|Wichita Falls, Texas/Lawton, Oklahoma
Texoma CW (on DT2)
|Slogan||Always Looking Out for You|
|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
6.2 The CW
|Affiliations||CBS (secondary through 1956)|
(operated through JSA and SSA by Drewry Communications Group; sale to American Spirit Media pending; to be operated through SSA by Raycom Media thereafter)
(Hoak Media of Wichita Falls License, LLC)
|First air date||March 1, 1953|
|Former callsigns||KWFT-TV (1953–1956)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
6 (VHF, 1953–2009)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
KAUZ-TV, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 22), is the CBS-affiliated television station located in Wichita Falls, Texas, United States, and also serves Lawton, Oklahoma. The station is owned by the Hoak Media, and is operated through joint sales and shared services agreements by Drewry Communications Group, this makes KAUZ a sister station to ABC affiliate KSWO-TV (channel 7). The station's studios and transmitter are located on Seymour Highway in Wichita Falls. Its signal is relayed through translator station K29FR-D in Quanah, Texas.
KAUZ signed on March 1, 1953 as KWFT-TV, the television arm of KWFT (620 AM, now KMKI). The station has served as the CBS affiliate for the Wichita Falls-Lawton television market since its inception; although in the mid-1950s, the station also carried DuMont programs and during the late 1950s, the station was briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. KWFT sold the television station in 1956 to Sydney Grayson, at which time channel 6's call letters were changed to KSYD-TV. The station's calls then changed to KAUZ-TV in July 1963, following a subsequent transfer of ownership. KAUZ-TV was also one of several stations nationwide to broadcast The Las Vegas Show, a short-lived late night program from the ill-fated Overmyer Network that ran for a few weeks in 1967.
On the afternoon of April 3, 1964 as a devastating tornado swept across the northern portion of Wichita Falls and neighboring Sheppard Air Force Base, KAUZ-TV broadcast one of the first tornadoes ever to shown on live television. The station interrupted regular programming to provide a live tornado warning in which the image of the funnel was shown on the station's weather radar by then-meteorologist Ted Shaw, and a large and heavy studio camera was dragged outside the Channel 6 studios on Seymour Highway and pointed toward the tornado as it approached the northwest portion of Wichita Falls. That tornado killed seven people and injured over 100 others. Damage estimates exceeded $15 million and some 225 homes and businesses were destroyed on the north side of town and at Sheppard AFB.
About 15 years later on April 10, 1979, an even more devastating F4 tornado hit the southwest side of Wichita Falls. KAUZ's then-chief meteorologist Rich Segal was on the air that afternoon and evening with complete coverage of the storms that culminated with the opening of the 6 p.m. broadcast of Eyewitness News as multiple tornadoes had reached the southwest corner of the city and began their path of destruction. About less than five minutes into the newscast KAUZ-TV and other Wichita Falls area television and radio stations were knocked off the air due to power outages resulting from the damaging storms. The twister killed 42 people and injured more than 1,700 along a 45-mile long and two-mile wide path. Besides the terrible human costs, 3,100 homes were destroyed, with an estimated 20,000 people left homeless. The total damage in Wichita Falls was around $400 million. A year later, Channel 6 broadcast a documentary about the 1979 tornado including the events of that day leading to the storm, the destruction and aftermath based upon the station's news footage from a year earlier along with progress of recovery efforts as of April 1980.
KAUZ was the first television station in the Wichita Falls-Lawton market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in color, beginning in February 1966, just a few months after CBS began converting most of its network schedule from black-and-white to color. KFDX and KSWO followed with color newscasts in 1967.
In July 1970, one man was killed and another was seriously injured after falling several hundred feet to the ground while painting the mast on the station's transmitter tower. The transmitter, located on the premises of the KAUZ studios, is said to be located on one of the highest points within the city of Wichita Falls.
Over the years, KAUZ was owned by such companies as Forward Communications, Adams Communications bought the station 1987, KAUZ was sold to Brissette Broadcasting in 1991 and Benedek Broadcasting in 1996. When Benedek declared bankruptcy in 2002, KAUZ was sold to Chelsey Broadcasting instead of Gray Television. In 2003, Chelsey sold KAUZ to Hoak Media.
In August 2009, Drewry Communications Group – owners of the market's ABC affiliate KSWO-TV – purchased the non-license assets of KAUZ from Hoak and took over the station's operations through joint sales and shared services agreements (unlike most virtual duopolies, KAUZ and KSWO's operations largely remain separate). The JSA and SSA resulted in all four of the market's major network-affiliated stations – as well as the affiliates of all six of the largest English-language networks – now being operated by two entities (Nexstar Broadcasting Group owns NBC affiliate KFDX, while operating Mission Broadcasting-owned Fox affiliate KJTL and MyNetworkTV affiliate KJBO-LP through a shared services agreement). In February 2014, Hoak reached a deal to sell KAUZ's license assets to KAUZ Media, Inc., a company controlled by Bill W. Burgess, Jr.; the agreements with KSWO will continue. This came after Hoak sold its other television properties to Gray Television in November 2013.
However, on August 5, 2015, the sale to KAUZ Media, Inc. was dismissed as a result of Raycom Media's purchase of Drewry Communications; as a result, KAUZ would instead be sold to American Spirit Media (a Charlotte, North Carolina-based company headed by Thomas B. Henson). While KSWO and KAUZ will remain jointly operated, the existing joint sales agreement between with KAUZ will be terminated upon the sale's closure due to FCC rules prohibiting such agreements by counting the sale of 15% or more of advertising time by one station to a competing junior partner station in the JSA as a duopoly in violation with the agency's ownership rules (the Wichita Falls-Lawton market has only four full-power television stations, four fewer than that allowed to legally form a duopoly); upon the JSA's termination, Raycom will enter into a shared services agreement with KAUZ, under which KSWO will handle news production, administrative and production operations, and equipment and building space for that station.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|6.1||1080i||16:9||KAUZ-DT||Main KAUZ-TV programming / CBS|
In March 2009, KAUZ requested that it shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, on May 21 instead of the federally-determined date of June 12. 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 UHF channel 22. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 6. Prior to the digital transition, KAUZ's audio signal could be heard on 87.7 MHz on the FM band in Wichita Falls and surrounding areas, though at a slightly lower volume than other FM radio stations due to TV modulation standards.
Donna's Notebook, an interview segment hosted by Donna Colburn, was a longtime fixture of the station's 12 p.m. newscast during the 1960s and early 1970s. An interview segment similar to Donna's Notebook, which is used mostly to promote local and area events, is still an integral part of KAUZ's noon newscast to this day. Also included in the station's noon newscast during the 1960s and 1970s was a five-minute televised insert of Paul Harvey News and Comments that was syndicated to television stations nationwide.
Named for the station's call letters was a children's show entitled Kauzey's Korner or Kauzmo's Kolorful Kartoons, which aired on channel 6 weekday afternoons from 1963 to 1967. One show is reported to have introduced country singer Willie Nelson to the television-viewing public for the first time. "Kauzmo" was played by Ronald "Cosmo" Gresham, two-time Hawaii Big Island mayoral candidate and one-time County Council candidate who was likely the most outspoken political activist ever to come to Hawaii. "Kauzmo" later became known as "Cosmo", doing a public access cable television show featuring news, political commentary, law study, spirituality, music (often played by Cosmo himself on flute or other instruments he made himself) and guest interviews; the show once had the Dalai Lama of Tibet as a guest. The show was called "Cosmic Express" (named after his Cosmic Express newsletter), which ran three nights per week, Friday, Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m. local prime time on Jones Spacelink/Hawaiian Cablevision of Hilo Public Resources channel 2 in the Hilo and Puna areas of the Big Island of Hawaii.
KAUZ was one of many stations to broadcast the syndicated news/feature program PM Magazine, which included both national and local inserts, from 1979 to 1982. It was broadcast at 6:30 p.m. weeknights on channel 6 following the station's 6 p.m. newscast.
KAUZ presently broadcasts 21½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 3½ hours on weekdays and two hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). KAUZ also produces a half-hour 9 p.m. newscast on its CW-affiliated digital subchannel; this newscast competes against the KFDX-produced 9 p.m. news on Fox affiliate KJTL. The station's newscasts, which are currently branded as Newschannel 6, has also been known in the past under such titles as Newsreel 6, Channel 6 News, Newscope, 6 News First, CBS 6 News, KAUZ News and Eyewitness News.
Among the Wichita Falls-Lawton market's local newscasts, KAUZ primarily competes for the Texas audience with KFDX, while KSWO has a ratings stronghold on the Oklahoma side of the market. For the July 2008 ratings period, according to Nielsen Media Research, KAUZ was ranked last in all time slots (except at noon, where KAUZ's newscast in that slot was in second place to its only news competition in that timeslot, KFDX). KAUZ was third for the rest of day, with its 5, 6 and 10 p.m. broadcasts. These trends continued in the November 2008 and November 2009 ratings period. For February 2010, the newly rebranded KAUZ saw a drop in ratings. The weekend shows in particular saw a drop in audience share numbers by nearly half. The morning shows continued to not rank in viewership in the diary book, and all evening shows remain a distant third in the Lawton-Wichita Falls market.
In the 2010 ratings periods, including February, May, July and November, Nielsen Media Research reported that KAUZ's news programming continued to struggle in all time slots. The morning newscasts in particular continued in a distant third place behind its other in-market competitors. The May ratings also revealed severe weather coverage is dominated by KSWO, with low ratings for KAUZ during tornado events in early May 2010.
Lynn Walker, who served as anchor and news director at KAUZ from 1972 to 1986 and again from 1999 to 2003, is among the longest-tenured news anchors in the Wichita Falls-Lawton television market, which also included a stint at KSWO-TV from 1996 to 1999. Walker then became the city editor at the Wichita Falls Times Record News.
In 1977, KAUZ became the area's first station to feature a male/female co-anchor team for its newscasts (a trend then sweeping television stations in media markets nationwide), when Walker was teamed up with co-anchor Kay Shannon on the 6 and 10 p.m. broadcasts, beginning a nine-year tenure in which KAUZ-TV took first place in local news ratings against rivals KFDX-TV and KSWO-TV. Longtime sports anchor Bill Jackson joined the team by early 1978, followed by meteorologist Rich Segal that spring. This winning anchor team would enjoy a long (for a small market station) tenure of eight years until 1986 when Walker, Shannon and Jackson left KAUZ-TV though Rich Segal would soldier on another four years until his departure in 1990.
Chris Horgen, who assumed co-anchor duties of for the 6 and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts in 2007, had previously served as sports director for several years. Andy Austin, who previously served as the station's sports director during the 1990s, returned to that position at KAUZ in April 2007 after serving as sports information director for the past several years at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, and stayed at channel 6 until May 2008. Former weekend sports anchor Jermaine Ferrell assumed duties as sports director until early 2009, and then that position was vacant until Adam Ostrow was hired later in the year.
Despite its switch to high definition newscasts in 2012, KAUZ remained a distant third place for all time slots during that year's ratings periods. Part of the reason may be the JSA/SSA with usually-dominant KSWO, which is always favored before KAUZ. This parallels the situation that occurred in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre market, where that market's WBRE-TV all but emasculated WYOU to the point that WYOU suspended its newscasts entirely for three years beginning in 2009 (though it should be noted that KAUZ's decline has been occurring long before the LMA with KSWO began).
Notable former on-air staff
- "Wednesday TV Log". Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, TX). 1954-12-29. pp. 7B.
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films". Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956.
- Advertisement: The Lawton Constitution (Lawton, OK), Feb. 11, 1966 pg. 20
- "Plunge fatal for painter, one escapes:" Lawton Constitution and Morning Press, (Lawton, OK) July 12, 1970 pg. 1, 4A
- "Application for Consent to Assignment of Broadcast Station Construction Permit or License". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. February 12, 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
- Harry A. Jessell (August 10, 2015). "Raycom Buying Drewry For $160 Million". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
- Lynn Walker (August 11, 2015). "KAUZ, KSWO to change ownership". Wichita Falls Times-Record News (Journal Media Group). Retrieved August 12, 2015.
- RabbitEars TV Query for KAUZ
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- KAUZ station website
- KAUZ-DT2 website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KAUZ
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KAUZ-TV