Ken Foote’s Radio/TV Files: KTXA At A Glance
In our last blog we gave you a little history about KTVT, now it’s time to talk about our other TV station, KTXA.
The Channel 21 frequency in the DFW was actually licensed years ago in 1967 under the call letter KFWT. The station ran a lot of old black and white programming but went dark in 1970. Back then it was very difficult for UHF stations to compete with VHF stations in terms of programming and overall signal coverage.
In 1981, a man named Milton Grant started KTXA and KTXH in Houston in 1982. Grant had spent a majority of his career as an evening radio disc jockey in Washington DC and Philadelphia. His background in radio proved invaluable in launching and promoting an independent station on the UHF band. On the day of the initial sign on, the prime time movie that aired was an uncut version of Apocalypse: Now. For a couple of years, it aired a subscription TV service in prime time: ON-TV.
KTXA has been known for its distinct and clever promotional “position” lines: a statement that defines the heart and soul of a station. Back then, some of the great lines were “Everyone’s Turning 21” and “21 and only”. Today, you will notice in our promotion the line, “Must Be 21” as our current positioning line.
The station also had one of the most successful kids programming lineup in the market and the “21 Kids Club” which had thousands of members entitling them to all sorts of fun things.
In the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, the business of independent television began to change rapidly and not for the better. With the growth and advent of cable television, the supply of programming that “indies” had relied on for years started to dry up and be moved to national cable networks. Broadcasters typically only had advertising revenue as their source of making money, but cable had not only advertising, they had “affiliation fees: money they charge your local cable operator or satellite provider for the right to distribute programming to their customers. As a response to this growing trend which threatened the livelihood of indies, the major independent groups, along with a few major Hollywood studios, announced the formation of the WB Network and UPN (which stood for United Paramount Network). KTXA, being owned by Paramount at that time, became a UPN Owned and Operated station. KDAF Channel 33 affiliated with the WB.
UPN launched in January 1995 with two hours of programming in prime. Star Trek: Voyager and Enterprise were two of their early shows. As the network evolved, its programming did as well, with shows such as The Parkers, Girlfriends, One On One, and America’s Next Top Model. In January 2006, it was announced that UPN and the WB would merge and create a new network called the CW (“C” for CBS and “W” for Warner Brothers). The CW affiliation would be with KDAF Channel 33, while KTXA would revert back to an indie. Since that time, the station focused more on acquiring sports programming, such as high school football, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, FC Dallas, Big 12 Basketball, SEC Football, and the Texas Rangers.
KTXA went through a number of ownership changes until it was merged with the CBS Television Stations group in 2001. Prior to 2000, federal regulations prohibited a company from owning more than one TV station in a single market. Today, CBS Local Media’s broadcast holdings in the DFW area include KTVT and KTXA, plus six radio stations: KRLD AM/FM, KLUV, KVIL, KJKK, and KMVK.
See you next time!