WILX-TV is the NBC-affiliated television station for Central Michigan. Licensed to the nearby town of Onondaga, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 10. The station can also be seen on Comcast channel 4 in Lansing, and Comcast channel 10 in East Lansing and Jackson. It can also be seen in high definition on digital channel 232. Owned by Gray Television, it has studios on American Road (near I-96) in Lansing, while its transmitter is located in Onondaga.
WILX shared the analog VHF channel 10 frequency with WMSB, an educational station owned by Michigan State University. That outlet was originally WKAR-TV, broadcasting on UHF channel 60. However, it had difficulty getting viewers because television sets were not required to have UHF tuning until 1964. Viewers had to buy an expensive converter to watch WKAR and the picture was not clear even with one. Looking for a way to increase its viewership, MSU agreed to share channel 10 with WILX. As such, WMSB was located on MSU's campus in East Lansing while WILX was licensed to Onondaga with studios in Jackson, the market's second largest city. However, both stations shared the same tower and transmitter in Onondaga.
WILX was on-the-air for 70 percent of the broadcast day, including all of prime time. In the event breaking news occurred, or a sporting event, or special on NBC was scheduled during WMSB's time, that station would often give its time to WILX. This arrangement continued until WKAR changed broadcasting frequencies to UHF channel 23 in 1972.
WILX was later sold to Figgie Communications. The station went through several more ownership changes (Adams Television, Brissette Broadcasting, Forward Communications, and Benedek Broadcasting) before it was acquired by current owner Gray Television. Benedek filled for bankruptcy in March 2002. In April 2002, Gray Communications indicated that they will acquire Benedek's assets. FCC granted approval of WILX transfer to Gray on August 29, 2002.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|10.1||1080i||16:9||WILX-HD||Main WILX-TV programming / NBC|
In April 2008, construction permit for permanent digital equipment was granted. The station's digital signal was broadcast on Channel 57. WILX-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 10, on February 17, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television (which Congress had moved the previous month to June 12). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 57, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era VHF channel 10.
Syndicated programming on WILX includes Rachael Ray, Live! with Kelly, The Dr. Oz Show, Steve Harvey, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! repeat and first run, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire among others.
Unlike most (then) two-station markets, WILX did not take a secondary affiliation with ABC. This was because WJRT-TV in Flint decently covered most of Lansing. Meanwhile, Jackson and Hillsdale would not get a clear signal from ABC until WUHQ-TV (now WOTV) signed-on from Battle Creek in 1971. The area would not have an ABC affiliate of its own until WLAJ launched in 1990.
WILX broadcasts news from 4:30-7 in the morning in the afternoon at 4, 5 and 6 with an evening broadcast at 11.
For many years, WILX's main studios were on Springport Road in Jackson while it operated a newsroom in Downtown Lansing. In the early 1960s, it maintained one-camera studios in Battle Creek and Lansing, which originated two-minute local news segments from those cities during the late evening news broadcasts. In the early-1990s under the ownership of Brissette Broadcasting, the station's operations were consolidated into its current studio complex in Lansing on American Road. For most of its history, WILX was a distant runner-up to long-dominant WLNS-TV in the local Nielsen ratings. Sometime in the early-2000s, however, channel 10 overtook WLNS for the first time ever and has maintained a narrow if consistent lead since.
Due to budget concerns, WILX's news staff has been cut over the last few years. As a result, the station features only one news anchor during its weekday morning broadcasts. Its weekday morning show News 10 Today was launched in 1990 as a local news segment during Today eventually expanding to the current two-and-a-half-hour-long broadcast. Since its weekday noon show was canceled in the late-1990s, the station has not offered a newscast during the midday hours unlike most other NBC affiliates.
In 2004, WILX entered into a news share agreement with Fox affiliate WSYM-TV (owned by Journal Communications). This came about after that channel shut down its news department due to financial reasons. Under the arrangement, WILX produces newscasts for WSYM weeknights at 5:30 (for a half-hour) and every night at 10 (for an hour). In October 2015, WILX began producing a two-hour morning show on WSYM titled Fox 47 Morning News at 7. Prior to this newscast's launch, on weekday mornings at 9, the previous late-night's prime time show was replayed on WSYM under the title Fox 47 Morning News Rewind. The weekend version of the Morning News Rewind continues to air at 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Due to the 5:30 broadcast airing on WSYM, there is no local news at that time on WILX. Although the two share most personnel, WILX and WSYM maintain separate weekday anchors and meteorologists. On occasion such as severe weather, WSYM may carry the primary feed from WILX where its meteorologists appear on the other. This channel operates its own weather radar known as "Pinpoint Doppler Radar" at its studios.
On July 7, 2014, WILX launched the first 4 p.m. newscast in the Lansing/Jackson market, titled [email protected].
WILX currently offers live streaming of its newscasts on its website, WILX.com.
Notable former on-air staff
- Jim Brandstatter – sportscaster (1975–1978), former University of Michigan football star, now color commentator for Michigan football and the Detroit Lions radio broadcasts and radio show host
- Ahmed Fareed – sports anchor (2004–2005), now studio host/reporter at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
- Chris Hansen – reporter (1981); now Dateline NBC correspondent
- Ben Holden – sports anchor/reporter (1998–2004), now at CBS Sports Network
- Matt Morrison – sports; later sport anchor at CNN, Fox Sports Northwest, and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, now producer at KGO ABC 7 in San Francisco
- Dan Ponce – anchor/reporter (2005–2006), later reporter at WLS in Chicago, founder of Straight No Chaser, now reporter at WGN and radio host on WLS-AM in Chicago