About WGNOThe station was sold to Communications Corp. of the South in 1971, and on March 9, 1972, the station changed its call letters to WGNO-TV. Around this time, the station began to air more off-network syndicated sitcoms and westerns, as well as a small quantity of cartoons. By 1972, the station had increased its programming schedule to roughly 12 hours per day, then began signing on at 10:00 a.m. in 1974; by 1975, WGNO had expanded its regular programming hours to nearly 19 hours per day. Seymour Smith and his family purchased the station in 1976 and continued to run a general entertainment programming with classic comedies, older movies, and religious programs.
WGNO was carried by numerous cable providers in southern Louisiana (including the Baton Rouge region) until it was displaced by Atlanta-based superstation WTCG in the 1970s. In 1981, WGNO aired Financial News Network business news programs. From 1982 until 1987, WGNO ran a series of public service advertisements starring "Tom Foote," a local performer who could be seen at neighborhood schools and the French Quarter. For a while, the station aired an hour-long program called Tom Foote's Video Clubhouse, as well as Foote's News for Kids.
Glendive Media bought WGNO in 1978, and the station was then sold to Tribune Broadcasting in 1983. By coincidence, the station's call letters reflect 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 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; The station grew under Tribune ownership, and WGNO remained the market's largest independent station even when additional competitors got on the air—WNOL-TV (channel 38) in March 1984 and subsequently, WCCL (channel 49, now Ion Television owned-and-operated station WPXL-TV) in March 1989. Prior to the network's October 1986 launch, WGNO reportedly turned down an offer from Fox to become a charter affiliate; 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. On August 17, 1988, the station deleted the "-TV" suffix from its call letters.