WQHS-DT (channel 61) is a television station in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, broadcasting the Spanish-language Univision and UniMás networks. Owned and operated by TelevisaUnivision USA, it is the only full-power Spanish-language television station in the state of Ohio. WQHS-DT's studios and transmitter are located on West Ridgewood Drive in suburban Parma.
|Channels||Digital: 36 (UHF)|
|Branding||Univision 61 (general)|
UniMás Cleveland (DT2)
|Owner||TelevisaUnivision USA |
(Univision Cleveland LLC)
|Founded||April 10, 1980|
First air date
|January 13, 1981|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|"Q" carried over from former WCLQ calls,|
"HS" = Home Shopping Network
|HAAT||352 m (1,155 ft)|
Public license information
The station is available on Charter Spectrum throughout the Cleveland–Akron–Canton market and Cox Communications in some suburbs of Cleveland, as well as on DirecTV and Dish Network. However, neither WQHS nor Univision's national feed is carried by many independent cable providers in outlying areas of the market, such as MCTV in Massillon and Wooster, Buckeye Broadband in Sandusky, and Armstrong Cable in Medina, Orrville and Ashland. It is also not carried by cable provider WOW! in the Cleveland area. This is likely due to financial demands as the must carry rule would normally apply in these areas.
WQHS is one of two full-power Univision affiliates, alongside KUNS-TV in Seattle, Washington, located in a media market that borders Canada, although neither is available on cable or satellite providers in that country.
A previous license owned by Kaiser Broadcasting occupied channel 61 as WKBF-TV from January 1968 to April 1975. It was the first actual independent station to sign on in Cleveland, and the first on the UHF dial. Despite some innovative local programming, and an inventory of some popular off-network shows, WKBF struggled for the majority of its existence due to poor revenue growth. The station failed to achieve profitability while competing against rival independent WUAB (channel 43), which signed on nine months after WKBF in September 1968. By 1975, Kaiser Broadcasting and its then-partner Field Communications sold off WKBF's assets to WUAB's owner United Artists Broadcasting, and purchased a minority ownership in the station (which was relinquished when WUAB was sold to Gaylord Broadcasting and when Kaiser fully merged with Field; both of which occurred in 1977).
Kaiser then shut channel 61 down and returned the license to the Federal Communications Commission. WKBF was one of two stations in the Kaiser Broadcasting chain to cease operations permanently; the other was Philadelphia station WKBS in 1983.
After WKBF ceased operations, rumors abounded concerning potential companies that could file for the UHF channel 61 license in Cleveland, yet none came forward right away. After a few years, the FCC began to accept applications for channel 61 (as a distinctly separate license from WKBF), and Balaban Stations won the license in 1980.
The current licensed station on UHF channel 61 signed on the air as WCLQ on January 13, 1981. The station's logo was similar to WKBF's design, but with a neon glow effect. As with WKBF, WCLQ originally operated as an independent station; it carried a general entertainment programming format with a mix of classic cartoons, off-network dramas, westerns, sitcoms, and other syndicated programs. The station even revived a character from the old channel 61 (The Ghoul, portrayed by Ron Sweed, the host of a Friday night horror movie showcase) in 1982.
Not unlike similar flailing high-numbered UHF stations at the time, unlike its predecessor, the station was only able to gain profitability due to its partnership with Preview, an early over-the-air scrambled subscription television service similar to other regional over-the-air pay television services that aired movies and local sporting events in the evening and on weekends (or for a much larger portion of the broadcast day in some markets), such as SelecTV in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, or ONTV and Spectrum in Chicago. Preview was discontinued in 1983 and WCLQ was sold to Channel Communications the following year.
In 1985, WOIO (channel 19) and WBNX-TV (channel 55) both signed on as independents with entertainment formats to create further competition, which took viewers away from WCLQ. WOIO surpassed channel 61 in the ratings immediately and WBNX steadily grew in its own right as an independent by increasing its cable coverage as well as its over-the-air signal coverage. It became apparent that Cleveland was unable to support four independent stations at the same time and as a result, WCLQ began to experience profit losses. It was at this time that WCLQ was dropped from TV Guide listings and cable television lineups in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada (across Lake Erie from Cleveland).
As a result, Channel Communications decided to put WCLQ up for sale in May 1986. Earlier that year, the new owners began running Home Shopping Network (HSN) programming from midnight to 6 a.m., later expanding that summer to include another block from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In August, HSN's broadcasting arm Silver King Television bought the station outright, running HSN programming 18 hours a day, while entertainment programming continued to air from 4 to 10 p.m.
Once the sale was finalized in November 1986, the station's call letters were changed to WQHS (a "-TV" suffix was added to the calls in 1992), entertainment programming was completely dropped and WQHS began carrying HSN programs 24 hours a day for the better part of the next 15 years, during which time much of WCLQ's syndicated programming (including sitcoms and cartoons) was picked up by WBNX.
Plans emerged in the late 1990s to convert WQHS-TV back into a general entertainment independent station by 2002, mirroring the local programming-infused format that was already adopted by the company's stations in cities such as Atlanta, Dallas–Fort Worth and Miami; however, USA Broadcasting (owned by USA Networks) decided to sell its television stations in 2000. The Walt Disney Company made a bid to acquire the group, but was outbid by Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications.
Unlike most Univision stations, WQHS does not have a regular local newscast. The station carries a series of pre-recorded brief news updates during the day titled Noticias 61 al minuto, produced by sister station KMEX-DT in Los Angeles and anchored by Socorro Cruz.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
On April 22, 2013, Univision Communications announced that it had signed an affiliation deal to carry getTV, a classic movie network owned by Sony Pictures Television, that debuted on the digital subchannels of Univision's owned-and-operated stations. On January 27, 2014, WQHS activated 61.3 for getTV, skipping over 61.2 (which eventually picked up UniMás in late 2014). On August 18, 2014, WQHS activated 61.4 for Escape (which would eventually become Ion Mystery). In September 2019, 61.5 was activated, airing the CBS-owned cooking/DIY/lifestyle oriented Dabl network. In September 2021, 61.6 was activated, airing Digi TV.
WQHS shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 61, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal continued to broadcast on its pre-transition UHF channel 34. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 61, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.