KAET, virtual and VHF digital channel 8, known as Arizona PBS on air, is the PBS member television station in Phoenix, Arizona. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 8 from a transmitter on South Mountain in Phoenix. Its signal is relayed across Arizona on a network of 13 translator stations. Owned by the Arizona Board of Regents and operated by Arizona State University, KAET maintains studios at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on the campus of ASU Downtown Phoenix.
KAET was launched on January 30, 1961, as an affiliate for National Educational Television. Its programming originally consisted of educational programming directed at students attending ASU but its focus eventually widened along with that of PBS. In the mid-1990s, when the Phoenix market was undergoing a significant realignment of network affiliations, KAET was one of two major English-language stations (the other being KPNX) that did not change. In June 1999, KAET was issued a permit to construct digital television facilities on UHF channel 29. KAET-DT went on the air in April 2001 and was licensed on June 12, 2001, becoming the fifth licensed digital television station in Arizona.
Known for years as "Channel 8," the station began using "Arizona PBS" as a secondary brand in 2005. In 2006, the station relaunched as "Eight, Arizona PBS" (stylized as "ei8ht" in logos). When spoken, the moniker was similar to Five in the United Kingdom. This brand was dropped in 2015 in favor of simply "Arizona PBS."
Due to the effects from the late-2000s recession, fundraising efforts at KAET have consistently fallen behind projections, resulting in two major rounds of layoffs. The first round came in late October 2008, when the station, having missed its fundraising targets by hundreds of thousands of dollars, had to lay off six workers. The second round of layoffs came in April 2009, when 13 workers were laid off.
The financial crisis also delayed KAET's move to its new headquarters in downtown Phoenix; they moved there by late 2009.
KAET produces several of its programs in-house, such as its current events program, Horizon, its Hispanic-focused current events counterpart, Horizonte, and its Arizona Collection documentaries about the people, places and history of the state. The Emmy Award-winning Over Arizona, produced in 1995 with KCTS Seattle, is an aerial adventure over Arizona's diverse landscapes and was the first high-definition television program produced by an Arizona broadcast entity.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Aspect||Video||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||16:9||720p||Arizona PBS||Main Arizona PBS programming / PBS|
KAET's digital signal has been on the air since 2001, originally operating on UHF channel 29, and presently carries four subchannels under the Arizona PBS Digital Broadcasting brand. KAET shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, on April 29, 2009, about 1 and a half months before full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 29 to VHF channel 8.
- KAET TV-8 (1970s-early 1990s)
- KAET Channel 8 (mid 1990s-2005)
- Channel 8, Arizona PBS (2005–2006)
- Eight, Arizona PBS (2006–2015)
- Arizona PBS (2015-present)
- "Arizona's Very Own Public Station" (1970s)
- "TV Worth Watching" (1980s)
- "Turn to Us" (early 1990s)
- "KAET Channel 8, Phoenix: The Station You Support" (until the 2000s)
- "KAET Channel 8: Programs You Count On – Count On You!" (until 2005)
KAET's signal is relayed on the following translator stations:
† - Digital station; virtual channel 8