Rocky Mountain PBS is a state network of PBS member television stations serving the U.S. state of Colorado. It is operated by the Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Network, Inc., which holds the licenses for most of the PBS member stations licensed in the state, with the exception of KBDI-TV (channel 12) in Denver, which serves as that market's secondary (or "beta") PBS station through the network's Program Differentiation Plan. The network comprises five full-power stations--flagship station KRMA-TV in Denver and satellites KTSC in Pueblo (also serving Colorado Springs), KRMJ in Grand Junction, KRMU in Durango and KRMZ in Steamboat Springs. The broadcast signals of the five full-power stations and 60 translators cover almost all of the state, as well as parts of Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and New Mexico.

The network's offices and network operations center are located on Bannock Street and West 11th Avenue in downtown Denver. KRMJ and KTSC maintain their own respective studio facilities: KRMJ is based at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, while KTSC operates from the campus of Colorado State University–Pueblo. The RMPBN also operates a public radio station, NPR outlet KUVO (89.3 FM) in Denver, which joined the organization in a merger announced in January 2013.

History

The network's flagship station, KRMA-TV (channel 6) in Denver, first signed on the air on January 30, 1956 as an educational television station owned by the Denver Public Schools, with University of Denver instructor Jim Case serving as its program director. It is the oldest public television station in the Rocky Mountains. Its original studio facility was located in a converted body shop at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School in downtown Denver. The station was originally a member of National Educational Television, before becoming a member of PBS when it launched on October 6, 1970.

Originally broadcasting only two hours of programming a day during the week, KRMA soon became a key PBS member, distributing PBS programming to many areas in the Rocky Mountain region that did not have educational stations of their own. From the 1960s onward, it began building translators across Colorado and surrounding states. It was also carried by nearly every cable television system in Colorado and eastern Wyoming. Denver Public Schools sold KRMA to the community group Channel Six, Inc. in 1987. In 1992, KRMA moved its operations into a studio facility on Bannock Street in Denver's Civic Center neighborhood, which formerly housed the operations of ABC affiliate KUSA-TV (channel 9, now an NBC affiliate); that station moved to a new facility located on Speer Boulevard before KRMA moved into the Bannock Street facility.

In response to requests from viewers on the Western Slope, KRMA applied for and was awarded a construction permit by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate a station on UHF channel 18 in Grand Junction in August 1995. That station signed on the air on January 1, 1997 as KRMJ. Prior to that station's launch, KRMA had been available on cable in western Colorado for decades, and also operated numerous translators in the region. Soon afterward, KRMA dropped its longtime "Six" branding and relaunched as "Rocky Mountain PBS", while Channel Six, Inc. changed its name to the Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Network.

In 1999, KTSC (channel 8) in Pueblo joined the network after it was sold by Colorado State University–Pueblo. The station had originally operated as a separate PBS station for Pueblo, Colorado Springs and southern Colorado from its sign-on on February 3, 1971. On December 3, 2004, KRMU (channel 20) in Durango signed on to serve southwestern Colorado and a small portion of northwestern New Mexico. When KRMU received its license in 2001, it was the first television station in the United States to operate a digital signal without a companion analog channel assignment.

On February 2, 2007, Rocky Mountain PBS added its fifth full-service station and its second station in western Colorado, KMAS-TV (channel 24) in Steamboat Springs. KMAS had served as the Telemundo station for the Denver market prior to joining RMPBS, and brought its programming into Denver itself by way of two low-powered repeater stations – KMAS-LP (channel 33) and KSBS-LP (channel 10). However, its status was placed in doubt when NBC Universal purchased KDEN-TV (channel 25) and converted it into a Telemundo owned-and-operated station. NBC Universal finally decided to donate the KMAS license and transmitter to Rocky Mountain PBS. On September 4, 2007, the station's call letters were changed to KRMZ, reflecting its identity as a Rocky Mountain PBS station.

On January 16, 2013, it was announced that the non-profit investigative journalism organization I-News Network and public radio station KUVO (89.3 FM) had reached an agreement to merge with Rocky Mountain PBS. The merger is intended to broaden the reach of their content to new platforms and ensure formal collaboration between the outlets. The deal was expected to close in April 2013.[2]

Programming

Rocky Mountain PBS produces several local programs, such as the weekly Colorado State of Mind, Arts District and the seasonal Colorado Experience. However, the network has focused much of its production efforts on local documentaries, which often take months or years to produce. Many of these documentaries (such as La Raza de Colorado, Jewel of the Rockies and Urban Rez) have earned multiple Emmy Awards over the years.

Satellite stations KRMJ and KTSC occasionally break away from the KRMA feed to provide programming targeted for their respective communities, and each station airs separate local promotions and underwriting. KRMU is a full-time satellite of KRMJ, while KRMZ is a full-time satellite of KRMA. Citing costs at each station, Rocky Mountain PBS applied for and received waivers of the FCC's main studio rule, which requires that each full-service station maintain a main studio within its local service area.[3][4]

Stations

StationCity of licenseChannels
TV / RF
First air dateCall letters’
meaning
Former affiliationsERPHAATFacility IDTransmitter CoordinatesPublic license information
KRMA-TVDenver6 (PSIP)
18 (UHF)
January 30, 1956Knowledge for the
Rocky
Mountain
Area
NET (1956–1970)115 kW331 m14040
KTSC1Pueblo8 (PSIP)
8 (VHF)
February 3, 19711Television for
Southern
Colorado
22.4 kW720 m69170
KRMJGrand Junction18 (PSIP)
18 (UHF)
January 1, 1997KRMA Grand Junction17.7 kW409 m14042
KRMUDurango20 (PSIP)
20 (UHF)
December 3, 2004KRMA DUrango12.6 kW130 m84224
KRMZ2, 3Steamboat Springs24 (PSIP)
10 (VHF)
May 1988KRMA ZTelemundo (until 2007)0.481 kW175.2 m20373

Notes:

  • 1. KTSC joined RMPBS in 1999 and also covers Colorado Springs.
  • 2. KRMZ used the callsigns KSBS-TV from 1988 to 2000, and KMAS-TV from 2000 to 2007.
  • 3. KRMZ (then KMAS-TV) joined RMPBS in 2007.

Translators

In addition to its five full-service television stations, Rocky Mountain PBS operates one of the largest translator networks in the country, serving portions of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska and Utah. KRMA feeds two translators in Boulder and Fort Collins. KTSC feeds 10 translators in rural southern Colorado, and KRMJ feeds 13 translators serving rural western Colorado. The other translators are operated by community groups that pick up one of the three Rocky Mountain PBS regional feeds, and carry the signals onward through their systems.

All 25 translators within the RMPBS system operate as digital signals, and as such carry the primary channel and two subchannels from their respective parent transmitters.

The list below is a mixture of RMPBS and other translator operators carrying one of the RMPBS network feeds.

(all are analog stations unless otherwise specified)

KRMA translators

City of licenseCallsignChannel
Akron13 (analog)
Anton17
Ashcroft21
Collbran11
Crawford24
Dolores10
Dove Creek23
Fort CollinsKRMA-TV47
Dolores30 (analog)
Glenwood Springs45
Grand Junction41
Grand Junction49
Grand Valley28
Haxtun39
Holyoke19
Idalia24
Julesburg51
Lake George29
Meeteetse, Wyoming29
New Castle6
Nucla13
Peetz18
Pleasant Valley20
Rulison32
Silt49
Sterling47
White Sulphur Springs, Montana8
White Sulphur Springs, Montana26
Wolf Point, Montana19
Wood River, Wyoming31
Wray50
Yuma36

KTSC translators

StationCity of licenseChannelERPFacility IDTransmitter Coordinates
K46JN-DAguilar460.250 kW
K40LS-DCheyenne Wells400.750 kW
K33IW-DCoaldale330.015 kW
K43AH-DCrested Butte, Etc.430.460 kW
K47BL-DCrested Butte, Etc.470.170 kW
K46JO-DDel Norte460.250 kW
K56AGEads560.888 kW
K06HN-DGunnison60.013 kW
K36IH-DIgnacio360.582 kW
K20JW-DJack's Cabin, Etc.200.197 kW
K42ID-DLa Veta420.250 kW
K41LM-DLamar410.754 kW
K29JL-DLas Animas290.754 kW
K07PA-DManitou Springs70.037 kW
K39MK-DMontrose390.1 kW
K09PJ-DOuray, Etc.90.030 kW
K15EDPitkin150.170 kW
K31IW-DRidgeway, Etc.310.632 kW
K31IX-DSalida, Etc.312.270 kW
K44IX-DSan Luis440.250 kW
K32IK-DSan Luis Valley, Etc.326.590 kW
K15GL-DTrinidad, Valdez, Etc.150.730 kW
K51DI-DWaunita Hot Springs510.813 kW

KRMJ translators

StationCity of licenseChannelERPFacility IDTransmitter Coordinates
K08HN-DAspen80.025 kW
K36GX-DBasalt360.08 kW
K31CW-DCarbondale312.3 kW
K26CI-DMancos260.792 kW
K44JQ-DRedstone440.042 kW

Digital television

Digital channels

The digital channels of Rocky Mountain PBS' stations are multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[5][6][7][8][9]
xx.11080i16:9xxxx-DTMain RMPBS programming / PBS
xx.2480i4:3V-MeV-me
xx.3CreateCreate

Analog-to-digital conversion

During 2009, in the lead-up to the analog-to-digital television transition that would ultimately occur on June 12, Rocky Mountain PBS shut down the analog transmitters of its stations on a staggered basis. Listed below are the dates each analog transmitter ceased operations as well as their post-transition channel allocations:[10]

  • KRMA-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 18. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 6. As part of the SAFER Act,[11] KRMA kept its analog signal on the air until July 12 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters.
  • KTSC shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, on June 12, 2009. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 26 to VHF channel 8 for post-transition operations.
  • KRMJ shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 18, on June 12, 2009. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 17 to former UHF analog channel 18 for post-transition operations.
  • KRMZ shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 24, on February 17, 2009, the original 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 10. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 24.

KRMU signed on in December 2004 as a digital-only station, although it also had endured a temporary shutdown in early 2009 in final preparation for the transition.