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The Stations of UHF

The following pages comprise a list of UHF TV stations that fall into one of three categories: Defunct stations (defined as those which went on the air and subsequently went "dark"), construction permits (CPs from the authorization of UHF in 1952 until three decades later, which were never built) and active stations whose stories are significant to the history of television. The list also includes a number of UHF stations which vacated the higher UHF channels for lower ones, a common practice in UHF's early days.

The list is arranged by channel number, then by state, city, and chronological order of CP or operation. Educational UHF outlets are preceded with an asterisk (*). Not included are stations which never requested call letters before their CP either expired or was returned, unbuilt.

Stations which made it on the air, only to go dark after an initial period of operation, have the dates of their operation noted in parentheses following their call letters and city of license (although in some cases we could only reliably confirm a partial date on which a station went dark); in some cases the footnotes will give dates of a dark station's return to operating status. Stations which changed channels have a "►" symbol following their original air dates with the later channel number, with additional notes added where needed. (If no accompanying entry appears for a station at its new channel number, it can be presumed that the station remained on the air at its new frequency without any subsequent "dark" periods.)

How we determined "on-air" dates: Because some of the earliest stations considered their first day on the air as the day they began transmitting a test pattern, and others the day they began commercial operation, we have opted to use the following hierarchy of sources to determine what date to list here for stations that began prior to 1960. Please note that many start dates in the station lists were corrected when we adopted this policy at the end of July 2016.

  • If Television Digest reported a date for a station beginning commercial operation, we use that date.
  • If the Broadcasting Yearbook listed a date later than the one Television Digest reported for test pattern transmission (dates for the Yearbook were station-provided), we use that date instead.
  • When there were conflicts between the two dates above, we checked Television Factbook and the FCC actions around that time in Broadcasting Magazine's "For The Record" section and use whichever date is best supported by the reports in both.
  • If Broadcasting Magazine, in its news coverage, reported a "start date" for a station and it differed from that in the Yearbook, we use that date. When Television Digest reported the date of a station signing on for testing and Broadcasting reported a projected date for commercial operation that was slightly later, we use the later date. (In a few cases, if the "Telestatus" section of Broadcasting gave a projected date and the station was shown as on-air in the next listing, we use the previously projected date.)
  • In a very small number of cases, we were able to confirm a station's first day of commercial operation from archived newspaper articles, and in those cases we used the date given in those.
  • Otherwise, we use the date reported by Television Digest of a station testing or their projected commercial operation date, whichever was later.
By 1960, the vast majority of stations listed their first day of commercial operation in the Yearbook, and we have thus chosen to use those dates going forward. We realize this creates some minor accuracy issues, but we are limited by what records exist for that early period of UHF operation.

If a station was issued a construction permit but never made it on the air it is followed by the notation (CP) followed by the year of the CP's issuance, and if a station used more than one set of call letters before going dark, all call letters it used on the air are listed. We did not include experimental authorizations except by reference in the notes when those authorizations were relevant to a station's history.

Note that unbuilt CPs could have been surrendered by the permittee at any point; a request for an extension of time to complete construction could have been denied; or the CP could have simply expired with the permittee taking no action to retain it. There is no way to determine which reason applies to most CPs that never went on-air (in fact, it can be presumed that those without explanatory notes simply expired without the permittee taking renewal action), but whenever unusual circumstances were reported for a CPs cancellation or deletion they are reflected in the footnotes. Up until the first major purge by the FCC of unbuilt television construction permits (detailed on the fourth page in this section), we have added the dates of CP surrenders or deletions, as accurately as we could determine them. After that point, it can be presumed that surrenders (especially for dark stations) simply went unreported by either Broadcasting or Television Digest. Similarly, deletions after the mid-1960s can be presumed to have been denials of CP extension applications and were similarly not reported unless they went to a hearing. By the mid-1970s, there were literally no mentions of either surrenders or deletions in those two trade publications.

In some cases, where we have incorporated what would have been a footnote into the content of an article about a related station we link to the article rather than duplicating the footnote.

Some station listings include links, to a gallery or an article on this site, or to an external site with additional information about the station. This includes the handful of stations that are in our list but still on the air, for which the FCC makes available the history cards listing all applications and actions up until 1980, when their recordkeeping went digital. We have linked to Wikipedia and other external pages as a courtesy, but we cannot and do not guarantee the accuracy of such pages. Discrepancies with information on external sites are likely due to anecdotal information, as opposed to the researched information presented here. The icons signifying these links are:

  • - Article on the UHF History site
  • - External site link
  • - Gallery on the UHF History site
  • - Link to FCC History Cards
  • - Wikipedia entry
In most cases, if we have an article available here the external links will be listed at the bottom of that article's page as there are likely to be multiple links available.

This list is complete through 1982. Stations that were operating in that year (or those that came later) do not appear in this list; exceptions were made for the very few stations that "went dark" prior to 1982 but returned to the air after then, and those which operated briefly only in the 1980s for which we have background information. The choice of 1982 as the cut-off point is based on the fact that very few UHFs failed past that point, largely due to the expansion of cable television service bringing them to a much larger audience than had been the case when nearly all viewing was off-air reception. Generally speaking, from the late 1970s onward whenever a UHF was failing there was usually a willing buyer, and unused channel allocations were increasingly subject to multiple applications from prospective station operators. In fact, less than a dozen of the outstanding unbuilt CPs at the beginning of 1982 failed to get on the air over the next few years. 1982 also marked 30 years since the original group of 126 UHF grants were issued, making it an appropriate point of conclusion for the list.

We also have a morgue page which lists all the UHFs that operated at some point between 1952 and 1982, listed in order by the date they went dark.

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