|Branding||Channel 9 (general)
9 News (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 9 (VHF)
Virtual: 9 (PSIP)
9.2 WeatherNation TV
(Multimedia Holdings Corporation)
|First air date||October 12, 1952|
|Call letters' meaning||United States of America
USA Today (also owned by Gannett)
|Sister station(s)||KTVD & KDEN-TV|
|Former callsigns||KBTV (1952–1984)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
9 (VHF, 1952–2009)
16 (UHF, 1997–2009)
NBC Weather Plus (2004–2008)
The Local AccuWeather Channel (2009–2013)
|Public license information:||Profile
KUSA, virtual and VHF digital channel 9, is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Denver, Colorado, United States. The station is owned by the Gannett Company, as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate KTVD (channel 20). The two stations share studio facilities located on East Speer Boulevard in Denver's Speer neighborhood (southeast of the studios of KMGH-TV (channel 7) and the studios shared by KDVR (channel 31) and KWGN-TV (channel 2)); KUSA maintains transmitter facilities atop Lookout Mountain, near Golden.
On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity channel 9 and in high definition on digital channel 653. KUSA is also carried by Carnival Cruise Lines through the in-room entertainment system available on ships touring the Caribbean and South Pacific.
The station first signed on the air on October 12, 1952 as KBTV; it was the second television station to sign on in the Denver market – after KFEL-TV (channel 2, now KWGN-TV), which signed on just over three months earlier on July 18. Founded by Mullins Broadcasting, the station initially served as a primary affiliate of CBS, but also carried programs from ABC and NBC through secondary affiliations with both networks. It originally operated from studio facilities located in a converted former car dealership at 1089 Bannock Street in Denver's Civic Center neighborhood. Channel 9 gained an affiliation with the DuMont Television Network in 1953, but lost CBS programming to KLZ-TV (channel 7, now KMGH-TV) when that station signed on in November 1953; this was followed by the loss of the NBC affiliation to KOA-TV (channel 4, now KCNC-TV) when it signed on in December of that year (both KLZ-TV and KOA-TV inherited the affiliations as a result of their sister radio stations' respective longtime affiliations with the CBS Radio Network and the NBC Red Network). This left KBTV as a primary DuMont and secondary ABC affiliate.
The station struggled in the ratings for several years, in part because ABC's overall ratings were not on par with the other major networks until the 1970s. The station lost the DuMont affiliation when the network shut down on August 6, 1956. In 1969, the station gained some national attention for refusing to air the ABC sketch comedy series Turn-On as the network's affiliates east of the Rocky Mountains voiced displeasure about the program's risqué content during the airing of the pilot episode, with some pulling the program off the air during its broadcast, leading to its cancellation by the network after just one episode.
In 1972, Mullins Broadcasting sold KBTV and sister station KARK-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas to the Combined Communications Corporation. Combined's station properties would eventually be merged into the Gannett Company seven years later in May 1978, in what was the largest media merger in United States history at the time.
In order to align itself with Gannett's new newspaper entity USA Today, the station changed its call letters to KUSA-TV on March 19, 1984 (Minneapolis–St. Paul sister station WTCN underwent a similar rebranding in 1985, when it changed its call letters to WUSA; however after Gannett purchased Washington, D.C. station WDVM-TV in 1986, it moved the WUSA call letters to its newly acquired station; the Minneapolis station that originally held the WUSA calls was renamed KARE-TV). Like many Gannett stations, KUSA dropped the "-TV" suffix ten days after the official digital television transition date of June 12, 2009, although KUSA had made the transition to digital-exclusive broadcasts nearly two months earlier. In April 1992, the station moved its operations into a new state-of-the-art facility at 500 Speer Boulevard (the original studio location was subsequently occupied by PBS member station KRMA-TV (channel 6)).
Switch to NBC
In July 1994, CBS and Westinghouse Electric Corporation agreed to a long-term affiliation deal that would result in three of Westinghouse's television stations (WJZ-TV in Baltimore, WBZ-TV in Boston and KYW-TV in Philadelphia) become CBS affiliates, joining the company's two longtime CBS affiliates (KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and KPIX-TV in San Francisco). That November, NBC traded KCNC-TV, which was the network's owned-and-operated station at the time, to CBS as a result of a complex ownership deal between the network, Westinghouse and NBC. CBS had decided to sell its Philadelphia O&O WCAU to NBC, but did not want to incur the heavy capital gains taxes that would have resulted from the sale. To make the transaction a legal trade, the network swapped ownership of KCNC-TV and Salt Lake City's KUTV (which NBC had acquired the previous year), along with the VHF channel 4 frequency and transmitter in Miami (then home to WTVJ) to CBS in exchange for WCAU and the channel 6 frequency in Miami (then home to WCIX, which subsequently became WFOR-TV).
McGraw-Hill, owner of longtime CBS affiliate KMGH-TV, entered into an affiliation agreement with ABC at the same time; Gannett then entered into a multi-station affiliation agreement with NBC that included KUSA. This resulted in a three-way affiliation switch that occurred at 1:00 a.m. on September 10, 1995, which sent the NBC affiliation to KUSA, and the station's former ABC affiliation to KMGH-TV, with KCNC-TV becoming a CBS affiliate as the network migrated from KMGH (Westinghouse purchased KCNC one month before, making it a CBS owned-and-operated station when the sale was finalized). The switch effectively reunited KUSA with NBC, 42 years after losing its secondary affiliation with that network.
In July 1996, Rapid City station KEVN-TV discontinued its affiliation with NBC to join Fox, leaving the Black Hills region of South Dakota without a full-power NBC affiliate. As a result, cable providers in that region began carrying KUSA as an out-of-market station to serve as the market's default NBC affiliate; this default status would end on May 14, 2000, when Rapid Broadcasting Company signed on KNBN as the Rapid City market's NBC station. Scenes for the NBC made-for-TV movie Asteroid were shot at the KUSA studios, the producers filmed the fictional news reports seen in the movie out of the station's 1996–2004 news set.
In August 2007, KUSA began the "9NEWS High School Hotshots Program", which awarded one of twelve student athletes from Colorado's high schools nominated for their academic excellence, selected by the school's administration and staff that recorded their high school football games; the program has since extended to cover winter sports at the schools.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|9.1||1080i||16:9||KUSA-DT||Main KUSA programming / NBC|
|9.2||480i||4:3||9News N||WeatherNation TV|
In April 2005, KUSA began carrying NBC Weather Plus on its second digital subchannel (branded as "9NEWS Weather Plus"). On December 31, 2008, following NBC Weather Plus' shutdown, KUSA affiliated the subchannel with The Local AccuWeather Channel; on May 27, 2013, as part of a multi-station deal between Gannett and the network, KUSA 9.2 switched its affiliation to WeatherNation TV. Digital subchannel 9.2 is carried on cable through Comcast digital channel 249.
KUSA shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on April 16, 2009. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 16 to VHF channel 9 for post-transition operations.
Syndicated programming seen on KUSA includes The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Entertainment Tonight, Extra and The Doctors. The station clears the entire NBC schedule, although it airs the fourth hour of Today one hour later than most NBC affiliates at 11:00 a.m., and airs Days of Our Lives at 2:00 p.m. (the secondary slot to NBC's primary recommended 1:00 p.m. timeslot), with syndicated programs airing in the preceding hour (Days aired on KUSA at 3:00 p.m. upon joining NBC in 1995 and continued to air in that slot until the fall of 2003, when it acquired Ellen and moved Days to 1:00 p.m., where it remained until the 2007 cancellation of Passions).
KUSA produces a weekdaily lifestyle program called Colorado & Company, that features paid segments by local companies and made its debut in September 2004; it airs at 10:00 a.m. following the third hour of Today. Colorado & Company was rebroadcast on KPXC-TV (channel 59) from its debut, until the conclusion of NBC's affiliate partnership and joint ownership of Pax TV in June 2005. KUSA ran the Gannett ID and sounder (often colloquially nicknamed the "Death Star") at the end of the station's weeknight 6:00 p.m. newscasts from 1994 to 2011; in June 2011, KUSA began to show Gannett's new corporate ID tag at the end of all of the station's newscasts, except for the weekday morning programs.
KUSA presently broadcasts a total of 44½ hours of locally-produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, four hours on Saturdays and five hours on Sundays)this does not account for newscasts on KTVD. KUSA also provides daily weather forecasts for the Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper and local weather updates for four radio stations owned by Entercom: KQMT (99.5 FM), KOSI (101.1 FM), KALC (105.9 FM) and KEZW (1430 AM); this partnership began on January 1, 2008, after the station's agreement to provide forecasts for KOA (850 AM) radio ended. Weather segments during the station's newscasts are typically presented in the "9 Back Yard", a courtyard outside the Speer Boulevard studios that features a chroma key wall and robotic camera (local weather inserts for The Today Show and updates for 9NEWS Now are done from a chroma key wall inside the weather center).
In addition to its main studios in downtown Denver, KUSA operates a "Northern Newsroom" that based out of the Fort Collins Coloradoan offices in Fort Collins; the bureau employs a rotating staff of reporters and photojournalists out of Denver. The station also operates a "Mountain Newsroom" based in Silverthorne. The station's weather radar is presented on-air as "HD-Doppler 9", a DWSR-10001C radar model supplied by Enterprise Electronics Corporation that is located east of Elizabeth and operates at a radiated power of 1 million watts. KUSA brands its websites and sister television properties under the "9NEWS Networks" banner (described by KUSA as its three websites: 9News.com, m.9News.com and HighSchoolSports.net; KTVD (channel 20) and its website; the 9NEWS Now digital subchannel; Metromix; Telemundo owned-and-operated station KDEN-TV (channel 20, whose Spanish-language newscasts are produced by KUSA through a news share agreement) and the "9NEWS Weather Call" weather alert service).
For over 30 years, KUSA's newscasts (currently titled as 9NEWS) have dominated Denver's local news ratings. In February 1976, Ed Sardella and John Rayburn anchored the weeknight editions of the 10:00 p.m. newscast, helping that program overtake longtime leader KMGH-TV for first place in the ratings; Rayburn was succeeded by Mike Landess in 1977, who would remain paired with Sardella as one of Denver's top anchor teams for 16 years until leaving for KUSA's Atlanta sister station WXIA-TV in late 1993. Adele Arakawa, who had been an anchor at WBBM-TV in Chicago, was hired to succeed Landess. Sardella retired from the anchor desk in 2000, and was succeeded by Jim Benemann, but returned briefly in 2003 to replace Benemann when he left for KCNC-TV. Landess, after anchoring at WTTG in Washington, D.C., returned to Denver at rival KMGH-TV in 2002.
The KUSA News Package (created by Third Street Music) was commissioned by KUSA as the theme music for its newscasts in 1995. On October 15, 2008, KUSA debuted a standardized graphics package for the Gannett stations created by the Gannett Graphics Group, along with a standardized music package composed by Rampage Music New York. The closing cut of the previous theme was last used on February 6, 2009, and the remastered talent bumper cut was used until January 10, 2013 (Minneapolis sister station KARE continued to use its own custom theme composed in 1996 by Third Street Music called the KARE 11 News Theme until January 25, 2013, when it discontinued it for a new standardized news package by Gari Media Group called This Is Home). KUSA formerly rebroadcast its weeknight 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. newscasts on KPXC-TV as part of an agreement between NBC and Pax TV to provide news rebroadcasts from the network's stations on Pax's owned-and-operated stations nationally, which ended in June 2005 upon that network's rebrand to I: Independent Television.
In April 2004, KUSA became the first television station in the Denver market, the first Gannett-owned station and the second U.S. television station to begin producing its local newscasts in high definition. On September 5, 2006, KUSA began to produce a daily half-hour primetime newscast at 9:00 p.m. on sister station KTVD, coinciding with that station's affiliation switch from UPN to MyNetworkTV; this expanded on December 5, 2006 to include a two-hour extension of KUSA's weekday morning newscast from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and later to weekend morning newscasts at 6:00 a.m. on KTVD. During the November 2007 sweeps period, KCNC's newscasts surged over KUSA in the 5:00 p.m. timeslot for the first time in over a decade, that station also overtook KUSA in overall sign-on to sign-off numbers (this is partially due to KCNC's shift towards investigative reports and human interest stories, though the strength of CBS' primetime lineup and viewership declines for NBC primetime also played a factor). Overall, KUSA remains the highest-rated local news outlet in the market despite a very close ratings battle between it, KCNC-TV and KMGH-TV.
On March 6, 2009, KUSA began streaming its noon newscast on the station's website, with a live chat room feature included next to the streaming player (the station now streams all newscasts seen on KUSA and KTVD). In June 2010, KUSA expanded its weekday morning newscast to 2½ hours with the addition of a half-hour at 4:30 a.m.; the KUSA-produced 9:00 p.m. newscast on KTVD also expanded to one hour that month. On February 20, 2012, KUSA updated its HD-ready set constructed in 2004 to feature a new backdrop for its daytime newscasts that is a variant of its evening backdrop photograph in a daytime setting. On June 3 of that year, KUSA's newscasts were relocated to a temporary set in "Studio B" for two weeks while their primary news set received updated duratrans.
Notable former on-air staff
- Kevin Corke - sports anchor/reporter (1989–1999; now at ESPN)
- Heidi Collins - anchor/reporter (1999–2002; later anchor at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis)
- Tom Costello - reporter (1988–1994; now with NBC News as a correspondent for NBC Nightly News and MSNBC)
- Amelia Rose Earhart - weekday traffic reporter and fill-in weather anchor (2007–2009 and 2010–2014; now president and CEO of FWA Aviation)
- Monica Gayle - anchor (1980s; now anchor at WJBK in Detroit)
- Phil Keating - lead reporter (1994–2000; now at Fox News Channel)
- Bill Kuster - weather anchor (1979–1996; deceased)
- Cristina Mendonsa - anchor/reporter (1991–1995; now at sister station KXTV in Sacramento, California)
- Regis Philbin - fill-in sports anchor (1974)
- Leon "Stormy" Rottman - chief meteorologist (1969–1988; deceased)
- Ed Sardella - weeknight anchor (1974–2000, 2003; now retired and living in Denver)
KUSA operates a large network of translators to relay its single to portions of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming within and adjacent to the Denver market (all translators on this list are in Colorado unless otherwise listed).
- "CCC plans to buy Mullins holdings." Broadcasting, April 12, 1971, pg. 37. 
- "Gannett goes from mostly newspapers to multiple media in one big deal." Broadcasting, May 15, 1978, pp. 26-27. 
- "FCC clears biggest deal ever." Broadcasting, June 11, 1979, pp. 19-20. 
- Carter, Bill (July 15, 1994). "CBS to Add Three Affiliates in Deal With Westinghouse". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
- CBS, NBC Changing Channels, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, November 22, 1994.
- CBS, NBC Changing Channels, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, November 22, 1994.
- Hofmeister, Sallie (August 2, 1995). "CBS Agrees to Buyout Bid by Westinghouse : Entertainment: $5.4-billion merger would create biggest TV, radio empire. But the deal faces obstacles.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
- RabbitEars TV Query for KUSA
- DTV Transition: Still not seeing a picture? KUSA 9 News, Denver, April 2009
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- cbs4denver.com – Jim Benemann
- "Kevin Corke Joins WTVJ As Julia Yarbough Replacement". 20 October 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "Tom Costello Bio". NBC News. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "Phil Keating Bio". Fox News. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "Bill Kuster". Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "Broadcast Professionals of Colorado Hall of Fame". Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "Everywhere Since 1952: Channel 9 memories: Ed Sardella". KUSA. 11 October 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- www.9news.com - KUSA official website
- www.gannett.com - Gannett Broadcasting
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KUSA
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KUSA-TV