|Channels||Digital: 19 (UHF)|
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
12.2: Always on Storm Team 12
12.3: Heroes & Icons
|Owner||Gray Television |
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
First air date
|July 1, 1953|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
12 (VHF, 1953–2009)
12 (VHF, February−September 2009)
Call sign meaning
|HAAT||421 m (1,381 ft)|
Public license information
KWCH-DT, virtual channel 12 (UHF digital channel 19), is a CBS-affiliated television station serving Wichita, Kansas, United States that is licensed to Hutchinson. Owned by Atlanta-based Gray Television, it is part of a duopoly with Wichita-licensed CW affiliate KSCW-DT (channel 33). Both stations share studios on 37th Street in northeast Wichita, while KWCH-DT's transmitter is located in rural northeastern Reno County (east of Hutchinson).
KWCH-DT serves as the flagship of the Kansas Broadcasting System (KBS), a network of four full-power stations that relay CBS network and other programming provided by KWCH across central and western Kansas, as well as bordering counties in Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
On June 30, 1952, Hutchinson TV, Inc., filed an application for a construction permit to build channel 12 in Hutchinson, which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted on January 8, 1953. The company was composed of several shareholders from Hutchinson and other Kansas cities, including Ray Dillon of the Dillons grocery store family; local car dealer J. C. Child; W. D. P. Carey, whose family owned salt mines; the publisher of The Hutchinson News-Herald; and the owner of radio station KWBW. The call letters KTVH were selected; a tract of land on Plum Street was purchased for studio facilities; and a tower site selected east of town. The first test pattern went out on June 24, 1953, ahead of July 1, when the station launched as the first commercial television station based in Kansas.[a]
KTVH was the first television station to open that covered Wichita, the state's largest city, and recognized that much of its viewing audience would be in the air capital. In August 1954, channel 12 opened a satellite studio in Wichita's Lassen Hotel. Its attempts to provide service to Wichita, in what would become a running theme in the first three decades of station history, rankled the stations licensed there. KAKE radio and television petitioned the FCC in November 1954 to order KTVH to stop identifying as a "Wichita station"; it declined to do so.
In 1955, Hutchinson TV sold 80 percent of KTVH to the Wichita–Hutchinson Company, a subsidiary of Des Moines-based Minneapolis Star and Tribune Company (owned by the Cowles family), for $1.07 million. Cowles expanded channel 12's Wichita presence in 1956 by purchasing the former studios of KEDD, the first station to be built in that city, which had just closed. A power increase from 240,000 watts to the class-maximum 316,000 watts followed in 1957. Cowles also made a second effort at seeking permission to identify more closely with Wichita in 1958; the station's president, Joyce Swan, cited confusion from national advertisers, who thought the dual designation of Wichita and Hutchinson signified separate markets, and stated that "it is obvious that an advertising media that covers a large area must cater to the largest metropolitan market". The FCC allowed it to identify as "Hutchinson–Wichita" in 1959 and further tossed out petitions for reconsideration from the two Wichita commercial stations.
As KTVH grew, other television stations were set up in western and central Kansas. 1957 brought the launch of KTVC at Ensign, serving communities including Dodge City and Garden City, and in 1958, television stations were established at Goodland (KWGB-TV) and Hays (KAYS-TV). KWGB-TV aired CBS and NBC programs, while KTVC and KAYS-TV were ABC affiliates engaged in a regional hookup with KAKE-TV known as the "Golden K Network". In 1961, KTVC switched affiliations from ABC to CBS. KAYS-TV purchased the financially struggling Goodland station, then known as KLOE-TV, and combined the two as one operation. Further, KAYS-TV joined CBS on November 1, 1962. The four stations then formed the Kansas Broadcasting System (KBS), which claimed coverage of 66 Kansas counties. In 1963, the station activated a new transmitter located northwest of Burrton and east of Hutchinson, operating from the tallest broadcast tower in the state at 1,504 ft (458 m).
Cowles announced the sale of KTVH to the WKY Television System of Oklahoma City for $4.4 million in December 1968. However, much to both parties' surprise, the FCC voted 4–2 to designate the transaction for hearing in August 1969. The decision was met with dissension even from FCC chairman Rosel H. Hyde, who complained that the majority's conclusions that the acquisition of the Hutchinson station would give the Gaylord interests too much media power and that it might downgrade program service were prejudicial. Hearings were set for November, but by that time, the sale contract neared its expiration on December 31, and Cowles refused to extend it beyond that date. During that time, the FCC also got a new chair, Dean Burch, who chided the commission for taking nine months to designate the proposed sale for hearing; when the two parties asked for approval without such a hearing, the commission refused, preventing the sale from moving forward.
After the WKY sale bid collapsed, Cowles retained KTVH for another 14 years. In 1976, the FCC granted permission for KTVH to shift its main studio from Hutchinson to Wichita as long as it retained current staffing and service levels at its Hutchinson site. In response, channel 12 purchased the Wichita studio site outright after leasing it for 20 years; it also bought an adjacent tract of land and embarked on an expansion of the facility that more than doubled its size. In 1978, KTVH originated 45 percent of its local programming from Hutchinson and 55 percent from Wichita.
"The Look of a Leader"
By 1982, Cowles Media—as the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Company was renamed that year to reflect its media diversification—owned two television properties: KTVH and WDRB, an independent station in Louisville, Kentucky. The Hutchinson station was among its most profitable divisions. However, the company had suffered through an 89 percent decline in earnings in 1981, sparking rumors of a sale. The rumors became reality at the end of July when Cowles agreed to sell KTVH for $12 million to Ross Beach and Robert E. Schmidt of Hays, owners of KAYS and KLOE.
The sale took effect in January 1983. Beach and Schmidt hired a new general manager, Ron Bergamo, and set out to turn around a station stuck in third place in the local news ratings (particularly in the Wichita metro itself) and with a staid reputation. This included major investments in new equipment and hiring consultants to plot a major image revamp, as well as a change of call letters from KTVH to KWCH. A goal was set to turn the station into a first-place finisher within 12 to 18 months, and coinciding with the new call letters, the motto "The Look of a Leader" was adopted.
Under Beach and Schmidt, the rebadged KWCH turned around its local news ratings and had become a serious and successful challenger to KAKE, the metro-area leader, by 1986. By 1988, it had dislodged KAKE from first place in a majority of time slots. In addition, Beach and Schmidt had acquired KTVC, the last television station in western Kansas not owned by a Wichita-area station, in 1988. The turnaround attracted the interest of Michigan-based Smith Broadcasting, who made an unexpected and unsolicited $45 million purchase offer for KBS that Beach and Schmidt accepted that same year. Among Smith's first actions were to appoint part-owner Sandy DiPasquale, who later became the CEO of Newport Television, as president and general manager and to change the call letters on the western and central Kansas stations to designations that incorporated "KBS". DiPasquale became the majority owner in 1992 as Smith sold his interests in KBS to buy other broadcast properties.
Schurz and Gray ownership
On April 6, 2006, Media General announced that it would sell KWCH, its satellites, and four other stations as a result of its purchase of four former NBC owned-and-operated-stations (WVTM-TV in Birmingham, Alabama, WCMH in Columbus, Ohio, WNCN in Goldsboro, North Carolina and WJAR-TV in Providence, Rhode Island). South Bend, Indiana-based Schurz Communications eventually emerged as the winner and took over on September 25, at which time Schurz formed a new subsidiary known as "Sunflower Broadcasting, Inc.," which became the licensee for its Wichita media market broadcasting properties. In July 2007, KSCW became a sister station to KWCH after Schurz bought the station through a failing station waiver. In 2008, Schurz further expanded its operations by entering into an agreement with Entravision Communications, which was preparing to launch Univision affiliate KDCU-DT, to provide local advertising sales, technical functions, and transmitter tower space.
Schurz announced on September 14, 2015, that it would exit from broadcasting and sell its entire broadcasting division, including KWCH (and its satellites), KSCW-DT, and the JSA with KDCU-DT, to Gray Television for approximately $442.5 million. Gray already owned KAKE, which it divested Lockwood Broadcast Group in order to retain the higher-rated KWCH. The FCC approved the sale on February 12, 2016, and the sale was completed on February 16. In 2021, Gray sold its operation stake in KDCU-DT to Entravision Communications, who formerly owned the station only. 
KWCH broadcasts the entire CBS schedule, with the exception of program preemptions for breaking news or severe weather coverage. However, it currently airs the CBS Dream Team lineup in two blocks (one hour airs after the Saturday edition of Eyewitness News This Morning, the second hour airing before CBS News Sunday Morning and the third hour airing after Face the Nation on Sundays). Syndicated programs broadcast by KWCH include Dr. Phil and Inside Edition.
Until late 1999, KWCH maintained local rights to all of the syndicated programs produced by King World (which was merged with CBS Paramount Television Distribution in 2007 and renamed CBS Television Distribution the same year and again to CBS Media Ventures in 2021). Since then, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune have moved to KSNW.
Catch It Kansas
KWCH also owns and operates CatchItKansas.com (also known as simply "Catch It Kansas"), which covers high school sports. CatchItKansas.com also has its own TV program called The Catch It Kansas Show, shown on both KWCH and KSCW.
KWCH presently broadcasts 26½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours each weekday, 2½ hours on Saturdays and 1½ hours on Sundays); in addition, it produces 20½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week for sister station KSCW (with 3½ hours on weekdays and 1½ hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). Since 1985, KWCH has led the ratings among the Wichita market's local newscasts. During the May 2007 ratings period, KWCH's newscasts attracted more viewers than KAKE and KSNW combined. The station's Doppler radar system, branded on-air as "Live Storm Team 12 High Definition Super Doppler Radar" (or more commonly, "HD Super Doppler"), utilizes live data from radars operated by National Weather Service located in Wichita, Goodland, Dodge City and central Wabaunsee County.
Hays satellite KBSH formerly produced separate daily newscasts through much of the late 1980s until the late 1990s, as the Kansas Broadcasting System underwent consolidation under Spartan ownership. KBSH's evening newscasts were reduced to a short insert that aired during simulcasts of KWCH's Wichita-based newscasts, until they were discontinued entirely in 2001. The two reporter/photographers stationed at KBSH's studios began relaying their stories to Wichita to be incorporated into KWCH's Eyewitness News programs that are simulcast on the station's Hays, Goodland and Ensign satellites. KBSH currently maintains a full-time anchor/reporter at a news bureau at its longtime Hall Street facility in Hays. KWCH also maintains a bureau in Salina that provides a short news and weather insert (titled KWCH 12 Eyewitness News Salina) during the news simulcasts on KBSH and on its website. KBSD in Dodge City produced a full local newscast for many years, in addition to the KWCH simulcasts. More recently, that station's news content has been downsized to contribution reports on the Wichita-based newscasts and web content supplied through KWCH's website.
On January 19, 2004, KWCH began producing a half-hour primetime newscast at 9:00 p.m. for Fox affiliate KSAS-TV through a news share agreement. In September 2007, after its acquisition of that station, KWCH began producing a two-hour extension of its weekday morning newscast for KSCW; this later expanded on September 12, 2011, to include half-hour newscasts at 4:00 p.m. weekdays and nightly at 9:00 p.m. (with KSAS and KSCW carrying simultaneous KWCH-produced primetime newscasts until production responsibilities for the KSAS newscast were assumed by NBC affiliate KSNW in January 2012).
In April 2011, KWCH began producing a weeknight Spanish-language newscast at 10:00 p.m. for Univision-affiliated sister station KDCU-DT (channel 31); as a result, KWCH has the unusual distinction of being the only station in the United States to produce newscasts for more than one other station in the same market, in addition to its own newscasts. In October 2008, the station became the first television station in the Wichita-Hutchinson market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition, with the KSAS and KSCW broadcasts being included in the switch; weather segments were subsequently upgraded to HD in March 2009. With the upgrade, KWCH unveiled a revamped news set. KWCH began producing a Sunday morning newscast for KSCW in September 2013.
Notable former on-air staff
- David Bloom – reporter (1988–1989); deceased
- Cheryl Burton – anchor (now at WLS-TV in Chicago)
- Shon Gables – anchor/reporter (later at KWTV-DT in Oklahoma City and WFAA in Dallas–Fort Worth)
- Andrea Joyce – anchor (later at CBS Sports and now NBC Sports)
- Susan Peters – anchor (1983–1991); now at KPTS
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|12.1||1080i||16:9||KWCH-DT||Main KWCH programming / CBS|
|12.2||480i||KWCH-WX||Always on Storm Team 12|
|12.3||Heroes||Heroes & Icons|
KWCH operates a 24-hour local weather channel, "Always on Storm Team 12," on its second digital subchannel. The service displays an "L"-bar displaying Doppler radar imagery and regional forecasts in the top right-hand corner, forecasts for cities across the state on the bottom of the screen, and an additional radar image that appears constantly in the top left-hand corner. When applicable, school, church and business closings due to weather (usually for winter storm events) are displayed on the bottom of the screen below the city forecasts. The subchannel is carried on Cox Communications digital cable channel 675 and is streamed on the station's website. Always on Storm Team 12 has its own Mobile app available to download on The App Store and Google Play simply known as Storm Team 12.
KWCH shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 19 to VHF channel 12. On June 24 of that year, KWCH and satellites KBSL and KBSH changed the suffix in their callsigns from "-TV" to "-DT" to reflect the transition; KBSD-TV made the change the following day on June 25.
After the transition, KWCH became one of four television stations that operated their digital signals on the VHF band that were granted a power increase later that month due to reception issues that the stations experienced as a result of moving their digital channel allocations from UHF to VHF. As reception problems continued even after the increase, the FCC granted KWCH special permission to swap transmitter facilities with sister station KSCW-DT. On September 29, 2009, KWCH-DT moved its digital signal back to UHF channel 19 with KSCW-DT moving its digital allocation to VHF channel 12. Because of the continued signal issues, KWCH signed on a fill-in translator on UHF channel 33 (the former analog channel assignment of sister station KSCW) in the summer of 2012, broadcasting from a transmitter in Bel Aire; the translator broadcasts KWCH's main feed on digital subchannel 12.3, the Always on Storm Team 12 weather channel on digital channel 12.4 and KSCW on digital channel 33.3. However, due to limited bandwidth, the translator transmits KWCH and KSCW's programming in standard definition.
KWCH operates a network of three full-power satellite stations covering central and western Kansas, branded as the Kansas Broadcasting System (KBS). It is the only commercial statewide relay network in the 70-county Wichita-Hutchinson Plus television market that exclusively maintains full-power rebroadcasters (repeaters of the Kansas State Network operated by KSNW, the Fox Kansas network operated by KSAS-TV (channel 24) and the KAKEland Television Network operated by KAKE consist of a mix of full-power satellite and low-power translator stations). Nielsen Media Research treats KWCH and its satellites as one station in local ratings books, using the identifier name KWCH+.
A special feed of KWCH-DT featuring local news and weather inserts and separate advertising targeted at central Kansas is carried on Cox Communications' Salina system. KBSH was the first satellite station to shut down its analog signal on February 17, 2009; the other satellites shut down their analog signals five months later on June 12. During the 1970s, KWCH operated a translator in Arkansas City on UHF channel 70.
|Station||City of license
(Other locations served)
(RF / VC)
|First air date||Fourth letter's meaning||Former callsigns||Former affiliations||ERP||HAAT||Facility ID||Transmitter coordinates||Public license information|
|July 24, 1957||Dodge City||KTVC (1957–1989)
|ABC (1957–1961)||31 kW||219 m (719 ft)||66414||Profile|
|September 2, 1958||Hays||KAYS-TV (1958–1989)
|ABC (1957–1962)||38.8 kW||216 m (709 ft)||66415||Profile|
|KBSL-DT||Goodland (Colby)||10 (VHF)
|April 26, 1959||GoodLand||KLOE-TV (1959–1989)
|none||89.6 kW||299 m (981 ft)||66416||Profile|
- FCC History Cards for KWCH-DT
- "Television Permit Granted For Channel 12 at Hutchinson". The Wichita Eagle (Evening ed.). January 8, 1953. p. 1.
- "Hutchinson TV Sets Starting Date in July". The Wichita Eagle. March 8, 1953. p. 1E.
- "Pre-cast Came in Clear and Clean Wednesday". The Wichita Eagle. June 28, 1953. p. 6E.
- "KTVH Starting Schedule Today". The Wichita Eagle (Morning ed.). July 1, 1953. p. 4A.
- "Color Test Will Be Made Sunday Night". The Wichita Eagle (Evening ed.). August 20, 1954. p. 13.
- "KAKE Files Petition Against Station KTVH". The Wichita Eagle (Morning ed.). Associated Press. November 19, 1954. p. 6D.
- "$1,070,000 Paid By Corporation For Station KTVH". The Wichita Eagle (Evening ed.). June 30, 1955. p. 3A.
- "KTVH Seeks Re-designation: Says Double Title Confuses Ad Men". The Wichita Eagle. February 22, 1958. p. 10A. Archived from the original on October 24, 2021. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
- "Channel 6 to Join CBS-TV". Garden City Telegram. May 8, 1961. p. 2. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
- "Hays Television Station To Become CBS Affiliate". Hays Daily News. August 23, 1962. p. 2. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
- "TV Merger Joins 4 Kansas Stations With CBS Network". The Wichita Eagle. August 28, 1962. p. 6B.
- "Tall Tower Dedication Scheduled". The Wichita Eagle. March 14, 1963. p. 12B.
- "KTVH Bought By Oklahomans". The Wichita Eagle and The Beacon. December 22, 1968. p. 1.
- Inglish, Howard (August 17, 1969). "FCC Delays Approval of KTVH Sale". The Wichita Eagle and Beacon. pp. 1A, 4A.
- "Hyde rebukes FCC in KTVH sale case". Broadcasting. August 25, 1969. p. 21.
- "KTVH(TV) sale hearing to begin" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 17, 1969. p. 65.
- "Sparks fly over KTVH" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 22, 1969. p. 10.
- Belden, Dorothy (June 9, 1978). "Channel 12, Wichita–Hutchinson, Celebrating 25th Year on Air". The Wichita Eagle. p. 7B. Archived from the original on October 24, 2021. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
- Curtright, Bob (June 26, 1982). "Manager Says KTVH Not for Sale, 'at This Time'". The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. p. 7B.
- Curtright, Bob. "'Price in Line' With Fiscal Position: KTVH Sold for $12 Million". The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. p. 6C.
- "Executive From Texas Joins KTVH". The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. January 22, 1983. p. 10C.
- Hays, Jean (July 17, 1983). "Wichita TV Cry: No. 1 or Bust". The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. pp. 1C, 6C.
- Curtright, Bob (May 4, 1983). "KTVH Serious About Changing Image This Summer". The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. p. 15B.
- Curtright, Bob (September 21, 1983). "Changes at KWCH Revive Three-Way TV News Race". The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. p. 21B.
- Curtright, Bob; Dyer, Ellen (July 15, 1988). "Michigan firm buys KWCH, sister stations". The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. p. 8A.
- Curtright, Bob (February 17, 1989). "KWCH has new general manager". The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. p. 2C.
- Curtright, Bob (August 29, 1992). "Ch. 12 chief DiPasquale gaining control of station". The Wichita Eagle. p. 6C.
- Algeo, David (June 16, 1994). "Ch. 12 to be sold soon". The Wichita Eagle. pp. 1A, 6A.
- "Schurz Snaps Up Kansas Affil". Broadcasting & Cable. July 28, 2006. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- "For Immediate Release". Media General. April 6, 2006. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- "News Releases". Media General. September 25, 2006. Archived from the original on January 3, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- "Gray to acquire Schurz Communications, Inc. television and radio stations for $442.5 million". KWCH-TV. Archived from the original on October 21, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
- "Gray Television Sells Some, Buys Some". TVNewsCheck. October 1, 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
- "FCC Approves Gray-Schurz TV Station Deal". Broadcasting & Cable. February 12, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
- "Gray Closes Schurz Acquisition, Related Transactions, And Incremental Term Loan Facility". Gray Television. February 16, 2016. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
- KWCH. "KWCH - Kansas News, Breaking News, Weather and Sports - KWCH.com". kwch.com. Archived from the original on December 15, 2007.
- Fox/KWCH ready to launch local 9 p.m. newscast, Wichita Business Journal, November 23, 2003.
- KWCH to Debut 4 & 9PM News on KSCW, TVNewsCheck, July 18, 2011.
- "KDCU Univision to launch first local Spanish newscast in Kansas". KWCH. April 20, 2011. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- "RabbitEars query for KWCH". rabbitears.info. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
-  Archived May 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Eggerton, John (June 29, 2009). "Boise Station Gets Power Boost". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved July 1, 2009.
- KWCH. "KWCH - Kansas News, Breaking News, Weather and Sports - KWCH.com". kwch.com.[permanent dead link]
- "About KWCH". kwch.com. KWCH. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014.