KCWE, virtual channel 29 (UHF digital channel 31), is the CW-affiliated television station serving Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation, as part of a duopoly with the ABC-affiliate KMBC-TV (channel 9). The two stations share studio facilities located on Winchester Avenue (along I-435) in the Swope Park Ridge-Winchester section of Kansas City, Missouri; KCWE maintains transmitter facilities located at the intersection of East 23rd Street and Topping Avenue in the city's Blue Valley section. On cable, KCWE is available on Comcast channel 2, Time Warner Cable channel 7, SureWest channel 16 and AT&T U-verse channel 29.
KCWE serves as an alternate CW affiliate for the St. Joseph television market; officially though, that market's CW affiliate is KBJO-LD (channel 21), which carries the network's programming through The CW Plus service (it previously operated as cable-only "WBJO" prior to being added as a third digital subchannel of KNPN-LD [channel 26] when that station launched in June 2012, and then became a standalone station in March 2013).
Prior history of channel 29 in Kansas City
Prior to the launch of KCWE, the UHF channel 29 allocation in the Kansas City market was originally occupied by low-power station K29CF, which served as an affiliate of ValueVision. To make way for a new full-powered station on channel 29, that station moved to UHF channel 48 in 1996, becoming K48FS. Today, that station – now KUKC-LD – serves as the market's Univision affiliate.
KCWE station history
Early years with The WB, and then UPN
KCWE first signed on the air on September 14, 1996, as KCWB (standing for "Kansas City's WB"). It originally served as the market's WB affiliate; prior to its sign-on, Kansas City residents were only able to receive WB programs through cable and satellite from the national superstation feed of the network's Chicago affiliate WGN-TV. It was founded by a locally owned company, but was managed by the Hearst Corporation (owner of KMBC-TV) through a local marketing agreement. Initially, the station ran a mix of cartoons, recent off-network sitcoms, talk shows, court shows and movies outside WB programming hours. KCWB's operations were taken over by Hearst-Argyle Television (now Hearst Television) in 1997, after Argyle Television Holdings II merged with the Hearst Corporation's broadcasting division. For most of its tenure as a WB affiliate, KCWB's "WB29" logo was similar to the "WB32" logo used by Tampa, Florida sister station WWWB-TV.
In January 1998, KSMO-TV dropped its UPN affiliation to join The WB after its owner at the time, Sinclair Broadcast Group, signed a deal with the network to affiliate with the company's five UPN-affiliated stations. KCWB subsequently took the UPN affiliation, but continued to carry The WB's children's program block Kids' WB until that June, as KSMO was under contract to air Fox Kids (which was not carried by the area's Fox station, WDAF-TV (channel 4)); at that time, KCWB also obtained the local rights to carry Fox Kids. Channel 29 changed its call letters to KCWE on August 24, 1998. Hearst purchased the station outright in 2001, creating Kansas City's first television duopoly; however, Hearst-Argyle continued to consider KCWE to be managed rather than owned by the company for several years afterward, as the station was nominally owned by an indirect subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation instead of its Hearst-Argyle broadcasting division (which at the time, was a publicly traded company controlled by Hearst).
Following the switch to UPN, KCWE briefly branded as "KC29", ultimately becoming "More TV 29" for several years to once again match its Tampa sister, by then WMOR-TV. KCWE dropped the "More TV" moniker by 2005 (in favor of using its call letters and the slogan "Kansas City's UPN"), but would retain the logo style for most of the remainder of UPN's existence (KMBC would bring back the branding, as "MOREtv Kansas City", on September 14, 2010, when it began airing general entertainment programs on weekday evenings over its second digital subchannel that was otherwise affiliated with The Local AccuWeather Channel). KCWE dropped Fox Kids in the fall of 1999 in favor of adding more talk and reality programs; Fox Kids programming then moved to independent station KMCI-TV (channel 38). Channel 29 ceased carrying children's programs on weekdays altogether, when UPN discontinued its Sunday through Friday morning Disney's One Too block in August 2003.
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation and Time Warner announced that The WB and UPN would shut down broadcasting operations that September and combine their higher-rated programs on a new "fifth" network called The CW. On March 7, The CW and Hearst announced that KCWE would become Kansas City's CW affiliate. As it already had "CW" in its call letters, station management said it would take advantage of this for branding purposes and leave the callsign unchanged. In August of that year, KCWE adopted a new logo (styled after the network's logo design) reflecting its new CW affiliation. KCWE affiliated with The CW when the network debuted on September 18, 2006.
In late March 2010, Hearst filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission to transfer KCWE's license from its indirect subsidiary (doing business as "KCWE-TV Company") directly to the larger Hearst Television subsidiary, the transfer was completed on May 1.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|29.1||1080i||16:9||KCWE-DT||Main KCWE programming / The CW|
KCWE shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 29, on December 15, 2008, two months before the originally scheduled February 17, 2009 date for full-power stations to transition from analog to digital broadcasts. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 31. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 29. The UHF channel 29 allotment was subsequently taken over by the digital signal of sister station KMBC-TV.
Syndicated programs broadcast on KCWE include Extra, Two and a Half Men, Entertainment Tonight, Maury and The Steve Wilkos Show among others. As it is a sister station to KMBC, the station may take on responsibility of running ABC programming in the event that KMBC cannot due to extended breaking news or severe weather coverage, or broadcasts of sporting events. In 2010, KMBC aired all of the Kansas City Wizards' Major League Soccer games that were not broadcast nationally over-the-air or on cable.
For many years, KCWB/KCWE did not air any local newscasts despite being operated by KMBC. Station management cited a fear of "cannibalizing" KMBC's audience as a reason for not expanding its news offerings to channel 29. This changed on March 3, 2008, when KMBC added a two-hour extension of its weekday morning newscast, titled KMBC 9 FirstNews on KCWE, airing from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. In addition to airing against Good Morning America on KMBC, the program competes with a portion of a six-hour in-house morning newscast on WDAF-TV; when it debuted, it also competed against an hour-long newscast on KSMO that was produced by its CBS-affiliated sister station KCTV (channel 5).
On September 14, 2010, KMBC debuted a half-hour primetime newscast, titled KMBC 9 News at 9 on KCWE. Originally debuting as a weeknight-only program, it also airs against a half-hour nightly local newscast seen on KSMO (which debuted in September 2005 and is also produced by KCTV) and a one-hour nightly in-house 9:00 p.m. newscast that WDAF has aired since it affiliated with Fox in September 1994. Management stated the reason behind the addition of the program was due to The CW's growing ratings (although the network has typically placed fifth or sixth, depending on the ratings strength of the Spanish language Univision network, nationally since its launch). The 9:00 p.m. newscast on KCWE runs a commercial-free block featuring the day's top headlines and an updated weather forecast segment during the first nine minutes of the broadcast (a play on its sister station's on-air branding). As is the case on KMBC, all local newscasts seen on KCWE are broadcast in high definition.