KEPR-TV (pronounced "keeper"), virtual channel 19, is the CBS affiliated television station for the Tri-Cities area of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick, Washington. It is licensed to Pasco. It is sister station to KIMA-TV in Yakima, Washington and KLEW-TV in Lewiston, Idaho. Its studios are located on West Lewis Street (U.S. 395) in Pasco, KEPR's transmitter is located on Johnson Butte near Kennewick.
Though identifying as a station in its own right, KEPR is considered a semi-satellite of KIMA. It clears all of KIMA's syndicated programming, but airs separate IDs and commercials. On satellite, both Dish Network and DirecTV carry KEPR-TV along with KIMA-TV.
KEPR's morning and weekend newscasts are shared with KIMA-TV. Branded as "KIMA/KEPR Action News", they cover both the Columbia Basin and the Yakima Valley. KEPR continues to air its own 5, 6 & 11 p.m. newscasts.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming |
|19.1||1080i||16:9||KEPR-HD||Main KEPR-TV programming / CBS|
KEPR-TV went on the air for the first time December 28, 1954 as a satellite of KIMA-TV. It was owned by Cascade Broadcasting Company, which also owned 40 percent of KWIE (610 AM) in Kennewick. Cascade bought the remaining 60 percent of KWIE in 1956 and changed its call letters to KEPR, matching the television station, the following year.
A few years earlier, the Federal Communications Commission collapsed all of central Washington into one giant television market. However, this market was designated a "UHF island" due to being sandwiched between Seattle to the west, Spokane to the east and Portland to the south. It soon became apparent that one full-power UHF station would not be nearly enough to adequately cover this vast and mountainous area. KEPR-TV thus signed on as the first station in the United States to be a satellite of another.
Original plans called for it to be a straight repeater of KIMA-TV, apart from station identifications. However, it soon became apparent that Tri-Cities residents wanted a more local station. Monte Strohl, who until then had been a radio salesman at KIMA, was installed as the first manager-salesman of KEPR-TV. The station also added a separate news department.
Like its parent station, KEPR-TV carried programming from all three networks, but was a primary CBS affiliate. It lost NBC in 1965 when KNDU followed the lead of parent station KNDO and became a full-time NBC affiliate, and lost ABC when KVEW signed on along with parent KAPP in 1970. During the 1970s, the two stations co-branded as "Cascade TV."
KEPR produces Community Health Journal with Jim Hall, a former anchorman for the station who is now with Kadlec Medical Center in Richland. The program has aired for 15 years, making it one of the longest-running magazine programs in the market.
Filmways agreed to purchase Cascade Broadcasting for $3 million in 1968; the sale was approved the following year. Cascade's previous owners retained the company's radio stations, which by this point also included KEPR-FM (105.3 FM), under the name Yakima Valley Communications; the KEPR radio stations then changed their call letters to KONA and KONA-FM. Filmways sold KEPR-TV, KIMA-TV, and KLEW-TV to NWG Broadcasting for $1 million in 1972. Retlaw Enterprises acquired the NWG stations for $17 million in 1986; the stations were operated as part of the Retlaw Broadcasting division. Fisher Communications purchased KEPR-TV along with the other Retlaw owned stations in 1999.
In 2000, KEPR became the first station in the Tri-Cities to broadcast a digital signal with the activation of a low-power, standard definition signal on channel 18; this was upgraded to a full-power, high definition signal in 2007. The digital signal remained on channel 18 following the end of analog broadcasting in 2009; using PSIP to display its virtual channel as 19.
On March 30, 2009, KEPR launched a digital subchannel affiliated with The CW, filling the void left by KCWK (channel 9) going dark at the end of May 2008 due to the Pappas Telecasting bankruptcy. The subchannel subsequently took KCWK's former channel 9 position on local cable systems. As had been the case with KCWK, programming is primarily sourced from the network's CW Plus feed, though there is a 10 p.m. newscast on weeknights.