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Wisconsin Public Television
Type Terrestrial state public broadcasting network
First air date WHA-TV: May 3, 1954
WPT network: 1972
Slogan A place to grow through learning
Broadcast area Wisconsin, United States
additional coverage in portions of Eastern Minnesota and Iowa,
Upper Peninsula of Michigan and
Northern Illinois
Owner Wisconsin Educational Communications Board,
University of Wisconsin–Extension
(Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System)
Digital channel 6 full-power television stations,
6 translator stations
Sister public radio services Wisconsin Public Radio
Affiliation PBS (1970-Present)
Former affiliations NET (1954-1970)
Official website

Wisconsin Public Television is a state network of public television stations operated primarily by the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board and the University of Wisconsin–Extension. It comprises all of the PBS member stations in the state outside of Milwaukee.

The state network is available via flagship station WHA-TV in Madison and five major satellite stations throughout most of Wisconsin. As of April 5, 2009, all stations have converted to digital operations only. WPT is also available on most satellite and cable television outlets.

Wisconsin Public Television is the main conduit of educational television, GED preparation, and instructional television programming produced by the ECB, which is aired through PBS, Annenberg Media, those stations serving portions of Wisconsin without a WPT station, and other educational television distributors.


WHA-TV first hit the airwaves on May 3, 1954 as the first educational station in Wisconsin and the seventh in the nation. WHA-TV is the only public broadcasting television station in the United States that maintains a three-letter callsign, and one of only three analog era UHF stations altogether (along with WHP-TV and WWJ-TV) with a three-letter call. For most of the time from the 1950s through the 1970s, it was one of only three stations in the state that was a member of National Educational Television and its successor, PBS. The others were WMVS and WMVT in Milwaukee. The only other areas of the state with a clear signal from an NET/PBS member station were the northwest (from Duluth, Minnesota's WDSE-TV) and the southwest (from the Twin Cities's KTCA-TV).

In 1971, the state legislature created the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, activating five stations as satellites of WHA-TV during the 1970s - WPNE in Green Bay in 1972; WHWC in Menomonie and WHLA in La Crosse in 1973; WHRM in Wausau in 1975 and WLEF in Park Falls in 1977. The stations adopted the on-air name of Wisconsin Public Television in 1986. Transmission and station identification is based out of ECB's Madison facility.

From 1960 to 2007, WHA-TV/WPT aired same-day tape-delayed coverage of some home games for


Full-power stations

There are six full-power stations in the state network, in major cities throughout the state, and all are broadcast on UHF. On April 5, 2009, the state network ended analog service for all stations, and they map via PSIP to their former analog channel location.[2]

Station City of license Channels
First air date Call letters meaning ERP
Facility ID Transmitter Coordinates
WHA-TV 1 Madison 21 (PSIP)
20 (UHF)
May 3, 1954 Taken from sister
station WHA radio
100 kW 453 m 6096 3|20.5|N|89|32|6.3|W|type:landmark_scale:2000 name=WHA-TV


WHLA-TV La Crosse 31 (PSIP)
30 (UHF)
March 17, 1975 WHA LA Crosse 307.5 kW 344.6 m 18780 48|18.3|N|91|22|5.2|W|type:landmark_scale:2000 name=WHLA-TV


WHRM-TV Wausau 20 (PSIP)
24 (UHF)
January 20, 1976 WHA Rib Mountain
(transmitter site)
172 kW 387 m 73036 55|14.2|N|89|41|28.7|W|type:landmark_scale:2000 name=WHRM-TV


WHWC-TV 2 Menomonie
(Eau Claire)
28 (PSIP)
27 (UHF)
June 10, 1975 WHA West
Central Wisconsin
291 kW 350 m 18793 2|49.2|N|91|51|47.3|W|type:landmark_scale:2000 name=WHWC-TV


WLEF-TV 3 Park Falls 36 (PSIP)
36 (UHF)
December 15, 1976 W Lee E. Franks
former WECB executive director
50 kW 244 m 63046 56|42.1|N|90|16|23.6|W|type:landmark_scale:2000 name=WLEF-TV


WPNE-TV Green Bay 38 (PSIP)
42 (UHF)
September 12, 1972 W Public Broadcasting for
NorthEastern Wisconsin
200 kW 375 m 18798 24|34.6|N|88|0|6.7|W|type:landmark_scale:2000 name=WPNE


  • 1 - WHA-TV's signal is imported into the Milwaukee area via basic and digital cable systems to provide a second PBS choice for viewers alongside Milwaukee Public Television's stations; the station was carried on Time Warner Cable systems until January 2009. It also serves as one of two de facto PBS member stations via cable for the Rockford, Illinois market south of Madison, sharing that market with Chicago's WTTW.
  • 2 - WHWC serves the Wisconsin side of the Minneapolis – Saint Paul television market, and is carried by some cable systems in southeastern Minnesota, providing a second PBS choice to viewers in addition to Twin Cities Public Television's stations.
  • 3 - WLEF's analog signal was terminated on February 3, 2009, with WLEF's digital signal moving from Channel 47 to Channel 36.

Digital television

The state network carries three digital subchannels:[3]

(## = local channel)
Programming Service Resolution Programming Description
##.1 50px WPT-HD 720p HD Network's traditional schedule; downcoverted to a 4:3 analog signal for cable and satellite viewers.
##.2 50px Wisconsin Channel
480i SD Features WPT's and MPTV's programming about state issues and state history, university lectures, new local programs and performances from Wisconsin arts groups.
Windows Media).
##.3 50px WPT Create
480i SD Airs the full schedule of Create.
  • In some areas where local cable and satellite receive the state network directly via a fiber optic connection from WPT, all three services air 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on those systems.
  • The programming schedule of all three channels over-the-air depends on the main WPT schedule; on late nights without overnight instructional programming, WPT goes off the air at 1 a.m. and signs back on at 6 a.m. However, after a January 2010 transmitter problem took down WPNE and commercial station WBAY-TV in Green Bay for two weeks, WPT switched from turning off their transmitters to mainly airing a network station identification card with an outline map of the network's service in the state during off-the-air hours.
  • A PBS Kids subchannel previously aired on WPT's .2 subchannels until 2007, when PBS discontinued the service; subsequently the Wisconsin Channel launched in its place, along with a modified children's programming schedule across all of WPT's services.

Network translator stations

A translator network also serves portions of the state where over-the-air reception for a regular station is hindered by area topography, and to fill in holes between full-power stations. All of the listed translators are owned by the WECB, and flash-cut from analog to digital in the first two weeks of November 2008, including adding the subchannel services.[4] Each translator has its virtual channel mapped via PSIP to the channel number of the closest full-power station to the translator.[5]

Call sign Location Translator

W15DJ-D Sister Bay 15 WPNE 38
W22CI-D Bloomington 22 WHLA 31
W24CL-D Grantsburg 24 WHWC 28
W45CD-D Fence 45 WPNE 38
W47CO-D River Falls 47 WHWC 28
W48DB-D Coloma 48 WHRM 20

Network programming in Milwaukee and Superior-Duluth

WPT's public affairs programming is carried by MPTV flagship WMVS (Channel 10) in Milwaukee, including Here and Now, while WDSE (Channel 8) Superior-Duluth and WRPT (Channel 31) Hibbing air the shows in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. The two stations also air the state network's live teen issues program Teen Connection quarterly with WPT, along with political debates and other important events originating from the Capitol such as the State of the State address and biennial budget address produced by the state network; in turn some Milwaukee Public Television programming (such as Outdoor Wisconsin) and MPTV-produced debates air on WPT, with programs such as Wisconsin Foodie in turn airing on WMVS. Some of the state network's tape-delayed sports coverage airs in Milwaukee on WMVT (Channel 36).

Production for PBS

See also


External links

  • Wisconsin Public Television Website
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for WHA-TV
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for WHLA
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for WHRM
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for WHWC
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for WLEF
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for WPNE
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for W18CU
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for W22CI
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for W24CL
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for W45CD
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for W47CO
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for W48DB
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