KOKH-TV

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KOKH-TV
KOKH-TV Logo.png
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
United States
Branding Fox 25 (general)
Fox 25 News (newscasts)
Slogan We've Got Your Back (newscasts)
The Calm in the Storm (weather)
Channels Digital: 24 (UHF)
Virtual: 25 (PSIP)
Translators K16IR-D Sayre
K42AG-D Strong City
K44IW-D Hollis
K49KK-D Elk City
Affiliations .1: Fox
.2: Charge!
.3: Stadium
Owner Sinclair Broadcast Group
(possible resale to another owner to be determined if Sinclair's acquisition of Tribune Media is approved)
(KOKH Licensee, LLC)
First air date February 2, 1959; 58 years ago (1959-02-02)
Call letters' meaning OKlaHoma
Sister station(s) KOCB
Former channel number(s) Analog:
25 (UHF, 1959–2009)
Former affiliations Primary:
Educational independent (1959–1979)
Independent (general entertainment) (1979–1990)
DT2:
ZUUS Country (2010–2014)
Grit (2014–2017)
DT3:
WeatherNation TV (2014–2017)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 475.8 m (1,561 ft)
Facility ID 35388
Transmitter coordinates 35°32′57.6″N 97°29′18.8″W / 35.549333°N 97.488556°W / 35.549333; -97.488556Coordinates: 35°32′57.6″N 97°29′18.8″W / 35.549333°N 97.488556°W / 35.549333; -97.488556
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website okcfox.com

KOKH-TV, virtual channel 25 (UHF digital channel 24), is a Fox-affiliated television station located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate KOCB (channel 34). The two stations share studio and transmitter facilities located on East Wilshire Boulevard on the city's northeast side (situated to the adjacent east of the respective studio facilities of the duopoly of CBS affiliate KWTV-DT [channel 9] and MyNetworkTV affiliate KSBI [channel 52], and the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority [OETA] PBS member network).

On cable, the station is available on Cox Communications channel 12 and digital channel 712 in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, and on channels 12 or 13 on most other cable systems (as well as on AT&T U-verse, and satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network, all of which carry KOKH on its over-the-air virtual channel) in the market.

History[edit]

As a non-commercial educational station[edit]

KOKH-TV first signed on the air on February 2, 1959. The station was founded by Independent School District No. 89 of Oklahoma County (now Oklahoma City Public Schools), which acquired the construction permit and license to UHF channel 25 from the Republic Television and Radio Company for no monetary consideration on July 25, 1958, during protracted bankruptcy hearings for the Republic-owned predecessor occupant of channel 25, ABC affiliate KTVQ (which operated from November 1, 1953 until it was forced off the air by court order on December 15, 1955). Although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reserved the UHF channel 25 allocation in Oklahoma City for commercial broadcasting purposes, the school district proposed upon acquiring the permit to operate it as a non-commercial educational independent station.[1][2] The district requested to apply the KOKH call letters assigned at the time to its public radio station on 88.9 FM (now KYLV) to the television station. KOKH originally operated from studio facilities based out of the district's Broadcasting Center on North Ellison Avenue and Northwest 17th Street in the city's Mesta Park neighborhood, which also served as a production facility for National Educational Television affiliate KETA-TV (channel 13, now a PBS member station), which the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) signed on as Oklahoma's first educational television station in April 1956.[3]

Channel 25's programming consisted of instructional and lecture-based telecourse programs televised in cooperation with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, which offered the course subjects attributable for college credit. In the summer of 1970, KOKH became the last television station in the Oklahoma City market to transmit programming in color, after Independent School District No. 89 received RCA color transmission equipment – including three studio cameras, two videotape recorders, two film systems and two switchers – worth around $500,000.[4]

As a commercial independent station[edit]

In the fall of 1978, Oklahoma City Public Schools sought for a buyer for KOKH, as it felt that the station's operating expenses (which averaged $300,000 per year) outran its benefits to the district and could be better redirected to raise teacher salaries. The district also struggled to raise $350,000 in matching funds to replace its existing transmitter and broadcast tower; studies conducted by the district had indicated that area teachers seldom used the station's instructional programming for classroom credit. On December 14, 1978, the station was sold for $3.5 million to New York City-based John Blair & Co., which outbid two groups that were competing for FCC permission to broadcast on UHF channel 14 at that time: commercial station operator The Outlet Company and the noncommercial religious Trinity Broadcasting Network (which would sign on KTBO-TV on channel 14 in March 1981).[5][6][7][8] Blair converted KOKH to a general entertainment format at 6:00 a.m. on October 1, 1979, becoming the first commercial independent station in Oklahoma; the switch left OETA flagship KETA-TV as Oklahoma City's sole educational television station. KOKH operated as a typical UHF independent, featuring a mix of cartoons, classic sitcoms, religious programs, and a limited amount of sports programming as well as certain network programs that were preempted by KTVY (channel 4, now KFOR-TV), KOCO-TV (channel 5) and KWTV (channel 9) for local or syndicated programming (among them, the NBC soap opera Search for Tomorrow, which KTVY preempted from 1982 to 1985,[9] and Nightline, which ABC contracted KOKH-TV to carry Nightline live-to-air from September 1983 to February 1985, after KOCO attempted to push the newsmagazine to a post-midnight slot[10][11]). Feature films were heavily emphasized on the station's schedule during this period, to the point that, until 1986, it was promoted as "Oklahoma's Great[est] Movie Station"; KOKH typically carried four films per day Monday through Friday – two each in the afternoon, and one to two films per night in prime time – and five to six films per day each weekend.[12]

KOKH gained a competitor exactly one month later on November 1, when a venture of General Media Corp. and Oklahoma City Broadcasting, Inc. signed on the similarly formatted KGMC (channel 34, now CW-affiliated sister station KOCB). This was followed by the launch of KAUT (channel 43) on September 24, 1980, a station founded by Golden West Broadcasters that initially featured an all-news format during the daytime hours and programming from subscription service Video Entertainment Unlimited (VEU) at night, before transitioning to a general entertainment format almost a year later. By that point, the Oklahoma City market had three commercial independents that each competed for the best syndicated programming. During the early 1980s, KOKH extended its over-the-air coverage throughout most of western and north-central Oklahoma through the sign-on of low-power UHF translators in Elk City, Hollis, Erick, Strong City, Woodward, Ponca City and Ardmore as well as a repeater in Quanah, Texas.[13] Because of its status as the strongest of Oklahoma City's three independent stations, in the spring of 1986, KOKH was approached by News Corporation to become a charter affiliate of the Fox Broadcasting Company in advance of the network's October launch. However, channel 25 turned the offer down, as station management believed that taking the affiliation would complicate its movie-focused evening schedule. Fox subsequently approached Rollins Communications, then-owner of KAUT, which reached an agreement for channel 43 to become its Oklahoma City affiliate on July 25.[12][14]

In July 1986, John Blair & Co. was approached by private equity firm Reliance Capital Group to initiate a friendly takeover of the group; Reliance submitted a tender offer to acquire 61% of Blair's 11.5 million common shares for $31 per share, and subsequently exchange all remaining shares for a 15-year debenture at a $20.75 face value (along with 2.5 shares in Blair's direct-to-mail marketing subsidiary Advo-System Inc.); Blair also offered to pay a $1.50 dividend on each of the unacquired shares, if Reliance completed the tender offer acquisition.[15] Blair considered the offer to prevent a hostile takeover by minority stockholder Macfadden Holdings, as company shareholders were concerned about ideological conflicts with Macfadden's adult-oriented publications (McFadden planned to use the proceeds from its 1985 sale of pornographic magazine Cheri to acquire full control of Blair).[16][17] The FCC denied Reliance's attempt to appoint a trustee to obtain stock and facilitate the takeover, pending a qualification review; Macfadden subsequently filed a stay motion – which was granted by a New York Appeals Court that August – to require Reliance Capital to return all Blair stock to the company's shareholders.[18][19][20]

On November 5, 1986, in a corprorate restructuring to focus on expanding its Spanish language network NetSpan and to pay off debt incurred by Reliance's purchase of the group, Blair sold KOKH, and NBC affiliates KSBW-TV in Salinas and KSBY in San Luis Obispo, California to Nashville-based Gillett Communications for $86 million; the sale was finalized on December 31.[21][22][23][24] Gillett subsequently transferred KOKH, Fox affiliate WRLH-TV in Richmond, Virginia, NBC affiliate WEAU-TV in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and CBS affiliates KOLN in Lincoln, Nebraska (as well as Grand Island satellite KGIN) and WWMT in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Busse Broadcast Communications – founded by former Gillett president Lawrence A. Busse, and operated as a trust company held by the children of George N. Gillett – to address ownership restrictions related to Gillett's purchase of a majority stake in Storer Communications; the transaction was finalized on August 27.[25][26]

Aborted sale to Pappas Telecasting[edit]

Although Oklahoma City was just barely a top-40 Nielsen market at the time, the number of households with television sets in the 34-county market area was not nearly large enough for what were essentially three independent stations; the supply of first-run and acquired programming on the syndication market was also insufficient to completely fill the schedules of KOKH, KGMC and KAUT. In September 1988, Visalia, California-based Pappas Telecasting announced that it would purchase KOKH from Busse for $9 million, plus liability assumptions of up to $7 million. The proposal included a plan to buy the assets of Heritage Media-owned KAUT (including its rights to the Fox affiliation) and Seraphim Media/Oklahoma City Broadcasting-owned KGMC for $14.25 million and $3.6 million, respectively. Heritage would then donate KAUT's license and transmitter facilities to OETA for $1 million, while Seraphim would sell KGMC to Maddox Broadcasting, which would have switched that station to feature a mix of religious programs as well as Home Shopping Network (HSN) programming (which the station already carried as overnight filler through the Home Shopping Spree service). Pappas would also lease the KAUT transmitter facility to OETA for 25 years at $1 per year, and make a $1-million contribution if the purchase was completed. OETA planned to help fund channel 43's conversion into a non-commercial educational station through start-up grants, including a $75,000 grant from KOCO-TV management.[27][28] Pappas also planned to change the station's call letters to KOKC-TV (the KOKC calls are now used by a news/talk radio station on 1520 AM). The plan was later revised when OETA filed an application with the FCC to purchase KGMC as a contingency measure, with the intent of having Heritage sell KAUT to a religious entity. The National Black Media Coalition filed a petition to deny on the basis that OETA did not qualify with an FCC policy allowing stations facing revocation of their licenses to sell them to a minority-led group at 75% of market value.[29][30][31][32]

Governor Henry Bellmon also disapproved of OETA's involvement, as he believed that it would put the authority – which stated that it did not have enough funds to adequately run the state network – in constant need of state funding to operate its existing stations and KGMC. Agreeing with his assessment, the OETA appropriation bill for FY1990 that went before the Oklahoma Legislature stipulated that the authority could not use state funds "for any operational or capital expense of the proposed second educational television channel in Oklahoma City," and that it could not seek additional funding appropriations to finance the acquisition and programming conversion if it did not obtain sufficient private funding to complete the transaction.[27][33][34] Governor Bellmon also called for a state audit of the authority to address allegations from an unnamed former employee that OETA management had misused public donations, and that employees were required to attend meetings for the OETA Foundation and worked for its pledge drives on state and additional uncompensated time.[35][36] Although the deal would receive FCC approval, on February 3, 1989, Busse formally terminated the agreement with Pappas, after company management denied Pappas' request to extend the completion deadline past January 31.[37][38] KOKH, KAUT and KGMC continued to compete as general entertainment independents for two more years. While KOKH remained relatively profitable and KAUT had seen its standing improve as a Fox affiliate, financially troubled KGMC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 1989, claiming a debt load of $3.37 million.[12][39][40]

As a Fox affiliate[edit]

In 1991, Heritage Media implemented a pared down version of the earlier Pappas proposal, resulting in the group switching stations in Oklahoma City. On April 23, Heritage announced that it would purchase KOKH-TV from Busse Broadcast Communications for $7 million. The agreement – contingent on approval of Heritage's acquisition of channel 25 – would include the donation of KAUT's license, transmitter and master control equipment to OETA and gave the authority a two-year option to purchase KAUT's remaining assets for $1.5 million.[27][41][42][33][43][44] On August 15, 1991, Heritage transferred KAUT's Fox programming rights and inventory of acquired programming over to KOKH, which began identifying itself as "KOKH Fox 25". The station also hired 30 of channel 43's former employees (including KAUT general manager Harlan Reams, who was appointed to the same position at KOKH), and acquired other equipment and intellectual property belonging to KAUT. Meanwhile, OETA – under a broadcasting pilot initiative between the authority's Board of Directors, the OETA Foundation Board of Trustees, Heritage Media, PBS, and Children's Television Workshop management, and funded in part with private contributions – converted channel 43 into a PBS member station, featuring a mix of PBS and syndicated public television programs repurposed from the OETA member network, along with additional children's, lifestyle and telecourse programs that could not be incorporated into OETA's main schedule (channel 43, which adopted the KTLC call letters in 1992, later reverted to an entertainment format as UPN affiliate KPSG in June 1998, following OETA's sale of the station to the Paramount Stations Group).[41][45][46][47][48]

KOKH was programmed as a de facto independent station for its first two years as a Fox affiliate, though not to the same extent as many Fox-affiliated stations were in the years following the network's 1986 launch; by the time the affiliation moved to channel 25, Fox was preparing to expand its prime time programming to five nights a week (adding programming on Thursdays and Fridays to join its existing Saturday and Sunday lineups). Still, until Fox began offering programming on a nightly basis with the addition of programming on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in January 1993, KOKH continued to air a movie at 7:00 p.m. on nights when network programs were not offered. The station also became less reliant on movies during this period, due to the growing cable television industry impacting the ability of broadcast stations to acquire film content. Channel 25 would also rely on the network's Fox Kids block for its children's programming inventory, resulting in many syndicated children's programs that KOKH had aired to occupy portions of the weekday daytime and Saturday morning time periods being relegated to early morning time slots as well as around the morning and afternoon network blocks.

In September 1996, Heritage Media – which commenced trading on the New York Stock Exchange the month before – asked for approval of a 2-for-1 forward stock split, which was later granted by stockholders. That fall, News Corporation expressed an interest in purchasing outstanding Heritage Media stock at $20.50 per share. On March 17, 1997, News Corporation announced that it would purchase Heritage's assets for $1.35 billion; News Corporation was mainly interested in purchasing Heritage's in-store marketing subsidiary ACTMEDIA, which, through its integration with the Rupert Murdoch-owned company's existing marketing operations, would turn it into the world's largest in-store marketing company. FCC approval was dependent upon Heritage divesting most or all of its stations, as the company's broadcast properties would put News Corporation over the defined 35% national market reach for an individual television station owner of that time (in 1997, News Corporation had operated 22 Fox owned-and-operated stations and one independent station through its Fox Television Stations subsidiary, twelve of which were then recently acquired from New World Communications).[49][50][51][52]

On July 16, 1997, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that it would buy Heritage's television and radio stations from News Corporation for $630 million. However, the deal would create ownership conflicts between Sinclair's existing television stations and Heritage's outlets in several cities, including Oklahoma City's KOCB, which Sinclair had acquired from Superior Communications in 1996.[53][54][55][56] At the time, FCC media ownership rules restricted broadcasters from owning more than one commercial television station in any market; however, since the agency did not count such agreements as de facto ownership, Sinclair initiated local marketing agreements – a radio-originated concept that it brought to television through the formation of a virtual duopoly between Fox affiliate WPGH-TV and independent station WPTT (now MyNetworkTV affiliate WPNT) in Pittsburgh in 1991 – to operate stations that it could not own legally in other markets. Through a series of sales made to address antitrust concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Justice's San Francisco field office over the deal, on August 7, 1997, the Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair sold channel 25 to Sullivan Broadcast Holdings for $60 million.[57][58][59] Three days after Sullivan finalized the KOKH purchase, on February 4, 1998, Sinclair reversed course on its earlier move to alleviate the conflict between KOKH and KOCB by exercising an option to buy channel 25 from Sullivan for $60 million; the deal preceded Sinclair's $100-million cash and debt acquisition of the entire 13-station Sullivan group on February 24, a deal which was finalized on July 1.[60][61][62][63] Under the terms, Sinclair began operating KOKH under a time brokerage agreement with Sullivan (which the company retained as a separate entity to operate KOKH and three other Sullivan-owned Fox affiliates, WTAT-TV in Charleston, South Carolina, WVAH-TV in Charleston, West Virginia and WRGT-TV in Dayton, Ohio). With KOCB acting as the senior partner, this arrangement placed KOKH in the unusual position of being the junior partner in a virtual duopoly with an affiliate of the lower-rated WB network (the Big Four network affiliate normally serves as the senior partner in most virtual or legal duopolies involving a station affiliated with a minor network).

In the spring of 1998, Glencairn, Ltd. announced that it would acquire KOKH, and transfer the LMA to that entity. The family of Sinclair Broadcast Group founder Julian Sinclair Smith owned 97% of Glencairn's stock (Glencairn was to be paid with Sinclair stock for the purchases), which would have effectively made the KOKH/KOCB combination a duopoly in violation of FCC rules of the time; Glencairn owned eleven television stations nationwide that Sinclair operated under local marketing agreements, and subsequently announced plans to sell five of its stations to Sinclair outright. This prompted the Rainbow/PUSH coalition to file petitions to the FCC to deny approval of the transaction, citing concerns over a single company holding two broadcast licenses in one market and arguing that Glencairn passed itself off as a minority-owned company (its president, former Sinclair executive Edwin Edwards, is African American) when it was really an arm of Sinclair that used the LMA to gain control of the station. Kelley International Licensing, a subsidiary of KWTV (channel 9) owner Griffin Television, also filed a complaint on similar grounds.[64][65][66][67][68][69] The FCC levied a $40,000 fine against Sinclair in December 2001 for illegally controlling Glencairn, although it chose to approve the acquisitions.[70][71] However, as noted in a 2003 ruling on the matter by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the issue involving KOKH was rendered somewhat moot, as on August 5, 1999, the FCC began allowing broadcasters the ability to form duopolies between television stations, provided that eight independent owners remain in a market once a duopoly is formed and one of the stations does not rank among the four highest-rated. On November 17, 1999, Sinclair, Sullivan and Glencairn restructured the deal, allowing Sinclair to acquire KOKH from Sullivan Broadcasting directly as part of a $53.2 million cash and debt forgiveness acquisition involving four other stations – Mission Broadcasting-owned UPN affiliates WUXP-TV (now a MyNetworkTV affiliate) in Nashville and WUPN-TV (now MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYV) in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Montecito Broadcast Group-owned independent station KFBT (now CW affiliate KVCW) in Las Vegas – along with acquiring five stations from Glencairn (whose control would be fully transferred from Edwards to Carolyn Smith, widow of Julian Smith) in an $8-million all-stock purchase; the deal created the Oklahoma City market's first television duopoly with KOCB.[72][73][74][75]

During the late 1990s, KOKH lessened its reliance on running cartoons and classic sitcoms, and began acquiring more talk shows, reality series and court shows, although more recent sitcoms remained as part of its schedule. After Fox discontinued the Fox Kids weekday block in December 2001, KOKH continued to carry retained the remaining Saturday morning children's lineup (which was relaunched FoxBox in September 2002, and was later branded as 4Kids TV from September 2005 until December 2008, when the network stopped providing children's programming after it declined to renew its agreement with time-lease partner 4Kids Entertainment). The station subsequently switched its weekday daytime schedule, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., to a lineup dominated by court shows (such as Divorce Court, Judge Mathis and The People's Court); this reliance on the genre reached to the extent that it broadcast every court show available in syndication during the 2006-07 season. In September 2002, KOKH de-emphasized the "Fox 25" branding, opting to verbally identify the station alternatingly as "Fox Oklahoma City" or "Oklahoma City's Fox" in on-air promotions (though its channel 25 position continued to be featured within the station's logo); KOKH reverted to using the "Fox 25" branding full-time in 2006. On March 5, 2012, KOKH and KOCB became the last stations in the Oklahoma City market to begin carrying syndicated programs, station promos and other commercials in high definition.

On May 8, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media – which has owned NBC affiliate KFOR-TV and independent station KAUT-TV since December 2013 – for $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt held by Tribune, pending regulatory approval by the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. As KOKH and KFOR rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Oklahoma City market in total day viewership and broadcasters are not currently allowed to legally own more than two full-power television stations in a single market, the companies may be required to sell either the KFOR/KAUT duopoly or the KOKH/KOCB duopoly to another station group in order to comply with FCC ownership rules preceding approval of the acquisition; however, a sale of either duopoly to an independent buyer is dependent on later decisions by the FCC regarding local ownership of broadcast television stations and future acts by Congress.[76][77][78][79][80]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[81]
25.1 720p 16:9 KOKH-HD Main KOKH-TV programming / Fox
25.2 480i Charge Charge!
25.3 Stadium Stadium

KOKH-DT2[edit]

In August 2010, Sinclair signed a groupwide affiliation deal with country music-oriented digital subchannel service The Country Network (later renamed ZUUS Country, before reverting to its original name) to the 28 of the company's stations.[82] On November 4 of that year, KOKH-TV launched a digital subchannel on virtual channel 25.2 to serve as an affiliate of The Country Network; ZUUS Country was replaced by Grit on December 31, 2014, as part of a multi-station affiliation agreement between Sinclair Broadcast Group and network parent Katz Broadcasting.[83] On February 28, 2017, KOKH-DT2 disaffiliated from Grit to become a charter outlet of the similarly formatted Charge!, a movie-focused action-adventure network owned as a joint venture between Sinclair and MGM Television.

KOKH-DT3[edit]

On December 8, 2014, KOKH launched a digital subchannel on virtual channel 25.3, which became an affiliate of WeatherNation TV; the subchannel subsequently began to be carried by Cox Communications on digital channel 219.[83] On November 1, 2017, the subchannel became an affiliate of Stadium (KOKH-DT3 replaced KBZC-LD (channel 42) – which concurrently switched its primary channel to Heartland – as the Sinclair-Silver Chalice sports network venture's Oklahoma City affiliate).

Analog-to-digital transition[edit]

KOKH-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 25, on February 17, 2009, to conclude the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[84] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 24, using PSIP to display KOKH-TV's virtual channel as 25 on digital television receivers.

As part of the SAFER Act,[85] KOKH kept its analog signal on the air until March 3 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Programming[edit]

KOKH-TV currently carries the entirety of Fox's network programming schedule. Although from the block's launch in September 2014 until September 2016, the station did not carry Xploration Station, a live-action educational program block distributed by Steve Rotfeld Productions that is syndicated primarily to Fox stations, due to existing contracts held by Sinclair to carry E/I-compliant programs acquired via syndication (the block aired instead on MyNetworkTV affiliate KSBI [channel 52] during that timeframe); through an agreement between Rotfeld and Sinclair that expanded the block's clearance to the latter group's Fox affiliates,[86] KOKH began carrying Xploration Station on September 10, 2016, running the first two hours of the block on Saturdays (leading into Fox's Weekend Marketplace infomercial block) and the final hour on Sunday mornings.

Syndicated programs broadcast by KOKH-TV (as of September 2017) include The Wendy Williams Show, Judge Judy, Hot Bench, The People's Court, Modern Family and TMZ. The station also produces Living Oklahoma, an hour-long talk and lifestyle program hosted by Mitch English (who replaced original co-host and KOKH morning traffic reporter Shelby Cashman in February 2017, coinciding with a revamp of the station's morning newscast under the new title Good Day OK and Cashman's added duties as sole anchor of the 11:00 a.m. newscast) and Meg Alexander (who formerly worked as an anchor at KFOR-TV from 1997 to 2015), which premiered on October 5, 2015; the program currently airs weekday mornings at 9:00 a.m.[87]

On November 10, 2005, KOKH and KOCB became the flagship stations for the Oklahoma Lottery, which held its televised Pick 3 and Cash 5 evening drawings at the duopoly's Wilshire Boulevard studios. The drawings – which were simulcast on KOCB – aired nightly at 9:20 following the "B" block of the 9:00 p.m. newscast; channel 25 aired them on tape delay on nights when the prime time newscast was delayed due to Fox Sports event overruns.[88][89][90][91] After reductions to the Oklahoma Lottery Commission's budget resulted in the televised draws being replaced with drawings conducted via random number generator at the Oklahoma Lottery offices in July 2009, KOKH aired a rundown of winning numbers for both of the lottery's original online games and Hot Lotto during the 9:00 p.m. newscast. From when Oklahoma became a participant in the multi-state drawing in January 2006 until the stations stopped carrying all lottery results in 2013, KOKH/KOCB also aired live Powerball drawings each Wednesday and Saturday, which KOKH aired following the 9:00 newscast (live drawings for Mega Millions – of which Oklahoma became a participant in January 2011 – were only available in the Oklahoma City market through WGN America, which discontinued national carriage of the live Powerball and Mega Millions drawings in 2013; the winning numbers for those drawings and other Oklahoma Lottery games are now only shown on a ticker seen during KOKH's morning and 11:00 a.m. newscasts).

Sports programming[edit]

As an independent station, during the early and mid-1980s, KOKH carried some locally produced and syndicated sporting events. Among these broadcasts were college basketball games produced by MetroSports (a sports syndication service created as a joint venture between Anheuser-Busch and Katz Communications), and some rodeo competitions held in Oklahoma City (including the National Finals Rodeo), which were produced by its "Studio 25" production unit.[92][93] In August 1983, KOKH became the first television station in the U.S. to air syndicated National Football League (NFL) preseason games outside of the home markets of the individual teams (carrying games involving the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers that year), which aired on a day-behind basis.[11] In October 1983, KOKH reached an agreement with MetroSports to acquire the local television rights to broadcast college basketball games from the Big Eight Conference. The package – which gave the station local rights to televise games involving the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma State Cowboys, whose games had respectively been carried by NBC affiliate KTVY and independent station KAUT through the 1982-83 season – consisted of games that aired on Saturday afternoons and on either Tuesday or Wednesday nights during the NCAA Division I Basketball season.[94]

Since September 1994, KOKH-TV has served as the television partner of the Dallas Cowboys for the Oklahoma City market, holding local rights to air various team-related programs during the regular season (including the Cowboys Postgame Show, Special Edition with Jerry Jones and the head coach's weekly analysis program The Jason Garrett Show, along with specials such as the Making of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Calendar and postseason team reviews). Most Cowboys telecasts carried on KOKH are those carried by Fox, which through the network's contract with the NFL, holds primary broadcast rights to the National Football Conference (NFC). In addition to carrying Fox-televised games involving in-conference opponents, since 2014, Cowboys games carried on the station also include certain cross-flexed games against opponents in the American Football Conference (AFC) that were originally scheduled to air on CBS. Most Cowboys preseason games not televised by Fox or by other broadcast or cable networks are carried over-the-air locally on sister station KOCB through the duopoly's agreement with the team's syndication service.

News operation[edit]

As of September 2017, KOKH presently broadcasts 39½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (7½ hours on weekdays, and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays). In addition, the station produces the sports highlight and discussion program Fox 25 Sports Sunday (hosted by sports director Myron Patton, sports anchors Curtis Fitzpatrick or Sam Gannon, and WWLS-FM (98.1) radio host Jim Traber), airing Sunday evenings at 10:00 p.m.; it also produces a 15-minute sports wrap-up segment, which is treated as a standalone program, that airs Sunday through Fridays during the prime time newscast. KOKH also provides local weather updates for Cumulus Media-owned radio stations WWLS-FM, KYIS (98.9 FM), KQOB (96.9 FM), KKWD (104.9 FM), KATT-FM (100.5) and KWPN (640 AM). KOKH's newscasts regularly place fourth among the market's news-producing stations, behind local news and network programs on KFOR, KOCO and KWTV, although its morning and 9:00 p.m. newscasts beat the KFOR-produced newscasts on KAUT.

From October 1, 1979 until July 1991, KOKH aired two-minute-long newsbriefs each hour, branded as Newstouch 25, daily from 6:00 a.m. until sign-off (usually around 1:30 a.m.); some morning and late night updates were pre-recorded. Among those who anchored the updates were Mike Monday, Karie Ross, Felicia Ferguson (winner of the 1985 Miss Oklahoma pageant), Janis Walkingstick and Kelly Ogle (now an evening anchor at KWTV). Until 1988, the station also produced Weathertouch 25, two-minute-long weather updates that aired on the half-hour during the broadcast day; the segments (featuring weathercasters such as Ross Dixon, Dan Satterfield and Kevin Foreman) utilized the first colorized radar scan converter and satellite picture colorizer in Oklahoma, and used live radar data from the National Weather Service Terminal Doppler site at Will Rogers World Airport. The station also produced several public affairs and interview programs including Meet The Mayor (an interview program featuring discussions and viewer questions with the Mayor of Oklahoma City), Woman to Woman (which featured discussions about women's issues) and Sunday PM (a weekly talk show focusing on prominent people, issues and events in Oklahoma City).

After KOKH discontinued Newstouch 25 upon taking over the Fox affiliation in 1991, channel 25 aired very limited local programming (among them, a weekly program produced for the station's Fox Kids Club chapter, the "Fox 25 Kids Club") for the next four years. In a June 1994 interview with The Daily Oklahoman, then-KOKH president and general manager Harlan Reams stated firmly that channel 25 would not offer a newscast, even with the likelihood that it would see an increase in viewership and revenue through Fox's acquisition of the National Football Conference television contract. Reams' positioning of KOKH as an entertainment-only programming destination went to the extent of preempting the Fox News Extra update segments (produced by the network's New York City O&O WNYW) that aired during commercial breaks within Fox's prime time lineup at the time with station promotions.[95]

After the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Fox urged KOKH management to develop a full-scale news department. Reams (who would subsequently be replaced as the station's president and general manager by Steven Herman, who helped oversee the department's creation), ultimately conceded to develop a news operation. Plans commenced in August 1995, with a premiere set for the late spring of 1996; KOKH hired Bob Schadel (who served as assistant news director at KOCO-TV for the previous eleven years) as its news director. The newscast was structured to match the "Fox attitude" in an effort to court younger viewers, but shied away from incorporating sensationalistic content in favor of a more conventional style that would appeal to Oklahoma City viewers.[96] Newscasts returned to KOKH when the current news department began operation on May 27, 1996, with the premiere of a 30-minute newscast at 9:00 p.m. that initially aired on Monday through Friday evenings.[97] Debuting as The Nine O'Clock News (retitled as the Fox 25 Primetime News at Nine in November 2000), it was first anchored by veteran Oklahoma City news anchor Jack Bowen (who had previous tenures at KOCO and KWTV) and Burns Flat native Kirsten McIntyre (previously an anchor/reporter at KAUZ-TV in Wichita Falls). Bowen and McIntyre had previously co-hosted Ground Zero, a half-hour special produced by KOKH – which aired on February 27, 1996, four months prior to the newscast's launch – that showed previously restricted footage recorded by first responders in the aftermath of the Murrah Building bombing.[98][99] Joining them on the newscast were chief meteorologist Tim Ross (who brought a quirky approach to his weather segments, even naming the end-of-segment extended forecast graphic as the "Fearless 5-Day Forecast") and sports director Mike Steely (who worked with McIntyre while he served as sports director at KAUZ years prior, and maintained his existing sports talk hosting gig at KEBC [1340 AM, now KGHM; the KEBC calls now reside on 1560 AM], before moving to WWLS [AM] [now KWPN] in 1998).[100][101]

Heritage Media and KOKH invested over $1 million in developing and staffing the news operation, which included the purchase of Avid nonlinear editing equipment, one of the first stations in the United States to use the Internet-based editing technology. The station also converted its main "Studio 25" production studio at the Wilshire Boulevard facility into a "working newsroom" set similar in design to the "NewsPlex" set used by ABC affiliate KETV in Omaha from 1996 to 2015 (production of channel 25's newscasts remained in the newsroom until it was moved to a dedicated HD-ready news set built by Devlin Design Group in a renovated production studio within the building on April 13, 2014, which features a dedicated weather center, several large widescreen monitors and a multi-purpose area used for interviews, and the morning and Sports Sunday broadcasts).[97][102] As the market's first prime time newscast, KOKH held steady in the 9:00 p.m. timeslot, even with competition from network programs on KFOR, KOCO-TV and KWTV. The weeknight editions of the newscast were expanded to one hour on August 4, 1997; this was followed by the addition of hour-long Sunday edition on September 12, 1999, and an hour-long Saturday edition that premiered the following month on October 2 (the latter of which, along with the Friday editions, was originally co-anchored by Brad Wheelis and Colleen O'Quinn, who both resigned in 2000 after failing to reach renewal terms in their contract negotiations). Prior to the expansion, The Nine O'Clock News only aired as a one-hour broadcast to cover significant breaking news events (such as for the death penalty sentencing of Murrah bombing conspirator Timothy McVeigh on June 13, 1997). To further cement its status as an alternative for KFOR, KWTV and KOCO's half-hour 10:00 p.m. shows, news director Henry Chu (who replaced Schadel in the late summer of 1998) moved to expand the number of stories included on each night's broadcast, incorporating more national and international coverage than that covered on the market's other late newscasts.[103][104]

Over time, however, the news department began experiencing heavy turnover with its on-air staff that continues to this day. Ross was fired in early 1999, citing that his style did not work in a serious weather market, and replaced him with the more conventional Chuck Bell; Steely resigned from KOKH in June 1999 over creative disagreements with station management and difficulties working two sports broadcasting jobs, and was replaced by incumbent sports reporter Zach Klein. Bowen and McIntyre continued to co-anchor until November 2000, when Bowen left after the station declined to renew his contract.[105] Turnover in the news department was so significant that in 2000, the station temporarily used solo anchors for the weekday and weekend newscasts, while Bell conducted the weather segment seven nights a week.[106] As is the case with competitor KOCO, the fairly heavy turnover that KOKH has experienced with its on-air staff has led to some unfamiliarity that some of its on-air personalities have in the market.

In late 2002, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced plans to launch News Central, a local/national format that would provide national news segments that would be syndicated via centralcasting to each of the company's news-producing outlets for insertion into their local newscasts. When NewsCentral launched in January 2003, KOKH began incorporating pre-recorded weather reports produced at production facilities at the ground floor of Sinclair's Beaver Dam Road headquarters in Hunt Valley, Maryland on the Friday and Saturday editions of the Primetime News at Nine, as well as The Point (now titled Behind the Headlines), a one-minute conservative political commentary feature by Sinclair's then-vice president Mark Hyman. When it began regularly carrying the News Central inserts on March 31, 2003, local news segments continued to be based out of the KOKH studios and the station maintained its own locally based anchors and reporters; however, channel 25 laid off staff in its weather and sports departments (including chief meteorologist Amy Gardner, weekend evening meteorologist Greg Whitworth, sports director Zach Klein, and sports anchor/reporters Ari Bergeron and Mark Ross) as well as eight other production employees with the news department. Sports segments as well as Sunday through Thursday weather segments shown during the prime time newscast began to be produced out of the Hunt Valley facility, while local sports headlines began to be conducted by the program's main news anchor.[107][108] The first time that KOKH programmed news outside its established 9:00 slot was in February 2004, when it premiered the Fox 25 Late Edition, a half-hour weeknight 10:00 p.m. newscast (it is currently one of more than three dozen Fox stations in the U.S. that produces a newscast in the traditional late news timeslot, 10:00 p.m. in the Central Time Zone). In 2005, the station debuted Oklahoma's Most Wanted, a weekly segment based on the format of former Fox series America's Most Wanted that aired during the Saturday edition of the 9:00 p.m. newscast, which profiled wanted criminals being sought by law enforcement for various felonies.

As part of corporate cutbacks at Sinclair's news operations, the company shuttered its News Central division with all national segments ending on March 31, 2006. KOKH was one of the few non-Big Three-affiliated stations run by Sinclair that participated in the venture to retain their news department; it subsequently restored in-house weather and sports segments, hiring Scott Padgett (who had been doing weather segments for KOKH under the News Central format from Sinclair's Hunt Valley studios) as chief meteorologist, and Greg Whitworth (who had previously worked at the station as a meteorologist from 1999 until he was laid off upon the outsourcing of forecasts under the News Central format) as weekend evening meteorologist for the restored weather department. That December, The station restarted its sports department, when Myron Patton (then a WWLS radio host, who formerly served as a sports anchor at KOCO-TV from 1988 to 1994, and is currently the longest-serving member of KOKH's on-air news staff) and Liam McHugh were hired as sports anchors.[109][110] KOKH concurrently launched Fox 25 Sports Sunday that month as a 15-minute Sunday evening sports wrap-up program at 9:45 p.m.; it would expand into a half-hour weekly broadcast at 10:00 p.m. three months later on March 25, 2007, adopting a panel discussion format.[111] On April 9, 2007, KOKH debuted the Fox 25 Morning News, a three-hour newscast that originally aired weekday mornings from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. (the program would add a fourth hour at 5:00 a.m. on January 4, 2010; this was followed on January 31, 2011, by the debut of an hour-long extension of the newscast at 9:00 a.m., Good Day Oklahoma, featuring a mix of news updates and discussions, interviews and community event information).[112]

In September 2007, KOKH was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on allegations of racial and gender discrimination against crime reporter Phyllis Williams (one of the original members of the station's reporting staff, who worked at KOKH from the start of news operations in 1996 until late 2007). The suit – which sought back compensation, and compensatory and punitive damages – claimed that Williams was paid a lower salary than white female reporters of similar comparability and male reporters of various races, and that station management did not offer her a contract until several months after she filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC in 2005; in March 2011, KOKH management reached a settlement with Williams, awarding her $45,000 in damages and additional monetary consideration.[113][114] On October 11, 2010, KOKH became the first Oklahoma City area station to stream its local newscasts, breaking news and severe weather coverage on smartphone and other mobile devices. On August 14, 2013, KOKH became the fourth overall and the last remaining English-language station in the Oklahoma City market to begin broadcasting its newscasts in high definition. On July 6, 2014, the station debuted The Middle Ground, a Sunday morning discussion program focusing on state and national political issues that was produced by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs; the program was cancelled in April 2015.[115]

In February 2014, KOKH began producing an online-only weeknight 5:00 p.m. newscast streamed on the station's website; channel 25 began airing the 5:00 p.m. program as an hour-long early evening newscast on September 1 of that year, replacing sitcom reruns that had long aired at that hour. On March 7, 2016, KOKH launched an hour-long newscast at 11:00 a.m., the first midday newscast to air in that timeslot in Oklahoma City; the station accordingly overhauled its morning schedule, with the Fox 25 Morning News being shortened to a four-hour broadcast while Living Oklahoma was moved to the 9:00 a.m. hour (the Good Day titling previously used for the former 9:00 a.m. hour of the morning newscast was reinstated on the morning show on January 28, 2017, when the program was relaunched as Good Day OK).[116][117]

On-air staff[edit]

Notable current on-air staff[edit]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

References[edit]

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