WHMB-TV, virtual channel 40 (UHF digital channel 20), is a religious television station licensed to Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The station is owned by the Family Broadcasting Corporation (formerly known as LeSEA Broadcasting and later World Harvest Broadcasting). WHMB's studios are located on Greenfield Avenue in Noblesville, and its transmitter is located on Walnut Drive in northwestern Indianapolis. On cable, WHMB is available on Comcast Xfinity channel 9, Charter Spectrum channel 22 and AT&T U-verse channel 40.

History[edit | edit source]

Prior history of UHF channel 40 in Indianapolis[edit | edit source]

The UHF channel 40 allocation in Indianapolis was originally occupied by WURD, which was founded by local minister Dr. Wendell Hansen. When it signed on as an independent station in 1971, WURD was one of the earliest religious television stations to sign on in the United States; the station broadcast only for a few hours during the evening hours, carrying a modest selection of local and syndicated religious programs.

The station was run on a very tight operational budget; its most crowning achievement was the installation of a microwave receiver, which allowed the station to carry live telecasts of Chicago White Sox baseball games from independent station WFLD (now a Fox owned-and-operated station) in Chicago; Dr. Hansen was so proud of this that he broadcast the receiver's installation live on the station. The success was short-lived as WURD ceased operations within a few months of its sign-on.

WHMB station history[edit | edit source]

Shortly after WURD ceased operations, Assembly of God Minister Lester Sumrall acquired the channel 40 license, and changed its call letters to WHMB-TV. The station first signed on the air in 1972; originally signing on in the early afternoon and signing off nightly at midnight, the station primarily ran religious programs. In 1974, the station expanded its broadcasting hours, signing on in the late morning; it also acquired the local rights to The 700 Club, which WHMB ran twice each weekday (it eventually ran a 90-minute edition of the program live at 10:00 a.m., along twice daily repeats of the hour-long version of the program by the latter part of the decade). By that point, the station also began carrying additional secular programming, with a mix of children's programs and westerns airing from about 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. The station began broadcasting 18 hours a day in 1975; at that time, WHMB began airing The PTL Club, which it aired in its two-hour broadcast (which was reduced to one hour in 1982) as well as one-hour versions that aired twice a day; the station also aired religious programs from televangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart and Richard Roberts.

In addition, the station also aired a few locally produced shows; Von Saum hosted a weekday afternoon children's program from 1972 until shortly before his death from heart failure in 1993 titled Pirate Adventures with Captain Hook, in which Saum (whose left leg and arm were amputated after he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle at age 17 in 1960) and other cast members playing Hook's pirates used music and object lessons to teach children about Jesus Christ. Saum, who originated the Captain Hook character after a preacher encouraged him to a develop the character for Saum's children's ministry tours by acquiring a hook for his prosthetic arm and costume, was approached by Sumrall to bring his character to television. WHMB, which later syndicated the series to several countries, dropped the program when it returned recordings of the episodes to the now-deceased Saum years later. Channel 40 also ran twice-a-day airings of a locally produced weekday bible study program hosted by Lester Sumrall, as well as a Christian-oriented music and variety program hosted by the Sumrall family that aired three times a day.

The station began broadcasting on a 24-hour schedule by 1977; around this time, WHMB ran Christian programs from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.; cartoons (including the live action children's program Bozo) as well as cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes shorts, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, Underdog, The Banana Splits, The Great Space Coaster, The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jonny Quest and The Flintstones) from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.; classic sitcoms (such as Little Rascals shorts, My Three Sons, Dennis the Menace, Green Acres, Batman and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.; a mix of sitcoms and occasional westerns (such as The Lone Ranger) from about 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. On Saturdays, the station ran children's and family-oriented secular programming, most of which was drawn from their weekday schedule from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and religious programming during the nighttime hours, and a schedule consisting entirely of Christian-oriented religious programs on Sundays.

Gradually, by 1983, WHMB carried Christian programming for much of the broadcast day, with breakaway windows for secular programming (including sitcoms, westerns and public domain movies) each weekday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. By the 1990s, the station began acquiring somewhat more recent sitcoms from the 1970s and 1980s (including The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, Family Ties and The Odd Couple). WHMB eventually reduced its secular programming (consisting of sitcoms, drama series and lifestyle programs) to 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. each weekday and a scattered amount for a few hours a day on Saturdays, along with carrying children's programs complying with the Federal Communications Commission's educational programming guidelines for two hours on Saturday mornings and an hour on Sunday afternoons.

TV stations in Indiana
FBC: 3ABN: TBN: TCT: Daystar: Independent:
WHME, South Bend W07CL, Auburn WWWJ-CD, Clarksville WINM, Angola WEID-LP, South Bend WIWU-CD, Marion
WHMB, Indianapolis W23BV-D, Evansville WDTI, Indianapolis WSOT-LD, Marion
TV stations in Central Indiana, including Indianapolis, Bloomington and Muncie
WTTV 4 (CBS)
WRTV 6 (ABC)
WISH 8 (CW)
WTHR 13 (NBC)
WREP-LD 15 (Youtoo)
WIIH-CD 17 (GetTV)
WDNI-CD 19 (TLM)
WFYI 20 (PBS)
WNDY 23 (MNTV)
WSOT-LD 27 (NRBTV)
WUDZ-LD 28 (Buzzr)
WTTK 29 (CBS)
WTIU 30 (PBS)
WSDI-LD 30 (Quest)
WHMB 40 (FBC)
WCLJ 42 (Ion Life)
WALV-CD 46 (MeTV)
WBXI-CD 47 (Start TV)
WIPB 49 (PBS)
WIWU-CD 51 (Rel)
WXIN 59 (Fox)
WIPX 63 (Ion)
WDTI 69 (Daystar)
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