KMGH-TV, virtual channel and VHF digital channel 7, is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Denver, Colorado, United States. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, and is a sister station to Azteca affiliate KZCO-LD (channel 27), whose digital signal also serves as a fill-in translator of KMGH. The two stations share studio facilities located on East Speer Boulevard in Denver's Speer neighborhood (to the immediate north of the studios shared by KDVR (channel 31) and KWGN-TV (channel 2)); KMGH maintains transmitter facilities located atop Lookout Mountain, near Golden. On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity channel 7, and in high definition on digital channel 652, It's also available on CenturyLink PRISM channel 7 & high definition channel 1007.
As a CBS affiliate
The station first signed on the air on November 1, 1952 as KLZ-TV. It was founded by the Oklahoma City-based Oklahoma Publishing Company (operated by Edward K. Gaylord), which also owned KLZ radio (560 AM and 106.7 FM, now KBPI). KLZ-TV immediately took the CBS affiliation from KBTV (channel 9, now KUSA), owing to KLZ radio's longtime affiliation with the CBS Radio Network. In 1954, Gaylord sold the KLZ television and radio stations to Time-Life. The station's original studio facilities were housed in a renovated former auto dealership on the east side of the block at East 6th Avenue and Sherman Street.
During the 1950s, channel 7's staff included newscaster (later sports anchor and Dialing for Dollars host) Starr Yelland, who came to the station from KOA-TV (channel 4, now KCNC-TV); weatherman Warren Chandler, and Ed Scott, who hosted a children's program on the station as "Sheriff Scotty". In 1956, KLZ-TV presented the first remote television broadcast from a courtroom after general manager Hugh Terry won a court battle to allow cameras into the courtroom. In 1957, the station's weekly public affairs series Panorama (which was written and hosted by Gene Amole), became the first locally produced program in the Denver market to earn a Peabody Award (channel 7 has since won three more Peabody Awards for the investigative reports "Honor and Betrayal: Scandal at the Air Force Academy" in 2003, reported by John Ferrugia and produced by Kurt Silver and current news director Jeff Harris, 2008's "Failing the Children: Deadly Mistakes", reported by Ferrugia and produced by Tom Burke and Arthur Kane, and 2012's "Investigating the Fire").
The station was the first in Denver to operate a news bureau in Washington, D.C., as well as the first Denver station to receive reports from its own radio and television correspondents in Europe and Asia. Channel 7 televised the first kidney transplant in the mid-1960s. Starting in 1968 and running through 1983, KLZ-TV aired one of the most popular children's programs in the Denver market, the Noell and Andy Show, which aired weekday mornings at 8:00 a.m. The program's coloring contest drew hundreds of entries each week. Channel 7 moved to its present studio facilities, an eight-sided, five-story building called "The Communications Center," on the intersection of Speer Boulevard and Lincoln Street in 1969.
Time-Life sold the station to McGraw-Hill in late October 1970, in a group deal that also involved the company's other radio and television combinations in Indianapolis, San Diego and Grand Rapids, Michigan; and KERO-TV in Bakersfield, California. In order to comply with the Federal Communications Commission's new restrictions on concentration of media ownership that went into effect shortly afterward, McGraw-Hill was required to sell the KLZ radio stations as well as their sister radio properties in Indianapolis San Diego and Grand Rapids to other companies. Time-Life would later purchase WOTV (now WOOD-TV) in Grand Rapids in the final deal. By the time the sale was finalized in June 1972, the purchase price for the entire group was just over $57 million. WFBM-TV (now WRTV) in Indianapolis, KERO-TV in Bakersfield and KOGO-TV (now KGTV) in San Diego were retained by McGraw-Hill, along with KLZ-TV, which subsequently changed its call letters to KMGH-TV. The 1990s did not begin well for KMGH; the station saw significant overall profit losses in 1990 and 1991, as well as a decrease in viewership for its local newscasts. A new management team introduced in 1991 turned things around at KMGH; net profit soared 105.5% in 1992 as a result.
Switch to ABC
Although KMGH had been one of CBS's stronger affiliates, the station would end up disaffiliating from the network due to a series of events that were set in motion as a result of CBS' partnership with the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in July 1994 (and the network's eventual merger with that company in August 1995). As part of the deal, the network moved its programming from its owned-and-operated station in Philadelphia, WCAU-TV, to Westinghouse's KYW-TV. In a three-way trade, CBS traded WCAU to NBC in exchange for two of that network's O&Os (then longtime affiliates) – Denver's KCNC-TV (which had been an O&O since the station's then-owner General Electric purchased NBC in 1986) and Salt Lake City's KUTV (which the network had acquired less than one month earlier). CBS then formed a joint venture with Westinghouse that assumed ownership of KYW-TV, KCNC and KUTV, with Westinghouse serving as majority owner. Group W/CBS and NBC also swapped the transmitter facilities – and by association, channel frequencies – of their respective stations in Miami, WCIX (now WFOR-TV) and WTVJ.
At the same time, McGraw-Hill had struck an affiliation agreement with ABC, due partly to the fact that its stations in San Diego and Indianapolis had already been aligned with the network (Bakersfield sister station KERO-TV was also involved in the deal between McGraw-Hill and ABC; however, that station had to wait for its affiliation contract with CBS to expire in March 1996, before it could finally switch to ABC). In keeping with all of this, each of the three major broadcast networks relocated their programming to different stations in the Denver market on September 10, 1995; ABC moved its programming to KMGH from KUSA, with KMGH's outgoing CBS affiliation going to KCNC and NBC moving from KCNC to KUSA.
On June 14, 2011, McGraw-Hill announced that it would exit from the broadcasting industry and put its entire television station group up for sale; on October 3 of that year, the company announced that it had entered into an agreement to sell the eight-station broadcasting division to the E. W. Scripps Company. The FCC approved the sale on November 29, 2011, and the deal was officially completed on December 30, 2011. The deal marked a re-entry into the Denver market for Scripps; prior to its acquisition of KMGH, the company had owned the Rocky Mountain News from 1926 until the afternoon newspaper ceased publishing in 2009.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|7.1||720p||16:9||KMGH-DT||Main KMGH-TV programming / ABC|
|7.2||480i||4:3||Azteca||Azteca / Simulcast of KZCO-LP 7.2|
|7.4||24/7||24/7 News Channel|
KMGH-TV operates the "24/7 News Channel" on digital subchannel 7.4 (and is also carried on Comcast Xfinity digital channel 247). The channel rebroadcasts KMGH's local newscasts throughout the day (with the 10:00 p.m. news running until the next morning), alongside weather updates and real-time weather information that is also shown on-screen.
KMGH-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 7, on April 16, 2009. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 17 to VHF channel 7 for post-transition operations.
KMGH-TV clears the entire ABC network schedule; however, it is one of the few ABC stations that airs the Saturday and Sunday editions of ABC World News a half-hour to one hour earlier than most affiliates due to its hour-long 5:00 p.m. newscast, and also airs the weekend editions of Good Morning America and This Week one hour earlier (aligning those programs with their recommended airtimes of both programs in the Central Time Zone). Syndicated programs broadcast by KMGH-TV include The List, Let's Ask America, Right This Minute, Inside Edition, and The Meredith Vieira Show among others. KMGH was Denver's longtime home to hit game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune (airing both shows at 6 and 6:30pm respectively prior to their removal), before removing both game shows in September 2014 in a move where Scripps removed both Sony game shows (and a few other shows) from their stations for lower-cost, internally produced programming; with the station adding a 6 p.m. newscast and Scripps' The List newsmagazine in their place. Both game shows ended up moving to Denver's Fox-affiliate, KDVR.
In 2012, KMGH acquired the broadcast rights to Denver Broncos head coach John Fox's weekly analysis show, The John Fox Show; the station aired the program until the team's 2013 season, losing the rights to KDVR (which renamed the program as Fox on Fox) on August 7, 2014.
KMGH-TV presently broadcasts 30 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours on weekdays, 3½ hours on Saturdays and four hours on Sundays). Unlike most stations affiliated with ABC or its competitors, KMGH did not broadcast a local newscast in the 6:00 p.m. timeslot on weeknights for eight years, opting to fill the hour with episodes of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune (the station's previous 6:00 p.m. news program was canceled after the May 26, 2006 broadcast). In addition, the station produces the sports highlight program 7News Sports Xtra, which airs Saturdays during the final 15 minutes of the 10:00 p.m. newscast. As mentioned above, the 6 p.m. newscast was restored on September 8, 2014 due to the move of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune to KDVR; it will feature an 'express' format with more stories and weather coverage.
While KLZ-TV always had a strong line-up of local and syndicated programs during the station's early years, it was obviously helped by CBS's longtime dominance nationally. It led the 10:00 p.m. news ratings from the early 1960s until 1977, when it was displaced from the #1 slot by KBTV, which benefited from ABC's ratings increases in primetime as well as an improved news product that took advantage of live electronic news-gathering technology. KMGH-TV was actually the first television station in the market to use ENG equipment in 1975, with its "Insta Cam", which was never promoted on-air. In 1970, Channel 7's newscasts had a 40% ratings share, as KOA-TV and KBTV battled to stay out of last place, each pulling in about a 24 share for their newscasts. By the end of the decade, KBTV had a 54% ratings share at 10:00 p.m., more than all of the other stations combined.
Channel 7's 10:00 p.m. news team during the 1960s was helmed by news anchor Carl Akers, weatherman Warren Chandler and sports anchor Starr Yelland. All three did live commercials during the program. John Rayburn joined the station as co-anchor of the 10:00 p.m. newscast in 1964, before departing for KBTV in 1967. In 1966, Akers took a short-lived retirement only to return to Denver television a year later at KBTV as that station's anchor and news director; he was replaced at channel 7 by KOA-TV anchor Bob Palmer. The team of Palmer, Chandler and Yelland continued until 1975, when Terry Phillips was added as a news co-anchor; Phillips was replaced by John Lindsey in 1976. Palmer returned to KOA-TV in 1982. From December 1994 to August 1997, the station operated a weather radar system known as "Doppler Max7", that was heavily promoted during the failed tabloid-formatted "Real Life, Real News" era; this period (from 1996 to 1997) emphasized hard news and investigative reports, but was unable to beat KUSA and KCNC, the former of which had overtaken KMGH for first and the latter for second in most timeslots in the ratings by this point.
On July 15, 2002, KMGH-TV became the first major market television station in the world to broadcast fully automated newscasts. A computer system, known as ParkerVision, combines the work of several technical personnel in a program requiring just a single operator. Ten studio cameras, channels of audio, all art graphics and electronic titling along with tape operations are programmed and played back live by one person instead of seven people. KMGH-TV is the only Denver television station to have won two Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Awards: the first for the 2003 report, "Honor and Betrayal: Scandal at the Air Force Academy" and the second for the 2010 investigative documentary "33 Minutes to 34 Right".
On August 18, 2008, KMGH became the second television station in the Denver market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. In 2011, KMGH was named "Station of the Year" by the Associated Press Television-Radio Association. On May 26, 2011, KMGH moved its hour-long 4:00 p.m. newscast 7 News Now to 3:00 p.m. and reduced the program to a half-hour (The Dr. Oz Show moved into the newscast's former timeslot); the program ended after the September 7, 2012 broadcast, in order to accommodate the syndicated talk show Katie.
On July 14, 2014, KMGH-TV launched a 4:00 p.m newscast, The Now, which features a mixture of local and national news segments.
Notable current on-air staff
- John Ferrugia – anchor; also investigative reporter ("Call 7 Investigators")
- Anne Trujillo – anchor
- Tony Kovaleski – investigative reporter
Notable former on-air staff
- Ernie Bjorkman – anchor (1982–1984 and 1988–1998; later with KWGN-TV)
- Chris Fowler – sports intern (1986; now at ESPN; host of College GameDay)
- Michael Marsh (now anchor at WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge)
- Linda Moulton Howe – director of special projects (1978–1983; currently an investigative journalist and documentary producer)
- Bill O'Reilly – reporter (now host of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel)
- Harry Smith – reporter/anchor (1982–1985, now at NBC News)
- Mark Thompson – weather anchor/environmental reporter
- Tony Zarrella – sports director (1996–1998; now sports director at WOIO in Cleveland)