Off Topic: DTV Transition in Chicago

After 60 years of NTSC transmissions saturating Chicagoland, we are now bathing in the electronic ether of a new era.  ATSC television, commonly known as DTV, is now officially the law of the land for all full-power television stations in America.

From what we’ve heard from people in the industry, problems varied widely by market.  Houston didn’t have many problems because so many people there are already wedded to their satellite dishes.  But not too far away in Baton Rouge, we hear it was pretty much a disaster with thousands of people unexpectedly staring at snow.

From what we’ve heard, Chicago was one of the bumpier markets.  Most stations fielded a few hundred to a couple of thousand phone calls when the plugs were pulled on channels 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, etc…  But for a market the size of Chicago, a few thousand unhappy people isn’t too bad.

With any wireless medium, the results vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, house to house, even room to room.  We lost a bunch of stations in the switch, but gained some others.  Here’s a chart of what happened here in downtown Chicago:

As stated earlier, your mileage will vary.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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