KSLA, virtual channel 12 (UHF digital channel 17), is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Shreveport, Louisiana, United States. The station is owned by Raycom Media. KSLA maintains studio facilities located on Fairfield Avenue (southeast of I-20) in central Shreveport, and its transmitter is located near Mooringsport (southeast of Caddo Lake).
The station first signed on the air on January 1, 1954; it has served as a primary CBS affiliate since its sign-on, but originally also carried select programs from ABC, NBC and DuMont. The station originally operated from studio facilities housed inside the Washington Youree Hotel in downtown Shreveport. William Carter Henderson, son of William Kennon Henderson, Jr. (founder of KWKH radio), was among the original owners of KSLA-TV.
On March 5, 1955, Elvis Presley made his television debut on KSLA on the local music program Louisiana Hayride, which was produced from the Municipal Auditorium. That same year, D. L. Dykes, Jr., who launched a 30-year career as the pastor of the First Methodist Church at the Head of Texas Street in downtown Shreveport, began having his sermons televised on KSLA; over the years, other churches followed Dykes's lead. KSLA lost the NBC affiliation when KTBS-TV (channel 3) signed on in September 1955. The two stations shared limited ABC programming until 1960, when Texarkana-based KTAL-TV (channel 6) took the NBC affiliation after Texarkana was collapsed into the Shreveport market. KTBS then became an exclusive ABC affiliate, leaving KSLA solely affiliated with CBS (KSLA is one of two stations in the market to have never changed its primary network affiliation, along with Fox affiliate KMSS-TV, channel 33).
In 1966, Douglas F. Attaway, publisher of the now-defunct Shreveport Journal newspaper, became majority owner of the station; as a result, KSLA's on-air slogan during the second half of the 1960s and the early 1970s was "The Journal Station". Attaway later sold the Shreveport Journal to local businessman and philanthropist Charles T. Beaird. In 1973, the station moved to its current studio facilities on Fairfield Avenue near Schumpert Medical Center. The station added the -TV suffix to its call letters in 1979, only for it to become the only Raycom-owned station to drop the suffix shortly after the 2009 digital transition.
Among the station's most popular local programs included Al's Corral, a western-themed children's program hosted by Al Bolton, a meteorologist at the station from its founding in 1954 to 1991.A native of Alexandria, a graduate of Louisiana College in Pineville, and a United States Navy veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, Bolton joined KSLA a month after the station opened and assumed long-term duties as the weather reporter, a position also with unclear duties at the beginning. Bolton remained the meteorologist until May 1991, when he began a ten-year association with KRMD radio before retiring. Bolton received the "Seal of Certification" from the National Weather Association in 1982 for "performance well above the media and meteorological standards".
Long-term sports editor Bob Griffin hosted Bob & His Buddies, a children's show, and What's News?, a current events quiz program for high schoolers with questions based on the Channel 12 news and sports broadcasts of the preceding week. The series ended in 1965. Hallelujah Train was a Sunday morning program many consider as a religious version of Soul Train. KSLA was the first television station in the market to broadcast in color and in stereo surround sound. It also paved the way for the use of satellites for newsgathering and broadcast transmissions. KSLA was once the home of the Shreveport Captains, the defunct Canadian Football League team, the Shreveport Pirates, and Southeastern Conference sporting events.
On October 8, 1977, the station's 1,709 feet (521 m) transmitter tower in Mooringsport collapsed. No official cause was ever determined, but speculation centered upon a failure in the guy lines attached to the tower. As Shreveport did not have a PBS member station at the time, KSLA broadcast Sesame Street on weekday mornings. This arrangement ended when Louisiana Public Broadcasting signed on KLTS-TV (channel 24) in August 1978.
KSLA was among the first fifty television stations in the country to air the hybrid local/national lifestyle newsmagazine concept PM Magazine (which was licensed by Westinghouse Broadcasting and was also titled Evening Magazine when broadcast on Group W's television stations), it ran on the station from 1979 to 1984. The local version of the program was hosted by program producer Chuck Smith and Becky Strickland; it became one of the consistently highest-rated versions of PM in the country, beating syndicated programs (such as M*A*S*H, The Newlywed Game and The People's Court), sometimes averaging audience shares higher than 30 percent throughout its five-year run on KSLA and had garnered a 25 rating/39 share by the end of the run of the program. Despite its local success, the KSLA edition of PM Magazine was canceled in early 1984 and was replaced by reruns of Three's Company (which was distributed by Viacom at the time), resulting in an almost immediate decline in audience share to 1/10th of that PM had when it ran in the 6:30 p.m. timeslot.
In 1983, Douglas Attaway sold the station to Viacom. Under the new management, the station began pre-empting CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt in favor of running infomercials in its timeslot. This sparked outrage from viewers, resulting in a letter-writing campaign to Viacom, CBS and local newspapers to push for Sunday Morning's return to channel 12. The station was even subjected to picketing by upset viewers in an effort to get the show reinstated. The station reinstated Sunday Morning onto its schedule a few weeks later.
On January 16, 1995, channel 12 became a charter (though temporary) O&O of Viacom's UPN, running that network's programming during the late night hours as a secondary affiliation; this arrangement ended when KSHV-TV (channel 45, now a MyNetworkTV affiliate) picked up the UPN affiliation that August. On September 1, 1995, Ellis Communications bought KSLA from Viacom, in a trade deal with WVEU (now WUPA) in Atlanta, Georgia; at the time, Viacom was in the process of selling off all of its non-UPN affiliated television stations, with KSLA being the first to be divested. Ellis merged with Raycom Media in 1997.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|12.1||1080i||16:9||KSLA-DT||Main KSLA-TV programming / CBS|
On September 26, 2011, KSLA became a charter affiliate for the African-American centric digital broadcast network Bounce TV, through an affiliation agreement with Raycom.
KSLA discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, 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 17, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 12.
KSLA presently broadcasts 27½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays, one hour on Saturdays and 1½ hours on Sundays). The station's first news anchor and news director, Don Owen, established KSLA's news department; he later served on the elected Louisiana Public Service Commission from 1985 to 2002. KSLA has long battled KTBS-TV for the highest-rated newscast in the Shreveport-Texarkana market; the station claims to have the highest-rated newscast in the entire state of Louisiana. However, during the May 2008 ratings period, KTBS's newscasts placed number one, ahead of KSLA, in several timeslots.
In September 2008, KSLA became the first television station in Louisiana (and one of the first in the nation) to air a weekday morning newscast at 9 a.m. In September 2010, KSLA expanded its weeknight 6 p.m. newscast to one hour (KTBS had earlier expanded its 6 p.m. newscast to an hour on June 28; as a result, KTAL is the only Big Three affiliate in the market to carry syndicated programming during the 6:30 half-hour) and expanded the weekend edition of its 10 p.m. newscast to one hour (KTBS also earlier expanded its weekend 10 p.m. newscast to an hour in July of that year). On October 15, 2010, KSLA became the second television station in the Shreveport-Texarkana market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition (rival KTBS upgraded its newscasts to high definition one day earlier on October 14).
Notable former on-air staff
- Dennis Bounds - weekday evening anchor/reporter (last worked at KING-TV in Seattle. Now retired)
- Taylor Henry - weekend anchor/reporter
- Najahe Hall - weekday morning anchor/reporter (later at KSHB-TV in Kansas City, Missouri)
Out-of-market cable coverage
KSLA is carried on some cable providers in Lufkin and Nacogdoches (alongside local CBS affiliate KYTX/Tyler) in East Texas; it is also available in the Oklahoma side of the Ark-La-Tex region (alongside Little Rock affiliate KTHV, and other network affiliates from the Shreveport and Little Rock markets) on DirecTV.