In a surprise move, this Saturday’s 83rd Annual Bud Billiken Back-To-School Parade – which generally draws close to one million spectators a year to Dr. Martin Luther King Drive on Chicago’s South Side – is shifting from Tribune-owned WGN-TV to Weigel’s WCIU-TV.
This story first broke on Chicagoland Radio & Media’s website Wednesday morning.
The move off WGN-TV also means the parade will not air on WGN America, which is seen outside of the Chicago area. It isn’t known why WGN declined to carry this year’s parade. TV One, the African-American-targeted cable network who carried Bud Billiken in the past, has also declined to do so this year, leaving the parade with no national coverage.
The Bud Billiken Parade had been a longtime staple of WGN – the station has been broadcasting the South Side tradition since 1978. The availability of WGN-TV over cable and satellite also brought the parade national exposure. WGN was the exclusive outlet of the Bud Billiken Parade until the 1990’s, when Central City Productions (who produces the parade) also sold the rights to ABC-owned WLS-TV, who continues to carry the parade.
WCIU, which has had a float in the parade before, is carrying the parade for the first time. Anchoring the coverage on WCIU are Tamela and David Mann of Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns, which airs weeknights on WCIU. This year’s float features station celebrities such as Jeanne Sparrow, Steve Wilkos (a former Chicago police officer), new talk show host Trisha Goddard, and of course, it wouldn’t be a WCIU float without Svengoolie (Rich Koz.)
If you prefer WLS’ coverage, they’ll have Cheryl Burton, Hosea Sanders, and Jim Rose anchoring the festivities, plus Windy City Live’s Val Warner, who’ll report from the parade route. WLS also has a float in this year’s parade.
Both WLS and WCIU will air the Bud Billiken Parade in HD this Saturday morning from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.