TV Stations Wikia

WOI-DT is an ABC-affiliated television station serving Des Moines, Iowa, United States that is licensed to Ames. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on virtual and VHF channel 5 from a transmitter located in Alleman, Iowa. WOI-DT is owned by Nexstar Media Group as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate KCWI-TV (channel 23), also licensed to Ames. The two stations share studios on Westown Parkway in West Des Moines. On cable, WOI-DT is available on Mediacom channel 5 in standard definition and on digital channel 805 in high definition.


WOI-TV signed on the air on February 21, 1950. It was Iowa's second television station (following WOC-TV, now KWQC-TV, in Davenport), and the first in Des Moines. Originally on channel 4, it moved to channel 5 in 1952. Programming came from ABC, CBS, NBC, and the DuMont network during the station's early years, but it was a primary CBS affiliate. NBC disappeared from the schedule when WHO-TV (channel 13) signed on in 1954, and CBS disappeared when KRNT-TV (channel 8, now KCCI) signed on in 1955 owing to KRNT radio's long affiliation with CBS radio, leaving channel 5 as the ABC affiliate. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.

WOI-TV was originally owned by Iowa State University in Ames along with its noncommercial WOI radio stations (AM 640 and FM 90.1), making it the first commercial television station in the United States to be owned by a major college. As such, it carried some educational programming from sign-on until the Des Moines Public Schools signed on KDPS-TV (channel 11, now KDIN-TV) in 1959. The startup costs for WOI-TV were paid by the remaining monies from a federal grant awarded to the university for work on the Manhattan Project. WOI's facilities were used by the university to deliver lectures by satellite.

On June 17, 1992, the Iowa Board of Regents voted to sell WOI-TV to Capital Communications Company, a joint venture between Citadel Communications (unrelated to radio station owner Citadel Broadcasting) and Connecticut's Lynch Corporation-- for $14 million. The Board of Regents immediately faced a lawsuit filed by "Iowans for WOI-TV, Inc." arguing that the station was a benefit to the university in an attempt to expostulate with the university. On March 1, 1994, WOI-TV was finally sold, while the university kept the WOI radio stations. Capital moved WOI-TV's studios to a temporary location in Des Moines later that year. In 1998 WOI-TV moved to its current studios.

WOI-TV was home to America's longest running local children's program, The Magic Window. The show ran continuously from 1951 through 1994. The original host (1951–1953) was Joy (Ringham) Munn. Producer Dick Hartzell (Ford Foundation Experimental Programming Development) had two small children and was concerned about the lack of good programs for children. Hartzell asked Joy to assist him in planning a handicraft section for a new program, and soon cast her as host of The Magic Window. Later, it was hosted by Betty Lou Varnum for the last 40 of those years.

In August 2011, comedian Stephen Colbert produced a series of political television ads through his "Colbert Super PAC" to run in Iowa, encouraging Iowans to vote for Texas governor Rick Perry at the 2011 Ames Straw Poll for Republican candidates in the 2012 Presidential election. The ads called for voters to submit the vote for a write-in candidate by spelling Perry's last name "PArry," "with an 'A' for IowA and America." Thus "Rick PArry," would be a fictional candidate. Both KCCI and WHO approved to run the ads while WOI did not, stating that they considered the ads "confusing to viewers." Colbert responded by calling the station out on national television on the August 11 episode of his Comedy Central show The Colbert Report, claiming that station executives "sit in their ivory corn silos and play puppet master with national politics." On the August 15 episode, Colbert issued an apology to WOI general manager/Citadel president Ray Cole for the rant. He went on to challenge the station, which he sarcastically called "Des Moines' News Leader" throughout the saga, to find out the exact number of write-in votes for "Rick PArry" at the Straw Poll and called on the entire weeknight anchor team and intrepid cub reporter Katie Eastman to do so. GOP officials have not released that information and do not intend to. According to filings with the Federal Elections Commission, WOI-DT later donated $1170 to the Colbert Super PAC.

On September 16, 2013, Citadel announced that it would sell WOI-DT, along with KCAU-TV in Sioux City and WHBF-TV in Rock Island, Illinois to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group for $88 million. Nexstar immediately took over the station's operations through a time brokerage agreement. The deal followed Citadel founder and CEO Phil Lombardo's decision to "slow down," as well as a desire by Lynch Entertainment to divest its investments in WOI and WHBF. The sale was completed on March 13, 2014. The deal reunited WOI with two of its former Citadel sister stations, WIVT in Binghamton, New York and WVNY in Burlington, Vermont. Nexstar then announced on November 4, 2014 that it would also buy CW affiliate KCWI from Pappas Telecasting for $3.5 million. The sale was finalized on March 14, 2016, with Nexstar announcing shortly after that KCWI would leave its downtown Des Moines studios and consolidate operations with WOI on Westown Parkway.

On January 5, 2015, WOI re-launched as Local 5. The change came as part of investments into the station by Nexstar, which saw upgrades to the station's studio equipment and the introduction of a new news studio featuring a touchscreen display. The station also re-launched its morning news as Good Morning Iowa, and will place a larger emphasis on political coverage and how stories "matter" to viewers as part of its overall coverage. A week later, the station took their second subchannel, which carried the moribund Live Well Network, dark, with no replacement programming until August 2016, when Laff launched in the slot.

On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Chicago-based Tribune Media—which has owned NBC affiliate WHO-DT (channel 13) since December 2013—for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WHO-DT directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. (Furthermore, any attempt by Nexstar to assume the operations of WHO-DT through local marketing or shared services agreements may be subject to regulatory hurdles that could delay completion of the FCC and Justice Department's review and approval process for the acquisition.) As such, Nexstar will be required to sell either WHO-DT or WOI-DT to a separate, unrelated company to address the ownership conflict. (As KCWI does not rank among the top four in total-day viewership and therefore is not in conflict with existing FCC in-market ownership rules, that station optionally can be retained by Nexstar regardless of whether it chooses to retain ownership of WOI or sell WOI in order to acquire WHO or, should it be divested, be sold to the prospective buyer of WOI.)

On March 20, 2019, McLean, Virginia-based Tegna Inc. announced it would purchase WOI and KCWI from Nexstar upon consummation of the merger, as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Tegna and the E. W. Scripps Company in separate deals worth $1.32 billion; the WOI/KCWI duopoly, along with Moline, Illinois sister station WQAD-TV (which Nexstar, on behalf of Tribune, also plans to divest to Tegna as part of the spin-offs), would mark Tegna's first television properties to serve Iowa.

TV stations in Iowa
WOI, Ames

KCRG, Cedar Rapids
KCAU, Sioux City

TV stations in central Iowa (including Des Moines and Ames)
WHO 13 (NBC)
KDSM 17 (Fox)
KCWI 23 (CW)
KAJR-LD 36 (Info)
KFPX 39 (Ion)
K41DD-D 41 (HSN)