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The History of WICS, Springfield
  Page 1
The First 10 Years, 1953-1964
  Page 2
Moving to Cook Street and Becoming Full Color 1965-1978
  Page 3
Plains Television to Guy Gannett, 1978-1994
  Page 4
NBC and from Guy Gannett to Sinclair, 1995-2004
  Page 5
The ABC Years/HD, 2005-present


This could be your ad.....e-mail for more information!

                                                                                            
WICS, Channel 20, Springfield, Illinois




Page 3: Plains Television to Guy Gannett  (1978-1994)






The Final Years of Plains Television Partners and WICS

WICS continued to be owned by Plains Television Partners from its beginnings through 1986 and co-owned with sister station WICD in Champaign. The owners of Plains Television Partners were Harry and Elmer Balaban, the two younger brothers of Barney Balaban, who was the head of Paramount Pictures during the 1940's and 50's. Besides ownership of the two central Illinois TV stations, the Balaban brothers' company, H and E Balaban Corporation entered into a partnership in 1959 with Transcontinental Properties to purchase WNBC-TV, Channel 30 from NBC. The call letters of WNBC-TV were transferred soon after to NBC's network o-and-o in New York in 1960. At that time the stations call letters were changed to WHNB-TV.

Along with television, Elmer Balaban also owned a number of local radio stations in medium size markets around the country.  By 1978, WHNB-TV was sold to Viacom, while the Balabans retained their Plains Television Partners stations WICS and WICD.  Plains ownership of WICS would come to a close in 1986 when the NBC affilaite in the Illinois state capitol city was sold to Guy Gannett Publications of Portland, Maine. 

It's unknown why the Balabans held onto the Champaign property.  The relationship of the two central Illinois NBC affiliates were so intertwined that it would be questionable that either one could continue to be successful without the other.


Programming WICS from 1979 to 1986

By 1979, the WICS broadcast day began at 6:30am and sign-off on weeknights followed the “Tomorrow” show hosted by Tom Snyder, at around 1am. The Saturday morning sign-on was at 6:30am as well with the syndicated “U.S. Farm Report.” The rest of the morning consisted of typical children's programming from NBC including more modern versions of classic fare like “Fred and Barney Meet the Schmoo” and the re-worked Warner Brothers cartoons with “Daffy Duck” and a modern rework of “Casper.”

On Saturday afternoon NBC would broadcast baseball during the major league season, while empty time slots were often filled with other off network series reruns like “The Odd Couple.” The mid day on Saturdays also included various locally produced and syndicated public affairs programs. The titles included “City Life,” “Advance Notice” and “Saturday Report.” All three of which were simulcast on sister station WICD in Champaign. There was no Saturday, 6pm newscast, scheduling instead the syndicated first run comedy/variety show “Hee Haw” which would air from 5 to 6pm. NBC filled the post late news time with sporting events, along with “Saturday Night Live.” WICS would follow “SNL” with a video taped replay of its own 10pm news. WICD would follow with a play of its public affairs program “Assignment 15.”


Here is a significantly historical picture from the WICS collection.  Pictured is Don Hickman with Nancy Hubbell.  Nancy was the first woman co-anchor Don Hickman ever had.  Her tenure there at WICS was short one, only being with the
station for less than a year.  The man at the far right was Fred Hickman.  Fred was introduced by Don Hickman during the first newscast together as being "no relation."  This was Fred Hickman's first TV job according to former high school   classmateand WICS News Director Les Vann.  Hickman went on to become a  sportscaster with CNN for a number
of years.





Pictured is the weekend sportscaster Dave Miller with weekend news anchor Bob Sullinger.

(pictures left and right from the WICS collection,
with details courtesy of former WICS News Director, Les Vann)






Jo Warfield of WICS in an interview
with an unknown subject during a public affairs program broadcast in 1978.

(from the Jo Warfield Collection)


From 1979, an ad from the Illinois State Journal with the WICS broadcast of "The Country Music Awards" from NBC.  Hosted by Dennis Weaver, Roy Clark, Barbara Mandrell featuring the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.  Performers included: Pricilla Presley, Dan Haggarty, Kenny Rogers,  Dottie West, Loretta Lynn, Claude Akins, Tammy Wynette, Herve Villachaize, Jerry Lee Lewis, Donna Fargo, Freddy Fender and Patty Page.

(Illinois State Journal)


On Sundays, WICS would sign-on at 6:30am with a block of religious programming and public affairs. Some of the religious shows included “Jimmy Swaggart”, “Herald of Truth” and “Faith for Today.” Sometime in the 1960's WICS began a tradition of airing a movie at 9:30am. The movies included many of Hollywood’s classic films from the Warner Brothers and MGM library. It was sponsored by Railsplitters Lincoln-Mercury which would either do live or recorded commercials in studio with featured vehicles both new and used. By the late 1970's most of the films were from a less than classic package of films. Most were from the former ABC “Movie of the Week” TV movie catalog of films. There were some TV classics there, such as the acclaimed “Brian's Song” but most were very forgettable. That movie run would fill the 9:30 to 11 or 11:15am time slot.




(TV Guide ad from the Doug Quick TV Guide Collection)

(TV Guide ad from the Doug Quick TV Guide Collection)




During football season, NBC would air the AFC early football game and WICS/WICD would follow with a replay of “Capitol Conference,” then a local movie insertion....yet another TV movie, usually. “Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom” would follow at 5pm, then the NBC national newscast before prime time and “Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.” After the 10pm local newscast, both WICS/WICD would follow, more than likely, with the broadcast of yet another TV movie before sign-off.

Weekday programming in 1979 on WICS included the typical NBC daytime schedule of game and daytime dramas and locally originated off network television series from the 60's and 70's. During the 1979-1980 TV season, the WICS weekday schedule followed “Today” at 9am with the first run weekday syndicated “Dating Game” followed by the NBC daytime schedule which was solid through 3pm. The NBC lineup included “Hollywood Squares,” “High Rollers,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Mind Readers,” “Password Plus,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Doctors” and “Another World.” By 3pm, the lineup featured all syndicated off network fare, including “I Love Lucy,” “Gilligan's Island,” “Batman,” “The Brady Bunch” and “Happy Days, Again"(the syndicated title of “Happy Days”). The syndicated block was followed by a “flip flop” of local news and network news on WICS and sister station WICD.

I assume that because of the increased head to head competition with WCIA in Champaign, management at the time felt it beneficial to move the WICD local newscast to the 5:30pm slot, while WICS would continue with the 6pm slot, where it saw wide viewership. Both stations would air the NBC Nightly News but WICS would air it at it's more traditional time at 5:30pm, while WICD would follow its local news broadcast with the NBC news.

The prime time access slot after the news block was filled by the weekday syndicated version of “The Newlywed Game” at 6:30pm. The rest of the weekday schedule was filled with NBC programming, with a local newscast at 10pm. “The Tonight Show” followed, then “Tomorrow” would end the broadcast day.






At least three members of the Channel 20 News went on to work at the newly formed Cable News Network (shortened later to CNN) in Atlanta.  Flip Spiceland, who was one of the more popular personalities at WICS in recent years, was one of those. 

(picture from WICS)


Fred Hickman, began as a weathercaster but  would transfer to sports on WICS, then later would move on to take a sports position at CNN as well.

(picture from WICS)

The Channel 20 News opening graphics with the set in the mid 1970s.

(picture from WICS)


Nick Charles was another former WICS sportscaster who went to Atlanta to work for CNN.  Here he is pictured at CNN in the 1980s.

(picture from CNN)


Yearly Changes of Programming

The syndicated and local programming of WICS/WICD during the early 1980's saw several changes and additions. The off-network and syndicated series schedule included the additions of “Superman,” “Sha Na Na,” and the first run 1980 syndicated TV movie/series “The Gossip Columnist” witch starred Steve Allen, Jim Backus and Kim Cattrall.

Weekday afternoons saw the loss of “Batman” from the schedule with the other shows remaining on the schedule. Local news saw an expansion with the addition of a 5pm newscast on both WICS and WICD. The NBC Nightly News aired at 5:30pm, followed by another local newscast at 6 on both stations.

Weekends during 1980-81 saw the use of “The Odd Couple,” “Superman” and “Happy Days Again” filling up some empty time slots not taken up by the network. The Sunday morning movie continued for a few more years, and the post local newscast on Sunday continued with the broadcast of a locally originated movie, often times off network mini-series such as “Washington: Behind Closed Doors.”



By the 1981-82 season, WICS/WICD for some unexplained reason found it necessary to pre-empt a Saturday morning NBC kids show, “Spider Man and His Amazing Friends” and replace it with the syndicated “Gigglesnort Hotel.” The Saturday morning kids fare began with the syndicated off network “Flintstones” and ended with “Wrestling” from an unknown source. Saturday programming closed out with the first run syndicated “Sha Na Na” and the public affairs show “Today's Black Woman” and a replay of the newscast of each stations late news.

Also during the 1981 season, the daytime drama “Texas” would not air on WICS/WICD as it was replaced by “Merv Griffin” at 2pm The syndicated talk/variety show would only run one season. The following year, WICS/WICD would return to broadcast the NBC programming during that hour.

During the 1982 season “Today” was followed by the “Richard Simmons Show.” The late afternoon local block included “Scooby Doo,” “Tom and Jerry,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Laverne and Shirley and Company”(the syndicated title), “Happy Days Again”(syndicated title) followed by the “flip flop” of local news and NBC news. On WICS the NBC News aired at 5:30pm, followed by the local news. Meanwhile on WICD the local news would air at 5:30pm followed by the NBC News. Prime time access would be filled by the “Jeffersons.”






Popular NBC Shows Airing on WICS from 1978-1986
"Little House on the Prairie" "The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo" "Project U.F.O."
"Today" "Eischied"
"CHiPs"
"Quincy M.E."
"Rockford Files"
"The Jetsons" "Latenight with Dave Letterman"
"Flash Gordon" "Real People" "The Facts of Life" "Diff'rent Strokes"
"Empty Nest"
"Days of Our Lives" "B.J. and the Bear"
"David Cassidy-Man Undercover"
"Concentration"
"Barbara Mandrell"
"Father Murphy"
"Electra Woman and Dyna Girl"
"Hello Larry"
"Flamingo Road"
"Love Sidney"
"The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson"
"Hill Street Blues" "Taxi"
"NBC Monday Night at the Movies"
"Boone"
"Little House-A New Beginning"
"Riptide"
"The A-Team"
"Bloopers and Practical Jokes"
"Family Ties"
"Mama's Family"
"Knight Rider"
"The Cosby Show"
"Miami Vice"
"Cheers"
"Highway to Heaven"
"Remington Steele"
"Night Court"
"Meet the Press"
"227"




 


 


 



The "Big Event" was NBC's way of branding a weekly movie.  It certainly was more exciting than "Saturday Night at the Movies!"  This "Big Event" was the opening for the "King Kong" as seen on NBC and WICS in 1979.



Another "Big Event" took place on Sunday as well.  This is the intro for the network showing of "American Graffiti" as seen on NBC and WICS.


Not quite as exciting as "The Big Event" was the showing of a not so exiting movie.  In this case it was "Monday Night at the Movies from 1979.
 





 



"Come See Us" was the slogan used by NBC during the very late 1970s.  Here is a sample short promos from 1978 as broadcast on NBC and WICS.


At the beginning of the Fall Season it was traditional for the networks to produce a 30-minute which was seen by ad agencies, the affliliates and eventually local viewers.  This is the Fall Preview for NBC for the Fall of 1978.

(All You Tube Videos are subject to being withdrawn from public showing and may change)

I don't regularly show commercials but this You Tube contributor has organized a series of commercials from a showing of an NBC network made for TV Movie.  It was recorded on WBAL-TV in Baltimore, Maryland, but the main network segments would have been broadcast on WICS (without the Baltimore local news break-local commercials).



Schedule of Programming on WICD-TV, Channel 15 (and WICS, Channel 20)  from the week of Nov 3-9, 1979
Saturday, November 3, 1979

7:00 am Daffy Duck-cartoons
7:30 am Casper and Angels-cartoons
8:00 am Fred and Barney-cartoons
8:30 am Jetsons-cartoon
9:00 am Super Globetrotters-cartoons
10:00 am Flash Gordon-cartoons
10:30 am Godzilla-cartoons
11:00 am Jonny Quest-cartoon
11:30 am Jetsons-cartoon
12:00 pm City Life-unknown
12:30 pm Assignment 15-WICD  7
                Pulse-WICS 7
1:00 pm Movie-"Sahara" (1943)
3:00 pm Sportsworld-Sports
4:30 pm Odd Couple- 5
5:00 pm
NBC News
5:30 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
6:00 pm (no listing-but probably "Hee Haw"- 4)
7:00 pm CHiPs
8:00 pm Movie "MacArthur" (1977) Part 1
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30pm Saturday Night
12:00 am Next Step Beyond- 4
12:30 am News-local news

Sunday, November 4, 1979

7:00 am Infinity Factory-unknown
7:30 am Jimmy Swaggert-religion
8:00 am Assignment 15-WICD 7
              Advance Notice-WICS unknown
8:30 am Herald of Truth-religion
9:00 am Faith for Today-religion
9:30 am Movie "Hijack" (1973)
11:00 am Meet the Press
11:30 am Capitol Conference- at WICS 7
12:00 pm Pro Football-Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns
3:00 pm Discussion Special-health care costs
4:00 pm Religious Special-Lutheran Missions
5:00 pm Wild Kingdom 4
5:30 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
6:00 pm World of Disney
8:00 pm Movie-"MacArthur" (1977) Part 2
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Movie "There Was a Crocked Man" (1970)
1:00 am The Odd Couple 5
Weekdays, Monday-Friday, Nov 5-9, 1979

6:30 am various public affairs programs, business and agricultural syndicated programming
7:00 am Today
9:00 am Dating Game 3, 4
9:30 am Hollywood Squares-game
10:00 am High Rollers-game
10:30 am Wheel of Fortune-game
11:00 am Mindreaders-game
11:30 am Password Plus-game
12:00 pm Days of Our Lives-serial
1:00 pm The Doctors-serial
1:30 pm Another World-serial
3:00 pm I Love Lucy- 5
3:30 pm Gilligan's Island- 5
4:00 pm Batman- 5
4:30 pm Brady Bunch- 5
5:00 pm Happy Days Again- 5
5:30 pm NBC News
6:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
6:30 pm Newlywed Game- 4



Monday, November 5, 1979

7:00 pm Little House on the Prairie
8:00 pm Movie- "Heroes" (1977)
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
12:00 am Tomorrow
1:00 am News-local news


Tuesday, November 6, 1979

7:00 pm Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo
9:00 pm Candid Camera Special
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
12:00 am Tomorrow
1:00 am News-local news


Wednesday, November 7, 1979

7:00 pm Real People
8:00 pm Different Strokes
8:30 pm Hello Larry
9:00 pm Saturday Night Live-rerun
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
12:00 am Tomorrow
1:00 am News-local news

Thursday, November 8, 1979

7:00 pm Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
8:00 pm Quincy
9:00 pm Kate
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
12:00 am Tomorrow
1:00 am News-local news

Friday, November 9, 1979

7:00 pm Shirley
8:00 pm Rockford Files
9:00 pm Eischied
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
12:00 am Midnight Special
1:30 am News-local news


Network programs are indicated in bold and underlined
local programming originating from the WICD-TV and/or the WICS studios are in italics

3-preemption of network programming "Card Sharks" for syndicated program "The Dating Game"
4-syndicated first run
5-syndicated off network local origination
6-preemption of network show "High Chaparral" for this musical special
7-Public Affairs

(TV listings from the Bloomington Pantagraph)







(all TV Guide ads from the Doug Quick Collection)




Popular Syndicated Programs Airing on WICS from 1978-86
"Scooby Doo" The Odd Couple" "The Brady Bunch" "Giligan's Island"
"I Love Lucy"
"Batman"
"Happy Days Again"
"Laverne, Shirley and Company"

"The Jeffersons" "Superman" "The Dating Game" "The Newlywed Game"
"Grizzly Adams"
"Hee Haw"
"The Partridge Family "
"The Andy Griffith Show"
"The Flintstones" "The Jeffersons" "Andy Griffith Show" "Family Ties"

"The Facts of Life"










Some First Run Syndicated Programming Seen on WICS during the 1970s and 1980s
"Sha Na Na"
"Hee Haw"
"The Dating Game"
"The Newlywed Game"
"The Wheel of Fortune"
"Jeopardy!"
"Thicke of the Night"








(from the Doug Quick Collection)


16mm Filmed Syndication


Technically, during this era, most off network series were still being syndicated by “bicycling” weekly packages containing a full weeks worth of 16mm film prints from station to station. Although, satellite distribution was still a few years away, better quality video tapes of some first run series was made possible by recording multiple video prints and sending them out to local stations. There may have also been some cases in which programming was sent via network connections during non regular programming times via closed circuit feeds.

WICS aired many of these off network shows from 16mm prints with less than desirable equipment. Films were broadcast often times lacking contrast, either over or under saturated color levels along with various film artifacts like improper splices, scratches and worn sprocket holes which allowed the film to wallow on screen. One observation I made was the poor quality tubes in the WICS film chain which would multiply the problems above with the added “smearing” of moving images.


These problems would also appear with the broadcast of virtually all of the movies on the schedule. The change over to syndicated programs being distributed on video tape and later with satellite distribution corrected virtually all of the problems above and allowed stations to air these off network shows to a quality standard just as good as the network aired them originally.


Even with that improvement of video quality, it was still at the mercy of operators at WICS.  Timing continued to be an issue which resulted in commercial breaks at unnatural or undesignated times, over running of program material with commercials, program credits being cut early or eliminated entirely and generally poor operation.  Without a doubt, WICS was the sloppiest operators of all of the central Illinois TV stations. That culture continued well past 2000.








After Flip Spiceland, it's possible that
Tom Stephens was next in line as WICS
weather anchor.  His time at Channel 20
is documented by this TV Guide ad
from September of 1980.

(TV Guide ad from the Doug Quick Collection)




In 1983 WICS added a mid day newscast as
the NBC daytime schedule was reduced to allow
local stations 30 minutes access.

At that time, WICS featured Ann Gillies as
anchor/host with Darryl Crouch as mid day
weathercaster.

(TV Guide ad from the Doug Quick Collection)





Susan Finzen was added as the female co-anchor
with Don Hickman in the Fall of 1985.

She replaced an earlier teaming with  Nancy Hubbell
in the late 1970's, and with Cinda Schien from 1981(pictured above).

Hickman and Finzen would continue to
 anchor at WICS through
the early 2000's.

(TV Guide ads from the Doug Quick collection)

Local Newscasts

WICS was always the dominate local TV news in the Springfield area, but WICD in the eastern part of the market was much less than dominate in Champaign-Danville. That contest was easily won by heritage VHF station, WCIA. In spite of the fact that WICS would coast to local news success in Springfield, most of the advantages and resources of the ownership also would go to WICS...the path of least resistance and greater success. WICD was operated with a separate staff of employees, and outside of sharing regional sales and programming, it was operated completely separate from WICS, without many of the resources available at Channel 20.

The news staffs of both stations would operate independently as the sharing of news stories without the technology of fax machines to exchange scripts was still a few years away. Video transfer of news stories was rare as the intercity microwave relay between stations was a one way path that only allowed for a Springfield to Champaign transfer...and only during network programming as the path would have been used for program material.

WICS news anchors during this time included Don Hickman among others. A more complete list of anchors and reporters, weather casters and sports casters is being sought for this website. I hope to be able to pass along some of the personalities of WICS soon. If you remember, or know of someone who was on the air at WICS during the 1979-1986 era....or perhaps you were employed in some on-air capacity, please pass along the info by dropping me an e-mail.

WICS, the Flagship Station

The Channel 20-15 relationship was that of WICS being a flagship station of a regional TV network with only one affiliate, WICD.  Programming was 98% simulcast although some differences were noted with the broadcast of some public affairs programming, some network preemptions at WICS and of course the local newscasts.

Regional commercials would have been transferred via microwave, but local commercials were inserted by WICD over the WICS commercials. It was common to see the first second or two of the WICS commercial before the WICD commercial aired. Many WICS station ID's would be seen in Champaign over the years when the operator would hesitate to play the ID on cue. Where as WICS had equipment which would allow the partial automation of local commercials, WICD would prepare “break tapes” in which local commercial breaks were manually prerecorded a couple of times a day and manually played back on the air.

It was also common to have WICD sit on a slide or still picture as WICS timing problems would not coordinate with the timing at WICD. If WICD experienced a problem, the operators at WICS would not be aware of it, as their only concern would be the operation of the flag ship station.




In 1979, the peacock returned to NBC as part of the "Proud N" logo.  This marked the first time the peacock was actually used as part of it's logo, even though, it was used to introduce color programs from the 1950's.  This logo was used by NBC from 1979 to 1985.  The 12 feathered peacock was later abbreviated to six feathers, and the "N" was eliminated.




The "Real People" Express made its way into Springfield on
July 27 1982.  The promotional tour with the cast of
NBC's "Real People" included Sara Purcell, Bryan Allen, Skip Stephenson pictured above from the specially decked out rail car.

In the background was the St. Nicholas Hotel in downtown Springfield.

(picture from the Illinois State Journal and the Randy Miller Collection)












A March 1979 Today Show opening.


A 1980 NBC "Proud as a Peacock" promo narrated by Casey Kasem


One of the popular shows of the 1980s on NBC, here's the opening/close of a 1983 edition of "Night Court" starring Harry Anderson.











The NBC Nightly News was anchored by Tom Brokaw in the 1980s


A 1984 NBC promo for "Cheers," "Night Court" and "Hill Street Blues."


"Real People" began the episode as shown here from an installment from the 1980s.











If you like kids shows, here's a promo for the 1983-84 Saturday morning schedule.

(all are from You Tube and are subject to being withdrawn from view)


By 1985 "Must See TV" was beginning to take shape with a rotating number of ratings winners. This features "Punky Brewster,"  "Cosby Show" and "Family Ties."


This is a collection of various NBC production elements from news, sports and includes a long form promo from the 1985-86 season.









(left): In 1980, Johnny Carson reduced the length of the "Tonight Show" by 30 minutes, in exchange for hosting more nights during the year.  That allowed for an earlier time for "The Tomorrow Show" with Tom Snyder.

(above): "Fantasy" was added to the daytime schedule, hosted by "Hollywood Squares" host Peter Marshall.  This daytime interview/variety show ran during the 1982-83 season.

(TV Guides from the Doug Quick Collection)














This page of WICS history should also include what was happening with NBC during that time. By the summer of 1981, the Fred Silverman era was coming to an end. Brandon Tartikoff became the head of programming for NBC. He was instrumental of reducing the number of aging dramas and increasing the popular sitcom count. “Hill Street Blues” which was doing poorly in the ratings, but was a success as far as the critics were concerned was granted a longer life and achieved a more successful future. It also was the inspiration for many similar ensemble cast dramas such as “St. Elsewhere” and “LA Law.” Ensemble casts were also used in sit coms as well, like “Cheers.” The biggest success of Tartikoff and NBC was “The A-Team” which became the only top 10 series of NBC during the 1982-83 season, and the next season it would rise to number three.

David Letterman replaced “The Tomorrow Show” with Tom Snyder late nights. Letterman also hosted a daytime experimental show in 1980 which wasn't as successful. By 1984, “The Cosby Show,” “Family Ties” and “Cheers” were finally catching on and took NBC from number three to second place during the 1985-86 season.  "The Today Show" continued to do well, in spite of added competition from ABC and "Good Morning America."  "The Tonight Show" was an extremely popular late night, profit center for NBC and even daytime was successful in spite of competition from CBS and ABC. 

Other popular shows during that mid 80's era included “The Golden Girls,” “227,” “Miami Vice,” “Highway to Heaven” and “Night Court.” When Bob Wright became chairman of NBC, the 1988-89 season NBC had 18 of the 30 highest rated programs. That achievement has not been met since by any network.

The success of a TV network also reflected to the local stations as well....at least in most markets. In spite of having poor lead-ins to the stations local newscasts, WICS continued to be successful because of the culture and geography of the central Illinois market. Springfield viewers will always watch the Springfield local news no matter what....and the same could be said about viewers of local stations in Decatur and Champaign.


NBC Shows in the top 20:
1979-80
#14 "Real People"   #16 "Little House on the Prairie"
1980-81 #10 "Little House on the Prairie"  #12 "Real People"  #17 "Diff'rent Strokes"
1981-82 None
1982-83 #10 "The A-Team" 
1983-84 #4 "The A-Team"   #14 "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes"   #18 "Riptide"  
1984-85 #3 "The Cosby Show"   #5 "The Family Ties"   #6 "The A-Team"  #12 "Cheers"   #14 "Riptide"  #18 "Monday Night Movie"  #19 "Highway to Heaven"  #20 "Night Court"
1985-86 #1 "The Cosby Show"  #2 "Family Ties"  #5 "Cheers"   #7 "The Golden Girls"  #9 "Miami Vice" #11 "Night Court"  #13 "Highway to Heaven" #19 "You Again"  #20 "227"


NBC and WICS Daytime Programming
"Card Sharks"
"The Doctors"
"Days of Our Lives"
"The Hollywood Squares"
"Password Plus"
"Concentration"
"Hit Man"
"Hot Potato"
"Sale of the Century"
"Santa Barbara"
"Search for Tomorrow"
"Texas"




Schedule of Programming on WICS, Channel 20 (and WICD, Channel 15  from the week of May 7-13,  1983
Saturday, May 7, 1983

6:30 am U.S. Farm Report 4
7:00 am The Flintstones Funnies-cartoon
7:30 am The Shirt Tales-cartoon
8:00 am Smurfs-cartoon
9:30 am Gary Coleman Show-live action
10:00 am Incredible Hulk/Amazing Spiderman
11:00 am Tom and Jerry-cartoon 5
11:30 am Flash Gordon-cartoon
12:00 pm Superman 3
12:30 pm Assignment 15 WICD- 1
                Saturday on 20 WICS-unknown
1:00 pm Baseball- Angels at Tigers or Phillies at Expos
4:00 pm Grizzly Adams- 5
5:00 pm Assignment 15 WICD - 1
              Capitol Conference WICS- 1
5:30 pm NBC News
6:00 pm Hee Haw 4
7:00 pm Diff'rent Strokes
7:30 pm Silver Spoons
8:00 pm Mama's Family
8:30 pm Teachers Only
9:00 pm Monitor
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Saturday Night
12:00 am Siskel and Ebert at the Movies 4
12:30 am News-local news

Sunday, May 8, 1983

6:00 am Consultation-unknown
6:30 am The World Tomorrow
7:00 am Jimmy Swaggert-religion
8:00 am Kenneith Copeland-religion
9:00 am Faith for Today-religion
9:30 am Movie "One of My Wives is Missing" (1975)
11:00 am Meet the Press
12:00 pm Superman 3
12:30 pm Putt Putt Gold unknown source
1:00 pm Movie "Katherine" (1975)
3:00 pm Baseball-Cardinals at Dodgers 4
5:30 pm NBC News
6:00 pm Mother's Day Sunday Funnies-special
7:00 pm Television's Greatest Commercials
8:00 pm Movie "Little Darlings" (1980)
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Movie "The Pink Panther" (1964)
12:30 pm News-local news



Weekdays, Monday-Friday, May 9-13, 1983

6:30 am Early Today
7:00 am Today
9:00 am Richard Simmons Show -talk
9:30 am Sale of the Century-game
10:00 am Wheel of Fortune-game
10:30 am Dream House-game
11:00 am Battlestars-game
11:30 am Search for Tomorrow-serial
12:00 pm Days of Our Lives-serial
1:00 pm Another World-serial
2:00 pm Fantasy-game
3:00 pm Scooby Doo 5
3:30 pm Tom and Jerry 5
4:00 pm The Brady Bunch 5
4:30 pm Laverne and Shirley 5
5:00 pm Happy Days Again 5
5:30 pm NBC News
6:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
6:30 pm The Jeffersons 5




Monday, May 9, 1983

7:00 pm Love Sidney
7:30 pm Family Ties
8:00 pm Academy of Country Music Awards
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
12:00 am Late Night with David Letterman



Tuesday, May 10, 1983

7:00 pm The A-Team
8:00 pm Remington Steele
9:00 pm St. Elsewhere
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
12:00 am Late Night with David Letterman


Wednesday, May 11, 1983

7:00 pm Real People
9:00 pm Quincy
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
12:00 am Late Night with David Letterman


Thursday, May 12, 1983

7:00 pm Fame
8:00 pm Gimme a Break
8:30 pm Cheers
9:00 pm Hill Street Blues
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
12:00 am Late Night with David Letterman


Friday, May 13, 1983

7:00 pm The Powers of Matthew Star
8:00 pm Knight Rider
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
12:00 am Late Night with David Letterman


Network programs are indicated in bold and underlined
local programming originating from the WICD-TV and/or the WICS studios are in italics
1-public affairs

3-syndication reruns
4-syndicated first run
5-syndicated off network local origination


(TV listings from the Bloomington Pantagraph)













"Just Watch Us Now" was the NBC slogan in 1983.  It was also
the date that many of those post freeze TV stations were celebrating
their 30th anniversary.

It was a sure bet that WICS didn't include a special program for
their anniversary.  It seems that WICS before that date and even since
then retains very little of its history and would not have
any film or video of the early years.  Outside of old NBC footage
which may have been available, there would have been
no historical local programming.

(all TV Guide ads from the Doug Quick Collection)









(TV Guide ads from the Doug Quick Collection)







(left): Members of WICS staff assemble with
representatives of the Children's Miracle Network
as preparations are made of the annual telethon.

Staff members include:  Bob Murray, Les Vann, Betsy Moore,
Jo Warfield among others including Bruce Bagg(of WTAX radio).

(from the Jo Warfield Collection)









(TV Guide® Ads from the Doug Quick Collection)





Channel 20, Channel 15 Newscasts

The newscast schedule of WICS would grow during the years of 1986 to 2005. In the Fall of 1986, WICS newscasts included Monday-Friday news drops during “Today” from 7 to 9am. The 11:30am local newscast hosted by Ann Gillies and Darryl Crouch in 1983 was dropped by 1986 and replaced by a syndicated daytime drama “True Confessions.” During the late 60's and throughout the 70's, WICS newscasts included a 5pm newscast, but by 1986 the weeknight news only included a 6 and 10pm newscast. On Saturday with the move of “Hee Haw” to 5pm instead of 6pm, it allowed for a 6pm Saturday newscast in addition to the standard 10pm newscast. On Sunday local news only included the 10pm newscast.

The next Fall weekday mornings added a morning farm feature, “Sunrise on the Farm” which aired at 6:25am on WICS. This forced the “Morning Agricultural Report”to move ahead 5-minutes and sign-on at 5:55am.  The WICD sister station would air “Twin Cities Today” hosted by WICD Promotions Director Geni Roark. Its not sure the source of “Sunrise on the Farm” but it could have been the University of Illinois Extension Service. Also in 1987 the 11:30am mid day newscast was added back on the schedule at WICS. According to former WICD Operations Manager Larry Waters, the 11:30am newscast on WICD originated at WICD.

In late 1988 the public affairs feature “Twin Cities Today” was replaced by a simulcast of “Sunrise on the Farm” at 6:25am. “Twin Cities” today more than likely would air during one of the “Today” local news cut-ins. It appears that during the fall of 1989, the simulcast ended as WICD would originate a pre-recorded farm feature “Today on the Farm.” Also by the Fall of 1988, WICS would move its mid day newscast to Noon. WICD would air instead “Headline News” from the alternative cable news network of CNN.

By 1989 more and more stations were placing an emphasis on local newscasts in the early morning. WICS and WICD would shake up the pre- “Today” show schedule. Sign-on would remain at 5:55am with “This Mornings Business” followed by “Sunrise on the Farm” on WICS and “Agriculture Today” on WICD. At 6:30am NBC began an early morning newscast which would air by local stations right before “Today.” That network newscast would also allow for a 5 minute local news window at 6:55am.

In 1990 WICD would break with the broadcast of “Headline News” and replace it with the off network series “Facts of Life.” Meanwhile the stations continued with the lack of a Sunday late afternoon/early evening newscast at 5:30pm, as many NBC stations did.

The weekday morning schedule changed once again by the Fall of 1991, as the stations would air the NBC morning newscast with anchor Ann Curry, then WICS would air a half hour morning newscast from 6:30 to 7am, before the broadcast of “Today.” WICD with its lack of resources of its ownership under Plains Television Partners would air instead “This Mornings Business.” The mid day newscast would continue on WICS, as the WICD broadcast of “Facts of Life” switched in 1992 to “Family Ties.”




Various scenes of WICS newscasts from the 1990s.  Those pictured with Don Hickman include Susan Finzen,  Betsy Moore and Les Vann.
(from WICS)
 




The Saturday morning schedule would include what appears to be some kind of a local news presence in the form of “Weekend” which aired at 8am by the Fall of 1993. In fact the Saturday morning “Today” show would not air on WICS, instead filling with syndicated first run shows, followed by “Weekend.” By 1995, the Saturday morning 8am program was listed as “News.”

During the mid year of 1994, the ownership of WICS would purchase its sister station WICD in Champaign. Between the Summer of 1994 and the Winer of 1995, many changes would take place at WICD in the complete re-build of the Champaign TV station. That also included re-emphisis on local news. It was in February of 1995, the individuality of the two stations would be paralleled under the “NewsChannel” brand. WICD would add a mid day local newscast in early 1995 as well, although the stations would not simulcast the early morning WICS newscast. WICD would continue to air “Today” from 7am to 9am on Saturdays.

In 1995, the early morning local newscast on WICS was expanded to an hour from 6 to 7am. This forced an early sign-on at 5:30am with the NBC morning news anchored by Ann Curry. WICD, meanwhile would air the NBC-Curry newscast at 6am right after sign-on, followed by “This Mornings Business.” By the Fall of 1996, WICS and WICD would simulcast most of the morning local newscast. WICD didn't sign-on until 6am, not airing the NBC morning news, but would include a couple of local news cut-ins to the market wide local newsca

Sign-on for both stations would coincide by 1997 at 5:30am with the NBC morning news, anchored by Linda Vester, followed by the simulcast local news(and local cut-ins by WICD) at 6am. In 1998, the Saturday morning news would be simulcast market wide on both WICS/WICD from 8am-9am. In fact, WICS would also add the Saturday morning NBC “Today” to the schedule at 6-8am, eliminating all of the former first run syndicated programming from the schedule.

In 1998, the early morning simulcast of local news would be dropped as WICD would originate its own early morning newscast.  It was also expanded on WICS to begin at 5:30am until the 7am “Today” broadcast. Both WICS and WICD would air the NBC morning newscast anchored by Linda Vester at 5am, following sign-on. The next year it would expand again to 2 hours beginning at 5am, backing the NBC early morning news even earlier to 4:30am.

By the Fall of 2000, the 5pm simulcast of local news would air with the local news segments originating at WICS, while the local weather segments would originate at WICD. Elizabeth Wooley would anchor the news portion, while Jerome Ritchie would be the weathercaster.

The Saturday morning schedule would see change once again on WICS/WICD with the run of “Home Improvement” beginning the day at 5am. This would mark the beginning of the end of the Tim Allen sit-com being removed from the afternoon schedule to be relegated to weekend fill-in times during the very early morning and overnights. Infomercials would fill the period from 5:30am to 7am. This would also mark the end of the Saturday morning newscast, being replaced by the central time zone feed of “Today” airing from 7am to 9am.

As in 2003 to 2005 the local newscast schedule would remain with 30 minute newscasts on Saturday at 6 and 10pm, Sunday at 10pm, Weekdays at Noon, 5, 6 and 10pm, as well as weekday mornings at 5am-7am, and 5 minute cut-ins at 7:25, 7:55, 8:25 and 8:55am.







Above are the faces and names seen on WICS as part of newscasts
at Noon, 6 and 10 in the late 1980s.

Main night time anchors: Don Hickman and Susan Fenzen
News Director: Les Vann
Weather: Mike McClelland and Bob Murray
Mid Day Anchor: Ann Gillies
Reporters: Dave Heller, Lana Creekmur,
Kelly Smith, Ann Fink, Scott Kains
Sports: Jim Leach, Keith Hartenburger









WICS/WICD Non Network Programming

By 1986, WICS was under new ownership under Guy Gannett Communications, but the list of syndicated programs remained pretty much consistent from the previous years. The list included off network series like “Family Ties,” “Diff'rent Strokes” and “The Jeffersons.” The weekend scheduling holes were filled with off network TV movies as well as off network series like “The Guns of Will Sonnett” and “The Jeffersons.” First run programs included the game show combo “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” along with the weekend comedy/variety show “Hee Haw,” the daytime drama “True Confessions” and the late night talk/variety show “Night Life-with David Brenner” which followed NBC's “David Letterman.”

In 1987 other off network shows were added to the list of programs seen on WICS/WICD. The program genres included cartoons, sit-coms and westerns. “Bullwinkle” replaced “The New Archies” being offered as part of the Saturday morning schedule on NBC. Weekend schedule holes were filled with “Guns of Will Sonnett,” “Laverne and Shirley and Company,” “Branded,” and “Hee Haw.”

The weekday schedule also included a new mid day local newscast at 11:30am on WICS, while WICD aired “The INN News(Independent News Network)” and later “Facts of Life” and “Family Ties.” WICD did try a mid day newscast by Fall of 1987, but it was soon replaced by “INN.” It was also during this period that WICS and WICD sometimes took different paths of programming. The mid day newscast was just one example. There were the WICS public affairs programs which sometimes took a duel role of filling weekend programming voids as well as fulfilling public service time for the stations license requirement. WICS would air “Saturday on 20” and “Capitol Conference.” WICD would air “Channel 15 Roundtable” and “Assignment 15.” Late night programming following “David Letterman” was filled by “Success in Life” a religious paid program length commercial on WICS, while WICD signed off following “Letterman.”

In the late 1980's the weekend and late night programming of local stations would change considerably. Thanks to program length commercials(or infomercials), local TV stations would no longer have to purchase or barter as much for syndicated programming. Like most TV stations which found the cash being too hard to refuse, the central Illinois TV stations made the decision to broadcast infomercials. The WICS/WICD combo was no exception.  By 1990, Saturday afternoons consisted of huge blocks of time being dedicated to the infomercial. For example on Saturday, October 6, 1990, WICS/WICD ran a block of two-and a half hours of straight program length commercials. On September 13, 1998, WICS/WICD ran a 3 hour block of paid commercial programs from 11am to 2pm. Many stations later found it profitable to stay on the air 24 hours a day filling the former off-air hours with program length commercials.  WICS/WICD began to schedule overnight programming of infomercials in the early 2000's.

In mid 1994, the ownership of WICS, Guy Gannett Communications, purchased it's former sister station WICD. At that time the program schedule of the two stations would coincide more, but there were still some exceptions. The most obvious one was the broadcast of the Saturday and Sunday editions of “Today.” WICS, did not carry the NBC morning show, choosing instead to air alternative programming on Saturday, “What's Up Network,” “Martha Stewart Living” and a local newscast at 8am. On Sundays WICS would cover “Today” with an hour long program length paid religious program.




Schedule of Programming on WICS, Channel 20 from the week of October 8-14  1988
Saturday, October 8, 1988

6:30 am U.S. Farm Report
7:00 am Kissyfur-cartoons
7:30 am Disney's Gummi Bears-cartoons
8:00 am Smurf's-cartoon
9:00 am Alf-cartoon
10:00 am Alvin & the Chipmunks-cartoon
10:30 am Mutant Ninja Turtles 5
11:00 am 2 Hip 4 TV
12:00 pm Assignment 15 WICD - 1
                Saturday WICS unknown
12:30 pm Branded 5
1:00 pm infomercial-no programming
1:30 pm Branded 5
2:00 pm Movie "In the Heat of the Night"
4:00 pm infomercial-no programming
5:00 pm Hee Haw 4
6:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
6:30 pm Wheel of Fortune-game 4
7:00 pm 227
7:30 pm Amen
8:00 pm Golden Girls
8:30 pm Empty Nest
9:00 pm Hunter
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Saturday Night Live
12:00 am Movie WICD "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1941) (may have been Acree Creature Feature)
WICS broadcast infomercials starting at 12:00 am


Sunday, October 9, 1988

7:00 am Jimmy Swaggert-religion
8:00 am Kenneth Copeland-religion
9:00 am Guns of Will Sonnett  5
9:30 am Branded 5
10:00 am infomercial-no programming
10:30 am Meet the Press
11:00 am Roundtable WICD 1
                Capitol Conference WICS 1
11:30 pm NFL Live
12:00 pm NFL Football
3:00 pm NFL Football
6:00 pm World of Disney
7:00 pm Super Bloopers & Practical Jokes
8:00 pm Movie "Going to the Chapel" (TV Movie)
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Movie "Final Eye" (1977)

Weekdays, Monday-Friday, Oct 10-14

6:30 am NBC News
7:00 am Today
9:00 am Sale of the Century-game
9:30 am Classic Concentration-game
10:00 am Wheel of Fortune-game
10:30 am Win, Lose, or Draw-game
11:00 am Super Password-game
11:30 am Scrabble-game
12:00 pm INN News WICD
                News-local news WICS
12:30 pm Family Medical Center-educational
1:00 pm Another World-serial
2:00 pm Santa Barbara-serial
3:00 pm Days of Our Lives-serial
4:00 pm Family Ties 5
4:30 pm Facts of Life 5
5:00 pm Jeopardy! 4
5:30 pm NBC News
6:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
6:30 pm Wheel of Fortune-game 4

Monday, October 10, 1988

7:00 pm Alf
7:30 pm Hogan Family
8:00 pm Movie "Winnie" (1988)
11:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
11:30 pm Tonight Show
12:30 am Late Night with David Letterman


Tuesday, October 11, 1988

7:00 pm Matlock
8:00 pm Movie "Twice in a Lifetime" (1985)
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
11:30 pm Late Night with David Letterman

Wednesday, October 12, 1988

7:00 pm Unsolved Mysteries
8:00 pm Highway to Heaven
9:00 pm Destined to Live
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
11:30 pm Late Night with David Letterman



Thursday, October 13, 1988

7:00 pm Cosby
7:30 pm Different World
8:00 pm Dear John
8:30 pm Comedy Store-special 15th Year Class Reunion
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
11:30 pm Late Night with David Letterman
Friday, October 14, 1988

7:00 pm Movie "Cross the Mob" TV Movie
9:00 pm Sonny Spoon
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local news
10:30 pm Tonight Show
11:30 pm Late Night with David Letterman


Network programs are indicated in bold and underlined
local programming originating from the WICD-TV and/or the WICS studios are in italics
1-public affairs

4-syndicated first run
5-syndicated off network local origination


(TV listings from the Bloomington Pantagraph)







Above are the various on air personalities of WICS,
Channel 20 from the early 1990's. 





Popular NBC Shows Airing on WICD from 1987-1994
"Alf" "Wheel of Fortune" "L.A. Law"
"Matlock" "Santa Barbara"

"The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson"
"Valerie"
"Hunter" "Different World"
"Amen" "My Two Dads" "In the Heat of the Night" NBC
"Dear John"
"Unsolved Mysteries" "Grand"
"Super Password"
"Wings"
"Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
"Golden Girls"
"Seinfield"
"Blossom"
"Sisters"
"NBC Nightly News"
"Father Dowling Mysteries"
"Frasier" "Sonny Spoon"
"Homicide: Life on the Streets"
"E.R."
"Hot Country Nights"
"Saturday Night Live"
NBC Saturday Lineup
"Mad About You"
"Late Night with Conan O'Brien"






Thanks to:
Many of the network screen grabs were from the collection of Bob Lee
WICS for the studio talent pictures and to Les Vann for the details of those pictures
Jo Warfield for sharing her collection
all TV Guide® Ads are from the Doug Quick collection
You Tube videos are property of the individual copyright holders and only posted for their historical significance. 
    They are subject to removal by the contributors and You Tube.


Page 4 is next...  

The History of WICS, Springfield
  Page 1
The First 10 Years, 1953-1964
  Page 2
Moving to Cook Street and Becoming Full Color 1965-1978
  Page 3
Plains Television to Guy Gannett, 1978-1994
  Page 4
NBC and from Guy Gannett to Sinclair, 1995-2004
  Page 5
The ABC Years/HD, 2005-present


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updated  12/23/2016
web master:  Doug Quick
copyright © 2001-2016  Doug Quick