|St. Louis, Missouri|
|Branding||ABC 30 (general)
STL Now (newscasts)
|Slogan||St. Louis' Leader in Entertainment Programming|
|Channels||Digital: 31 (UHF)
Virtual: 30 (PSIP)
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group
(KDNL Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||June 8, 1969|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
30 (UHF, 1969–2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1969-1986)
UPN (secondary, 1995-1998)
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
KDNL-TV is the ABC-affiliated television station for St. Louis, Missouri. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 31 from a transmitter in Shrewsbury. Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, KDNL has studios on Cole Street in the Downtown West section of St. Louis. Syndicated programming on KDNL-TV includes: The Simpsons, Judge Mathis, and Maury. The station also features a Secondary Audio Program channel used mainly for Descriptive Video Service.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|30.1||720p||16:9||KDNL-DT||Main KDNL-TV programming / ABC|
On October 1, 2010, KDNL began carrying TheCoolTV on digital subchannel 30.2, and carried the music video network until Sinclair dropped TheCoolTV from 32 of its approximately 70 stations throughout the United States on August 31, 2012. By October 28, 2010, Sinclair reached an affiliation agreement with The Country Network, which began airing on digital subchannel 30.3.
KDNL-TV shut down its analog transmitter on February 17, 2009 (the original date of the analog television shutdown and digital conversion in the United States), and continued to broadcast its digital signal on its pre-transition digital channel 31. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display KDNL's virtual channel as 30. After terminating regular programming on analog channel 30, the station offered nightlight programming for two weeks before it permanently shut off analog signal.
As an independent station
The station started broadcasting on June 8, 1969 as the first UHF television station in the St. Louis market. It began as an independent station owned by Evans Broadcasting. KDNL ran a format of business news, religious shows, rejected network programming from KSD-TV (now KSDK) and KTVI, and old movies. Several years later, it offered Japanese live-action and cartoons dubbed into English including: Johnny Sokko, Speed Racer, Marine Boy, and Ultraman. By 1976, the station ran religious shows during the early morning hours, rejected network shows in the late morning, and business news programming during the early afternoon. This was followed by a couple of cartoons in the late afternoon, westerns and some older sitcoms in the evening and a few older movies during primetime and late night slots. Also in 1976, KDNL began televising St. Louis Blues hockey games for five seasons.
In 1977, the business news programming was gradually eliminated and made way for a few more second-hand classic sitcoms. The Japanese English dubbed shows were phased out as well. The station finally moved to a more conventional independent format but rated far behind established independent KPLR-TV (channel 11). Its big disadvantage was that at the time, it was the only St. Louis station that was broadcasting on the UHF band. Evans sold the station to Cox Enterprises in 1981. Programming continued to consist of classic sitcoms, a couple rejected network shows, and some religious programs during the day. Some of the shows during this time included The Brady Bunch, The Little Rascals, I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, Good Times, What's Happening!! and The Honeymooners.
On June 1, 1982, subscription television service Preview began running on KDNL during the nighttime hours, leaving KPLR as the only full-time independent station in the St. Louis market. Nine months later, Preview was dropped and the station resumed running the usual primetime fare of movies and classic sitcoms until 1 or 2 a.m. KDNL regained the rights to the Blues games in 1983 for an additional three seasons. In 1984, cartoons had been added to the lineup and the station cut back on religious shows. Also under Cox ownership, the station won bids for stronger off-network sitcoms. On October 6, 1986, KDNL joined Fox as a charter affiliate (after KPLR turned the network affiliation down), going under the brand name "Fox 30". Fox wouldn't air a full week's worth of programming until 1993, meaning the station was still programmed essentially as an independent. Still, during this time, it began edging closer to KPLR in the ratings after having been well behind channel 11 for most of its first two decades on the air. In 1991, Cox sold KDNL to St. Louis-based River City Broadcasting.
In 1994, New World Communications bought St. Louis' longtime ABC affiliate, KTVI, and three other stations from Argyle Television. New World had signed an affiliation deal to switch the majority of its stations, including KTVI, to Fox. ABC originally wanted to affiliate with longer-established KPLR. However, KPLR opted instead to affiliate with The WB Television Network. More or less by default, ABC cut a deal to affiliate with KDNL and moved its programming there on August 7, 1995. Soon after joining the network, KDNL began showing UPN programming during the late night hours. Despite its size, the St. Louis market did not have enough willing commercial stations at the time to support a full-time UPN affiliate. After becoming an ABC affiliate, KDNL began to air more first-run syndicated programs and reduced its reliance on older sitcoms. In 1996, River City merged with Sinclair. KDNL dropped UPN programming in 1997, and religious station KNLC (channel 24) and KPLR began sharing programming from the network (St. Louis did not have a full-time UPN affiliate until WRBU (channel 46) in East St. Louis took on the affiliation in April 2003).
In November 2004, KDNL preempted ABC's telecast of the 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan, following the lead of other Sinclair-owned ABC affiliates, over concerns violent battle scenes and the profanity that were left intact as ABC aired the film uncut (this occurred nine months after the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy). Sinclair refused to allow Charter Communications to carry KDNL's high definition signal until April 19, 2007 (when KDNL-DT began airing on Charter digital channel 780 as part of a three-year national retransmission agreement between Sinclair and Charter), making the station the longest holdout in the area to make its high definition digital feed available on the provider (not counting CBS affiliate KMOV pulling its HD signal from Charter in January 2007).
For most of its tenure as an ABC affiliate, KDNL has been among its weakest affiliates. In stark contrast, KTVI was one of ABC's strongest affiliates. For the better part of a decade since losing its news department in 2001, KDNL's schedule has more closely resembled that of an independent station than that of a Big Three network affiliate in a major market. The station's schedule is heavy on mainstays of syndication seen more on minor network stations (such as The Simpsons), along with a heavy schedule of paid and religious programming, leaving the ABC schedule without many lead-ins. Several ABC shows, such as Good Morning America and ABC World News, garner ratings so low in the St. Louis market that A.C. Nielsen cannot rate them as the samples are too small to classify with a ratings number. The station also has a habit of preempting ABC prime time programming in favor of paid programming. As a result, KDNL regularly places as the fifth among the St. Louis market's television stations, behind KPLR. Ironically, given its status, KDNL was actually the local broadcaster for the St. Louis Rams' victory in Super Bowl XXXIV, which had aired on ABC.
There has also been regular talk of Tribune Broadcasting pursuing the ABC affiliation for KPLR (despite Tribune's strong affiliation ties to The CW and that group's near lack of any Big Three network affiliates among its 23 stations) after KDNL's affiliation agreement expired due to that station's management agreement with Local TV, LLC-owned KTVI and their downplaying of references to its affiliation with The CW as part of that station's on-air branding, along with experimentation with The CW primetime schedule to maximize ratings. However, ABC extended their affiliation agreement with KDNL and Sinclair's other ABC affiliates for five years on March 26, 2010, which will keep KDNL affiliated with the network until at least August 2015. On June 23, 2011, KDNL upgraded its severe weather ticker to be overlaid on high definition programming without having to downconvert HD programming to standard definition.
KDNL aired hourly news cut-ins for most of its first 25 years on the air. Shortly before the ABC affiliation was announced in 1994, KDNL established a full news department. Initially, local news was offered in the form of a nightly program at 9 p.m. that debuted on January 1, 1995. The original anchors were Jim Wicks (who came to St. Louis from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) and Leslie Lyles (who had been anchoring in Charleston, South Carolina).
When the station switched to ABC on August 8, 1995, the station began airing more newscasts; it added newscast weeknights at 5 and 6 p.m., and weekends at 5 p.m., along with weekday morning cut-ins during Good Morning America; the 9 p.m. newscast was also moved to 10 p.m. At the same time, the station made an anchor change; Jim Wicks was fired and longtime KTVI anchor/reporter Don Marsh joined Leslie Lyles for all three weekday evening newscasts. Ratings plummeted and did not even approach those of KTVI during its latter tenure as an ABC affiliate. The first Nielsen sweep month in the fall averaged only a 2 rating and 5 share. KDNL was never competitive with KMOV, KSDK (both have had at least 20% shares over the years), or even KTVI due to the fact that many of the on-air talent came from out-of-town and were unfamiliar with viewers. In KDNL's defense, the station was unable to hire locally since talent on competing stations had either six month or one year non-compete mandates in their contracts. The early evening newscast on weeknights had its time slot fluctuate between 5 and 6 and was even canceled for a time. Turnover in the newsroom was very high and this showed in the ratings.
In spring 2001, a transmitter failure left KDNL off-the-air for a number of days (or at least broadcasting at lower power than normally). What little audience there was for its newscasts switched to other sources and never returned. The station finally shuttered its news department altogether on October 12, 2001. For the next nine years, KDNL was one of the very few major network affiliates that aired no local newscasts at all. Although KDNL did not carry local shows, it continued to air national news programming from ABC News. Until January 2011, the station had been the largest major network affiliate in terms of market size without any local newscasts (CBS O&O WWJ-TV in Detroit was the largest until May 5, 2009, when it launched a weekday morning show that was originally produced in partnership with the Detroit Free Press). Most major network affiliates are contractually obligated to air local news, but KDNL's affiliation agreement does not have such a clause.
KDNL occasionally employs its former news set for commentary on sporting events. It also has local weather cut-ins on weekday mornings during Good Morning America. These updates were formerly compiled and presented by meteorologist Tony Pagnotti at Sinclair's News Central headquarters in Hunt Valley, Maryland. The forecasts are now compiled and presented from Columbus, Ohio sister operation WSYX/WTTE by those station's evening meteorologists.
On January 3, 2011, NBC affiliate KSDK (owned by Gannett Company) began producing two half-hour newscasts for KDNL at 5 and 10 weeknights through a news share agreement. Both broadcasts air in high definition from a virtual set at KSDK's studios on Market Street in Downtown St. Louis and required the hiring of additional personnel. KDNL general manager Tom Tipton stated that the station did not want to run simulcasted or repurposed newscasts in its efforts to return daily news broadcasts to the station. The KSDK-produced newscasts on KDNL are pre-taped in advance. There is no sports report featured during the program. The news share agreement between the two stations is quite unusual given the rarity of a Big Three network affiliate producing newscasts of another Big Three station. In this case, KDNL and KSDK actually compete against one another. There is no local news programming featured on KDNL during the weekend, but the station does air replays of KSDK's entertainment/features program Show Me St. Louis. The arrangement with KSDK will end on December 31, 2013.
- TV-30 Newswatch (1970s)
- TV-30 News (1980s–1994)
- News 30 Now (January 1994 –August 1995)
- News 30 (August 1995 – 1997)
- ABC News 30 (1997–1999)
- ABC 30 News (1999–2001)
- STL Now on ABC 30, powered by NewsChannel 5 (2011–present)
- "It's on Us" (late 1980s–early 1990s)
- "It's the News That Matters Most" (1998–1999)
- "You Get More" (1999–2000)
- "Bringing News Home" (2000–2001)
- "St. Louis' Leader in Entertainment Programming" (2006–present)
Current on-air staff
- Jeff Small - fill-in news anchor (KSDK 5)
- Ashley Yarchin - news anchor; weeknights at 5:00 and 10:00 p.m. (KSDK 5)
- TBD - news anchor; weekday mornings at 6:30 a.m. (KSDK 5)
- Weather team
- Cindy Preszler (AMS and NWA Seals of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5:00 and 10:00 p.m. (KSDK 5)
- TBD - meteorologist; weekday mornings at 6:30 a.m. (KSDK 5)
- Bill Kelly (NWA Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; rotating weekday mornings (WSYX 6/WTTE 28)
- Dana Turtle - meteorologist; rotating weekday mornings (WSYX 6/WTTE 28)
- Grant Bissell - multimedia journalist
- Alex Fees - freelance reporter
- Heidi Glaus - feature reporter
- Talia Kaplan - general assignment reporter
- Elizabeth Matthews - general assignment reporter
- Casey Nolen - general assignment reporter
- Mike Rush - general assignment and consumer reporter
- Sharon Stevens - education reporter
- Tracy Clemons - general assignment reporter
- Ericson, Trip (September 1, 2012). "Sinclair Drops Cool TV Across Country?". Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- "The Country Network To Air Via Sinclair". Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- "The Country Network". Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- Oldenburg, Ann (November 11, 2004). "Some stations shelved 'Private Ryan' amid FCC fears". USA Today. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- May 2009 Sweep Ratings. "Kareem Johnson | A Reporter's Notes » May 2009 Sweep Ratings". Blog.kareemjohnson.us. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- "Historical Super Bowl Nielsen TV Ratings, 1967-2009 - Ratings | TVbytheNumbers". Tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- Littleton, Cynthia (2010-03-26). "Sinclair reups with ABC - Entertainment News, TV News, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- "NewsChannel 5 to produce original content for KDNL, ABC 30". ksdk.com. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- [dead link]
- Brown, Lisa (June 20, 2013). "KSDK to stop producing newscasts for KDNL". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved June 22, 2013.