Fox Chicago or WFLD is a Fox-affiliated television station located in Chicago, Illinois. The channel broadcasts informative programs, press conferences and other breaking news coverage on the Internet.
WFLD, virtual channel 32 (UHF digital channel 24), is a Fox owned-and-operated television station licensed to Chicago, Illinois, United States. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of Fox Corporation, as part of a duopoly with Gary, Indiana-licensed MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WPWR-TV (channel 50). The two stations share studios at Michigan Plaza on North Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Loop, and transmitter facilities atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Loop business district. On cable, WFLD can be seen on Comcast Xfinity channel 12 in most parts of the Chicago area.
WFLD presently broadcasts 51 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with nine hours each weekday and three hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to locally produced news programming, it is the second-highest news programming output of any station in the Chicago market, behind independent station WGN-TV (which runs 70½ hours of newscasts each week). Unlike most Fox affiliates in large markets, WFLD does not carry evening newscasts on weekends.
News department history
During much of its history under the ownership of Field Enterprises, WFLD’s news programming consisted solely of 90-second news updates, branded as Newscope (later renamed Newscene in 1979), that aired during the station’s daytime and evening programming; a 10:00 p.m. edition of the program consisted of five- to ten-minute locally produced inserts that served as a lead-out of the station’s weeknight prime time movie presentations. During the overnight hours, the station also provided the Keyfax Nite-Owl teletext service, which provided news, weather, sports and entertainment stories fed by computer systems at the Chicago Sun-Times offices with data sent over a telephone line from an editorial office in Elk Grove Village. After Nite Owl was discontinued in 1982, WFLD began airing an hour-long simulcast of CNN Headline News during the overnight hours, as well as in the early afternoon on weekdays. Newscope was cancelled in 1982, shortly after Metromedia finalized its acquisition of the station.
Following the announcement that it would move the station to a new studio facility on Michigan Avenue, Fox Television Stations created an in-house news department for WFLD. The station debuted its first long-form newscasts on August 3, 1987, with the premiere of half-hour newscasts at 7 p.m. (touted as “the news that doesn’t get home before you do”) and 11 p.m., which aired Monday through Friday evenings; this was followed by the addition of half-hour 9 p.m. weekend editions on August 29. Originally anchored by Kris Long and Robin Robinson Brantley (the latter of whom would remain the station’s lead anchor until November 2013), the two programs aired separately for a year until both newscasts were consolidated into a single half-hour program to compete with the 9:00 p.m. newscast on then-independent station WGN-TV in November 1987, at which time the weekend editions were also cancelled due to low ratings. The early newscast was moved back to 7 p.m. by the fall of 1988, and returned to 9 p.m. by the fall of 1989, in anticipation of Fox’s expanding prime time schedule.
In September 1990, WFLD announced plans to launch a 24-hour local cable news channel, to have been named “Chicago Cable News”, in conjunction with former WLS-TV and WMAQ-TV weathercaster John Coleman (who was tapped to serve as the channel’s general manager) and local cable provider Tele-Communications Inc. (which sold its Chicago area systems to Comcast in 1999), for a tentative launch in January 1991. Although Chicago Cable News would have shared some video footage with WFLD, the channel planned to employ anchors and reporters separate from those seen on channel 32’s newscasts. For unknown reasons, this concept never launched; incidentally, WGN-TV eventually launched a similar cable channel, Chicagoland Television (CLTV), in January 1993. In 1991, the station retitled its newscasts from Fox 32 News to Fox News Chicago (though it was largely referenced verbally as simply Fox News in report introductions and end tags).
WFLD scored a major coup[according to whom? in April 1993 when it persuaded longtime WBBM-TV anchor Walter Jacobson to take over as lead anchor of channel 32’s 9 p.m. newscast; he also began providing taped commentaries and hosted a viewer mail segment for Good Day Chicago during its first years. Jacobson remained a main co-anchor of the 9 p.m. newscast until 2004, when he was replaced by Mark Suppelsa; Jacobson stayed at WFLD as host of Fox Chicago Sunday and a commentator for the evening newscast until his retirement in 2006 (he would subsequently come out of retirement to return to WBBM, where he remained until 2012). Largely due to Jacobson’s influence, WFLD’s newscasts have somewhat less of a tabloid feel than other Fox stations. However, they are much stylistically flashier than the Chicago market’s other local television news programs.
WFLD programmed news outside its established 9 p.m. slot for the first time on June 28, 1993, when it premiered a weekday morning newscast, Good Day Chicago. First anchored by Marianne Murciano, Darryl Dennard and David Rose, and formatted as a mix of news, commentary and lifestyle features, the show originally aired for three hours from 6 to 9 a.m., replacing a block of animated series that had previously aired that time period. In July 1999, WFLD launched a half-hour midday newscast at noon, while expanding its morning newscast – by that time, titled Fox Thing in the Morning – to four hours (starting at 5:00 a.m.).
On April 9, 2007, WFLD premiered a half-hour 10 p.m. newscast called The TEN, anchored by David Novarro and former WLS-TV and WBBM-TV anchor/reporter Lauren Cohn. The program (according to Robert Feder’s April 18, 2007 column in the Chicago Sun-Times) beat CBS-owned WBBM-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast on its second day on the air. Despite its early success against WBBM-TV, The TEN was overall never much of a factor in the ratings; towards the end of its run, it fell to a distant fifth behind established late-news competitors WBBM, WLS-TV and WMAQ-TV, and Family Guy reruns on WGN-TV. As a result, WFLD cancelled the program, with its last broadcast airing on September 21, 2009.
On January 12, 2009, WFLD and NBC-owned WMAQ-TV entered into a Local News Service agreement to share a news helicopter and pool video footage between the two stations. On May 10, 2009, WFLD became the last news-producing English-language station in the market to begin broadcasting its newscasts in high definition; however, remote field footage continues to be broadcast in 16:9 widescreen standard definition.
On July 5, 2016, WFLD launched an hour-long, weekday-only newscast at 5 p.m, becoming the fifteenth Fox-owned station and the fifth television station in Chicago to air a late-afternoon newscast; the program competes against with half-hour early evening news programs on established competitors WBBM-TV, WMAQ-TV and WLS-TV and the second hour of WGN-TV’s Evening News block.
On March 30, 2017, WFLD announced that it would expand the length of Good Day Chicago to six hours, with the addition of a half-hour to the start of the program at 4 a.m.; ironically, when the expansion took place on April 10, WFLD became the third station in Chicago to expand its morning newscast into that time period (following WGN-TV, which began its expansion into the 4 a.m. hour in July 2011 and WMAQ-TV, which launched a 4:00 a.m. newscast in August 2015).