70 Years: Before WEEK became a TV station

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 11:05 AM CST
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(25 News Now) - 70 years ago, WEEK became Peoria area’s first local television station. But, did you know WEEK’s broadcast history started five years earlier?

WEEK-AM began its on-air operation in April of 1947. Located at 1350 on the AM dial, WEEK carried NBC radio programs with Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, and Your Hit Parade.

Local shows were a staple with eleven newscasts a day from 6:30 AM to 11 PM. WEEK played the popular records but also produced “Barnyard Frolics” - live every Saturday evening. Other local programs included “The Mayor’s Report”, “Headlines in Chemistry” and “The Voice of Public Safety”. WEEK even invited local school kids to read and dramatize the comics from the Sunday morning newspaper.

In 1952, the FCC relaxed its freeze on new TV licenses and WEEK began constructing a facility on Springfield Road in East Peoria. None of the people involved in putting the station together had television experience but many drew from their military service in the Signal Corps during World War II and the Korean War.

After weeks of tweaking the transmitter and airing a test pattern, local television came to life February 1st, 1953…making television history in Central Illinois.