KDKA-TV News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Expect More (general)|
Pittsburgh's News, Period (news)
Your Steeler Station (during NFL season)
|Channels||Digital: 25 (UHF)|
Virtual: 2 (PSIP)
2.2 Start TV
|Affiliations||CBS (O&O) (secondary until 1955)|
(CBS Broadcasting Inc.)
|First air date||January 11, 1949|
|Call letters' meaning||derived from former sister station KDKA radio|
|Former callsigns||WDTV (1949-1955)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
3 (VHF, 1949-1952)
2 (VHF, 1952-2009)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Height||311 m (1,020 ft)|
|Public license information:||Profile|
KDKA-TV, virtual channel 2 (UHF digital channel 25), is a CBS owned-and-operated television station licensed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation, as part of a duopoly with Jeannette-licensed CW owned-and-operated station WPCW (channel 19). The two stations share studios at the Gateway Center in downtown Pittsburgh; KDKA-TV's transmitter is located in the Perry North neighborhood of Pittsburgh. On cable, the station is carried on Comcast Xfinity channel 6 (channel 3 in Bethel Park and Monroeville), and Verizon FiOS channel 2.
KDKA-TV is available on cable in the Johnstown, Altoona, Wheeling, and Youngstown areas, as well as several other out-of-market cable systems in northwestern Pennsylvania, northwestern Maryland, northeastern Ohio, and north-central West Virginia. The furthest south KDKA-TV is carried on cable is in Beverly, West Virginia.
The station went on the air on January 11, 1949, as WDTV ("W DuMont TeleVision") on channel 3; it was owned and operated by the DuMont Television Network. It was the 51st television station in the U.S., the third and last DuMont-owned station to sign on the air, behind WABD (now WNYW) in New York City and WTTG in Washington, D.C., and the first owned-and-operated station in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. To mark the occasion, a live television special aired that day from 8:30 to 11 p.m. ET on WDTV, which began with a one-hour local program broadcast from Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh. The remainder of the show featured live segments from DuMont, CBS, NBC, and ABC with Arthur Godfrey, Milton Berle, DuMont host Ted Steele, and many other celebrities.
The station also represented a milestone in the television industry, providing the first "network" that included Pittsburgh and 13 other cities from Boston to St. Louis. WDTV was one of the last stations to receive a construction permit before the Federal Communications Commission-imposed four-year freeze on new television station licenses.
When the release of the FCC's Sixth Report and Order ended the license freeze in 1952, DuMont was forced to give up its channel 3 allocation to alleviate interference with nearby stations broadcasting on the frequency, notably NBC-owned WNBK (now WKYC) in Cleveland, who itself moved to the frequency to avoid interference with stations in Columbus and Detroit. WDTV moved its facilities to channel 2 on November 23, 1952;WPSU-TV would later sign on with the channel 3 frequency for the Johnstown/Altoona market. Shortly after moving, it was the first station in the country to broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, advertising that its 1:00-7:00 a.m. Swing Shift Theatre served the "200,000 workers [in their viewing area] who finish shift work at midnight." DuMont's network of stations on coaxial cable stretched from Boston to St. Louis. These stations were linked together via AT&T's coaxial cable feed with the sign-on of WDTV allowing the network to broadcast live programming to all the stations at the same time. Stations not yet connected to the coaxial cable received kinescope recordings via physical delivery.
Until the end of the freeze, WDTV's only competition came in the form of distant signals from stations in Johnstown, Altoona, Wheeling and Youngstown. However, Pittsburgh saw two UHF stations launch during 1953--ABC affiliate WENS-TV (channel 16, later to become WINP-TV), and WKJF-TV (channel 53, later to become WPGH-TV), an independent station. At the time, UHF stations could not be viewed without the aid of an expensive, set-top converter, and the picture quality was marginal at best with one. UHF stations in the area faced an additional problem because Pittsburgh is located in a somewhat rugged dissected plateau, and the reception of UHF stations is usually poor in such terrain. These factors played a role in the short-lived existences of both WKJF and WENS.
Although Pittsburgh was the sixth largest market in the country (behind New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington/Baltimore), the other VHF stations in town were slow to develop. This was because the major cities in the Upper Ohio Valley are so close together that they must share the VHF band. After the FCC lifted the license freeze in 1952, it refused to grant any new commercial VHF construction permits to Pittsburgh in order to give the smaller cities in the area a chance to get on the air. WDTV had a de facto monopoly on Pittsburgh television. Like its sister stations WABD and WTTG, it was far stronger than the DuMont network as a whole. According to network general manager Ted Bergmann, WDTV brought in $4 million a year, which was more than enough to keep the network afloat. Owning the only readily viewable station in such a large market gave DuMont considerable leverage in getting its programs cleared in large markets where it did not have an affiliate. As CBS, NBC and ABC had secondary affiliations with WDTV, this was a strong incentive to stations in large markets to clear DuMont's programs or risk losing valuable advertising in the sixth-largest market. Also, NBC affiliates from Johnstown (WJAC-TV) and Wheeling (WTRF-TV, itself now affiliated with CBS) were able to be received in Pittsburgh and a CBS affiliate from Steubenville, Ohio (WSTV-TV, now NBC affiliate WTOV-TV) was also able to be received there as well. CBS, in fact, actually attempted to purchase WSTV-TV's license before it went on the air and move its license to Pittsburgh due to the close proximity between Pittsburgh and Steubenville (At the time less than an hour apart by car; the completion of the Penn-Lincoln Parkway in 1964 reduced that time to about a half-hour driving time today), but the FCC turned CBS down. The Wheeling/Steubenville TV market, despite its very close proximity to Pittsburgh and overlapping signals, remains a separate market by FCC standards today.
WDTV aired all DuMont network shows live and "cherry-picked" the best shows from the other networks, airing them on kinescope on an every-other-week basis. WDTV's sign-on was also significant because it was now possible to feed live programs from the East to the Midwest and vice versa. In fact, its second broadcast was the activation of the coaxial cable linking New York City and Chicago. It would be another two years before the West Coast received live programming, but this was the beginning of the modern era of network television.
By 1954, DuMont was in serious financial trouble. Paramount Pictures, which owned a stake in DuMont, vetoed a merger with ABC, who had merged with Paramount's former theater division United Paramount Theaters a year before. A few years earlier, the FCC had ruled that Paramount controlled DuMont and there were still lingering questions about whether UPT had actually broken off from Paramount. Paramount did not want to risk the FCC's wrath.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Corporation had been competing with local politicians to acquire the non-commercial channel 13 license from the FCC, as no other Pittsburgh-allocated VHF station would be signing on for the foreseeable future. After launching WBZ-TV in Boston in 1948 and purchasing two other television stations, Westinghouse was growing impatient with not having a station in its own home market. Before the freeze, Westinghouse was a shoo-in for the channel 6 license that would later be given to WJAC-TV in Johnstown after that station gave up the channel 13 allocation to Pittsburgh as part of the FCC's reallocation plan. Westinghouse later offered a compromise plan to the FCC, in which the Commission would grant Westinghouse the channel 13 license; Westinghouse would then "share" the facility with the educational licensee. Finding the terms unacceptable, Pittsburgh attorney Leland Hazard called Westinghouse CEO Gwilym Price to ask him if he should give up on his fight for public television. Price said that Hazard should keep fighting for it, giving Westinghouse backing for the station that would eventually become WQED.
Westinghouse then turned its attention to WDTV, offering DuMont a then-record $9.75 million for the station in late 1954. Desperate for cash, DuMont promptly accepted Westinghouse's offer. While the sale gave DuMont a short-term cash infusion, it eliminated DuMont's leverage in getting clearances in other major markets. Within two years, the DuMont network was no more. After the sale closed in January 1955, Westinghouse changed WDTV's call letters to KDKA-TV, after Westinghouse's pioneering radio station KDKA (1020 AM). As such, it became one of the few stations east of the Mississippi River with a "K" call sign. The WDTV calls now reside on a CBS affiliate located 130 miles (209 km) south of Pittsburgh in Weston, West Virginia, which is unrelated to the current KDKA-TV. That station, which signed on after KDKA-TV adopted its current callsign, adopted those calls "in honor" of KDKA-TV.
As KDKA radio had long been an affiliate of the NBC Blue Network (Westinghouse was a co-founder of RCA, NBC's then-parent company), it was expected that KDKA-TV would eventually become a primary affiliate of the NBC television network. But the network was seeking to purchase Westinghouse's Philadelphia stations, KYW radio and WPTZ (now KYW-TV). When Westinghouse balked, NBC threatened to pull its programming from WPTZ and Boston's WBZ-TV unless Westinghouse agreed to trade its Philadelphia properties for NBC's radio and television properties in Cleveland. (Related to the trade, Westinghouse received a cross-station waiver from the FCC to own the Cleveland properties due to overlapping signals with KDKA radio and channel 2.) The decision would lead to an acrimonious relationship between Westinghouse and NBC in later years. Two years after the ownership change, channel 2 became a primary affiliate of the higher-rated CBS network instead. KDKA-TV retained secondary affiliations with NBC until WIIC-TV (channel 11, now WPXI) signed on in 1957, and ABC until WTAE-TV (channel 4) signed on in 1958. Despite the ending of its commercial VHF monopoly, KDKA-TV did welcome competitor WIIC-TV on the air. KDKA-TV became the flagship station of Westinghouse's broadcasting arm, Group W. During the late 1950s, KDKA-TV was briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network, sharing the affiliation with WTAE-TV, WIIC-TV, and WQED. On November 22, 1963, newscaster Bill Burns provided almost three hours of live coverage after the shooting of President John F. Kennedy.
In 1994, Westinghouse was looking to make a group-wide affiliation deal for its stations as part of a larger plan to transform itself into a major media conglomerate. Westinghouse negotiated with NBC and CBS for a deal. Had Westinghouse signed with NBC, KDKA-TV would affiliate itself with NBC 40 years after passing up the network, with the CBS affiliation going to WPXI, who had originally intended to affiliate itself with CBS until the NBC-Westinghouse feud started as well as channel 11's own sign-on problems in the 1950s. While NBC (the highest-rated network during much of the 1980s and 1990s) offered more money, CBS was interested in the programming opportunities Westinghouse offered, due to its own stagnation in programming at the time. CBS also offered a potential merger of their respective radio networks down the road (which ultimately happened), while NBC had abandoned radio in 1987. Ultimately, Westinghouse signed a long-term deal with CBS to convert the entire five-station Group W television unit to a group-wide CBS affiliation, making the Pittsburgh market one of the few major markets not to be affected by the 1994 United States broadcast TV realignment.
In 1995, Westinghouse acquired CBS, making KDKA-TV a CBS owned-and-operated station, after four decades as being simply a CBS affiliate. In 1997, Westinghouse became CBS Corporation, which would then merge with Viacom (which, ironically, has been Paramount's parent since 1994) in 2000, making KDKA-TV a sister station with Pittsburgh UPN affiliate WNPA-TV (channel 19, now CW station WPCW). Five years later, Viacom became the new CBS Corporation and spun off a new Viacom.
In August 2007, KDKA-TV unveiled a new image campaign, entitled "Your Home," with music and lyrics performed by singer-songwriter Bill Deasy. The promo features scenes of Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas, as well as three of the station's personalites. In September 2007, the station unveiled another promo featuring the Joe Grushecky song "Coming Home." Later, a third spot, "Long Way Home," was introduced, featuring the voice of Kelsey Friday.
On February 2, 2017, CBS agreed to sell CBS Radio to Entercom, currently the fourth-largest radio broadcasting company in the United States. The sale was completed on November 17, 2017, and was conducted using a Reverse Morris Trust so that it was tax-free. While CBS shareholders retain a 72% ownership stake in the combined company, Entercom is the surviving entity, with KDKA radio and its sister stations now separated from KDKA-TV.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|2.1||1080i||16:9||KDKA-HD||Main KDKA-TV programming / CBS|
KDKA-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 2, 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, during that night's broadcast of the Late Show with David Letterman. The station showed the High Flight video clip, and a compilation of their analog history with "The Star-Spangled Banner" as background music, before shutting off. As part of the SAFER Act, KDKA-TV turned their analog signal on to repeat a series of public service announcements through July 12, 2009. The station's digital signal continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 25. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 2.
Part of the 1995 affiliation agreement between CBS and Westinghouse included a deal to carry the entire CBS lineup in pattern, with no preemptions except for extended breaking news coverage or local news events. In the fall of 1995, channel 2 began running the entire CBS lineup in pattern, as it, and sister station KPIX-TV in San Francisco, were already affiliated with the network. However, unlike its rivals, KDKA-TV's evening newscast airs for three hours from 4-7 p.m., bumping the CBS Evening News to 7 p.m. This makes KDKA-TV one of the few CBS O&Os to air its network newscast on a tape-delay basis.
Prior to 1995, channel 2 preempted moderate amounts of CBS programming. From the early 1960s to July 1990, the station did not clear As the World Turns, except for a brief period from December 1976 to October 1978. At the same time, WTAJ-TV in Altoona had run the program and was viewable in much of Pittsburgh itself and the eastern part of the market, and was even carried on many Pittsburgh-area cable systems well into the 1980s. Also, CBS affiliates WTOV-TV in Steubenville (until 1981) and WTRF-TV in Wheeling (from 1981) were viewable in Pittsburgh and points west. Until 1978, As the World Turns ran on WPGH and for a few years after that, it ran on WPTT-TV (channel 22). KDKA-TV also preempted the daytime game shows and reruns from CBS at various points during the 1970s. KDKA-TV was one of four CBS affiliates to preempt the 1974 film Death Wish on its television debut despite the network's 30+ cuts to its violent content; these affiliates objected not only to the remaining amount of violence in the film, but also to the apparent endorsement by the film of vigilante violence. The station also occasionally preempted CBS primetime programs for a syndicated movie, local news special, or sports during the years the station had broadcast rights to Pittsburgh Pirates baseball and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey. Weekend preemptions included a small portion of Saturday and Sunday morning cartoons, and Sunday morning religious programs. In 1993, KDKA-TV stopped running CBS This Morning and instead ran Disney's syndicated cartoon block. Despite the preemptions, CBS was mostly satisfied with KDKA-TV, as it was the far-and-away market leader in Pittsburgh owing to its eight-year head-start on its main competitors.
As a Westinghouse-owned station, KDKA-TV carried the numerous syndicated talk shows produced by its subsidiary Group W Productions, including The Merv Griffin Show, The Mike Douglas Show, Evening Magazine, and Hour Magazine. It also produced a local program titled Pittsburgh Talks.
Later, KDKA-TV carried The Oprah Winfrey Show during its first nine nationally syndicated seasons (1986-1995), airing the show weekdays at 5 p.m. In 1989, KDKA-TV acquired the rights to The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, airing it weekdays at 9 a.m. and Phil Donahue weekdays at 4 p.m., respectively. However, due to the poor ratings of Donahue in the Pittsburgh market, KDKA-TV showed strong interest in new talk shows.
Sally and Donahue moved to WTAE-TV in 1993, and two years later, KDKA-TV debuted a 5 p.m. newscast, at which point Oprah Winfrey also moved to WTAE-TV, airing at 4 p.m. In 1997, The Ricki Lake Show moved to WPGH-TV and The Sally Jessy Raphael Show returned to KDKA-TV, and once again was given the 9 a.m. time slot, where it remained on and off until its cancellation in 2002. Sally was a success in the Pittsburgh area, even beating Montel Williams on WPXI in the 1990s. A revamped version of Pittsburgh 2day Live replaced Sally.
KDKA-TV aired The Rosie O'Donnell Show during its entire six-year run at the 4 p.m. time slot. After the show ended its run in 2002, rather than airing its replacement (the short-lived Caroline Rhea Show, which aired on WPXI), KDKA-TV became the first station in the Pittsburgh market to air a 4 p.m. newscast. KDKA-TV remains the only Pittsburgh station, and one of the few in the country (alongside fellow CBS station WOIO in Cleveland) to air a 4 p.m. newscast. (The 4 p.m. slot has been considered a graveyard slot by the networks since the 1980s, and by stations itself since the 1990s.) Today, the only talk show on KDKA-TV is Dr. Phil, serving as a lead-in to its evening newscast.
As CBS holds the broadcast contract with the NFL to show games involving AFC teams, KDKA-TV has been the official broadcaster of most Pittsburgh Steelers games since 1998, and serves as the team's flagship station. The team's preseason games that are not nationally televised are also shown on KDKA-TV. KDKA-TV began its relationship with the Steelers in 1962, when CBS first started the leaguewide television package. The Steelers are one of three AFC teams that predate the AFC's basis league, the American Football League, and so KDKA-TV, and not WTAE-TV or WIIC-TV (now WPXI), carried Steelers road games (home games were blacked out locally under all circumstances until 1973, when sold-out home games began to be allowed on local television)--the AFL had television contracts with ABC, and later, NBC.
Due to the NFL rules of the time, after the AFL-NFL merger (and with it, the Steelers move to the newly formed AFC), KDKA-TV did not broadcast any Steelers games from 1970 to 1972. Beginning in 1973, KDKA-TV was allowed to air any Steelers games in which they hosted a team from the National Football Conference, which contained most of the old-line NFL teams. KDKA-TV also broadcast two Steeler championship wins, Super Bowl X in 1976 and Super Bowl XIV in 1980. Since the Steelers have sold out every home game starting in 1972, no blackouts have been required. In the meantime, from 1970 to 1997, channel 11 aired most Steelers games.
When the NFC package moved from CBS to Fox in 1994, WPGH-TV aired the Steelers games that had before aired on KDKA-TV, leaving the senior station without Steelers games for four years. Today, and in general since 1970, the only exceptions to all the above are when the Steelers play at night. Their Monday Night Football games have always aired locally on WTAE-TV, first when ABC had the rights, and since 2006, on ESPN. WTAE-TV also aired simulcasts of their games aired as part of ESPN Sunday Night Football from 1987 to 2005 (since 2006, WPXI airs Steelers games when they play on Sunday nights). The NFL requires games on cable channels to be simulcast over-the-air in the markets of the participating teams (again with the home team's broadcast subject to blackout). WTAE-TV has simulcast ESPN-aired games because ESPN is 20% owned by WTAE-TV's owners, Hearst Corporation--their ABC stations have right of first refusal for these simulcasts. Games on TNT and NFL Network have aired on various stations in the area.
This section needs expansion with: further information on the history of KDKA-TV's news department. You can help by adding to it. (August 2013)
KDKA-TV presently broadcasts 37 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 6½ hours on weekdays, three hours on Saturdays and 1½ hours on Sundays); KDKA-TV also produces 27 hours of local newscasts each week for CW owned-and-operated sister station WPCW, in the form of an hour-long extension of KDKA-TV's weekday morning newscast at 7 a.m. and a nightly 35-minute newscast at 10 p.m. The station also shares newsgathering operations and co-produces certain public affairs shows with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper.
In 2001, KDKA-TV began producing a 10 p.m. newscast on WNPA (now WPCW); in 2005, it added a two-hour weekday morning newscast from 7-9 a.m. on that station (which was later reduced to one hour from 7-8 a.m.).
On June 16, 2009, KDKA-TV began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition during its noon broadcast (the last of the major network stations in Pittsburgh to do so, following WPXI and WPGH on October 6, 2007 and WTAE on September 15, 2008), with the introduction of a new set and weather center. Like rival WTAE, only video from in-studio cameras is broadcast in HD while most of the content, including field reports and video footage, are in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition. On September 1, 2010, KDKA-TV debuted the standardized CBS O&O graphics and music package ("The CBS Enforcer Music Collection" by Gari Media Group).
As of May 2015, KDKA-TV is the most watched news station in the Pittsburgh area in the hours of Noon, 4, 5, 6 and 11 p.m.; the 7 a.m. newscast it produces for WPCW rated quite strongly at that time slot. However, WTAE-TV is the most watched news program in the area at 6 a.m. WPXI is also most watched at the 5 a.m. hour. WPGH-TV is the 10 p.m. newscast leader; WPXI has supplied its newscasts since 2006.