KNXV-TV, virtual and UHF digital channel 15, is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company. KNXV maintains studio facilities located on the city's east side (north of Sky Harbor International Airport), and its transmitter is located atop South Mountain on the city's south side. Its signal is relayed across northern Arizona through a network of 15 low-power translators.
In February 1975, pioneering UHF broadcaster Edwin Cooperstein announced that the Federal Communications Commission had granted a construction permit to his company, New Television Corp., to build a television station in Phoenix on UHF channel 15. It was expected to begin broadcasting within a year and was intended to place a heavy emphasis on news programming, airing three 90-minute newscasts at different times between 4 p.m. to midnight. Plans were soon delayed by the inability to secure financing in a difficult economy, and by the end of 1976, the station still had not been built. Finally on September 9, 1979, more than four-and-a-half years after the construction permit was granted, KNXV-TV signed on the air. Its programming originally consisted of first-run and off-network syndicated shows, and children's programs during the day, with the subscription television service ONTV being broadcast during the nighttime hours. One of the station's most memorable early promotions was the "Bluebird of Happy News," with the voice of Elroy "Buzz" Towers (who was voiced by an early station master control/videotape operator) in a helicopter taking jabs at local news on other stations.
ON-TV lasted a few years, until cable television began to prosper across the Phoenix area. KNXV eventually became a full-time general entertainment independent station, and ran a number of cartoons, older off-network sitcoms, classic movies and drama series. The station pulled in mediocre ratings, and lagged behind longtime independent station KPHO-TV (channel 5). Despite this, Cooperstein was able to sell the station to the E. W. Scripps Company in late 1984, with the sale being finalized in 1985.
Under Scripps, KNXV began to purchase more recent sitcoms, often outbidding KPHO for strong shows. The station also became the over-the-air broadcaster of the NBA's Phoenix Suns; it lost the rights to televise the team's games to KUTP (channel 45) in 1988. After KPHO turned down an offer to affiliate with the fledgling Fox network, it approached KNXV. After Scripps promised to launch a news department, KNXV joined Fox at the network's inception on October 6, 1986, with the first Fox program airing on the station being the late night talk show The Late Show, hosted by Joan Rivers. KNXV kicked promoted its new affiliation with a campaign centered around the slogan "Light Up The Night with Late Night Fireworks". Also in 1986, KNXV began producing Friday Night at the Frights starring "Edmus Scarey" (portrayed by Ed Muscare), a series of decidedly campy B-movie wraparounds. Ed Muscare had previously hosted shows for KNXV sister station KSHB-TV in Kansas City. Stuart Powell, general manager of KNXV in the late 1980s, coaxed Muscare out of retirement. By 1990, KNXV nearly tied KPHO in the ratings, even though the station still produced no local newscasts.
On May 22, 1994, New World Communications signed a long-term groupwide affiliation agreement with Fox that would result in longtime CBS affiliate KSAZ-TV (channel 10, which New World was in the process of acquiring from Citicasters) becoming the Phoenix area's new Fox affiliate. The CBS affiliation, in turn, moved to KPHO, leaving KNXV without an affiliation and the likelihood of reverting into an independent, prompting Scripps to negotiate an affiliation agreement with ABC. In order for Scripps to keep ABC on its two largest stations, WXYZ-TV in Detroit and WEWS-TV in Cleveland, ABC agreed to affiliate with KNXV, NBC station WMAR-TV in Baltimore and Fox affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa (Scripps flagship WCPO-TV in Cincinnati was also involved in the deal, but had to wait for ABC's affiliation contract with WKRC-TV to expire in June 1996 to switch). Locally, this resulted in the displacement of ABC from longtime affiliate KTVK (channel 3). As a condition of the deal, KNXV agreed to produce the same amount of local news programming as KTVK had been producing as an ABC affiliate. KNXV also agreed to not preempt any ABC programming, outside of coverage of breaking news events.
ABC's affiliation agreement with KTVK did not expire until December 31, 1994; however, KTVK had already begun to drop ABC shows from its schedule, unhappy about losing its affiliation with the network after 41 years. As a result, ABC's programming migrated to KNXV in stages, and the station carried programming from both ABC and Fox for a while, with ABC as a temporary secondary affiliation. Good Morning America was the first ABC program to move to KNXV, following the first round of changes at the end of August 1994. KNXV then picked up Mike and Maty, World News Now, Nightline and ABC's Saturday morning cartoons when the station officially dropped its Fox affiliation on December 15. The rest of ABC's programming moved to KNXV on January 9, 1995. KNXV kept about one-third of its syndicated programming, with the rest moving to other area stations.
KNXV carried the majority of the Arizona Cardinals' NFL games that were not subjected to blackouts in the meantime, until those games returned to KSAZ in December 1994. The Cardinals were part of the National Football Conference, which aired their games on CBS until the end of the 1993 season, before moving the following year to Fox – whose acquisition of the NFC television package from CBS was a major catalyst of Fox's deal with New World. After becoming a full-time ABC affiliate, KNXV was limited to airing the Cardinals' games on Monday Night Football – the first of which would be in 1995: a Christmas Day contest in Tempe against the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Dallas Cowboys (the Cowboys won 37–13 to clinch home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs; coincidentally, the Super Bowl was also played in Tempe).
Over the years, KNXV has added more first-run syndicated shows, such as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!. KNXV has since become the home of preseason games for the Arizona Cardinals. Today, KNXV is a typical ABC affiliate, producing a decent amount of local news programming, and clearing nearly all of the network's programs in their intended time slots. However, KNXV has been one of ABC's weakest affiliates since the 1994 switch. In stark contrast, KTVK dominated the ratings when it was affiliated with ABC.
Since ABC lost NFL rights in 2006, the Cardinals' preseason games have been the only NFL games to be broadcast on KNXV. The Cardinals' regular season games as well as any playoff games that the team appears in are split between KPHO-TV (through CBS), KSAZ-TV (through Fox), KPNX (channel 12, through NBC) and KTVK (through its over-the-air carriage of games televised by NFL Network and ESPN).
During the 2007 Little League World Series, KNXV's rights to the Cardinals caused a conflict with ABC's coverage of one of the preliminary-round games. The plan was to move the baseball game to ESPN, thereby interrupting the national feed on Cox Communications and other cable providers in the market. Those getting KNXV by way of satellite would watch the baseball game on an alternate channel. Meanwhile, KNXV would air a preseason game between the Cardinals and the Houston Texans at 1 p.m. that day. KNXV would then rebroadcast the LLWS game on tape delay at about 4:30 p.m. that afternoon.
On July 27, 2007, two news helicopters leased to KNXV and KTVK collided while covering a police pursuit in downtown Phoenix. All four people on both helicopters were killed, including KNXV pilot Craig Smith and photographer Rick Krolak.
Prior to the 2009 digital transition that resulted in many stations historically broadcasting on the VHF band moving their channel assignments to UHF, KNXV was ABC's largest affiliate on the UHF band (it remains the largest affiliate to broadcast with a virtual channel number higher than 13.1).
KNXV-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 15, at 12:01 a.m. 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. At 2 a.m. on that date, the station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 56, 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 UHF channel 15.
In 2011, KNXV digital subchannel 15.2 began carrying the Live Well Network. The station changed the subchannel's affiliation on 15.2 to the classic television network Antenna TV on January 1, 2014. Subchannel 15.3 was added with the launch of Laff on April 15, 2015.
On April 1, 2015, Scripps acquired Journal Communications, owners of its two nearby ABC affiliates, Las Vegas' ABC affiliate KTNV-TV (channel 13) and Tucson ABC station KGUN-TV (channel 9), becoming sister stations to KNXV. Outside of the small corner of southwest Arizona covered by KECY-DT2 from El Centro, California, this effectively gives E.W. Scripps a monopoly on ABC programming throughout the state of Arizona. (Before KECY-DT2 became an ABC affiliate on January 1, 2007, that area's ABC programming was served by KNXV and eventual Scripps sister station KGTV (channel 10) in San Diego.)
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|15.1||720p||16:9||ABC15HD||Main KNXV-TV programming / ABC|
In addition to clearing ABC network programming, syndicated programming featured on KNXV-TV includes Access Hollywood, Access Hollywood Live, Made in Hollywood and Private Practice. KNXV was the third station in the Phoenix market to air Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune: the two shows were first seen on KSAZ-TV from 1983/1984 to 1994, then on KTVK from 1994 to 2003. Both shows were dropped by KNXV and other Scripps stations on September 17, 2012 as part of a corporate edict to reduce costs, and were replaced with programs produced by the company, Let's Ask America and The List, that would initially be syndicated exclusively to the group's stations.
- Sonoran Living Live, ABC15's long running lifestyle program, is broadcast each weekday at 9 a.m. on ABC15 or streaming online at ABC15.com and hosted by Stephanie Sandoval who was joined by Terri Ouellette on August 13, 2012. Sandoval was eventually replaced by Susan Casper. Sonoran Living was rebroadcast at 1 p.m. on 15.2 at the launch of the Live Well Network on September 1, 2011.
- The Now Arizona is a part news and part lifestyle show launched on August 25, 2014, broadcast at 4PM weekdays; initially hosted by Yetta Gibson, it is currently anchored by Katie Raml and Fay Fredricks. The show is based on a Scripps programming format, "The NOW", that includes a nationwide host.
KNXV-TV presently broadcasts 35 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, 4½ hours on Saturdays and three hours on Sundays). KNXV is one of ten television stations that air consumer reports from John Matarese of fellow ABC affiliate (and Scripps sister station) WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.
At the time that KNXV had been named Phoenix's new ABC affiliate in 1994, the station already had been building a news department under General Manager Raymond Hunt. Plans for KNXV's new newscast, originally built to match the Fox feel, included a futuristic purple set and liberal use of special effects. After ABC came to KNXV, the style was toned down, though the set remained. The station's newscasts formally debuted on August 1, 1994, under the News 15 brand name with an 85-person news staff (larger than the 30 that the news department was originally planned to have). By September 1995, KNXV was airing daily newscasts at 6 and 11 a.m. in the morning, and evenings at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. During this time, the news department was being led by Susan Sullivan, who created an environment focused on enterprise and investigative reporting that was considered a "utopia". KNXV promptly became a force to be reckoned with in the ratings, where it scrapped with KTVK for second place at 10 p.m.; in placing second in regional Emmy nominations in 1995 (even though their newscast had only been on five months the year before) and dominating in 1996; and in using its aggressive style to draw attention. Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley pursued the station, asking it to turn over child pornography video tapes it had acquired during an investigation. KTVK's vice president of news, Phil Alvidrez, said of the upstart KNXV, "If they hadn't been an ABC affiliate, they would have been considered an incredible success."
In September 1996, Michael Kronley was installed as station manager from Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC-TV, and he began to traditionalize the edgy newscast format. The investigative reports were discontinued, replaced by more live shots, as morale sank rapidly. Staffers were forced out, and the station acquired a helicopter; viewership for the 10 p.m. newscast sank to fourth place, even losing to KPHO, whose 10 p.m. news at the time ran for five minutes and was followed by an episode of Seinfeld. The next year, KNXV rebranded, with a new slogan, "We Won't Waste Your Time". In 2006, KNXV debuted the first 4 p.m. newscast in the Phoenix market, which replaced a rerun of Jeopardy! in the timeslot.
In June 2007, KNXV became the third television station in the Phoenix market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. In 2009, KNXV began training its staff of photojournalists and reporters to take on the role of a multimedia journalist, this is commonly referred to in the industry as a "one man band" operation. Employees in this classification generate story ideas, shoot, edit, write and publish the content.
On April 1, 2009, the E. W. Scripps Company and Fox Television Stations announced the formation of the Local News Service model between stations owned by the two station groups in the Phoenix, Detroit and Tampa markets. The service allows the pooling of news-gathering efforts for local news events and each station provides employees to the pool service in exchange for the sharing of video. Meredith Corporation-owned CBS affiliate KPHO-TV eventually joined the Phoenix LNS agreement shortly after the announcement.
On July 9, 2012, KNXV launched an hour-long midday newscast weekdays at 11 a.m.
On January 19, 2013, KNXV debuted weekend morning newscasts, airing from 5 to 7 a.m. with an additional hour running on Saturdays only from 8 to 9 a.m.
On July 7, 2014, KNXV extended its 6 p.m. newscast from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, making it "the only hour-long weekday local newscast" in the Phoenix market. On August 25 of that same year, KNXV reformatted its 4 p.m. newscast into The NOW Arizona (see above).
Notable former on-air staff
- Lisa Fletcher – anchor (2002–2007; then a national correspondent for ABC News, now an anchor for Al Jazeera America)
- Lori Jane Gliha – weekend anchor/reporter (won numerous Emmy awards as an investigative reporter; now a national correspondent for Al Jazeera America in Washington D.C.)