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KQED logo
CitySan Francisco, California
OwnerKQED Inc.
First air date
April 5, 1954 (68 years ago) (1954-04-05)
(in Berkeley, California; license moved to San Francisco in 1956)
Former channel number(s)
Analog: 9 (VHF, 1954–2009)
NET (1954–1970)
Call sign meaning
"Quod Erat Demonstrandum"
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID35500
ERP1,000 kW
HAAT511.7 m (1,678.8 ft)
Transmitter coordinates37°45′19″N 122°27′10″W / 37.75528°N 122.45278°W / 37.75528; -122.45278 (KQED)Coordinates: 37°45′19″N 122°27′10″W / 37.75528°N 122.45278°W / 37.75528; -122.45278 (KQED)
Public license information
Satellite station
CityWatsonville, California
  • 25.1: PBS
  • 25.2: KQEH simulcast
  • 25.3: KQED World
  • 25.4: KQED Kids
OwnerKQED Inc.
First air date
May 17, 1989 (33 years ago) (1989-05-17)
Former call signs
KCAH (1989–2007)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog: 25 (UHF, 1989–2009)
  • Digital: 58 (UHF, 2007–2009)
Call sign meaning
disambiguation of KQED
Technical information
Facility ID8214
ERP81.1 kW
HAAT698.6 m (2,292.0 ft)
Transmitter coordinates36°45′22.8″N 121°30′8.7″W / 36.756333°N 121.502417°W / 36.756333; -121.502417 (KQET)
Public license information

KQED (channel 9) is a PBS member television station licensed to San Francisco, California, United States, serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The station is owned by KQED Inc., alongside fellow PBS station KQEH (channel 54) and NPR member KQED-FM (88.5). The three stations share studios on Mariposa Street in San Francisco's Mission District and transmitter facilities atop Sutro Tower.

KQET (channel 25) in Watsonville operates as a full-time satellite of KQED, serving the MontereySalinasSanta Cruz market. This station's transmitter is located at Fremont Peak, near San Juan Bautista.


KQED was organized and founded by veteran broadcast journalists James Day and Jonathan Rice on June 1, 1953, and first signed on the air on April 5, 1954, as the fourth television station in the San Francisco Bay Area and the sixth public television station in the United States, debuting shortly after the launch of WQED in Pittsburgh. The station's call letters, Q.E.D., are taken from the Latin phrase, quod erat demonstrandum, commonly used in mathematics.[1] The station was originally licensed to Berkeley, but changed its city of license to San Francisco on July 24, 1956.[2]

One of KQED's early local programs was World Press, an hour-long weekly roundup of international news stories analyzed by a panel of political analysts, which debuted in 1963. Panel members, who were political science analysts specializing in each specific global area, each brought a newspaper for round table discussion.[3] It was developed by San Francisco Supervisor Roger Boas,[citation needed] who brought his long-term interest in government, politics, television and business to the show. The program "summed up the foreign reaction to such events as the Kennedy assassinations, the Vietnam War, along with thousands of other events that have shaped the decade of the sixties."[4] What started as a local public access program with no financial support became the longest continuously running discussion program televised on approximately 185 stations.[citation needed]

In its early days following the station's sign-on, KQED broadcast only twice a week for one hour each day. Despite the very limited schedule, the station was still losing money, leading to a decision in early 1955 from its board of trustees to close down the station. Its staff got the board to keep the station on the air and try to get needed funds from the public in a form of a televised auction, in which celebrities would appear to auction off goods and services donated to the station. While the station still came a little short, it did show that the general public cared to keep KQED on the air. Since then, the auction became a fund-raising tool for many public television stations, though its usage waned in recent years in favor of increased usage of special pledge drives throughout the year.[5]

KQED was best known in the late '60s and throughout the 1970s, as one of the very few public stations in the country to have its own nightly news show, originally known as Newsroom. For many years, the show was anchored by Belva Davis, a pioneering African American broadcaster. Newsroom grew out of a 1968 newspaper strike in San Francisco. Journalists from the affected newspapers began reporting their stories on KQED. In 1980, the nightly news broadcast was canceled and replaced with a documentary production unit, which thrived for over a decade, producing a series of local documentaries and some major national productions, including two Peabody Award winners, Broken Arrow: Can a Nuclear Weapons Accident Happen Here? (1980–81) and The Case of Dashiell Hammett (1982). The staff also regularly produced feature news stories for the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour.

In 1970, KQED inherited KNEW-TV (channel 32) from Metromedia and changed the station's call letters to KQEC, but found they could not operate it without losing money. Various PBS and locally produced programs from KQED would air erratically and at different times of the day on KQEC. In 1988, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revoked KQED's license to operate KQEC, citing excessive off-air time, further charging dishonesty in previous filings with regard to the specific reasons. The alleged dishonesty was in reference to KQED's claim of financial woes for keeping KQEC off the air for most of 1972 through 1977, and again for several months in 1979 and 1980. After being revoked from KQED's hands, the reassigned license was granted to the Minority Television Project (MTP), one of the challengers of the KQED/KQEC filing.[6] The KQEC call letters were changed to KMTP-TV under the new license.

During the early 1990s, when the state of California reintroduced the death penalty, the KQED organization waged a legal battle for the right to televise the forthcoming execution of Robert Alton Harris at San Quentin State Prison.[7] The decision to pursue the videotaping of executions was controversial amongst those on both sides of the capital punishment debate.[8]

KQED was co-producer of the television adaptation of Armistead Maupin's novel Tales of the City, which aired on PBS stations nationwide in January 1994. The original six-part series was produced by Britain's public-service Channel 4 Corporation with KQED and PBS' American Playhouse. The six-part miniseries featured gay themes, nudity and illicit drug use in this fictional portrayal of life in 1970s San Francisco. Although the program gave PBS its highest ratings ever for a dramatic program, PBS bowed to threats of federal funding cuts and announced it would not participate in the television production of an adaptation of the second book in the series, More Tales of the City. The film division of KQED was founded by Irving Saraf.[9]

With financial constraints looming, KQED announced in June 1995 that it would begin showing 30-second advertisements from corporate sponsors the following month.[10][11]

The station started a school-age channel using some PBS shows plus syndicated show such as Zulu Patrol and Little Amadeus in 2005. KQED also became a PBS Kids Sprout partner, which gave the station goodwill to get carriage on Comcast's systems.[12]

On May 1, 2006, KQED and the KTEH Foundation agreed to merge to form Northern California Public Broadcasting.[13][14] While broadcasting its own kids channel, the station intended to pick up the planned PBS Kids Go! channel when launched in April 2006. However, the PBS Kids Go! channel was cancelled in July 2006 before broadcasting. Since the two station shared a market and public TV's digital carriage agreement with top cable operators required differentiation of the stations' services, PBS Kids Go! was a way to do so.[15]

On November 11, 2010, KQED and NBR Worldwide, LLC, the owners of PBS business news program, the Nightly Business Report, reached into an agreement to open a bureau in the Silicon Valley in order to enhance coverage of NBR.[16]

On January 1, 2011, KQED became a default PBS member station for San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara (becoming available on cable providers in those markets),[17] following Los Angeles public television station KCET's defection from PBS on December 31, 2010.[18][19][20][21]


KQED's Watsonville satellite station KQET first signed on the air on May 17, 1989, as KCAH, originally operating as a locally owned PBS member station serving the Monterey area. In the late 1990s, San Jose PBS member station KTEH acquired KCAH, converting channel 25 into a satellite of KTEH. The station changed its call letters to KQET on August 12, 2007, months after the merger of KQED and KTEH. On October 1, 2007, KQET converted from a satellite of KTEH to a satellite of KQED.[22]


Typical weekday programming on KQED is dominated by children's programming from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with news and other programs running between 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The station's prime time schedule features mainly programs provided by PBS. On Saturdays, several cooking shows and other home programming airs during the daytime hours, with movies or special programming during the evening and overnight hours. On Sundays, children's programming airs during the morning, with reruns of popular shows during the daytime and prime time. It is one of the most-watched PBS stations in the country during prime time.[23][non-primary source needed]

KQED has carried the news program PBS NewsHour ever since its debut as a national program in 1975. The program would eventually open a West Coast bureau at KQED's studios in 1997 to extend coverage throughout the United States.[24] Unlike most PBS member stations in the west, KQED airs the Eastern Edition of the NewsHour live at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET, followed by the Western Edition at 6 p.m. PT.[citation needed]

Noteworthy KQED television productions include the first installment of Armistead Maupin's miniseries Tales of the City, Tongues Untied by Marlon Riggs, Film School Shorts, International Animation Festival hosted by Jean Marsh, and a series of programs focusing on the historic neighborhoods in San Francisco, such as The Castro and the Fillmore District. Most KQED San Francisco national presentations are distributed by American Public Television. Ongoing productions include Check, Please! Bay Area, Spark, This Week in Northern California, Truly CA, and QUEST.[25]

Children's programming[edit]

Raggs was a children's program produced by KQED for American Public Television and PBS Kids, for syndication to public television stations. Raggs would first be test-marketed on ten public television stations, including KQED and its partners, before launching nationwide in 2008.[citation needed] On May 11, 2009, PBS announced that the station would co-produce another show, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, for broadcast on PBS.[26][27][28]



In 1955, KQED began publishing a programming guide called KQED in Focus, which eventually began to add more articles and took on the character of a regular magazine. The title of the publication was later changed to Focus Magazine and then to San Francisco Focus.[29] In 1984, a new programming guide, Fine Tuning was separated from Focus, with Focus carrying on as a self-contained magazine.[30] In the early 1990s, San Francisco Focus was the recipient of number of journalism and publishing awards, including a National Headliner Award for feature writing in 1993. In 1997, KQED sold San Francisco Focus to Diablo Publications in order to pay off outstanding debt.[31] In 2005, San Francisco Focus was resold to Modern Luxury Media, who rebranded the magazine as San Francisco.[32]

The program guide was published on kqed.org as the Guide. It has been renamed On KQED.

Technical information[edit]


The stations' digital signals are multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect Short name Programming[33][34]
9.1 25.1 1080i 16:9 KQED-HD KQET-HD Main programming / PBS
9.2 25.2 KQED+HD KQET+HD Simulcast of KQEH (KQED Plus)
9.3 25.3 480i WORLD KQED World
9.4 25.4 KIDS KQED Kids

All channels are available on Comcast;[35] AT&T U-verse offers KQED and KQEH, but not KQED World.[36] On December 15, 2017, the KQED Life subchannel (carried on KQEH) went permanently off the air, with its programming moving to the main channels of KQEH and KQED.[37]

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

KQED shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[38] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 30, using PSIP to display KQED's virtual channel as 9 on digital television receivers.

KQET shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 25, on May 9, 2009.[38] The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 58, which was among the high band UHF channels (52–69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era UHF channel 25 for post-transition operations.


  1. ^ "News and Events". 2011-12-05.
  2. ^ "FCC History Cards for KQED".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Lara, Adair (April 28, 2004). "KQED AT 50: KQED is an institution in Public TV, but from the beginning it took an anything but goes approach". San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. ^ ""World Press" TV Study Proves Value". Schenectady Gazette. September 22, 1969.
  5. ^ Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, by Erik Barnouw; Oxford University Press, 1982
  6. ^ Friend, Alex (11 May 1988). "FCC revokes license for San Francisco public TV station KQEC". Current.org. Archived from the original on 6 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-17.
  7. ^ Michael Schwarz. "Witness to an execution". Indiana University School of Journalism. Retrieved 2007-01-17.
  8. ^ Smolowe, Jill (June 3, 1991). "The Ultimate Horror Show". TIME Magazine. Archived from the original on October 1, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-17.
  9. ^ Barnes, Mike (2012-12-30). "Oscar-Winning Producer Irving Saraf Dies at 80". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  10. ^ Hatfield, Larry D. (June 2, 1995). "KQED-TV to run ads in effort to stay afloat". SFGate.
  11. ^ GOODMAN, TIM. "WILL NEW AD POLICY CHANGE KQED?." Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA), 3 Jun. 1995, Final, Time Out, p. E01. NewsBank, infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/1063F9169635D481?p=AWNB. Accessed 24 Nov. 2018.
  12. ^ Katy June-Friesen (January 12, 2009). "Many stations packaging their own kids' channels". Current. Archived from the original on April 16, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
  13. ^ Iverson, Dave (May 5, 2006). "The KQED/KTEH/KCAH Merger". KQED. Retrieved 2020-04-07.
  14. ^ Hamlin, Jesse (May 2, 2006). "KQED-TV and KTEH to merge / Goal is to cut costs, expand programming". SFGate. Retrieved 2020-04-07.
  15. ^ Everhart, Karen (July 17, 2006). "PBS Kids Go! channel: plan is no-go for now". Current. Current Publishing Committee. Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  16. ^ Press Release: PBS' Nightly Business Report Opens Silicon Valley Bureau
  17. ^ KQED Public Television Provides Service in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria(pdf)
  18. ^ Los Angeles' KCET-TV sees ratings drop of 50% after it boots PBS to the curb Archived 2011-01-07 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "TV Daily Schedule: KQED 9".
  20. ^ "KQED expands into southern territory". San Francisco Biz Journals. January 4, 2011. Retrieved 2020-04-07.
  21. ^ "Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET exits network fold to go independent". Los Angeles Times. October 8, 2010. Retrieved 2020-04-07.
  22. ^ "KQET Fall 2007 Schedule" (PDF). KQET. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  23. ^ About KQED
  24. ^ "PBS Newshour History". PBS. Archived from the original on 2011-09-30.
  25. ^ More information – KQED QUEST
  28. ^ "Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!".
  29. ^ "About KQED: The 1950s" Archived 2007-08-18 at the Wayback Machine, KQED.com.
  30. ^ "About KQED: The 1980s" Archived 2007-11-14 at the Wayback Machine, KQED.com.
  31. ^ "About KQED: The 1990s" Archived 2008-01-17 at the Wayback Machine, KQED.com.
  32. ^ "San Francisco magazine re-launches in a new format that redefines city and luxury magazine publishing" (press release), Modern Luxury Media, October 18, 2005.
  33. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KQED
  34. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KQET
  35. ^ "Comcast San Francisco Channel Lineup". Comcast. Retrieved 2007-01-17.
  36. ^ "Channel Line-Up – AT&T U-verse – Advanced TV, High Speed Internet & Phone". AT&T. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
  37. ^ Hicks, Chris (December 13, 2017). "KQED LIFE OFF AIR Friday, December 15". KQED. Archived from the original on February 26, 2018. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  38. ^ a b List of Digital Full-Power Stations Archived 2013-08-29 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]