Big changes likely ahead for 3 Quad-City television stations (2024)

As you're channel-surfing this weekend, stop for a moment and take a look at TV stations KLJB, KGCW and WHBF.

A year from now, they may not be as you recognize them now.

It was just over a year ago that Fox 18 (KLJB) and the Quad-Cities CW (KGCW) were waiting for Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, approval to be purchased by Nexstar Broadcasting, one of the largest TV station groups in the country.

KLJB, in turn, would be spun off to new ownership, the minority-owned Marshall Broadcasting Group.

That FCC approval finally came Monday, along with the announcement that Fox 18 would enter into a sales and shared services agreement with Nexstar. Nexstar has been in full station-buying mode lately, including its purchase of WHBF's former owner last year.

Based on Nexstar and Marshall's filings with the FCC, what's happened to stations in other markets, some assumptions and some pure speculation, there could well be a lot of changes ahead for the trio of Quad-City stations.

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To wit:

Under one roof: KLJB-KGCW would move from their home off 53rd Street in Davenport to WHBF's longtime base in downtown Rock Island.

Corporate synergy: The CW affiliate would align itself more with CBS4 than Fox 18. That could even lead to KGCW becoming a digital subchannel of WHBF, broadcasting from its tower in Rock Island rather than an expensive antenna near Seaton, Ill., which also would mean a savings on rent.

The speculation picked up steam Tuesday, the day after the FCC approval, when Nexstar purchased KCWI, the CW affiliate in Des Moines, and announced it would have a duopoly with WOI-TV, the ABC station in the capital city that was also held by WHBF's former owner.

Beefed-up news: Like WHBF, WOI is a perennial third-place station in the market. But Nexstar is investing money in the latter station and hired former KWQC-TV news director April Samp this summer to lead the news operations there.

More Fox 18 news: KWQC's contract to produce Fox 18's "Nine O'Clock News" expires near the end of 2015. According to the FCC filings, KLJB would work with Nexstar and expand its newscast to an hour in addition to offering a half-hour sports show and the possibility of a two-hour morning show.

Local programming: Nexstar likes local programming, at least judging from the schedules of other TV stations it owns. At WCIA, the top-rated news station it owns in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., there are two separate local one-hour daily TV shows with mostly non-news content. It's had the 4-5 p.m. slot there since Oprah Winfrey went off the air and added a 9-10 a.m. hour at the beginning of the fall TV season. It's seen as community outreach — and is far less expensive than putting syndicated shows on at those times.

Going independent: If everything that's currently on KGCW moved to a WHBF subchannel, it would open up a subchannel for Fox 18. That could be filled by creating a local, independent and independently programmed station. There are enough syndicated shows out there that are not shown on other stations in the Q-C to fill a schedule, or it could create more of a minority niche with other programming.

Any or all of these could come to fruition in the next year — or it could just be the wild imagination of someone on the outside looking in at the broadcasting business.

Check back in with me at the end of 2015.

'Car' salute

Whether or not you know or appreciate anything about automobiles (I particularly liked the pun-filled closing credits sponsored by the fictional law firm of Dewey, Cheatham & Howe), you have to love "Car Talk" and feel a bit sad at the passing of one of the "Tappet Brothers," Tom Magliozzi, this week.

WVIK-FM (90.3) has run the show since it went into National Public Radio syndication in 1987. WVIK CEO Jay Pearce said its 9 a.m. Saturday airings got the highest ratings of any single hour on the station's schedule in the spring ratings report, even though the show has been in repeats for more than two years.

"I think that, especially when it hit the air, 'Car Talk' proved that public radio and public radio listeners indeed have a sense of humor," Pearce wrote to me. "Although I have fielded comments through the years from people who wanted the Tappet Brothers to be more serious.

"It wasn't really meant to be a serious 'how to' show, although they did actually dispense some respectable car advice," Pearce added.

Vote for change

The decision for change was made late Tuesday night, and it left a polarizing split in the Quad-Cities. Some say it was a long time coming. Others thought it happened way too soon.

But it did indeed take place.

Radio station KMXG-FM, aka "Mix 96" (96.1) flipped the switch on its all-Christmas format at midnight Wednesday, 50 days before Christmas and several weeks earlier than it had in the past. (What else did you think we were talking about?)

The decision, said iHeart Media programming director of operations Jim O'Hara, was partially spurred by Tuesday's midterm elections.

"We knew people were ready for a mood change, and this is doing it — we’ve gotten a ton of great reaction to the switch today," O'Hara wrote in an email Wednesday. "Those who don’t like it switch stations — and we understand — and those who DO like it, LOVE IT and listen more often."

David Burke can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter, @entguy1.



  • Nexstar Broadcasting Group
  • Kljb
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • Kgcw
  • Kwqc-tv
  • Whbf-tv
  • Wqad-tv
  • Marshall Broadcasting Group
  • Jay Pearce
  • Kcwi
  • Woi-tv
  • April Samp
  • Wcia
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Tom Magliozzi
  • Fm 96.1
  • Mix 96
  • Kmxg
  • Jim O Hara
  • Programming Director

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