|Channels||Digital: 13 (VHF)|
Virtual: 13 (PSIP)
|Branding||13 WREX (general)|
13 News (newscasts)
Stateline CW 14 (on DT2)
|Slogan||Your News Leader (news)|
13 Weather Authority (weather)
13 Sports Authority (sports)
Dare to Defy (on DT2)
13.4: Court TV
13.5: True Crime Network
|Owner||Quincy Media |
(WREX License, LLC)
First air date
|October 1, 1953|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
13 (VHF, 1953-2009)
54 (UHF, 2002-2009)
ABC (1953-1995; secondary until 1965)
DuMont (secondary, 1953-1955)
NTA (secondary, 1956-1961)
The WB (1998-2006, via The WB 100+)
Call sign meaning
|In memory of REX N. Caster, son of founding station president L. E. Caster|
|HAAT||216 m (709 ft)|
Public license information
WREX, virtual and VHF digital channel 13, is a dual NBC/CW+-affiliated television station licensed to Rockford, Illinois, United States. Owned by Quincy Media, it is the market's only full-powered VHF station and is Rockford's second oldest television station. WREX's studios and transmitter are located on Auburn Road west of Rockford.
WREX began operation on October 1, 1953, as a primary affiliate of CBS. It shared ABC with NBC affiliate WTVO, channel 17 (which signed on five months earlier), and also aired programming from the DuMont Television Network. It was owned by Greater Rockford Television, a group of local businessmen. The station's call letters were selected in honor of Rex N. Caster, the son of station president L. E. Caster. Rex Caster was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army who was killed in France during World War II.
Besides serving its immediate area, WREX attracted viewers early on in its history from parts of the neighboring Madison area. In fact, the two areas still share overlapping coverage among their television stations, especially in Rock County, Wisconsin (technically in the Madison television market), and that market's ABC affiliate, WKOW (channel 27) is a sister station to WREX, assisting with newsgathering in the northern part of the Rockford market. Until Madison's WISC-TV (channel 3) signed on in 1956, WREX was the only VHF station for both the Rockford and Madison areas. This was because Rockford and Madison were sandwiched between markets where other VHF channels were already assigned-Chicago (channels 2, 5, 7, 9, and 11) to the east, Milwaukee (channels 4, 6, 10, and 12) to the northeast, and La Crosse/Eau Claire (channels 8 and 13) to the west.
During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. The station lost DuMont when that network shut down in 1956. In 1963, the station was sold to the Gannett Company; during the mid-1960s, WREX was briefly co-owned with the Rockford Morning Star. WREX became a full-time ABC affiliate in 1965, when WCEE-TV signed on the air. In 1966, WREX became the first television station in Rockford to broadcast in color.
In 1969, Gannett sold WREX to the Gilmore Broadcasting Corporation, owner of WEHT in Evansville, Indiana. In 1987, Gilmore sold the station to ML Media Partners, L.P. In May 1995, Quincy Newspapers purchased WREX; the purchase was completed on July 31. Two weeks later, on August 14, WREX switched network affiliations with WTVO, taking that station's NBC affiliation while WTVO assumed WREX's old ABC affiliation. According to Variety, the affiliation switch was forced by ABC in retaliation for Quincy switching the affiliation of its South Bend station WSJV from ABC to Fox earlier that year; the replacement ABC affiliate for South Bend, W58BT (now WBND-LD), began broadcasting on October 18, two months after WREX affiliated with NBC.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|13.1||1080i||16:9||WREXNBC||Main WREX programming / NBC|
|13.5||Crime||True Crime Network|
WREX operates Stateline CW 14, a digital broadcast affiliate of The CW Television Network via The CW Plus. Stateline CW is seen on channel 14 on DirecTV and most Rockford area cable systems, as well as on WREX's digital subchannel 13.2.
On April 4, 2013, WREX added MeTV, on digital subchannel 13.3, that broadcasts classic television shows. Subchannels 13.4 and 13.5 went on the air with color bars on April 30, 2019, with Justice Network launching on 13.5 on May 1, and Court TV launching on 13.4 on May 8.
WREX shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 13, at 12:30 p.m. on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 54, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era VHF channel 13 for post-transition operations.
WREX was named the 2013 Outstanding News Operation by the Illinois Associated Press. WREX airs almost 22 hours worth of newscasts a week, with two hours weekday mornings at 5:00; 30 minutes on weekdays at noon, 5, and 6; 35 minutes weekdays at 10; 30 minutes Saturdays at 6 and 10, and 30 minutes Sunday at 10. Minute-and-a-half news/weather updates also air throughout the day weekdays on Stateline CW 14.
WREX has a unique partnership with The Rockford Register Star, the city's daily newspaper. Staff of the newspaper appear often on WREX's news programs. In return, the newspaper promotes upcoming news stories and programming on Channel 13. WREX also has a partnership with Mid-West Family Broadcasting radio stations in the Rockford market. WREX provides weather reports for the stations and in return the radio stations provide promotion for WREX's programming.