KWCH-DT, virtual channel 12 (UHF digital channel 19), is a CBS-affiliated television station serving Wichita, Kansas, United States that is licensed to Hutchinson. The station is owned by Gray Television, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate KSCW-DT (channel 33); Gray also operates Univision affiliate KDCU-DT (channel 31) under a joint sales agreement with owner Entravision Communications Corporation. KWCH and KSCW share studio facilities and KDCU's master control operations are located on 37th Street in northeast Wichita; KWCH maintains transmitter facilities located in rural northeastern Reno County (south-southeast of Buhler).
KWCH-DT also serves as the flagship of the Kansas Broadcasting System, a statewide network of four full-power stations that relay CBS network programming and other programs provided by KWCH across central and western Kansas, as well as bordering counties in Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma. On cable, the station is available on Cox Communications and AT&T U-verse channel 12 in standard definition and in high definition on digital channel 2012 and QAM channel 114-5, and U-verse channel 1012.
The station first signed on the air on July 1, 1953 as KTVH. It is the oldest surviving television station in Kansas (the first station to sign on in the state was KCTY (channel 25) in Kansas City, which operated a transmitter in Overland Park, which signed on one month before channel 12 debuted, in June 1953 and shut down in 1954). Channel 12 originally operated from studio facilities located in Hutchinson. It has been a primary CBS affiliate since its sign-on, although the station originally also carried programming from the three other major networks of the time (NBC, ABC and the DuMont Television Network). Also in 1954, KTVH opened a satellite studio on 37th Street North in Wichita.
In 1955, the station was bought by Des Moines-based Cowles Communications. In 1956, the station boosted its signal to cover all of the Wichita metropolitan area. It also moved its main studio facilities to the former studio of KEDD, where the station remains to this day. Along with the power increase, KTVH began broadcasting CBS programming in color, becoming the first station in Wichita for the first time. KEDD did not have the capability to broadcast in color. In 1962, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that central and western Kansas were part of the Wichita market. As a result, Cowles bought KTVC (channel 6, now KBSD-DT) in Dodge City, KAYS-TV (channel 7, now KBSH-DT) in Hays and KLOE-TV (channel 10, now KBSL-DT) in Goodland and converted them into semi-satellites of KTVH. The three stations, which – along with flagship station KTVH – formed the Kansas Broadcasting System, relayed CBS programming throughout central and western Kansas.
In 1963, the station activated a new transmitter located north of Burrton (just east of Hutchinson), operating from the tallest broadcast tower in the state at 421 metres (1,381 ft). Combined with its three satellites, it boosted channel 12's signal to cover almost two-thirds of Kansas. In 1983, the Cowles family began selling off its vast media holdings. KTVH and its sister stations were sold to the Kansas Broadcasting System Corporation, owned by a pair of businessmen from Hays, Ross Beach and Bob Schmidt. The station's call letters were then changed to KWCH-TV on July 4 of that year (the KTVH call letters are now used by an NBC-affiliated station in Helena, Montana, which adopted the calls two years after channel 12's callsign switch).
In 1989, the Kansas Broadcasting System Corporation was purchased by Smith Broadcasting which included, as an owner, longtime Wichita television executive Sandy DiPasquale (who later became the CEO of Newport Television). Smith sold the station to Spartanburg, South Carolina-based Spartan Communications in 1994; Spartan merged with Media General in 2000. In 2005, KWCH received the "Large Market Television Station of the Year" award from the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. On April 6, 2006, Media General announced that it would sell KWCH, its satellites, and four other stations as a result of its purchase of four former NBC owned-and-operated-stations (WVTM-TV in Birmingham, WCMH in Columbus, WNCN in Goldsboro, North Carolina and WJAR-TV in Providence). South Bend, Indiana-based Schurz Communications eventually emerged as the winner and took over on September 25, at which time Schurz formed a new company known as "Sunflower Broadcasting, Inc.," which became the licensee for its Kansas broadcasting properties. However, KWCH still uses the same logo from the Media General era. In July 2007, KSCW became a sister station to KWCH after Schurz bought the station through a failing station waiver.
In the spring of 2010, Schurz entered into a long-term website management agreement with the Tribune Company's Tribune Interactive division. Schurz's Kansas properties were the first to launch new Tribune-run websites in late June 2010. This lasted until 2013, when Schurz began a new multi-year hosting deal with Internet Broadcasting.
On September 14, 2015, it was announced that Gray Television would acquire the Schurz stations for approximately $442.5 million. Gray already owns KAKE-TV, and will divest that station and its satellites to Lockwood Broadcast Group in order to retain KWCH. The FCC approved the sale on February 12, 2016, and the sale was completed on February 16.
KWCH operates a network of three full-power satellite stations covering central and western Kansas, branded as the Kansas Broadcasting System (KBS). It is the only commercial statewide relay network in the 70-county Wichita-Hutchinson Plus television market that exclusively maintains full-power rebroadcasters (repeaters of the Kansas State Network operated by KSNW, the Fox Kansas network operated by KSAS-TV (channel 24) and the KAKEland Television Network operated by KAKE consist of a mix of full-power satellite and low-power translator stations).
A special feed of KWCH-DT featuring local news and weather inserts, and separate advertising targeted at central Kansas is carried on Cox Communications's Salina system. KBSH was the first satellite station to shut down its analog signal on February 17, 2009; the other satellites shut down their analog signals five months later on June 12. During the 1970s, KWCH operated a translator in Arkansas City on UHF channel 70.
|First air date||Fourth letter|
|Former callsigns||Former affiliations||ERP|
|Facility ID||Transmitter Coordinates|
|KBSD-DT||Ensign/Dodge City/Garden City||6 (VHF)||July 24, 1957||Dodge City||KTVC (1957–1989)||KBSD-TV (1989–2009)||none||31 kW||219 m||66414|
|KBSH-DT||Hays/Great Bend/Salina||7 (VHF)||September 2, 1958||Hays||KAYS-TV (1958–1989)||KBSH-TV (1989–2009)||ABC (secondary)||38.8 kW||216 m||66415|
|KBSL-DT||Goodland||10 (VHF)||April 26, 1959||GoodLand||KLOE-TV (1959–1989)||KBSL-TV (1989–2009)||none||89.6 kW||299 m||66416|
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|12.1||1080i||16:9||KWCH-HD||Main KWCH programming / CBS|
|12.2||480i||4:3||KWCH-SD||Always On Storm Team 12|
KWCH operates a 24-hour local weather channel, "Always On Storm Team 12," on its second digital subchannel. The service displays an "L"-bar displaying Doppler radar imagery and regional forecasts in the top right-hand corner, forecasts for cities across the state on the bottom of the screen, and an additional radar image that appears constantly in the top left-hand corner. When applicable, school, church and business closings due to weather (usually for winter storm events) are displayed on the bottom of the screen below the city forecasts. The subchannel is carried on Cox Communications digital cable channel 675 and is streamed on the station's website.
KWCH shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, 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 relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 19 to VHF channel 12. On June 24 of that year, KWCH and satellites KBSL and KBSH changed the suffix in their callsigns from "-TV" to "-DT" to reflect the transition; KBSD-TV mad the change the following day on June 25.
After the transition, KWCH became one of four television stations that operated their digital signals on the VHF band that were granted a power increase later that month due to reception issues that the stations experienced as a result of moving their digital channel allocations from UHF to VHF. As reception problems continued even after the increase, the FCC granted KWCH special permission to swap transmitter facilities with sister station KSCW-DT. On September 29, 2009, KWCH-DT moved its digital signal back to UHF channel 19 with KSCW-DT moving its digital allocation to VHF channel 12. Because of the continued signal issues, KWCH signed on a fill-in translator on UHF channel 33 (the former analog channel assignment of sister station KSCW) in the summer of 2012, broadcasting from a transmitter in Bel Aire; the translator broadcasts KWCH's main feed on digital subchannel 12.3, the Always on Storm Team 12 weather channel on digital channel 12.4 and KSCW on digital channel 33.3. However, due to limited bandwidth, the translator transmits KWCH and KSCW's programming in standard definition.
KWCH broadcasts the entire CBS schedule, with the exception of program preemptions for breaking news or severe weather coverage. However, it currently airs the CBS Dream Team lineup in two blocks (one hour airs after the Saturday edition of Eyewitness News This Morning, the second hour airing before CBS News Sunday Morning and the third hour airing after Face the Nation on Sundays). Syndicated programs broadcast by KWCH include Dr. Phil, Ellen DeGeneres, Inside Edition and Castle
Until late 1999, KWCH maintained local rights to all of the syndicated programs produced by King World (which was merged with CBS Television Distribution in 2007). Since then, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune have moved to KSNW.
KWCH presently broadcasts 27 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours on weekdays, 3 hours on Saturday and 1½ hours on Sunday); in addition, it produces 17 hours of locally produced newscasts each week for sister station KSCW (with three hours on weekdays, a half-hour on Saturdays and 1½ hours on Sundays). Since 1985, KWCH has led the ratings among the Wichita market's local newscasts. During the May 2007 ratings period, KWCH's newscasts attracted more viewers than KAKE and KSNW combined. The station's Doppler radar system, branded on-air as "Live Storm Team 12 High Definition Super Doppler Radar" (or more commonly, "HD Super Doppler"), utilize live data from radars operated by National Weather Service located in Wichita, Goodland, Dodge City and central Wabaunsee County.
Hays satellite KBSH formerly produced separate daily newscasts through much of the late 1980s until the late 1990s, as the Kansas Broadcasting System underwent consolidation under Spartan ownership. KBSH's evening newscasts were reduced to a short insert that aired during simulcasts of KWCH's Wichita-based newscasts, until they were discontinued entirely in 2001. The two reporter/photographers stationed at KBSH's studios began relaying their stories to Wichita to be incorporated into KWCH's Eyewitness News programs that are simulcast on the station's Hays, Goodland and Ensign satellites. KBSH currently maintains a full-time anchor/reporter at a news bureau at its longtime Hall Street facility in Hays. KWCH also maintains a bureau in Salina that provides a short news and weather insert (titled "KWCH 12 Eyewitness News Salina") during the news simulcasts on KBSH and on its website. KBSD in Dodge City produced a full local newscast for many years, in addition to the KWCH simulcasts. More recently, that station's news content has been downsized to contribution reports on the Wichita-based newscasts and web content supplied through KWCH's website.
On January 19, 2004, KWCH began producing a half-hour primetime newscast at 9:00 p.m. for Fox affiliate KSAS-TV through a news share agreement. In September 2007, after its acquisition of that station, KWCH began producing a two-hour extension of its weekday morning newscast for KSCW; this later expanded on September 12, 2011, to include half-hour newscasts at 4:00 p.m. weekdays and nightly at 9:00 p.m. (with KSAS and KSCW carrying simultaneous KWCH-produced primetime newscasts until production responsibilities for the KSAS newscast were assumed by NBC affiliate KSNW in January 2012).
In April 2011, KWCH began producing a weeknight Spanish-language newscast at 10:00 p.m. for Univision-affiliated sister station KDCU-DT (channel 31); as a result, KWCH has the unusual distinction of being the only station in the United States to produce newscasts for more than one other station in the same market, in addition to its own newscasts. In October 2008, the station became the first television station in the Wichita-Hutchinson market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition, with the KSAS and KSCW broadcasts being included in the switch; weather segments were subsequently upgraded to HD in March 2009. With the upgrade, KWCH unveiled a revamped news set. KWCH began producing a Sunday morning newscast for KSCW in September 2013.