KCAU-TV is the ABC-affiliated television station in Sioux City, Iowa, broadcasting digitally on VHF channel 9. The KCAU TV Tower is a guyed mast for TV transmission in Sioux City at . The tower was built from 1965-1967 and is 609.9 meters (2000 feet) high. It is tied for the tallest structure of the state and is one of the tallest structures in America.

History

KCAU signed on air as KVTV on March 9, 1953. It is western Iowa's oldest television station. It was owned by Peoples Broadcasting along with WNAX radio (AM 570 and FM 104.1), a well-established radio station in nearby Yankton, South Dakota. It carried programming from all four networks of the day--CBS, ABC, NBC and DuMont. However, it was a primary CBS affiliate owing to WNAX' long affiliation with CBS Radio. It lost NBC in 1954 when KTIV signed on, and DuMont when that network virtually ceased functioning in 1955.

KVTV, like most Sioux City stations, could actually put a grade-B signal into Sioux Falls. This bothered Midcontinent Media, owner of that city's KELO-TV, which switched to CBS in 1960. Pressure from Midcontinent president Joe Floyd eventually led Peoples Broadcasting to put KVTV up for sale. Forward Communications purchased KVTV in October 1965, with the intention of making Channel 9 the ABC affiliate for both Sioux City and Sioux Falls. At that time, no full ABC affiliate put even a grade B signal into the area. Forward built a new tower northeast of Sioux City that would reach more viewers than ever before. After 22 months of preparation, during which the amount of ABC programming on KVTV increased noticeably, channel 9 officially joined ABC on September 2, 1967, at 12:30 PM. Along with the new affiliation came new call letters, KCAU-TV. In almost no time, KCAU became one of ABC's highest-rated affiliates. Three days after the switch, on September 5, 1967, KMEG-TV signed on and took the CBS affiliation. KCAU branded as Siouxland ABC for most of the 1970s, even though Sioux Falls got an ABC affiliate of its own in KORN-TV (channel 5, now KDLT-TV on channel 46). The KVTV calls are now assigned to the CBS affiliate in Laredo, Texas.

Citadel Communications (not to be confused with the larger Citadel Broadcasting, the former owner of numerous radio stations across the U.S.) bought the station in 1985, also purchasing Albion, Nebraska, station KBGT-TV (channel 8) a year later; that station was converted into KCAN, a satellite of KCAU. Citadel moved KCAN's license to Lincoln, Nebraska and converted the station into KLKN, a standalone ABC affiliate, in 1996.

From 1953 to 1985 KCAU was home to Canyon Kid's Corner, a popular children's show in the area. Longtime KCAU announcer Jim Henry hosted the show for its entire run.

Until 2011, KCAU did not carry ABC World News Now. Instead, the station joined its fellow Citadel stations in signing off every night at 1:05 a.m., one of the few stations in the United States to do so. World News Now's current run on KCAU is its second; the station had aired the program during the early 2000s.

On September 16, 2013, Citadel announced that it would sell KCAU-TV, along with WOI-DT in Des Moines and WHBF-TV in Rock Island, Illinois to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group for $88 million. Nexstar immediately took over the station's operations through a time brokerage agreement. The deal separated KCAU from former satellite KLKN, which Citadel retains.[2] Citadel's sale of the three stations followed Phil Lombardo's decision to "slow down," as well as a desire by Lynch Entertainment, an investor in WOI and WHBF, to sell.[3] The sale was completed on March 13, 2014.[4] The deal reunited KCAU with two of its former Citadel sister stations, WIVT in Binghamton, New York and WVNY in Burlington, Vermont.

Digital television

Digital channels

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP short nameProgramming[5]
9.1720p16:9KCAU-DTMain KCAU-TV programming / ABC
9.2480p4:3KCAUTV2Escape (Launch date TBD)
9.3Bounce TV (Launch date TBD)
9.4Laff (Launch date TBD)

In 2009, KCAU added The Local AccuWeather Channel as a digital subchannel. Until January 16, 2012, KCAU was the only station owned by Citadel Communications to carry AccuWeather programming on a digital subchannel; sister stations KLKN, WOI-DT, and WHBF-TV instead carried RTV on their DT2 subchannels, while WLNE-TV did not offer a DT2 subchannel. KCAU-DT2 originally identified as "KCAU WeatherNow" but by 2010 was instead branded as "Accuweather 9".

On January 16, 2012, KCAU, along with all of its sister stations, began broadcasting Disney/ABC's lifestyle-oriented Live Well Network on its digital subchannel, replacing "Accuweather 9".[6] KCAU-TV helped out competitor KTIV-TV when their tower went down in 2014, simulcasting its primary service on digital channel 9.2 Subchannel 9.2 went back to Live Well in late 2014, but went silent by January 2015, the month Live Well discontinued operations; KCAU announced at the time it had no new programming plans for 9.2.[7]

Analog-to-digital conversion

KCAU-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, at noon on February 17, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television (which Congress had moved the previous month to June 12).[8][9] The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 30 to VHF channel 9.

News operation

In December 2006, KCAU received new graphics and Frank Gari's Eyewitness News (ABC O&O News Collection) music package; however, it did not drop Eyewitness News branding, like sister stations WOI-TV and WHBF-TV did, until August 30, 2013.

KCAU began broadcasting local news in high-definition on November 23, 2010, the first station in the Sioux City market to do so (KMEG/KPTH began broadcasting 16x9 widescreen news earlier, but not HD).

Notable former on-air staff