WXMI, virtual channel 17 (UHF digital channel 19), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting division of the Tribune Media Company. WXMI maintains studio facilities on Plaza Drive (near M-37) on the northern side of Grand Rapids, and its transmitter is located southwest of Middleville.
The station signed on the air on March 18, 1982 as an independent station under the call sign WWMA. The call letters are said to have stood for "We're West Michigan Alternative". The station was originally owned by Heritage Broadcasting Company. Approximately a year after signing on, additional shareholders bought control of the station and changed the callsign to the current WXMI on August 15, 1983. The "XMI" at the time were said to stand for "EXtreme Michigan". In 1987, WXMI signed an affiliation deal to become the market's Fox affiliate; it joined the network on April 9, 1987 when Fox expanded its programming offerings to include primetime programming. In 1989, the station's stock was purchased by a New York-based company headed by Robert Dudley called Odyssey Television Partners.
Nine years later, WXMI was purchased by Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications, which traded the station with sister KTZZ in Seattle, Washington to Tribune Broadcasting in 1998 in exchange for FM station WQCD in New York City. In 2008, cartoons were dropped from WXMI's schedule with the discontinuance of 4KidsTV following a dispute between Fox and the block's lessee 4Kids Entertainment; the Saturday morning time period is currently split between the weekend edition of WXMI's morning newscast, and children's programming (either syndicated or from Fox's Xploration Station block) fulfilling the Federal Communications Commission's E/I guidelines.
Pending acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group – owner of CBS-CW affiliate WWMT (channel 3) – entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune, pending regulatory approval by the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. As WXMI and WWMT likely rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Grand Rapids–Kalamazoo–Battle Creek market in total day viewership, the companies may be required to sell either of the stations to another broadcasting group in order to comply with FCC ownership rules preceding approval of the acquisition (if due to the presence of WOTV, one of the stations ranks fifth at the time of the decision, however, Sinclair can legally acquire both stations). A sale of either station to an independent buyer is also dependent on later decisions by the FCC regarding local ownership of broadcast television stations and future acts by Congress. Alternatively, Sinclair may opt to either take over the operations of WXMI or transfer ownership of and retain operational responsibilities for WWMT through a local marketing agreement with one of its partner companies, a situation that Sinclair already employs in cross-state in Flint (between NBC affiliate WEYI-TV and Fox affiliate WSMH).
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|17.1||720p||16:9||FOX17DT||Main WXMI programming / Fox|
From August 2006 to September 2007, The Tube aired on the station's second digital subchannel. In July 2010, the station reactivated the 17.2 digital subchannel to carry This TV, which moved to 17.3 on December 9 in anticipation of the December 31 launch of Antenna TV.
WXMI shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 17, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 19, using PSIP to display WXMI's virtual channel as 17 on digital television receivers.
In addition to its main signal, the station also operates two translators, mainly to provide clear service of the station to lakeshore cities with varying terrain blocking reception of the main signal, and to address interference in farther portions of the market by sister station WGN-TV from Chicago, which also broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 19. Two additional transmitters in the southern part of the market, officially classed as WXMI digital repeaters, serve the direct Kalamazoo area on channel 30 from the tower of WGVU-TV's Kalamazoo satellite WGVK, along with a second repeater licensed to Battle Creek on channel 17 transmitting from the city's south side; all four translators carry WXMI and its subchannel services, and all map via PSIP to channel 17. This means it is possible for a television in the Grand Rapids market receiving an over-the-air signal to map out up to four different WXMI signals in its channel map.
W42CB channel 42 completed a flash-cut to digital-only broadcasting in November 2010. W52DB on analog channel 52 was replaced by a digital signal on channel 17 in December 2010. In late June 2011, W52DB calls became W17DF-D.
|Call letters||Channel||City of license||Transmitter location|
|W17DF-D||17||Muskegon||northeast of city and U.S. 31|
|W42CB-D||42||Hesperia||south of village along M-120|
|WXMI||17||Battle Creek||northeast of I-94 and M-294 interchange|
|WXMI||30||Kalamazoo||WGVK's tower on the west side of Kalamazoo|
Syndicated programming featured on WXMI includes The Steve Wilkos Show, Two and a Half Men, Modern Family, and Divorce Court. WXMI is an affiliate of the Detroit Lions Television Network which airs pre-season games as well as the weekly syndicated show The Ford Lions Report during the regular season. Since it is outside of the team's local blackout area, it also airs all regular season games produced by Fox.
On January 11, 1999, WXMI started its news department and launched the market's first primetime newscast at 10:00 p.m. It originally aired for 35 minutes on weeknights and for a half-hour on weekends. The program would expand to a full hour seven nights a week in 2004. On August 28, 2006, the station premiered the Fox 17 Morning News. Originally a two-hour-long broadcast, it expanded to four hours (running from 5:00-9:00 a.m.) on September 15, 2008. On April 17, 2009, WXMI became the first station in West Michigan to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition; at the time, NBC affiliate WOOD-TV and ABC affiliates WZZM (channel 13) and WOTV (channel 41) produced their newscasts in merely widescreen enhanced-definition (CBS affiliate WWMT, channel 3, became the second station in the market to upgrade to HD newscasts on April 16, 2011, followed by WOOD-TV/WOTV on October 22, 2011). On April 20, 2011 during the weekday morning show, the station officially unveiled a new logo, graphics, music package ("The Unexpected" by 615 Music), and set.
On September 21, 2009, WXMI debuted an hour-long newscast at 6 p.m. that competes against half-hour newscasts on WWMT, WOOD-TV, and WZZM and their national network evening newscasts. On March 7, 2011, the station debuted an hour-long lifestyle program at weeknights 5 p.m. called The One Seven; the final broadcast of the program aired only five months later on August 19, 2011. It was hosted by Michele DeSelms and Tim Doty and featured lifestyle segments, art, entertainment stories, cooking segments and some local news. The program was replaced by a traditional hour-long local newscast at 5:00 p.m. (which debuted without any promotion) on August 22, 2011. On March 2, 2013, WXMI debuted weekend morning newscasts, running for four hours from 5:00 to 9:00 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The station added a nightly 11 p.m. newscast on June 2, 2014; a promo for the new newscast references the shift from the common Fox affiliate news tagline of "at 10 (o'clock) it's news, at 11 (o'clock) it's history," with the additional wording "we changed our mind." A 4 p.m. newscast will debut on September 8, 2014.