KOAA-TV, virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 42), is an NBC-affiliated television station serving southern Colorado, licensed to Pueblo; the station is owned by Cordillera Communications, a subsidiary of Evening Post Industries. The station broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 42; it also operates a digital translator, K30JM-D channel 30, in Colorado Springs. The station's main offices and news studio are located on 7th Avenue in Pueblo, with a satellite studio in the Tech Center office complex in Colorado Springs.
The station signed on for the first time on June 30, 1953 as KCSJ-TV, owned by the Star-Chieftain Publishing Corporation, owners of Pueblo's two major newspapers, the morning Pueblo Chieftain and evening Pueblo Star-Journal, along with KCSJ-AM. It is Colorado's second-oldest station outside of Denver.
During the 1950s, KCSJ-TV was one of two full-time NBC affiliates serving Southern Colorado - the other being KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, about 40 miles to the north. In 1960, the Federal Communications Commission collapsed all of southern Colorado into a single television market. At this point, KCSJ-TV became the area's sole NBC affiliate with KRDO-TV switching to ABC.
In 1961, Star-Chieftain sold KCSJ-TV to Metropolitan Broadcasting, owners of KOA-AM-FM-TV in Denver. KCSJ-TV then became KOAA-TV, but remained a free-standing station programmed separately from Denver's KOA-TV. The two stations did, however, occasionally do cross-promotion, and both were NBC affiliates. With much wealthier ownership, KOAA was able to add videotape in 1962. In 1967, it became the first television station in Southern Colorado to broadcast local programming in color.
KOAA floundered through the early and mid-1970s largely because of reception problems in the northern part of the market. Channel 5 had to conform its signal to protect KGWN-TV in Cheyenne. As a result, while most of Colorado Springs received the channel 5 signal very well, it was barely viewable in northern Colorado Springs and that city's northern suburbs because of the area's rugged terrain. Most viewers in the northern portion of the market couldn't get a clear signal from KOAA until cable arrived in the market in the 1970s. This posed a problem for KOAA, as the Colorado Springs area began an unprecedented period of growth that continues to this day while Pueblo remained relatively unchanged. KOAA passed through several non-broadcast owners during this time, leading the station to lose its prestige and become less profitable.
Things didn't really turn around until 1977, when the Evening Post Publishing Company of Charleston, South Carolina bought the station and brought in former ABC executive John Gilbert as general manager. Evening Post still operates the station today through its broadcasting arm, Cordillera Communications. Soon after Gilbert's arrival, KOAA opened a studio and sales office in Colorado Springs and steadily beefed up its news operation. In 1980, KOAA signed on K30AA, a 132,500-watt translator on channel 30 in Colorado Springs, bringing a clear signal to the northern part of that city for the first time ever. For the next three decades, it branded itself as "5/30" (denoting both the main and Colorado Springs translator channels). It was also during this time that KOAA adopted the Eyewitness News format that was popular with TV stations nationwide during the 1970s and 1980s.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|5.1||1080i||16:9||KOAA-HD||Main KOAA-TV programming / NBC|
KOAA-TV activated its digital television signal on channel 42 (virtual channel 5.1) on August 1, 2006. It has the capability to broadcast in Dolby 5.1 surround sound. It began broadcasting NewsFirst NOW (originally named WeatherFirst NOW at launch in 2004) as a digital subchannel (5.2) after only having it on local cable systems earlier. On September 15, 2015, the subchannel became an affiliate of WeatherNation TV, while retaining the News 5 NOW name.
KOAA-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 5, 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 42. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 5.
Starting in 2001, KOAA used the NewsFirst 5/30 name for its morning and midday newscasts but continued to use the Eyewitness News brand for all other dayparts until February 8, 2002 (the first day of the 2002 Winter Olympics). On that date, the station adopted the News First brand for all of its newscasts.
In 2009 the branding was changed to NewsFirst 5, acknowledging that with K30AA's transition to digital K30JM-D, the station it could also identify via PSIP as Channel 5 throughout the market. The name was modified slightly to "News 5" in 2011. The station operates a News 5 Now channel on its second subchannel which is carried by the cable systems in both Colorado Springs and Pueblo, and includes news updates along with real-time weather forecasts and conditions. KOAA used to have newscasts at 4 and 9 p.m. on News 5 Now, but it would later cancel the 4 p.m. newscast and reduced the 9 p.m. newscast to 10 minutes. Eventually the 9 p.m. newscast was canceled altogether.
On February 18, 2010, KOAA-TV became the third station in the Colorado Springs-Pueblo market to broadcast its newscasts in true high definition and 16:9 widescreen, beginning with its midday newscast; only one other station in the market is High Definition during newscasts, and the other television stations are just lower resolution 16:9 widescreen during newscasts.
In addition to K30JM-D in Colorado Springs, the station also has the following repeater stations throughout the state of Colorado.
KOAA have a construction permit for a digital fill-in translator in Woodland Park, CO on channel 47. At this time, no word on when the repeater will become operational.