Louisiana – WGNO

About WGNO

The station was sold to Communications Corp. of the South in 1971; after the purchase was finalized, the station changed its call letters to WGNO-TV on March 9, 1972. Around this time, the station began running more off-network syndicated sitcoms and westerns, along with a moderate amount of cartoons. The station expanded its programming schedule to about 12 hours each day by 1972, then began signing on at 10:00 a.m. in 1974; WGNO expanded its daily programming hours to about 19 hours a day by 1975. The station was sold to Seymour Smith and his family in 1976, continuing to program a general entertainment format with vintage sitcoms, older movies and religious programs.

WGNO began to be carried on many cable providers in southern Louisiana (including within the Baton Rouge market) during the 1970s, before it was replaced by Atlanta-based superstation WTCG. In 1981, WGNO also ran business news programming from the Financial News Network. From 1982 to 1987, WGNO aired a series of public service announcements featuring a character called "Tom Foote"; Tom was a local entertainer seen in area schools and in the French Quarter. For a time, the station produced an hour-long program called Tom Foote's Video Clubhouse, as well as News for Kids, produced by Foote.

WGNO was purchased by Glendive Media in 1978, who would in turn sell the station to Tribune Broadcasting in 1983. By coincidence, the station's callsign reflects a connection with Tribune's flagship television station in Chicago, WGN-TV (whose own call letters stand for "World's Greatest Newspaper", in reference to the longtime slogan of the company's founding newspaper, the Chicago Tribune); however, channel 26 had the "WGN" lettering in its callsign twelve years before Tribune even bought the station; this connection, coupled with the fact that two other Tribune-owned television stations also incorporated the "WGN" name in their callsigns (Denver's KWGN-TV and Atlanta's WGNX (now WGCL-TV), the former of which remains owned by the company), channel 26 kept the WGNO call letters. Under Tribune, the station continued to grow, and WGNO remained the leading independent station in the market even as other competitors signed on the air—WNOL-TV (channel 38) in March 1984 and later, WCCL (channel 49, now Ion Television owned-and-operated station WPXL-TV) in March 1989. WGNO reportedly turned down an offer by Fox to become a charter affiliate of the network, prior to its October 1986 launch; Fox programming instead went to WNOL, which its then-owners TVX Broadcast Group used as leverage to get Fox to sign a deal to affiliate with the majority of the company's independent stations. The station dropped the "-TV" suffix from the callsign on August 17, 1988.

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