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WQLN, virtual channel 54 (UHF digital channel 50), is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station licensed to Erie, Pennsylvania, United States. The station is owned by Public Broadcasting of Northwest Pennsylvania, Inc. WQLN's transmitter and studio facilities are located south of the city of Erie, just slightly northeast of WJET-TV/WFXP's shared studios off Peach Street.

In addition to its local viewership in Northwestern Pennsylvania and portions of nearby Ohio and New York State, WQLN is also seen in the London, Ontario area on Rogers Cable channel 8, and on other cable systems in the area.

HistoryEdit

Groundwork for an educational television station in northwest Pennsylvania was laid in 1953 with the founding of Educational Television of Erie. Its initial effort to sign on a station was unsuccessful, but the group eventually reserved channel 54 for noncommercial use. The group, which was renamed Educational Television of Northwest Pennsylvania in 1964, pressed on until finally winning a construction permit on December 6, 1966. The group initially chose the call letters WLRN (for "LeaRNing"), but those letters were already being used by a radio station in Miami, Florida. They then went with their next choice, WQLN ("We Question and Learn"). On August 13, 1967; WQLN finally went on the air. WQLN-FM signed on in 1973 as a National Public Radio (NPR) member station.

WQLN is the second-smallest PBS member in Pennsylvania. Its coverage area is limited due to Erie being sandwiched between Pittsburgh to the south, Youngstown to the west and Buffalo to the north, along with Cleveland's WVIZ also being accessible in parts of the market. As a result, the station has struggled financially for most of its history. Like most PBS member stations along the U.S.–Canada border, particularly in smaller markets, it also depends heavily on viewership and donations from Canadian audiences. In WQLN's case, that extended audience is across Lake Erie in the London, Ontario area. At various times in the station's history, PBS mainstays such as Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Nova, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour were not seen on WQLN.

The station's transmitter was knocked off-air early September 15, 2008 after its antenna and transmission line were damaged by Hurricane Ike. There was also additional damage (possibly from a prior lightning strike) to the 680-foot (210 m) transmission line. The station later returned using a temporary digital antenna, making WQLN the first Erie station to become fully digital. With the impending end of analog broadcasting only four months away, the station opted not to rebuild its analog facility and broadcast exclusively in digital.


TV stations in Pennsylvania
WHYY/WDPB, Philadelphia/Seaford

WPPT, Philadelphia
WNJS/WNJT, Camden/Trenton
WITF, Harrisburg
WLVT, Allentown
WPSU, Altoona/Johnstown
WQED, Pittsburgh
WQLN, Erie
WVIA, Hazelton/Pittston/Scranton/Wilkes-Barre

TV stations in Northwestern Pennsylvania, including Erie
WICU 12 (NBC)

WJET 24 (ABC)
W32DH-D 32 (3ABN)
WSEE 35 (CBS)
WQLN 54 (PBS)
WFXP 66 (FOX)

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