KDKA-TV, channel 2, is a CBS owned-and-operated television station located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation, as part of a duopoly with CW station WPCW (channel 19). The two stations share studios located at the Gateway Center in downtown Pittsburgh, while KDKA-TV's transmitter is located in the Perry North neighborhood of Pittsburgh. On cable, KDKA is carried on Comcast channels 6 (channel 3 in Bethel Park and Monroeville, and channel 2 in outlying areas) (standard definition) and 802 (high definition), and Verizon FiOS channels 2 (standard definition) and 502 (high definition).
KDKA-TV is available on cable television in the Johnstown, Altoona, and Wheeling areas, as well as several other out-of-market cable systems in northwestern Pennsylvania, northwestern Maryland, northeastern Ohio, and North-Central West Virginia. The furthest south KDKA-TV is carried on cable is in Beverly, West Virginia.
The station went on the air on January 11, 1949, as WDTV ("W DuMont TeleVision") on channel 3; it was owned and operated by the DuMont Television Network. It was the 51st television station in the U.S., the third and last DuMont-owned station to sign on the air, behind WABD (now WNYW) in New York City and WTTG in Washington, D.C., and the first owned-and-operated station in the state of Pennsylvania. To mark the occasion, a live television special aired that day from 8:30 to 11 p.m. ET on WDTV, which began with a one-hour local program broadcast from Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh. The remainder of the show featured live segments from DuMont, CBS, NBC, and ABC with Arthur Godfrey, Milton Berle, DuMont host Ted Steele, and many other celebrities.
The station also represented a milestone in the television industry, providing the first "network" that included Pittsburgh and 13 other cities from Boston to St. Louis. WDTV was one of the last stations to receive a construction permit before the Federal Communications Commission-imposed four-year freeze on new television station licenses.
When the release of the FCC's Sixth Report and Order ended the license freeze in 1952, DuMont was forced to give up its channel 3 allocation to alleviate interference with nearby stations broadcasting on the frequency, notably NBC-owned WNBK (now WKYC) in Cleveland, who itself moved to the frequency to avoid interference with stations in Columbus and Detroit. WDTV moved its facilities to channel 2 on November 23, 1952; WPSU-TV would later sign on with the channel 3 frequency for the Johnstown/Altoona market. Shortly after moving, it was the first station in the country to broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, advertising that its 1:00-7:00 a.m. "Swing Shift Theatre" served the "200,000 workers [in their viewing area] who finish shift work at midnight." DuMont's network of stations on coaxial cable stretched from Boston to St. Louis. These stations were linked together via AT&T's coaxial cable feed with the sign-on of WDTV allowing the network to broadcast live programming to all the stations at the same time. Stations not yet connected to the coaxial cable received kinescope recordings via physical delivery.
Dealing with competition
Until the end of the freeze, WDTV's only competition came in the form of distant signals from stations in Johnstown, Altoona, Wheeling, West Virginia and Youngstown, Ohio. However, Pittsburgh saw two UHF stations launch during 1953 – ABC affiliate WENS-TV (channel 16, later to become WINP-TV), and WKJF-TV (channel 53, later to become WPGH-TV), an independent station. At the time, UHF stations could not be viewed without the aid of an expensive, set-top converter, and the picture quality was marginal at best with one. UHF stations in the area faced an additional problem because Pittsburgh is located in a somewhat rugged dissected plateau, and the reception of UHF stations is usually poor in such terrain. These factors played a role in the short-lived existences of both WKJF and WENS.
Although Pittsburgh was the sixth largest market in the country (behind New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington-Baltimore), the other VHF stations in town were slow to develop. This was because the major cities in the Upper Ohio Valley are so close together that they must share the VHF band. After the FCC lifted the license freeze in 1952, it refused to grant any new commercial VHF construction permits to Pittsburgh in order to give the smaller cities in the area a chance to get on the air. WDTV had a de facto monopoly on Pittsburgh television. Like its sister stations WABD and WTTG, it was far stronger than the DuMont network as a whole. According to network general manager Ted Bergmann, WDTV brought in $4 million a year, which was more than enough to keep the network afloat. Owning the only readily viewable station in such a large market gave DuMont considerable leverage in getting its programs cleared in large markets where it did not have an affiliate. As CBS, NBC and ABC had secondary affiliations with WDTV, this was a strong incentive to stations in large markets to clear DuMont's programs or risk losing valuable advertising in the sixth-largest market. Also, NBC affiliates from Johnstown (WJAC-TV) and Wheeling (WTRF-TV, itself now affiliated with CBS) were able to be received in Pittsburgh and a CBS affiliate from Steubenville, Ohio (WSTV-TV, now NBC affiliate WTOV-TV) was also able to be received there as well. CBS, in fact, actually attempted to purchase WSTV-TV's license before it went on the air and move its license to Pittsburgh due to the close proximity between Pittsburgh and Steubenville (At the time less than an hour apart by car; the completion of the Penn-Lincoln Parkway in 1964 reduced that time to about a half-hour driving time today.), but the FCC turned CBS down. The Wheeling/Steubenville TV market, despite its very close proximity to Pittsburgh and overlapping signals, remains a separate market by FCC standards today.
WDTV aired all DuMont network shows live and "cherry-picked" the best shows from the other networks, airing them on kinescope on an every-other-week basis. WDTV's sign-on was also significant because it was now possible to feed live programs from the East to the Midwest and vice versa. In fact, its second broadcast was the activation of the coaxial cable linking New York City and Chicago. It would be another two years before the West Coast received live programming, but this was the beginning of the modern era of network television.
By 1954, DuMont was in serious financial trouble. Paramount Pictures, which owned a stake in DuMont, vetoed a merger with ABC, who had merged with Paramount's former theater division United Paramount Theaters a year before. A few years earlier, the FCC had ruled that Paramount controlled DuMont and there were still lingering questions about whether UPT had actually broken off from Paramount. Paramount did not want to risk the FCC's wrath.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Corporation had been competing with local politicians to acquire the non-commercial channel 13 license from the FCC, as no other Pittsburgh-allocated VHF station would be signing on for the foreseeable future. After launching WBZ-TV in Boston in 1948 and purchasing two other television stations, Westinghouse was growing impatient with not having a station in its own home market. Before the freeze, Westinghouse was a shoo-in for the channel 6 license that would later be given to WJAC-TV in Johnstown after that station gave up the channel 13 allocation to Pittsburgh as part of the FCC's reallocation plan. Westinghouse later offered a compromise plan to the FCC, in which the Commission would grant Westinghouse the channel 13 license; Westinghouse would then "share" the facility with the educational licensee. Finding the terms unacceptable, Pittsburgh attorney Leland Hazard called Westinghouse CEO Gwilym Price to ask him if he should give up on his fight for public television. Price said that Hazard should keep fighting for it, giving Westinghouse backing for the station that would eventually become WQED.
Westinghouse then turned its attention to WDTV, offering DuMont a then-record $9.75 million for the station in late 1954. Desperate for cash, DuMont promptly accepted Westinghouse's offer. While the sale gave DuMont a short-term cash infusion, it eliminated DuMont's leverage in getting clearances in other major markets. Within two years, the DuMont network was no more. After the sale closed in January 1955, Westinghouse changed WDTV's call letters to KDKA-TV, after Westinghouse's pioneering radio station KDKA (1020 AM). As such, it became one of the few stations east of the Mississippi River with a "K" call sign. The WDTV calls now reside on a CBS affiliate located 130 miles south of Pittsburgh in Weston, West Virginia, which is unrelated to the current KDKA-TV. That station, which signed on after KDKA-TV adopted its current callsign, adopted those calls "in honor" of KDKA-TV.
As KDKA radio had long been an affiliate of the NBC Blue Network (Westinghouse was a co-founder of RCA, NBC's then-parent company), it was expected that KDKA-TV would eventually become a primary affiliate of the NBC television network. But the network was seeking to purchase Westinghouse's Philadelphia stations, KYW radio and WPTZ (now KYW-TV). When Westinghouse balked, NBC threatened to pull its programming from WPTZ and Boston's WBZ-TV unless Westinghouse agreed to trade its Philadelphia properties for NBC's radio and television properties in Cleveland. The decision would lead to an acrimonious relationship between Westinghouse and NBC in later years. Two years after the ownership change, channel 2 became a primary affiliate of the higher-rated CBS network instead. KDKA-TV retained secondary affiliations with NBC until WIIC-TV (channel 11, now WPXI) signed on in 1957, and ABC until WTAE-TV (channel 4) signed on in 1958. Despite the ending of its commercial VHF monopoly, KDKA-TV did welcome competitor WIIC-TV on the air. KDKA-TV became the flagship station of Westinghouse's broadcasting arm, Group W. During the late 1950s, KDKA-TV was briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network, sharing the affiliation with WTAE-TV, WIIC-TV, and WQED. On November 22, 1963, newscaster Bill Burns provided almost three hours of live coverage after the shooting of President John F. Kennedy.
Over the years, channel 2 pre-empted moderate amounts of CBS programming. At one point, from the early 1960s to July 1990, the station did not clear As the World Turns. At the same time, WTAJ-TV in Altoona had run the program and was viewable in the eastern part of the Pittsburgh market. Also, CBS affiliate WTRF-TV in Wheeling, West Virginia was viewable in Pittsburgh and to the west. Until 1978, the show ran on WPGH and for a few years after that, it ran on WPTT-TV (channel 22). KDKA-TV also preempted the daytime game shows and reruns from CBS at various points during the 1970s. KDKA-TV also produced plenty of local programs such as Evening Magazine, Pittsburgh Talks, and local newscasts. The station also occasionally preempted CBS primetime programs for a syndicated movie, local news special, or sports during the years the station had broadcast rights to Pittsburgh Pirates baseball and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey. Weekend pre-emptions included a small portion of Saturday and Sunday morning cartoons, and Sunday morning religious programs. In 1993, KDKA-TV stopped running CBS This Morning and instead ran Disney's syndicated cartoon block. Despite the pre-emptions, CBS was mostly satisfied with KDKA-TV as it dominated its local market ratings.
In 1994, Westinghouse was looking to make a group-wide affiliation deal for its stations as part of a larger plan to transform itself into a major media conglomerate. Westinghouse negotiated with NBC and CBS for a deal. Had Westinghouse signed with NBC, KDKA-TV would affiliate itself with NBC forty years after passing up the network, with the CBS affiliation going to WPXI, who had originally intended to affiliate itself with CBS until the NBC-Westinghouse feud started as well as channel 11's own sign-on problems in the 1950s. While NBC (the highest-rated network during much of the 1990s) offered more money, CBS was interested in the programming opportunities Westinghouse offered, due to its own stagnation in programming at the time. CBS also offered a potential merger of their respective radio networks down the road (which ultimately happened), something NBC abandoned altogether in 1987. Ultimately, Westinghouse signed a long-term deal with CBS to convert the entire five-station Group W television unit to a group-wide CBS affiliation, making the Pittsburgh market one of the few major markets not to be affected by the 1994 United States broadcast TV realignment. Part of this agreement included a deal to stop preempting any CBS shows, except for extended breaking news coverage or local news events beginning in 1995. KDKA-TV continued preempting moderate amounts of programming into 1995. In the fall of 1995, channel 2 began running the entire CBS lineup in pattern, as it, and sister station KPIX-TV in San Francisco, were already affiliated with the network.
In 1995, Westinghouse acquired CBS, making KDKA-TV a CBS owned-and-operated station, after four decades as being simply a CBS affiliate. In 1997, Westinghouse became CBS Corporation, which would then merge with Viacom (which, ironically, has been Paramount's parent since 1994) in 2000, making KDKA-TV a sister station with Pittsburgh UPN affiliate WNPA-TV (channel 19, now CW station WPCW). Five years later, Viacom became CBS Corporation and spun off a new Viacom.
In August 2007, KDKA-TV unveiled a new image campaign, entitled Your Home, with music and lyrics performed by singer-songwriter Bill Deasy. The promo features scenes of Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas, as well as three of the station's personalites. In September 2007, the station unveiled another promo featuring the Joe Grushecky song "Coming Home". Later, a third spot, "Long Way Home", was introduced, featuring the voice of Kelsey Friday.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|2.1||1080i||16:9||KDKA-HD||Main KDKA-TV programming / CBS|
KDKA-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 2, 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, during that night's broadcast of the Late Show with David Letterman. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 25. Before they turned off their analog signal and go to nightlight, they showed the High flight video clip, and a compilation of their Analog history with the Star spangled Banner as background music.. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 2.
On October 21, 2014, CBS and Weigel Broadcasting announced the launch of a new digital subchannel service called Decades, scheduled to launch on all CBS-owned stations in 2015, including on KDKA-TV on channel 2.2. The channel will be co-owned by CBS and Weigel (owner of CBS affiliate WDJT-TV in Milwaukee), with Weigel being responsible for distribution to non-CBS-owned stations. It will air programs from the extensive library of CBS Television Distribution, including archival footage from CBS News. Locally, the channel will compete with This TV on WTAE-DT2, Me-TV (also owned by Weigel) on WPXI-DT2, and GetTV on WPGH-DT2.
Syndicated talk shows
Later, KDKA-TV carried The Oprah Winfrey Show during its first nine nationally syndicated seasons (1986-1995), airing the show weekdays at 5 PM. In 1989, KDKA-TV acquired the rights to The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, airing it weekdays at 9 AM and Phil Donahue weekdays at 4 PM, respectively. However, due to the poor ratings of Donahue in the Pittsburgh market, KDKA-TV showed strong interest in new talk shows. Due to KDKA-TV being owned by CBS, the station airs the entire network lineup in order.
Sally & Donahue moved to WTAE-TV in 1993, and two years later, KDKA-TV debuted a 5:00 PM newscast, at which point Oprah Winfrey also moved to WTAE-TV, airing at 4:00 PM. In 1997, Ricki Lake moved to WPGH-TV and The Sally Jessy Raphael Show returned to KDKA-TV, and once again was given the 9 AM time slot, where it remained on and off until its cancellation in 2002. Sally was a success in the Pittsburgh area, even beating Montel Williams on WPXI in the 1990s. A revamped version of Pittsburgh 2day Live replaced Sally.
KDKA-TV aired The Rosie O'Donnell Show during its entire six-year run at the 4 PM time slot. After the show ended its run in 2002, rather than airing its replacement (the short-lived The Caroline Rhea Show, which aired on WPXI), KDKA-TV became the first station in the Pittsburgh market to air a 4 PM newscast. KDKA-TV remains the only Pittsburgh station, and one of the few in the country (alongside fellow CBS station WOIO in Cleveland) to air a 4 PM newscast. (The 4 PM slot has been considered a graveyard slot by the networks since the 1980s, and by stations itself since the 1990s.) Today, the only talk show on KDKA-TV is Dr. Phil, serving as a lead-in to the evening newscasts. Unlike its rivals, KDKA-TV's evening newscast is three hours broadcasting from 4-7pm. In return, CBS Evening News airs at 7pm making one of the fewest CBS O&Os to air the evening program on a tape-delay basis.
- Hometown High-Q (2000–present) - "quiz bowl" format show with three teams composed of local high school students
- #1 Cochran Sports Showdown (1998–present): – sports talk show
- KD/PG Sunday Edition - public affairs program; joint production with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show - public affairs program
- Pittsburgh Today Live - Kristine Sorensen and Jon Burnett are the hosts, with Ron Smiley for weather;
- The Sunday Business Page - public affairs program
- Your Pittsburgh - entertainment magazine
- The Children's Hospital Free-Care Fund (1954–present; airs during the holiday season) - yearly pledge drive
- Hometown Holiday Lights - Series aired during KDKA's newscasts; contest between local families with Christmas displays at their residence.
- McDonald's Steeler Kickoff (during the NFL season) - Pittsburgh Steelers pre-game show hosted by Bob Pompeani and Edmund Nelson.
- Steelers Huddle (September 19, 2009–present; airs during the NFL season) - Bob Pompeani and a rotating member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Steelers Trivia Challenge (July 16, 2005–present) - Bob Pompeani hosts a "quiz bowl" format, modeled after Hometown High-Q, with three teams composed of three Pittsburgh Steelers fans who answer team-related trivia questions. The show runs for nine weeks (mid-July to mid-September).
- Xfinity Extra Point (airs during the NFL season) - Pittsburgh Steelers post-game show after CBS broadcasts, hosted by Bob Pompeani and Edmund Nelson. If CBS has a doubleheader game, the show airs on WPCW.
- Evening Magazine (August 1, 1977 – October 12, 1990)
- Giant Eagle High School Sports Advantage
- The Jerome Bettis Show (September 12, 1998 – February 4, 2006)
- The Hines Ward Show (September 2, 2006 – January 31, 2009)
- Mario Lemieux Celebrity Golf Invitational
- Pittsburgh 2Day (1978–January 19, 1990)
- Pittsburgh Pirates baseball (1957–1994)
- Pittsburgh Penguins hockey (1989–1997)
- Wake Up With Larry Richert (1988–1990)
As CBS holds the broadcast contract with the NFL to show games involving AFC teams, KDKA-TV has been the official broadcaster of most Pittsburgh Steelers games since 1998, and serves as the team's flagship station. The team's preseason games that are not nationally televised are also shown on KDKA-TV. KDKA-TV began its relationship with the Steelers in 1962, when CBS first started the leaguewide television package. The Steelers are one of three AFC teams that predate the AFC's basis league, the American Football League, and so KDKA-TV, and not WTAE-TV or WIIC-TV (now WPXI), carried Steelers road games (home games were blacked out locally under all circumstances until 1973, when sold-out home games began to be allowed on local television) – the AFL had television contracts with ABC, and later, NBC.
Due to the NFL rules of the time, after the AFL-NFL merger, KDKA-TV did not broadcast any Steelers games from 1970 to 1972. Beginning in 1973, KDKA-TV was allowed to air any Steelers games in which they hosted a team from the National Football Conference, which contained most of the old-line National Football League teams. KDKA-TV also broadcast two Steeler championship wins, Super Bowl X in 1976 and Super Bowl XIV in 1980. Since the Steelers have sold out every home game starting in 1972, no blackouts have been required. In the meantime, from 1970 to 1997, channel 11 aired most Steelers games.
When the NFC package moved from CBS to Fox in 1994, WPGH-TV aired the Steelers games that had before aired on KDKA-TV, leaving the senior station without Steelers games for four years. Today, and in general since 1970, the only exceptions to all the above are when the Steelers play at night. Their Monday Night Football games have always aired locally on WTAE-TV, first when ABC had the rights, and since 2006, on ESPN. WTAE-TV also aired simulcasts of their games aired as part of ESPN Sunday Night Football from 1987 to 2005. The NFL requires games on cable channels to be simulcast over-the-air in the markets of the participating teams (again with the home team's broadcast subject to blackout). WTAE-TV has simulcast ESPN-aired games because ESPN is 20% owned by WTAE-TV's owners, Hearst Corporation – their ABC stations have right of first refusal for these simulcasts. Games on TNT and NFL Network have aired on various stations in the area.
KDKA-TV presently broadcasts 34½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with six hours on weekdays, three hours on Saturdays and 1½ hours on Sundays); KDKA-TV also produces 27 hours of local newscasts each week for CW owned-and-operated sister station WPCW, in the form of an hour-long extension of KDKA-TV's weekday morning newscast at 7 a.m. and a nightly 35-minute newscast at 10 p.m. The station also shares newsgathering operations and co-produces certain public affairs shows with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper.
In 2001, KDKA-TV began producing a 10 p.m. newscast on WNPA (now WPCW); in 2005, it added a two-hour weekday morning newscast from 7-9 a.m. on that station (which was later reduced to one hour from 7-8 a.m.).
On June 16, 2009, KDKA-TV began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition during its noon broadcast, with the introduction of a new set and weather center. Like rival WTAE, only video from in-studio cameras is broadcast in HD while most of the content, including field reports and video footage, are in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition. On September 1, 2010, KDKA-TV debuted the standardized CBS O&O graphics and music package ("The CBS Enforcer Music Collection" by Gari Media Group).
As of May 2015, KDKA-TV is the most watched news station in the Pittsburgh area in the hours of Noon, 4, 5, 6 and 11 p.m.; the 7 a.m. newscast it produces for WPCW rated quite strongly at that time slot. However, WTAE-TV is the most watched news program in the area in the hours of 6 a.m. WPXI is also most watched at the 5 a.m hour. WPGH-TV is the 10PM newscast leader; WPXI has supplied its newscasts since 2006.
Notable current on-air staff
- Stacy Smith – anchor
- Kristine Sorensen - anchor
- Jon Delano – money and politics editor
- Marty Griffin – investigative reporter ("KDKA Investigators"), also hosts show on KDKA Radio
- John Shumway - reporter
Notable former on-air staff
- Susan Barnett – anchor (1999–2003)
- Bill Burns – anchor (1953–89)
- Patti Burns – anchor/reporter (1974–97)
- Don Cannon – anchor/reporter (1999–2008)
- Rehema Ellis – began broadcast career at KDKA-TV
- Donna Hanover – hosted Evening Magazine (1977–80)
- Ron Klink – weekend anchor/reporter (1977–91); later elected as a United States Representative (D-PA).
- Vic Miles – weekend anchor/reporter (1966–71)
- Dennis Miller – contributor and guest host of Evening Magazine
- Paul Moyer – anchor/reporter (1971)
- Ron Olsen – reporter/talk show host (1976–79)
- Larry Richert – anchor and weatherman (1988–2001), currently hosting morning show on sister radio station KDKA
- John Sanders - sports anchor
- John Steigerwald - sports anchor (1985-2007)
- Paul Steigerwald – sports reporter (1987–98)
- Dick Stockton – sports reporter (1967–71)
- Brian Sussman – weatherman (1987)
- Marie Torre – anchor/reporter (1962–77)
- Mary Robb Jackson - reporter/weekend anchor (1980-2015)