Smoky Hills Public Television is a regional network of PBS member television stations serving central and western portions of the U.S. state of Kansas. It is operated by the Smoky Hills Public Television Corporation, which holds the licenses for all the PBS member stations licensed in the network. The broadcast signals of the four stations cover most of the western half of the state outside of Wichita.

The network produces public affairs programming and holds the broadcast rights to several Kansas high school athletic championship events sanctioned by the Kansas State High School Activities Association. The network's offices and network operations center are located in Bunker Hill (just east of Russell), in a historic native stone building.

History

The Smoky Hills Public Television Corporation was founded in 1978, with the intent to start a non-commercial educational television station in western Kansas, which is part of the Wichita-Hutchinson market, an unusually large market that covers over 70 counties stretching from the Flint Hills to the Colorado border (encompassing almost three-fourths of the state), making it the largest designated market area (DMA) by number of counties in the United States. Up to that time, much of the area received PBS programming on cable via either Wichita member station KPTS (channel 8) or Denver member station KRMA (channel 6).

Flagship station KOOD (channel 16) in Hays was the first station in the network to sign on the air on November 10, 1982. This was followed by the debut of full-power satellites KSWK (channel 8) in Lakin on March 15, 1989 and KDCK (channel 21) in Dodge City on March 3, 1998; KWKS (channel 19) in Colby was the last satellite to sign on, debuting as a digital-only station, in June 2007.

Most viewers watch SHPTV's programming through cable, which is all but essential for an acceptable signal in most of this vast area due to its hilly terrain. In 2005, satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network began carrying the network in the Wichita market, boosting its potential viewership to over 1.5 million people in Kansas and Nebraska.

Stations

StationCity of licenseChannels
(Digital)
First air dateCall letters’
meaning
ERP
(Digital)
HAAT
(Digital)
Facility IDTransmitter coordinates
KOODHays16 (UHF)
9 (PSIP)
November 10, 1982496 kW304 m60675
KSWKLakin8 (VHF)
3 (PSIP)
March 15, 1989South
Western
Kansas
33 kW153 m60683
KDCK1Dodge City21 (UHF)
21 (PSIP)
March 1998Dodge
City
Kansas
8.42 kW99 m79258
KWKS1Colby19 (UHF)
19 (PSIP)
June 2007Western
KansaS
464 kW383 m162115

Notes:

  • 1. KDCK and KWKS did not have companion digital channels, and therefore are operating on their pre-transition channels, which map to the same channels via PSIP. KDCK flash-cut its digital signal into operation in 2003.

Until 2009, Smoky Hills Public Television also relayed its signal on seven low-power translator stations:

StationCity of licenseChannels
K15CG15 (UHF)Oakley
K23BU23 (UHF)Goodland
K32BY32 (UHF)Oberlin
K39BS39 (UHF)Norton
K64BS64 (UHF)Concordia
K66CD66 (UHF)Phillipsburg
K69DB69 (UHF)Hoxie

The Hoxie translator was owned by the government of Sheridan County, the others were owned by the Smoky Hills Public Television Corporation. All of the translators were taken out of service upon the digital television transition in 2009.

Digital television

Digital channels

The digital channels of each of the Smoky Hills Public Television stations are multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming
x.1480i4:3SHPTV-DTMain SHPTV programming / PBS SD
x.2480i/1080i4:3/16:9SHPTV-HDMain SHPTV programming / PBS HD**
x.3480i4:3SHPTV-DT3Create*
x.4SHPTV-DT4World*

Notes:

  • * The third and fourth digital subchannels only broadcast from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Central Time to allow the second digital subchannel to broadcast in HD during primetime
  • ** - The second digital subchannel only broadcasts in 1080i HD from 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. due to limited OTA bandwidth

Analog-to-digital conversion

Although the DTV Delay Act extended the mandatory deadline to June 12, 2009, Smoky Hills Public Television shut down the analog signals of two of its stations as originally scheduled on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were scheduled to transition from analog to digital broadcasts. KOOD and KSWK shut down their respective analog signals, over UHF channel 16 and VHF channel 8, on that date. KOOD's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 16; KSWK's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 47. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display KOOD's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 9 and KSWK's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 3.

Programming

Locally produced programs broadcast by Smoky Hills Public Television include the medical advice program Doctors On Call, the public affairs program The Kansas Legislature, the high school sports highlight program Scoreboard Show and the music program Down Home Country: Live in Branson. The network also holds broadcast rights to the Miss Southwest Kansas Pageant as well as several Kansas high school athletic championship events sanctioned by the Kansas State High School Activities Association (including the Eight-Man Division 1 and 2 Football Championship games, Class 3-2-1A state wrestling tournament and the Class 1A girls' and boys' basketball tournament championship games). Smoky Hills Public Television also broadcasts the Signature Auction, an annual fundraiser held each March; as well as Kansas Candidates, an ongoing series held during the election season.