KTUL

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For the airport serving Tulsa, Oklahoma assigned the ICAO code KTUL, see Tulsa International Airport.
KTUL
KTUL 8 logo.png
Tulsa, Oklahoma
United States
Branding Tulsa's Channel 8 (general and newscasts)
Slogan We're Tulsa's Channel 8
Channels Digital: 10 (VHF)
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
Subchannels 8.1 ABC
8.2 First Alert 24/7
8.3 Retro Television Network
Translators 24 (UHF) McAlester
(construction permit)
Affiliations ABC
Owner Allbritton Communications Company
(sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group pending)
(KTUL, LLC)
First air date September 18, 1954
Call letters' meaning TULsa
Former callsigns KTVX (1954–1960)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
8 (VHF, 1954–2009)
Transmitter power 6.9 kW
Height 542.3 m
Facility ID 35685
Transmitter coordinates 35°58′8″N 95°36′55″W / 35.96889°N 95.61528°W / 35.96889; -95.61528
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website www.KTUL.com

KTUL, virtual channel 8 (VHF digital channel 10), is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States. The station is owned by the Allbritton Communications Company. KTUL maintains studio facilities located at Lookout Mountain (near South 29th West Avenue) on the southwest side of Tulsa, and its transmitter is located between South 305th Street East and the Muskogee Turnpike in southeastern Tulsa County (near Coweta).

Syndicated programs broadcast on KTUL include: Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Bethenny, Inside Edition, Rachael Ray, Two and a Half Men and Rules of Engagement.

History[edit]

The station first signed on the air on September 18, 1954 as KTVX. It was founded by Oklahoma grocery magnate and broadcast pioneer John Toole Griffin, who also owned KTUL radio (1430 AM, now KTBZ). The station was originally licensed to Muskogee, roughly 25 miles (40 km) due south of Tulsa; this was because the third VHF frequency originally allocated to the Tulsa market, channel 11, had been reserved for use by a non-commercial educational license (the VHF channel 11 frequency is now occupied by Oklahoma Educational Television Authority member station KOED). Griffin therefore decided to seek the channel 8 allocation in Muskogee, the nearest city in the Tulsa market with an assigned VHF channel allocation; UHF was not considered viable at the time.

The station's original studio facilities were based inside a converted grocery store in Muskogee. KTVX took the ABC affiliation from Tulsa's second television station, KCEB (channel 23, channel now occupied by KOKI-TV). The first program to be broadcast by the station was a college football game in which the University of Oklahoma Sooners defeated the University of California Golden Bears. The first two personalities at the station were news anchor Jack Morris and meteorologist Don Woods, with sports director Hal O'Halloran joining the station later on. The current studio facility on Lookout Mountain had originally been built for KCEB in 1954; the second television station in Tulsa (after KOTV, channel 6), KCEB briefly carried NBC programming, before switching its affiliation to ABC after KVOO-TV (channel 2, now KJRH-TV) signed on as an NBC affiliate.

KTVX acquired the market's ABC affiliation from KCEB, leaving that station as an affiliate of the DuMont Television Network, a non-viable fourth-network that itself would soon fold in 1956. In 1955, KCEB sold its Lookout Mountain studios to Griffin; former owner James C. Leake moved KTVX's operations to Tulsa from Muskogee soon after KCEB ceased operations. KTVX moved there in November; KTUL radio had moved into the facility earlier in April of that year. The Lookout Mountain facility was used as an auxiliary studio until 1957, when the station received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to move all operations, as well as the station's city of license, to Tulsa (although FCC regulations had been changed a few years earlier so that the station could have remained licensed to Muskogee, while operating solely in Tulsa).

On September 12, 1957, the day the move took effect, the station changed its call letters to KTUL-TV to match its radio sister (the KTVX call sign is currently used by a fellow ABC-affiliated television station in Salt Lake City, Utah). Griffin sold off KTUL radio in 1961. In 1965, the station built a new 1,909 feet (582 m) transmitter tower, which became the second-tallest broadcast tower in the United States at that time. ABC had long placed third in the national network ratings; it was not until the late 1970s, that ABC would improve its viewership to become America's most-watched broadcast network. KTUL's local programming had made it one of the network's strongest stations and the Tulsa market's leading television station for the next 35 years.

In 1965, KTUL lured Betty Boyd away from competitor KOTV and launched The Betty Boyd Show, a local daytime program that featured a mix of interviews with Tulsa area newsmakers, community affairs and women's topics; the program helped KTUL reach first place among female viewers. Another popular KTUL personality was John Chick, who joined the station in 1955 and served as host of two popular afternoon children's shows – Cartoon Zoo and Mr. Zing and Tuffy – as well as hosting The John Chick Show, a live morning music program that featured local country music talent and square dancing. Having aired weekday mornings at 7 a.m., the program proved to be a more popular alternative to network morning shows Today on KVOO and the CBS Morning News on KOTV. The John Chick Show pre-empted AM America, when the program debuted on ABC in 1975; when ABC president Elton Rule and other executives with the network demanded to know why KTUL did not give clearance to the fast-growing Good Morning America in the late 1970s, network management backed off after Jimmy Leake informed Rule about The John Chick Shows's high local ratings. KTUL would not air GMA until 1979, after John Chick departed the station.

In 1968, Griffin sold KTUL-TV and Little Rock, Arkansas sister station KATV to his brother-in-law, James C. "Jimmy" Leake; Griffin retained control of KWTV in Oklahoma City (Griffin's company, which eventually became Griffin Communications, would re-enter the Tulsa market when it purchased KOTV in October 2000[1]). KTUL continued its popular children's programming in the 1970s with Uncle Zeb's Cartoon Camp (which replaced Mr. Zing and Tuffy in 1970), hosted by Carl Bartholemew as the gruff Uncle Zeb. Following Uncle Zeb were sitcoms that appealed to children, such as The Flintstones, The Lucy Show, Gilligan's Island, The Beverly Hillbillies and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Griffin and Leake had shared ownership of the stations for many years. Leake kept KTUL and KATV until selling them to the Allbritton Communications Company in 1982.

In 1987, KTUL's broadcast tower collapsed due to heavy freezing rain accumulations from an ice storm; a new 582 m (1,909 ft) tower located near Coweta was completed the following year. In 1999, KTUL built new broadcast facilities on Lookout Mountain to accommodate station growth. In 1996, then-meteorologist Frank Mitchell made a surprise wedding proposal to his co-host, Teri Bowers, during a live broadcast of the station's morning newscast Good Morning Oklahoma; the proposal made national news and was featured on programs such as American Journal, Geraldo and Maury.

On May 1, 2013, reports surfaced that the Allbritton Communications Company was planning to sell its television stations in order to focus on running its political news website Politico.[2] On July 29, the company announced that it would sell its entire television group, including KTUL, to the Sinclair Broadcast Group for $985 million.[3]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[4]
8.1 720p 16:9 KTUL-DT Main KTUL programming / ABC
8.2 480i 4:3 KTUL-D2 First Alert 24/7
8.3 KTUL-D3 Retro Television Network

KTUL operates a 24-hour local weather channel called "First Alert Weather 24/7" on digital subchannel 8.2 and Cox Communications digital channel 247, the service launched in 2005. The Retro Television Network classic television programming service is carried on digital subchannel 8.3 and Cox digital channel 131, it began to be carried on the station in January 2009.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

KTUL shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 10.[5] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 8.

News operation[edit]

KTUL presently broadcasts 27 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays and two hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); unlike most ABC affiliates, KTUL does not carry a local newscast during the weekday midday timeslot (although none of Oklahoma's standalone ABC affiliates carry a midday newscast, the ABC-affiliated digital subchannel of Ada NBC affiliate KTEN simulcasts KTEN's midday newscast). In addition, the station also produces a weekly program featuring sports-related questions submitted by viewers called Ford Sports Xtra, airing Sundays after the 10:00 p.m. newscast (competing with the Oklahoma Sports Blitz airing on rival KOTV); as well as an hour-long lifestyle program called Good Day Tulsa, which debuted in 2004 and airs at 9:00 a.m. on weekday mornings.

When KTUL signed on in Muskogee as KTVX, the station's management sought to hire a weatherman who could draw a cartoon character. Don Woods was chosen, and his cartoon character became Gusty. From 1954 until his retirement in 1989, Woods drew Gusty live during his weather forecasts, and could be drawn waving flags and smiling for fair weather, holding an umbrella if rain was forecast or jumping in his "fraidy hole" for thunderstorms; viewers sent in requests for their own Gusty drawings. After Woods retired from KTUL in 1989, he continued to draw Gusty on occasion, and even authored a book entitled The Gospel According to Gusty. In 2005, Gusty was made Oklahoma's State Cartoon Character by the Oklahoma Legislature, and a drawing of Gusty is currently housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Woods died on June 12, 2012 at age 84, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.[6]

During the 1960s, the station's local newscasts became the highest-rated in the Tulsa market, aided by the popularity of main anchor Jack Morris. One of Morris' accomplishments at KTUL was the local television documentary "The Five Civilized Tribes: Unfinished Journey," which won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for "Best Television Documentary" in 1966. When Morris left KTUL for KVOO in 1970, KOTV anchor Bob Hower joined channel 8 and took over as anchor; the station continued its ratings dominance in local news. After James Leake sold the station to the Allbritton Communications Company in 1982, KTUL remained #1 in the Tulsa market throughout the 1980s and 1990s with its local newscasts and syndicated programming. This streak as the perennial leader in the Tulsa television market ended in 1999, when KOTV overtook KTUL as the area's most-watched television station. KTUL currently ranks second in news viewership, with its 10 p.m. newscast placing second behind KOTV, and ahead of KJRH and KOKI-TV.

Since 1980, KTUL produced Waiting Child, a segment highlighting children in state custody that are in need of an adoptive family. Hower began the segment in October 1980, and helmed it until his retirement in 1986. The segment continued with anchor Rea Blakey and then sports director John Walls, before anchor Carole Lambert took over the segment in 1990; after Lambert left KTUL in 2011, Good Day Tulsa co-anchor Keith Taylor began hosting the segment. The Waiting Child segment, which has resulted in the adoption of more than 4000 Oklahoma children, airs Wednesdays during the 4:00 p.m. newscast and Saturdays during the 10:00 p.m. newscast. The song "(I'm a) Waiting Child", which plays during the Waiting Child news segment, was composed by former anchor Bob Hower and is sung by Oleta Adams.

On August 22, 2011, KTUL became the third television station (after KJRH-TV and KOKI-TV) in the Tulsa market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. KTUL became the first Tulsa station to employ a female chief meteorologist with the September 2012 hiring of Jennifer Zeppelin. During a January 2013 edition of Good Morning Oklahoma, morning meteorologist Andrew Kozak hand-drew the weather forecast after a computer that supplied the station's on-air weather graphics had crashed. A video of the forecast made several national news shows including Good Morning America and Anderson Cooper 360°, where Cooper called Kozak's weather that day the "Best Forecast Ever".[7][8]

News/station presentation[edit]

Newscast titles[edit]

  • News 8 (1971–1975 and 1982–1992)[9]
  • Total 8 Tulsa (1975–1982)
  • Oklahoma's News 8 (1992–1999)
  • Good Morning Oklahoma (morning newscast; 1992–2006 and 2008–present)
  • Oklahoma's NewsChannel 8 (1999–2006)
  • NewsChannel 8 (2006–2011)
  • Tulsa's Channel 8 (2011–present)

Station slogans[edit]

  • "Move Closer to Your World" (1971–1975)
  • "The Most Complete Up to the Minute News in the Southwest" (1975-1982)
  • "8's The Place" (1977–1983 and 1989–1992; later versions were integrated with ABC ad campaigns)
  • "8's Your Place" (1984–1988)
  • "Celebrate Oklahoma with 8" (1988–1989)
  • "Coverage You Can Count On" (1992–2006 and 2007–2011)
  • "On Your Side" (2006–2007)
  • "Count On Us" (2008–2011; alternate slogan)
  • "We're Tulsa's Channel 8" (2011–present)
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On-air staff[edit]

Current on-air staff[10][edit]

Anchors
  • Mark Bradshaw - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.; also consumer reporter
  • Kristin Dickerson - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
  • Charles Ely - weekdays at 4:00 p.m.
  • Yvonne Lewis - Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 5:00 and weekends at 10:00 p.m.; also weeknight reporter
  • Laura Neal - weekday mornings on Good Morning Oklahoma (4:30-7:00) and Good Day Tulsa (9:00-10:00 a.m.)
  • Keith Taylor - weekday mornings on Good Morning Oklahoma (4:30-7:00) and Good Day Tulsa (9:00-10:00 a.m.)
Weather team
  • Jennifer Zeppelin (AMS and NWA Seals of Approval) - chief meteorologist; Mondays and Tuesdays at 4:00 and weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
  • Andrew Kozak (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings on Good Morning Oklahoma (4:30-7:00) and Good Day Tulsa (9:00-10:00 a.m.)
  • Mike Collier - meteorologist; Wednesdays-Fridays at 4:00, Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 5:00 and weekends at 10:00 p.m.
  • Bud Ford - freelance and fill-in meteorologist
Sports team
  • Rick Pendergraft - sports anchor; weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
  • John Moss - sports anchor; Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 5:00 and weekends at 10:00 p.m.
  • John Laws - sports reporter and fill-in sports anchor
  • Chris Lincoln - sports director; also part-time sports reporter
Reporters
  • Caitlin Alexander - general assignment reporter
  • Ethan Calloway - general assignment reporter
  • Kimberly Hulsey - general assignment reporter
  • Kim Jackson - weekday morning reporter
  • Burt Mummolo - general assignment reporter

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

  • John Anderson - sports anchor (now with ESPN and co-host of ABC's Wipeout)
  • Travis Meyer - chief meteorologist (1989–2006; now at KOTV-DT)
  • Bill Mitchell - senior reporter (1972–1982 and 1994–2012; died in March 2013)[11]
  • Jack Morris - news anchor (1954–1970; deceased)
  • Don Woods - chief meteorologist (1954–1989; deceased)

References[edit]

External links[edit]