|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010)|
|Lawton, Oklahoma/Wichita Falls, Texas
|Slogan||You Can Count on Us!|
|Channels||Digital: 11 (VHF)
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
7.3 This TV
|Translators||KKTM-LP 17 Altus, OK|
|Owner||Drewry Communications Group
(KSWO Television Company, Inc.)
|First air date||March 8, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||South
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
7 (VHF, 1953–2009)
|Transmitter power||138 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
KSWO-TV, virtual channel 7 (VHF digital channel 11), is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Lawton, Oklahoma, United States and also serves Wichita Falls, Texas. It is the flagship television property of the Drewry Communications Group, KSWO operates CBS affiliate KAUZ-TV (channel 6) through a shared services agreement with Hoak Media Corporation. The station's studios are located on 60th Street in Southeast Lawton, and its transmitter is located near Grandfield, Oklahoma.
KSWO is owned by Drewry Communications Group, which started out with one radio property at Lawton, KSWO-AM, in 1941 (AM 1380, now KKRX), followed by the addition of KRHD radio in nearby Duncan, Oklahoma in 1947. The call letters of the Duncan station were named for the owner, Ransom H. Drewry's, initials. The KSWO call letters are now exclusively used by the television station and KRHD is now used as the call sign for the Drewry-owned ABC affiliate in Bryan-College Station, Texas. Drewry Communications Group also owns CBS affiliate KFDA-TV in Amarillo, Texas; ABC affiliate KXXV in Waco, Texas; NBC affiliates KWES-TV in Midland, Texas; and KWES repeater station KWAB-TV in Big Spring, Texas. The television station was founded by a group that included R.H. Drewry, J.R. Montgomery, T.R. Warkentin, Robert P. Scott and G.G. Downing; KSWO-TV first signed on the air on March 8, 1953.
The station's first transmitter was located at the studios east of Lawton, which was a relatively low-power unit that could reach viewers within a limited 55-mile radius that included Altus, Oklahoma to the west, Wichita Falls to the south, Anadarko, Oklahoma to the north and Ringling, Oklahoma to the east. By the late 1950s, other ABC affiliates such as KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City and KTEN in Ada, Oklahoma were encroaching the northern and eastern fringes on KSWO's viewing area, but wide gaps existed to the south and west of Wichita Falls, and the only primary ABC affiliates in north and west Texas were WFAA-TV, Dallas-Fort Worth and KVII-TV in Amarillo, as Lubbock and Abilene did not get their own primary ABC affiliates until 1969 and 1979, respectively.
In 1959, the FCC permitted KSWO-TV to construct a 1,000-foot-tall (300 m) tower with 316,000 watts of power (the maximum power allowable for VHF channels 7-13) near Grandfield, Oklahoma, which was activated in early 1960 and permitted reception of channel 7 over a much larger area of North Texas and Southwest Oklahoma – bringing complete ABC programming with viewable reception to many locations for the first time. Wichita Falls stations KFDX-TV and KSYD-TV (now KAUZ) opposed the application, and the FCC had to be convinced. The new site was about halfway between the cities and from a Lawton perspective in the same direction as the Wichita Falls stations. Many years later, when KJTL (channel 18) signed on the air in the mid-1980s, it chose a site near KSWO-TV's transmitter in Grandfield. Ironically, KJTL is now in common ownership with NBC affiliate KFDX (channel 3), which continues to operate its own transmitter from the original site in Wichita Falls as does CBS affiliate KAUZ (channel 6).
KSWO-TV is the only television station in the Wichita Falls-Lawton market to have remained under the same ownership since its inception and to remain locally owned and operated to this day. It also one of the few television stations in the country (not counting owned-and-operated stations) that has had the same call letters, channel number and primary network affiliation throughout its history. KSWO has broadcast the annual West Texas Rehabilitation Center telethon from Abilene each year since 1971. The telethon is broadcast one Saturday night each January on television stations serving various markets in north, west and central Texas.
KSWO-TV uses the Circle 7 logo that is also used by many ABC stations (owned-and-operated and affiliated) that broadcast on channel 7. It is the oldest logo still in use among the Wichita Falls/Lawton market's television stations, having been used continuously since 1979, though the "Circle 7" was previously used at KSWO from 1967 to 1970, and then succeeded by a TV-screen '7" logo from 1970 to 1977, followed by a "Circle 7" logo from 1977 to 1979 that was similar to one used in the 1980s and 1990s by Midland-Odessa station KOSA-TV. The ABC "Circle 7" symbol returned to KSWO in 1979 as part of a re-imaging that included a new news set and the introduction of the Action 7 News brand for its newscasts which would last for more than 15 years until the current 7 News branding and newsroom/studio format began in the mid-1990s. This logo is similar to the branding used by Sunbeam Television stations WHDH and WSVN
Due to electrical outages following a damaging windstorm that rolled through the Lawton area in late May 1996, the early morning newscast Good Morning Texoma was broadcast virtually in the dark. The only power came from the portable generator in one of the station's live trucks, which was also used as a makeshift studio-to-transmitter link to get the signal to the transmitter. The show was done with one camera, one tape deck and one microphone (that was passed between the announcers).
A 2008 deal to sell the station along with group sister stations in Amarillo, Bryan, Midland, and Waco, Texas was approved by the FCC but was called off owing to uncertainties in the financial markets notice of non-consummation to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
On July 31, 2009 Drewry Communications initiated a joint sales/shared operational services agreement between KSWO and CBS affiliate KAUZ-TV (channel 6). This will combine oversight of sales and promotion with those of KSWO-TV. In time, it could streamline operation of the two stations (shared people, shared equipment, shared location) along the lines of separately owned but cooperatively operated competitor stations KFDX-TV and KJTL-TV. With each station office more than an hours drive from the other, it is not as easy as combining stations that are around the corner from each other. With the agreement, KAUZ-TV General Manager Mike deLier, News Director Dan Garcia, and a videographer were released. These tasks were assumed by their KSWO-TV counterparts.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|7.1||720p||16:9||KSWO-DT||Main KSWO-TV programming / ABC|
KSWO-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 7, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station cited the need to place its digital antenna where the analog transmitter was located. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 11. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 7.
KSWO-TV presently broadcasts 22 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among the Wichita Falls-Lawton market's broadcast television stations, tied with NBC affiliate KFDX and beating CBS affiliate KAUZ-TV's weekly news total by a half-hour.
Among the Wichita Falls-Lawton market's local newscasts, KSWO has a ratings stronghold on the Oklahoma side of the market, while KAUZ and KFDX primarily compete for the audience on the Texas side.
KSWO pioneered new developments to the local area in weather forecasting throughout its history, particularly with severe weather coverage across its nearly 30-county viewing area in Southwest Oklahoma and North Texas. Channel 7 was first with its own on-site weather radar (which was displayed in black and white) in the late 1950s or early 1960s, introduced the market's first color radar in 1976 (called "Accu-scan 7") and introduced the area's first Doppler weather radar in 1984 more than 10 years ahead of arch-rivals KFDX and KAUZ.
KSWO-TV has several longtime veterans who have been with the station for 20 years or longer. Jan Stratton has served as anchor continuously since 1981 and was news director until July 2006, while co-anchor and current news director, David Bradley has been with the station since 1986 first as sports director/anchor for 13 years and then as news anchor since 1999. Tom Charles, a familiar face to Channel 7 viewers since the early 1960s, officially retired from KSWO-TV after 45 years of service on December 31, 2010. He served as chief weathercaster/meteorologist from 1964 to 1996 and then as anchor of the 5:30 a.m. newscast and Good Morning Texoma co-anchor from 2000 to 2010 following a four-year stint as chief meteorologist at CBS affiliate KAUZ-TV in Wichita Falls, Texas. Larry Patton has served as general manager of KSWO-TV since 1976 and has been employed by the station since 1967. In June 2011, KSWO began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition, becoming the first station in the Wichita Falls-Lawton market to make the upgrade.
For the May 2009 ratings period, according to Nielsen Media Research, KSWO's newscasts ranked in first place on weekdays for the morning show, as well as at 6 and 10 p.m. However, the station has showed a slight drop in ratings ever since acquisition of newsroom assets of Wichita Falls station, KAUZ. Drewry management decided to purchase only newsroom assets in fall of 2009 and moved longtime station manager, Mike Taylor, to general manager at KAUZ. Ironically, Nexstar Broadcasting Group-owned KFDX, the other news station in the Lawton-Wichita Falls market, has showed improvement in ratings rather than an increase either for KAUZ or KSWO.
- "KSWO-TV Goes On Air Today From New 1,059 foot transmitter": Lawton Constitution and Morning Press (Lawton, OK), Feb. 28, 1960 pg. 33
- RabbitEars TV Query for KSWO
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KSWO
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KKTM-LP
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KSWO-TV