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KQED logo
KQED: San Francisco/Oakland/
San Jose, California
KQET: Watsonville/Salinas/
Monterey, California
United States
City of license KQED: San Francisco, California
KQET: Watsonville, California
Branding KQED
Channels Digital:
KQED: 30 (UHF)
Virtual: 9 (PSIP)
KQET: 25 (UHF)
Virtual: 25 (PSIP)
Subchannels 9.1 PBS HD
9.2 Create TV
9.3 World
Affiliations PBS
Owner Northern California Public Broadcasting, Inc.
First air date KQED: April 5, 1954
KQET: May 17, 1989
Call letters' meaning Quod Erat Demonstrandum
Sister station(s) KQED-FM, KQEH
Former callsigns KQET: KCAH (1989–2007)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
9 (VHF, 1954–2009)
25 (UHF, 1989–2009)
KQET: 58 (UHF: 2007–2009)
Former affiliations KQED: NET (1954–1970)
Transmitter power KQED:777 kW
KQET: 81.1 kW
Height KQED:437 m
KQET: 698.6 m
Facility ID KQED: 35500
KQET: 8214
Transmitter coordinates KQED:
37°45′19″N 122°27′6″W / 37.75528°N 122.45167°W / 37.75528; -122.45167 (KQED)
36°45′22.9″N 121°30′4.9″W / 36.756361°N 121.501361°W / 36.756361; -121.501361 (KQET)
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.kqed.org

KQED, virtual channel 9 (UHF digital channel 30), is a PBS member television station located in San Francisco, California, United States. The station is owned by Northern California Public Broadcasting, through subsidiary KQED, Inc., alongside fellow PBS station KQEH (channel 54) and NPR member radio station KQED-FM (88.5). KQED maintains studios located on Mariposa Street in San Francisco's Mission District, and its transmitter is located atop Sutro Tower.

KQED's signal is relayed on satellite station KQET (virtual channel 25 and digital channel 25) in Watsonville, which serves the Monterey/Salinas/Santa Cruz market; that 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 sixth public television station in the United States, debuting shortly after the launch of WQED in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The station's call letters, Q.E.D., are taken from the Latin phrase, quod erat demonstrandum, commonly used in mathematics.[1]

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.[2] 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."[3] 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.[4]

In 1970, KQED inherited KNEW-TV (channel 32) from Metromedia, 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.[5] 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.[6] The decision to pursue the videotaping of executions was controversial amongst those on both sides of the capital punishment debate.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9]

On January 4, 2011, KQED became a default PBS member station for both San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria (becoming available on cable providers in those markets),[10] following Los Angeles public television station KCET's defection from PBS on January 1, 2011.[11][12][13][14]


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.[15]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[16][17]
9.1 / 25.1 1080i 16:9 KQED-HD Main KQED programming / PBS
9.2 / 25.2 480i 4:3 KQED+ KQEH (KQED Plus)
9.3 / 25.3 WORLD KQED World

All channels are available on Comcast;[18] AT&T U-verse offers KQED and KQEH, but not KQED World.[19]

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.[20] 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.[20] 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.


Typical weekday programming on KQED is dominated by children's programming in the morning and the late afternoon hours, with news and other programs running between noon and 4 p.m. and after 6 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 primetime.[21][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.[22]

Noteworthy KQED television productions include the first installment of Armistead Maupin's miniseries Tales of the City, Tongues Untied by Marlon Riggs, and a series of programs focusing on the historic neighborhoods in San Francisco, such as The Castro and The Fillmore District. Ongoing productions include Check, Please! Bay Area, Spark, This Week in Northern California and QUEST.[23]

Children's programming[edit]

Raggs was a children's program produced by KQED for American Public Television and PBS Kids Go!, 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.[24]

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.[25][26][27]


Main article: KQED-FM


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.[28] In 1984, a new programming guide, Fine Tuning was separated from Focus, with Focus carrying on as a self-contained magazine.[29] 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.[30] In 2005, San Francisco Focus was resold to Modern Luxury Media, who rebranded the magazine as San Francisco.[31]

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


  1. ^ http://www.kqed.org/press/newsevents/41.jsp
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ ""World Press" TV Study Proves Value". Schienectady Gazette. September 22, 1969. 
  4. ^ Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, by Erik Barnouw; Oxford University Press, 1982
  5. ^ Alex Friend (11 May 1988). "FCC revokes license for San Francisco public TV station KQEC". Current.org. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  6. ^ Michael Schwarz. "Witness to an execution". Indiana University School of Journalism. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  7. ^ Jill Smolowe (3 June 1991). "The Ultimate Horror Show". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  8. ^ Barnes, Mike (2012-12-30). "Oscar-Winning Producer Irving Saraf Dies at 80". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  9. ^ Press Release: PBS' Nightly Business Report Opens Silicon Valley Bureau
  10. ^ KQED Public Television Provides Service in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria(pdf)
  11. ^ Los Angeles' KCET-TV sees ratings drop of 50% after it boots PBS to the curb
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ KQED expands into southern territory
  14. ^ Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET exits network fold to go independent
  15. ^ "KQET Fall 2007 Schedule" (PDF). KQET. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  16. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KQED
  17. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KQET
  18. ^ "Comcast San Francisco Channel Lineup". Comcast. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  19. ^ "Channel Line-Up - AT&T U-verse - Advanced TV, High Speed Internet & Phone". AT&T. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  20. ^ a b List of Digital Full-Power Stations
  21. ^ About KQED
  22. ^ [2]
  23. ^ More information - KQED QUEST
  24. ^ [3]
  26. ^ [4]
  27. ^ [5]
  28. ^ "About KQED: The 1950s", KQED.com.
  29. ^ "About KQED: The 1980s", KQED.com.
  30. ^ "About KQED: The 1990s", KQED.com.
  31. ^ "San Francisco magazine re-launches in a new format that redefines city and luxury magazine publishing" (press release), Modern Luxury Media, October 18, 2005.

External links[edit]