WDAF-TV

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WDAF-TV
Fox 4 Kansas City logo.png
Kansas City, Missouri/
Kansas City, Kansas
United States
City of license Kansas City, Missouri
Branding Fox 4 (general)
Fox 4 News (newscasts)
Slogan Working for You (general/news)
The Calm During the Storm (weather)
Channels Digital: 34 (UHF)
Virtual: 4 (PSIP)
Subchannels 4.1 Fox
4.2 Antenna TV
Affiliations Fox
Owner Tribune Broadcasting
(WDAF License, Inc.)
First air date October 6, 1949 (1949-10-06)
Call letters' meaning unofficially means Why Dial Any Further?
(sequentially assigned to former AM sister)[1]
Former channel number(s) Analog:
4 (VHF, 1949–2009)
Former affiliations Primary:
NBC (1949–1994)
Secondary:
CBS (1949–1952)
DuMont (1949–1952)
ABC (1949–1953)
Transmitter power 1,000 kW
Height 295 m
Facility ID 11291
Transmitter coordinates 39°4′21.2″N 94°35′46.4″W / 39.072556°N 94.596222°W / 39.072556; -94.596222
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website fox4kc.com

WDAF-TV, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 34), is a Fox-affiliated television station serving Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company. WDAF maintains studio and transmitter facilities located on Summit Street in the Signal Hill section of Kansas City, Missouri. On cable, WDAF-TV is available on Time Warner Cable and SureWest channel 6, and AT&T U-verse channel 4.

WDAF also serves as an alternate Fox affiliate for the Saint Joseph market as the station's transmitter provides a city-grade signal in Saint Joseph proper. That market is primarily served by KNPN-LD (channel 26), which displaced WDAF-TV as the default Fox affiliate on area cable and satellite providers when it signed on the air on June 2, 2012[2][3] (the situation with WDAF and KNPN differs from that of Saint Joseph's ABC affiliate KQTV, whose market is alternately served by Kansas City-based ABC affiliate KMBC-TV (channel 9), both of those stations are carried on pay television providers in that market).

History[edit]

As an NBC affiliate[edit]

The station first signed on the air on October 16, 1949; it was the second television station to sign on in Missouri (after KSDK in St. Louis, which debuted in February 1947) and the first to sign on in the Kansas City market. It was founded by the Kansas City Star, which also owned WDAF radio (610 AM, now at 106.5 FM; the original AM frequency is now occupied by KCSP). WDAF-TV is among a handful of U.S. broadcast stations that is an exception to a rule set by the Federal Communications Commission which assigns callsigns starting with a "K" to stations located west of the Mississippi River and callsigns beginning with a "W" to stations east of the river. This is due to the fact that Kansas City was originally located east of the original "K"/"W" border distinction at the time that the WDAF call letters were assigned to both the radio and television stations.

It originally served as a primary NBC affiliate (owing to WDAF radio's longtime affiliation with the NBC Red Network) and held secondary affiliations with CBS, ABC and DuMont. Randall Jessee served as WDAF's first news anchor. Other notable staffers in its early years included the station's first weathercaster, Shelby Storck, and future Hollywood character actor Owen Bush, who served as an on-staff announcer during the early 1950s. For several years, WDAF's daily sign-on and sign-off was accompanied by a recording of Gordon MacRae's rendition of "The Lord's Prayer." CBS and DuMont programming moved to KMBC-TV (channel 9) when it signed on in August 1953. WDAF-TV shared the ABC affiliation with KMBC until that September, when KCMO-TV (channel 5, now KCTV) signed on as the network's original full-time Kansas City affiliate (KMBC and KCMO would swap affiliations two years later); this left channel 4 exclusively affiliated with NBC.

In 1953, the United States government began antitrust action against the Star over its ownership of WDAF-AM and WDAF-TV – an investigation that was reportedly opened at the behest of Harry S. Truman, who had a long-standing feud with the newspaper; the court ruled against the Star in 1955. After appeals failed, it signed a consent decree in 1957 requiring it to sell its broadcasting properties. The WDAF stations were sold to National-Missouri Broadcasters in 1958. In 1960, National-Missouri merged with Buffalo, New York-based Transcontinent Broadcasting. Under Transcontinent ownership, the two stations were joined by an FM sister at 102.1 (now KCKC). Transcontinent merged with Taft Broadcasting on April 1, 1964.

WDAF pre-empted moderate amounts of NBC programming, usually some daytime shows and an occasional primetime program. Among the notable pre-emptions were Days of Our Lives (which was pre-empted by the station from its 1965 debut until 1971), Dragnet (which was dropped by WDAF after the police procedural's first season, before returning in 1969 at the start of its third season on Saturday afternoons; eventually airing the show in pattern on Thursdays towards the end of its run) and I Dream of Jeannie (which the station began pre-empting partway through its first season in 1966, before clearing the show again in the fall of 1968).[4] Although NBC had long been less tolerant of preemptions than the other networks, it usually did not raise objections to WDAF's preemptions; between 1969 and 1971, most of the pre-empted NBC shows aired instead on independent station KCIT-TV (channel 50, now KPXE-TV).

On July 13, 1984, WDAF-TV became one of the first 20 NBC stations to receive the network's programs via satellite. In 1986, it also became the first television station in Kansas City to broadcast in stereo. On October 12, 1987, Taft was restructured into Great American Broadcasting after the company went through a hostile takeover by investors. By that year, WDAF had overtaken KMBC as the dominant station in Kansas City, as was the trend during this period at many NBC affiliates. In December 1993, Great American Broadcasting was restructured again after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and became known as Citicasters.

As a Fox station[edit]

On December 18, 1993, Fox outbid CBS for the rights to the NFL's National Football Conference television package.[5] Fox then signed a long-term deal with New World Communications on May 23, 1994 to affiliate with most of the company's major network affiliates, beginning that fall as affiliation contracts ended.[6] In the spring of 1994, Citicasters sold WDAF and KSAZ-TV in Phoenix to New World; Citicasters, meanwhile, retained ownership of WDAF radio (fellow Citicasters stations WBRC in Birmingham – due to FCC rules at the time which prohibited television duopolies as New World already purchased that market's NBC affiliate WVTM-TV from Argyle Television – and WGHP in High Point, North Carolina were placed in a blind trust and then sold directly to Fox in 1995).[7]

WDAF-TV affiliated with Fox on September 12, 1994 (three days after New World finalized its purchase of WDAF and KSAZ), ending its 45-year affiliation with NBC, which moved to Kansas City's original Fox affiliate, KSHB-TV (channel 41), on the condition that it run as much local news programming as WDAF did as an NBC affiliate. The switch ended channel 4's status as the unofficial "home" station of the Kansas City Chiefs (ironically in other New World markets, mainly where it bought or already owned CBS affiliates, stations continued their relationships with local NFL teams when Fox assumed the NFC rights). WDAF had aired most of the Chiefs' games since 1965, when NBC assumed rights to the American Football League (which became the American Football Conference upon the AFL-NFL merger in 1970). Of the former New World stations that switched to Fox, WDAF is one of two affiliates that is located in an AFC market (the other being WJW in Cleveland), and the only one involved in the deal that was an NBC affiliate (WVTM, now owned by Media General, and KNSD in San Diego, both of which New World later sold to NBC outright, remained with the network) – the other New World stations that joined Fox were previously affiliated with either CBS or ABC. The station added additional syndicated talk shows to round out its schedule.

Fox Television Stations bought ten of New World's stations in July 1996 (though the New World Communications name continued as a licensing purpose corporation for WDAF and its sister stations until 2007 under Fox, and from 2009 to 2011 under Local TV);[8] The purchase was finalized on January 22, 1997, making WDAF the first owned-and-operated station of a major network in Kansas City since DuMont briefly operated KCTY (channel 50, frequency now occupied by KPXE-TV) in 1954.[9] WDAF then changed its branding from "Newschannel 4" (which it adopted in April 1992 as an NBC affiliate) to "Fox 4" on January 26 (coinciding with Fox's telecast of Super Bowl XXXI).[9]

On December 22, 2007, Fox sold WDAF and seven other owned-and-operated stations[10] to Local TV (a broadcast holding company operated by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners); the sale was finalized on July 14, 2008.[11] On July 1, 2013, the Tribune Company (which formed a management company that operated both Tribune and Local TV's stations in 2008) acquired the Local TV stations for $2.75 billion;[12] the sale was completed on December 27.[13][14]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[15]
4.1 720p 16:9 WDAF DT Main WDAF-TV programming / Fox
4.2 480i 4:3 WDAF SD Antenna TV

On September 23, 2005, WDAF-TV's digital signal was upgraded to full-power high definition, as its HD signal strength was increased from 1.2 kW to 1000 kW. The station began carrying Antenna TV on digital subchannel 4.2 on February 13, 2011.[16][17]

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WDAF-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 4, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 34.[18] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 4.

Programming[edit]

WDAF-TV clears most of the Fox network schedule, however it delays the Saturday night Animation Domination High-Def block by a half-hour due to the station's 10:00 p.m. newscast. Syndicated programs broadcast by WDAF-TV include Live! with Kelly and Michael, Rachael Ray, The Queen Latifah Show, Celebrity Name Game, Family Feud, Judge Judy, and Wheel of Fortune (Jeopardy!, which is usually carried on the same station as Wheel in most markets, airs on KSHB-TV).

As with most of its sister stations under its former New World ownership, WDAF has always declined carriage of Fox's Saturday morning programming; it opted not to run the Fox Kids Monday-Saturday blocks upon joining the network (as it was structured as a program package syndicated by Fox, the network gave its affiliates the right of first refusal for the block, allowing an affiliate to drop Fox Kids if another station in that market was interested in carrying it; by 2001, affiliates were no longer required to run the Fox Kids lineup even if Fox had not secured another station to carry it). Fox Kids aired locally on KSMO-TV (channel 62, now a MyNetworkTV affiliate) from 1994 to 1998; KCWE (channel 29, now a CW affiliate) from 1998 to 1999; and finally – along with its successor blocks FoxBox and 4Kids TV – on KMCI-TV (channel 38) from 1999 to 2008 (WDAF aired syndicated children's programs in place of the block). Fox ended its network-supplied children's programming on December 28, 2008, replacing it thereafter with the paid programming block Weekend Marketplace, which is not carried by any station in the market. That block, in return, was replaced on September 13, 2014 with an E/I block, Xploration Station. Most Fox affiliates including WDAF-TV will be clearing this block, allowing the station to finally clear the entire Fox network schedule.

WDAF was the over-the-air flagship station of the Kansas City Royals from 1979 to 1992, long after many Big Three stations dropped regular coverage of local sports; it continues to carry any Royals games in the MLB on Fox package, which includes the 2014 World Series. The station also broadcast Kansas City Chiefs preseason games from 1997 to 1999, upgrading the local production presentation to network quality standards.

News operation[edit]

Fox 4 News logo. The numeric "4" has been used in one form or another since 1976, when the station was still an NBC affiliate.

WDAF-TV presently broadcasts 59½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with ten hours on weekdays, 4½ hours on Saturdays and five hours on Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among Kansas City's television stations. WDAF's Sunday 5:00 p.m. newscast is subject to preemption due to network sports coverage, as is standard with Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts (though the Saturday 5:00 p.m. newscast is usually delayed to 6:00 p.m. during baseball or college football coverage). WDAF-TV was the first station in Kansas City to use a helicopter for newsgathering; it operated "Sky Fox" for use in traffic reports, and coverage of breaking news and severe weather events until August 31, 2009. The station operates a Hummer called "Storm Fox" that is used to cover severe weather events. Since 2003, WDAF-TV maintains an investigative reporting unit, the "Fox 4 Problem Solvers", to investigate businesses that have ripped off local consumers and uncover various scams.

Dating back to its NBC affiliation, channel 4 has long battled KMBC-TV (and at times, KCTV as well) for the most-watched newscast in the Kansas City market. During the late 1970s and 1980s, WDAF-TV's newscasts placed second behind KMBC, however it ended the latter decade in first place. Not long after WDAF switched to Fox in 1994, KMBC made a short resurgence to #1 in the market. WDAF's newscasts have rotated between first and second place with either KMBC or KCTV in various timeslots since the late 1990s.

After WDAF became a Fox affiliate in 1994, the station adopted a news-intensive schedule, increasing its news programming output from about 30 hours a week to nearly 50 hours. The station retained all of its existing newscasts, but it expanded its weekday morning newscast from one to three hours (with two hours added from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m.); extended the half-hour noon newscast to one hour; bridged the weeknight 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. newscasts into a 90-minute early evening news block (by adding a half-hour newscast at 5:30); and added an hour-long primetime newscast at 9:00 p.m., which leads into the existing 10 p.m. newscast[19] (WDAF is one of several Fox stations that offer newscasts in both the final hour of primetime and the traditional late news timeslot, one of the few affiliated with the network that runs a 10:00 p.m. (or 11:00 p.m.) newscast seven nights a week and one of the few to continue its Big Three-era 10:00 p.m. newscast after switching to Fox). In 1996, WDAF reformatted its 5:30 p.m. newscast as Your World Tonight, which was modeled similarly to the national news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC, and focused on national and international stories; the concept was not successful, and the 5:30 p.m. broadcast was retooled as a traditional local newscast on January 6, 1997.[20]

In April 2007, Topeka, Kansas Fox affiliate KTMJ-CA began simulcasting the 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. block of WDAF's weekday morning newscast and its nightly 9:00 p.m. newscast (ironically, the over-the-air signals of WDAF-TV and several other Kansas City area stations adequately cover the Topeka market). The simulcasts were dropped in November 2008, and replaced with locally-based newscasts produced by NBC affiliate KSNT after its owners at the time, New Vision Television, bought KTMJ.

WDAF became the fourth (and last) television station in the Kansas City market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition on October 12, 2010.[21] On March 24, 2011, the station expanded its weekday morning newscast to five hours, with the addition of an hour at 9:00 a.m.;[22] then on April 11, it became the first Fox station (and one of only a handful of stations in the Central and Mountain time zones) to expand its 10:00 p.m. newscast to one hour.[23] On October 3, 2011, WDAF expanded its weekday morning newscast to 5½ hours, with a half-hour added at 4:30 a.m.[24]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Callsign Meaning
  2. ^ Fox station to debut on June 2, St. Joseph News-Press, May 17, 2012.
  3. ^ Fox 26 KNPN Coverage Area
  4. ^ The Little Station That Couldn't
  5. ^ CBS, NBC Battle for AFC Rights // Fox Steals NFC Package, Chicago Sun-Times (via HighBeam Research), December 18, 1993.
  6. ^ "Fox Gains 12 Stations in New World Deal". Chicago Sun-Times. May 23, 1994. Retrieved June 1, 2013. 
  7. ^ Citicasters, Inc., announces completion of sale of three television stations
  8. ^ Lowry, Brian (July 18, 1996). "New World Vision : Murdoch's News Corp. to Buy Broadcast Group". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 22, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "WDAF to become 'Fox 4' in wake of network takeover". Kansas City Star. January 23, 1997. Retrieved June 26, 2011. 
  10. ^ News Corporation
  11. ^ Oak Hill Capital Partners Completes Acquisition of 8 TV Station sales
  12. ^ Channick, Robert (July 1, 2013). "Acquisition to make Tribune Co. largest U.S. TV station operator". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  13. ^ Company Completes Final Steps of Transaction Announced in July, Tribune Company, December 27, 2013.
  14. ^ Tribune Closes Local TV Holdings Purchase, TVNewsCheck, December 27, 2013.
  15. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WDAF
  16. ^ WDAF to Launch 'Antenna TV' Channel
  17. ^ Antenna TV affiliate website<
  18. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  19. ^ "Panelists on the future of TV news", St. Louis Journalism Review, December 1, 1994. Retrieved March 16, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  20. ^ "Channel 4 kills 'national' newscast, shuffles programs". Kansas City Star. January 5, 1997. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  21. ^ Fox 4 enters the HD era — finally Kansas City Star, October 10, 2010. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  22. ^ FOX 4 News Introduces New 9 a.m. Show
  23. ^ WDAF Expands 10 P.M. News to Full Hour
  24. ^ Fox 4 is Last in KC market to move to 4:30 AM start
  25. ^ a b c d e Landsberg, John (17 October 2012). "WDAF-TV Celebrates its 63rd Anniversary". Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  26. ^ Shuler, Deardra. "Harris Faulkner: Facing Her Past on ‘A Current Affair’". Retrieved 13 March 2013. 

External links[edit]