KJCT-LP is the ABC-affiliated television station for Colorado's Western Slope region that is licensed to Grand Junction. It broadcasts a high-definition digital signal on UHF channel 20 (or virtual channel 8.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter at the Mesa Point Electronics Site on the Grand Mesa (southeast of Interstate 70). The station can also be seen on Charter Communications channel 10, with a high definition feed on channel 510.
KJCT-LP is owned by the Gray Television. KJCT-LP operates studios on Foresight Circle in northern Grand Junction. Syndicated programming on this station includes Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, The Doctors, The Dr. Oz Show and Judge Judy among others. Its signal is relayed on low-powered K28AD-D in Montrose, which has operated from Storm King Mountain since it launched in September 1982, along with 13 analog and eight digital translators across central and northwestern Colorado.
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|8.1||720p||16:9||KJCT-DT||Main KJCT-LP programming / ABC|
The KJCT-LP intellectual unit originated on October 22, 1979, when KJCT (channel 8) signed on as the first television station in Western Colorado since KREX-TV in 1954. It was owned by the Pikes Peak Broadcasting Company as a semi-satellite of KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs; as a result, it immediately took ABC away from KREX. The station had full production facilities in Grand Junction; however, much of the programming was fed via hundreds of miles of microwave links from KRDO. In the late 1990s, KJCT chief engineer Roger Hightower modernized KJCT into one of the first true digital facilities in Colorado, and severed the electronic umbilical cord with KRDO.
KJCT was the first Western Colorado television station with modern electronic news gathering technology. "8 Live," the stations' first live microwave newsvan, came into service in 1984.
In late 2008, KJCT's third digital subcarrier became western Colorado's affiliate for The CW. However, despite The CW being available locally, Denver's KWGN-TV, which has been on cable for decades in Grand Junction, is still available through two low-powered repeaters in the area.
On August 2, 2013, News Press & Gazette announced the sale of KJCT's license assets to Excalibur Broadcasting and its non-license assets to Gray Television; Excalibur is owned by former Gray executive, Don Ray. Gray planned to operate the station through joint sales and shared services agreements, making KJCT a sister station to KKCO. The sale was completed on October 31. This was NPG's first broadcast divestiture since the sale of its original group of five stations to New Vision Television in 1993.
In the wake of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s increased scrutiny towards virtual duopolies, Gray announced that it would move KJCT's programming to a subchannel of KKCO, and sell KJCT to a minority owned broadcaster, which will operate the station autonomously from KJCT or any other broadcaster. On August 27, 2014, Gray announced that it would sell KJCT to Jeff Chang and Gabriela Gomez-Chang, owner of KQSL. The new owners would change KJCT's call letters to KGBY. On October 21, 2014, the FCC approved a swap of virtual channels between KJCT/KGBY and a co-owned low-power station in Grand Junction, KKHD-LP (channel 20), that Gray was in the process of acquiring; as a result, KGBY, following the sale, uses PSIP to map to virtual channel 20, while KKHD inherited virtual channel 8, as well as KJCT's ABC programming. The swap is intended to reduce viewer confusion that would otherwise result from a move of ABC programming. The sale of the original KJCT's license assets was completed on December 15.
The current license for KJCT-LP originated on August 16, 2005, when the FCC granted a construction permit to Paul Varecha for a low-power television station on channel 20; the station was originally issued the call sign K20IN, but changed to KKHD-LP on April 3, 2006. The station filed for its license to cover the permit on September 1, 2006 and was granted it on December 17. That October, Varecha sold KKHD, which had affiliated with Telemundo, and KXHD-LP (channel 36) in Montrose to News-Press and Gazette Company for $675,000; the deal was completed on January 2, 2007. KXHD was previously K07IU (channel 7), a translator for Fox affiliate KFQX (channel 4), which moved to channel 36 (as K36HJ) in March 2006 after being displaced by the digital signal of eventual sister station KJCT; shortly thereafter, Varecha bought K36HJ from Professional Antenna, Tower and Translator Service for $15,000 and changed its call letters to KXHD-LP. On April 26, 2010, KKHD was granted a construction permit to flash cut to digital.
KKHD-LP and KXHD-LP (the latter of which had joined KKHD in carrying Telemundo programming) were included in Excalibur Broadcasting's 2013 purchase of KJCT from NPG. In June 2014, Excalibur reached a deal to sell KKHD and KXHD to Gray outright for $2.5 million; the purchase was completed on December 15. KKHD changed its call letters to KJCT-LP on January 9, 2015; this followed the move of the original KJCT's virtual channel 8 and its programming (including ABC) to the station.
On May 22, 2009, KJCT became the first station in Grand Junction to launch local news in high definition. The station debuted a new set in May 2011, to coincide with a new graphics package. In July 2011, KJCT overtook its competitors to become the top rated station in the coveted 25-54 demographic in all weekday newscasts.
Notable former on-air staff
- John Gurtler - sports anchor (now serves as the play-by-play voice of the Buffalo Bandits)
- Michelle Tuzee - anchor/reporter (now at KABC-TV in Los Angeles)
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