The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) is a state network of PBS member stations covering the state of Oklahoma. It is operated by an independent board of gubernatorial appointees and university and education officials; the board is linked to the executive branch through the Secretary of Education of the Government of Oklahoma. The OETA network's main offices and production facilities are located on North Kelley Avenue in Oklahoma City (adjacent to the studios of KWTV-DT and KSBI), with a satellite studio in Tulsa that is located on the campus of Oklahoma State University–Tulsa.
OETA traces its history to 1953, when the Oklahoma Legislature created it via statute. It was charged with providing educational television programming to Oklahomans on a coordinated statewide basis, made possible with cooperation from the state's educational, government and cultural agencies. After securing a license from the Federal Communications Commission and funding from various special interest groups, Oklahoma City's KETA was finally able to sign on the air as the nation's 11th educational television station (and the first non-commercial station in Oklahoma) on April 13, 1956. It was originally a member station of National Educational Television, until NET was replaced by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1970, taking over many of the functions of its predecessor.
Three more stations signed on the course of 19 years (with a statewide network of translators also being built during this timeframe), extending OETA's programming to portions of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas. A satellite station of KETA in Tulsa, KOED-TV (channel 11), went on the air on January 12, 1959. When KOED began operations, OETA became the second operational educational television state network in the United States (after Alabama Educational Television, now Alabama Public Television). On December 1, 1977, KOET (channel 3) in Eufaula joined the state network as a satellite of KOED-TV, in order to serve areas of east-central Oklahoma (in some areas of that portion of the state, the northern fringes of KOET's over-the-air signal coverage overlap with that of KOED, and in other areas on the western fringe of its coverage area with KETA's signal). Finally, on August 6, 1978, KWET (channel 12) in Cheyenne signed on to serve west-central and southwestern Oklahoma, and a small portion of the eastern Texas Panhandle.
OETA's full-power stations cover roughly 80% of Oklahoma's geographic population. The only parts of the state that are not served by a full-power OETA member station are the panhandle, and the northwestern, south-central and southeastern parts of the state – low-power translators that relay the individual feeds of each of the four full-power member stations service these areas of Oklahoma instead. In 2003, the four OETA member stations began operating digital signals; in 2005, OETA began broadcasting select PBS programs in high definition. In 2006, the organization launched a full-time digital channel, OETA OKLA, devoted to local and regional programs, along with select PBS content. In December 2008, OETA began producing most of its locally produced productions in high definition.
As part of the digital television transition, on February 17, 2009 (the original date for all U.S. full-power television stations to switch to digital-only broadcasts), KETA and KOED shut down their analog signals. This was followed six weeks later on March 31, 2009, by the discontinuance of KWET and KOET's analog signals. All the low-power translator stations then switched to digital-only broadcast on June 12, 2009 (the rescheduled date for the switch to digital broadcasts on full-power stations). In March 2011, OETA moved its Tulsa operations into a new facility on the campus of Oklahoma State University–Tulsa.
Purchase of KAUT
In 1991, OETA acquired Fox affiliate KAUT-TV (channel 43) in Oklahoma City from Heritage Media; Heritage in turn purchased KOKH-TV (channel 25) and migrated KAUT's Fox affiliation, syndicated programming inventory and other intellectual property to that station, in addition to acquiring the channel 25 license. On August 15, 1991, channel 43 flipped to a non-commercial educational programming format as a PBS member station (the second in the area after OETA flagship KETA-TV); the deal was similar to a 1988 sale attempt by Pappas Telecasting Companies, which proposed that KGMC (channel 34, now KOCB) and KAUT's programming inventories – along with KAUT's Fox affiliation – would be moved to independent station KOKH, with fellow independent KOCB becoming a Home Shopping Network affiliate, while KAUT became an educational station. The Pappas deal fell through in 1989, and the three stations continued on as rival commercial stations until 1991, when Heritage traded KAUT to OETA.
In 1992, the station's callsign was changed to KTLC to reflect its on-air branding as "The Literacy Channel" (a relatively oxymoronic branding as the station's emphasis, while educational in form, was not entirely focused on literacy). As a PBS station, KTLC ran fitness programs on weekday mornings, and instructional programs and select PBS series during the late evening hours, with children's programs filling much of the schedule from mid-morning to early evening (this, in particular, was atypical as most other PBS stations air children's programs only during the daytime hours on their main signals). Much of the PBS programs seen on the station during this time frame were rebroadcast from OETA. KTLC reduced its broadcasting hours under OETA ownership, signing off nightly at 12:00 a.m. following OETA's own scheduled sign-off on weeknights at the time; the station's weekend schedule (which maintained the same broadcast hours as on weekdays) was pared back significantly in 1995, as it began broadcasting from 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. (cable providers in the market carried other channels during channel 43's off-hours on the station's designated channel slot; in Oklahoma City proper, KTLC shared a channel slot with QVC on Cox Cable channel 13 – that slot suffered from significant interference as KETA's analog signal had broadcast on VHF channel 13). The difficulties in running two stations in the Oklahoma City market resulted in OETA's decision to sell channel 43;
Paramount Stations Group purchased KTLC for $23.5 million on January 8, 1998, with OETA using the proceeds from the sale to fund the construction of a digital broadcast transmitter for KETA. Paramount's purchase of the station resulted from UPN's displacement from KOCB (which left Oklahoma City without a UPN affiliate for six months) due to a 1997 affiliation agreement between its owner Sinclair Broadcast Group and The WB involving Sinclair's five UPN affiliates and several independent stations; KOCB joined The WB on January 25, 1998. Paramount reverted the station back into a general entertainment format as the market's new UPN affiliate KPSG on June 19 of that year (the station was originally slated to join UPN on June 1, technical difficulties postponed the rescheduled June 13 switch by one more week). As a condition of the sale, channel 43 was required to run eight-hour simulcast blocks of OETA's annual pledge drives each weekend during March and August for five years, and PBS educational shows from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. after joining UPN – the station however dropped all PBS programming by 2001 (KAUT-TV is now an independent station owned by Tribune Broadcasting).
|Station||City of license||Channels|
|First air date||Call letters’|
|Facility ID||Transmitter Coordinates|
|KETA-TV||Oklahoma City||13 (VHF)|
|April 13, 1956||Oklahoma|
|50 kW||465.2 m||50205|
|January 12, 1959||Oklahoma|
|50 kW||395.8 m||66195|
|December 1, 1977||Oklahoma|
|1000 kW||364.1 m||50198|
|August 6, 1978||Western Oklahoma|
|60 kW||303.2 m||50194|
Direct repeaters of KOET:
Direct repeaters of KETA:
- K38AK-D in Ponca City
- K30AE-D in Alva
- K36KE-D in Ardmore
- K47KI-D in Duncan
- K46AI-D in Durant
- K36AB-D in Lawton
- K18IZ-D in Grandfield
Direct repeaters of KWET:
- K19AA-D in Altus
- K20IT-D in Boise City
- K34IN-D in Beaver
- K48KE-D in Buffalo
- K34IM-D in Frederick
- K16AB-D in Guymon
OETA does not operate any translators in northeastern Oklahoma, as that region receives adequate over-the-air signal coverage from KOED and KOET, coupled with the fact that the signals of fellow PBS member stations KOZJ in Joplin, Missouri and KAFT in Fayetteville, Arkansas reach into portions of northeastern Oklahoma, overlapping the signals of KOED and KOET in some areas.
OETA's translator network also reaches into portions of Kansas and Texas, while KOET's over-the-air signal reaches parts of Western Arkansas. Some of the donations for OETA's Festival and AugustFest pledge drives come from those states.
Cable and satellite availability
OETA is available on all cable television providers within the state of Oklahoma. Additionally, Eufaula's KOET is carried on cable in Fort Smith, Arkansas on Cox Communications channel 9; Eufaula is part of the Fort Smith market.
The digital channels of OETA's main full-power and low-power translator stations are multiplexed, with each station carrying three specialized digital subchannels with their own distinct programming:
|OETA-HD||1080i||16:9||The member network's main programming schedule; downcoverted to a 4:3 analog signal for standard-definition cable and satellite viewers, with high-definition content letterboxed to maintain their original aspect ratio. Unlike its digital subchannels, the main OETA feed does not provide a second audio program (SAP) channel to transmit Descriptive Video Service or alternate language audio feeds of certain PBS and American Public Television-syndicated programs due to technical limitations with Dolby Digital audio channels.|
|OKLA||480i||4:3||Carries recent and archived OETA-produced programming focusing on Oklahoma issues, history and culture, as well as replays of the member network's prime time lineup on Monday through Saturday evenings and – since September 2015 – Monday through Friday mornings on a one-day delay (with some alterations to allow certain locally produced content to air in other timeslots) and news and talk programs on Monday through Friday overnights and Sunday late-afternoons and nights (with some documentaries shown during primetime on Sundays).|
|Create||16:9||Airs the full schedule of Create, carrying the network's how-to, cooking, art, travel and lifestyle programs from American Public Television and other distributors; the service originally broadcast in 4:3 standard definition until Create converted to widescreen SD on May 1, 2015.|
|Kids||4:3||Features a broad mix of current and past children's programs sourced from the PBS and American Public Television that fulfill educational programming guidelines defined by the Children's Television Act.|
- From its launch until the restoration of OETA Kids as an over-the-air service in November 2013, OETA OKLA also carried a block of PBS- and APT-sourced children's programs on Saturdays and Sundays (originally airing in the morning and afternoon until 2010, before being scaled back to 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.) to fulfill Children's Television Act programming guidelines for digital subchannels. Since 2009, OETA OKLA has gradually expanded the amount of PBS and American Public Television programming within its schedule, offering other replayed content from OETA's main schedule outside of the channel's regularly scheduled repeat block, as well as programs that OETA has no room for on its main feed's schedule. Unlike other subchannel services of its format operated by other PBS member networks, OETA OKLA does not broadcast coverage of state government meetings – in this case, those of Oklahoma State Legislature – while it is in session.
- OETA Create and OETA Kids originally launched in 2006 on the third and fourth digital subchannels of all four of OETA's full-power digital stations. In 2008, the two services began operating strictly as cable-only services, leaving OETA OKLA as the member network's only over-the-air multicast service (in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa markets, OETA Kids and OETA Create were carried on Cox Communications' digital cable service though its base limited basic tier on which OETA's standard definition and high definition feeds are also available). OETA restored the two services to all four of its full-power stations on November 13, 2013, operating on the subchannel placements they previously held prior to 2008.
- From the service's launch until 2010, OETA Kids carried children's programs daily from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., with news and interview programs filling the remainder of the schedule.
- OETA Create does not utilize a custom station identification slide; OETA Kids, meanwhile, does not reference its full-power member stations in its custom ID slide (which predates its reversion into an over-the-air service) – even after that service became available over-the-air in November 2013. To comply with FCC station identification regulations, both subchannels provide required identification of the member network's four full-power stations (using the in-program ID graphic seen on OETA's main feed during PBS programs that run more than one hour in length) after the top of each hour during regular programming.
OETA is one of several PBS member stations or networks that distributes programming for syndication to other PBS stations through the network's production unit, OETA: The Oklahoma Network. It has distributed The Lawrence Welk Show since September 1986, after that series left commercial syndication, and has also produced specials featuring clips from the program; reruns of Lawrence Welk have since become OETA's most-watched program. OETA also distributes the newsmagazine The Kalb Report, hosted by Marvin Kalb.
Locally produced programming on the state network includes the OETA Movie Club (a weekend evening showcase of classic movies from the 1930s to the 1980s that has been hosted by B.J. Wexler since it first aired in 1988), Oklahoma Forum (a public affairs program featuring topics related to the Oklahoma state legislature), Stateline (which deals with issues important to Oklahoma and also the United States), and Gallery (which focuses on Oklahoma's art community). Past programs produced by OETA include OKC Metro (an interview program hosted by former Oklahoma News Report anchor Gerry Bonds that ran from 1995 to 2010) and Tulsa Times (a newsmagazine series that ran from 1995 to 2009, focusing on issues and events concerning the Tulsa area).
Until 2010, OETA ran a heavy amount of instructional programming each weekday (totaling 17½ hours by 2005), instructional programs now run largely on the OETA Create subchannel service, which carries programming from PBS's instructional and distance education network Create.
The state network was one of the few remaining broadcast stations that had yet to switch to a 24-hour broadcast schedule, OETA signed-off at 12:00 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday evenings, and 1:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays until it switched to a 24-hour schedule in April 2006. Prior to then, many cable providers around the state such as Cox Communications filled hours when OETA was not broadcasting regular programming on its over-the-air signals with shows from PBS's default satellite schedule and until the late 1990s, cable channels that it could not designate a separate channel space due to limited infrastructure for its basic cable service. Since the transition to a 24-hour schedule, OETA broadcasts the national feed's programming over-the-air during the overnight hours.
OETA is one of only a handful of PBS stations that produces a local or regional news program. The Oklahoma News Report, which has aired since 1976, is anchored by Dick Pryor. It features reports from OETA's offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, its Stateline and Gallery units, the Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture, the Oklahoma State Department of Food and Forestry, and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. The program, which had originally broadcast as a five-night-a-week newscast on Monday through Fridays (except on Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day after, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve and New Year's Day) for 35 years beginning with its debut. For many years, it had incorporated both pre-recorded news stories filed by OETA's own reporting staff and reports from news-producing commercial television stations in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa markets (although Oklahoma has four television markets with commercial network-affiliated stations licensed to the state, the Oklahoma News Report did not include reports from stations in the Lawton/Wichita Falls and Ada/Ardmore/Sherman/Denison markets).
As a weeknightly program, the Oklahoma News Report more closely resembled the evening news programs seen on the major networks in format. It never featured a sports segment within the newscast, but occasionally featured sports-related stories. The newscast regularly featured a stock market segment featuring the day's closing numbers of the Dow Jones and NASDAQ market indexes, and stocks for Oklahoma-based businesses (such as Kerr-McGee, ConocoPhillips and Sonic Drive-In). In July 2010, the program eliminated its daily weather segment (presented for years by meteorologist Ross Dixon), with weather only being covered in the program if it was a news story.
The Oklahoma News Report ended its original weeknightly general news format on July 1, 2011, citing a 9% cut in OETA's budget by the Oklahoma State Legislature (the newscast's longtime 6:30 p.m. timeslot was replaced with the PBS NewsHour as part of a shuffling of OETA's early evening news block due to the removal of ONR as a weeknight newscast); ONR transitioned into a weekly newsmagazine on July 15, 2011, airing on weekends with its primary airings on Friday nights.
Local program hosts
- Oklahoma News Report
- Dick Pryor - anchor
- Steve Bennett - general assignment reporter
- Robert Burch - general assignment reporter
- Susan Miller - general assignment reporter
- Bob Sands - general assignment reporter
- Lis Exon - general assignment reporter; also Tulsa news manager
- Blair Waltman - general assignment reporter
- Aaron Byrd
- Tim Carson
- Ilea Shutler
- Oklahoma Forum
- Dick Pryor - host/moderator
- A Conversation With...
- Dick Pryor - host
- The People's Business
- Rachel Hubbard - host
- Writing Out Loud
- Teresa Miller - host
- Oklahoma Horizon
- Rob McClendon - host
- Andy Barth - general assignment reporter
- Austin Moore - producer
- Courtney Maye - part-time multiplatform producer
- J.D. Rosman - intern
- Gayle Scott - general assignment reporter
- Karen Hart - graphic
- On The Record
- Dick Pryor - host