|Los Angeles, California|
|Channels||Digital: 9 (VHF)|
Virtual: 9 (PSIP)
|Slogan||Always On (general)|
Live, Local, Late Breaking (newscasts)
|Owner||CBS Television Stations|
(a subsidiary of ViacomCBS)
(Los Angeles Television Station KCAL LLC)
First air date
|August 25, 1948 (72 years ago)|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
9 (VHF, 1948-2009)
43 (UHF, 2001-2009)
Call sign meaning
|HAAT||977 m (3,205 ft)|
Public license information
KCAL-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 9, is an independent television station licensed to Los Angeles, California, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of ViacomCBS, as part of a duopoly with CBS owned-and-operated station and West Coast flagship KCBS-TV (channel 2). The two stations share studios at the CBS Studio Center on Radford Avenue in the Studio City section of Los Angeles; KCAL-TV's transmitter is located atop Mount Wilson. There is no separate website for KCAL-TV; instead, it is integrated with that of sister station KCBS-TV.
Channel 9 signed on the air as commercial station KFI-TV on August 25, 1948, owned by Earle C. Anthony alongside KFI radio (640 AM). However, the station was originally licensed as experimental W6XEA about 1940 and in 1944, applied for the call letters KSEE (which are now used by the NBC affiliate in Fresno, California). It is unknown whether any transmissions occurred under either call sign. The station initially broadcast a limited schedule with six hours weekly, and formally began operations on October 6, 1948, with 3½ hours that day. Though KFI had long been affiliated with NBC Radio, KFI-TV did not affiliate with the then-upstart NBC Television Network as it was building its own station, KNBH (channel 4, now KNBC), which went on the air in January 1949; KFI general manager William B. Ryan indicated a willingness to affiliate with a network other than NBC or starting a mutual regional network. Channel 9 has been an independent station for virtually its entire history, though it carried DuMont programming from 1954 up until the network's 1956 demise.
Channel 9's engineers threatened to go on strike in 1951, leading Anthony to sell the station to the General Tire and Rubber Company in August of that year. A few months earlier, General Tire had purchased the Don Lee Broadcasting System, a regional West Coast radio network (the original Don Lee television station, KTSL channel 2, was sold separately to CBS). Don Lee's flagship station was KHJ radio (930 AM), and General Tire changed its new television station's call letters to KHJ-TV in September 1951. One former employee referred to the call letters as standing for "kindness, happiness and joy," although the call sign was likely randomly assigned. The Don Lee name was so well respected in California broadcasting that KHJ-TV called itself "Don Lee Television" for a few years in the early 1950s, even though it had never been affiliated with KHJ radio until the 1951 deal.
In 1955, General Tire purchased RKO Radio Pictures, giving the company's television station group access to RKO's film library, and in 1959, General Tire's broadcasting and film divisions were renamed as RKO General.
By the mid-1960s, channel 9 offered a standard independent schedule of movies, off-network reruns, children's shows like The Pancake Man hosted by Hal Smith (who showed educational shorts like The Space Explorers), first-run syndicated programs, and locally produced programs including local newscasts, sports events and public affairs programs. In the late 1960s, KHJ embarked on a novel, groundbreaking (and inexpensive) experiment, called Tempo, which heavily borrowed from the talk radio craze on local radio stations. Daytime programming was divided into three blocks running three hours in length, called Tempo I, Tempo II and Tempo III. The second of the three programs, Tempo II was perhaps the most active, controversial and innovative. For the first couple of years the hosts were Stan Bohrman and Maria Cole (the wife of Nat King Cole). Guests ranged from William F. Buckley to Sammy Davis, Jr. and the political movers and shakers in Southern California. At one point, Stan even quit the program after what he called censorship on the topic of Eldridge Cleaver. Bohrman came back to the program and was joined by a new co-host, Regis Philbin. They became a very popular fixture in Los Angeles television. In fact, in his book about those days, Philbin credits the chemistry with Bohrman and the format of the program as forerunners of much of what would become the cable news format 20 years later.
In the early 1970s, KHJ-TV sought a similar programming strategy to that of crosstown competitor KTLA (channel 5), which focused more on talk shows, game shows, sports, feature films and off-network drama series. The cartoons were phased out (some of them moving to KTTV and KCOP-TV), and the station ran fewer off-network sitcoms. It did continue to have a weekday children's show called Froozles, which ran until the late 1980s. It also produced many half-hour public affairs programs, as well as a local talk show called Mid-Morning L.A. The first hosts were Kathy McKee and Sandy Baron on the Mid Day and Good Morning L.A. talk shows. Both were hired by KHJ's then-station manager Lional Schaen. Bob Hilton, Meredith MacRae, Geoff Edwards and Regis Philbin also hosted programs on the station well into the 1980s. Edwards and MacRae won Emmy Awards for their hosting duties during the early 1980s. Some other locally produced public affairs programs included the investigative show Camera 9 and The Changing Family, a program about family and social issues during the 1980s. Despite this, KHJ-TV was perceived as an also ran while KTLA was the leading independent station, even though it had a similar format.
Meanwhile, a behind-the-scenes battle was underway with serious implications on the station's future--and that of its owner. In 1965, RKO General faced a threat to its license for KHJ-TV from a group called Fidelity Television. At first, Fidelity's claim focused on channel 9's programming quality. Later, Fidelity levied a more serious claim that KHJ-TV was involved in reciprocal trade practices. Fidelity alleged that RKO's parent company, General Tire, forced its retailers to purchase advertising on KHJ-TV and other RKO-owned stations as a condition of their contracts with General Tire. An administrative law judge found in favor of Fidelity, but RKO appealed. In 1972, the FCC allowed RKO to keep the license for KHJ-TV, but two years later conditioned future renewals on the renewal of sister station WNAC-TV (now WHDH) in Boston.
Six years later, the FCC stripped WNAC-TV of its license for numerous reasons, but largely because RKO had misled the commission about corporate misconduct at General Tire, the decision was affirmed after the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal on April 1982. RKO General sold off all of WNAC-TV's assets to the group the FCC had rewarded a replacement license for, which launched WNEV-TV (now WHDH-TV) in place of WNAC-TV that May 21. The decision for WNAC-TV also meant KHJ-TV and sister station WOR-TV in New York City had lost their licenses, but an appeals court ruled that the FCC erred when it tied channel 9's renewal to that of WNAC-TV and ordered new hearings for KHJ-TV and WOR-TV.
The hearings dragged on until 1987; as a result of this, the station was forced to air an unusually large amount of public-affairs programming; a combination of this and the station's cash reserves being drained by RKO's legal battling led to decreased ratings (and the station's perception as an "also-ran"). That August 11, FCC administrative law judge Edward Kuhlmann found the company unfit to be a broadcast licensee due to numerous cases of dishonesty by RKO General and Gencorp (the renamed General Tire), including fraudulent billing and lying about its ratings, and ruled that all of RKO General's broadcast licenses be denied renewal. This ruling notably excluded WOR-TV, which had already been divested to MCA Inc. nine months prior, and was renamed WWOR-TV. Gencorp initially filed an appeal, but it was quickly withdrawn after the FCC stated that any appeal would be denied outright, and that the group would be directed to divest all of their properties so as to avoid the indignity of additional license stripping without any compensation.
In the midst of RKO's corporate issues, the company reached terms to sell KHJ-TV to Westinghouse Broadcasting in November 1985. But the protracted legal issues delayed FCC action on the transfer and Westinghouse ultimately withdrew its offer. A short time later, RKO General agreed to sell the station to The Walt Disney Company; however, this transfer was also held up for over a year for the same reasons. Fidelity Television, the group that originally challenged the license in 1965, also argued against the sale. In July 1988, the FCC allowed the transfer in a complicated settlement deal: the station's license was awarded to Fidelity, with Disney then eventually purchasing the license from Fidelity and KHJ-TV's intellectual property and physical assets from RKO. The final purchase price was $324 million. As a result of the sale, KHJ-TV's entire management team, including longtime KHJ-TV general manager Charles Velona, was dismissed. During the RKO/Fidelity/Disney transition, KHJ-TV's community of license was changed to the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk, also as part of the FCC settlement; it was moved back to Los Angeles proper on October 28, 1991.
Even though Channel 9's longtime radio sisters had changed their calls to KRTH some years before (although the AM station has since gone back to the KHJ callsign), Disney wanted to make a clean start. Accordingly, the company changed the station's callsign to KCAL-TV on December 2, 1989, and initially branded the station as "California 9", before it became known as "K-CAL 9" in 1995. The station also continued to overhaul its format in the wake of its ownership change, adding a three-hour primetime newscast on March 5, 1990 featuring veteran newscasters Jerry Dunphy, Pat Harvey, Larry Carroll and Jane Velez-Mitchell. KCAL also added many more children's programs, including cartoons from the Walt Disney animation library (including the syndicated series DuckTales and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, and later The Disney Afternoon). The station also added a few more family-oriented off-network sitcoms and syndicated programs and then broadcast the popular anime series Sailor Moon, that lasted well into 1997. In the early 1990s, family sitcoms were gradually phased out and KCAL added more first-run syndicated talk, reality and court shows, as well as newsmagazine series.
On March 30, 1992, Disney agreed to sell KCAL-TV's license to Pinelands, Inc., then the parent company of channel 9's former New York City sister station, now called WWOR-TV. Disney would have received a 45% ownership stake in Pinelands, allowing for increased original programming to be shared between the two reunited stations. The planned merger never materialized; Pineland would agree to sell WWOR-TV to Chris-Craft Industries, then-parent of KCOP (channel 13).
In 1996, The Walt Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ABC, owners of KABC-TV (channel 7). Due to FCC regulations at the time that barred the ownership of two television stations in the same media market, Disney purchased KABC-TV and chose to divest KCAL, which was purchased by Young Broadcasting (which Disney owned a stake in at the time) on May 14, 1996, for $385 million. The afternoon children's program block would remain until 1999, when KCOP began airing a block of animated series that UPN contracted Disney to produce. By 2000, children's programs that aired during the morning hours were dropped as well under the ownership of Young Broadcasting.
As a result of a massive debt load that the company had accrued from its 2000 purchase of its San Francisco station, KRON-TV (which lost its NBC affiliation in January 2002 due to a dispute between Young and the network), Young Broadcasting put KCAL up for sale in 2002. The station was purchased by CBS, then a subsidiary of Viacom, on February 14, 2002; the deal was finalized on June 1, 2002. KCAL's operations were merged with those of KCBS-TV, and channel 9 moved from its longtime headquarters at the Viacom-owned Paramount Studios on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood to CBS Columbia Square, located one mile (1.6 km) north of the studio lot. The sale reunited the station with fellow former RKO General property KRTH-FM, which CBS had acquired in 1997. The properties were split again when CBS spun off its radio division to Entercom in 2017.
When CBS/Viacom bought KCAL-TV, broadcasting industry observers speculated that UPN's programming would move to KCAL from KCOP-TV. KCOP's previous owners, Chris-Craft Industries, had co-founded UPN with Viacom in 1995, and owned 50% of the network before selling its stake in UPN to Viacom in 2000. Fox Television Stations purchased KCOP and most of Chris-Craft's UPN stations in 2001. However, CBS continued to operate channel 9 as an independent station, as Fox renewed its affiliation agreement for its UPN affiliates; it is widely believed that Fox used KCOP as leverage to keep UPN on Fox-owned stations in New York City (WWOR-TV, KCAL's former sister station) and Chicago (WPWR-TV), threatening to drop the network in those markets should Viacom move the UPN affiliation in Los Angeles to KCAL. This issue became moot with the January 2006 announcement of the merger of UPN and The WB into The CW Television Network. The new network launched on September 18, 2006, with former WB affiliate KTLA as its Los Angeles outlet, due to an affiliation agreement with owner Tribune Broadcasting that resulted in 16 of Tribune's WB affiliates joining the network. KCAL-TV remains an independent station, and is currently one of three such stations owned by CBS (the others are KTXA in Dallas-Fort Worth and WLNY-TV in the New York City area).
On April 21, 2007, KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV moved from Columbia Square to an all-digital facility at the CBS Studio Center in Studio City. The move allowed both stations to begin broadcasting all locally produced programs in high definition, and in addition, the two stations operate in a completely tapeless newsroom. This newsroom is named in honor newscaster Jerry Dunphy, who worked at both stations during his career. With the move to Studio City and KCET's later move to Burbank, KTLA is currently the only remaining station in Los Angeles (either in radio or television) whose studios are operated out of Hollywood.
KCAL-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, at 1:10 p.m. on June 12, 2009, and converted its broadcasts exclusively to digital television as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 43 to VHF channel 9. Sister station KCBS-TV took over the channel 43 allocation as it moved its digital signal from channel 60 as a result of the phaseout of channels 52-69.
KCAL was the Southern California home of the annual MDA Labor Day Telethon between 1997 and 2011. Although KCAL-TV is an independent station, it will occasionally air CBS network programming due to extended breaking news coverage or special events that may result in programs being unable to air on KCBS-TV.
In June 1979, KHJ-TV aired "Thames on 9", a week-long primetime programming stunt that featured programs from Thames Television, then a member of the British ITV network. Shows that aired during that week included Man About the House (on which the American sitcom Three's Company was based) and The Benny Hill Show; a similar stunt had aired on KHJ-TV's former New York City sister station WOR-TV two years earlier.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|9.1||1080i||16:9||KCAL-DT||Main KCAL-TV programming|
KCAL-TV previously held the broadcast television rights to the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, carrying a slate of games from 2006 to 2013, televising at least 50 games each year, with all telecasts being broadcast in high definition. In 2014, KCAL lost rights to the Dodger telecasts to the cable-exclusive regional sports network SportsNet LA, which is co-owned by the team and Charter Communications.
Channel 9 is best known as the longtime broadcast home of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. The station carried the Lakers games from 1961 to 1964 (as KHJ-TV), and again from 1977 to 2012, airing road contests only during that period--the latter 35 years being the NBA's longest consecutive station-team broadcast partnership; in 2012, KCAL lost rights to the Laker telecasts to the cable-exclusive regional sports network Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes which was renamed in 2016 after the merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications.
For much of its history overall, sports have been a part of Channel 9's identity. From 1961 to 1963, KHJ-TV was the first television home of the Los Angeles Angels; the baseball team's telecasts moved to KTLA in 1964, when then-Angels owner Gene Autry's Golden West Broadcasters purchased that station. The television rights to Angels games returned to KCAL-TV in 1996 (The Walt Disney Company's ownership interest in the Angels briefly overlapped its stewardship of the station), and added more basketball coverage that same year with the Los Angeles Clippers, in addition to its Lakers telecasts. The station and the Clippers parted ways in 2001 as they eventually moved their over-the-air telecasts to KTLA, while the Angels left KCAL after the 2005 season, moving to KCOP the following year. In addition, KCAL had broadcast select weekend Mighty Ducks of Anaheim games from the NHL team's inaugural season in 1993 (both the team and KCAL were Disney properties until 1996) until 2005, when the Ducks moved their over-the-air broadcasts to Anaheim-based independent station KDOC-TV. Also, at the end of the 2013 season, the Dodgers would part ways with KCAL-TV (becoming cable-exclusive on SportsNet LA, although a few games per season have been seen on KTLA since 2016), thus ending the station's 36-year run of local sports coverage.
KCAL was also home to the NHL's Los Angeles Kings in the early 1980s and again during the mid-to-late 1990s. KCAL also carried select Los Angeles Galaxy Major League Soccer games until 2005, when the games became cable-exclusive to Fox Sports West. In 1997, KCAL premiered the first fifteen-minute weekday sports report Final Quarter, the show was an expansion of the typical five-minute sports report seen towards the end of a newscast. Several years later, the show was renamed KCAL 9 Sports News and with the purchase by CBS and the formation of the duopoly between KCAL and KCBS-TV, was renamed Sports Central; the show has since expanded to a half-hour broadcast on Friday through Sunday evenings.
Channel 9 has aired preseason coverage of the NFL's Chargers (then based in San Diego) from 2005 to 2016, and aired games from the Chargers' AFC West Division rival, the Raiders (then based in Oakland) in 2006 (whose preseason games also aired on the station during the mid-1990s). Although Los Angeles returned to the NFL in the 2016 season via the Rams' return after two decades in St. Louis, sister station KCBS is the Rams' preseason partner. After 2016, the Chargers relocated back to Los Angeles after 56 years in San Diego and KABC-TV picked up the Chargers preseason coverage starting in the 2017 season. KCAL broadcast two NFL on CBS games during the 2017 regular season as part of an arrangement with the NFL that saw CBS get both a Rams and Chargers game on weeks when Fox had the doubleheader.
KCAL-TV presently broadcasts a total of 32¾ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4¾ hours each weekday and 4½ hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the fifth-highest local newscast output of any television station in the Los Angeles market (behind KTLA, which runs 84 hours, 20 minutes of newscasts each week; ABC-owned KABC-TV, which runs 51 hours, 25 minutes each week; Fox-owned KTTV, which runs 49 hours each week, and NBC-owned KNBC, which runs 39 hours, 25 minutes each week). Because of the amount of news programming on the station, channel 9 is known for showing the most police chases among the Los Angeles market's news-producing stations. Often regular news programming on KCAL is suspended to cover a police chase, and programs that follow the newscast are sometimes preempted to show the chase's conclusion. In 2003, KCAL reported a quadrupling of ratings every time a police chase was shown, with up to 1.6 million viewers watching at a given time during such events. When chases are shown, it's often with the voice and in-air helicopter camera work of Stu Mundel.
In the 1970s, KHJ-TV aired a primetime newscast at 10 p.m., which was moved to 9 p.m. during the 1980s; the station subsequently added a half-hour 8 p.m. newscast during the late 1980s, and also carried afternoon newscasts throughout this time. Some of its most notable personalities included anchors George Putnam, Jerry Dunphy, Pat Harvey, Chris Harris, Stan Bohrman, Tom Lawrence, Nathan Roberts, Lonnie Lardner, Linda Edwards and weather personality Andrew Amador. On March 5, 1990, Disney implemented the concept of a primetime news block, with the three-hour long Prime 9 News from 8 to 11 p.m. A few years later in the early 1990s, KCAL added a short-lived half-hour newscast at 6:30 p.m. called First 9 News, which focused primarily on local news and competed against the national network newscasts aired on KCBS-TV, KNBC and KABC-TV (KCBS also aired a 6:30 p.m. newscast during the mid to late 1990s, while the CBS Evening News aired at 5:30 p.m.). Under Disney ownership, more daytime newscasts were added to channel 9 weekdays at 2 and 3 p.m., and the 6:30 p.m. newscast was discontinued (a local newscast returned to that timeslot in the market in January 2009, when KTLA launched its own 6:30 p.m. newscast).
KCAL is notable for airing newscasts during unconventional time periods; the station maintains the large amount of local newscasts that it presently does (which is far more than what is typical of most stations involved in a duopoly with a major network station) simply due to the fact that KCAL and KCBS-TV's newscasts air in timeslots that do not compete against one another, as a result, the station's newscast schedule remained unchanged after KCAL merged its operations with KCBS. Along with newscasts at noon (where it competes against KTTV), 4 p.m. (where it competes against KABC and KNBC) and 10 p.m. (where it competes against KTLA and KTTV), and seven nights a week at 8 and 9 p.m.
KCAL's newscasts are variable in tone, depending on the timeslot. Its 8 p.m. newscast is generally an update on the day's news, which largely features stories focusing on California and the Los Angeles area (and was previously branded as the California Report during the Prime 9 News era). Its 9 p.m. newscast is generally the most serious in format (and was branded in previous years as the Prime 9 News World Report), that newscast prominently features political, business and international news. The noon newscast, on the other hand, features lighter stories, including features on food, health and the entertainment industry. The 4 p.m. newscast was essentially a repurposed KCBS-TV newscast and was presented by former channel 2 anchors Harold Greene and Ann Martin, who did not appear recently elsewhere on KCAL. The 4 p.m. newscast moved to KCAL from KCBS-TV in 2002 to make room for Dr. Phil, which by contractual stipulations was not allowed to air opposite The Oprah Winfrey Show (which aired in Los Angeles on KABC-TV at 3 p.m., until its syndication run ended in September 2011). Its 10 p.m. newscast is simply more of an update of the 8 p.m. news (and during the Prime 9 News era, was simply branded as the 10 O'Clock Report), as it competes with KTTV and KTLA (and in the past, KCOP), though in recent years, it has been shortened to 30 minutes, in order to make way for the local sports news program Sports Central.
On April 1, 2008, CBS Television Stations ordered widespread budget cuts and staff layoffs from its stations. As a result of the budget cuts, roughly 10 to 15 staffers were released from KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV, including reporters Jennifer Sabih, Greg Phillips and Jennifer Davis. 4 p.m. co-anchors Greene and Martin, who were then also the 6 p.m. anchors on KCBS-TV, were also said to have been on the layoff list, but both decided to retire from television upon the June 2009 expiration of their contracts. On April 23, 2009, former KTTV anchor Rick Garcia joined KCAL, and was paired with Pat Harvey as co-anchor of the station's weeknight 8 and 10 p.m. newscasts (Garcia is now paired with Sharon Tay, as Harvey moved to sister station KCBS-TV to co-anchor that station's 5 and 11 p.m. newscasts).
On September 19, 2009, KCBS and KCAL rebranded the newscasts on both stations to the unified NewsCentral branding (unrelated to Sinclair Broadcast Group's now-defunct national news division of the same name; CBS coincidentally owns former Sinclair station KOVR in Sacramento). The newscasts were refocused to cover more community news, including stories from outlying communities. Local news headlines from the Los Angeles Newspaper Group and MediaNews Group newspapers were displayed on a ticker, "street team" submissions of video and photos from viewers were featured, reporters ended stories with NewsCentral rather than the individual station brands, and microphone flags and news vehicles were branded to show both stations' logos at once (previously, the KCBS and KCAL logos were displayed on alternating sides). Under the NewsCentral format, the two stations claimed that they covered more local news than any other television station in the country (with reporters in Ventura County, the Inland Empire and Orange County), and the only Los Angeles television station with two helicopters (subcontracted to Angel City Air, owned by reporter Larry Welk). Ed Asner was used to introduce the new newscast. CBS denies this move was made in response to other stations pooling newsgathering resources.
On December 10, 2009, CBS Television Stations hired Steve Mauldin to replace Patrick McClenahan as president and general manager of the KCBS-KCAL duopoly. That week, the duopoly ultimately rescinded the NewsCentral branding, reverting to the "CBS2" and "KCAL9" news identities. The NewsCentral graphics, mic flags and logos remained in use during the interim, though on-air staff no longer used the NewsCentral identity.
On January 14, 2012, KCAL debuted two-hour-long weekend morning newscasts (airing at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and on Sundays, which follow one-hour newscasts on KCBS); the programs are KCAL's first morning newscasts--ironically though, channel 9 is the only news-producing station in the market that does not have a news program on weekday mornings.
On December 10, 2014, KCAL announced it would be dropping its hour long 2 p.m. and half hour 3 p.m. newscasts before the end of the year to be replaced by Judge Mathis and The People's Court. As a result, the 4 p.m. newscast was truncated from an hour to 30 minutes, and Inside Edition moved from 3:30 p.m. to the 4:30 p.m. slot previously occupied by the other half of the 4 p.m. newscast.
As of September 11, 2017, KCAL has reinstated the second half-hour of the 4 p.m. newscast and making the news a full hour.
KCAL is rebroadcast on the following translator stations: