KOKI-TV, virtual channel 23 (UHF digital channel 22), is a Fox-affiliated television station located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The station is owned by the Cox Media Group subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV-affiliate KMYT-TV (channel 41). The two stations share studio facilities located on South Memorial Drive in southeastern Tulsa; KOKI maintains transmitter facilities located on South 273rd East Avenue in southeastern Tulsa County (near Broken Arrow). On cable, the station is available on Cox Communications channel 5 and AT&T U-verse channel 23. There is a high definition feed available on Cox Communications digital channel 1005 and AT&T U-verse channel 1023.

History

Prior history of channel 23 in Tulsa

The UHF channel 23 allocation in Tulsa was originally occupied by KCEB, which signed on the air on March 13, 1954 as the second television station in Tulsa (after KOTV, channel 6). Founded by oilman Elfred Beck, it originally operated as an ABC affiliate, but also carried programming from NBC and the DuMont Television Network as secondary affiliations. However, as electronics manufacturers were not required to include UHF tuners on television sets at the time, ABC and NBC allowed KOTV (channel 6) to continue "cherry-picking" each network's stronger shows. The station operated from a studio facility located on the Lookout Mountain section of west Tulsa.

KCEB lost the NBC affiliation to KVOO-TV (channel 2, now KJRH-TV) months before it signed on that December, followed by the loss of the remaining ABC programs that KOTV was not already carrying to KTVX (channel 8, now KTUL) when it debuted in September 1954. This left the station exclusively with DuMont, a non-viable fourth network that itself would soon fold in 1956. The low viewership that KCEB suffered due to the lack of wide availability led the station to cease operations on December 10, 1954. KCEB's former Lookout Mountain studio facility was sold to original KTVX owner John Toole Griffin; channel 8 moved its operations into that building the following year, where it remains to this day. Beck retained the construction permit, and partnered with Ernest Moody and Claude Hill to bring KCEB back on the air.

In the spring of 1966, Beck was advised by the Federal Communications Commission to either re-activate channel 23 by April 11, or surrender the construction permit. Beck sought buyers for the station; however, several deals fell through. Local jeweler Ernest Moody, Claude Hill (owner of radio station KOCW-FM (97.5, frequency now occupied by KMOD-FM)) and Beck partnered for a planned relaunch of KCEB in September 1967, which never materialized.

KOKI station history

As an independent station

KOKI-TV first signed on the air on October 23, 1980; the station was founded by a group of prominent corporate executives and community leaders in the Tulsa area, known as "Tulsa 23, Ltd", which was awarded the new UHF channel 23 license by the Federal Communications Commission. The partnership was led by managing partner Benjamin F. Boddie and investors that included former Williams Companies CEOs John H. Williams and Charles P. Williams, who were also responsible for the redevelopment of over nine square blocks and one million square feet of new office and retail construction of downtown Tulsa including the establishment of the Williams Center, the Bank of Oklahoma Tower (the state's tallest office tower at the time, at 52 stories and 660 feet (200 m)) and the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.

As a Fox affiliate

KOKI became a charter affiliate of the fledgling Fox network when the network on October 9, 1986; however, it essentially remained an independent station as Fox only provided an hour of network programming a day at launch, in the form of the late-night talk show The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, and would not even expand into primetime until April 1987 (its primetime lineup, meanwhile, would not expand to seven nights a week until September 1993); the station eventually branded as "Fox 23". On March 6, 1989, Houston-based Clear Channel Television, Inc. entered into an agreement to buy KOKI from Tulsa 23, Ltd.; the sale was finalized in early 1990. Clear Channel significantly upgraded channel 23's programming, adding more recent sitcoms, higher-quality movies and some first-run talk shows.

During the 1990s, KOKI gradually eliminated classic sitcoms from its daytime schedule in favor of adding more talk, reality and court shows. More recent sitcoms were added to the station's schedule during the evening hours. In 1994, Clear Channel began managing channel 41, whose call letters had changed to KTFO in 1991, under a local marketing agreement. As children's programs began to disappear from syndication, KOKI increased its syndicated programming inventory with even more talk and reality shows.

In 2001, Clear Channel moved the operations of KOKI and KTFO from its facility on South Yale Avenue into a newly converted state-of-the-art building located at 2625 South Memorial Drive (formerly constructed and owned by the Oertle's Family Discount Store and later rented by a Burlington Coat Factory store), merging both stations with Clear Channel's local radio station properties.[2] On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its television stations to private equity firm Providence Equity Partners, which placed the stations into a broadcast holding company called Newport Television.[3]

On August 11, 2011, 25-year-old William Boyd Sturdivant II (who had a history of mental issues and criminal activity including arrests for burglary and drug possession, and also reportedly once walked 250 miles (400 km) from Tulsa to Dallas) was found wandering around outside the facility housing KOKI, KMYT and the Clear Channel radio stations. Sturdivant was chased onto the roof of the station, after which he climbed up to 150 feet (46 m) on the 300-foot (91 m) transmission tower located outside the facility;[4] Sturdivant (who was nicknamed "Tower Man" by local news outlets in Tulsa and around Oklahoma) moved between 75 and 100 feet (30 m) at various points during the 150+ hour standoff (which became the longest standoff in the history of the Tulsa Police Department, breaking a record originally set during a 1993 standoff involving a murder suspect that lasted 32 hours[5]). The standoff ended at around 6:40 p.m. on August 16, after a retired police negotiator was sent up the tower on a crane to talk Sturdivant down.[6]

On July 19, 2012, Newport Television announced the sale of KOKI and KMYT (along with the Jacksonville, Florida virtual duopoly of WAWS and WTEV-TV) to the Cox Media Group. As Cox Media Group is a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, the purchase placed the station under common ownership with the area's major cable operator Cox Communications,[7] creating the first instance in which a company owned a television station and a cable provider in the same market since the FCC repealed its ban on cross-ownership between cable providers and broadcast television stations within the same market in 2003.[8] The sale to Cox also placed KOKI and KMYT under common ownership with Cox's Tulsa radio station cluster (KRMG (740 AM and 102.3 FM), KRAV-FM (96.5), KWEN (95.5 FM) and KJSR (103.3 FM)). The FCC approved the transaction to Cox on October 23, 2012, and the deal was finalized on December 3.[9][10] Despite being no longer associated with its former Clear Channel radio partners, KOKI-TV continues to be based from the same studio locations, although its new Cox Radio partners are located separately in south Tulsa.

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[2]
23.1720p16:9KOKI-DTMain KOKI-TV programming / Fox
23.2480i4:3MeTVMeTV
23.3480i16:9EscapeEscape

Analog-to-digital conversion

KOKI-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 23, 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 22.[2][13][14] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 23.

Programming

KOKI-TV currently carries the entire Fox network schedule (primetime, Saturday late night and sports programming, the Saturday morning infomercial block Weekend Marketplace and the political talk show Fox News Sunday), with program preemptions only occurring due to extended breaking news and severe weather coverage. Syndicated programs broadcast by KOKI include Maury, The Doctors, The Wendy Williams Show, Family Feud and Judge Judy. The station also produces an hour-long talk/lifestyle program Tulsa Live (originally titled Great Day Green Country from its September 2010 debut until June 2014), which airs weekday mornings at 10:00 a.m.