KGUN-TV, channel 9, is the ABC-affiliated television station serving Tucson, Arizona, owned by E. W. Scripps Company. It broadcasts its digital signal on VHF channel 9 from Mount Bigelow, located northeast of Tucson, while its studio operations are located on East Rosewood Street in East Tucson. It is known locally as "K-GUN".

History

The station was founded in 1955 by rancher D.W. Ingram, who gave the station his initials, KDWI-TV. It began broadcasting on June 3, 1956.[2] Shortly afterward, Ingram sold it to H. U. Garrett, who changed the station's call sign to KGUN on March 14, 1957.[2] The change came in part because Garrett was concerned about possible negative connotations with the letters "DWI."[4] Garrett was also an avid Western fan and gun collector, and thought having "gun" in the station's calls would be apropos. The station's original studios were located on North 6th Avenue in Tucson.

Garrett sold the station to Cincinnati meatpacker Henry S. Hilberg in 1960. Hilberg sold both KGUN and WEHT in Evansville, Indiana to Gilmore Broadcasting in 1964. Gilmore then sold it to May Broadcasting in 1968.[5] May would sell KGUN and sister station KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska) to Lee Enterprises in 1986, which, in turn, sold both stations to Emmis Communications in 2000. In 2005, Emmis liquidated all of its television properties, sending KGUN and control of KMTV to the Milwaukee based Journal Broadcast Group, which already owned four radio stations in Tucson.[6] The sale was finalized in December 2005.

On July 30, 2014, it was announced that the E. W. Scripps Company would acquire Journal Communications in an all-stock transaction. The combined firm will retain their broadcast properties, including KGUN, and spin off their print assets as Journal Media Group. The deal made KGUN a sister station to Phoenix's ABC affiliate, KNXV-TV, along with connecting it through statewide coverage to existing sister station and ABC affiliate KTNV-TV in Las Vegas.[7] The FCC approved the deal on December 12, 2014. It was approved by shareholders on March 11, 2015. The merger was completed on April 1, 2015.[8][9]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[10]
9.1720p16:9KGUN-DTMain KGUN-TV programming / ABC
9.2480i4:3LaffLaff
9.3AntennaAntenna TV

In January 2009, KGUN added Mexicanal, on its digital channel 9.2. It also carried TheCoolTV until the stations parent company filed a lawsuit against TheCoolTV for non-payment, and dropped the networks from all of its stations. KGUN-TV soon replaced it with Live Well Network. In October 2012, Antenna TV replaced Mexicanal. In January 2015, Live Well Network was replaced on 9.3 with This TV when Live Well Network announced plans of its shut down. This TV was moved to sister station KWBA-TV when Laff was added to KGUN in July 2015.

Analog-to-digital transition

In 1997, the Federal Communications Commission assigned UHF channel 35 to KGUN for digital operations. The station was granted an application to build its digital operations in October 2001 and, after several extensions, brought KGUN-DT to air in August 2005.

KGUN-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[11] The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 35 to VHF channel 9. As with all of Journal's television stations, following the digital transition, as of June 19, 2009, KGUN added the -TV suffix to its callsign (the station had previously used the KGUN-TV callsign from 1957 to 1987, when it dropped the suffix).

Programming

An ABC affiliate, KGUN broadcasts the network's schedule, supplemented by syndicated and local programming, most of which is local news.

Local programming has been a tradition at KGUN since its sign-on. Retrospectively, KGUN's standing in the Tucson market in its early years, and the reputation it scored during that time, was unusual for an ABC affiliate, as it was quite rare for that network to be on par with CBS or NBC until the 1970s.

KGUN has aired The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon from 1969[4] until the MDA ended the telethon in 2015; nearly all of this time was spent as the "Love Network" affiliate in the city. The longevity of its airing on an ABC station meant that it was one of the few "Love Network" affiliates to still air the telethon during its last two years, during which time it was aired as part of the ABC network schedule (in September 1, 2013, and again on its last telecast, August 31, 2014.)[12][13][14] In 1972, it acquired the rights to air the Fiesta de los Vaqueros rodeo parade, the world's longest non-mechanized parade, which was transferred to KOLD in 2006.

A long-standing ratings champion at the station was Marshall KGUN; its many hosts included Burt Oien, Jack Jacobson and Bob Love. KGUN-TV, in collaboration with an out-of-town production company named Romper Room Inc. (which was acquired by Hasbro in 1969 and renamed Claster Television[15][16] before that company was dissolved in 2000), aired the local version version of Romper Room during the 1960s (among the hosts of the Tucson version of the show were Jane Harrison).[17] Additionally, it aired the Mexican Theater (a showcase of Spanish-language films) and also held the Saturday Night Chiller Movies with host Dr. Scar.[4]

Syndicated programming currently featured on KGUN-TV includes: Wheel of Fortune, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Steve Harvey, Jeopardy! and Live! with Kelly and Michael. KGUN aired Who Wants to Be a Millionaire from its 1999 debut on ABC until September 2, 2013, when the show was dropped in favor of Inside Edition;[18]Millionaire would return to the station in September 2014.

On April 26, 2010, KGUN began producing a lifestyle and entertainment magazine program called The Morning Blend,[19] a program which was adapted from Journal flagship station WTMJ-TV. The program airs weekdays from 11 a.m. to noon and replaced KGUN's 11 a.m. newscast.

News operation

KGUN presently broadcasts 19½ hours for locally produced newscasts per week (3½ hours on weekdays, 1 hour on weekends).

KGUN-TV started its news operation in 1961, when it hired Mac Marshall to cover the news; previously, all newscasts that aired on KGUN were the film-recorded newscasts from ABC itself.[20] Its newscasts originally aired under the title of "Panorama 9" and underwent various names, including a stab at the NewsCenter 9 motif before arriving at the current "KGUN 9 On Your Side" title in 2006 (although the slogan and format had been used at KGUN since the 1980s). KGUN's newscasts were originally videotaped in black-and-white, although the station had the city's first color film chain; it was during the 1968 elections that KGUN's newscasts began airing entirely in color.[21]

Pat Stevens started at KGUN as a Weather Forecaster and worked her way up to News Director, and, as a result, she made national news by becoming the first female news director at a network affiliate.[4] The long wave of news anchors at this station has included Fred Allison, Nina Trasoff, Andy Nadell, Ed Sorensen, Stephanie White and Jennifer Waddell over the years. Dave Silver became KGUN's sports director in 1983, and this was followed by the 1984 launch of Guy Atchley's career at the station, which has spanned over 30 years.[4]

In 1997, KGUN added a 5:30 p.m. newscast, moving ABC's World News Tonight to 6 p.m. and expanding its news department; however, less than a few years later, the time slots for both were swapped.

On April 23, 2011, KGUN became the third station in Tucson to begin airing local newscasts in high definition.

On April 21, 2014, KGUN began airing a one-hour extension of its weekday morning newscast on KWBA from 7-8 a.m. titled Good Morning Tucson Extra.[22] This replaced the simulcast of the weekday 7-9 a.m. portion of The Jon Justice Show from sister-station KQTH-FM.

Notable current on-air staff

Notable former on-air staff