KWQC-TV, virtual channel 6, is a television station licensed to Davenport, Iowa, USA, which serves as the NBC affiliate for the Quad Cities television market (comprising Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline, Illinois). KWQC-TV is owned by Media General, with studios located on Brady Street in downtown Davenport and transmitter located in Orion, Illinois.
KWQC originally signed on the air on October 31, 1949, as WOC-TV. The station was founded by B. J. Palmer, founder of the Palmer College of Chiropractic (located directly across the street from the station's studios) along with WOC radio (1420 AM and 103.7 FM, now WLLR-FM). The WOC stations were also sister stations to WHO-AM-FM-TV in Des Moines. According to local legend, the WOC calls stood for "Wonders of Chiropractic", though the Palmer family never acknowledged the phase in print or otherwise. WOC-TV has the distinction of being both Iowa's and the Quad Cities' first television station, carrying programming from all four networks at the time (NBC, CBS, ABC and DuMont). However, it has always been a primary NBC affiliate owing to WOC radio's long affiliation with NBC. Originally on channel 5, WOC-TV moved to channel 6 in 1952 due to interference with Iowa State University's WOI-TV in Ames. During its early years, original programming on WOC-TV included the daily Show Boat children's show hosted by Cap'n Ernie from 1964 to 1974.
WOC-TV lost CBS when Rock Island-based WHBF-TV (channel 4) was launched in 1950, and the two stations shared ABC until WQAD-TV (channel 8) signed on from Moline in 1963. The station was also affiliated with the short-lived Paramount Television Network; in fact, it was one of that network's strongest affiliates, carrying programs such as Dixie Showboat, Hollywood Reel, and Hollywood Wrestling.
Channel 6 remained with the Palmer family's broadcasting division after Dr. Palmer's death in 1961. In 1986, Palmer Communications sold its Quad Cities radio properties to Vickie Anne Palmer and her then husband J. Douglas Miller. Due to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules of the time, channel 6 changed its calls to the current KWQC-TV on December 8 so as not to confuse the two properties. KWQC was sold to Broad Street Television in 1989 and to Young Broadcasting in 1995.
On June 6, 2013, Media General announced that they would acquire Young Broadcasting in an all-stock deal. The merger was completed on November 12. The addition of KWQC to Media General's portfolio marked a return to Iowa for Media General, who had owned KIMT in Mason City from 2000 to 2006, though they would regain ownership of that station upon acquiring LIN Media in 2014. In September 2015, Media General announced the acquisition of Meredith Corporation in a cash and stock deal valued at $2.4 billion. If the deal was completed, KWQC and KIMT would have become Meredith's first television stations in its home state of Iowa.
Media General announced on January 27, 2016 that it was terminating the Meredith deal, and also announced that it was being acquired by Nexstar Broadcasting Group with the new company named "Nexstar Media Group". As Nexstar already owns WHBF-TV and since both WHBF and KWQC rank among the top four stations by daily ratings in the market, in order to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as planned changes to rules regarding same-market television stations which would prohibit future joint sales agreements, the company will be required to sell either KWQC or WHBF to another company. WHBF's sister station KGCW would not be affected, and could either remain in its duopoly with WHBF or form a new duopoly with KWQC, as its ratings are below the top-four threshold. On June 3, 2016, it was announced that Nexstar would keep its existing assets and sell KWQC to Gray Television for $270 million. It will represent a reunion of sorts as Gray previously managed the station when Young was encountering financial difficulties, but this time Gray will acquire the station outright. That will make KWQC a sister station to KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, WIFR in Rockford and fellow NBC affiliate WMTV in Madison.
July 2015 carriage dispute with Mediacom
On July 14, 2015, KWQC-TV and its digital subchannels were pulled from Mediacom cable systems in the Quad Cities region due to a carriage dispute over retransmission consent fees between Mediacom and KWQC owner Media General. This carriage dispute was part of an ongoing disagreement nationwide between Mediacom and Media General, which saw Media General stations in 14 television markets in the United States pulled from Mediacom cable systems and even three Fox affiliates owned by Media General were lost to Mediacom subscribers in Hampton Roads, Virginia, Terre Haute, Indiana, and Topeka, Kansas just before the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. On July 30, 2015, Mediacom and Media General reached a new agreement, thereby restoring KWQC and its digital subchannels to Quad City area Mediacom subscribers.
The KWQC-TV Tower is a 1,381-foot (421 m) high guy-wired aerial mast for the transmission of FM radio and television programs in Bettendorf, west of the Scott Community College campus. (Geographical coordinates: ). It was built in 1982. In addition to the former KWQC analog signal, WHBF-TV and radio stations WOC, and WLLR-FM, both former sister stations of KWQC-TV (as WOC-TV), as well as religious WDLM-FM, and NPR member station WVIK, transmit their signals from this site.
KWQC's digital transmission tower is located in Orion, Illinois. The transmitter for KWQC-DT 56 had been operating at half of its assigned effective radiated power (ERP) since 12:45 PM on December 16, 2008, due to the need to convert one of the Power Amplifier Cabinets from channel 56 to channel 36. At 12:02 AM on Friday June 12, 2009, the digital over-the-air signal on channel 56 was turned off and this lasted for about an hour or so in order to change the transmitter-to-antenna connections from the remaining DT 56 cabinet to the newly converted DT 36 cabinet. KWQC returned to the air an hour later on KWQC-DT 36, and continued to operate at half-power on channel 36 for about a week or so while the other cabinet was converted from channel 56 to channel 36. KWQC estimated that the other power cabinet would be fully converted and that its new digital signal on channel 36 would be operating at its fully licensed ERP of 1 million watts around June 19, 2009, one week after the DTV transition was complete. It is not known when exactly the station returned to full power on digital channel 36. Cable viewers, particularly Mediacom subscribers in the Quad Cities, did not notice any interruption to the KWQC analog or digital/HDTV signals on the cable systems as KWQC's signals have been sent to the cable companies via a direct fiber optic link instead of the older and more traditional method of being picked up by the cable companies' over-the-air antennas ever since well before the 2009 digital TV transition.
Also, KWQC no longer transmits a signal from Bettendorf, as Orion is now its new permanent home for transmission facilities, as of June 12. KWQC's analog transmitter in Bettendorf was broadcasting the Quad City Market's "Nightlight" service around the clock until June 26, 2009, and during the two week 'nightlight period, none of the station's regular programming was broadcast on the analog signal. As of June 26, 2009, the analog signal is now permanently gone. The aforementioned radio stations in the top paragraph of this section, as well as WHBF-TV, are continuing to transmit from Bettendorf. WHBF is the only Quad Cities television station to transmit from Bettendorf, while KWQC and everybody else are transmitting from Orion, with the exception of KGCW. This means many viewers in and around the Quad Cities market need either a rotor or two separate antennas to receive all their local TV stations.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|6.1||1080i||16:9||KWQC-TV||Main KWQC-TV programming / NBC|
After the shutdown of the KWQC-TV analog nightlight signal on June 26, 2009, the "KWQC-TV" callsign was legally transferred from the now-defunct analog channel 6 to the new digital channel 36 and the "KWQC-DT" callsign was officially discontinued. However, up until mid-November 2009, the PSIP identifier continued to identify the main channel 6.1 as "KWQC-DT." This finally changed right before Thanksgiving Day in late November and the PSIP now identifies the main channel on 6.1 as the station's legal callsign, "KWQC-TV."
KWQC-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, at 11:59 p.m. on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station shut off its pre-transition digital signal on channel 56 just after midnight on June 11–12. the station returned to the air on channel 36 around 1 a.m. on Friday June 12. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 6. Most of the station's programming on the broadcast day of June 12, 2009 was actually broadcast both on analog channel 6 and the new digital channel 36, up until 11:59 p.m. when KWQC used analog channel 6 to provide a Nightlight service to those remaining analog-only television viewers without a digital TV set or digital converter box for the two weeks following the digital transition.
KWQC's audio signal transmitted on a frequency of 87.76 MHz (+10 kHz shift) and was picked up on the lower end of the dial on most FM radios in most of the Quad Cities until 11:59 PM on June 12, 2009. As of 11:59 p.m. on June 12, 2009, the station's main programming is no longer heard on 87.75 MHz on FM radios.
Analog nightlight service
After June 12, KWQC continued using its analog channel 6 for the next two weeks strictly for the purpose of informing the public about the need to switch over to digital. This included the purchasing and installation of DTV converter boxes and television sets, as well as how digital TV works, and the need for those consumers who are still unprepared to switch over to digital. This service is known as "Nightlighting." The national PSAs, produced by the National Association of Broadcasters, as well as a locally produced version by the station itself, was a joint effort between KWQC and the other broadcasters in the Quad Cities, including WHBF, WQAD, WQPT, and KLJB, to inform the remaining unprepared TV viewers about the need to take action in order to continue receiving over the air television broadcasting. The transmitter for KWQC analog channel 6 was shut down permanently at 11:59 pm on Friday June 26, 2009. Being broadcast as it was in analog on VHF channel 6, the KWQC "Nightlight Service" was being heard on FM 87.76 MHz on FM radios during the two week nightlight period instead of the KWQC main programming. Today, there is nothing but static on 87.7 FM on radios as well as snow on VHF channel 6 on analog TV sets.
On August 13, 2007, KWQC launched a local digital weather service called the KWQC 24/7 Weather Channel on over-the-air digital subchannel 6.2 and on Mediacom digital channel 247 in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas. The subchannel's display was similar in format to Young Broadcasting's other digital weather subchannel offerings on sister stations WBAY and WTEN: Radar feeds from the station's computer system, local weather conditions (also from the computers) on the right side of the screen, a seven-day forecast below the radio/video window, and a news ticker at the bottom of the screen. Forecasts and weather maps were played on a 10-minute loop, with public service announcements and some local advertising a part of the subchannel. Per FCC guidelines requiring 3 hours of E/I programming per week on digital subchannels, KWQC-DT2 ran children's oriented programming Mondays thru Saturdays at 5PM. The subchannel also featured same-day rebroadcasts of Paula Sands Live at 7PM. Subchannel 6.2 initially broadcast programming in a 4:3 aspect ratio before converting to a 16:9 widescreen format (to match that of modern widescreen television receivers) in Fall 2011.
On November 1, 2015, the KWQC 24/7 Weather Channel was discontinued and replaced with entertainment programming from Ion Television. The switch made KWQC the earliest of several Media General-owned stations to affiliate a subchannel with Ion in markets where Ion does not have an owned-and-operated station. KWQC also moved subchannel 6.2 back to its original 4:3 aspect ratio. Ion Television programming and network promos are seen in a 16:9 letterbox while commercials and infomercials are center-cut to match the 4:3 aspect ratio of the subchannel.
COZI TV 6.3
In June 2013, KWQC began testing a third digital subchannel (6.3) with an ID still. The still was replaced on Labor Day of that year with programming from NBC-owned classic television network COZI TV. The channel is also available on Mediacom cable channel 106.
Since January 2008, KWQC began broadcasting syndicated programs in high definition, in addition to airing NBC network programs in the format. The two initial programs that were aired in the format, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, are recorded and broadcast in high-definition every weekday and the Saturday evening reruns of Wheel of Fortune are also broadcast in high-definition as well. KWQC's local programs soon followed, converting their broadcasts to HD on October 27, 2010.
The station also produces a half-hour daytime talk/discussion program called Paula Sands Live at 3 p.m. weekdays. Hosted by weeknight 6 p.m. news anchor Paula Sands, the program focuses on current events in the Quad Cities area, along with a variety of other segments.
KWQC is well known by Quad Cities residents for the Highlight Zone, an Emmy award-winning Friday night sports segment (which airs during the station's 10 p.m. newscast from roughly late August through early March, with a break in December), showcasing highlights from area high school football and basketball games. The segment debuted in 1989, and its format has since been copied by many stations around the United States. Each member of the news anchor staff, along with the meteorologist that does weather forecasts on that particular evening, take turns recapping a featured game. The camera crews invite fans from each of the games they cover to participate in a skit related to the night's theme. The theme usually centers on a holiday (e.g., Valentine's Day) or local promotion (e.g., The Student Food Drive, an initiative by area high schools to collect food for the needy).
On July 31, 2007, KWQC debuted drastic changes to its graphics and newscast music, dumping Frank Gari's Hello News package that had been in use since 1990. KWQC added a "cube" ID graphic (similar to the on-screen logo bug used by Fox News Channel), which stirred up some controversy among viewers. Eventually, KWQC slowed the cube down as a result of a vote by nearly 2,000 people on its website. KWQC began using U-Phonix, a syndicated music package composed by Stephen Arnold Music. Just eight weeks later on September 24, KWQC switched back to the Hello News package, making KWQC the first station to use a syndicated music package for the least amount of time. KWQC was the only station that continued to use the original Hello News package, but on January 16, 2012, it was dropped once again and was replaced by Breakthrough by 360 Music as the music package for its newscasts.
On September 25, 2008, KWQC introduced a new graphics package during its 5 p.m. broadcast, which also brought significant changes to its weather forecast presentation. The station introduced a new graphics system that allows the First Alert Weather team to provide more interactive weather forecasts and severe weather coverage, through animation, touch-movement and wireless transition of graphics. KWQC also introduced a revised station logo, the first change to its on-air logo since 1990. While it was similar to the one previously used, the "TV" suffix was replaced with a "DT" suffix (for "digital television"), though KWQC-TV remained as the station's official callsign.
On October 27, 2010 beginning with the 5 p.m. newscast, KWQC became the first television station in the Quad Cities market and the first station owned by Young Broadcasting to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. A high definition-ready news set was constructed for the newscasts (a compact newsdesk was temporarily placed in the newsroom during the construction phase that only three on-air staffers could be seen at a given time). Logos, callsigns and on-air graphics were changed as well to refer to its newscasts as KWQC-HD News. The station returned to their original KWQC-TV 6 News branding in 2012 after all the market's stations converted to high definition news operations.
On November 4, 2013, KWQC introduced brand new weather graphics. The whole Young Broadcasting Association had been working on the new graphics for over 6 months. The change brought a new banner to the top of the screen, entitled "KWQC Weather", not First Alert, though First Alert is still the official name of the weather on KWQC. The radar, 7 Day Forecast, Current Temperatures, and Watches/Warnings were all gave a new look. Some new features include being able to out pictures from Facebook right on the screen and being able to put LIVE video of the meteorologists right over the radar or other image. On December 12, 2013, KWQC took away the "KWQC Weather" logo and replaced it again with the "First Alert" logo.
Starting on September 6, 2014, KWQC introduced "Quad Cities Today- Weekend Edition", anchored by Brian Boesen and weather specialist Theresa Bryant. "Quad Cities Today- Weekend Edition" runs before NBC's "Today Show" at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. A half-hour newscast follows at 8:30 a.m. Saturdays, and a 60-minute newscast airs at 8 a.m. Sundays. "Meet the Press" has been moved to 9 a.m. Sundays; and "This Week in Agribusiness" and "U.S. Farm Report" airs at 5 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
KWQC radio content
KWQC has news and weather updates broadcast for iHeartMedia's Quad Cities stations, among them KMXG, WLLR-FM, and its former sister station WOC. The news updates are mostly heard in the morning, from Quad Cities Today anchor David Nelson and Morgan Ottier. KMXG morning personalities McFadden & Evans also present the entertainment-themed "Showbiz Buzz" segment daily during KWQC-TV6 News at 4.
On September 29, 2012, KWQC announced they would be partnering with Fox affiliate KLJB to produce a 9 p.m. newscast starting New Year's Eve and planned to expand the news staff to accommodate the move. The fate of this partnership was unknown with the June 2014 announcement that KLJB would be purchased by Marshall Broadcasting; competitor station WHBF from Citadel Communications was acquired by Nexstar Broadcasting Group, which universally operates Marshall Broadcasting stations through LMA and JSA agreements. On December 30, 2015, KWQC announced that its contract to produce KLJB's newscast had expired and that KLJB chose not to renew it. On December 31, 2015, WHBF took over production of KLJB's Fox 18 News at Nine and expanded the newscast to a full hour. Nearly 13 months earlier, the sale of KLJB to Marshall Broadcasting was completed, and Nexstar (which already owned WHBF and KGCW at the time) entered into its existing SSA with KLJB.
KWQC has been the ratings leader in the Quad Cities for most of its history. It briefly lost the lead to WHBF in the mid-1970s, but regained it in 1980 and its newscasts have been the highest-rated in the market ever since. According to the Des Moines Register in the November 2007 books, KWQC had the third highest-rated newscast among all stations in the top 100 media markets. In 2015, KWQC's newscasts remained #1 in total viewers in every time slot. As of 2013/2014, Nielson's DMA rating for the Quad Cities was 100.