WPXE-TV, virtual channel 55 (UHF digital channel 40), is an Ion Television owned-and-operated television station serving Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States that is licensed to Kenosha (30 miles (48 km) south of Milwaukee). The station is owned by Ion Media Networks. WPXE's offices are located on North Flint Road, straddling the city line between Milwaukee and Glendale; its transmitter is situated within the traditional tower farm site on Milwaukee's Estabrook Park neighborhood with the antenna located on the Milwaukee PBS tower. WPXE's facilities also serve as the main studio for FCC purposes for Antigo-based WTPX-TV, which serves the Wausau market and is the only other owned presence of Ion in the state of Wisconsin (as of 2016, the main Ion signal is now carried by subchannels owned by other station groups in Green Bay, Madison and La Crosse).

History[edit | edit source]

The station first signed on the air on June 1, 1988 as WHKE (for World Harvest Kenosha Evangelism), operating as a religious station; it was originally owned by LeSEA Broadcasting. The station's original transmitter was located in Kenosha, just north of the Illinois/Wisconsin state line (the tower is remains in use for the transmitter of radio station WWDV, 96.9 FM). Paxson Communications (now Ion Media Networks) purchased the station in 1995 and turned it into an all-infomercial format as part of the Infomail TV Network (inTV), though it also aired the daily greyhound racing recap program from Kenosha's Dairyland Greyhound Park for many years after WVTV (channel 18) stopped carrying that show in 1996, which met the station's local programming requirements.

In the late 1990s after its purchase by Paxson, the station moved its transmitter to a tower in northern Racine County (near Interstate 94) which was shared with WEZY (92.1 FM; now WVTY, which continues to use the tower). Despite the reason for the transmitter move being to serve more of the Milwaukee market, the southerly tower location from the traditional northeast side tower farm operated at a lower power, mainly to keep the channel 55 allocation open for an eventual new station in Wausau (which would eventually be given to Wittenberg-licensed WFXS in 1999), limited the station's coverage area in southeastern Wisconsin; this caused the station to not be available in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan counties, except through cable. The station became a charter affiliate of Pax TV (now Ion Television) when it launched on August 31, 1998, at which time it changed its call letters to WPXE-TV.

At times during summer due to tropospheric propagation in the analog era, WHKE/WPXE would receive heavy interference a few times and even have its signal overwhelmed by that of another distant station on channel 55, WBNX-TV from Cleveland, Ohio, which broadcast at a stronger power and had its signal brought over Lake Michigan into Wisconsin due to Lake Erie's heavy "trop effect" amplifying their signal across northern Indiana and lower Michigan.

TV stations in Wisconsin
WPXE, Kenosha

WTPX, Antigo
WKBT-DT3, La Crosse
WIFS-DT9, Janesville
WBAY-DT3, Green Bay

TV stations in Southeastern Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha
WITI 6 (Fox)
WVTV 18 (CW)
WMKE-CD 21 (Quest)
WVCY 30 (Rel)
WMLW 49 (Ind.)
WPXE 55 (Ion)
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