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WCPX-TV, virtual channel 38 (UHF digital channel 43), is an Ion Television owned-and-operated television station licensed to Chicago, Illinois, United States. The station is owned by Ion Media Networks. WCPX-TV's offices are located on Des Plaines and Van Buren Streets in the Chicago Loop, and its transmitter is located atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Loop.

HistoryEdit

Chicago's channel 38 was originally a construction permit for WCFL-TV, which was to have been owned by the Chicago Federation of Labor, along with WCFL radio (1000 AM, now online only; frequency now occupied by WMVP). The plans were for a fourth general entertainment independent station, but even a market as large as Chicago would not have been able to support one. The Chicago Federation of Labor was unable to obtain financing for the station, and by the summer of 1974 it had put the WCFL-TV construction permit up for sale. No mainstream commercial broadcaster at the time was interested, but there were several minority broadcasters that were. The Spanish International Network (forerunner of Univision), at that time seen in Chicago via a part-time clearance on WCIU-TV (channel 26), made a bid, but lost to a Christian group, Christian Communications of Chicagoland.

Christian Communications of Chicagoland had been founded in 1971, when Pastor Owen C. Carr approached his church's board of directors with a desire to begin a Christian television station for the Chicago area. Carr's then congregation, The Stone Church, raised $135,000 by the end of September 1973, at which point Christian Communications of Chicagoland was incorporated. In 1974, a commitment to purchase the WCFL-TV construction permit. The First National Bank of Evergreen Park financed $600,000 for the purchase of needed equipment and a studio. The transfer of the license was approved by the FCC in November 1975, and the sale was consummated in March 1976. On May 26, the call letters were officially changed to WCFC-TV (standing for "Winning Chicagoland For Christ"), and at 5 p.m. on May 31, 1976, from the Olympic Studios on the city's near west side, WCFC signed on with the Holy Bible opened to the first chapter of Genesis, read by Pastor Carr; this was followed by a broadcast of The 700 Club. WCFC was only the fourth full-time Christian station nationwide. Jerry Rose, who previously worked for KXTX-TV in Dallas and helped Pat Robertson build that station, was hired as the station's general manager. However, while KXTX was programmed as a family-friendly independent station with some religious programming, WCFC had no plans for any secular programming.

Initially only broadcasting from 6 to 9 p.m. during the week, and from 12 to 9 p.m. on Sundays, the station gradually expanded its broadcast hours; in the fall of 1976, the station was on the air six hours a day, and by 1977, aired for twelve hours a day. In 1979, WCFC began operating on a 24-hour schedule.

A locally produced show called Among Friends aired twice a day on weekdays. The station also ran the live, 90-minute version of The 700 Club from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on weekdays, with hour-long rebroadcasts in the evenings and early mornings. It also aired the two-hour PTL Club, repeating the primary hour in the afternoon. WCFC also aired programming from well known national evangelists such as Rex Humbard, Jimmy Swaggart, Kenneth Copeland and Oral Roberts. The station also ran a small amount of Catholic programming. One notable guest on Among Friends, was Mother Angelica, whose visit to WCFC inspired her to begin EWTN a couple of years later. The station also ran many Christian children's programs, including among others Joy Junction, Davey and Goliath, Bible Bowl, Sunshine Factory, Circle Square and Superbook, and re-runs of The Roy Rogers Show on Saturday afternoons.

WCFC-TV remained a full-time Christian station well into the 1990s. However, in 1996, Lowell Paxson started shopping for stations to serve as affiliates of his new family-oriented Pax TV network (later renamed i and then Ion Television); in 1998, Paxson Communications struck a deal to purchase WCFC, with the proceeds from the sale being used to start the Total Living Network (which then began to be carried on WCFC-LP in Rockford, which had been WCFC-TV translator W51CD, as well as KTLN-TV in San Francisco). Upon Pax's launch on August 31, 1998, the call letters were changed to WCPX (the television station in Orlando formerly known as WCPX had changed its callsign to WKMG-TV earlier in the year), and the Christian lineup was cut back to 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. daily to accommodate Pax programming, which aired from 12 p.m. to midnight, and programming from The Worship Network during the overnight hours. The morning Christian programming was gradually cut back from 2002 to 2005; this, as well as cutbacks in Pax's entertainment schedule, had resulted in much of WCPX-TV's schedule, as with Ion's other stations, consisting of infomercials—a situation that has been reversed since 2009, with gradual expansions of Ion's entertainment schedule.


TV stations in Illinois
WCPX, Chicago

WIFR-LD4, Rockford
WAND-DT3, Decatur
WSIL-DT5, Harrisburg
WEEK-DT4, Peoria
WRBU, East St. Louis/St. Louis

TV stations in Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana
WBBM 2 (CBS)
WMAQ 5 (NBC)
WLS 7 (ABC)
WGN 9 (Ind)
WTTW 11 (PBS)
WOCK-CD 13 (Ind)
WYCC 20 (MHz)
WRJK-LP 22 (Diya TV)
WWME-CD 23 (MeTV)
WPVN-CD 24 (AZA)
W25DW-D 25 (HSN)
WCIU 26 (CW)
WLPD-CD 30 (Hillsong)
WFLD 32 (Fox)
WEDE-CD 34 (Ind)
WWTO 35 (TBN)
WCPX 38 (Ion)
WESV-LD 40 (ESTRELLA)
WSNS 44 (TLM)
WMEU-CD 48 (Ind)
WPWR 50 (MNTV)
WYIN 56 (PBS)
WDCI-LD 57 (Daystar)
WXFT 60 (UMas)
WCHU-LD 61 (JTV)
WJYS 62 (Ind)
WGBO 66 (UNI)
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