About WICD ABC15 & News Channel 20On April 23, 1959, the station debuted as WCHU-TV (Champaign/Urbana). It was an NBC affiliate that broadcast on UHF channel 33 in analog. Plains Television Partners owned it, and it was a low-powered full-time satellite of Springfield's WICS. The WCHU signal traveled around 15 miles (24 kilometers) from its transmitter at the Inman Hotel in Downtown Champaign. Getting a good signal from Springfield (85 miles (137 km) west of Champaign) proved more hit-or-miss. Plains Television was required to construct a microwave tower in Northwestern Champaign in order to transmit the WICS signal to the WCHU studios. On September 14, the station resumed a more regular schedule with a more dependable signal. The next year, it began airing in color.
Plains Television Partners purchased Danville's WDAN-TV in July 1960. On December 19, 1953, that station launched as a low-powered ABC affiliate operating on channel 24 with a signal that radiated around 25 miles (40 km) from its transmitter. The Gannett Company owned WDAN, as well as the Danville Commercial-News newspaper and WDAN radio (1490 AM). Plains Television altered WDAN-call TV's letters to WICD (for WICS Danville; at the time, FCC regulations required separately-owned stations to have distinct call letters, thus the Commercial-News maintained WDAN radio) and made it a full repeater of WCHU. From 1960 through 1967, WCHU/WICD aired various locally produced shows from the Champaign studios. WICD's transmitter, however, was not capable of airing local programming in color.