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KOMO 4 2015.svg
SeattleTacoma, Washington
United States
City Seattle, Washington
Branding KOMO 4 (general; visually displayed as "KOMO ABC 4")
KOMO (4) News (newscasts)
ABC KOMO 4 (during radio promos for ABC network shows)
Slogan So Northwest
Channels Digital: 38 (UHF)
(to move to 30 (UHF))
Virtual: 4 (PSIP)
Owner Sinclair Broadcast Group
(Sinclair Seattle Licensee, LLC)
Founded June 1953
First air date December 10, 1953 (64 years ago) (1953-12-10)
Call letters' meaning derived from sister station KOMO radio, pronounced 'Como'
Sister station(s) KOMO, KOMO-FM, KPLZ-FM, KUNS-TV, KVI
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 4 (VHF, 1953–2009)
Former affiliations NBC (1953–1959)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
851 kW (CP)
Height 259 m (850 ft)
Facility ID 21656
Transmitter coordinates 47°37′55″N 122°21′14″W / 47.63194°N 122.35389°W / 47.63194; -122.35389Coordinates: 47°37′55″N 122°21′14″W / 47.63194°N 122.35389°W / 47.63194; -122.35389
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website komonews.com

KOMO-TV, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 38), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Seattle, Washington, United States and also serving Tacoma. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group as part of a duopoly with Bellevue-licensed Univision affiliate KUNS-TV (channel 51). The two stations share studios and offices with sister radio stations KOMO (1000 AM and 97.7 FM), KVI (570 AM), and KPLZ-FM (101.5 MHz) within KOMO Plaza (formerly Fisher Plaza) in the Lower Queen Anne section of Seattle, directly across the street from the Space Needle. KOMO-TV's transmitter is located on Queen Anne Hill.

KOMO-TV is available to most cable subscribers in the Vancouver/Victoria, British Columbia area as the ABC affiliate and is one of five Seattle television stations seen in Canada on the Bell TV and Shaw Direct satellite services.

From the station's inception until August 2013, KOMO-TV was the flagship station of Seattle-based Fisher Communications.



KOMO-TV began operating on December 10, 1953 as an NBC affiliate, owing to KOMO radio's long-time relationship with the NBC Radio Network.[1] It is the fourth-oldest television station in the Seattle–Tacoma area. KOMO also has an almost forgotten distinction as being the first station in Seattle to broadcast a television signal. Whereas crosstown rival KRSC-TV (channel 5, now KING-TV) was the first to air "wide audience" television in November 1948, KOMO broadcast a television signal nearly 20 years prior. On June 3, 1929, KOMO radio engineer Francis J. Brott televised images of a heart, a diamond, a question mark, letters, and numbers over electrical lines to small sets with one-inch screens—23 years before KOMO-TV's first regular broadcasts. A handful of viewers were captivated by the broadcast. KOMO would likely have held the distinction of being the first television station in Seattle, and perhaps the nation, were it not for the occurrences of the Great Depression and World War II.[2]

The station was originally owned by the Fisher family, which had its start in the flour mill and lumber businesses. The Fishers branched into broadcasting with its founding of KOMO radio in 1926.[3] In competing for the channel 4 construction permit, the Fishers faced off against the then-owners of KJR radio. KOMO was awarded the license in June 1953 after the KJR group dropped their bid,[4][5] and KOMO-TV first signed on the air only five months later. William W. Warren, general manager of KOMO radio and a nephew of KOMO co-founder Oliver D. Fisher, oversaw the development of KOMO-TV and remained involved with the station's management until his retirement in 1987.[6]

In 1954, a KOMO news photographer discovered a way to develop color film in a new process that took just a few hours instead of days. His discovery allowed KOMO-TV to become the first television station in the nation to broadcast in true color.[citation needed]

In October 1958, however, NBC signed affiliation deals with King Broadcasting Company for their radio and television properties in Seattle and Portland, Oregon.[7] In Seattle, channel 4 shared both ABC and NBC programming with KING-TV until September 27, 1959, when KING-TV took the NBC affiliation full-time. At that point, KOMO-TV became a primary ABC affiliate.[8][9][10]

During the 1960s, local television personality Don McCune became well known in the Seattle market for two programs seen on KOMO-TV. McCune was known to thousands of children in the area who came to know him in the role of "Captain Puget", hosting a children's entertainment program. Channel 4 and McCune also produced the documentary series Exploration Northwest, which explored many of the places and people of the Pacific Northwest. KOMO-TV and its Portland sister station KATU (built by Fisher and signed-on in 1962) were the only two ABC stations in the contiguous United States which aired Monday Night Football on a one-hour delay, from 1970 to 1995, in order to accommodate early evening newscasts on both stations. When the Seattle Seahawks joined the NFL in 1976, the stations modified this arrangement in order to broadcast Seahawks games live. In 1996, after years of fan protests, both KOMO-TV and KATU began clearing the entire Monday Night Football schedule live, regardless of the teams that were playing each week. A decade later, the program moved to cable on ESPN.

Mount St. Helens eruption, May 18, 1980[edit]

KOMO-TV nearly lost one of its staff in the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. Dave Crockett, who had been with the station since 1975, had been covering the mountain every day for three weeks until being rotated out a few days prior. On the morning of May 18, he woke up at 3:00 a.m. in Seattle on a hunch that he would get some impressive video that day, and loaded up his news car and headed towards Mount St. Helens without anyone at KOMO knowing about it. He arrived at the mountain just as it was erupting.[11] His news video, which shows an advancing ash cloud and mud flows down the South Fork Toutle River, was made famous by its eleven-minute long "journey into the dark", six of those minutes of which were recorded in "total darkness" as Crockett narrated to what he thought would be his "last day on Earth." His video made worldwide news and was used in a movie remake of the disaster starring Art Carney. The car he drove, with the remains of KOMO lettering still visible, is now a part of a Mount St. Helens Volcano Museum just outside Toutle.


In 1984, KOMO became the first television station to broadcast daily programming in full stereo sound.[12]

In 1994, KOMO applied for the first test license for broadcasting new high-definition signals. KOMO began broadcasting a high-definition digital signal[13] in 1997; on May 18, 1999, KOMO became the first television station in the United States to broadcast its daily newscasts in high definition.[14] This statement, however, comes into conflict with a claim made by WFAA in Dallas (a sister station to KING-TV) that it is the first station in the nation to broadcast its daily news programs in high definition, on February 28, 1997.[15] It also conflicts with WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina.[citation needed]

KOMO's present broadcast facility, formerly known as Fisher Plaza, completed in 2001. The broadcast portion of the complex was opened in June 2000.

On July 2, 2009, a large electrical fire [16] that started in an electrical vault at the Fisher Plaza complex at 11:15 p.m. that evening knocked KOMO off the air during its 11 p.m. newscast.[17][18]

On April 10, 2013, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that it would acquire Fisher Communications for $373.3 million.[19][20] However, the deal was subjected to financial scrutiny; the law firm Levi & Korsinsky notified Fisher shareholders with accusations that Fisher's board of directors were breaching fiduciary duties by "failing to adequately shop the Company before agreeing to enter into the transaction", and Sinclair was underpaying for Fisher's stock.[21] Shortly after the announcement, a lawsuit was filed by a Fisher shareholder.[22] On August 6, the shareholders voted to approve the sale, after they approved that the shareholders would get $41 per share.[23] The Federal Communications Commission granted approval of the deal on August 6,[24] and the sale was consummated on August 8.[25] Prior to the sale, KOMO-TV had been the last television station in the Seattle market to be owned by local interests.

On March 18, 2014, KOMO-TV's news helicopter crashed at the Seattle Center, as it was taking off from Fisher Plaza around 7:40 a.m., falling onto at least one car.[26] A second car and pickup truck, also involved, caught fire. Fuel from the crashed helicopter, which was leased to the station by St. Louis-based Helicopters Inc.[27] and was also used by KING-TV under a Local News Service agreement,[28] ran down Broad Street (along and south of the crash site), later bursting into flames.[29][30][31] Helicopter pilot Gary Pfitzner and photographer Bill Strothman were both killed in the crash. A 37-year-old man in one of the cars was also critically injured, reportedly suffering burns covering up to 20% of his body (revised from an earlier report of burns at up to 50%) according to the Seattle Fire Department.[32][33] The Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter involved in the crash, FAA registration number N250FB,[26] had been leased to KOMO-TV while technical upgrades were being made to the station's own helicopter.

On September 27, 2015, KOMO introduced a new studio for its newscasts, which was designed by Devlin Design Group—Sinclair's primary set design firm. The new design contains nods to Seattle's scenery, including tribal designs on the floor, a desk inspired by whale pods, as well as a helicopter blade—serving as a memorial to Pfitzner and Strothman.[34]

On May 8, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group entered into an agreement to acquire Tribune Media—owner of Fox affiliate KCPQ (channel 13) and MyNetworkTV affiliate KZJO (channel 22)—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 KOMO and KCPQ rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Seattle−Tacoma 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 KOMO/KUNS or the KCPQ/KZJO duopolies to another station group in order to comply with FCC ownership rules preceding approval of the acquisition; however, a sale of either station to an independent buyer is dependent on later decisions by the FCC regarding local ownership of broadcast television stations and future acts by Congress.[35][36][37][38][39][40] After speculation that Sinclair would keep KOMO-TV and KUNS-TV and sell KCPQ and KZJO to Fox Television Stations, it announced on April 24, 2018 that it would keep KOMO-TV, buy KZJO and sell KCPQ and KUNS-TV.[41][42] KUNS-TV will be sold to Howard Stirk Holdings, with Sinclair continuing to provide services to the station, while KCPQ will be sold to Fox Television Stations, making KCPQ a Fox owned-and-operated station.[43]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[44]
4.1 720p 16:9 KOMO Main KOMO-TV programming / ABC
4.2 480i Comet Comet
4.3 Charge Charge!

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

KOMO-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 4, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[45] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 38,[46][47] using PSIP to display KOMO-TV's virtual channel as 4 on digital television receivers.

In 2009, KOMO-TV became one of four television stations in the country to be the first to launch mobile DTV signals. The Open Mobile Video Coalition chose KOMO and independent station KONG (channel 16), and WPXA-TV and WATL in Atlanta, Georgia to beta test the ATSC-M/H standard, which has since been officially adopted for free-to-air digital broadcast television with clear reception on mobile devices, which overcomes the defects of the original ATSC standard.


Syndicated programming includes Live with Kelly and Ryan, Harry, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and The Doctors among others. Sinclair-owned programming such as Ring of Honor Wrestling, Full Measure with Sharyl Atkinson and The Right Side with Armstrong Williams is carried in weekend overnight periods, and the station's advertising/sales department produces the daily advertorial program Seattle Refined weekdays after ABC daytime programming.

News operation[edit]

KOMO-TV presently broadcasts 45 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 7 hours on weekdays and 5 hours each on weekends).

The remains of a car, a Mercury Monarch, once owned by KOMO TV that was involved in the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Photo was taken at the 19-Mile House Restaurant and Gift Shop, which was also a former museum, on May 18, 2007 - the 27th anniversary of the famous eruption.

For the last three decades, KOMO has competed directly with KING-TV for first place in the Seattle news ratings. KOMO continually places first amongst the local newscasts.


KOMO-TV's news division has consistently won awards for its reporting, and averages more wins per year than any Seattle television station. The station won the Edward R. Murrow Award for "Best Large Market Newscast" In both 2002 and 2008.[48][49] In June 2008, KOMO was awarded 15 regional Emmy Awards, taking top honors in the "Station Excellence", "Morning News", "Evening News", "Breaking News" and "Team Coverage" categories. KOMO anchor/reporter Molly Shen won the prestigious Individual Achievement Award for the second time in three years, and longtime anchor Kathi Goertzen took home a Silver Circle Award, in recognition of her 25+ years with the station.[50] The station also won the Emmy Award for "Breaking News Coverage". A segment on The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies (Palm Springs, California) received an Emmy in 1997.[51]

On-air staff[edit]

KOMO-TV's Kathi Goertzen in a screengrab from a 1989 report on the Berlin Wall takedown.

KOMO anchors Dan Lewis, Kathi Goertzen, and weather forecaster Steve Pool had the third-longest tenure of an anchor team in the United States, having served as KOMO's evening news team from 1987 to 2009. The station's evening newscast has long been co-anchored by Lewis and Goertzen, and was praised by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as being the "Best First-String anchor unit in town."[52]

Following the presidential inauguration ceremony in 1993, Lewis became the first reporter to interview then-President Bill Clinton, which occurred at the White House.[53]

Notable current on-air staff[edit]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

  • Kathi Goertzen – anchor and special assignment reporter (1980–2012; died on August 13, 2012)[54]
  • Keith Jackson – reporter, later sportscaster (1954–1964; later with ABC Sports; died on January 12, 2018)[55]
  • Dan Lewis – anchor (1987–2014; retired, but returns occasionally for special projects for KOMO-TV)
  • Tim Lewis - weekend sports anchor (2012–2016).
  • John Seigenthaler Jr. – anchor and reporter (married fellow KOMO anchor/reporter Kerry Brock in 1992, left the station and moved to Nashville, Tennessee; later weekend anchor of NBC Nightly News)
  • Bill Schonely – Sportscaster, 1955–1959, worked alongside Keith Jackson. Bill later became "The Voice of the Trailblazers" for almost three decades and is now employed by the team as their "Ambassador"
  • Jim Snyder – anchor and reporter (1994–1998; now with KSNV)


  1. ^ "Nine more TV stations take to air."[permanent dead link] Broadcasting - Telecasting, December 21, 1953, pg. 58.
  2. ^ Viewers watch Puget Sound's first wide-audience TV broadcast on 25 November 1948.
  3. ^ Corr, O. Casey (5 June 1994). "Into the spotlight–the Fisher family, long part of Seattle's quiet wealthy, takes a more visible road in 'hot talk' radio, Lake Union development, family fortune management". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "FCC grants 1 VHF, 3 UHF." Broadcasting - Telecasting, June 15, 1953, pp. 52-53. [1][permanent dead link][2][permanent dead link]
  5. ^ KOMO/Fisher's Blend Station, Inc. advertisement, circa June 1953. Seatacmedia.com.
  6. ^ Beers, Carole (January 16, 1999). "Obituaries: William W. Warren, 87, pioneer in Seattle TV, radio broadcasting". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ "KGW, KING stations affiliate with NBC."[permanent dead link] Broadcasting, October 20, 1958, pg. 74.
  8. ^ "Seattle partner-change in '59: KOMO-TV to ABC; KING-TV to NBC."[permanent dead link] Broadcasting, October 27, 1958, pg. 68.
  9. ^ "KOMO-TV joins ABC."[permanent dead link] Broadcasting, April 13, 1959, pg. 99.
  10. ^ "'Operation Switchover.'"[permanent dead link] Broadcasting, October 5, 1959, pg. 100.
  11. ^ Dave Crockett Archived 2005-05-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ [3] Archived November 22, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ began broadcasting a high definition digital signal
  14. ^ [4] Archived October 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "WFAA Fiftieth Anniversary". Archived from the original on 2008-03-11. Retrieved 2007-06-04. [dubious ]
  16. ^ July 2009 Fire
  17. ^ Electrical fire disrupts broadcasts, Web sites Archived 2009-07-06 at the Wayback Machine., KOMO-TV, July 3, 2009.
  18. ^ Fire disrupts stations at Seattle's Fisher Plaza, Seattle Times, July 3, 2009.
  19. ^ "Sinclair acquiring Fisher Communications". komonews.com. April 11, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  20. ^ Colman, Price (April 10, 2013). "Sinclair poised to buy Fisher stations". TVnewscheck.com. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  21. ^ "SHAREHOLDER ALERT: Levi & Korsinsky, LLP Notifies Investors of Claims of Breaches of Fiduciary Duty by the Board of Fisher Communications, Inc. in Connection With the Sale of the Company to Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc". Press release. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  22. ^ "Fisher Communications, Inc. (FSCI) Investor Lawsuit to Stop Takeover by Sinclair Broadcast Group Announced by Shareholders Foundation". Press release. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  23. ^ Fisher stockholders approve sale to Sinclair Seattle Times, 6 August 2013
  24. ^ (PDF) http://licensing.fcc.gov/prod/cdbs/pubacc/Auth_Files/1563064.pdf. Retrieved August 7, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  25. ^ "Sinclair Broadcast Group Closes On Fisher Communications Acquisition". All Access. August 8, 2013. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  26. ^ a b "WPR14FA137 — Preliminary Accident Report". 2014-03-21. Retrieved 2014-03-21. 
  27. ^ [5]
  28. ^ "2 Dead After KOMO Helicopter Crashes in Seattle". TVSpy. 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  29. ^ "2 killed in news helicopter crash at Seattle Center". KING-TV. 2014-03-18. Archived from the original on 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  30. ^ "2 die in news helicopter crash at KOMO-TV". The Seattle Times. 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  31. ^ "2 die in news helicopter crash near Space Needle". The Seattle Times. 2014-03-18. Archived from the original on 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  32. ^ "Pilot, KOMO-TV photographer killed in news helicopter crash". KGW. 2014-03-18. Archived from the original on 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  33. ^ "2 killed as KOMO News helicopter crashes near Space Needle". KOMO-TV. 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  34. ^ "KOMO Brings Seattle Scenery Into Its Studio". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  35. ^ Stephen Battaglio (May 8, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast Group to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion plus debt". Los Angeles Times. Tronc. Retrieved June 6, 2017. 
  36. ^ Cynthia Littleton (May 8, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast Group Sets $3.9 Billion Deal to Acquire Tribune Media". Variety. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 6, 2017. 
  37. ^ Todd Frankel (May 8, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, giving it control over 215 local TV stations". The Washington Post. Nash Holdings, LLC. Retrieved June 6, 2017. 
  38. ^ Liana Baker; Jessica Toonkel (May 7, 2017). "Sinclair Broadcast nears deal for Tribune Media". Reuters. Retrieved June 6, 2017. 
  39. ^ Harry A. Jessell; Mark K. Miller (May 8, 2017). "The New Sinclair: 72% Coverage + WGNA". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media. 
  40. ^ Dominic Gates (May 9, 2017). "Current FCC rules bar Sinclair from owning both KOMO and KCPQ — but that could change". The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company. Retrieved June 7, 2017. 
  41. ^ Jones, Scott (December 15, 2017). "DOJ Gives The OK To Sinclair, Now Look for..." FTV Live. Retrieved December 17, 2017. 
  42. ^ "Sinclair Revises TV Spinoff Plans For Tribune Deal, Announces Deals For Several Stations". All Access. April 24, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2018. 
  43. ^ Hayes, Dade (May 9, 2018). "21st Century Fox Buys Seven Local TV Stations From Sinclair For $910 Million". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved May 9, 2018. 
  44. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KOMO
  45. ^ List of Digital Full-Power Stations
  46. ^ CDBS Print
  47. ^ What digital TV delay means to North Olympic Peninsula viewers
  48. ^ "KOMO/4 newscast wins Murrow Award for best local newscast". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 2002-06-21. Retrieved 2006-12-18. 
  49. ^ "KOMO 4 Television Wins National Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence". Fisher Communications. 2008-07-02. Retrieved 2008-07-08. [permanent dead link]
  50. ^ "KOMO's Molly Shen wins individual achievement Emmy ... again". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  51. ^ McNary, Dave (July 9, 2004). "Par seeks high-kicking aud for vaude". Daily Variety. Reed Business Information. 
  52. ^ TV news directors: Make it a clean sweep, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 8, 2002.
  53. ^ Dan Lewis interviews then-President Bill Clinton
  54. ^ "Longtime TV anchorwoman Kathi Goertzen dies after battle with tumors". SeattleTimes.com. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  55. ^ "Legendary former KOMO sportscaster Keith Jackson dies at 89". KOMONews.com. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 

External links[edit]