KOBI, virtual and VHF digital channel 5, is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Medford, Oregon, United States. The station's owner, California Oregon Broadcasting, Inc., is the longest continuously independent broadcast group in the Western United States and one of the three oldest in the country. KOBI's studios are located on South Fir Street in downtown Medford, and its transmitter is located atop King Mountain, 28 miles (45 km) northwest of the city.
KOBI also operates a satellite station in Klamath Falls, KOTI (channel 2), as well as a large network of translators. Together, the two stations serve 12 mostly rural counties in southern Oregon and northern California.
It was founded on August 1, 1953 by Bill Smullin, a 20-year veteran of the television industry. The station's call letters were originally KBES-TV (BESt TV), and it carried programming from all four major networks. However, for its first 25 years, it was primarily a CBS affiliate. It was the second television station in Oregon, following KPTV in Portland by eleven months, and the first on the VHF band.
Smullin soon realized that KBES' signal was not strong enough to cover all of southern Oregon, which the FCC had ruled was part of the Medford market. Fortunately, he was able to buy the license for channel 2 in Klamath Falls, and KOTI debuted on August 12, 1956.
In 1962, Smullin changed the call letters to KTVM. When channel 10 was allocated to Medford, Smullin helped the owners of KMED-AM get the license, as well as space on his transmitter on Blackwell Hill. Partly because of his help, KMED-TV (channel 10, now KTVL) signed on in 1961. In 1968, KTVM moved to a powerful transmitter on King Mountain and changed its calls to the current KOBI.
By 1978, KOBI had become a primary ABC affiliate, which by then had become the top network. However, they continued to carry some CBS programs (such as the CBS Evening News and several daytime shows). In 1983, KOBI picked up NBC from KTVL, which switched to CBS. It carried a few ABC programs for another year until KDRV (channel 12) signed on.
For many years, KOBI branded itself as "Channel 5M," with a logo showing a "5" on an interstate highway sign, reflecting the interstate that goes through the Medford area, Interstate 5. The interstate sign motif was later extended to KOTI and KRCR. KOBI rebranded itself as "The News Channel" in 1998 and as "NBC 5" in 2004, but the highway sign remains today.
KOBI has brought many firsts to Southern Oregon and Northern California. It was the first station in Medford to offer local color programming, the first station to operate in stereo, the first Medford station to employ electronic news-gathering technology, and was the first Medford station with statewide microwave news coverage.
Bill Smullin retired in 1985 and was succeeded by his daughter, Patricia C. "Patsy" Smullin, who serves as owner and president today.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|5.1||1080i||16:9||KOBI-HD||Main KOBI programming / NBC|
KOBI shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 5, on February 17, 2009, the original target date on 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 15 to VHF channel 5 for post-transition operations.
During the 1980s, KOBI broadcast a popular interactive game show called Jackpot Bingo, hosted by Tom Carnes. The show aired before Days of Our Lives and took after the popular Dialing for Dollars format. Jackpot Bingo gave contestants the opportunity to win up to $5,000 in cash by playing blackout bingo. However, contestants usually won the minimum $200 prize. Carnes was replaced by Sally Holliday in 1987 and the show was renamed $10,000 Jackpot Bingo as the prize money doubled. Still, contestants usually won $200. The show garnered the highest ratings for its time slot, although it was cancelled in 1988.
Twenty high schools from Southern Oregon and Northern California participate in the Academic Challenge. Each school brings in a team of five students, four participating and one alternate, who answer a series of questions from the host, NBC 5 Chief Meteorologist Jeff Heaton, on topics such as history, math, literature, current events and a variety of other categories.
At the end of this double-elimination competition the final two teams will split the scholarship money, 60% to the championship team, 40% to the second-place team.
The idea for Academic Challenge started at KRCR-TV in Redding in 1998 and was hosted by Gary Gunter from 1998 to 2005, then Tim Mapes from then on. NBC 5's newly hired general manager Bob Wise brought the identically formatted program to southern Oregon in 2005.
Southern Oregon Meth Project
In 2005, KOBI started a special program called the Southern Oregon Meth Project to educate viewers and concerned citizens about the dangers of methamphetamine and what can be done to prevent it. The project was headed up by KOBI's lead news anchor Christina Anderson, where she remained until her departure for KOVR in Sacramento in 2010. Information can be found at .
KOBI is rebroadcast on the following network of translator stations. Some channels that are currently broadcasting are not listed in the FCC database:
- Channel 32 Medford (Digital)