|Satellite of KFNB and KTWO-TV,|
|Channels||Digital: 10 (VHF)|
|Branding||Wyoming's Fox TV|
|Owner||Coastal Television |
(Front Range Television LLC)
First air date
|December 22, 1957|
Former call signs
NBC (1980–1984; partial, 1984–1986)
Call sign meaning
|First National Entertainment|
(abortive owner in the late 1980s)
|HAAT||526 m (1,726 ft)|
Public license information
KFNE, virtual and VHF digital channel 10, is a television station licensed to Riverton, Wyoming, United States. The station is owned by Front Range Television LLC. KFNE's transmitter is located atop Boysen Peak northeast of Riverton, broadcasting the signals of Fox affiliate KFNB and commonly managed ABC affiliate KTWO-TV from Casper.
While KFNE is currently a satellite station, it operated on its own between 1957 and 1984. For most of that time, the station was based in Thermopolis, though the city of license was always Riverton. In 1984, principals involved with this station started channel 20 at Casper, which the Riverton station has relayed ever since.
Channel 10 began broadcasting December 22, 1957, as KWRB-TV. It was originally owned by Mildred V. and Joseph P. Ernst, doing business as Chief Washakie TV. The Ernsts owned multiple stations in different cities in central Wyoming, including Thermopolis, Riverton and Worland. Described as the "first small-town TV station" in the United States, KWRB-TV carried programs from all three major networks.
Operating a television station in a rural and rugged region such as the Big Horn Basin was difficult. Unable to afford a network feed, it relied on a microwave link to KOOK-TV (now KTVQ) in Billings, Montana. KTWO-TV in Casper, which had signed on in August did not cooperate; the Ernsts blamed boosters of that station for hindering channel 10. They also blamed early cable systems, long before it became apparent that cable (and later, satellite) were all but essential for acceptable television in much of Wyoming. The venture was not profitable, having lost $60,000 in 1958. The Ernsts successfully fought efforts to provide signals by microwave to local cable systems on the grounds that they would adversely impact KWRB-TV's financial condition.
However, Wyoming's harsh winters represented the station's most significant operating challenge. From December to April, an engineer had to live atop Boysen Peak because snowdrifts blocked the road to the site. A November 1959 storm shattered a large window at the transmitter building, filling it with snow and rocks, while winds lifted part of the roof off. In 1961, an engineer returning to the mountain after having dental work performed in town went missing and was found by police, his station wagon having skidded into a snowbank. Less than a year later, two men supplying the site with butane gas had to walk the final two miles (3 km) to the top when their truck stalled. In 1963, a plane carrying unrelated personnel to the top of the mountain crashed in −17 °F (−27 °C) conditions, and the occupants took shelter at the transmitter site, the only shelter in a radius of 18 miles (29 km).
Sale and operation as KTNW
In the late 1970s, citing age and health, the Ernsts put their last broadcast holdings, KWRB-TV and KRTR radio at Thermopolis, on the market. A deal was reached in January 1978 to sell KWRB-TV to Strang Telecasting for $650,000. However, a petition to deny filing from Associated Christian Broadcasters delayed approval of the sale; having not been concluded in a year, the Ernsts canceled the contract and sought another buyer. Strang sued the Ernsts, who won a unanimous decision in May 1980 from the Wyoming Supreme Court upholding their action.
KWRB-TV continued to operate, though the danger inherent in operating a television station in such a rugged region remained. In 1979, an engineer living at the Boysen Peak site was attempting to repair equipment when he was electrocuted; the station did not find out until it failed to sign on the next morning.
In early 1980, the Ernsts found a buyer in Hi Ho Broadcasting, which purchased KWRB-TV for $700,000 in March 1980 and also bought WDHN-TV in Dothan, Alabama, at the same time. The new owners moved aggressively to improve the station. The call letters were changed to KTNW on June 1, 1980; plans were made to move the main studios from Thermopolis to Riverton and double the station's power; and a channel 20 translator at Casper was activated on August 12, 1980. The new translator doubled channel 10's viewership at one stroke. As one era began, another ended: the next day, Mildred V. Ernst died at the age of 79.
Between 1980 and 1984, the station was an exclusive NBC affiliate.
As a satellite of KXWY-TV/KFNB
Catherine Malatesta, one of the part-owners of KTNW, also owned a part of Casper Channel 20, Inc., which held a construction permit for a new channel 20 station at Casper. When that station began operations on October 31, 1984 as KXWY-TV, it merged with the Hi Ho station, which had changed its call letters to KFWY-TV that June. (The KTNW call letters have since been used by the PBS member station in Richland, Washington.)
In 1986, KXWY-TV obtained an exclusive ABC affiliation for the Casper market. In time for the network change, and evidently reflecting the station's planned future ownership by First National Broadcasting, a subsidiary of First National Entertainment—KXWY-TV and its satellite stations became KFNB, KFNE (in Riverton) and KFNR (in Rawlins) in August 1986.
The First National sale collapsed in April 1989 when the company defaulted on a loan secured with the station's equipment, leaving KFNB and its satellites off air for nine months. While the company never acquired KFNB itself, First National ended up with new licenses to replace those held by Stanton's interests for KFNE and KFNR; Wyomedia acquired the pair in 2007 for $30,000 in total debt forgiveness.
KFNB became a secondary affiliate of Fox in 1994, airing prime time programming in off hours and its Sunday football games. As the result of an affiliation shuffle in Casper, KFNB and its satellites became a full-time Fox affiliate on March 8, 2004.
Sale attempt and completed sale
Wyomedia Corporation agreed to sell its stations to Legacy Broadcasting on February 8, 2018. The deal would have created a duopoly between KFNB and KTWO-TV, which Legacy would have concurrently acquired from Silverton Broadcasting Company; in its filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Legacy stated that the duopoly was permissible because KFNB was the fifth-ranked station in the Casper–Riverton market, trailing sister station KWYF-LD as well as KTWO, KCWY-DT, and KGWC-TV. The sale was canceled on October 2, 2018.
On October 8, 2019, Wyomedia announced that it would sell its stations to Front Range Television, a subsidiary of Coastal Television Broadcasting Company (run by Bill Fielder); the sale was concurrent with Big Horn Television's purchase of KGWC-TV and Vision Alaska's purchase of KTWO-TV. Coastal Television and Vision Alaska (run by Stephen Brissette) already jointly operated stations in Alaska. The sale was completed on June 1, 2020.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming |
|10.1||720p||16:9||KFNE||Main KFNE programming / Fox|
|10.2||480i||4:3||KTWO||Simulcast of KTWO-TV / ABC|
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- FCC History Cards for KFNE
- "Thermopolis TV Station To Be Ready by July 1". Casper Morning Star. p. 5. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
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- "Channel 20 resumed broadcasting Tuesday". Casper Star-Tribune. January 24, 1990. p. A3. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "Transactions". RBR. April 23, 2007. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
- Gullberg, Ron (April 29, 1994). "KNFB-TV [sic] expands presence in market". Casper Star-Tribune. pp. A1, A12. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- Burke, Brendan (February 24, 2004). "KTWO, KFNB programs to change March 8". Casper Star-Tribune. pp. B1, B2. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "Application for Consent to Assignment of Broadcast Station Construction Permit or License". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. February 12, 2018. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
- Liberman, Howard; Buckman, Sally (October 2, 2018). "Request For Withdrawal or Dismissal of Assignment Applications" (PDF). CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
- Learned, Nick (October 9, 2019). "21 Wyoming TV Stations to be Sold in 3 Transactions". K2 Radio. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
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