WFYI, virtual channel 20 (UHF digital channel 21), is a PBS member television station licensed to Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The station is owned by Metropolitan Indianapolis Public Broadcasting, and is a sister station to NPR member radio station WFYI-FM (90.1). WFYI maintains studio facilities located between Pierson and Illinois Streets (using a North Meridian Street address) in northwestern Indianapolis, within the city's Television Row section, and its transmitter is located on West 79th Street and Township Line Road on the city's northwest side (near Meridian Hills).

On cable, WFYI is available in standard definition on Comcast Xfinity channel 3 and Charter Spectrum and AT&T U-verse channel 20, and in high definition on Xfinity and U-verse channel 1020, and Spectrum digital channels 1020 and 1329.

Background

Local community leader Ardath Y. Burkhart formed a small grassroots campaign to launch an noncommercial educational television station to serve Indianapolis. Burkhart (whose group became known as "Ardath's Army") quickly gained support in the community by stating her case to residents in Indianapolis and surrounding counties. The volunteers raised enough funds over the course of a few weeks to cover a year's worth of operating expenses.

The station first signed on the air on October 4, 1970; for its first two days on the air, it served as a member station of National Educational Television (NET), before becoming a member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) when it launched on October 6, 1970. WFYI's transmitter originally operated at low power, providing a signal reach not far outside of downtown Indianapolis. It started with a small staff of nine employees from its Meridian Street studio facilities (located just north of downtown), which formerly housed the headquarters of utility company Indiana Gas; despite the fact that color television had become commonplace at the time, the station could only afford to purchase three cameras that were only capable of recording locally produced programming in black-and-white. The station eventually increased its transmitter power to allow its signal to cover a 58 miles (93 km) radius from the tower, expanding to cover a larger portion of Central Indiana.

In the early 1980s, WFYI's programming was originally relayed on translator station W39AA in Fort Wayne (the low-powered repeater previously relayed fellow PBS station WBGU-TV in Bowling Green); that translator was previously a stopgap to provide educational programming to Fort Wayne, as UHF channel 39 was allocated for educational use. Channel 39 became a separate, full-powered PBS member outlet, WFWA, in December 1986.

The station's current president and CEO, Lloyd Wright, also serves on PBS's national board of directors.

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[2]
20.11080i16:9WFYI 1Main WFYI programming / PBS
20.2480i4:3WFYI 2PBS Kids
20.3WFYI 3Create (4 a.m.-4 p.m.) / Indiana Channel (4 p.m.-1 a.m.) /
Classic Arts Showcase (1-4 a.m.)

On digital subchannel 20.2, the station carries children's programming from PBS Kids during the 24/7 hours. Digital subchannel 20.3 airs a mix of programming from Create during the daytime hours, programming from the Indiana Channel during the late afternoon and evening hours and the Classic Arts Showcase during the overnight hours.

Analog-to-digital conversion

WFYI signed on its digital signal in 2003. The station shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 20, 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. WFYI ran a video in the minutes leading up to the shutdown of the analog signal overviewing its primary digital channel and two subchannels ("WFYI 2" and "WFYI 3"), which re-aired following a retrospective on the station's history. The station's digital signal continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 21.[34] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 20.

Programming

WFYI's most notable locally produced programs include the travel programs Across Indiana and Indiana Expeditions with Rick Crosslin, the business discussion program INside Indiana Business, legal advice program Indiana Lawmakers, film showcase Reel Time and the public affairs programs Indiana PrimeTime and Indiana Week in Review. The station's locally originated programming has earned WFYI over 30 Regional Emmy Awards since the mid-2000s.