KRTV is a television station in Great Falls, Montana, broadcasting on digital channel 7 (PSIP channel 3) as an affiliate of CBS. The station is owned by Evening Post Industries. The station is part of the Evening Post's Montana Television Network, a network of Montana CBS stations.
KRTV began broadcast on June 27, 1958. That same day, high winds destroyed its broadcasting antenna, and the station was off the air until October 5, 1958. The station was primarily an NBC affiliate with some ABC programming. When KFBB-TV took on a primary ABC affiliation in February 1966, KRTV started carrying CBS programming; it replaced KFBB as part of the Skyline Network (now the MTN). Over the next ten years KRTV offered more and more of CBS and less and less of NBC; the amount of CBS programming exceeded that of NBC in the summer of 1969, which meant that KRTV was now a primary affiliate of CBS-and still is. The station became a full-time CBS affiliate in 1976, when KTCM (now KTVH in Helena) expanded its coverage to become (until 1986) the default NBC affiliate in a large part of Montana, including Great Falls.
KRTV's programming is also seen on KXLH-LD channel 9 in Helena—programming is similar to KRTV's schedule, other than local ads and weather segments. For many years, KXLH was a semi-satellite of sister station KXLF-TV in Butte, but in 2005 KRTV became its parent station. KXLH also has its own Weekday 5:30 and 10 p.m. newscast with a separate anchor, which was introduced in 2010. KXLH was previously known as KXLH-LP channel 25—the station would later flash cut and relocate to channel 9 in 2010.
KRTV offers The CW on its digital signal and is known as Great Falls CW. The subchannel is not seen on KXLH, as the CW affiliate in Helena is a subchannel of KTVH-DT (until 2015, CW programming in Helena was seen on KMTF).
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.1||1080i||16:9||KRTV-DT||Main KRTV programming / CBS|
|3.2||480i||4:3||KRTV-CW||Great Falls CW|
KRTV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 7. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 3.
Emergency Alert System intrusion
On February 11, 2013, at approximately 2:33 PM MST, an unknown hacker reportedly gained access to the station's Emergency Alert System, and sent out a Local Area Emergency over the main signal, as well as the CW subchannel, explaining in a pitch-altered voice that "dead bodies are rising from the graves and attacking the living" and that the bodies were considered "extremely dangerous", apparently referencing The Walking Dead. The voice also asked viewers to tune to 920 AM for further information after the station ended operations (no station exists on 920 AM in the Great Falls market). Within minutes, station staff informed the public of the system intrusion and that there was no emergency.
On the morning on February 12, DJs from WIZM-FM in LaCrosse, Wisconsin were discussing the KRTV EAS intrusion. As part of the segment, they aired a clip of the actual EAS intrusion (including the tones), which triggered not only the radio station's EAS, but also that of their sister TV station, WKBT-TV, which resulted in the same message being seen to viewers of WKBT.
Notable former on-air staff
- Norma Ashby - 26-year career with KRTV
- Nick Miller - Weekend weather forecaster from 1999 to 2003, now working as BBC Weather forecaster
- Big Sandy —
- Dodson —
- Fort Peck —
- Glasgow —
- Hinsdale —
- Lewistown —
- Malta —
- Saco —
- Stanford —
- Tampico —
- Whitewater —
- Wolf Point —
- Zortman —
Call sign history
The KRTV callsign was originally used for a UHF station on Channel 17 in Little Rock, Arkansas, affiliated with both CBS and NBC, that was Arkansas' first TV station when it signed on in 1953. However, it went off the air a year later as VHF stations KARK-TV and KTHV were preparing to take its network affiliations. The local ABC affiliate, KATV (previously of Pine Bluff), then moved to Little Rock and took over its studio until it burned down in 1957.