KRTV is a television station in Great Falls, Montana, broadcasting on digital channel 7 (PSIP channel 3) as an affiliate of CBS. The station is owned by Evening Post Industries. The station is part of the Evening Post's Montana Television Network, a network of Montana CBS stations. The station's studios are located on Old Havre Highway in Black Eagle, just outside Great Falls.

KRTV also operates a low-powered semi-satellite, KXLH-LD channel 9 in Helena. KXLH's schedule is similar to that of KRTV, but airs separate weeknight newscasts, ads and identifications. It also inserts local weather segments into KRTV's newscasts. It has its own studio on West Lyndale Avenue in Helena, though master control and most internal operations are based at KRTV.


KRTV began broadcast on June 27, 1958. That same day, high winds destroyed its broadcasting antenna, and the station was off the air until October 5, 1958.[2] The station was primarily an NBC affiliate with some ABC programming. When KFBB-TV took on a primary ABC affiliation in February 1966, KRTV started carrying CBS programming; it replaced KFBB as part of the Skyline Network (now the MTN). Over the next ten years KRTV gradually phased in more CBS programming. By the summer of 1969, CBS programming exceeded that of NBC, which meant that KRTV was now a primary affiliate of CBS-and still is. The station became a full-time CBS affiliate in 1976, when KTCM (now KTVH in Helena) expanded its coverage to become (until 1986) the default NBC affiliate in a large part of Montana, including Great Falls.

In 2005, KRTV took over the operations of KXLH in Helena, which had previously been a semi-satellite of KXLF-TV in Butte. In 2010, KXLH began airing separate weeknight newscasts at 5:30 and 10 p.m. newscast, with a separate anchor. KXLH was previously known as KXLH-LP channel 25—the station would later flash cut and relocate to channel 9 in 2010.

KRTV offers The CW on its digital signal and is known as Great Falls CW. The subchannel is not seen on KXLH, as the CW affiliate in Helena is a subchannel of KTVH-DT (until 2015, CW programming in Helena was seen on KMTF).

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[3]
3.11080i16:9KRTV-DTMain KRTV programming / CBS
3.2480i4:3KRTV-CWGreat Falls CW

Analog-to-digital conversion

KRTV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, 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 remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 7.[34] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 3.

Emergency Alert System intrusion

On February 11, 2013, at approximately 2:33 PM MST, an unknown hacker reportedly gained access to the station's Emergency Alert System, and sent out a Local Area Emergency over the main signal, as well as the CW subchannel, explaining in a pitch-altered voice that "dead bodies are rising from the graves and attacking the living" and that the bodies were considered "extremely dangerous", apparently referencing The Walking Dead. The voice also asked viewers to tune to 920 AM for further information after the station ended operations (no station exists on 920 AM in the Great Falls market).[18] [6] Within minutes, station staff informed the public of the system intrusion and that there was no emergency.[48] [8]

A similar, possibly related hacking occurred later on the night of February 11 on WNMU and WBUP in Marquette, Michigan.[9] [10] [2]

On the morning on February 12, DJs from WIZM-FM in LaCrosse, Wisconsin were discussing the KRTV EAS intrusion. As part of the segment, they aired a clip of the actual EAS intrusion (including the tones), which triggered not only the radio station's EAS, but also that of their sister TV station, WKBT-TV, which resulted in the same message being seen to viewers of WKBT.[2]

Notable former on-air staff

  • Norma Ashby - 26-year career with KRTV
  • Fred Pfeiffer -15 year career with KRTV, longest continuous weatherman with the station
  • Nick Miller - Weekend weather forecaster from 1999 to 2003, now working as BBC Weather forecaster


Call sign history

The KRTV callsign was originally used for a UHF station on Channel 17 in Little Rock, Arkansas, affiliated with both CBS and NBC, that was Arkansas' first TV station when it signed on in 1953. However, it went off the air a year later as VHF stations KARK-TV and KTHV were preparing to take its network affiliations. The local ABC affiliate, KATV (previously of Pine Bluff), then moved to Little Rock and took over its studio until it burned down in 1957.

Coincidentally, KRTV isn't the only station in Great Falls whose callsign was once used in Arkansas; its competitor KLMN bears the original call letters of Fort Smith station KFTA-TV.