KOB, virtual channel 4 (digital channel 26), is an NBC-affiliate television station based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, owned by Hubbard Broadcasting. Its transmitter is located on Sandia Crest, east of Albuquerque, and the station has studios located on Broadcast Plaza just west of downtown (across the street from KRQE/KASA-TV).

History

KOB-TV started operations on November 29, 1948, after Albuquerque Journal owner and publisher Tom Pepperday won a television license on his second try. Pepperday, who also owned KOB radio (770 AM), had previously applied for one in 1943. It is the oldest television station in New Mexico, as well as the third-oldest television station between the Mississippi River and the West Coast (behind WBAP-TV in Fort Worth, now KXAS-TV and KDYL-TV in Salt Lake City, now KTVX). Initially, channel 4 ran programming from all four networks—NBC, ABC, CBS and DuMont Television Network. However, it has always been a primary NBC affiliate owing to its radio sister's long affiliation with NBC radio.

Later, in May 1952, the KOB stations were purchased by magazine publisher Time-Life (now Time Warner's Time Inc. subsidiary) and former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Wayne Coy. It was Time-Life’s first television asset.[2] In 1953, two new TV stations signed on within a week—KGGM-TV (channel 13, now KRQE) signed on and took CBS, followed by KOAT which took ABC; DuMont shut down in 1956.

Stanley E. Hubbard, founder of Hubbard Broadcasting, bought KOB-AM-TV from Time-Life in 1957.[4] KOB's radio cousins were sold off in 1986 and are now known as KKOB-AM-FM, many people still confuse the television and radio stations today.

In 2005, KOB-TV entered into a news partnership with KKOB.

Despite the KOB radio stations having changed their call letters, KOB-TV didn't drop the "-TV" suffix until June 13, 2009, when the FCC allowed a limited opportunity for stations to change their suffixes (adding "-TV" or "-DT") or drop them in the wake of the digital transition.

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[5]
4.11080i16:9KOB-DTMain KOB-TV programming / NBC
4.2480i4:3KOB-DT2This TV
4.3480i16:9KOB-DT3Comet

In September 2006, KOB-TV began broadcasting NBC WeatherPlus on digital subchannel 4.2, at first inserting its Doppler weather radar during time reserved for local segments. In December 2008, WeatherPlus was replaced with KOB's own locally programmed weather station. Weekly E/I programming required of broadcast television stations by the Federal Communications Commission came from NASA TV on weekend mornings.

On February 7, 2011, the subchannel began to carry programming from This TV. On June 30, 2016, Comet was added as a third digital channel, airing science fiction programs. Both Comet and This TV are partially owned by MGM Television.

Analog-to-digital conversion

KOB-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 4, 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. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 26.[6] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 4.

As part of the SAFER Act,[7] KOB-TV kept its analog signal on the air until June 30 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Satellite stations

Two stations rebroadcast KOB's signal and insert local content for other parts of the media market:

StationCity of licenseChannels
(Analog/
Digital)
First air dateFormer callsignsERP
(Analog/
Digital)
HAAT
(Analog/
Digital)
Facility IDTransmitter Coordinates
KOBFFarmington12 (VHF)
17 (UHF)
October 20, 1972KIVA-TV (1972–1983)316 kW
290 kW
125 m
102 m
35321
KOBRRoswell8 (VHF)
38 (UHF)
June 24, 1953KSWS-TV (1953–1985)316 kW
820 kW
533 m
499 m
62272

KOBF went on air in 1972 as KIVA-TV. It operated at about half of the class maximum (158 of 316 kW) from an antenna 410 feet (125 m) above average terrain. The station had always been an NBC affiliate.

Up until March 2007, KOBF had broadcast a fifteen-minute Four Corners news, weather and sports segment, "Eyewitness News 12," during KOB news broadcasts every weekday at 6 pm & 10 pm. KOBF also produced four 5-minute news cut-ins every weekday morning during the Today show from 7 am-9 am with local news and weather information. KOBF also produced a local high school sports program called "Four Corners Gameday" every Friday night during the academic school year. Communities throughout the Four Corners region came to rely and depend on KOBF for local news, weather and sports information complimenting the statewide coverage from KOB in Albuquerque.

On March 1, 2007, most of the extra news and all of the extra sports content was ended for viewers of KOBF. KOB management fired three of the four members of the news department, in addition to two technical directors and the news director, Scott Michlin, who had been with KOBF for seventeen years. A similar practice of providing local newscasts had been done at KOBR, but to a much smaller extent. Those local broadcasts also ceased on March 1, 2007. KOBF and KOBR now serve as bureaus feeding a story or two each day for the statewide newscasts on KOB from Albuquerque. Each are staffed by one news reporter/photographer.

KOB, KOBF and KOBR's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009.[8]

KOBR has been a KOB satellite since 1983, after previously operating as a free-standing local station with a primary NBC affiliation and later as a satellite of NBC affiliate KCBD-TV in Lubbock, Texas. A separate article about KOBR includes more extensive details about the history of the Roswell station.

KOB formerly operated a third satellite station, KOBG-TV channel 6 in Silver City, which signed on in 2000. Its transmitter was located at . KOBG had a permit to construct a digital station on channel 8, but these facilities were never built. After the digital transition on June 12, 2009, KOBG began operating with facilities on channel 12 identical to that of low-power translator stations under special temporary authority,[9] and was formally replaced with a translator (K12QW-D) on April 26, 2011,[10] though its license was not canceled until August 3.[11]

The last letter of the satellite station callsigns stands for the city or county where the station is located. KOBG was in Grant County.

In addition to KOB and its two satellite stations, there are dozens of low-powered repeaters that carry KOB's programming throughout New Mexico, as well as a handful in Colorado and Arizona.[2]

News operation

KOB's newscasts identify themselves as Eyewitness News 4. Ordinarily, KOB airs five and a half hours of local news each weekday, three hours each Saturday, and an hour each Sunday. During the school year, KOB broadcasts a weekly 15-minute sportscast, "New Mexico Gameday," dedicated to high school sports.

The station's 1980 hiring of KOAT's top anchorman, Dick Knipfing, created the first big-dollar anchor in Albuquerque, and stood out in the industry as the "anchorman wars" moved to smaller markets. Knipfing's 1980 salary was approximately $90,000. However, channel 4 was never able to overtake KOAT in the news ratings, largely due to the staying power of anchor Johnny Morris and a folksy weatherman Howard Morgan.

KOB produced an hour-long nightly newscast for Albuquerque's Fox affiliate, KASA, from September 2000 through September 14, 2006, called "Fox 2 News at Nine". The next day, KRQE took over production of that newscast as that station's parent company, LIN TV, began taking over KASA's operations as it purchased the station.

KOB began producing and broadcasting its newscasts in 16:9 widescreen standard definition on September 26, 2010, and debuted new on-air graphics and a new station logo (the logo used for its newscasts is very similar to that used by Swedish television channel TV4 for its programming) on that date as well.