WFQX-TV is the Fox-affiliated television station for the northern Lower and eastern Upper Peninsulas of Michigan. Licensed to Cadillac, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 32 from a transmitter at studios on 130th Avenue/Dighton Road in Tustin on Grove Hill. As with other network affiliates in this vast rural area, the station operates a full-time satellite, WFUP. Licensed to Vanderbilt, which broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 45 from a transmitter on Hudson Lookout in southeastern Charlevoix County. Unlike other network affiliates in Northern Michigan, the WFQX and WFUP combination is not known on-air as "Fox 32&45". The stations are simply referred to as Fox 32. Aside from legal identification, there is no on-air mention that WFUP exists.
While the station is owned by Cadillac Telecasting Company, it is operated under a shared services agreement (SSA) by Heritage Broadcasting Group, which also owns CBS affiliate WWTV and full time satellite WWUP-TV. WFQX/WFUP broadcasts 24 hours each day, although overnights are filled with home shopping and other paid programming. It also airs a large number of infomercials and religious paid programs such as Believer's Voice of Victory, Walking By Faith, and The 700 Club. Syndicated programming includes: TMZ on TV, Seinfeld, The Office, and Access Hollywood.
The station first signed on the air as WGKI on UHF channel 33 on October 6, 1989. Its transmitter was just north of the current location in northern Osceola County. The original call letters referred to founder Gary Knapp, a former DJ and television personality. Despite its limited reach, WGKI was available on local cable systems. Prior to WGKI, Northern Michigan received Fox programming on cable from WKBD in Detroit.
In the station's early years, the channel was extremely low-budget. This was evident in the station's use of 1970s-era electronic graphics for the first few years of broadcasting. Due to the growing popularity of the Fox network and shows such as The Simpsons and Married With Children, the station quickly grew. The on-screen graphics were modernized and it started to use higher-quality video equipment.
In the early-1990s, WGKI launched several repeaters in the Eastern Upper Peninsula unreached by the station's analog signal. By the mid-1990s, the station moved into permanent studios southeast of Cadillac along US 131. On January 11, 1993, the station launched WGKU-TV in Vanderbilt as a full-time satellite of WGKI reaching the Gaylord and Petoskey areas.
When WJBK in Detroit switched its affiliation to Fox in 1994, WGKI started using that station's resources. The move also disallowed rival WKBD from distributing Detroit Red Wings and Tigers games to WGKI. Knapp made a station promo explaining the situation between the three stations. When the Fox affiliation switch in Detroit was made, WGKI replaced WKBD on cable systems in Mid-Michigan and the Eastern Upper Peninsula. This was done so viewers without a local Fox station would maintain access to the network's programming. As a consequence, WGKI also expanded into parts of the Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Detroit markets via cable carriage. As a result, some cable viewers (especially in Bay City, Saginaw, and Michigan's thumb area) found out that most of WGKI's programming, especially those from Fox, were being blacked out by request of the local affiliate. Soon after, many systems outside Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula dropped WGKI and/or brought back WKBD.
On January 15, 1995, WGKI became a secondary affiliate of UPN. It aired the network's shows outside of prime time. WGKI continued to air UPN programming until 2006, when UPN merged with The WB to form The CW, at which point WGKI ended its affiliation.
In 1999, the channel increased its ERP from 219 kW to 774 kW, significantly increasing its coverage area. In 2000, Knapp retired and sold his stations to Rockfleet Broadcasting for $12 million. Part of the deal called for both channels to change call letters. WGKI became WFQX-TV and WGKU became WFVX. The latter station later switched to WFUP. (The previous calls were moved to a former low-powered sister station in Bangor, Maine.)
On February 10, 2007, WFQX upgraded its digital signal on UHF channel 47 (from a transmitter shared with WGTU east of Kalkaska) to begin airing all Fox programming in high definition for over-the-air viewers. (Prior to then, the station offered a low-power digital and HDTV signal near its studios southeast of Cadillac.) WFQX is available on Charter digital channel 783. On May 10, Rockfleet Broadcasting announced its intentions to sell WFQX/WFUP to Cadillac Telecasting. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the sale in late October. After this approval, the new owner entered into its SSA with Heritage Broadcasting Group.
It had been announced with the switch to digital broadcasting (then scheduled for February 17, 2009), WFUP would shut down. However, that channel had an application to perform a flash-cut to digital-only broadcasting on June 12. At one point, the station operated a digital signal on UHF channel 59 from its tower on Hudson Lookout. WFQX had an FCC-issued construction permit to air a digital signal on UHF channel 32 using the previous analog channel 33 equipment but based from the WWTV tower at its studios. That spot is the highest point in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
On August 4, 2009, WFQX switched its longtime moniker "Fox 33" to "Fox 32" while adding a logo matching Fox O&O stations. The station made the channel move with its PSIP also being adjusted to match the new signal. WFUP's digital signal remained the same. The previous allotment is now used for WPBN-TV's digital broadcasts.
WFQX/WFUP are affiliates of the Detroit Lions Television Network which airs pre-season games and the weekly syndicated show The Ford Lions Report during the regular season. Also, because it is outside of the Detroit Lions' blackout area, it airs all regular season NFL on Fox Lions games. WFQX and PBS affiliate WCMU-TV has been the only stations in the Northern Michigan market that offered analog translator stations. There had been one on channel 31 in Alpena but this was shut down with WFUP serving the area.
In November 2009, WBKB-TV added a new digital subchannel featuring primary Fox and secondary MyNetworkTV programming. At one point, WFQX operated a repeater on channel 40 in Traverse City. That signal was shut down with the addition of one on channel 54. This to has since been shut off. Two translators that served the eastern Upper Peninsula were replaced with digital signals on new digital subchannels of WWTV and WWUP.
As WGKI, the station simulcasted WKBD's hour long prime time newscast at 10 o'clock. In June 2000, WFQX launched a news department of its own and began producing a nightly 10 o'clock broadcast. Known as Northern Michigan's Fox News at 10, this was plagued from the start by a lack of basic resources such as reporters and engineering upkeep. The station initially had its own weather department, but later began outsourcing weather duties to AccuWeather in State College, Pennsylvania, which pre-taped weather segments and fed them to WFQX via satellite. As a result, WFQX was criticized for being too late when severe weather was an issue or choosing not to cover an event. At some point in time, the news title changed to Fox 33 News at 10 and weekend broadcasts ended.
On January 8, 2007, WFQX began to air a simulcast of the weekday morning show of WJBK, Detroit's Fox owned-and-operated station. Branded as Michigan's Fox News Morning and running from 6:00 am to 8:00 am, it featured local weather cut-ins from AccuWeather, and was established as part of a cooperation between the two stations to provide advertising opportunities in Detroit to businesses of Northern Michigan. On February 5, WQFX also began simulcasting the second half of WJBK's 10: pm news.
After the sale of the channel to Cadillac Telecasting, the station's news department was shut down. On October 31, WWTV began producing the weeknight 10:00 pm newscast and the WJBK simulcast at 10:30 pm was dropped. On January 7, 2008, when CBS began requiring affiliates to carry The Early Show in its entirety, the third hour of WWTV's Michigan This Morning, which had been running from 7:00 am to 8:00 am, was moved to WFQX/WFUP and expanded to two hours. That evening on WFQX, WWTV launched the area's first 7 o'clock news.
Michigan This Morning on Fox 32
(Weekday Mornings 7 to 9)
- Kelly Davis
- Scott Michael Trager
Fox 32 News at 7 and 10
(Weeknights 7 to 7:30 and 10 to 10:30)
- Crystal Oko
- Michael Kasiborski (7:00 only)
- Kevin Essebaggers (10:00 only)
- Alex Jokich
- Christina Vecchioni
- Jennifer Profitt
- Michael Kasiborski
WFQX features additional news personnel from WWTV. See that article for a complete listing.
Former on-air staff