|Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|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 16 Sayre|
K33NV-D 33 Strong City
K44IW-D 26 Hollis
K17MK-D 17 Elk City
K26IS-D 26 Woodward
K36IY-D 36 Weatherford
K23NH-D 23 Seiling
K22ID-D 22 Alva/Cherokee
K22BR-D 22 May
|Affiliations||DT1: Fox (since 1991)|
DT2: Charge! (since 2017)
DT3: Stadium (since 2017)
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
(KOKH Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||February 2, 1959|
|Call letters' meaning||OKlaHoma|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
25 (UHF, 1959–2009)
Educational independent (1959–1979)
Independent (general entertainment) (1979–1990)
ZUUS Country (2010–2014)
WeatherNation TV (2014–2017)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Height||475.8 m (1,561 ft)|
|Public license information:||Profile|
KOKH-TV, virtual channel 25 (UHF digital channel 24), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to 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 studios and transmitter facilities 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, KOKH is available on Cox Communications channel 12 (standard definition) and digital channel 712 (high definition) and AT&T U-verse channels 25 (standard definition) and 1025 (high definition) in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, and on either channel 12 or channel 13 on most cable systems elsewhere within the Oklahoma City DMA. On satellite, the station is available on channel 25 on DirecTV and Dish Network.
- 1 History
- 2 Subchannel history
- 3 Digital television
- 4 Programming
- 5 News operation
- 6 References
- 7 External links
As a non-commercial educational station
On July 25, 1958, while it was in the midst of protracted hearings regarding the predecessor station's bankruptcy, the Republic Television and Radio Company (owner of the allocation's original occupant, ABC affiliate KTVQ, from November 1, 1953 until it was forced off the air by court order on December 15, 1955) donated the construction permit and license. 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. The district requested for the television station to use the KOKH call letters assigned at the time to its public radio station on 88.9 FM (now KYLV).
The station first signed on the air on February 2, 1959. KOKH was founded by Independent School District No. 89 of Oklahoma County (now Oklahoma City Public Schools). It originally operated from studio facilities based out of the district's Broadcasting Center at the former Classen High School building on North Ellison Avenue and Northwest 17th Street in Oklahoma City's Mesta Park neighborhood (now occupied by the Classen School of Advanced Studies), 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 on April 13, 1956. Channel 25's programming – which originally ran from Monday through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – consisted of instructional and lecture-based telecourse programs developed 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 RCA color transmission equipment – including three studio cameras, two videotape recorders, two film systems and two switchers – worth around $500,000 was donated to the school district. By that time, KOKH had expanded its Monday through Friday programming to between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
As a commercial independent station
In the fall of 1978, Oklahoma City Public Schools considered selling KOKH-TV, citing the station's operating expenses (which averaged $300,000 per year) had outran any benefits to the district and its struggles to raise $350,000 in matching funds to replace its existing transmitter and broadcast tower; internal studies had also indicated that teachers employed with district schools seldom used the instructional programs carried by KOKH for classroom credit. The district had planned to redirect the money it funneled into the television station to raise the salaries of area teachers. In Oklahoma City Public Schools's favor was the fact that it had never formally requested that the UHF channel 25 allocation – which had officially been reserved by the FCC for commercial use – be reclassified to non-commercial status upon buying the permit from Republic Television and Radio; the Oklahoma City area had also grown to a population large enough that a commercial independent station could now viably operate, making it possible for the school district to sell the KOKH license to a commercial television station operator. On December 14, 1978, New York City-based John Blair & Co. for $3.5 million; Blair outbid two groups that were also competing for the UHF channel 14 allocation at that time, commercial broadcaster The Outlet Company and the noncommercial religious Trinity Broadcasting Network (which would sign on KTBO-TV on channel 14 in March 1981).
Blair formally took over KOKH's operations on October 1, 1979, converting it into the first commercial independent station in Oklahoma, and leaving OETA flagship KETA-TV as Oklahoma City's sole educational television station. The station's first broadcast was a special 30-minute program inaugurating the station's new format at 6:00 a.m. that morning; this was followed by KOKH's first entertainment program, the syndicated children's show New Zoo Revue. It adopted a general entertainment format typical of a UHF-based independent, initially carrying a mix of cartoons, classic sitcoms, religious programs, some sports programming, and certain network programs preempted by NBC affiliate KTVY (channel 4, now KFOR-TV), ABC affiliate KOCO-TV (channel 5) and CBS affiliate KWTV (channel 9) to carry local or syndicated programming (among them, the NBC soap opera Search for Tomorrow, which KTVY preempted from 1982 to 1985, and Nightline, which ABC contracted KOKH-TV to show live-to-air from September 1983 to February 1985, after KOCO attempted to push the newsmagazine to a post-midnight slot). The station also heavily incorporated feature films onto its schedule, to such an extent that it was promoted as "Oklahoma's Great[est] Movie Station" from 1979 to 1986; KOKH usually carried four films per day – two each in the afternoon, and one to two films per night in prime time – Monday through Friday, and five to six films per day each weekend.
KOKH gained a competitor four weeks later on October 28, when Seraphim Media signed on the similarly formatted KGMC-TV (channel 34, now CW-affiliated sister station KOCB). This was followed by the launch of KAUT (channel 43) by Golden West Broadcasters on October 15, 1980, which initially featured programming from subscription service Video Entertainment Unlimited (VEU) at night as well as on weekend afternoons. (Three weeks later on November 3, KAUT added a rolling news format as well as a limited schedule of syndicated entertainment programs during the daytime hours on weekdays.) In May 1980, the station relocated its operations into a new 22,000-square-foot (0.51-acre) studio facility on East Wilshire Boulevard/Northeast 78th Street in northeast Oklahoma City; its transmitter facilities were also relocated to a 1,620-foot (490 m) transmission tower that was built adjacent to the studio building. During the early 1980s, KOKH signed on eight low-power UHF translators (in Elk City, Hollis, Erick, Strong City, Woodward, Ponca City and Ardmore) to extend its over-the-air coverage throughout the western two-thirds of Oklahoma and (via a repeater in Quanah) far northwest Texas.
Because of its status as the strongest of Oklahoma City market's three commercial independents, in the spring of 1986, KOKH was approached by News Corporation to become a charter affiliate of the fledgling Fox Broadcasting Company. Station management turned the offer down because Fox's request that its inaugural program, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, be aired at 10:00 p.m. (when the station's second scheduled film of the evening would normally be in progress) would have caused disruption to its prime time double feature strategy. On July 25, Fox reached an agreement with KAUT (then owned by Rollins Communications) to serve as the network's Oklahoma City affiliate.
In July 1986, John Blair & Co. was approached by private equity firm Reliance Capital Group to initiate a friendly takeover of the group; Reliance offered to acquire 61% of the common shares held by Blair for $31 per share, and exchange the remaining shares for a 15-year debenture at a $20.75 face value; Blair also offered to pay a $1.50 dividend on each of the unacquired shares, pending completion of the Reliance acquisition. Blair and Co. considered the offer to prevent a hostile takeover by minority stockholder Macfadden Holdings, amid conflicting ideological concerns expressed by company shareholders over Macfadden's ownership of adult-oriented publications (McFadden planned to use the proceeds from its 1985 sale of pornographic magazine Cheri to take full control of Blair). On November 5, in a corporate restructuring to focus on expanding its Spanish language network NetSpan and to pay off debt incurred by the Reliance purchase, Blair and Co. 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. 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 issues related to Gillett's purchase of a majority stake in Storer Communications; the transaction was finalized on August 27.
Aborted sale to Pappas Telecasting
Despite just barely ranking as a top-40 Nielsen market at the time, the Oklahoma City market did not have enough television-viewing households to support what were essentially three independent stations, nor was there a supply of programming on the syndication market that could sufficiently fill their respective schedules. In the summer of 1988, Visalia, California-based Pappas Telecasting Companies proposed a deal with Busse to purchase KOKH. The complex $30-million asset transfer proposal would have resulted in Pappas acquiring the programming inventories of both KGMC and KAUT (including channel 43's Fox affiliation rights) and integrating many of their acquired programs onto channel 25's schedule, solidifying the station's status as Oklahoma City's dominant independent. Simultaneously, Seraphim Media would donate the license and certain intellectual assets of KGMC to the OETA – with the intent of converting it into a secondary PBS station – for $1 million, with Pappas acquiring equipment and property assets owned by the station for an additional $1 million. Heritage Media (through its Rollins Communications subsidiary) would sell KAUT to a religious broadcaster in turn, which would convert that station to a non-commercial religious format. By that point, the Oklahoma City market had three commercial independents that each competed for the best syndicated programming. Governor Henry Bellmon voiced concerns with OETA's involvement in the transaction, suggesting that the purchase of a second Oklahoma City station would result in the authority, which had limited appropriations to adequately operate its existing state network as it stood, constantly requesting additional state funding.
On August 17, 1988, OETA submitted an FCC application to purchase KGMC, after, in advance of a fundraising deadline set for that date, Pappas offered to provide a $1 million contribution toward purchasing the station, contingent upon the company completing the KOKH purchase. (After the KGMC proposal was voted down by OETA's Board of Directors that September, Seraphim Media chose to sell KGMC to Cleveland, Ohio-based Maddox Broadcasting Corp. – which would have refocused that station to primarily refocus a mix of religious and Home Shopping Network [HSN] programming – for $3.6 million, including $2.6 million in intellectual assets [such as transmitter facilities, studio equipment and licenses] that would not be acquired by Pappas; then on November 1, Heritage Media announced it would sell KAUT to the OETA for $9.25 million in assets, with Pappas agreeing to lease KAUT's transmitter facility to OETA for 25 years for an annual $1 operating fee plus an additional $1 million contribution should the acquisition be completed.) The National Black Media Coalition filed a petition asking for the FCC to deny the transaction, contending that OETA was not qualified to acquire KGMC (which had been the center of an investigation into disgraced stock trader Ivan Boesky's improper transference of his majority share of the station's parent company to his wife) under an FCC policy allowing stations facing revocation of their licenses to be sold to a group led by eitwomen or minorities at 75% of their market value.
On September 12, Visalia, California-based Pappas Telecasting announced that it would purchase KOKH from Busse for $9 million, plus the assumption of liabilities totaling up to $7 million. The company 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). Although OETA planned to fund the conversion of channel 43 partly through start-up grants (including a $75,000 award by KOCO-TV management), in a move that hamstrung its attempt to acquire KAUT, the Oklahoma Legislature incorporated stipulations into the bill appropriating OETA's funding for FY1990 that prohibited the use of state funds "for any operational or capital expense of the proposed second educational television channel in Oklahoma City" and from proposing any additional funding to finance the acquisition if it did not obtain sufficient funding from private sources. In late January 1989, Busse management denied Pappas's request to extend the completion deadline for the purchase past its scheduled January 31 deadline. The entire transaction fell through on February 3, when Busse formally terminated the purchase agreement with Pappas. Just three days earlier, the FCC had also dismissed the respective transfer applications for KGMC and KAUT.
As a Fox affiliate
On April 23, 1991, Heritage Media announced its intent to purchase KOKH-TV from Busse Broadcast Communications for $7 million. In a downscaled version of the earlier Pappas proposal, the deal – which was contingent on approval of Heritage's acquisition of channel 25 – would result in KAUT's license, transmitter and master control equipment being donated to OETA, which would be given a two-year option to purchase the rest of KAUT's assets for $1.5 million. On August 15, 1991, Heritage transferred KAUT's Fox affiliation rights and inventory of acquired programming over to KOKH-TV, which became branded as "KOKH Fox 25". The station also hired 30 of KAUT's former employees (including that station's outgoing general manager Harlan Reams, who would be appointed to that same post at KOKH), and acquired other equipment and intellectual property belonging to KAUT. Meanwhile, OETA – under a broadcasting pilot initiative between Heritage, the OETA Board of Directors, the OETA Foundation Board of Trustees, PBS, and Children's Television Workshop management, and funded in part with private contributions – switched channel 43 to an educational format that featured a mix of PBS and syndicated public television programs repurposed from the OETA state network, along with additional children's, lifestyle and telecourse programs that could not fit onto OETA's main schedule. (Channel 43, which adopted the KTLC call letters in September 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.)
For its first two years as a Fox affiliate, KOKH was programmed as a de facto independent station but not to the same extent that many of the network's stations were in the years following Fox's 1986 launch; as the affiliation moved to channel 25, Fox was preparing to expand its prime time programming to four 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. It 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.
On March 17, 1997, News Corporation announced that it would purchase Heritage Media for $1.35 billion. FCC approval was dependent upon Heritage divesting most or all of its stations, as its broadcast properties would put News Corporation – which was mainly interested in purchasing Heritage-owned marketing company ACTMEDIA, which, through its integration with News Corporation's existing marketing operations, would turn it into the world's largest in-store marketing company – over the defined 35% national market reach for an individual television station owner of that time. (The company's Fox Television Stations subsidiary had operated 22 Fox owned-and-operated stations and one independent station at the time, including twelve that it had just recently acquired from New World Communications.)
On July 16, 1997, Hunt Valley, Maryland-based 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 the television stations that Sinclair and Heritage each ran in several cities, including Oklahoma City's KOCB, which Sinclair had acquired from Superior Communications in 1996. 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 concept originated in the radio industry 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, Sinclair sold channel 25 to Sullivan Broadcast Holdings for $60 million. Three days after Sullivan finalized the KOKH purchase, on February 4, 1998, Sinclair reversed course and exercised 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. Under the terms, Sinclair began operating KOKH under a time brokerage agreement with Sullivan (which Sinclair 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 the stock in Glencairn (which was to be paid, in turn, 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 at the time, 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 owner Griffin Television, also filed a complaint on similar grounds. The FCC levied a $40,000 fine against Sinclair in December 2001 for illegally controlling Glencairn, although it chose to approve the acquisitions. 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, the deal was restructured to allow 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.
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.
Averted loss of Fox affiliation; aborted sale to Standard Media
On May 8, 2017, Sinclair entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media – which has owned 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. Because Sinclair and Tribune each owned two television stations in the Oklahoma City market, with KFOR and KOKH both ranking among the market's four highest-rated stations in total day viewership, the companies were required to sell either KOKH or KFOR (and optionally, KOCB and KAUT) to another station owner in order to comply with FCC local ownership rules. On August 2, 2017, reports surfaced that 21st Century Fox was proposing a deal in which its Fox Television Stations division and Ion Media would contribute their respective stations into a joint venture, in which Fox programming would be shifted from as many as 26 Sinclair stations to the Ion-owned stations in markets where Sinclair and Tribune's stations conflict. As the initial deal would have combined Sinclair's 38 existing affiliates and Tribune's 14 Fox affiliates (comprising 28% of the network's national affiliate reach, with the bulk based among the top-50 markets), this proposal was seen as a tactic to place pressure on Sinclair to abandon the acquisition or to limit the group's reverse compensation leverage in future contract negotiations by forcing it to sell certain Fox stations involved, in exchange for renewing affiliation agreements that were set to expire at the end of 2017. The chances of KOKH keeping its Fox affiliation increased somewhat in October 2017 when Ion elected its stations to have must-carry status – which only applies to a station's main feed, allowing Fox to possibly affiliate with a digital subchannel of KOPX-TV (channel 62) and other Ion-owned stations – for a three-year period, instead of retransmission consent.
On April 24, 2018, in an amendment to the Tribune acquisition through which it proposed the sale of certain stations to both independent and affiliated third-party companies to curry the DOJ's approval, Sinclair announced that it would sell KOKH-TV and eight other stations – Sinclair-operated WRLH-TV in Richmond, KDSM-TV in Des Moines, WOLF-TV (along with LMA partners WSWB and WQMY) in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and WXLV-TV in Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, and Tribune-owned WPMT in Harrisburg and WXMI in Grand Rapids – to Standard Media Group (an independent broadcast holding company formed by private equity firm Standard General to assume ownership of and absolve ownership conflicts involving the aforementioned stations) for $441.1 million. The transaction includes a transitional services agreement, through which Sinclair would have continued operating KOKH for six months after the sale's completion. Sinclair did not include KOCB in the sale; as a result, KOCB would have formed a new legal duopoly with KFOR-TV once Sinclair assumes ownership of the latter, but would have continued to operate channel 34 alongside KOKH under a transitional services agreement for six months after the sale's completion. Since FCC rules prohibit common ownership of more than two full-power stations in a single market, Sinclair would have spun off KAUT-TV to affiliate company Howard Stirk Holdings for $750,000; however, it would assume control of that station through shared services and joint sales agreements with Stirk.
Less than one month after the FCC voted to have the deal reviewed by an administrative law judge amid "serious concerns" about Sinclair's forthrightness in its applications to sell certain conflict properties, on August 9, 2018, Tribune announced it would terminate the Sinclair deal, intending to seek other M&A opportunities. Tribune also filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court, alleging that Sinclair engaged in protracted negotiations with the FCC and the DOJ over regulatory issues, refused to sell stations in markets where it already had properties (such as KAUT-TV), and proposed divestitures to parties with ties to Sinclair executive chair David D. Smith that were rejected or highly subject to rejection to maintain control over stations it was required to sell. Standard Media's purchase of KOKH and the other six Tribune- and Sinclair-operated spin-off stations was also effectively terminated as that deal was predicated on the closure of the Sinclair–Tribune merger.
KOKH-DT2 is the Charge!-affiliated second digital subchannel of KOKH-TV, broadcasting in widescreen standard definition on UHF digital channel 24.2 (or virtual channel 25.2 via PSIP). On cable, KOKH-DT2 is available on Cox Communications digital channel 219 in the Oklahoma City area.
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. 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. 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 is the Stadium-affiliated third digital subchannel of KOKH-TV, broadcasting in widescreen standard definition on UHF digital channel 24.3 (or virtual channel 25.3 via PSIP). On cable, KOKH-DT3 is available on Cox Communications digital channel 218 in the Oklahoma City area.
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. 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).
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|25.1||720p||16:9||KOKH-HD||Main KOKH-TV programming / Fox|
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. 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, 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.
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, 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 2018[update]) include The Wendy Williams Show, Judge Judy, Hot Bench, The People's Court, Modern Family, 2 Broke Girls, 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.
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 during the run of the duopoly's contract with the Oklahoma Lottery Commission. 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. 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).
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. 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. 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.
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.
As of September 2017[update], 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 Sundays 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.
News department history
Starting from its sign-on, news programming on KOKH initially consisted mainly of 30-second-long newsbriefs – consisting of Associated Press wire reports and a short weather forecast read by the anchor on-call – that aired on an hourly basis during select commercial breaks within daytime and evening programs. On September 22, 1980, KOKH relaunched the newsbriefs under a more flexible format that allowed routine updates to air at any time; rechristened Newstouch 25, the updates – which lasted anywhere between 30 seconds and two minutes in length – aired daily from 7:30 a.m. (later expanded to 6:00 a.m.) until sign-off (usually around 12:30 a.m. initially, later extended to 1:30 a.m.); most of the newsbriefs were broadcast live, though some morning and late night updates were pre-recorded. Among the anchors of the updates were Ronnie Kaye (a former radio DJ at WKY [930 AM], who was hired by KOKH in August 1980 to serve as the station's Director of Information Services), Mike Monday (later known for being the pitchman for now-defunct local furniture/electronics store Sight and Sound), Karie Ross, Felicia Ferguson (winner of the 1985 Miss Oklahoma pageant), Janis Walkingstick and Kelly Ogle (now an evening anchor at KWTV).
From the time of the Newstouch relaunch 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 former KOCO and eventual OETA meteorologist Ross Dixon, Dan Satterfield, and eventual KFOR-TV meteorologist Kevin Foreman) utilized the first colorized radar scan converter and satellite picture colorizer in Oklahoma, as well as live radar data from the National Weather Service Terminal Doppler at Will Rogers World Airport. As an independent station, KOKH 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). As a result of the acquisition of the Fox affiliation and personnel from KAUT, KOKH discontinued its news and public affairs programming in the summer of 1991: Sunday PM ended its run after the July 28 broadcast, while the news and weather updates were discontinued three days later on July 31.
In a June 1994 interview with The Daily Oklahoman, Harlan Reams, then KOKH's president and general manager, stated that the station would not offer a regular newscast, even with the likelihood that its ratings and revenue would increase once Fox took over the National Football Conference television contract that fall. During its early years with Fox, KOKH even preempted the Fox News Extra segment inserts (produced by New York City O&O WNYW) that aired during commercial breaks within Fox's prime time lineup, choosing to air station promotions in their place. 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 would later concede to Fox's request and commenced plans to build the news operation in August 1995, with the planned prime time newscast set to premiere in the late spring of 1996. With the cooperation of news director Bob Schadel (who served as assistant news director at KOCO-TV from 1983 to 1995), Reams and the latter's successor, Steven Herman, the newscast was structured to match the "Fox attitude" in a bid to court younger viewers, but instituted a more conventional style (minimizing sensationalistic content) to appeal to area viewers.
KOKH's current news department launched on May 27, 1996, with the premiere of The Nine O'Clock News (retitled the Fox 25 Primetime News at Nine in November 2000), which originally aired for a half-hour Monday through Fridays. It was first anchored by former KOCO and KWTV anchor Jack Bowen and Burns Flat native Kirsten McIntyre (previously an anchor/reporter at KAUZ-TV in Wichita Falls), both of whom had earlier co-hosted Ground Zero, a half-hour special (which aired on KOKH on February 27, 1996, four months prior to the newscast's launch) that showed previously restricted footage recorded by first responders during the Murrah Building bombing's aftermath. They were accompanied by chief meteorologist Tim Ross (who brought a quirky approach to his weather segments, even naming the extended forecast graphic, the "Fearless 5-Day Forecast") and sports director Mike Steely (a former colleague of McIntyre's while he was sports director at KAUZ, and who continued to work as a sports talk host at KEBC [1340 AM, now KGHM; the KEBC calls now reside on 1560 AM] after joining KOKH, before moving to WWLS [AM] [now KWPN] in 1998). Heritage Media and KOKH invested over $1 million into the new news operation. 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, and incorporated Avid nonlinear, Internet-based editing equipment, becoming one of the first stations in the United States to use the technology. (KOKH would move production of its newscasts to a renovated production stage within the building on April 13, 2014, with the debut of an HD-ready news set built by Devlin Design Group that features a dedicated weather center, several large widescreen monitors, and a multi-purpose area used for interviews, and the morning and Sports Sunday broadcasts).
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 (at which point, until September 1998, it was referred to as The Nine O'Clock News Hour in on-air promotions and newscast opens and talent bumpers). This was followed by the addition of hour-long Sunday edition on September 12, 1999 (which originally debuted as an abbreviated, delayed half-hour broadcast on that night due to Fox's telecast of the 51st Primetime Emmy Awards), and an hour-long Saturday edition that premiered the following month on October 2. Brad Wheelis and Colleen O'Quinn were hired to co-anchor the Friday and Saturday editions at that time (the two resigned in 2000 after failing to reach contract renewal terms). Prior to the expansion, hour-long editions of The Nine O'Clock News were only produced 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, including national and international items, incorporated into each night's broadcast than those covered on the market's other late newscasts.
Over time, however, the news department began experiencing heavy turnover with its on-air staff that continues to this day. Ross – who was replaced by the more conventional Chuck Bell – was fired in early 1999, citing that his style did not work in a serious weather market. Steely – who was replaced by then-sports reporter Zach Klein – resigned from KOKH in June 1999 over creative disagreements with station management and difficulties working two sports broadcasting jobs. Bowen and McIntyre continued to anchor together until November 2000, when Bowen left after his contract was not renewed by the station. 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. 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 centralcasted for insertion into local newscasts on the group's news-producing outlets. When NewsCentral launched in January 2003, production of the program's weather reports on Friday and Saturday nights was transferred to production facilities at the ground floor of Sinclair's headquarters in Hunt Valley, Maryland; it also began carrying The Point (now titled Behind the Headlines), a one-minute conservative political commentary feature by Sinclair's then-vice president Mark Hyman. When the News Central inserts expanded to regular daily airings on March 31, 2003, KOKH continued to maintain anchors and reporters based out of its studios to produce local news segments for its newscasts, while all weather and sports segments began to be produced out of the Sinclair headquarters. The station's weather and sports staff (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 were laid off. (Local sports headlines began being handled by the news anchor on duty.) 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 on March 31, 2006. KOKH was one of the few participants in the venture not affiliated with the Big Three networks to retain their news department. Meteorologists Scott Padgett (a former News Central meteorologist, who did segments for KOKH during the format's run), and Greg Whitworth (whom the station employed as a weekend evening meteorologist from 1999 until the outsourcing-induced layoffs) were hired to staff the reinstated weather department. Its sports department was restarted that December, 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. 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.) 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).
In September 2007, KOKH was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on claims of racial and gender discrimination made by crime reporter Phyllis Williams (one of the news operation's original assignment reporters, who worked at KOKH from 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. 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.
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).
Notable current on-air staff
Notable former on-air staff
- Chuck Bell – weather anchor (now with WRC-TV/Washington, DC)
- Morris Jones – anchor (was most recently with NewsChannel 8/Washington, DC, now retired)
- Liam McHugh – sports anchor (2007–2009; now with NBC Sports)
- Jessica Willey – reporter (1998–2000; now at KTRK-TV in Houston)
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- okcfox.com - KOKH-TV official website
- cwokc.com - KOCB official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KOKH-TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K16IR
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K17MK-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for 23NH-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K33NV-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K44IW
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K26IS
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K36IY
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K22ID
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K22BR
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KOKH-TV