KWWL DTV Help Guide - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

KWWL DTV Help Guide


Do you need help receiving KWWL-DT with an antenna?

Q: I can't receive KWWL's digital signal, but I get some of the other stations.
A:  KWWL-DT broadcasts from a 2000 foot tower near Rowley, IA.  As of 2/17/2009, it broadcasts on digital channel 7 from the top of the tower.  That digital signal is remapped to channels 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 on your DTV tuner.   Here's a table showing the local stations and their channel assignments.


Original Analog Channel

Current Digital Channel





32 UHF

35 UHF


9  VHF




51 UHF


28 UHF

27 UHF


48 UHF

47 UHF

You will need a combination VHF/UHF antenna in order to pick up all of the digital signals.  Currently, all of the signals are UHF except KWWL and KCRG.  If you are struggling to pick up 7 or 9, it points to a possible problem or lack of an appropriate VHF antenna.

If you are close to the broadcast towers, you can probably utilize an indoor or multi-directional antenna; however, it you are more than 30 miles away, you'll probably want to utilize a directional antenna pointed towards the tower.  Normally, the more height you can give an antenna the better, since you tend to avoid more obstructions and obstacles to the signal path.

If it is an amplified antenna, you may have to try different levels of amplification, as the signal may not show up on the tv if it is over-amplified.   An amplifier is only a "volume-knob".  It will boost everything the antenna is picking up, including noise!  Sometimes it helps lock the signal, sometimes it also introduces too much noise for the tuner to handle.

One thing to keep in mind if you bought an "HD" antenna recently, is that many of those units are UHF ONLY!  They don't perform well as well in the VHF band.  Remember that there is NOTHING High Definition or HD about the antenna.  It is only UHF or VHF or a combination designed to pick up the signal and pass it on to the television.

Q:  Why don't you turn the power up on your transmitter so we can get your signal better?
A:  We are at the maximum power we can put out on our current transmitter.  We were granted a power maximization by Federal Communications Commission later last year, but that was after we already had installed our current transmitter.  We will be adding another transmitter capable of this maximized output power sometime early this summer.

Q:  Why aren't you broadcasting in High Definition all of the time?
A:  We pass though all of the NBC network High Definition programming over the air.  Local and syndicated programming is another matter though.   There are a couple reasons that these are not in High Definition. First, most of the syndicated programming we air is not available in HD from our program providers.  The other reason is that our entire technical infrastructure would have to be rebuilt to handle local HD programming.  This is something that should be happening within the next year or two.

Q:  I used to receive your KWWL-DT signal fine, now I don't get it anymore, did you lower your power?
A: Chances are that something may have changed in your viewing environment. 

  • A connector came loose
  • The was antenna moved
  • Weather conditions or seasons have changed.  Humidity, foliage, and ice all can impact reception.
  • A powered antenna might be set too high or too low
  • Something large moved in your residence. (such as furniture, appliances, etc)

To remedy this situation:

  • Check all of your cable and antenna connections
  • Adjust your antenna position
  • Adjust your antenna power
  • Perform a channel scan on your TV set
    (1.) Wipe out old channel scan information by unplugging your antenna from the set.  Perform Channel Scan.
    (Some sets won't reload new information from a channel scan if channel information already exists.  By doing a channel scan without the antenna attached you are 'erasing' any old information.")
    (2.) Reload new information by reconnecting the antenna cable and perform a Channel Scan. This will reload all digital station tuning information and you should once again pick up all the DTV stations.

Q:  Your signal was breaking up on my cable box/satellite box.
A:  Try connecting an antenna to your TV and receiving our signal over-the-air.  Of course, you'll need a Digital (ATSC) tuner. 

Unfortunately, we do not have control over third party program providers such as Mediacom cable or DirecTV.  They both receive our signal over-the-air or via fiber and retransmit it on their system.  If our signal has problems, be assured that we know about it and we are doing everything possible to get it back on

Q: Is KWWL available in HD on cable or satellite?
A: We are available on Mediacom and Cedar Falls Utilities.  Some local stations including KWWL-DT are now available in HD through DirecTV.  We may be available on others too... please check with your provider for availability in your area.

Q: What channels are available on KWWL-DT?
A: KWWL-DT is sent over-the-air on VHF channel 7.  Your tuner will read that signal and detect three channels:  7.1, 7.2 and 7.3.  7.1 is our primary digital channel (NBC) and will have HD programming available as we receive it.  7.2 and 7.3 are additional subchannels.  7.2 is our ThisTV channel while 7.3 is our Retro Television Network (RTN).

What is the Digital TV (DTV) transition?
The switch from analog to digital broadcast television is referred to as the digital TV (DTV) transition. In 1996, the U.S. Congress authorized the distribution of an additional broadcast channel to each broadcast TV station so that they could start a digital broadcast channel while simultaneously continuing their analog broadcast channel. Later, Congress mandated that February 17, 2009 would be the last day for full-power television stations to broadcast in analog.  After February 17, 2009, it was intended that all full-power television stations would broadcast in digital only;  however, legislation right before the original analog shut-down date extended the deadline to June 12th to allow more time for markets, if they chose, to accommodate concerns about coupon availability and education.  KWWL-DT made the decision to move forward with the transition on February 17th since we believe that Eastern Iowa has been well educated on the matter and that the overwhelming majority were ready and eager to make the change. 

What is an Analog TV?
Analog TV: Analog technology has been in use for the past 50 years to transmit conventional TV signals to consumers. Most current television transmissions are received through analog television sets. Analog signals vary continuously, creating fluctuations in color and brightness.

What is Digital TV?
Digital Television (DTV): Digital TV is a new type of broadcasting technology that will transform television.  Because DTV is delivered digitally, the television signal is virtually free of interference.  And because DTV is more efficient than analog, broadcasters are able to offer television with improved quality pictures and surround sound.  DTV will soon replace today's analog television.

How do I know if I own a DTV?
What you need to know is whether your TV set has something called a "digital tuner" already built in. If it does, your TV set is already configured to receive and display the new digital over-the-air TV signals.  To check whether your TV set can receive over-the-air digital broadcast signals, take a look at your owner's manual or look on the set for an indication that it has "digital input" or "ATSC" (for Advanced Television Systems Committee, which is developing the DTV format).  You can also go to the manufacturer's website and check the capabilities of the set by the manufacturer model number.
If your television set is labeled as "analog" or "NTSC," and is NOT labeled as containing a digital tuner, it contains an analog tuner only.   You will need a converter to pick up digital over-the-air signals.

Will my existing antenna work with DTV?
DTV uses the same antennas as analog TV.  If you already have a good VHF and UHF antenna, either indoors or on your roof, you don't have to buy an antenna that is "HD Ready."  DTV broadcasters have been assigned channels in the VHF and UHF bands, between 54 and 700 MHz  (channels 2 to 51).  Therefore, as long as a DTV signal is available, your existing antenna should still work after the transition is complete.

How do I know whether I need a converter?
If you use "rabbit ears" or a rooftop antenna for TV reception, you probably need a converter. Television sets connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service do not require converters. Televisions with digital tuners also do not need converters. Take a short quiz at the DTV Transition Web site to see whether the converter box is the right option for your household to make the digital transition at


For more answers to frequently asked questions, please visit the FCC‘s FAQ-Consumer Corner website at


For information about the transition to Digital TV and Analog Shutdown, visit the FCC's informational web sites here

Click here for an article which explains DTV in "Layman's terms." - DTV Answers offers more information about television's switch to digital, including resources to help choose an antenna, converter box details, videos, and more. - Learn more about free over-the-air HDTV! - To help choose an antenna and what type of reception you can expect in your area. - Visit the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition and download a special "Consumer Guide" on the DTV Transition. - DTV related consumer resources, outreach tools, publications, news, and more can be found here. - Take an online quiz to find out if you are ready for the DTV Transition or access an extensive list of online DTV resources. - A valuable resource provided by the Consumer Electronics Association, has a handy "Quick Start Guide" to install a TV Converter Box and other useful tools. - Useful information and television spots brought to you by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. - The National Cable & Telecommunications Association website.
UltimateHDTV is your complete reference site for HDTV news, reviews, tips, and more! Visit our Digital Television (DTV) section to learn more about DTV in USA and abroad, as well as your local reception, antenna issues, and how to receive DTV over your cable or satellite TV system. Use our Remote section to get the most from your univeral remotes. Check our our HDTV Accessories section for the ultimate list of TV stands and mounts, buyers guides to cables and wireless home signal distribution systems. Be sure to check out out latest section, Personal Video Recorders (PVRs), like TiVo and ReplayTV, that let you record and watch your programs on YOUR schedule. Complete listing of hacks and upgrades, to keep working for you.

Digital TV
A Cringely Crash Course

Marshall Brain's How Stuff Works
How Digital Television Works

Marshall Brain's How Stuff Works
How HDTV Works

For information about the transition to Digital TV and Analog Shutdown, visit the FCC's informational web site here:

KWWL Digital Television Reception Tips

KWWL-DT is sent over-the-air on UHF Channel 55 for right now and will be on VHF channel 7 after February 17th, 2009.  Therefore your antenna should be capable of receiving both VHF and UHF signals.

KWWL-DT Digital Television and High Definition

KWWL is broadcasting in high definition at 1080i.  The KWWL tower is located near Rowley , IA, which is about 25 miles East of Waterloo, 30 miles North of Cedar Rapids, and 55 miles West of Dubuque. Here are some web resources to learn about the technology of digital television, high definition programming, and how to receive our signal with your outdoor antenna.

HDTV Essentials



This guide will provide background information along with some useful tips to set-up an antenna and configure a television set for over-the-air reception of KWWL-DT..


In the United States, broadcast television stations are offered in two different frequency bands, VHF and UHF. VHF stands for Very High Frequency. Stations in the VHF band include channels 2 through 13. UHF stands for Ultra High Frequency. Stations in the UHF band are the television channels 14 to 69. KWWL-DT is VHF since it transmits on Channel 7.

There are two major factors that determine the coverage area of a TV station. The first factor is the height of the station's transmitting antenna. To keep the broadcast stations on a somewhat level playing field, the FCC limits the maximum antenna height. TV stations west of the Mississippi are restricted to a height of 2,000 feet above average terrain.

The second factor that defines coverage is the effective radiated power (ERP). UHF stations operate at a higher frequency. It requires a greater amount of power output for UHF stations to match the coverage area of a VHF station.  In effect, the higher the channel number, the more power you need to put into the transmitter to get the same result!



The KWWL tower is located near Rowley , IA, which is about 25 miles East of Waterloo, 30 miles North of Cedar Rapids, and 55 miles West of Dubuque.  The television tower itself does not radiate a signal; it is simply a steel structure that holds the antenna in the air. The higher the antenna, the greater the coverage or reach.  KWWL's digital antenna is mounted at the top of the tower, 2000 feet above the ground.

Television signals are the strongest when there is a line of sight between the transmitting tower and the home-receiving antenna. The signal is weakened when buildings, hills, and trees block the line of sight. Signal strength also decreases as the distance from the transmitting tower is increased.  You will want to choose an antenna that is best designed to work through your reception challenges.  

Gain and directivity are two important specifications to check when selecting a TV antenna. Gain is measured in decibels (dB). It indicates the antenna's sensitivity. There is a greater need for gain the farther you live from the KWWL tower. If you live close to the KWWL tower, a "local" or "indoor antenna" with a gain of 5-9dB should do the job. Most areas within 25 to 30 miles can use a "near fringe or fringe" antenna with 8-10dB of gain. If you live more than 35-40 miles from the tower site, you may need consider a "deep fringe" or "far fringe" antenna with 11-16dB of gain.

Directivity indicates the antenna's ability to receive only the signals in the direction the antenna is pointing. The spec is measured in degrees. The smaller the number the greater the directivity. A highly directive antenna will have a narrow receiving angle to eliminate signal reflections that can result in ghosting. (Faint double images that appear on the screen in the analog signals). Alignment is critical and may take more time with a directive antenna. A movement of inches can dramatically improve or degrade the signal. Use a directional antenna if ghosting is a problem in your area, such as between tall buildings.

In most places within 30-40 miles it is unnecessary to spend over $50 for antenna that will provide quality reception. We do not recommend the bi-directional RV antennas or the type shaped like a helicopter blade. They are often installed with home satellite dishes.

The bi-directional (or omni directional) antennas are simply an expensive set of rabbit ears. They do not have the director and reflector elements necessary for quality reception. The bi-directional antennas consequently lack selectivity and sensitivity. Ironically, they usually cost more money than a conventional antenna capable doing the job.

Some of the bi-directional antennas contain a built-in amplifier to boost the signal. The spec sheets often list the gain of the amplifier, not the gain of the antenna. Remember the old expression Garbage In, Garbage Out? It applies in this case. If the antenna lacks sensitivity, it will pass a snowy signal to the integrated amplifier. The amplifier will boost the noise along with the signal. The signal will not improve. The appropriate solution is a larger antenna with higher gain.

The other item to consider is the bi-directional nature of the "helicopter blade" antennas. Bi-directional means the antenna is equally sensitive to signals coming from the front and backside. A Bi-directional antenna is more susceptible to ghosting because it is unable to cancel a signal reflection coming from behind.

Outdoor Antennas

Outdoor antennas are always better than indoor antennas. The rooftop is a good location because it is a cost-effective place to obtain the necessary height. As a general rule, higher is better. Six to eight feet above the roofline is usually more than adequate. Keep the antenna as far as possible from tree limbs, power lines, and any electrical equipment. If the house is located near a heavily traveled highway, the antenna should be placed on the far side of the house away from the highway. The antenna and its mast should be well grounded.

Fully extend all elements of the antenna. The antenna should be positioned with the horizontal elements at right angles to the KWWL tower. Connect the antenna to a television to check reception. If it is unsatisfactory, the antenna will have to be moved or rotated until a strong, reflection-free signal is received. Once the antenna is aligned, it should be locked down tight to prevent it from moving in the wind.

Attic Antennas

The next best option is to place a full size antenna in the attic. This approach has many limitations. The physical space may not permit optimum orientation. Structural elements of the house can block and reflect the signal. A metal roof will shield the station's signal from reaching the antenna.

If you install an antenna in your attic, locate the antenna in a place where all of the elements can be fully extended. It is important to find a spot where the antenna can point to the KWWL Tower. If there is enough room, experiment with different places in the attic. Sometimes the movement of only a couple of feet can make a world of difference with the quality of reception.

It does not mean that your house is located in an area outside of KWWL's signal range if an attic antenna does not result in satisfactory reception. More than likely, it means that you will need to move the antenna to an outside location.

Indoor Antennas

The least expensive antennas are the indoor, set-top variety. Often times they are provided with the television set. If your television set was not provided with an indoor antenna, there are generally four types available for purchase.

The UHF loop antenna only costs a few dollars. It is quite literally a round wire loop. On older television sets, the loop connects directly to the UHF terminals on the back of the set. Make certain that the UHF lugs are securely tightened.

Bow Tie antennas (for UHF also) are slightly more expensive than loop antennas. The antenna consists of a wire bent in the shape of two connected triangles, hence the name "Bow Tie". The bow tie is often times clipped to the telescoping pole on a set of rabbit ears so that you can get VHF signals as well.

Rabbit ears (for VHF) consist of two telescoping poles that stand up like a "V". Some rabbit ears have a round loop sitting near the base of the "V" so that they can pick up UHF signals as well. Rabbit ears without the UHF loop usually provide disappointing UHF reception.

The Mono Pole is a single telescoping rod that is usually built into a portable television. Normally, UHF reception is poor, but it can be enhanced when the rod is telescoped to a smaller size.

Older sets have separate connections for UHF and VHF antennas. If you are using a loop or bow tie with an older set, make certain the antenna is connected to the UHF terminals with the lugs tight and secure.

For best results, locate the indoor antenna near a window, away from electrical sources. You will need to experiment to find the best orientation and placement. It can take a considerable amount of manipulation to optimize for best reception. The movement of people in the room can affect the signal. Indoor antennas usually require adjustment as you switch from station to station.

If you are disappointed with the performance of an indoor antenna, it does not mean that you are outside the station's signal range. To clear up your reception problems, it may be necessary to install an outdoor antenna with greater sensitivity.

Antenna Alignment

KWWL broadcasts from a 2000 foot tower near Rowley, IA.  It is located near some of the other stations in the market, such as KCRG, KGAN, KFXA, and KRIN. 

The Transmission Line

An important element often overlooked is the transmission line. It is the wire that carries the signal between the antenna and the television set. Transmission lines deteriorate with age. If your transmission line is worn-out, you may be looking at a snowy, ghosty signal in analog or a "weak signal" or pixilated picture in digital, even if the antenna and television are brand new.

For optimum performance, a transmission line should be replaced every five years. That statement does not mean that you should change a five-year-old line if you are satisfied with the existing reception quality. Just be aware that the condition of your transmission line has a major affect on any over-the-air reception. It should be considered for replacement any time the antenna is properly aligned and the over-the-air reception is "not what it used to be".

If you are installing new transmission line, it is important to select a quality grade to minimize signal loss. Round coaxial cable and flat twin lead are the two basic types of transmission line. Twin lead cable is less expensive, but it deteriorates faster and is more susceptible to interference. RG-6 coaxial cable is highly recommended. You should switch to the coaxial cable if you are having reception problems with the twin lead transmission line.

Here are a few tips about transmission line installation. Use the most direct route possible between the antenna and the television set. Long cable runs result in signal loss. The shorter the cable, the better the signal. The line should be kept as far as possible from electrical equipment, even if it means a longer cable run. One continuous piece of cable is best. Keep the line free of splices and sharp bends.


A snowy picture in analog or pixilated signal in digital usually indicates a weak signal. A preamplifier mounted near the antenna is a good option and can eliminate or reduce the snow or pixilation.  You can also utilize indoor amplifiers near the TV, but those don't work nearly as well.  That is because signal strength deteriorates as it travels down the transmission line to the TV. A weak signal may be non-existent when it reaches the television unless it receives amplification before the trip. A pre-amp boosts the signal to offset any loss from the transmission line.  If you are usually a rooftop antenna and a long cable run, you may be only amplifying noise if using the indoor variety or amplifier.

An amplifier only prevents additional signal deterioration. If the signal is noisy leaving the antenna or entering the amp, the amplifier will amplify the noise along with the signal!  Sometimes that extra noise can do more harm than good with digital reception.  Think of it like turning up the volume on a static filled radio broadcast.  Sure, the music is a bit louder, but the static and noise is just that much more distracting! 


Households with multiple sets often use passive splitters to send the antenna lead to different televisions. Passive splitters do not require any power to split a signal two to four times. If your signal looks snowy, it is the result of a weak signal. If you are using a splitter, bypass it by directly connecting the antenna to a television set. If the signal improves, you will need to get an amplified splitter. The amplified splitter divides the signal and amplifies each output..

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Start at the television set and work your way toward the antenna. Check the programming (or selector switch) for the setting ANT - CATV or TV - CABLE. Change the setting to ANT or TV. If the television does not have automatic fine-tuning, adjust the fine-tuning for the best picture.

If you are still having reception problems, check for a loose antenna connection on the back of the TV. If everything is secure and tight, examine the condition of the line.  A nicked section of line should be repaired or replaced. If everything looks fine behind the TV, grab a ladder and head outside.

Loose connections and damaged antenna elements will be readily obvious by a visual inspection. Make certain that all connections and fasteners are tight and secure. Look for frayed wires, corrosion, or other evidence of deterioration. Check the orientation of the antenna. Windstorms can blow the antenna out of proper alignment.

Breaks or short circuits in a transmission line will cause a reduction of signal strength. Lines that are loose from their fastenings may swing against other objects causing changes in the picture intensity. Secure the transmission line and repair any chaffing. Replace the transmission line if it is in bad shape.

Wind, hail, and ice are the most common cause of damaged antenna elements. In most cases, it is better to replace the antenna if there are several broken elements. Even if the elements can be reconnected, the performance will never be as good.

Clean any corrosion found on the antenna connectors. The corrosion on the terminals can be removed with steel wool or an emery cloth.

If you have additional questions please call the KWWL Engineering Department weekdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm at 319-291-1200.

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