KFMB-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 8, is a CBS-affiliated television station located in San Diego, California, United States. The station is owned by Midwest Television, Inc., and is a sister station to radio stations KFMB (760 AM) and KFMB-FM (100.7 FM). The television and radio stations shares studio facilities located on Engineer Road in the Kearny Mesa section of San Diego; KFMB-TV maintains transmitter facilities located on Mount Soledad in La Jolla.
The station first signed on the air on May 16, 1949; it was the first television station to sign on in the San Diego market. The station was founded by Jack O. Gross, who also owned local radio station KFMB (760 AM). San Diego Mayor Harley E. Knox was present at the station's first broadcast. The station cost Gross $300,000 to build. KFMB-TV has been a primary CBS affiliate since its sign-on (and is the only television station in the market that has never changed its network affiliation), however in its early years, channel 8 also maintained secondary affiliations with ABC, NBC and the DuMont Television Network.
In October 1949, KFMB-TV signed an affiliation agreement with the short-lived Paramount Television Network; upon affiliating with Paramount, channel 8 quickly became that network's strongest affiliate. The station received a network feed of Paramount programs that included among others, Hollywood Opportunity, Meet Me in Hollywood, Magazine of the Week, Time For Beany and Your Old Buddy; the station aired six hours of Paramount programs each week. Since there was no technical transmission network to distribute Paramount programs to its affiliates, KFMB instead carried the network's programming via a transmitter link from the broadcast tower of Paramount's Los Angeles affiliate KTLA atop Mount Wilson, 90 miles (140 km) from the KFMB-TV transmitter site on Mount Soledad.
In November 1950, Gross sold the KFMB stations to John A. Kennedy, a former publisher of the San Diego Daily Journal newspaper. Three years later, Kennedy sold the television and radio properties to a partnership between Jack Wrather and Helen Alvarez. That same year, channel 8 lost its television monopoly in San Diego when the market received two new stations, Tijuana-based XETV (channel 6) and San Diego-licensed KFSD-TV (channel 10, now KGTV), the latter of which assumed the NBC affiliation from channel 8. KFMB-TV continued to air ABC programs until 1956, when XETV was granted permission to take the ABC affiliation under a special agreement between the Federal Communications Commission and Mexican authorities, most notably the Secretariat of Communications and Public Works.
After the Wrather-Alvarez partnership broke up in 1957, Wrather kept the San Diego outlets and KERO-TV in upstate Bakersfield and placed them as part of his newly renamed broadcasting company, Marietta Broadcasting. In 1959, Wrather merged Marietta Broadcasting with Buffalo, New York-based Transcontinent Television Corporation. In 1964, as part of Transcontinent's exit from broadcasting, the KFMB stations were sold to Midwest Television, which at the time was based in Champaign, Illinois. In the 1990s, Midwest Television divested its original television and radio station properties, WCIA in Champaign and WMBD-AM-TV and WPBG in Peoria, Illinois, leaving the KFMB stations as the company's only remaining properties.
In 1998, KFMB-TV was awarded the local broadcast rights to San Diego Chargers preseason game telecasts; that same year, CBS acquired the rights to the American Football Conference (the NFL conference in which the Chargers are a member), allowing the station to air regular season Chargers contests. In 2005, Midwest Television signed a ten-year affiliation contract extension for KFMB-TV to remain a CBS affiliate through 2015. The station changed its on-air branding to News 8 on September 19, 2005, after four years of using the "Local 8" brand. In early 2007, the station began to phase in a new branding as CBS 8, although newscasts maintained their previous title until 2013, when the station introduced a new logo and renamed its newscasts CBS News 8.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||1080i||16:9||KFMB-DT||Main KFMB-TV programming / CBS|
KFMB-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 55, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era VHF channel 8.
The station clears the entire CBS network schedule; however for years, KFMB-TV has chosen to air The Bold and the Beautiful outside of the network's recommended 12:30 p.m. timeslot in the Pacific Time Zone. This stemmed from when the station had an hour-long noon newscast, as the station aired the program at 9:30 a.m. (the midday newscast has since moved to 11:00 a.m.); The Bold and the Beautiful had aired at 11:30 a.m. from 2009 to 2013, when it moved to 12:30 p.m. as the lead-in to The Young and the Restless (which itself normally airs at 11:00 a.m. in the Pacific Time Zone). It also airs the Saturday edition of CBS This Morning two hours earlier than most CBS stations (aligning it with the program's recommended timeslot in the Eastern Time Zone).
Due to requirements mandated by the FCC to broadcast educational and informational programs aimed at children, KFMB is required to show E/I-compliant programs supplied by CBS through the network's CBS Dream Team block; as a result, the station does not air live sporting events until 10:00 a.m. local time on Saturday mornings, even if coverage from CBS Sports has already started by that time elsewhere. This requirement has not prevented other Pacific Time Zone affiliates of CBS from airing live sporting events that begin at 9:00 a.m. or earlier. Syndicated programs broadcast by KFMB include Entertainment Tonight, Dr. Phil, The Insider, Criminal Minds and Judge Judy.
In addition to carrying preseason games through the team's television network and regular season games through CBS, KFMB-TV broadcasts San Diego Chargers regular season games that are not carried by a broadcast network, simulcasting NFL Network's Thursday Night Football and ESPN's Monday Night Football telecasts involving the team; NFL rules require games aired on cable networks to be simulcast on a local broadcast station in the team's home market.
KFMB presently broadcasts 31½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays and two hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); unlike most CBS affiliates, KFMB does not run a local newscast in the 6:00 p.m. timeslot (ceding the timeslot to the CBS Evening News, which in turn, airs a half-hour earlier or later – depending on the station – than on other CBS stations in the Pacific Time Zone), though the station does have an early evening newscast at 6:30 p.m. KFMB operates the only news helicopter in the San Diego market; its "Chopper 8" helicopter provides aerial video to most of the market's news-producing television stations through Local News Service agreements.
Some famous KFMB alumni include former weather anchor Raquel Tejada (who eventually became a successful actress as Raquel Welch), talk show host Regis Philbin, television host Sarah Purcell, CNN and former CBS anchor Paula Zahn, original Access Hollywood host Larry Mendte, and eventual NBC correspondents Don Teague (later at KRIV in Houston) and Dawn Fratangelo. KFMB has led in newscast viewership in the San Diego market for most of its history, dating back to the 1950s when Ray Wilson was the popular anchor of the city's first half-hour newscast. When Wilson stepped down in 1973, KFMB slipped to a distant second behind KGTV, rebounding only in the late 1970s and early 1980s when former KGTV producer Jim Holtzman was hired by the station as its news director. Holtzman formed a popular and acclaimed news team consisting of anchors Michael Tuck and Allison Ross, weather anchor Clark Anthony and sports anchor Ted Leitner. By the end of 1979, KFMB had risen back to the #1 position, remaining there until 1984 when Tuck suddenly moved to KGTV and helped that station overtake KFMB for the remainder of the decade.
Holtzman tried in vain to compete by experimenting with a different format for the 11:00 p.m. newscast called This Day which emphasized a softer, humanized format and attempted to find a common thread within the newscast. There was no regular anchor; instead Hal Clement, Loren Nancarrow (now deceased), Dawn Fratangelo (now with NBC) and Susan Lichtman (now known as Susan Taylor and with KNSD) formed an ensemble of anchor/reporters who alternated between anchoring, filing detailed reports and giving live interviews. Computer graphics were used heavily, and Dave Grusin's "Night Lines" served as the newscast's theme music.
Although it was innovative for its time, This Day proved to be a dismal failure as viewers responded negatively to the awkward format; within nine months, KFMB reverted to a more traditional late evening newscast. However, the news ratings for KFMB went into a deep decline for more than a decade as popular mainstays like Marty Levin and Allison Ross (both of whom reappeared in the market on KNSD) either left voluntarily or were fired and were replaced by younger staffers like Stan Miller and Susan Roesgen.
Eventually by the 1990s, Hal Clement would assume early evening anchor duties alongside Susan Peters and later, Denise Yamada to mixed results as the station continued to battle KGTV and KNSD, primarily in the 11:00 p.m. timeslot where the CBS lead-in at the time was particularly weaker. By the early 2000s, Michael Tuck's brief return following Clement's departure for KGTV and CBS's resurgence at the start of the decade helped bring KFMB back to first place in the early evenings. By 2006, KFMB, which had become the most watched television station in San Diego (based on Nielsen ratings share data) from sign-on to sign-off, finished in first place in the noon and evening news timeslots (particularly in the latter case, at 5:00 and 6:30 daily and at 11:00 p.m. weekdays).
During coverage of the California wildfires of October 2007, reporter Larry Himmel took viewers on a walkthrough of his own home, which had been destroyed in the fires. Audio of the station's news programming was also simulcast on KFMB-AM and KFMB-FM for an extended period of time. On January 28, 2007, KFMB became the first television station in the San Diego market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition; with the upgrade, the station unveiled a new set for its newscasts.
Notable former on-air staff
- Jerry G. Bishop – host of Sun Up San Diego (1978–1990)
- Marc Brown –1987–1989, now at KABC-TV in Los Angeles
- Pamela Davis – weekend anchor/reporter (2001–2005; now at KPBS-FM)
- Rebecca Gomez – morning/noon anchor and reporter (?–1996 and 2001–2002; now with Fox News Channel)
- Jim Laslavic – sports anchor (1983–1989; now at KNSD)
- Ted Leitner – sports anchor (1978–2003)
- Sandra Maas – anchor/medical reporter (1990–2001; now at KUSI-TV)
- Larry Mendte – weather anchor (1988–1991; later at KYW-TV in Philadelphia and WPIX in New York City)
- Susan Peters – anchor (1991–1995; later at KAKE-TV in Wichita, Kansas, now retired)
- Sarah Purcell – talk show host (1970s)
- Susan Roesgen – anchor (1989–1991; formerly at CNN)
- Aloha Taylor – (2001–2005; now at KSWB-TV)