KOFY-TV, virtual channel 20 (UHF digital channel 19), is an independent television station located in San Francisco, California, United States. The station is owned by Granite Broadcasting. KOFY maintains studios located on Marin Street in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, and its transmitter is located atop the Sutro Tower. The station's signal is relayed on low-power translator station, K29DF, in Ukiah.
As an independent station
Originally designated as KBAY-TV, the construction permit for the station went through many owners from the 1950s onward. The KEMO call letters were originally assigned to U.S. Communications, a broadcaster owned by Daniel H. Overmyer, owner of the short-lived Overmyer Network (later called the United Network); Overmyer used his initials as the last three letters of the Toledo, Ohio station (WDHO-TV, now WNWO-TV), which was already on the air, and his children's initials for the remaining five stations in his network, whose licenses were not granted until December 12, 1967, after his network folded.
KEMO-TV (pronounced "Key-Mo") signed on the air less than four months later, on April 1, 1968. It was seemingly off the air more than it was on. At the time, the station showed conventional independent fare, along with The Adults Only Movie, a series of art films, not featuring sex or nudity – it was named "Adults Only" merely due to the films' lack of appeal to children.
With a mixture of locally produced and syndicated programming, KEMO-TV remained on the air for three years to the day, powering down its transmitter at midnight on March 31, 1971 to avoid paying the following month's PG&E electricity bill. Leon Crosby bought it later that year and it returned to the air in 1972 with an eclectic type of programming – featuring shows such as "Solesvida" and "Amapola Presents Show" co-hosted by Amapola and Ness Aquino, to name a few. KEMO offered Japanese live-action and cartoons dubbed into English including Speed Racer, Ultraman, 8 Man, Prince Planet, Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero and The King Kong Show.
From 1972 to 1980, it was telecasting stock market programming in the mornings, religious programming in midday, Spanish programming in the afternoons and evenings, and B-grade movies overnight, with carpet store owner Leon Heskett hosting the films. Leon Crosby's KEMO signed off on September 30, 1980.
The station was then sold to FM radio pioneer James Gabbert (who previously owned popular music station KIOI (101.3 FM; now under different ownership), who returned it to the air on October 6, 1980, as KTZO (which stood for Television 20, the Z being construed as a numeral 2), with a dramatically upgraded general entertainment format, featuring off-network drama shows, sitcoms, old movies, rejected CBS and NBC shows preempted by KPIX-TV (channel 5) and KRON-TV (channel 4), music videos, and religious shows. But unlike its independent competitors in that time, KTVU (channel 2, now a Fox affiliate), KICU-TV (channel 36) and KBHK (channel 44, now CW station KBCW), a majority of KTZO's programming lineup at most consisted of low-budget programs, which continued into its early years as KOFY. Most memorable were the station identification breaks featuring pets, usually dogs, of Bay Area viewers that would look on cue at a television screen showing the station's logo. In fact, these proved to be immensely popular – so much so that KTZO/KOFY would often work together with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by displaying pets that could be adopted, along with a phone number to call with the pet's name on screen. These ID's were retired in 1998, having aired alongside "official" WB-issued KOFY ID's for the first three years of the network's existence.
Other popular programming during the early and mid-1980s included the TV-20 Dance Party (originally a "Top 40" music format featuring local high schools, hosted by Bay Area DJ Tony Kilbert; later a 1950s "retro" style show hosted by Gabbert), and a Sunday late-night movie program. The Sunday program included studio segments at the beginning and commercial breaks of the movie, hosted by Gabbert and set in the fictional "Sleazy Arms Hotel" bar. Viewers were invited to join Gabbert on the set and for a time, enjoy a sponsor's product (a malt liquor).
On March 1, 1986, the station changed its call letters to KOFY-TV (pronounced "coffee"). The change occurred following Gabbert's purchase of radio station KOFY (1050 AM, now KTCT), which operated as a Spanish language station until Gabbert changed the format to 1950s–60s oldies rock during the 1980s and 1990s, later reverting to the Spanish language format. Gabbert sold KOFY radio in 1997 to Susquehanna Radio Corporation which changed the format from Spanish music to a sports talk format complementing its existing sports station, KNBR. At one point, Gabbert made Bay Area broadcasting history by televising a 3D movie that required special glasses, Gorilla at Large. KOFY-TV continued to run a general entertainment format, and added more cartoons in the late 1980s. Beginning in September 1987, the station filled the 7 to 11 p.m. timeslot with drama series such as Perry Mason, Cannon, Lou Grant and Combat!.
From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, KOFY also featured an in-studio, live kids cartoon show called Cartoon Classics. Hosted by Maestro Dick Bright, the show offered such cartoons as Mighty Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry and Popeye. The show frequently featured local magician Magic Mike (played by Michael Stroud) performing for the studio children. Finally the live-action in-studio segment was scrapped and the show just showed the cartoons straight. Afternoon cartoon shows such as these eventually became a thing of the past as cable television was able to feature round-the-clock cartoons aimed at younger viewers.
KOFY added more sitcoms in the early 1990s. KOFY also broadcast network daytime game shows and Saturday morning cartoons not carried by KRON and KPIX such as NBC game shows Blockbusters, Classic Concentration and the daytime version of Win, Lose, or Draw; the NBC cartoon series Alvin and the Chipmunks; the CBS game show The Price Is Right; the CBS cartoon series The Get Along Gang and Saturday Supercade; and for a few weeks during the Oliver North Iran-Contra hearings, Wordplay. The CBS game show Tattletales was picked up for the KEMO schedule during the mid-1970s among its foreign language-heavy programming when KPIX did not carry its CBS feed.
On Christmas Eve, Gabbert would preempt normal programming during the entire evening and broadcast its own version of the Yule Log, a concept borrowed from WPIX in New York City (which incidentally, would also later affiliate with The WB). In the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, the station ran an "oldies dance party" hosted by James Gabbert, and emceed by Sean King.
As a WB affiliate
The station became the Bay Area's WB affiliate, when the network launched on January 11, 1995. KOFY eventually began to upgrade its programming inventory from low-budget programming to more higher-profile syndicated programs to compete with other stations in the market and channel 20's own growth as a WB affiliate.
In 1996, KOFY-TV employees attempted to organize as a collective bargaining unit under the labor union for broadcast employees, NABET. Gabbert and various KOFY-TV managers interfered with the organizing effort, resulting in a case before the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB ultimately ruled against the station.
In 1998, Gabbert sold KOFY for $170 million to minority-owned Granite Broadcasting, who changed the call sign to KBWB on September 14, 1998 to reflect its network affiliation. In 1999, KBWB's operations were merged with those of then-sister station KNTV (channel 11) in San Jose, who contributed a 10:00 p.m. newscast, plus simulcasts of its morning newscast, and, in return, received a temporary WB affiliation for 18 months after KNTV voluntarily dropped its ABC affiliation at the behest of network-owned KGO-TV (channel 7; KGO served most of the Bay Area, while KNTV served as the ABC affiliate for the South Bay). This arrangement ended in April 2002 after KNTV, by then the NBC affiliate for the San Francisco market, was sold to that network.
Aborted sale of KBWB
In September 2005, Granite announced the sale of KBWB and sister station WDWB (now WMYD) in Detroit to AM Media Holdings, Inc. (a unit of Acon Investments and several key Granite shareholders) for a price rated, on KBWB's end, to around $83 million. The low price, compared to the more than double amount Granite had purchased the station for, came out of Granite wanting to cut down its debt load while wanting to keep control of the stations. On February 15, 2006 Granite announced the restructuring of the sale considering the changing conditions of the station and that AM Media Holdings may not own channel 20.
In May 2006, Granite announced that it had sold KBWB, along with WMYD, to DS Audible, a new group affiliated with Canyon Capital Advisors, D.B. Zwirn & Co., Fortress Investment Group and Ramius Capital Group, among others, for $150 million cash (DS Audible San Francisco, LLC, one of the two groups created by the investment groups, would have acquired KBWB for $65.75 million). The previous agreement to sell the two stations to AM Media was withdrawn. On July 18, 2006 this sale also fell apart; Granite then announced it would try to find another company willing to buy KBWB. Granite filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on December 11, 2006 after missing an interest payment on its debt of more than $400 million.
Return to independence
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. On the day of the announcement, the network signed a ten-year affiliation deal with 11 of CBS Corporation's 14 UPN stations, including KBHK (whose later change its current calls to KBCW; and the latter were passed over for an affiliation deal from Tribune-owned former fellow WB affiliates). Network representatives was on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN affiliates in terms of viewership, and KBHK had been well ahead of KBWB in the ratings for virtually all of UPN's run. Another new network that would launch the same month as The CW, MyNetworkTV (which debuted on September 5), ended up affiliating with former NBC affiliate turned independent KRON-TV.
Soon after the CW announcement, the station rebranded to "TV20" (following the lead of Detroit's future MyNetworkTV affiliate and sister station WMYD, formerly WDWB, which also branded as "TV20"). KBWB reverted to being an independent station on September 18, 2006 (one of three in the San Francisco market, alongside KICU and KFTY channel 50, now KEMO-TV), under the new branding as Your TV20 (a parallel of sorts to "My TV20", the branding of sister station WMYD, which affiliated with MyNetworkTV). In March 2008, channel 20 revived the dog station IDs that were previously used under James Gabbert's ownership of the station, this time featuring dogs sitting on a couch in front of several San Francisco backdrops.
KBWB then became an alternate ABC affiliate, carrying programs from that network during instances where KGO-TV pre-empts regularly scheduled network programming for local breaking news coverage. On October 8, 2008, at 10:00 p.m., KBWB reverted to its previous KOFY-TV call letters, commemorating the change with a 10-minute documentary on former owner James Gabbert and the station's history followed by a two-hour block of Mork & Mindy.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|20.1||1080i||16:9||HD||Main KOFY-TV programming|
|20.4||This TV||This TV|
On July 1, 2007, KBWB began carrying programming from Azteca América on a new digital subchannel 20.4. It replaced KTNC-TV (channel 42) as the network's affiliate, that station switched to a Spanish-language independent format on that date. On July 28, 2011, High Plains Broadcasting (a partner company used by Newport Television to absolve ownership conflicts between certain stations owned by the Providence Equity Partners-backed group and Univision, which Providence holds an equity interest in) announced plans to sell Santa Rosa-based KFTY (channel 50) to Una Vez Más Holdings, LLC, with the intent to affiliate that station with Azteca América. On September 29, 2011, KFTY's affiliation with MeTV was discontinued and became KEMO-TV, adopting the callsign once used by KOFY-TV. KEMO-TV briefly mirrored the Azteca América programming that was still seen on KOFY 20.4; this ended shortly afterward, when KOFY discontinued the Azteca América feed.
KOFY-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 20, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 19, using PSIP to display KOFY-TV's virtual channel as 20 on digital television receivers.
Syndicated programming on KOFY-TV includes The Steve Wilkos Show, Community, 30 Rock, The Jerry Springer Show and That '70s Show. The station offers a schedule of first-run talk shows, court shows, off-network sitcoms, reality shows, and movies.
In the 1990s, KOFY-TV aired a select number of University of San Francisco Dons college basketball games. On April 3, 2013, KOFY-TV aired its first baseball telecast, a primetime game between the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners, that was produced by Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
The Daily Mixx
From 2002 to 2006, KBWB ran an entertainment news segment called The Daily Mixx, which aired at 5:56 and 10:00 p.m. daily. The Mixx, as it was sometimes referred to, showed clips of celebrity interviews as well as movie previews and giveaways such as tickets to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Winchester Mystery House. It was hosted by Chris Labrum and Angela Murrow (sometimes known as Angela Bakke) during the segment's first two years and by Lesley Nagy and Shane Tallant in subsequent years. An extended version, called The Mixx EP, aired on the fourth Wednesday or Thursday of each month. In January 2006, Tallant left KBWB leaving Nagy as the station's lone correspondent.
Creepy KOFY Movie Time
On January 1, 2009, KOFY premiered a late night horror movie showcase titled Creepy KOFY Movie Time, that first aired at midnight when it premiered that early New Years' Day morning. Afterward, the program moved to its permanent timeslot on late Saturday nights/very early Sunday mornings at 11:00 p.m. on January 3, 2009.
The program is hosted by local radio personality No Name, and Balrok, a demon, who claim to broadcast from caves under the KOFY studios. The hosts have a snarky frat-boy style and have had many off-color guests, including frequent guest, adult film actress Annie Cruz. The broadcast features an in-house band, the surf/punk band The Deadlies, and the hosts are often flanked during the broadcast by a variety of comely bikini clad models/actresses/fans. Beginning with its third season in 2007, the program added two regular go-go dancers known as the Cave Girls whom often perform with the Deadlies. On July 24, 2010, Creepy KOFY Movie Time was moved to 11:00 p.m.
The station aired a local newscast, by the early 1990s, which was eventually cancelled after a few years. Prior to this, in 1989, the station rebroadcast KRON-TV (channel 4)'s newscasts, branded as NewsCenter 4 on KOFY. The KRON-produced 10 p.m. newscast debuted in March 1991 with Pete Wilson and Pam Moore as co-anchors, but ended a year later when KRON-TV began the "early prime" experiment (in which it, and later, KPIX-TV, moved primetime programming one hour earlier, matching the primetime scheduling of network shows in the Central and Mountain Time Zones) and "moved" the 10 p.m. newscast over to channel 4 (in actuality, moving the station's existing 11 p.m. newscast to the 10 p.m. slot).
Under Granite ownership, the station reintroduced a 10 p.m. newscast – this time, produced by KNTV – titled WB20 News at 10 on September 14, 1998 (the same day as KOFY's callsign change to KBWB); the program was renamed The WB Primetime News at 10 on July 3, 2000, when KNTV also began producing a morning newscast for the station. However, the KNTV-produced primetime news effort failed to pose a significant threat to KTVU's long-dominant 10 p.m. newscast (an issue which caused KRON and KPIX-TV to move their newscasts back to 11 p.m. by the late 1990s), and both newscasts were cancelled in 2002 after NBC's purchase of KNTV.
Five years later, KBWB entered into a news share agreement with ABC owned-and-operated station KGO-TV to produce another primetime newscast. On January 8, 2007, KGO began producing a weeknight-only 9:00 p.m. newscast for channel 20, titled ABC 7 News at 9:00 on Your TV20 (now ABC 7 News at 9:00 on KOFY). In addition, KOFY also airs rebroadcasts of KGO-TV's nightly 6 p.m. newscast at 7 p.m. Sunday through Fridays and its 11 p.m. newscast at 11:30 p.m. on weeknights; until 2012, it also rebroadcast KGO's political discussion program Assignment 7 on Sunday evenings following the 6 p.m. news rebroadcast.