> WSUI(AM) and KSUI(FM) are licensed to the University of Iowa
> (formerly, State University of Iowa; hence, "SUI"). UI does not
> operate a TV station (same reason ISU doesn't).

For clarification, U of I *never* owned a TV station (other than for
experimental purposes) while ISU *did* own WOI-TV, originally putting
it on the air on channel 4 in 1950 and then moving it post-freeze to
channel 5 in 1953. ISU sold WOI sometime in the 1980s, ostensibly
because it no longer fit the "extension" mission of a land-grant

> WIL St. Louis, Missouri

> FM only. Transmitter is located in Missouri.

>> WRTH St. Louis, Missouri

> The FCC has no record of this callsign.

Well, it's there, on 1430 kHz. Do a search for all the stations on
1430 in Missouri and you should get back records for three stations,
including WRTH.

I left WIL intact in the quoted portion above because WRTH and WIL
are, in fact, related.

Years ago when I was stuck in Kansas City, I put together some pages
regarding the histories of some pioneer stations. I haven't been
maintaining them too closely the past couple of years but I have kept
them accessible at <>. Pertinent
to this discussion are the histories of: WDAF (KCSP), WHB, KCKN
(descendant of WLBF), WIBW, WREN, WOQ (defunct), WOS (defunct), KWK
(possessor of multiple K and W calls), and WIL.

Frank Absher's <> has more
history and a much richer trove of treasurers than I ever managed to
put together. Frank also writes a monthly column on radio history for
the St. Louis Journalism Review.

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Is there a 'WIL' (one /L/) in
> St. Louis? The reason I ask is because there is a 'WILL' (two /L/)
> at the University of Illinois in Champaign, 580 KC on AM band.) PAT]

Yes. WIL-FM is still in St. Louis. It switched to the parent AM
station's country format in 1973, and its success eventually eclipsed
the AM station's (much as what happened to the west with KCKN-AM/FM,
FM now KFKF, in Kansas City). In part, that was because the St. Louis
metropolitan area grew to the west, into areas where WIL(AM)'s
directional signal was rather weak.

Mark Roberts|"Entire media networks, such as Fox News and Sinclair
Oakland, Cal| prop up Bush in a way that would make their fellow
NO HTML MAIL| in North Korea and Cuba proud."
-- Markos Moulitsas, Guardian Unlimited, 2004-10-12

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