This month is the 60th anniversary of when KTVT signed on the air to serve the viewers of Dallas/Fort Worth!
The station went on the air Sunday, September 11, 1955 as KFJZ-TV (with Fort Worth oilman Sid Richardson flipping the switch) and operated under those call letters until 1960 when it became KTVT. It was initially owned by the Texas State Network (now owned by CBS Radio, the copyright holder of this blog), along with KFJZ Radio 1270 and later KFJZ-FM 97.1. In 1960, it was sold to NAFI Telecasting Corporation (the owner of Chris-Craft Industries at that time) and the call letters were changed to KTVT (the two radio stations were not included in the transfer).
In 1962, NAFI sold the station to Gaylord Broadcasting Company of Oklahoma City, a subsidiary of the Oklahoma Publishing Company, who owned WKY-TV (now KFOR-TV), The Daily Oklahoman, and a number of other TV stations. The company was headed by founder Edward K. Gaylord and his son, Edward L. Gaylord, who ran the broadcast division at that time for his dad.
Under Gaylord ownership and management, James R. Terrell became the station’s first VP/General Manager. During Jim’s leadership, the station had the #1 kids show, one of the first stations in the US to acquire I Love Lucy in syndication, launched a 15 minute 10pm newscast with anchors in both Dallas and Fort Worth, and improved its signal coverage. KTVT was the home for kids idol Icky Twerp (played by Bill Camfield who later was the station’s Program Director) and his cast of character (played by various employees at the station). The station also launched an early morning news show called Reveille, hosted by Camfield. There are so many other “firsts” under Terrell that I could do an entire blog! Jim left as General Manager in 1978 to move in a corporate capacity with Gaylord until his retirement in 1992.
By the early 80’s, the market changed with increased competition to KTVT from KXTX (where I was from 1984-1987), KTXA, KDFI, and KDAF. Before there was a CW and a UPN, there were five independent stations in the DFW area, all programmed similarly and needing programming. KTVT found itself competing with KTXA and KDAF whose owners had big pockets to spend on programming and leveraged their other owned stations around the country for acquisitions. The price of syndicated programming began to increase astronomically in 1983 when MCA Television sold the rights to Magnum PI for over $35,000/title, a record price in the market at that time.
In 1984, Charles L. Edwards, Gaylord’s GM in Seattle, was named EVP/GM for KTVT and Corporate Programming Director for Gaylord Broadcasting. Under Edwards, the station began to acquire more competitive programming, such as The Cosby Show, Night Court, and Cheers. The station also aired 95 Texas Rangers and 30 Dallas Mavericks games. But the big calling card was having its signal on a satellite in space being made available to be seen anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. That’s when the station became a “superstation” and branded as “the Super Ones”. And the ratings began to soar under Edwards and KTVT again became the #1 indie in the market by the time he retired in 1989.
In 1993, the business started to change again with three big announcements: the launch of the WB Network and UPN Networks, the acquisition of the NFC by FOX Sports, and later the acquisition of New World Television by FOX, which included KDFW, a CBS affiliate since 1949. KTVT was scheduled to become the WB affiliate but instead acquired the CBS affiliation. UPN was launched on KTXA in 1994 and the WB on KXTX but then moved to KDAF in 1995 and became the CW in 2006.
For nearly 40 years, KTVT was one of the most successful independent TV stations in America and we are proud of our past. We are equally proud of the present and what the future holds for us as your CBS station in Dallas/Fort Worth.
Happy Anniversary KTVT! See you next time.