KOTV-DT, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 45), is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The station is owned by Griffin Communications, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate KQCW-DT (channel 19). The two stations share studio facilities located at the Griffin Communications Media Center on North Boston Avenue in downtown Tulsa; KOTV maintains transmitter facilities located on South 273rd East Avenue in Broken Arrow (just north of the Muskogee Turnpike). On cable, the station is available on Cox Communications and AT&T U-verse channel 6 and in high definition on Cox digital channel 1006 and U-verse channel 1006.
In 1946, the Griffin family, owners of local radio station KTUL (1430 AM, now KTBZ), assigned Helen Alvarez to study television's chances of success in Tulsa. After two years of research, Alvarez suggested that the Griffins apply for a construction permit to build transmitter facilities to launch a television station as quickly as possible. The radio executives decided that television was too risky a venture, and planned to wait a year before going to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to apply for a station license. Unfortunately, due to an FCC-imposed freeze on television station license applications, the Griffins would face a much longer wait to get into television, but eventually did so when John Toole Griffin founded KTVX (channel 8, now KTUL) in 1954.
Alvarez immediately resigned and began casting about for investors willing to get a station on the air right away. At a party, she was introduced to Texas oilman George Cameron, who was looking to spend monthly royalty checks he was banking that totaled $50,000. Along with salesman John Hill, who was working for a Tulsa wire maker, Cameron and Alvarez formed the Cameron Television Corporation and applied to the FCC for the VHF channel 6 allocation in Tulsa. With no other applications to consider, the FCC granted a construction permit to Cameron Television in the spring of 1948.
The application that was granted listed the callsign for the new station as KOVB, not for KOTV (for "Oklahoma Television") as Cameron had requested. The typo on the application meant that the request had to be re-filed; the FCC approved the callsign change to KOTV in May 1948. Alvarez negotiated the lease of an International Harvester dealership and repair shop at Third Street and Frankfort Avenue in downtown Tulsa, and converted the building into what was then the largest television studio facility in the United States. KOTV's transmitter, built in the backyard of chief engineer George Jacobs, was eventually hoisted in downtown to the top of the National Bank of Tulsa Building on Boston Street. Alvarez had spent a year convincing bank officers that the tower would be safe and in time, become a local landmark. While the tower was being installed, a workman's wrench fell and struck a woman passing below on the head, killing her instantly.
Detractors jumped on the accident proclaiming KOTV was "jinxed" from the start. They took to calling it "Cameron's Folly," and a local radio executive speaking at a Tulsa Chamber of Commerce luncheon said that anyone investing in KOTV or buying a television set was "foolish"; however, Cameron Television continued on. KOTV first signed on the air on October 22, 1949 as the first television station to sign on in the Tulsa market, the second in Oklahoma (behind WKY-TV (now KFOR-TV) in Oklahoma City, which debuted five months earlier) and the 90th to sign on in the United States. Alvarez was the station's first general manager, and along with Hill held a minority ownership stake in the station. The station's first broadcast was a test pattern, seen by a handful of viewers across Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. More than a month later, on November 23, KOTV broadcast its first local program – a live Chamber of Commerce meeting attended by many of the station's original critics.
One week later, the station presented a "Special Dedication Program" featuring Oklahoma governor Roy J. Turner; Tulsa mayor Roy Lundy; singer Patti Page; Leon McAuliffe and his western swing band; and Miss Oklahoma Louise O'Brien. The next day on December 1, KOTV broadcast a two-hour sampling of the top programs from all five networks of the time from which the station carried programming during its first few years: primary affiliation CBS, and secondary affiliations ABC, NBC, the DuMont Television Network and the Paramount Television Network (the latter's programming was fed to affiliates around the country through a link between KTLA in Los Angeles and WBKB (now WBBM-TV) in Chicago). Over 3,000 television sets were placed throughout the city for public viewing, some of them set on sidewalks outside of appliance stores. After several days of this sampling, the public began to buy their own television sets and KOTV began to cement a small, but growing, viewing audience in the Four State Area.
During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. Even though relations between KOTV and all the networks were smooth, KOTV showed a preference for CBS over the others. At first, network programming was aired about a week after their initial live broadcast on the East Coast; it would not be until 1952, before a microwave link with New York City made live network programming possible.
Three hours of programming were filled during the evening hours. Signing on each day at 12:30 p.m. early on, Channel 6 filled the remainder of its schedule with live locally-produced programs. The cooking program Lookin' At Cookin' began a 32-year run that first year, broadcast from the nation's first "Telecast Kitchen" (which was shut down in 1981). Eventually, the show was cut down to a five-minute program and was retitled Coffee Break, which aired at 10:55 a.m. and pre-empted Douglas Edwards' CBS Midday Newsbreak. KOTV also aired a live wrestling program; when the station's staff announcer Bob Hower ended his shift as host of the game show Wishing Well, he became Tulsa's first news anchorman, reading Associated Press and United Press wire copy headlines four times a week for 15 minutes. In 1952, Cameron sold KOTV to another Texas oil magnate, Jack Wrather, for $2.5 million (by comparison, it had cost only $400,000 to build the station). Wrather knew little about television, and persuaded Alvarez to stay on as general manager. He also made her a full partner in what was named the Wrather-Alvarez Television Corporation, later renamed the General Television Corporation.
In 1953, KOTV began airing another live show which aired on Sunday mornings for 42 years, Lewis Meyer's Bookshelf; the book review show was hosted by author and literary critic Lewis Meyer, during which he showcased books from his bookstore, which was located in the city's Brookside district for many years. Meyer would read some of the content from the featured books each Sunday, and selected and gave a review of the "book of the week"; Meyer signed off each program, reminding viewers that "the more books you read, the taller you grow". Before his death in 1995, Meyer showed off his bookshelf in an interview with Paula Zahn on CBS This Morning. After Meyer's death, the show was not replaced (CBS's political talk show Face the Nation now airs in Bookshelf's former Sunday morning timeslot).
KOTV gained a competitor in March 1954, when KCEB (channel 23, channel now occupied by KOKI-TV) signed on as a primary NBC and secondary DuMont affiliate. However, as manufacturers were not required to include UHF tuners on television sets at the time, NBC made a secret agreement with KOTV that allowed channel 6 to continue "cherry-picking" stronger shows from that network. That April 1954, KOTV installed color equipment as part of an agreement to carry NBC programs produced in the format, with the first network color broadcast on the station airing (Ding Dong School) on May 21, 1954. A few months later, KVOO-TV (channel 2, now KJRH-TV) signed on and took the remaining NBC programs. KCEB then switched to ABC, which agreed to affiliate with that station on the condition that KOTV be allowed to cherry-pick its shows as well. When KTVX signed on in September 1954, it took all of the remaining ABC programs, leaving KOTV exclusively with CBS and KCEB with fourth-ranked DuMont. Like many early UHF television stations, KCEB would cease operations in December of that year; DuMont itself would fold less than two years later in August 1956. Also in 1954, KOTV constructed a 1,135 feet (346 m) transmitter tower north of Sand Springs (which was the fifth tallest structure in the world at the time), located on a mountain named by station president C. Wade Petersmeyer as Big Heart Mountain, where the station donated antenna space to non-commercial educational station KOED (channel 11).
Soon after KOTV became an exclusive CBS affiliate, General Television sold the station to the Indianapolis-based Whitney Corporation, which was renamed Corinthian Broadcasting Corporation in 1957. In 1958, KOTV became the first television station in Oklahoma to install videotape equipment for the production and broadcast of programming. The following year, in 1959, KOTV upgraded its equipment to broadcast local film shows in color; the later began broadcasting its local programming in color in December 1966. Corinthian merged with Dun & Bradstreet in 1971. In December 1983, Belo Corporation acquired Dun and Bradstreet's television station properties, including KOTV. On October 18, 2000, the station returned to Oklahoma-based ownership when Griffin Communications (which is now run by the descendants of John Toole Griffin, whose family had earlier passed on bidding for the channel 6 license, and had owned Oklahoma City's CBS affiliate KWTV since its December 1953 inception) announced its purchase of KOTV from Belo.
Griffin upgraded KOTV's facilities to accommodate high-definition and digital broadcasting, including a new transmitter, production control and master control facilities. KOTV outfitted its photojournalists with the first digital cameras in the market. Since the Griffin purchase, KOTV and KWTV have cooperated with one another, sharing news stories between the two stations, and jointly producing and simulcasting the Sunday night sports highlight and discussion program Oklahoma Sports Blitz. In recent years, KOTV also debuted Tulsa's most-advanced news helicopter, "SkyNews 6", which the station occasionally collaborates with sister station KWTV's helicopter "SkyNews 9HD" for aerial news coverage in areas where the Oklahoma City and Tulsa markets overlap. On October 8, 2005, Griffin purchased WB affiliate KWBT (channel 19, now CW affiliate KQCW-DT), creating the market's second television duopoly with KOTV.
On June 20, 2007, the "SkyNews 6" helicopter was shooting a station promotion when its rotors struck the dish of a KOTV satellite truck, sending the chopper spinning out of control and resulting in its crash, destroying the Bell 206B helicopter. Two people, including the chopper's pilot, survived the accident with minor injuries. KOTV debuted a new helicopter on May 5, 2008. Improvements to the new "SkyNews 6" helicopter (whose name was later altered to "Osage SkyNews 6" through a brand licensing agreement with Osage Casino in 2014) include an additional camera on the craft's tail, which shows the side of the chopper in profile on the left side of the screen, while showing the scene on the right side; the new cameras have been rebranded as "SteadiZoom 360".
On October 25, 2007, Griffin announced that it would construct a 50,000 sq ft (4,600 m2) media center in downtown Tulsa's historic Brady district that would house KOTV, sister station KQCW and Griffin New Media, which manages the websites operated by Griffin Communications. Construction began on the $20 million facility on April 8, 2008, but was delayed upon the midst of the global recession, before resuming in early 2011. The new facility, which allowed for the station to upgrade production of its news programming to full high definition, officially opened on January 19, 2013.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|6.1||1080i||16:9||KOTV-HD||Main KOTV programming / CBS|
|6.2||480i||KOTV-CW||SD simulcast of KQCW-DT|
|6.3||Newson6||News on 6 Now|
KOTV simulcasts CW-affiliated sister station KQCW-DT on digital subchannel 6.2 to relay its signal to areas that do not receive an adequate signal due to that station's transmitter being located in rural northwestern Muskogee County. On digital subchannel 6.3 and on Cox digital channel 53 is News on 6 Now, a news simulcast/rebroadcast channel (operating previously as the cable-only News Now 53 from 2000 until March 30, 2011), which is owned by Griffin in cooperation with Cox Communications; digital channel 6.3 previously served as an affiliate of This TV from January 20, 2009 to March 30, 2011 (the network has since moved to KQCW digital channel 19.2). During extended breaking news or severe weather coverage on channel 6, KOTV may move CBS network programming from the main channel to the News on 6 Now subchannel.
KOTV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal operated on a high-band UHF channel (in the 52 to 69 channel range) that was removed from broadcast use after the official June 12, 2009 transition date, its analog channel assignment was in the low-band VHF range (channels 2 to 6) and therefore prone to signal interference from impulse noise. The station selected UHF channel 45 for its post-transition digital operations. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 6.
KOTV's audio signal could be heard on 87.75 MHz on the FM band in Tulsa and the surrounding areas prior to the digital switchover, digital television does not place its audio on an FM subcarrier as the analog system typically does and therefore television stations operating a digital signal cannot be heard using standard broadcast FM radio receivers.
KOTV clears the entire CBS network schedule, although it airs one hour of the CBS Dream Team children's program block on Sunday mornings between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., airs splits Face the Nation into two half-hour blocks (with the first half-hour airing after CBS News Sunday Morning and the second half-hour airing early Monday mornings on tape delay) and airs The Late Late Show with James Corden on a half-hour delay from its network-recommended 11:37 p.m. timeslot. In addition, with the exception of a period from September 2006 to January 2007 when the program moved to its network-recommended slot on KQCW, KOTV has opted to air the CBS soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful at 1:05 a.m. KOTV has not aired the show in its recommended 12:30 p.m. timeslot since the early 1990s, following the expansion of the station's weekday noon newscast to one hour; CBS eventually allowed KOTV to air The Bold and the Beautiful during the late night hours.
KOTV presently broadcasts 30½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, two hours on Saturdays and one hour on Sundays). In addition, the station broadcasts a 35-minute sports highlight and discussion program on Sunday evenings, Oklahoma Sports Blitz, which is co-hosted by KOTV sports director John Holcomb and KWTV sports director Dean Blevins; the program is produced out of KWTV's studio facility on Kelley Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in northeast Oklahoma City.
For many years, KOTV's newscasts placed a strong second in the ratings among the market's local television news programs, behind KTUL. This continued until 1999, when KOTV overtook KTUL as the most-watched news outlet in the Tulsa market. KOTV's news broadcasts continue to win all time periods by comfortable margins, largely aided by the strengths of CBS's primetime programming. In November 2007, the station's 10:00 p.m. newscast was the eighth highest-rated late newscast in the United States.
KOTV airs its weekday morning newscast from 4:30 to 8:00 a.m., delaying the station's broadcast of CBS This Morning by one hour (running from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.). The newscast (which uses the Six in the Morning brand for the 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. portion of the program) had earlier ran from 5:00 to 9:00 a.m. from 1998 until January 7, 2008, when the 8:00 a.m. hour of the newscast was moved to KQCW, in order for KOTV to comply with new requirements by CBS that its affiliates carry the entire two-hour broadcast of The Early Show (which CBS This Morning replaced in January 2012). In the fall of 2008, KOTV expanded the Saturday edition of its 10 p.m. newscast to one hour, with the 10:30 half-hour titled News on 6 Late Edition (this is the same with sister station KWTV-DT in Oklahoma City, which also airs an hour-long 10:00 p.m. newscast on Saturdays).
On October 24, 2010 beginning with the KQCW 9 p.m. newscast, KOTV introduced new on-air graphics designed by Hothaus Creative Design, a new station logo (a rounded red square with a "6" in Goudy type, an upside image of the logo adopted by KWTV) and a new slogan ("Oklahoma's Own"), which – along with "The CBS Enforcer Music Collection" news package by Gari Media Group (which KOTV has used since 2006) – was also adopted by Oklahoma City sister station KWTV on that same date. Although its Oklahoma City sister station KWTV upgraded its news programming to high definition with the adoption of the new standardized look, KOTV's newscasts upgraded only to 16:9 widescreen standard definition. On January 19, 2013, following the completion of the move of the duopoly's operations into the Griffin Communications Media Center, KOTV and KQCW became the last two television stations in the Tulsa market to upgrade their news programming to full high definition.
On July 1, 2014, KOTV upgraded its "Osage SkyNews 6" helicopter to HD with the installation of a high-definition camera. On July 5, 2014, KOTV expanded its 6:00 p.m. newscast on Saturday evenings to one hour, after Discover Oklahoma (a statewide-syndicated program produced by the Oklahoma Department of Travel and Tourism) moved to KTUL.
Notable current on-air staff
- Travis Meyer (AMS Seal of Approval; member, NWA) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 on KOTV
Notable former on-air staff
- John Anderson - sports anchor (?–?; now with ESPN and co-host of ABC's Wipeout)
- Chuck Bowman - announcer (later moved to Los Angeles as an actor/producer)
- Bob Brown - news anchor/reporter (later feature reporter for ABC's 20/20)
- Denny Delk - staff announcer (now based in San Francisco)
- Mike Flynn - news anchor/reporter/musician (later producer/host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Folk Sampler)
- Jim Giles - chief meteorologist (1981–2006; deceased)
- Jim Hartz - news anchor (formerly with NBC as co-host of Today and NASA reporter, writer/author, co-hosted of PBS's Over Easy)
- Bob Losure - anchor (late 1970s–early 1980s; later anchor at CNN Headline News)
- Spanky McFarland - children's program host (formerly appeared as a child in the Our Gang series of shorts)
- Cameron Sanders - reporter (later CNN correspondent and host of public radio's Marketplace)
- Gailard Sartain (actor/comedian, longtime actor on Hee Haw, moved on to highly successful movie career)
- Harry Volkman - meteorologist (later at WKY-TV in Oklahoma City, and WBBM-TV, WGN-TV and WFLD in Chicago; deceased)