>The UHF Morgue


Dead Air

Updated, December 13, 2008


Indian Head Test Pattern
One of TV's FIRST stars, "The Indian Head" test-pattern.

Hello !!! Welcome to "The UHF-TV Morgue"

Please click here for the station histories!

The keepers of the "UHF-TV Morgue" need updated histories of the following stations.
If you have any information, please pass it along. Thank you !!! *=totally dead *WICA-TV Channel 15 Ashtabula, OH (NOW in "The Morgue") *WCAN-TV Channel 25 Milwaukee, WI (Now in "The Morgue".) *WHED-TV Channel 15 Hanover, NH (Now in "The Morgue".) *WRLP-TV Channel 32 Greenfield, MA (Now in "The Morgue".) *WJZB-TV Channel 14 Worcester, MA (Now in "The Morgue".) *WOOK-TV Channel 14 Washington, DC WMGT-TV Channel 74 Pittsfield, MA (SOON TO BE IN THE MORGUE, now WCDC/19, Adams, MA) *WEDB-TV Channel 40 Berlin, NH (Now in "The Morgue".) WNHT Channel 21 Concord, NH (now WPXG) *WVUW-TV Channel 51 Pittsfield, MA (never built) *W59AA Channel 59 New Haven, CT (//WVIT-30 (CT)) *W79AI Channel 79 Torrington, CT (//WVIT-30 (CT), Now in "The Morgue".) WHCT-TV Channel 18 Hartford, CT (Now in "The Morgue".) *WCTB-TV Channel 71 New Haven, CT *WICC-TV Channel 43 Bridgeport, CT (Now in "The Morgue".) WCDA-TV Channel 41 Albany, NY (now WTEN/10) *WCDB-TV Channel 29 Hagaman, NY (was //WCDA/41) WTRI-TV Channel 35 Troy, NY (now WNYT/13) WREP-TV Channel 25 Boston, MA (now WFXT) WJDW-TV Channel 44 Boston, MA (given as a gift to WGBH. Now WGBX-TV)) WXEL-TV Channel 38 Boston, MA (now WSBK) *WHEF-TV Channel 62 Brockton, MA WKBS-TV Channel 48 Burlington, NJ/Philadelphia, PA (Now in "The Morgue".) *WRLH-TV Channel 31 Lebanon, NH (left the air in 1976) (not related to the present-day WNNE-TV 31) WTVU-TV Channel 59 New Haven, CT (now WCTX) *WFPG-TV Channel 46 Atlantic City, NJ (Now in "The Morgue".) *WKNA-TV Channel 59 Charleston, W.VA (Now in "The Morgue".) *WJJY-TV Channel 14 Jacksonville, IL (Now in "The Morgue".) WLOK-TV Channel 73 Lima, OH (Now in "The Morgue".) *W62AB Channel 62 Westerly, RI (//WSBE-36 (RI), Now in "The Morgue".) *KS2XGA Channel 72 flying over Montpelier, IN (MPATI project, Now in "The Morgue".) *KS2XGD Channel 76 flying over Montpelier, IN (MPATI project, Now in "The Morgue".) *W69AQ Channel 69 Springfield, MA (Now in "The Morgue".) *WPFL-TV Channel 64 Pittsfield, MA *WVUW-TV Channel 51 Pittsfield, MA *WBES-TV Channel 59 Buffalo, NY (COMING SOON!) *WHFV-TV Channel 69 Fredericksburg, VA (COMING SOON!) *KCIT-TV Channel 50 Kansas City, MO (Now in "The Morgue".) *WRAY-TV Channel 52 Princeton, IN *WHUM-TV Channel 61 Reading, PA (Now in "The Morgue".) *WFTV-TV Channel 38 Duluth, MN *WAAB-TV Channel 20 Worcester, MA *WHMB-TV Channel 38 Boston, MA *WBEC-TV Channel 64 Pittsfield, MA *WBOS-TV Channel 50 Boston, MA *WKNE-TV Channel 45 Keene, NH

We do not limit our focus to the New England area. We would love to hear from those of you from all areas of the United States and Canada. If you have a good story of a UHF station that "didn't QUITE make the grade", by all means please send them in. As always, we give credit where credit is due. Thank you for joining us !!

  • So.....why did I name this section "The UHF Morgue"? Good question. As you know.... in the 1950's, UHF was "unchartered territory", when it came to early television. But, since the VHF band was all but full, the FCC in 1952 opened up a new bank of frequencies in order to help stimulate the growth of television. Channels 14 through 83 were to be TV's "new channels". But first, a little history lesson is in order. Commercial TV, as we all know, started with the former W2XBS becoming WNBT, Channel 1 (now WNBC-TV, Channel 4) in New York City on July 1, 1941. Several stations would hit the air that year with regular schedules, only to be eventually throttled back to a few hours a week for a limited operations consisting of some instructional or "war effort" programmming during World War II (1941-1945). Commercial TV had to take a backseat during the war. It was mainly due to material and manpower shortages as a result of the war. Many TV stations in the New York and Philadelphia areas actually shared their transmitter tubes with each other, on an ongoing basis, to extend the life of the tubes. After the war had ended in 1945, there were countless applications for new TV stations in most major metropolitan areas, throughout the United States. With these applications came more stations. By 1948, television's original Channels 2-13 were hardly adequate for servicing the future needs of the viewing public. Channel 1 was reallocated for land-mobile use in 1947.

  • Once TV came back in full-swing in 1946, some stations began interfering with each other almost from the start. Some channels were overrun by co-channel (same channel) interference. Many times, the pictures were no better than looking at something through "Venetian blinds". For example, Detroit and Cleveland are less than 150 miles away from each other (as the crow flies). Many Clevelanders were treated to a less-than-acceptable TV picture as some of Cleveland's TV stations were on the same channel as some of Detroit's TV stations. If you couple that problem with an extraordinary strong Solar Cycle in progress as Channels 2 through 6 were constantly bombarded with "skip" interference from co-channel stations from over 1,000 miles away, you would have quite a major problem. Obviously, something had to be done to help the fledgling television industry. Twelve VHF television channels were simply not enough. The existing spacing of the allotments made it impossible for some of the smaller markets to get local service. As a result in 1948, the FCC froze ALL new applications for the VHF band until a definitive decision could be made.

  • In 1952, the FCC opened up a brand new band of TV channels called UHF (Channels 14-83). UHF stands for Ultra High Frequency, covering the frequencies of 470 through 890 MHz. These much higher frequencies had never been tried on such a large scale before and TV was to be the "guinea pig". But first, let's go back a couple of years to the FCC/RCA sponsored tests beginning on December 30, 1949. NBC started experimenting with the first FCC licensed UHF station, KC2XAK (529-535 MC/s) in Bridgeport, Connecticut, rebroadcasting the programming of WNBT (Channel 4/New York), on a daily basis. This experiment was dubbed "Operation: Bridgeport" and successfully proved that UHF could be used to provide the first television service in some of the smaller markets around the country. The first true commercially licensed UHF-TV station on-the-air was KPTV/Channel 27 (now Channel 12) in Portland, Oregon in 1952. Many more new UHF stations were to hit the airwaves over the course of the next few years. Unfortunately, many of them were to die quickly and painfully, as well. The problem was, very FEW people had UHF converters and the few people who HAD them got (more times than not) a snowy picture, at best. These tuners were NUMB, clanky and unstable and interfered with every other TV in the house, even the neighbors' TV's. Chances are that if you couldn't see a good picture, you probably would not make any further effort (and $$$) to improve on it. Early UHF transmitters were mainly "home-brew" or prototype (experimental) units. Some were good, others... not so good. The cost of running these electric monsters was rather high due to the inefficiency of the circuits and the high-voltage power supplies. (Incidentally, even today, running a full-power 60 kW UHF-TV transmitter costs about $25-$50/hr. Quite a chunk of "loose change" if you do all of the math). Only a limited amount of stations survived this period of UHF's evolution. And those who DID survive were mainly in areas were no usuable VHF reception was available.

    July, 1954 schedule of WMGT-TV, Channel 74, Pittsfield, MA
    (Now WCDC/19 Adams, MA)
    Courtesy of the CapitalGold Dial Guide website

  • Fortunately, UHF came of age with the "All-Channel Legislation" in 1964 where all TV's made after 1964 had to have built-in UHF reception capability. The tuners have improved dramatically since then. It is safe to say that today's UHF tuners are "at-par" or even better than their VHF counterparts. Now with HDTV a reality, UHF will be the band of choice for the new generation of TV viewers. During this transition from analog to digital, VHF-TV stations have an opportunity to choose if they want to stay with digital UHF or go digital on their original VHF dial position, once NTSC is closed down for keeps, in around 2008. We'll just have to wait and see.

  • So, with all of this in mind .... I proudly present to you........(drumroll, please...) "The UHF Morgue". These were the stations that were victims of the times, by being too far ahead of it. Think if you will, about the AM versus FM story. It took over THIRTY years for FM to meet and eventually beat AM in terms of overall audience. Digital Television (DTV) will be the ONLY system of television as of midnight February 17th, 2009. So, please take a moment to look at a part of TV's glorious past, through the stories of these stations that "just didn't QUITE make it". Even though they're gone now, they DO deserve THEIR place in television history. As always, your comments and written contributions for the Morgue are cheerfully welcomed.

    please drop me a line!

    Best of DX and "73",

    Peter Q. George (K1XRB)> "The place where the radio *Scottie* junkies play!"

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