KULR-TV

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KULR-TV
The words "NonStop Local" in a sans serif, with Local in bold and all caps. Under the "Non" is a rotating angled set of curved arrows. Beneath this are the NBC peacock and the word "Billings".
Channels
BrandingNonStop Local Billings
Programming
Affiliations
Ownership
Owner
History
First air date
March 15, 1958 (65 years ago) (1958-03-15)
Former call signs
KGHL-TV (1958–1963)
Former channel number(s)
Analog: 8 (VHF, 1958–2009)
  • ABC (1963–1987, secondary until 1969)
Call sign meaning
"Color"; as in Color television
Technical information[1]
Licensing authority
FCC
Facility ID35724
ERP16 kW
HAAT191 m (627 ft)
Transmitter coordinates45°45′35.5″N 108°27′17.4″W / 45.759861°N 108.454833°W / 45.759861; -108.454833
Translator(s)See list
Repeater(s)KYUS-TV 3 Miles City
Links
Public license information
Websitewww.nonstoplocal.com/billings/

KULR-TV (channel 8) is a television station in Billings, Montana, United States, affiliated with NBC and owned by the Cowles Company. The station's studios are located on Overland Avenue in the Homestead Business Park section of Billings, and its transmitter is located on Coburn Hill southeast of downtown.

KULR-TV was the second TV station on the air in Billings; it began broadcasting as KGHL-TV, co-owned with KGHL radio, on March 15, 1958. The station was renamed KULR-TV in 1963 when it was separated from the radio stations. It was an ABC affiliate from 1969 to 1987, when it returned to NBC. KULR-TV was purchased by Max Media in 2004 and by Cowles in 2013. Since the late 1980s, its newscasts have been a distant second-place finisher to KTVQ.

History[edit]

The first channel 8 construction permit was awarded on November 21, 1952, to the Rudman-Hayutin Television Company, a consortium of two oil producers.[2] M. B. Rudman surrendered other permits he owned with Hayutin in North Dakota in September 1953 in order to concentrate on the proposed Billings station,[3] but after the company failed to respond to a letter from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) inquiring as to progress in construction, the FCC canceled the permit in March 1954.[4]

KGHL-TV: Early years[edit]

The Midland Empire Broadcasting Company, owner of Billings radio station KGHL (790 AM), applied to the FCC in September 1955 for channel 8.[5] The FCC granted the application on November 23,[6] but it stayed the grant after KOOK-TV (channel 2), the city's other TV station, protested to the commission.[7] In August, FCC hearing examiner James D. Cunningham recommended a grant of the Midland Empire application, noting that while the addition of a second station would cause some economic damage to KOOK-TV, the Billings market could sustain two stations.[8]

The FCC lifted the stay on construction of KGHL-TV on April 19, 1957. Midland Empire Broadcasting Company officials announced they would begin construction immediately on studios co-located with the radio station on Broadway.[9] However, the company instead decided to build new facilities on North 30th Street to house both stations; the KGHL-TV transmitter was also built southeast of Billings.[10][11] KGHL-TV began broadcasting on March 15, 1958, as an affiliate of NBC.[11]

KULR-TV[edit]

Midland Empire Broadcasting sold KGHL-AM-TV to Crain-Snyder Television in 1962; Crain-Snyder immediately spun KGHL radio off to George C. Hatch, retaining KGHL-TV.[12] It was decided to let the older radio station keep the KGHL call letters;[13] On January 1, 1963, coinciding with the change in ownership, KGHL-TV became KULR-TV; both halves of the newly split operation made plans to leave the 30th Street site, with channel 8 relocating to studios at the transmitter site on Coburn Hill.[14] KULR also added a secondary affiliation with ABC in 1963.[15]

Paul Crain, one of the two principals in Crain-Snyder Television, died at the age of 43 in 1964.[16] Two years later, Crain-Snyder sold KULR-TV to the Harriscope Broadcasting Corporation, which owned KFBB-TV in Great Falls and KTWO-TV in Casper, Wyoming; the FCC approved of the $350,000 purchase in March 1967.[17][18][19]

Harriscope agreed in 1967 to change the primary network affiliation for KULR-TV and KFBB-TV in Great Falls to ABC at the end of each station's existing affiliation contract;[20] KULR's switch took effect January 1, 1969, at which point NBC was relegated to secondary status.[21] Even though it was a primary ABC affiliate, ABC's evening network newscast was not aired until 1971, when Harriscope began airing the ABC and NBC evening newscasts on KULR-TV and KTWO-TV in Casper.[22] By later in the 1970s, KTVQ had first call rights to NBC shows, with KULR-TV having secondary choice;[23] in 1979, KTVQ aired 10 prime time shows from NBC and KULR another five.[24] In 1980, some NBC programs moved to the newly built KOUS-TV (channel 4), though it was not until 1982 that NBC had a primary affiliate again in Billings.[25][26]

KULR-TV announced in 1983 that the station would relocate to a new building in the Homestead Business Park that would provide upgraded technical facilities and twice the space for its 40 employees; the structure was completed in 1984.[27][28]

Dix, Max, and Cowles ownership[edit]

Harriscope sold KULR-TV and KTWO-TV in Casper to Dix Communications in 1986 for $12.2 million.[29] At a time when NBC was stronger than ABC, in January 1987, KULR initiated an affiliation switch to NBC, with KOUS-TV picking up ABC; the switch took effect that August.[30][31] Dix also was early to begin digital broadcasting from its stations despite their small market size, with KULR-DT beginning operations on May 6, 2002.[32][33]

Dix Communications sold KULR-TV, along with KFBB-TV in Great Falls, to Max Media on June 16, 2004, for $12.25 million.[34][35] Dix chairman Robert Dix said that the sale made sense, as KULR and KFBB were the company's last two television stations.[36] On September 30, 2013, the Cowles Company announced that it would acquire Max Media's Montana television station cluster (comprising KULR and ABC affiliates KWYB in Butte, KFBB-TV in Great Falls, KHBB-LD in Helena and KTMF in Missoula) for $18 million.[37][38] The sale was completed on November 29.[39]

News operation[edit]

KULR-TV was the traditional news leader in Billings prior to the late 1980s, having something of an edge in ratings surveys as early as the late 1970s.[40] The station was on top for most of the 1980s, sometimes attracting twice as many or more households as channel 2, which analysts attributed to the more folksy approach taken by "Straight 8" in comparison with KTVQ's newscasts and the popularity of anchorman and news director Dave Rye.[41][42] KULR did have the market's first female news co-anchor, Chris Chesrown,[43] and it was the first station in the state to maintain a full-time state capital reporter in Helena.[42] Future Montana senator Conrad Burns worked for KULR-TV as a farm broadcaster in the 1980s.[44]

However, changes at KTVQ were eventually successful in unseating KULR. In 1984, a major overhaul of MTN's regional network news format shifted the center of the network from Great Falls to Billings. Ratings started to climb,[42] though it was not until KTVQ replaced unpopular anchorman Dean Phillips with Montana native Gus Koernig that it surpassed KULR-TV in viewership.[45] Rye departed channel 8 in 1990 and successfully ran for the Montana State Senate, returning to KULR after the legislature's 1993 session.[46] Rye's return failed to restore KULR to ratings leadership as KTVQ continued to hold a two-to-one viewership advantage for its newscasts.[47] In 2001, the station realigned its early evening newscasts from one local program at 5:30 p.m. to separate 5 and 6 p.m. half-hours, by which time the 5:30 newscast was being beaten three-to-one by KTVQ.[48]

In October 2022, its newscasts were rebranded as NonStop Local as part of a group-wide rebranding by Cowles.[49]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

Technical information[edit]

Subchannels[edit]

The stations' digital signals are multiplexed:

Subchannels of KULR-TV[51]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
8.1 1080i 16:9 KULR-HD Main programming / NBC
8.2 KULRSWX SWX Right Now

In February 2009, the four commercial stations in the Billings market were refused FCC permission to end analog broadcasts and operate as digital-only effective on the originally-scheduled February 17, 2009, date.[52]

Translators[edit]

KULR-TV is broadcast by separately owned KYUS-TV (channel 3) in Miles City. KYUS-TV became a satellite of KULR-TV under a time brokerage agreement on May 1, 1998.[53] The original agreement expired after ten years; KYUS-TV now broadcasts KULR-TV's programming under a series of informal agreements, receiving no payment and keeping no advertising income. Although the station generates no revenue of its own, Marks continues to operate it as a public service.[53][54]

In addition, KULR-TV is rebroadcast on translators across Montana and several communities in Wyoming:[55]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Facility Technical Data for KULR-TV". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  2. ^ "Permits Granted For Television: Billings, Great Falls And Butte Approved". The Billings Gazette. January 16, 1953. p. 2. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Oilman Drops Permits for 3 TV Stations". Great Falls Tribune. Associated Press. September 17, 1953. p. 5. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "FCC Cancels Permit For Billings TV Channel 8 Station". The Billings Gazette. United Press. March 4, 1954. p. 13. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "KGHL Files TV Application: Fortin Firm Seeks Channel 8 Permit". The Billings Gazette. September 9, 1955. p. 5. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Billings to Get 100,000 Watt New TV Station". Great Falls Tribune. United Press. November 24, 1955. p. 4. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Protest Hearing on New Billings TV Station Scheduled for March 19". The Billings Gazette. Associated Press. January 20, 1956. p. 8. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Local Channel 8 Station Backed". The Billings Gazette. Associated Press. August 3, 1956. p. 2. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "FCC Approves KGHL-TV Permit: Telecasting May Start This Fall". The Billings Gazette. April 20, 1957. p. 2. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Building Total Hits $552,400". The Billings Gazette. July 3, 1957. p. 2. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ a b "Station to Start Area Telecasts". The Billings Gazette. March 14, 1958. p. 3. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "For the Record" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 24, 1962. p. 67. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  13. ^ "Okay Is Asked For KGHL Sale". The Billings Gazette. UPI. October 6, 1962. p. 3. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Sale Splits Radio-TV Firm". The Billings Gazette. December 30, 1962. p. 7. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1964 (PDF). 1964. p. A-36. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  16. ^ "Broadcaster P. Crain Dies". Great Falls Tribune. Associated Press. May 1, 1964. p. 1. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "TV Station Stock Is Sold". The Billings Gazette. April 20, 1966. p. 1. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "KULR-TV Sale Is Approved". The Billings Gazette. March 10, 1967. p. 15. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ "Changing hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. March 13, 1967. p. 66. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 27, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  20. ^ "Two Harriscope stations affiliate with ABC-TV" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 16, 1967. p. 63. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  21. ^ "Media reports" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 23, 1968. p. 40. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 27, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  22. ^ "Billings & Casper & ABC & NBC". Variety. May 19, 1971. ProQuest 1017175748.
  23. ^ Rees, Robert (August 1, 1979). "Billings, Montana: Disco, Porno, 19 Film Situations, Local Legit, TV Vs. Sheep". Variety. p. 24. ProQuest 1401359620.
  24. ^ Gearino, Daniel (April 13, 1979). "What he picks is what you watch". The Billings Gazette. p. 4-D. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  25. ^ Thackeray, Lorna (November 7, 1980). "New station offers variety, old favorites". The Billings Gazette. pp. 12-D and 13-D. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  26. ^ "NBC Lands Primary Affiliate In Montana". Variety. April 28, 1982. p. 59. ProQuest 1438363102.
  27. ^ Ragan, Mark (September 16, 1983). "KULR-TV plans to build new studios". The Billings Gazette. p. 15-A. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ "KULR-8 History". KULR-8 Television. Archived from the original on December 11, 2004. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  29. ^ "Changing Hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 3, 1986. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  30. ^ Holley, Paul J. (January 30, 1987). "Stations to switch networks". The Billings Gazette. pp. 1A, 12A. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  31. ^ "In Brief" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 9, 1987. p. 145. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  32. ^ KULR-DT (PDF). 2006. p. A-1339. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 31, 2023. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via World Radio History. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  33. ^ Britton, Beth (June 2, 2002). "Going digital: KFBB-TV happy with station's switch to newest technology". Great Falls Tribune. pp. 1B, 2B. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  34. ^ BIA Financial Networks (October 12, 2003). "Changing Hands". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  35. ^ "Application Search Details". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  36. ^ Falstad, Jan (September 30, 2003). "KULR sold; ABC-6/Fox-4 drop local news". Billings Gazette. Archived from the original on January 1, 2018. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  37. ^ "Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License". Consolidated Database System. Federal Communications Commission. October 1, 2013. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013.
  38. ^ "Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License". Consolidated Database System. Federal Communications Commission. October 1, 2013. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013.
  39. ^ "CDBS Print". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  40. ^ "Which one is number one?". The Billings Gazette. March 10, 1978. p. 3-D. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  41. ^ Meyers, Christene (June 27, 1985). "KULR newscasts take top spot in ratings war for city viewers". The Billings Gazette. p. 3-D. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  42. ^ a b c Johnson, Charles S. (December 29, 1985). "And in Billings: MTN station still No. 2, but gaining ground on front-runner". Great Falls Tribune. pp. 1-E, 4-E. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  43. ^ Johnson, Jacqueline (December 18, 1985). "Q-2 TV news gains in ratings battle". The Billings Gazette. p. 8-A. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  44. ^ Shirley, Steve (October 16, 1988). "Burns faces an uphill struggle: Senate hopeful's 'real' side differs from election life". Great Falls Tribune. p. 1B. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  45. ^ Gaub, Dennis (March 26, 1987). "KTVQ tops Arbitron rating period in city". The Billings Gazette. p. 1B. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  46. ^ Gransbery, Jim (March 30, 1993). "Rye will return to KULR". The Billings Gazette. pp. 1A, 7A. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  47. ^ Falstad, Jan (December 7, 1999). "KULR-TV appoints new news director". The Billings Gazette. p. 3C. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  48. ^ Johnson, Jacqueline (August 12, 2001). "TV stations to expand news shows". The Billings Gazette. pp. 1C, 4C. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  49. ^ "Washington, Montana stations consolidate under 'NonStop Local' brand". NewscastStudio. Archived from the original on October 30, 2022. Retrieved October 30, 2022.
  50. ^ Ragan, Mark (September 25, 1983). "TV journalism not as easy as it looks". The Billings Gazette. pp. 1F, 3F. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  51. ^ "RabbitEars TV Query for KULR-TV". RabbitEars.
  52. ^ Halstead-Acharya, Linda (February 15, 2009). "Mixed response from local stations to digital delay". The Billings Gazette. p. 9A. Retrieved May 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  53. ^ a b "Time Brokerage Agreement" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. April 29, 1998. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 28, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  54. ^ "Re: KYUS-TV Broadcasting Corporation … Response to Staff Letter Dated September 5, 2014" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. September 22, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 28, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  55. ^ "List of TV Translator Input Channels". Federal Communications Commission. July 23, 2021. Archived from the original on December 9, 2021. Retrieved December 17, 2021.

External links[edit]