KIRO-TV, virtual channel 7 (UHF digital channel 39), is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Seattle, Washington, United States and also serving Tacoma. The station is owned by the Cox Media Group subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. KIRO-TV's offices and studios are located on Third Avenue in the city's Belltown neighborhood and its transmitter is located on Queen Anne Hill, adjacent to the station's original studios.
KIRO-TV is one of five local Seattle television stations seen in Canada via Shaw Broadcast Services for the purposes of time-shifting and can be viewed from many eastern Canadian cities including Toronto and Montreal and on satellite providers Bell TV and Shaw Direct. It can also been seen on cable systems in British Columbia as the "local" CBS affiliate.
After KOMO-TV (channel 4) signed on in December 1953, Seattle's channel 7 was the last commercial VHF channel allocation available in the Puget Sound area. As such, its construction permit was heavily contested among several local broadcast interests. Three radio stations—KVI (570 AM), KXA (770 AM, now KTTH) and KIRO (710 AM)—were locked in a battle for the frequency over several years of comparative hearings at the Federal Communications Commission. Following an initial decision in 1955 and a reaffirmation in 1957, the ultimate victorious party was Queen City Broadcasting, owners of KIRO radio, who signed-on channel 7 on February 8, 1958. Queen City was led by president and general manager Saul Haas, who purchased KIRO radio in 1935 and included U.S. Senator Warren Magnuson and CBS News correspondent Edward R. Murrow amongst its shareholders. The station's original studios were located on Queen Anne Avenue, adjacent to its broadcast tower and directly across the street from KIRO radio. The first program shown on channel 7 was the explosion of Ripple Rock, a hazard to navigation in Seymour Narrows, British Columbia.
KIRO radio had been a CBS Radio affiliate for over 20 years and KIRO-TV subsequently became an affiliate of the CBS television network upon signing on. Channel 7 took the CBS affiliation from Tacoma-licensed KTNT-TV (channel 11, now KSTW) prompting that station's owners at the time, the Tacoma News Tribune to file an antitrust lawsuit accusing CBS of having a standing agreement with KIRO to affiliate with the television network before Queen City's permit to build channel 7 was even approved. In May 1960, KIRO-TV was forced to share CBS with KTNT-TV as part of a settlement reached between the three parties. This arrangement lasted for the next two years with KIRO-TV again becoming the market's exclusive CBS affiliate in September 1962.
The Mormons take over
In April 1963 the Deseret News Publishing Company, the media arm of the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, began purchasing stock in Queen City Broadcasting starting with a 10 percent share from several minority partners including Sen. Magnuson. Six months later the Church purchased an additional 50 percent, giving them majority control of the KIRO stations. Along with having earned a handsome return on his original investment of 28 years earlier, Saul Hass subsequently joined the board of the Church's broadcasting subsidiary, which was renamed Bonneville International in 1964.
Soon after the FCC approved the sale, Bonneville executives Lloyd Cooney and Kenneth L. Hatch arrived in Seattle to lead the renamed KIRO, Inc. division. Upon Cooney's departure to run for U.S. Senate in 1980, Hatch became president, CEO and chairman, positions he held until 1995. Under Hatch's leadership, KIRO, Inc. (which included KIRO-AM-FM-TV, KING AM and Third Avenue Productions) became one of the nation's premier regional broadcast groups. KIRO's corporate board included many notable leaders including Mary Gates (mother of Bill Gates); Pay 'n Save chairman M. Lamont Bean; Washington Mutual chief executive officer Tony Eyring and Gordon B. Hinckley, a future president of the LDS Church. The KIRO stations (which later included KING radio and Third Avenue Productions) moved their offices and studios to "Broadcast House" at Third Avenue and Broad Street in Seattle's Belltown district in 1968 and where KIRO-TV remains to this day for the present location.
Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, KIRO-TV still faced competition in some parts of Western Washington from Bellingham-based KVOS-TV (channel 12), which was also then a CBS affiliate. After years of legal challenges and negotiations with CBS and KIRO-TV, KVOS (at the time owned by Wometco Enterprises) began to phase out most CBS programming by 1980. KVOS retained a nominal affiliation with CBS until 1987 (KVOS gradually became an independent station, and is now affiliated with MeTV), during which it would run any CBS network programs that were pre-empted by channel 7.
From CBS to UPN
In 1994, CBS found itself without an affiliate in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex after KDFW-TV left the network to become a Fox affiliate. Consequently, CBS began to negotiate with Gaylord Broadcasting to secure an affiliation agreement with the independent station it had long owned in Fort Worth, KTVT. As part of the deal, CBS would also affiliate with Gaylord-owned independent KSTW in Tacoma; both KSTW and KTVT had been scheduled to affiliate with The WB Television Network. The deal was announced on September 15, 1994, and CBS programs that had been preempted by KIRO-TV (such as The Bold and the Beautiful) moved to KSTW soon afterward. Other CBS programs such as The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder were shown on KSTW beginning in January 1995, although the show aired an hour later at 1:35 a.m., whereas other CBS affiliates aired the program directly after the Late Show with David Letterman at 12:35 a.m. Even when channel 11 regained the CBS affiliation for the third time in its history in March 1995, the program continued to air at 1:35 a.m.
Two days before the affiliation switch was announced, Bonneville announced that it would sell KIRO-TV to the Belo Corporation, while retaining ownership of KIRO radio. In addition, in anticipation of the affiliation change, Belo stated that it would run channel 7 as a news-intensive independent station; However, on December 6, the station reached an affiliation deal with UPN.
More changes descended upon channel 7 after Belo took control of the station on January 31, 1995. The station began carrying UPN programming on January 16; however, until CBS moved to KSTW on March 13, 1995, UPN programs generally aired on weekend afternoons, though KIRO-TV did preempt CBS programming so that it could air the series premiere of Star Trek: Voyager in primetime.
Local newscasts on channel 7 expanded during this time to nearly 40 hours each week with expansions to its morning and early evening newscasts to compensate for UPN not having national news programs. Outside of UPN's program offerings, the rest of KIRO-TV's schedule was filled with first-run syndicated talk shows, reality shows, off-network dramas, a couple of off-network sitcoms and movies. This format was unusual for a UPN affiliate (but was becoming standard for a Fox affiliate) as most UPN affiliates had a general entertainment format outside of network programming hours. In 1996, Belo acquired the Providence Journal Company, which owned Seattle's NBC affiliate KING-TV (channel 5). Belo couldn't own both KING-TV and KIRO-TV under FCC rules at the time and as a result, the company opted to sell KIRO-TV.
Though there was speculation that Belo would swap KIRO-TV to Fox Television Stations in exchange for KSAZ-TV in Phoenix and KTBC-TV in Austin, Texas, Belo announced on February 20, 1997, that it would swap channel 7 to UPN co-owner Viacom's Paramount Stations Group subsidiary (now part of CBS Television Stations), in exchange for KMOV in St. Louis. At the time, Paramount Stations Group was in the process of selling off the CBS and NBC affiliates that it inherited from Viacom through its 1994 purchase of Paramount Pictures.
Concurrently, Paramount/Viacom traded KIRO-TV to Cox Enterprises in exchange for KSTW, just one month after Cox announced it would acquire that station from Gaylord Broadcasting. The trades were completed on June 2, 1997. The two stations retained their respective syndicated programming, but swapped network affiliations once again—with KSTW becoming a UPN owned-and-operated station and KIRO-TV regaining its CBS affiliation on June 30, 1997.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|7.1||1080i||16:9||KIRO-DT||Main KIRO-TV programming / CBS|
KIRO-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 7, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 39, using PSIP to display KIRO-TV's virtual channel as 7 on digital television receivers.
As of September 2016, syndicated programs broadcasting on KIRO-TV presently include Right This Minute, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Judge Judy, The Insider and Entertainment Tonight. KIRO runs the entire CBS programming lineup with minimal pre-emptions, generally only for KIRO's award-winning special, InColor. However, KIRO-TV's alternate feed for Canadian viewers has more pre-emptions than the regular feed, particularly infomercials replacing programs like Let's Make a Deal, KIRO 7 News at Noon, Right This Minute and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
One of the most famous and longest-running regional children's television programs in the United States, The J.P. Patches Show was produced in-house by KIRO-TV and broadcast steadily from 1958 to 1981. The program starred Chris Wedes as Julius Pierpont Patches, a shabby clown and self-professed mayor of the City Dump and Bob Newman as J.P.'s "girlfriend" Gertrude, in addition to a number of other characters. Nightmare Theatre was KIRO-TV's weekly horror movie series, seen from 1964 to 1978 and hosted by "The Count" (Joe Towey) from 1968 to 1975. Towey, who also directed The J.P. Patches Show, died in 1989.
During the 1970s, KIRO preempted the first half hour of Captain Kangaroo each morning in order to air J.P. Patches. Many parents protested by writing letters to the station because they preferred more educational value from Captain Kangaroo than with "J.P.", while children preferred J.P. Patches. From 1987 to 1995, under Bonneville ownership, KIRO refused to air The Bold and the Beautiful, which normally aired at 12:30 p.m.; the station aired a 60 minute local newscast from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. instead. As a result, the station received many protest letters from fans of the show during that period and even one from the show's creator himself, William J. Bell. The show was cleared when KSTW had CBS for their brief time between 1995–1997, and was eventually cleared on KIRO after they went back to CBS from UPN. In 2014, KIRO once again went back to an hour of local news at noon, delaying B&B to 3 p.m., and later 2 p.m. when Let's Make a Deal moved to 9 a.m. On September 11, 2017, KIRO went back to a half-hour of noon news. The Bold and the Beautiful stayed at 2:00 p.m., with Right This Minute moving to 12:30 p.m.
In 1990, KIRO tape-delayed the Daytona 500 by 6 hours to show a Seattle SuperSonics game as KIRO was the flagship station of the team. The race was won by Derrike Cope, who is a native of nearby Spanaway, Washington in an upset over Dale Earnhardt in the final lap after a cut tire. Prior to joining UPN in 1995, KIRO ran the CBS Evening News at 6:00 p.m. between local newscasts at 5:00 and 6:30 p.m. (The program now airs at 6:30 p.m., the recommended Pacific Time Zone slot for the newscast.)
KIRO was also the flagship station for pre-season game broadcasts of the Seattle Seahawks from 1976 to 1980. Play-by-play announcers were Gary Justice (1976–78) and Wayne Cody (1979–85), who was also the station's sports anchor. For years, KIRO also was the flagship station for Seattle SuperSonics broadcasts, coinciding with the NBA's deal with CBS. KIRO also carried the Seattle Mariners from 1986 to 1988 as well as in 1992 and again from 1995 to 1998 as well as from 2000 to 2002. KIRO also carried the Tacoma Stars (MISL) from 1986 to 1988.
Today, the station airs Seahawks games (at least two each season) when the team hosts an AFC team at CenturyLink Field, via the NFL on CBS (it was previously the station where the majority of the team's games aired in 1976 and again from 1998 to 2001) or when the team plays on Thursday Night Football, and beginning in 2014, with the institution of the new "cross-flex" broadcast rule, any games in which they play another NFC team that are moved from Fox (KCPQ) to CBS.
KIRO had also broadcast the Albert Lee Appliance Cup H1 Unlimited hydroplane races on the culminating day of Seattle's Seafair festival. The rights also include coverage of other Seafair events, including Seattle's Fourth of July fireworks on Lake Union (which were brought under the auspices of Seafair in 2013), as well as the Torchlight Parade. In 2017, full-day coverage of the races were discontinued, marking the first time since 1951 that the races were not broadcast live, and the end of a 31-year run of live broadcasts on the station. KIRO cited the costs of producing the telecast as reasoning, and replaced the live broadcast with a 90-minute recap show aired in the evening.
KIRO-TV presently broadcasts 34½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays and 3½ hours each on Saturdays and Sundays).
In 1969, KIRO made major upgrades to its news programming, implementing the now-commonplace Eyewitness News format with chief correspondent Clif Kirk, sportscaster Ron Forsell and assistant anchor Sandy Hill, who later left KIRO to become a co-host of Good Morning America. Throughout the 1970s, KIRO was known in Seattle for hiring women in the roles of "assistant anchors" and "weather presenters", including Sandy Hill, Ann Martin, Mikki Flowers and Ann Busch. Throughout the decades, KIRO placed a high emphasis on news programming and investigative stories. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Eyewitness News team of anchors John Marler and Gary Justice, meteorologist Harry Wappler and Wayne Cody (and later joined by Susan Hutchison) overtook KING-TV for supremacy in local news.
Beginning in the 1970s, KIRO's newscasts also included op-ed segments prepared by Lloyd R. Cooney. After Cooney left the station in 1980 to pursue an unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign, the station editorials were handled by a series of commentators: KIRO, Inc. CEO and chairman Ken Hatch, followed by former Seattle City Council member John Miller (later elected as Congressman from Washington's First District) and then by former Seattle Post-Intelligencer editor Louis R. Guzzo. In 1986, KIRO debuted Point Counterpoint featuring conservative John Carlson and liberal Walt Crowley; the segment aired on what was then KIRO's most popular newscast, The Sunday Newshour with Crowley and Carlson becoming well known for their pointed and bombastic debates.
In 1990, KIRO became one of the first television stations in the United States (if not the first) to expand its weekday morning newscast into the 4:30 AM Timeslot – long before it started to become commonplace nationwide in the late 2000s and 2010s (at the time, most news-producing stations started their morning news programs at 6:00 or 6:30 a.m., with many not expanding into earlier timeslots until as early as the mid-1990s); the program eventually reverted to a 5:30 a.m. start by 1993.
By the early 1990s, the well-worn, "happy talk" format faltered and KING's newscasts had overtaken KIRO in the local news ratings. As a result, KIRO reformatted its newscasts in January 1993, with an approach unofficially known as "News Outside the Box," which was an attempt to synergize both the KIRO radio and television staffs (the "KIRO News Network") in an open newsroom that also doubled as a set for the station's broadcasts. The Seattle Symphony was commissioned to record the station's news theme and ballet instructors coached KIRO-TV anchors in the art of walking toward a moving camera while simultaneously delivering the news. The result was an unmitigated disaster; viewers quickly complained they were distracted by the moving anchors, the constant buzz of assignment editors in the background of newscasts and periodic "visits" into the KIRO radio studios. The television reporters' primary assets were lost on radio listeners, while many of the radio reporters were clearly uncomfortable on camera. The original concept also called for live airing of raw, unedited field tape, which only called attention to the importance of proper news editing. In addition, KOMO-TV and KING-TV were fighting for first place in the Seattle market.
By September 1993, the concept was scrapped for a more traditional format with a fixed anchor desk and a rebranding to KIRO NewsChannel 7 before ultimately returning to Eyewitness News (with a new graphics set and logo based on sister station WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio) when Cox purchased the station in 1997. On October 3, 2015, KIRO-TV dropped the "Eyewitness" part of their newscast titles, thus becoming simply KIRO 7 News.
Notable current on-air staff
Notable former on-air staff
- Aaron Brown – former ABC News and CNN anchor; currently anchoring at PBS and teaching journalism at Walter Cronkite School
- Wayne Cody – sports anchor
- Linda Cohn – now anchor for ESPN's SportsCenter
- Susan Hutchison – anchor (1979–2001); currently Chair of the Washington State Republican Party
- Neal Karlinsky – reporter; now with ABC News, based in Seattle
- David Kerley – anchor/reporter; now with ABC News, based in Washington, D.C.
- Ann Martin – (1969-1977); moved to KCBS-KCAL-TV in Los Angeles; retired
- Rob Mayeda – meteorologist; now at KNTV in San Jose-San Francisco
- Alison Starling – anchor/reporter; now at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.
- Jack Williams - anchor; later with WBZ-TV in Boston; retired in 2015
- Brian Wood – anchor/reporter; currently an anchor at KATU in Portland, Oregon
- Janet Wu – anchor; currently at WHDH in Boston
- Harry Wappler - meteorogist; died in 2010
KIRO is rebroadcast on the following translator stations:
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