KEPR-TV (pronounced "keeper"), virtual channel 19, is the CBS affiliated television station for the Tri-Cities area of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick, Washington. It is licensed to Pasco. It is sister station to KIMA-TV in Yakima, Washington and KLEW-TV in Lewiston, Idaho. Its studios are located on West Lewis Street (U.S. 395) in Pasco, KEPR's transmitter is located on Johnson Butte near Kennewick.

Though identifying as a station in its own right, KEPR is considered a semi-satellite of KIMA. It clears all of KIMA's syndicated programming, but airs separate IDs and commercials. On satellite, both Dish Network and DirecTV carry KEPR-TV along with KIMA-TV.

All of KEPR's programming is run out of Fisher Plaza in Seattle. KEPR is also a sister station to Univision affiliates KVVK-CA and KORX-CA.

KEPR's morning and weekend newscasts are shared with KIMA-TV. Branded as "KIMA/KEPR Action News", they cover both the Columbia Basin and the Yakima Valley. KEPR continues to air its own 5, 6 & 11 p.m. newscasts.

Digital channels

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP short nameProgramming [2]
19.11080i16:9KEPR-HDMain KEPR-TV programming / CBS
19.2720pKEPR-CWCW 9
19.3480i4:3Grit TV

History

KEPR-TV went on the air for the first time December 28, 1954 as a satellite of KIMA-TV. It was owned by Cascade Broadcasting Company, which also owned 40 percent of KWIE (610 AM) in Kennewick. Cascade bought the remaining 60 percent of KWIE in 1956[3] and changed its call letters to KEPR, matching the television station, the following year.[4]

A few years earlier, the Federal Communications Commission collapsed all of central Washington into one giant television market. However, this market was designated a "UHF island" due to being sandwiched between Seattle to the west, Spokane to the east and Portland to the south. It soon became apparent that one full-power UHF station would not be nearly enough to adequately cover this vast and mountainous area. KEPR-TV thus signed on as the first station in the United States to be a satellite of another.

Original plans called for it to be a straight repeater of KIMA-TV, apart from station identifications. However, it soon became apparent that Tri-Cities residents wanted a more local station. Monte Strohl, who until then had been a radio salesman at KIMA, was installed as the first manager-salesman of KEPR-TV. The station also added a separate news department.

Like its parent station, KEPR-TV carried programming from all three networks, but was a primary CBS affiliate. It lost NBC in 1965 when KNDU followed the lead of parent station KNDO and became a full-time NBC affiliate, and lost ABC when KVEW signed on along with parent KAPP in 1970. During the 1970s, the two stations co-branded as "Cascade TV."

KEPR produces Community Health Journal with Jim Hall, a former anchorman for the station who is now with Kadlec Medical Center in Richland. The program has aired for 15 years, making it one of the longest-running magazine programs in the market.

Filmways agreed to purchase Cascade Broadcasting for $3 million in 1968;[5] the sale was approved the following year.[6] Cascade's previous owners retained the company's radio stations, which by this point also included KEPR-FM (105.3 FM), under the name Yakima Valley Communications; the KEPR radio stations then changed their call letters to KONA and KONA-FM.[5][6] Filmways sold KEPR-TV, KIMA-TV, and KLEW-TV to NWG Broadcasting for $1 million in 1972.[7] Retlaw Enterprises acquired the NWG stations for $17 million in 1986;[8] the stations were operated as part of the Retlaw Broadcasting division.[9] Fisher Communications purchased KEPR-TV along with the other Retlaw owned stations in 1999.[10]

In 2000, KEPR became the first station in the Tri-Cities to broadcast a digital signal with the activation of a low-power, standard definition signal on channel 18; this was upgraded to a full-power, high definition signal in 2007. The digital signal remained on channel 18 following the end of analog broadcasting in 2009; using PSIP to display its virtual channel as 19.

On March 30, 2009, KEPR launched a digital subchannel affiliated with The CW, filling the void left by KCWK (channel 9) going dark at the end of May 2008 due to the Pappas Telecasting bankruptcy.[2] The subchannel subsequently took KCWK's former channel 9 position on local cable systems. As had been the case with KCWK, programming is primarily sourced from the network's CW Plus feed, though there is a 10 p.m. newscast on weeknights.

On April 11, 2013, Fisher announced that it would sell its properties, including KEPR-TV, to the Sinclair Broadcast Group.[12] The deal was completed on August 8, 2013.[13]