|Kansas City, Missouri/
Kansas City, Kansas
|City of license||Kansas City, Missouri|
|Branding||KMBC Channel 9 (general)
KMBC 9 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Coverage You Can Count On
The Team You Trust
Kansas City's News Leader
|Channels||Digital: 29 (UHF)
Virtual: 9 (PSIP)
(KMBC Hearst Television, Inc.)
|First air date||August 2, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||Midland Broadcasting Company (founding owners)|
|Former callsigns||WHB-TV (shared operation, 1953–1954)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
9 (VHF, 1953–2009)
7 (VHF, 2002–2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS (1953–1955)|
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
KMBC-TV, virtual channel 9 (UHF digital channel 29), is an ABC-affiliated television station serving Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas, United States. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate KCWE (channel 29). The two stations share studio facilities located on Winchester Avenue (near Swope Park) in Kansas City, Missouri; KMBC-TV maintains transmitter facilities located in eastern Kansas City, near the Blue River.
KMBC-TV serves as an alternate ABC affiliate for St. Joseph as its transmitter provides a city-grade signal in St. Joseph proper, and it is carried locally on satellite providers and select cable providers (such as Suddenlink Communications) in that market; this is despite the presence of KQTV (channel 2), which is the market's official ABC affiliate and is carried alongside KMBC on some St. Joseph area cable providers.
Early years: two stations
The Federal Communications Commission awarded the license of Kansas City's third and last VHF television station to two locally-based radio station owners who had competed heavily for its construction permit. The Cook Paint and Varnish Company, which operated radio station WHB (then at 710 AM, now at 810 AM) and the Midland Broadcasting Company, owners of radio station KMBC (980 AM, now KMBZ), signed on channel 9 as a shared operation on August 2, 1953. Under the arrangement, the two separate stations would each alternate 90 minutes of airtime, broadcasting from separate studio facilities but using the same channel allocation and transmitter. The combined KMBC-TV and WHB-TV operation operated as an affiliate of CBS. Cook Paint and Varnish purchased Midland Broadcasting's holdings in April 1954, including KMBC's studio facilities in what is now the Lyric Theatre in Downtown Kansas City. On June 14, 1954, KMBC-TV took over channel 9 full-time, absorbing WHB-TV's share of the operation and ending the split-station arrangement. Cook Paint and Varnish also sold WHB radio to Storz Broadcasting in order to comply with FCC rules.
In September 1955, KMBC-TV lost the CBS affiliation to KCMO-TV (channel 5, now KCTV) through an affiliation deal with that station's owner, the Meredith Corporation; KMBC, in turn, affiliated with ABC. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. In 1959, Cook Paint and Varnish bought KDRO-TV (channel 6) in Sedalia and changed its calls to KMOS-TV on January 28 of that year. KDRO-TV had been the ABC affiliate for the far eastern portion of the Kansas City market, but ABC refused to give it a network feed to protect KMBC-TV, forcing it to switch to and from channel 9's signal during broadcasts of the network's programming.
Cook Paint and Varnish sold the KMBC stations, KMOS-TV, and radio station KFRM in Concordia, Kansas, to Metropolitan Broadcasting (later renamedMetromedia) in 1961; Metropolitan subsequently spun off KMOS-TV and KFRM. Metromedia signed on KMBC-FM (99.7 FM, now KZPT) the following year, but sold both of the KMBC radio stations to Bonneville International, the broadcasting arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in 1967 (although its former radio sisters had changed their call signs decades earlier, KMBC-TV's legal call sign has retained its "-TV" suffix to this day).
Over the years, KMBC-TV has pre-empted some ABC programming. Notably under Metromedia ownership, channel 9 declined to air The Brady Bunch when it debuted in 1969 in favor of running movies (which pre-empted most of ABC's Friday night lineup), however the station picked up the sitcom a year later. It was also one of the few ABC affiliates to pre-empt the ABC Evening News during the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as one of a handful that declined American Bandstand for part of its run. ABC programs that were pre-empted by KMBC could instead be viewed in the market on independent KCIT-TV (channel 50, channel now occupied by KPXE-TV) during its two years of operation from 1969 to 1971, or through nearby ABC affiliate KQTV (channel 2) out of St. Joseph. In 1974, Metromedia changed the lease terms of the Lyric Theatre and was given total control of the building.
In December 1980, KMBC-TV hired Christine Craft to serve as co-anchor for its evening newscasts. Although channel 9 had moved up to first place in the market's news ratings during this time, a focus group claimed that Craft was "too old, too unattractive and not deferential to men." At the time, Craft was 36 and her co-anchor Scott Feldman was 31. Craft resigned from the station nine months later after rejecting a demotion to an assignment reporting position. She then filed a lawsuit against Metromedia, accusing KMBC-TV management of both fraud and sexual discrimination; this was one of the first such cases to be widely publicized in the United States. Craft initially won her case, though she lost on appeal.
Hearst Corporation ownership
Prior to its legal battle with Craft, Metromedia had sold KMBC-TV and the Lyric Theatre to Hearst Broadcasting in September 1981, with the station being acquired for $79 million. Under Hearst, the station expanded its local news programming. It also built a 343 metres (1,125 ft) high guyed mast broadcast tower in eastern Kansas City on a hill above the Blue River in 1988. Hearst inquired about moving KMBC's operations to a new studio space in 1990, but eventually decided to continue to operate the station out of the Lyric Theatre.
In 1996, Hearst entered into a local marketing agreement with upstart WB affiliate KCWB (channel 29, now CW affiliate KCWE), managing that station alongside KMBC. Hearst later bought channel 29 outright in 2001, through an indirect subsidiary of the company instead of its Hearst-Argyle Television division. KCWE officially became co-owned with KMBC in May 2010, when Hearst Corporation transferred the station's license to the Hearst Television unit. Although KMBC's licensee name remains "KMBC Hearst Television Inc.", the copyright tag at the end of its newscasts reads "Hearst Stations Inc.," which is the licensee name for KCWE.
On August 23, 2007, KMBC moved its operations from the Lyric Theatre to a new studio facility at 6455 Winchester Avenue, near Swope Park. Under Hearst, KMBC was again the focus of a lawsuit filed by female journalists: Maria Antonia, Peggy Breit and Kelly Eckerman sued the company in 2008, alleging age and sex discrimination. The lawsuit was settled in 2010.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|9.1||1080i||16:9||KMBC-DT||Main KMBC-TV programming / ABC|
KMBC began carrying Me-TV on its second digital subchannel on June 21, 2011. From 2008 to June 20, 2011, the subchannel was an affiliate of The Local AccuWeather Channel; from September 14, 2010 to June 20, 2011, the channel ran a general entertainment block each weeknight from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m., branded as "MOREtv Kansas City" (a variant of the branding previously used by sister station KCWE as a UPN affiliate), which included a 6:30 p.m. encore of KMBC's weeknight 6:00 p.m. newscast.
KMBC is one of several Hearst-owned stations that broadcasts its digital signal in the 1080i high definition format, instead of ABC's preferred 720p format. KMBC's Hearst-owned ABC-affiliated sister stations including WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire, WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, WCVB-TV in Boston, KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City and KETV in Omaha also broadcast HD programming in this format.
On February 19, 2009, KMBC-TV – after receiving permission from the FCC for a Special Temporary Authority permit – moved its digital signal from VHF channel 7 to UHF channel 29, which had been vacated by sister station KCWE two months earlier on December 15, 2008. The station had received viewer complaints about reception issues due to a combination of Kansas City being an all-UHF digital market besides channel 9 and to address signal conflicts with Pittsburg, Kansas-based KOAM-TV, which was allowed to reutilize its analog channel 7 for its post-transition digital channel. KOAM would have experienced interference from KMBC-DT as both stations' transmitters are 131 miles (211 km) away from each other, a fairly shorter distance than the advised 150 miles (240 km) separation between a shared channel. The station shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on June 12, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 9.
As part of the SAFER Act, KMBC kept its analog signal on the air until July 12 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters.
Syndicated programs seen on KMBC-TV include Dr. Phil, The Dr. Oz Show, Entertainment Tonight, Two and a Half Men and Rachael Ray. The station also airs The View, Nightline and Jimmy Kimmel Live! outside of ABC's recommended time slots for all three shows. From its 1980 debut until 2011, KMBC delayed Nightline to midnight – 90 minutes later than most ABC stations had carried it at the time (with only minor exceptions for major breaking news events) – in order to run syndicated sitcoms after its 10:00 p.m. newscast; this decision had long been criticized by some within ABC's management and even former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel; Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which has preceded it since January 2013, was also delayed similarly from its January 2003 debut. On January 3, 2011, KMBC pushed Nightline and Jimmy Kimmel ahead a half-hour, starting at 11:37 p.m., citing shifting market conditions and a request by the network during affiliation agreement negotiations with KMBC to air both programs earlier. The station also airs the weekend editions of Good Morning America one hour earlier than its recommended timeslot (airing it live from the Eastern Time Zone feed), and pre-empts the Sunday edition of ABC World News in favor of an hour-long local early evening newscast.
KMBC has been the local home of Monday Night Football games involving the Kansas City Chiefs since 2006, airing simulcasts of ESPN-televised games (as was the case when ESPN aired Sunday night games from 1987 to 2005). Hearst holds a 20% ownership stake in ESPN (the network's remaining ownership interest is held by ABC parent The Walt Disney Company), and its stations (as with ABC's owned-and-operated stations) have right of first refusal for simulcasts of ESPN's NFL telecasts.
KMBC presently broadcasts 29½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays, and five hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). During the late 1970s and into the 1980s, KMBC's newscasts placed at #1 in the market; however, the station ended the latter decade in second place behind WDAF-TV (channel 4). As soon as WDAF switched from NBC to Fox in September 1994, KMBC rose back to first place. At present, channel 9 generally battles KCTV for first place at 10:00 p.m., while continuing to battle WDAF for first place on weekday mornings.
In November 2007, KMBC's newscasts finished the sweeps period first in most news timeslots and tying KCTV at 10:00 p.m. In February 2008, its newscasts won all of its time periods outright. For the February 2011 sweeps period, KMBC's newscasts garnered the #1 spot in the Kansas City market; the station tied with WDAF-TV during the 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. hour, though channel 4's morning newscast beat Good Morning America on KMBC during the 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. slot. The station's evening newscasts also placed first in the market at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. Its 9 p.m. newscast on KCWE placed second in that timeslot, slightly ahead of KCTV's primetime newscast on KSMO-TV (channel 62) but well behind longtime 9 p.m. leader, WDAF-TV.
In 2007, its news department won seven Edward R. Murrow Awards – the most wins by any U.S. station – in the news series, feature, news documentary, spot news, continuing coverage, newscast, and overall excellence categories. KMBC unveiled its new purpose-built facility near Swope Park on August 23, 2007 beginning with the 5:00 p.m. newscast. The new building includes a news set designed by FX Group. With the relocation, channel 9 became the first station in the market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.
On March 3, 2008, KMBC debuted a two-hour extension of its FirstNews morning newscast, from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. on KCWE. For many years, KMBC cited concerns of cannibalizing the station's audience for not expanding news offerings to its sister station. On July 30, 2010, like most of its Hearst-owned ABC affiliated sister stations did on that date, KMBC added an hour-long extension of its weekend morning newscast at 8:00 a.m. This was followed on August 23 by the expansion of its weekday morning newscast into the 4:30 a.m. timeslot (NBC affiliate KSHB-TV (channel 41) also moved the start time of its morning newscast to 4:30 a.m. on that date). On September 14, 2010, KMBC launched a half-hour weeknight-only 9:00 p.m. newscast on KCWE to compete with WDAF-TV's in-house 9:00 p.m. newscast and the KCTV-produced 9:00 p.m. newscast on MyNetworkTV affiliate KSMO.
Notable former on-air staff
- Walt Bodine (deceased)
- Jonathan Coachman (later with World Wrestling Entertainment, now with ESPN)
- Christine Craft
- Scott Feldman
- Jeremy Hubbard (later at ABC News; now anchor at KDVR/KWGN-TV in Denver)
- Craig Sager
- "Second VHF outlet for Kansas City as FCC grants share-time bid." Broadcasting - Telecasting, June 29, 1953, pp. 61-62.  
- "Share-time stations can share identification spot." Broadcasting - Telecasting, August 3, 1953, pg. 9.
- KMBC-TV advertisement. Broadcasting - Telecasting, September 14, 1953, pg. 139.
- WHB-TV advertisement. Broadcasting - Telecasting, October 5, 1953, pg. 128.
- "WHB-AM-TV buy's Church's KMBC-AM-TV; WHB acquired by Storz family," and "Storz family of Omaha acquires WHB Kansas City in merger deal." Broadcasting - Telecasting, April 26, 1954, pp. 62, 64.  
- "Cook takes over KMBC-AM-TV, KFRM." Broadcasting - Telecasting, June 14, 1954, pg. 95.
- "For the record: Existing TV stations-Actions by FCC." Broadcasting - Telecasting, July 19, 1954, pg. 93.
- KMBC-TV advertisement. Broadcasting - Telecasting, June 14, 1954, pg. 128.
- "Five Meredith stations become CBS affiliates." Broadcasting - Telecasting, January 24, 1955, pg. 62.
- KMBC-TV advertisement. Broadcasting - Telecasting, October 17, 1955, pg. 132.
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films". Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956
- "Metropolitan buying KMBC." Broadcasting, December 26, 1960, pp. 51-52.  
- "$9.65 million sale of KMBC." Broadcasting, July 31, 1961, pp. 45-46.  
- "OK given to sale of KMBC, KMBR-FM." Broadcasting, May 8, 1967, pg. 60.
- The Little Station That Couldn't
- "Newsroom issue goes to court." Broadcasting, August 1, 1983, pp. 24-25.  
- "Craft decision leaves questions." Broadcasting, August 15, 1983, pp. 28-30.   
- "Craft case continues." Broadcasting, December 23, 1985, pg. 69.
- "Christine Craft wins two, loses big one." Broadcasting, March 10, 1986, pp. 74-75.  
- "Hearst to buy Kansas City VHF for $79 million." Broadcasting, September 14, 1981, pg. 81.
- "In brief." Broadcasting, May 17, 1982, pg. 88.
- Christine Craft II, in 3-D: Trio of KMBC female stars sue, claiming age, gender discrim
- KMBC changes weather channel, settles discrim lawsuit, adds 9 p.m. news
- RabbitEars TV Query for KMBC
- Abundance of local newscasts pushes Fox 4 to No. 2 in KC, Kansas City Star, April 13, 2011.
- KMBC Launches New TV Channel, Me-TV On Tuesday, KMBC-TV. Retrieved 6-21-2011.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- City, Kansas (February 6, 2009). "KC TV stations will delay digital-only switch".
- "UPDATED List of Participants in the Analog Nightlight Program" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. June 12, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- KMBC boss: Earlier ‘Nightline’ is ‘probably indefinite’, Kansas City Star, January 4, 2011. Retrieved 1-5-2010.
- KMBC's frosty, fabulous February, Kansas City Star, March 3, 2011.
- kmbc.com - KMBC-TV official website
- metvkansascity.com - KMBC-DT2 ("Me-TV Kansas City") official website
- kcwe.com - KCWE official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KMBC
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KMBC-TV