List of television stations in the San Francisco Bay Area

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This is a List of television stations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Network stations[edit]

The major network television affiliates include (network owned-and-operated stations denoted in bold with asterisk (*)):

Independent stations[edit]

Several independent television stations also operate in the area, including:

Defunct stations[edit]

  • W6JDI-TV, Burlingame, was on the air in 1948, six months before the first commercial TV station in San Francisco came on the air. The amateur station was operated by Clarence Wolfe Jr. W6JDI, and broadcast a still image of a woman, later dubbed "Gweldolyn", using home-built and Army Surplus equipment, on 429 MHz at 50 watts. The signal was received by local hams using Army Air Force surplus radio altimeters, rigging them into the reception terminals of television sets.[1][2][3]

History of television in the San Francisco Bay Area[edit]


San Francisco's first television station was KPIX (Channel 5), which began broadcasting on December 22, 1948. The station became an affiliate of the CBS television network and was owned and operated by Westinghouse for many years, with studios on Van Ness Avenue and a transmitter on a Mount Sutro tower shared with KGO-TV. The station produced one of the first local children's television shows, Captain Fortune, during the 1950s, which featured live studio segments hosted by artist Peter Abenheim, as well as episodes of the early television cartoon series Crusader Rabbit. KPIX had a popular Dance Party program on weekday afternoons from its studios during the 1950s and 1960s, hosted by Dick Stewart, who also appeared on a weekly High School Salute program. KPIX has a long-running, locally produced news magazine. Today KPIX operates from studios on lower Broadway, near the Embarcadero. It has been owned and operated by CBS since November 1995, when Westinghouse acquired the network.


On May 5, 1949, the ABC television network launched KGO-TV (Channel 7), which had studios on Golden Gate Avenue (beginning in 1954) and a transmitter on Mount Sutro. A number of daytime ABC network shows originated at those studios, including programs featuring Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jack LaLanne, and Gypsy Rose Lee. San Francisco's popular disc jockey Don Sherwood (who had a morning show on KSFO radio) also hosted a program on KGO, Pop Club, until he was fired for complaining on-air about the plight of the Navajo people. KGO produced a popular children's program King Norman's Kingdom of Toys, hosted by the owner of a local toy store, Norman Rosenberg. The station began carrying ABC's first color program, The Flintstones, in 1962 and was the first to produce live color telecasts in the Bay Area. In the early 1980s KGO relocated to the newly built "ABC Broadcast Center" at 900 Front Street, where it remains to this day.


The city's third station was KRON (Channel 4), which began broadcasting on November 15, 1949, with studios in the basement of the San Francisco Chronicle (hence the name KRON[icle]), which owned and operated the station, and a transmitter on San Bruno Mountain. KRON was long affiliated with the NBC television network; that affiliation passed to KNTV, located in San Jose, in early 2002. KRON was the first Bay Area station to offer programs in RCA's compatible color, including NBC specials and occasional movies, beginning with The Big Cat, a 1949 Technicolor feature starring Preston Foster and Forrest Tucker, shown in 1954. KRON's local children's programs included "School Days", hosted by Phyllis Skelton, Fireman Frank, hosted by George Lemont, who utilized puppets and drawings to entertain children; he was succeeded by Art Finley's Mayor Art show, which had begun on Stockton's KOVR. A longtime staff announcer was Vern Wilson, whose voice was often heard during station I.D.s and whenever technical problems occurred. In 1967, KRON moved from the Chronicle Building to a massive facility on Van Ness Avenue near the San Francisco Civic Center; the production studio was later used for a special live telecast by the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. The de Young family, owners of the Chronicle, KRON and other media properties, decided in the late 1990s to exit the broadcasting and publishing businesses, and KRON was sold to Young Broadcasting, who almost immediately ended its 52-year association with NBC in the wake of a dispute with that network over the future direction of the station; NBC had long wanted to acquire KRON outright, but eventually purchased KNTV instead. Today, KRON-TV is owned and operated by the Nexstar Media Group, produces local programs and carries syndicated shows (either through syndicators or the MyNetworkTV programming service).

Before the Transcontinental Microwave Relay[edit]

KPIX, KGO, and KRON all relied on filmed network shows until the completion of the transcontinental microwave relay link in September 1951. They also produced a number of local live shows. Some live network shows originating from New York were preserved on kinescope films, then shipped to the West Coast for later airing. After the microwave radio relay connections were completed, work proceeded on the development of videotape, which was first used extensively by CBS for its West Coast feed of the nightly network newscast hosted by Douglas Edwards, beginning in November 1956. Network shows were usually transmitted in the Bay Area three hours after they aired on the East Coast, a practice still largely followed today.


KQED (Channel 9) was one of the first educational television stations in the nation. The station began broadcasting on April 5, 1954. It was affiliated with National Educational Television (NET), which later became known as the Public Broadcasting Service, better known as PBS. KQED's transmitter tower was originally on San Bruno Mountain. Like other educational stations, KQED did not air commercials; instead, the station relied on underwriters and viewer support, through the use of regular pledge drives and its annual on-air auction. KQED has produced a number of special programs for PBS and is a regular contributor to the PBS Newshour.


KOVR (Channel 13) in Stockton began broadcasting on September 6, 1954, using studios both in San Francisco and in Stockton. The station transmitted from Mount Diablo, near Danville, and could be clearly seen in most of the Bay Area. This prevented KOVR from getting any network affiliation. KOVR then moved its transmitter to a mountain near the town of Jackson to serve Sacramento as well as Stockton, and abandoning the San Francisco market. The station was then affiliated with ABC for much of that time, and in 1963 moved its transmitter to a very tall tower near the town of Walnut Grove. Its most popular local program in the 1950s was Toonytown, hosted by Art Finley, before he moved to KRON. In 1995 KOVR became a CBS affiliate, and in 2004 CBS acquired the station. Today KOVR primarily serves the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto area. Owners have included Gannett Company publishing, Metromedia, and The McClatchy Company, also publishers and broadcast owners.


KNTV (Channel 11) began broadcasting from studios in downtown San Jose on Park Avenue in 1955 as a subsidiary of local baker, Sunlite Bakery, owned by the Gilliland family. For many years, its transmitter tower was on Loma Prieta in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The station was initially affiliated with ABC. In the early 2000s, ABC asked for its affiliation with KNTV to end, so that its owned-and-operated KGO-TV could serve the South Bay portion of the Bay Area (and reap the local advertising revenues); after a very brief series of affiliation and ownership changes, KNTV became owned and operated by NBC, which lost its longtime affiliate KRON-TV after a dispute with new ownership. The KNTV transmitter tower is now located on San Bruno Mountain.


KTVU (Channel 2) first signed on the air on March 3, 1958. It has studios in historic Jack London Square in Oakland and initially used a transmitter tower on San Bruno Mountain. It was an independent station for many years and was the first station to telecast the San Francisco Giants baseball games, whenever the team played the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chávez Ravine, through arrangements with KTTV in Los Angeles. Don Sherwood hosted a nightly talk show on the station during the late 1950s, often interviewing entertainers who were appearing in the Bay Area. KTVU's children's programming included Captain Satellite, hosted by Bob March. The station aired numerous classic television shows and regular movies, including a Sunday night series called Premiere, which included the first local telecasts (often in color) of classic Warner Brothers films from the 1950s. A Friday night feature in the 1960s was live professional wrestling matches from the KTVU studios, hosted by Walt Harris[4] with live Chevrolet commercials. Another popular KTVU program was Creature Features, initially hosted by Bob Wilkins, a collection of low budget horror and science fiction films, interspersed with interviews of such actors as Buster Crabbe and Christopher Lee; John Stanley took over the program when Wilkins gave it up. With the creation of the FOX television network, KTVU became the Bay Area's affiliate with that network. KTVU has won numerous awards and acclaim for its nightly news program at 10 p.m. KTVU is owned and operated by Fox, who acquired the station and KICU-TV from longtime owners Cox Enterprises in 2014.


KQSL (Channel 8) was the last full power VHF station that signed on the air in the SF Bay TV market from atop Cahto Peak in Mendocino County in 1990. It currently broadcasts Christian programming from its studio in Santa Rosa. KQSL has translator station KQSL-LD on RF VHF channel 4 (virtual channel 8.4) atop Mount Tamalpais in Marin County to boost coverage into San Francisco and Oakland.

UHF stations[edit]

The history of UHF television broadcasting in the Bay Area began with the sign-on of KSAN, operating on Channel 32, in 1954. KBAY, which was to operate on Channel 20, was intended to be another early UHF station in San Francisco, but it didn't sign on the air until 1968. KSAN had a limited audience because most television sets could only receive UHF with a special converter. Only in markets such as Fresno and Bakersfield, which had only UHF channels, was there any real reason to purchase such a converter in the 1950s.

Later, in the early 1960s, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that all television sets had to have tuners for both VHF and UHF channels. On October 12, 1964, KCSM began broadcasting on Channel 14 with studios and transmitter on the new College Heights campus of the College of San Mateo in San Mateo. The station later switched to Channel 60 and began transmitting DTV on Channel 43 after the analog shutdown in 2009.

By the mid 1960s, more sets were being equipped to receive UHF signals and this led to additional UHF stations, beginning on January 2, 1968, with KBHK, operating on Channel 44, a station owned by Kaiser Broadcasting. In 1968, KSAN was acquired by Metromedia and renamed KNEW, then donated to KQED in 1970, which operated it as a secondary PBS channel under the call letters KQEC. The station changed hands again in 1988, becoming a foreign language station known as KMTP-TV.[5]

Sutro Tower[edit]

In 1972, with the completion of the Sutro Tower, KPIX, KGO, KRON, KQED, and KTVU all moved their transmitters to the new 900-foot (270 m) tower. Actual transmissions from the new tower began on July 4, 1973, and greatly improved their signals in the hilly terrain of the Bay Area.

It was planned to be demolished in 2000, but the measure was overturned.[citation needed]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Popular Communications July 2009, pp. 73-74, "The Church Rummage Sale UHF Television Station and Other Minor TV Tales"
  4. ^ Berry, Viktor (13 May 2008). "Illustrated History of Pro Wrestling in Northern California". Archived from the original on 21 December 2002. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  5. ^ Classic TV => Retro: San Francisco/Bay UHF, Thursday, Feb. 9, 1978

See also[edit]