KWTX-TV, channel 10, is a full-power television station in Waco, Texas, serving Central Texas as a CBS affiliate. Owned by Gray Television, it airs a digital signal on VHF channel 10. It is broadcast on cable channel 2 in the immediate part of the market. The station's studios are located on American Plaza in Waco, and its transmitter tower is outside Moody, Texas.
KWTX also offers The CW programming on its digital feed, branded as "The CW12 Central Texas" From May 11, 2001 until September 15, 2006, KWTX offered UPN programming ("UPN Waco") on digital channel 10.2.
|10.1||1080i||16:9||Main KWTX-TV programming / CBS|
|10.2||720p||KWTX-DT2 / The CW|
KWTX was the first station in the Central Texas area to broadcast in digital high definition. KWTX-DT first went on the air on May 11, 2001 at 5:10 p.m. It began regular programming on May 15, 2001 on digital channel 53; however, since channels 52-69 would no longer be used for television broadcasts after the end of analog broadcasting on the United States, KWTX opted to move its digital broadcasts to channel 10 in 2009.
Along with the rest of the major Central Texas stations, KWTX began broadcasting solely in digital on February 17, 2009.
KWTX first signed on the air as an independent station on April 3, 1955. At the time, crosstown KANG-TV, channel 34, had the ABC, CBS and DuMont affiliations. KWTX picked up ABC in time for the fall 1955 TV season, and DuMont's closure left KANG as a full-time CBS station.
Long plagued by financial difficulties due to being the only UHF station in the market at a time when UHF tuners were rare, KANG, owned by Texas Broadcasting Company, shut down at the end of 1955. KWTX bought KANG's assets in exchange for a 29% share in the combined operation. KWTX picked up the CBS affiliation as a result of the merger with KANG, and has been a primary CBS affiliate ever since. It shared a secondary ABC affiliation with KCEN-TV until 1983. KCEN later briefly switched to being a full-time ABC affiliate.
First live televised trial
Beginning December 6, 1955, KWTX televised the murder trial of Harry L. Washburn, marking the first live telecast of a courtroom trial in the United States. The telecast earned near universal praise from the legal community. District Judge D.W. Bartlett praised the station's crew for its unobtrusiveness: "I have not noticed anything that would in any way interfere with the administration of justice. I don't think anyone could object to the television being run while this is on. It is perfectly quiet, it's outside the jury, and there's been perfect decorum of all concerned, and I don't think there would be any reflection on any court to have this television carried on as it has been carried on in this court."
Role during Branch Davidian raid
Just before the Mount Carmel raid on February 28, 1993, Davidians learned that they were facing not a service of warrants, but a shootout. KWTX-TV cameraman James Peeler asked directions of Davidian David Jones, who was driving his postal truck. David Koresh's attorney Dick DeGuerin told reporters that Peeler told Jones, "Well, you better get out of here because there's a United States National Guard helicopter over at TSTC (Texas State Technical College) and they're going to have a big shootout with the religious nuts." Peeler was distressed to see Jones immediately drive to Mount Carmel Center and left the area to call his superiors.
According to the Treasury report, Jones told DeGuerin that "Peeler warned him not to go near the Compound as there were going to be 60 to 70 TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) guys in helicopters and a shoot-out would occur'." And Peeler himself confessed to the Treasury review team that he had told Jones there would be "some type of law enforcement action" and that "the action was likely to be a raid of some type and that there might be shooting."
KWTX-TV cameraman Dan Mulloney testified that KWTX-TV's initial information came from law enforcement agents he refused to name—something the Treasury report failed to reveal—as well as from a private ambulance driver working with BATF. (Similarly, BATF agent Ballesteros admitted that it was non-BATF law enforcement that tipped off the Waco Tribune-Herald.) Therefore, BATF agents' expectations of a shootout were directly transmitted to the Davidians.
Mulloney, Peeler, and reporter John McLemore, along with reporters from the Waco Tribune-Herald, were the only non-combatants at Mount Carmel that day. Mulloney shot the TV footage used around the world of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms storming the Davidians’ home. Mulloney and McLemore later used their vehicle to transport injured ATF agents away from the shootout. McLemore received letter of commendation from the ATF Director for his bravery that day. However, KWTX reporters became easy targets for blame during the subsequent trials following the botched raid, particularly because Koresh learned about the approaching raid from Jones, the postal worker from which Peeler asked directions. McLemore, Peeler and Mulloney were never charged for any crime.
KWTX shares the callsign with radio station 97.5 FM, a Top 40 Pop station and 1230 AM, a News/Talk station both owned by Clear Channel Communications. In 1997 the radio stations were sold to GulfStar and later Clear Channel. As part of the deal, the radio stations moved out of the building at American Plaza and into their own building. Today KWTX-TV uses the area once occupied by the radio stations for offices and edit bays.