CityLansing, Michigan
BrandingWLNS 6; 6 News
First air date
May 1, 1950 (74 years ago) (1950-05-01)
Former call signs
WJIM-TV (1950-1984)[1]
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog: 6 (VHF, 1950–2009)
  • Digital: 59 (UHF, 2001–2009), 36 (UHF, 2009–2018), 25 (UHF, 2018–2020)
  • All secondary:
  • DuMont (1950–1955)
  • ABC (1950–1958)
  • NBC (1950–1959)
Call sign meaning
Technical information[2]
Licensing authority
Facility ID74420
ERP950 kW
HAAT289.8 m (951 ft)
Transmitter coordinates42°41′19″N 84°22′35″W / 42.68861°N 84.37639°W / 42.68861; -84.37639
Public license information

WLNS-TV (channel 6) is a television station in Lansing, Michigan, United States, affiliated with CBS. It is owned by Nexstar Media Group, which provides certain services to dual ABC/CW+ affiliate WLAJ (channel 53) under a shared services agreement (SSA) with Mission Broadcasting. WLNS-TV and WLAJ share studios on East Saginaw Street in Lansing's Eastside section; through a channel sharing agreement, the stations transmit using WLAJ's spectrum from a tower on Van Atta Road in Okemos, Michigan.



The station signed on May 1, 1950, as WJIM-TV and was owned by Harold F. Gross along with WJIM radio (1240 AM), through WJIM, Inc. It is Michigan's second-oldest television station outside Detroit (behind WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids).[1] Gross had started WJIM, the oldest continually operated commercial radio station in Lansing, in 1934; both stations were named after his son Jim. According to local legend, Gross won the original radio license in a card game.

WJIM-TV originally carried programming from all four networks: ABC, DuMont, NBC, and CBS; it was, and always has been, a primary CBS affiliate. ABC disappeared from the schedule in 1958 when WJRT-TV signed on from Flint.[1] DuMont programming disappeared when the network ceased operations in 1956.[3] NBC disappeared from the schedule in 1959 when WILX-TV signed on. Thus, at the start of the fall 1959 television season, WJIM-TV was broadcasting only CBS.[1]

On September 2, 1973, the Sunday Detroit Free Press published the first piece of an investigation by David Cay Johnston into news blackouts and manipulations ordered by Gross with follow-up reports continuing for three years.[4] Two years later, The New York Times examined the case.[5]

The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the station's license in 1973 alleging that Gross, whose company was by then renamed Gross Telecasting, Inc., prevented a number of prominent political figures from appearing on WJIM-TV.[6] A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) judge ordered the license revoked in 1981. WJIM kept its license when the initial revocation was reversed by the FCC in 1982. The ACLU would eventually agree to a cash settlement in 1984.[1]


The stress of the decade-long licensing dispute led Gross to decide to leave the broadcasting business. He sold WJIM-TV to Backe Communications in 1984. The station, per FCC rules at the time (which prohibited TV and radio stations in the same market, but with different ownership, from sharing the same call letters) adopted its current call letters, WLNS-TV, on July 16, 1984. WJIM-AM was sold to Liggett Communications the following year. Backe's ownership of the station was short-lived; in 1986 it sold WLNS to Young Broadcasting.[1]

In May 1994, Detroit CBS affiliate WJBK announced that it would switch its affiliation to Fox as part of a deal between the network and New World Communications.[7] CBS heavily pursued WXYZ-TV as a replacement affiliate, but the E. W. Scripps Company renewed the station's affiliation with ABC one month later in exchange for switching the affiliations of three of its sister stationsKNXV-TV in Phoenix, WFTS-TV in Tampa and WMAR-TV in Baltimore—to the network.[8] WDIV was not an option as that station was still in a long-term contract with NBC at the time, while WKBD-TV (which was about to lose Fox), WADL, and WXON were not interested in affiliating with CBS. With just weeks to go before WJBK was due to join Fox, CBS still had yet to find a new affiliate in Detroit. Facing the prospect of having to pipe in WLNS-TV, Flint affiliate WNEM-TV, and Toledo affiliate WTOL for cable subscribers, CBS agreed to purchase independent station WGPR-TV (now WWJ-TV), which became an affiliate of the network on December 11, 1994. WLNS-TV served as the default CBS affiliate for the western portion of the Detroit market until WWJ-TV built a new transmitter in 1999.

WLNS-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, on June 12, 2009, the official date on which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 59 to UHF channel 36, using virtual channel 6.[9]

Young filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early-2009.[10] The company was subsequently taken over by its secured lenders and outsourced most of its operations to Gray Television. WLNS-TV was not part of the management agreement because Gray already owned WILX. Young merged with Media General in November 2013.[11]

Following the other Young stations that launched The Country Network in late November 2010, WLNS-TV added that network to its .2 subchannel in the first quarter of 2011.[12] On January 30, 2012, WLNS-TV changed its 6.2 affiliation to the Live Well Network along with 7 other Young stations.[13]

Media General added GetTV to 20 of its stations' subchannels, including WLNS-TV, in a roll out that started on February 1, 2016.[14] Media General merged with Nexstar in January 2017.[15]

Spectrum transition

In the 2016 FCC spectrum reallocation auction, Media General sold the over-the-air spectrum of WLNS-TV for $13.6 million, while expecting to negotiate a channel sharing arrangement with another station.[16] GetTV on .2 was dropped by March 6, 2018, in order to prepare for the channel share;[9] this would end up being SSA partner WLAJ.[9] On June 11, 2018, WLNS-TV discontinued broadcasting from its transmitter in Okemos and began broadcasting from WLAJ's transmitter on channel 25; it continues to appear as virtual channel 6.[17] This created a situation where the senior partner in an operating agreement transmits on the spectrum of its junior partner.

As a consequence because of the channel share and the need to transmit three television signals in high definition (1080i for WLNS, and 720p for WLAJ's two ABC and CW channels), the 6.3 Ion Television subchannel was discontinued (the 6.2 getTV channel had been discontinued months before). In 2020, WLNS/WLAJ moved its digital channel to channel 14 and resumed transmitting from the Okemos transmitter location.[18]

News operation

As of 2021, WLNS-TV presently broadcasts 29 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours each weekday, and two hours each on Saturdays and Sundays).

Traditionally, WLNS-TV had been the most watched television station in Central Michigan regularly beating rival WILX in Nielsen ratings. Sometime in the early 2000s, however, WILX overtook WLNS-TV for the first time.

In July 2011, WLNS-TV began airing all of its news programming from a temporary set in the station's breakroom while a new one was constructed in preparation for its own launch of HD news programing. The brand new set debuted on August 26, 2011, during the 5 p.m. newscast while HD newscasts debuted during the 5 p.m. show on October 26, 2011.

On September 12, 2011, 6 News This Morning expanded to two and a half hours and now begins at 4:30 a.m. As a result, the CBS Morning News now airs at 4 a.m. locally. On April 1, 2013, WLNS-TV began simulcasting its weeknight 6 and 11 o'clock newscasts on WLAJ. Their morning newscast started simulcasting (from 5 to 7 a.m.) on WLAJ on April 15 and includes separate, recorded cut-ins during ABC's Good Morning America.[19][20] In addition to its main studios, WLNS-TV operates a bureau within the Jackson Citizen Patriot newsroom on South Jackson Street in downtown Jackson.

Technical information

Subchannel of WLNS-TV on the WLAJ multiplex[9]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
6.1 1080i 16:9 WLNS-TV CBS

Former repeater

Starting in 1982, WLNS-TV's programming was seen on a low-power analog repeater, W67AJ (channel 67) in Ann Arbor (which is also part of the Detroit market). This translator broadcast from a transmitter atop the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library in Ann Arbor, but was owned by Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. W67AJ went silent in January 2006, and its license was canceled a year later by the FCC.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "WLNS-TV Channel 6 Lansing". Station Listings. michiguide.com. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  2. ^ "Facility Technical Data for WLNS-TV". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  3. ^ Ingram, Clarke. "DuMont TV historical website". Archived from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved July 25, 2022.
  4. ^ "Clipped from Detroit Free Press". Detroit Free Press. September 2, 1973. p. 3.
  5. ^ "News Blackout on Tv is Alleged". The New York Times. November 9, 1975.
  6. ^ "Troubling Times - WLNS TV 6 Lansing Jackson Michigan News and Weather - WLNS.COM". Archived from the original on July 4, 2002. Retrieved July 4, 2002.
  7. ^ Carter, Bill (May 24, 1994). "FOX WILL SIGN UP 12 NEW STATIONS; TAKES 8 FROM CBS". The New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  8. ^ Folsle, Geoffrey (June 20, 1994). "ABC pre-empts CBS in Cleveland, Detroit" (PDF). Broadcasting & Cable. p. 7. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d "RabbitEars TV Query for WLNS". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  10. ^ "Young Files for Chapter 11", from televisionbroadcast.com, posted April 3, 2009
  11. ^ "Media General, Young Now Officially One". TVNewsCheck. November 12, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  12. ^ "The Country Network Adds Four Young Broadcasting Stations". All Access. All Access Music Group. November 22, 2010. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  13. ^ Malone, Michael (January 24, 2012). "Young Broadcasting Stations Look to Live Well". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media, LLC. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  14. ^ "GetTV Inks Distribution Pact With Media General". Multichannel News. NewBay Media. February 1, 2016. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  15. ^ "FCC Approves Nexstar's $4.6B Acquisition Of Media General". Deadline.com. January 11, 2017.
  16. ^ Hansen, Logan T. (April 20, 2017). "WLNS, WLAJ, others affected by FCC auction, public results show". Jackson Citizen Patriot. MLive Media. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  17. ^ VanderKolk, Kevin (June 13, 2018). "Finding WLNS with your antenna". WLNS. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
  18. ^ "TV Query Results -- Video Division (FCC) USA".
  19. ^ "Citizen Patriot's media partner WLNS to simulcast news shows on WLAJ ABC 53 starting April 1". Citizen Patriot. MLive Media. March 28, 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  20. ^ "6 News to Run on ABC Station - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader". Archived from the original on April 2, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  21. ^ "REC Broadcast Query | REC Networks".