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Very Early Days of TV

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St. Louis Television, the early years
KSDK, Channel 5, St. Louis, Missouri  (KSD-TV)

The Pulitzer Publishing Company, owner of the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper was the owner of a broadcasting operation in St. Louis with its heritage radio facility KSD(550am). At the end of World War II, the company began to pursue ownership of a local television facility. On February 8th, 1947, KSD-TV became the eighth television station in the country, and the second television station west of the Mississippi River. It broadcast from studios located at 1111 Olive in St. Louis.

KSD-TV would also hold the title of St. Louis' only TV station until 1953, when WTVI became a television station broadcasting to St. Louis from Belleville, Illinois. More on the history of WTVI, which became KTVI lower on this page.

The FCC “freeze” allowed KSD-TV to operate with no competition during the period from 1947 to 1953. This would allow the station to achieve a level of success which the station under the newer call letters of KSDK enjoys today!

Due to the relationship of KSD Radio as an NBC affiliate it only became a natural that the new KSD-TV would also be affiliated with NBC. In those days radio was by far the dominate electronic medium and network radio was in its prime. Radio stars like Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Fred Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Al Jolsen, Edgar Bergen and others populated the broadcast schedules of the radio network of NBC. From 1946, it would still be several more years before the NBC Television Network would begin regularly scheduled programming.

KSD as a television broadcast heritage station would have to produce many if not all of its own programming and develop its own talent pool. Many of the St. Louis television pioneers from KSD-TV came from radio. People like Kay Morton, who came from several local radio stations to host KSD-TV's “Open House.” The concept of “Open House” was simple, a program featuring house-hold hints featuring a number of experts who would demonstrate how things work. Kay Morton was not only a radio veteran, but also a mother of a three year old. Her weekly program also included Dave Russell what was called “her opposite” in a profile from a 1951 edition of TV Review.

(far left): A rehearsal for "Open House" pictured with the production staff.  (left to right): Mel Randoll, floor manager; Esther Lee Bride, technical consultant; Emerson Russell, producer and Bradford Whitney, director.

(near left): A furniture arrangement is demonstrated by Kay Mornon, host with Dave Russell, "the man about the house."

(from TV Review, and the collection of Wayne Brasler)

KSD-TV director of special events, Frank Eschen is pictured before television broadcast interviews.

(near right): St. Louis Mayor Joseph M. Darst and Frank Eschen

(far right): Eleanor Roosevelt is pictured with
Frank Eschen

(from TV Review, and the
collection of Wayne Brasler)

Being a broadcast facility of the Post-Dispatch it only was natural that news broadcasters from KSD radio be called upon to do similar duties on the new television media. One name and personality which stands out is that of Frank Eschen. He was KSD and KSD-TV's Director of Special News Events and was in charge of “covering history” for the stations. He covered local elections for a national TV hook-up, he covered the Veiled Prophet Ball which was broadcast to thousands of homes in the area. He narrated the wedding of Vice-President Barkley in 1949, covered political conventions, the P.G.A. Open and various St. Louis Golf Tournaments.

According to a profile in TV Review from April of 1951, the Hannibal, Missouri native, also covered several religious events involving travel to Rome to cover an Archbishop's appointment to Cardinal. Eschen also conducted special radio broadcasts from the Nuerenberg trials which were carried exclusively by KSD.

July 27, 1953                                                        Program Listings for KSD-TV, Channel 5, St. Louis, Missouri
7:00am  Today-A program of news, special events and
               entertainment.  Dave Garroway as M.C.(NBC)
9:00am  Arthur Godfrey Show(CBS)
10:00am Garry Moore-Hi-jinks and comedy mixed
              with informative and entertaining skits or
              acts, featuring off the cuff ad lib artist
              Garry Moore and his straight man,
              Durward Kirby (CBS)
10:30am Strike it Rich-(quiz program, CBS)
11:00am Bride and Groom-(real wedding
               ceremony, CBS)
11:15am Love of Life-A dramatic serial starring
               Peggy McCay, Paul Potter, Jean 
               McBride, Marie Kennedy and Dennis
               Parnell. (CBS)
11:30am Search for Tomorrow-A serial filled
               with domestic life.  A continued story. (CBS)
11:45am Guiding Light-A continued story. (CBS)
12:00pm Charm School-(unknown origin)
12:15pm To the Ladies-A quiz; travel and
               vacation suggestions, novelty quiz and
               organ music with John Rodel, Charlie
               Sherwood and Stan Kann. (live from KSD-TV,
               see below for details on this KSD-
               TV production)

1:15pm Homemaking with KSD-TV-by Wilma
              Sims(live from KSD-TV)
2:00pm The Big Payoff-(game show NBC)
2:30pm Welcome Travelers-(broadcast from
              Chicago on NBC starring Tommy Bartlett)
3:00pm Break the Bank-(game show NBC)
3:30pm Art Linkletter's House Party-Presents
             well known stars of stage and screen
              as his guests (CBS)
4:00pm Russ David Show-(unknown origin)
4:30pm Howdy Doody-Fun, frolic and excitement
             for the youngsters supplied by the
             famous puppet Howdy and Clarabell
             the clown, Bob Smith is the host. (NBC)
5:00pm Wrangler's Club-featuring a western
             film narrated by Texas Bruce
             (produced from KSD-TV)
5:30pm Bob Ingham's Sportsview-(live from KSD-TV)
5:40pm Weather Forecast-Jack Garrison
              as Weatherman
5:45pm I.N.S. Telenews-Sterling Harkins reporting
              the latest local and national news
6:00pm Bob and Ray Show-(comedy skits, NBC)

6:15pm Dotty Bennett Show-(unknown origin)
6:30pm Carl McIntire Presents-(unknown origin)
7:30pm Name That Tune-New comedy-musical
            quiz show with Red Benson
             as Quiz-master(NBC)
8:00pm Pantomime Quiz-An old parlor game
             brought up to date with blonde and 
             beautiful Sandra Spence as scorekeeper
             and Mike Stokey as M.C.  (NBC)
8:30pm Robert Montgomery Theater-
              presents "Annie's Story" the story of an
              older sister who is outshone by her
              younger sister.  (NBC)
9:30pm Who Said That-Panel quiz show with
              Walter Kiernan as M.C. (NBC)
10:00pm Summer Theater-presents "Shadow
              of a Man," an unusual love story of a
              young man and his stepfather who reach
              an understanding after discussing
              their separate love affairs. (unknown origin)                        
Note: Much of daytime fare included programming from CBS as well

This was also the first day of broadcasting of WTVI, Channel 54 in Belleville

“For the Ladies”

Among the daytime fare of programming at KSD for a number of years during the 1950's included a local variety/game show designed for the female viewers. “To the Ladies” was hosted by Russ Severin a former Broadway performing tenor who became a successful TV producer at KSD-TV. The one-hour and 15 minute daily broadcast consisted of quizzes, parlor games, skits and maybe a little music as well. To try to compare a description of this show with a anything broadcast today would be impossible, but certain segments sounded like something from “Laugh-In” to “Lets Make a Deal” to “Who Wants to be Millionaire” to “Solid Gold” to....I think you get the idea....I hope. The cast consisted of Harry Honig, Charlie Sherwood and Charlotte Peters(who would go on to host her own show on KTVI through the early 70's).

(far left): Russ Severin host of
"To the Ladies" on KSD-TV

(near left): host Russ Severin with Harry Honeig with a studio audience participating in the games and prizes from many, many sponsors.

(from TV Review, and the collection of Wayne Brasler)

The show was chock full of sponsorships, presumably all to be featured throughout he show as prizes and tested for real life testimonials by the cast. The show would consist of 15-5 minute segments each with a different sponsor, mostly food products such as a certain brand of spaghetti or ravioli, then Bosco(the chocolate syrup added to milk), and Grapette(a grape flavored soft drink).

A 1954 listing in TV Guide described a particular “For the Ladies” as including an “honor town” and selected Sullivan, Missouri with guests from the Women's Club of Sullivan. By then the show was hosted by John Roedel. Roedel also hosted a late afternoon news summary called “I.N.S. Telenews.”

Other local Productions

Not much information is available on other assumed KSD-TV productions, but I have found program titles from listings from 1954 to include “Home” which was listed as “women's news.” The Russ David Show was listed as a “variety show,” “Corky the Clown” starred Clif St. James, the station's weather caster at night did double duty as the TV clown during the week, then later was just a weekend feature of KSD though a time in the 1970's. “Corky” included a studio audience with kids that participated in contests and provided the audience for skits and performances around the usual variety of Warner Brothers or Hanna Barbara cartoons and even an weekly episode of Flash Gordon(from the 1930's). “Corky” was also possibly the first locally produced program regularly broadcast in color in the mid 1960's. In 1954 KSD had a listing for “Zippy the Clown.” It's not known if Zippy was any relation to Corky.

“The Wrangler's Club” was hosted by Harry Gibbs as “Texas Bruce” and included, at least in 1954, movies starring long time movie serial cowboys such as Tim McCoy. This series is listed as airing from 1950 to 1963. There were other local productions throughout the years including the Sally Jessy Raphael's talk show in the 1980's and 90's, as well as “Show Me St. Louis” in the late 1990s.

Here is "Corky" played by Cliff St. James on two different programs.  "Corky the Clown" and "Corky's Colorama"


"Corky's Colorama" was KSD-TV's first locally produced color program.  This picture is from around 1966 and was included in an RCA Color TV Equipment Catalog from the era.


St. Louis Cardinal Baseball

KSD-TV's long association with the St. Louis Cardinals goes back to the first year of broadcasting on Channel 5. This association continued through the late 1980's when independent St. Louis station KPLR picked up the rights for broadcasts. The rights were returned back to KSD-TV in 2006, before losing them again to FOX Sports Midwest.

It was KSD-TV's link to the St. Louis Cardinals which helped to initiate the cable industry in Illinois. As it was, Taylorville, Illinois became the first community in Illinois to develop a working Community Antenna system which provided subscribers, or members to the West End Community Television Cooperative. The south-central Illinois community had many personal ties to the baseball team. For example the lights at the Manners Park main baseball diamond came as a donation from the original Bush Stadium during the 1950's.

Evidently, there was such a demand to receive the televised baseball games of the Cardinals that an organization was formed during the mid 1950's in Taylorville to receive KSD-TV's broadcasts. A 250-foot tower as erected on the west side of town with the top most stacked antennas pointing to the south-southwest toward the transmitter site of KSD-TV. From the “head-end” the channel was piped along the cable with other local channels 3, 17, 20 to the coop members.

KSD News

For local TV news broadcasts in St. Louis, KSD-TV and later KSDK has long dominated the ratings especially during the very early years. Being the first local TV station on the air, the only VHF station for a number of years gave the station enough of a head start to keep it above all of the others.

Titles of early newscasts include: “Your Esso Reporter”(Esso was a gasoline brand), “AP News and Views” and later the consultant driven title of “Eyewitness News.”

To mention all of the local news broadcasters of KSD over the years would be impossible, although many of them have been at the station for many years. That longevity of anchors and personalities in the market is one more reason the station has enjoyed the local news success it has. If you have suggestions of notable personalities at KSD over the years, please e-mail me your suggestions to be included on this site.

In 2010, KSD has taken on the local broadcasts of the St. Louis ABC affiliate KDNL, by recording content in advance and airing newscasts at 5 and 10pm for the Sinclair Broadcast Group station. Sinclair eliminated local newscasts of KDNL a number of years before.

(far left): A TV Guide entry for Kraft Television Theater, a series of presentations with different hosts and stars recreating everything from fairy tales to serious plays and recreations of movies.  This one was broadcast in March of 1954 and broadcast on NBC and KSD(along with WOC, Channel 6 in the Quad Cities). 
Many of these broadcasts in future years were
broadcast in color.  From information in the central Illinois edition of TV Guide, Channel 5 was the only NBC station which had the capability to broadcast in color.

Notice the show was broadcast live.  It is not known if any kinescopes of this or other live broadcasts of this prestigious series exists today.

(near left): An NBC TV Guide from January of 1958 for the night time version of "Truth or Consequences."  Notice also, it was a live broadcast from the NBC television facility in Hollywood, California.

The show was broadcast by KSD-TV, channel 5.

(from TV Guide, and the collection of
Doug Quick)
Images of NBC through 2010 and KSD-TV through 1960

thanks to:
Wayne Brasler
Bob Lee Collection of Screen Grabs

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KTVI, Channel 2, St. Louis, Missouri (WTVI, Channel 54, 36)

WTVI, Channel 54
broadcasting from Belleville, Illinois, "serving the Greater St. Louis area"

(from KTVI  & You Tube)

WTVI  making news
in central Illinois as reported by the Springfield, Illinois State Journal-Register in 1953

WTVI, Channel 54, The Second St. Louis TV Signal

When a contest was taking place for the allocation of available VHF channels in St. Louis right after the lifting of the “freeze” in 1952, one prospective broadcast television owner was seeking another way to obtain the goal of a license. By competing with other VHF applicants it would involve having to wait perhaps a year or two, and investing more money, with a good chance of not obtaining the main goal of the construction permit. That prospective owner-group was Signal Hill Telecasting Corporation.

In late October of 1952, Signal Hill Telecasting Corporation would file an application for channel 54 allocated to Belleville, Illinois.  The proposed station would broadcast with an effective radiated power of 220kw from a tower with a height of 593' located on hill on West Main Street in Belleville.  The plans for the facility would include a transmitter and antenna manufactured by RCA.   The next month, in mid November, the FCC would grant Signal Hill channel 54.

The station would broadcast using one of the most powerful UHF transmitters built and its tower/transmitter would be located high on the Illinois bluffs, just 6 miles from downtown St. Louis.  Sometime in the planning process, the RCA transmitter was changed to a General Electric transmitter model number TT-25-A.  This would be the same model of transmitter used by two more future UHF stations in St. Louis, KSTM and KACY.

In December of 1952 an application was filed for the second channel allocated for Belleville, channel 42, by Belleville Broadcasting Company. It's proposed location was to be at radio station WIBV Radio at 2100 West Main in Belleville. That proposed station at channel 42 never was completed.

The WTVI studios in Belleville from 1954. 

(courtesy of St. Louis Media History)
Signal Hill Telecasting Corporation signs a contract with Graybar Electric Company for delivery of one of the world's most powerful transmitters with effective radiated power of 220,000 watts.  Contract is for equipment in excess of $250,000.  Left to right, John P. Lenkerd, manager, electric sales, Graybar Electric Company; Ted Westcott, vice-president in charge of programming, Signal Hill: Bernard T. Wilson, president Signal Hill; C.S. Powell, district manager, Graybar; John Hyatt, vice president in charge of sales, Signal Hill.
(from TV Review and the collection of Wayne Brasler)

View Larger Map

Behind the Scenes at Signal Hill

That transmitter/antenna combination stated in the construction permit would give WTVI, Channel 54 an effective radiated power of 220-thousand watts. The stations antenna would be mounted atop a tower which would put the antenna 600 feet above the already highest point around St. Louis area. Material from the station stated that the stations signal would be easily received by viewers 50 or more miles around St. Louis in all directions.

Signal Hill Telecasting Corporation, was organized by Bernard "Ben" Wilson (10% ownership), John Hyatt (10%) and Ted Weiskotten (10%) who were radio and television veterans(as much of a television veteran as there was in those days), along with Paul Peltason (33.75%)  and Harry Tenenbaum (33.75%), a couple of St Louis investment bankers. According to the St. Louis TV (P)Review magazine(a sort of early TV Guide for St. Louis) Wilson and Hyatt were KMOX Radio account executives, and Ted Weiskotten was a producer-director for KSD-TV. 

Ben Wilson's background included 22 years of radio and theater experience. John Hyatt had over 15 years of radio sales experience. Weiskotten had over 18 years experience in theater, radio and television which included stints with WBKB in Chicago, KMOX, KSD-TV and the Gardner Advertising Agency.

Wilson would be the president of Signal Hill and KTVI general manager, while Hyatt would be the vice-president in charge of sales and Weiskotten would be the vice-president in charge of programming.

By January of 1953, WTVI appointed Weed and Company as station national representative. With that press release, it was stated that Channel 54 would be on the air in May of 1953. The next month, WTVI had signed an affiliation agreement with DuMont which would take the part time affiliation away from KSD-TV.

Here is the former site of WTVI located on West Main
Street near Belleville.
(google earth)

That May of 1953 goal was unobtainable. It's unknown what difficulties the station had in going on the air in May. It can be assumed that equipment delivery problems, installation problems as well as tower construction and even studio building problems were to blame. It appears that a delay of a couple of months reset the on-air date to sometime in late July. An article welcoming WTVI to the air was in the July 25 edition of St. Louis TV (P)Review magazine. It stated, “Many difficulties were encounters and many of us were impatient at the long wait for a new station in this area, and we can now realize the thrill of turning the station selector switch.” On July 27, 1953, WTVI, Channel 54 went on the air with a test pattern from its studios at 10200 West Main Street in Belleville. The station would begin programming on August 10, 1953.

At the sign-on it was also announced that the sales department at WTVI had signed more than a half a million dollars in business even before broadcasting began. It was also stated that they conducted research that indicated over 100,000 television sets in the St. Louis area were equipped to receive UHF Channel 54. WTVI also established a business office in St. Louis for its sales department. That office was at 1939 Boatmen's Bank Building in downtown St. Louis.

(from TV Guide, Doug Quick Collection)

WTVI Receives Live Network Service

Shortly after sign-on in August of 1953, WTVI was the second television station in the St. Louis market to be connected to live network service. Network service was provided by Southwestern Bell Telephone and utilized an eleven mile microwave link from the AT and T base in St. Louis. By that time the live network service from AT and T was connected to 147 stations in 98 U.S. cities. WTVI was a “basic” DuMont network affiliate but would also feature programming on a per program basis from ABC and CBS during the early days. By adding a live network feed for WTVI it eliminated the need for the broadcast of kinescopes from DuMont.

Seeking more UHF Viewers for WTVI

One of the largest obstacles to obtain viewers for WTVI was the fact that it would be the first of two other UHF stations going on the air in the next year competing with the already established KSD-TV. A big sales job was going to take place to sell the public on the fact that they would have to invest another $6 to $50 to receive the new UHF station, as most TV sets of the era in major markets, especially were sold to the public without the tuners to receive UHF broadcasts. This would be similar to buying a radio with the AM band only, without FM. Add to the problem, that most St. Louis potential viewers more than likely had a difficult time receiving Channel 54 on indoor antennas because of the location of the transmitter a few miles east of St. Louis.

Station material published in the TV (P)Review encouraged potential viewers to “convert your set” to receive the new UHF band and ultimately WTVI. It explained that 85% of television stations in the country will be found on the UHF frequencies and only 15% would be located on the VHF band.

Some of the advantages of UHF over VHF listed included the fact that “man-made electrical disturbances do not interfere with your viewing pleasure. When someone in the neighborhood runs a vacuum cleaner, or an electric shaver, or an electric mixer, or an attic fan, or when a furnace blower comes on, or an automobile or airplane passes by, the picture on channel 54 will not be affected.  Lightning will not interfere, nor will X-ray machines. You will get a good picture, without interference at all times.” It was good to know that those viewers with at-home x-ray machines would be able to receive UHF stations with no problems.

The material also included testimonials from a Portland, Oregon station which said, “UHF reception is superior in other ways. The picture is improved. The blacks are blacker, the whites are whiter, and different shades of gray show up in better contrast to each other."

More St. Louis UHF Company

Other UHF allocations were granted for St. Louis and by February of 1953 Missouri Broadcasting owner of WIL Radio was granted channel 42, and was the fifth UHF station granted to the St. Louis market. Along with KSTM(Channel 36), KACY(Channel 14), WTVI Channel 54), KFUO-TV(Channel 30) licensed to Clayton, Missouri. A petition was also filed in June of 1953 on behalf of Metropolitan Broadcasting to allocate channel 24 to St. Louis. Meanwhile the multiple applicants for VHF channels 4 and 11 would keep the process tied up for many more months.

In October of 1953, WTVI had company on the UHF band. On October 20th, KSTM, Channel 36 went on the air from a, then, state of the art showplace on Bethold, Oakland and Hampton Avenues in south St. Louis. “The Big Mo” as it was called was an ABC affiliate with secondary affiliation with CBS. More on KSTM below in another segment. Also going on the air was KACY, Channel 14 in November of 1953. KACY was licensed to Festus, Missouri, located south of St. Louis. KACY was trying to become a CBS affiliate with a part time arrangement to pick up the un-cleared CBS shows rejected by KSD-TV.

Like so many UHF stations which went on the air in 1953-54, as many as 40% failed during their first couple of years.  KSTM and KACY failed within their first year!  See more about KSTM and KACY in other segments below.

WTVI, Channel 54, Belleville, Illinois(St. Louis, Missouri market)

Signal Hill Telecasting Corporation
10200 W. Main Street
Belleville, Illinois

Phone: Express 7-0054

Facilities:  Channel 54, Authorized Effective Radiated Power, Visual 245kw, Aural 129kw
Transmitter: GE Model TT-25-A     Antenna: Gaberial Workshop; Type: WA25NFIXX
Height, above average terrain 630 feet, 589 feet above ground

Operation began August 10, 1953

Network Affiliations: DuMont, CBS

Representatives: Sales- Weed Television; Washington attorney: Sher, Oppenheimer and Harris

Services: One studio 20x30 feet, three DuMont camera chains, one DuMont film camera, two type AQ-2 Model 11000CD film projectors, two selectroslide Jr. slide projectors, one Poly FX Federal scanner, one mobile unit News Services: AP, INS

Rate information: Class A one hour Live $400, Film $400.  Minute spot Live $60, film $60,
Frequency discounts from 5% for 13 times up to 30% for 260 times, Rate Card #3

Market Info: Population 2,136,946, families in area: 650,643  Number of sets(June 1, 1954) 255,052(UHF)
retail sales: $3,260,774,000  income per family $4,111  Income per capita: $1,251

(from Television Yearbook 1954-55)

WTVI Personalities

In June of 1953, it was announced that Bruce Hayward was named director of news and special events at WTVI.
An edition of TV Guide from November 20, 1954 included a profile of Channel 54's director of news and special events, Bruce Hayward. Hayward was talking about how newsmen have to “sell” the news, much like other announcers sell products, “It's a lot easier to sell news. While entertainers are dependent upon writers for their material, the whole world provides mine.”

Hayward was the newscaster at WTVI's 6:30 and 10pm newscasts on WTVI. The 32-year old Hayward, was formerly the chief newscaster for 10 years at KWK Radio. He attended the University of Minnesota, majoring in speech. While he was a student, he was an announcer at a Minneapolis radio station, then accepted a job at a large agency to do a network news show originating at KWK Radio in St. Louis. He remained at KWK until he joined the staff at WTVI in the fall of 1953.

In June of 1953, WTVI added an account executive from KMOX Radio, Arnold K. Knippernberg, along with Milo Hamilton as a sports director. By September of 1953, Bill Eckstein and Done Lucy both formerly from WJPF Radio in Herrin, Illinois were added to WTVI's staff in an unknown capacity.

In January of 1954, Harry Tenenbaum was elected vice-president of Signal Hill Broadcasting and WTVI. He was also a major stockholder of the company. Paul Pelteson was a vice president and the general manger of WTVI in early 1954.

One of the earlier local sales managers of WTVI was Harold Kirsch. In February of 1954, he filed a damage suit in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis against Signal Hill Broadcasting for breach of contract. He stated that when he joined WTVI the company was paying him a salary of $15,000 a year plus 2 1/2% of the gross local sales. He stated the agreement was in written form from the management for WTVI. Paul Pelteson, WTVI president and general manager said the first he knew about the suit was when it appeared in the local newspapers. He went on to say, “Mr. Kirsch resigned. In addition he had no contract, no agreement with us. We paid him $1,000 a month and I can truthfully say that he failed to perform.” Just for the record, Kirsch operated the Harold Kirsch Company a St. Louis advertising agency for five years before selling it to go with WTVI. It seems rather improbable that Mr. Kirsch was an underachiever. Its unknown, though, how the suit was resolved.

In March of 1954, John D. Scheuer Jr. was named executive vice president of Signal Hill Telecasting Corporation and general manager of WTVI. The appointment was announced by Paul E. Pelteson, WTVI president. Scheuer was the executive assistant to the general manager at WFIL AM-TV in Philadelphia. He assumed the role on May 1, 1954.

WTVI Programming During First Week of Programming

Below is the WTVI schedule from Thursday, July 30, 1953, during the first week of regular programming.  Note the number of "film" listings, probably filled with syndicated purchased programming, not yet purchased when the schedule was submitted to TV Review.

Thursday, July 30, 1953                        Program Listings for WTVI, Channel 54, Belleville, Illinois
5:42pm Program Previews-(unknown origin)
5:45pm Time for Beany-(syndicated cartoon series)
6:00pm Captain Video-(DuMont-live from network)
6:30pm News and Weather-(local origination at WTVI)
6:45pm Sports-(local origination at WTVI)
7:00pm Film-(unknown origin or subject matter)

7:30pm Film-(unknown origin or subject matter)
8:00pm Treasure Hunt-(unknown origin or format)
8:30pm Author meets the Critics-(unknown origin)
9:00pm The Big Idea-(documentary, Dumont-live from network)
9:30pm Film-(unknown origin or subject matter)
10:00pm News and Weather-(local origination
               at WTVI)
10:15pm Sports-(local origination at WTVI)
10:30pm Feature Film-(unknown)

(from TV Review, Wayne Brasler Collection

WTVI Take the Lead in a National UHF Broadcasting Group

In October of 1953, a UHF trade association formed which included representatives from eight UHF stations, mostly in the midwest. WTVI was represented by Paul Pelteson and Henry Tenenbaum. Henry Tenenbaum of WTVI would be elected treasurer of the group. Other representatives from St. Louis and central Illinois included Marshall H. Pengra from KSTM, Harold Cowgill from WTVP(Decatur), U.R. Norman from WTVH(Peoria), Brownie Ackers(WEEK) and Jack Garrison(KACY). It was at those meetings that KSTM and its ownership would make major proposals for the elimination of allocations for St. Louis for channel 4 and 11 and the addition of other UHF frequencies. The group would also make demands from television equipment manufacturers which would bring about more power from UHF transmitters and to television manufacturers to reduce the price of UHF converters.

"Captain Video"


WTVI in the Black

In a report in Broadcasting-Telecasting on profitability of UHF stations, WTVI announced it was operating “in the black” after two months on the air. The work the station had done promotionally to build UHF reception in St. Louis was stated by the stations national representative Joseph Weed at Weed Television, “It's success can be attributed to excellent planning.”

UHF conversion began with 66,799 to receive Channel 54 on June 30, 1953, six weeks before the station's official debut. By October 19, 1953, the count would increase to 127,000. The increase of sets to UHF reception was progressing at 500 sets a day and local TV “servicemen” reported they were 30 to 60 days behind on conversion orders. All of the antennas were pointed eastward to WTVI's Belleville, Illinois transmitter and UHF strip tuners were all set to channel 54.

It was possible that being the first UHF station on the air, would be beneficial to Signal Hill and would help in the future success of the station.

The WTVI control room from 1953 with a view into the studio.

(courtesy St. Louis Media History)

The WTVI transmitter, a GE
Model TT-25-A.

(courtesy St. Louis Media History)

The St. Louis Cardinals Play Into the Success of WTVI

By November of 1953 a bidding war was taking place for the broadcast rights to the St. Louis Cardinals for the 1954 season. The rights would go to both radio and television facilities. In 1953, the rights to the Cardinals on radio went to WIL Radio, but for 1954, the rights would be granted to KXOK Radio. The television rights would be more difficult to award. This new medium of television brought out more bidders. In the past KSD-TV was the only choice. By 1953 with the additions of WTVI, KSTM and KACY it took more time to examine the financial stability of each possible outlet as well as their potential to serve the local fans of the team and establish a possible network of other local television stations outside the St. Louis market. Soon after the announcement of the radio rights winner, WTVI would be awarded the rights to the cherished St. Louis Cardinal telecasts meaning $200,000 in billing for the station.

Budweiser would sponsor Cardinal baseball on well over one-hundred stations and games of nine Cardinal-franchised teams. Negotiations were completed with television stations in all of the National League cities to provide a means to pipe road games of the Cardinals back to WTVI which won the bid for television rights for the Cardinal broadcasts. Seventy-seven road games would be televised and broadcast by WTVI, Channel 54. Its unknown how many stations were included in the network of stations that would also broadcast the baseball television production. By the way, the baseball play by play was to feature the talents of Harry Carey.

(images from TV Guide, Doug Quick Collection)

This WTVI ad was from November of 1954.  Notice
that WTVI was receiving programming from
CBS, ABC and DuMont at the time and included
the classic Edward R. Murrow broadcasts of
"Person to Person"
(image from TV Guide, Doug Quick Collection)

By 1955, WTVI, Channel 54 had become
KTVI, Channel 36 broadcasting from
the Missouri side of Mississippi River from
the former studios of KSTM.
(image from TV Guide, Doug Quick Collection)

More Power for WTVI

In January of 1954, WTVI was granted a construction permit to increase the effective radiated power of Channel 54 to 245kw. It was also about the time that WTVI was facing other UHF competition from KSTM and KACY which were also reaching higher power levels with the highest powered GE transmitters available at the time.

Legal Challenge from a  UHF Competitor

The competition between the UHF stations in St. Louis was growing while ignoring the dominance of VHF Channel 5, KSD-TV. In March 6,1954 a lawsuit was filed by KACY against both CBS and WTVI. Ozark Television Company and KACY was asking for $844,282 in actual damages and $2,532,848 in “treble” damages under Federal anti trust laws. KACY charged that CBS and WTVI conspired to prevent it from getting CBS clearance of shows not carried by KSD-TV.

KACY alleged that it had anticipated $100,000 in profit since it went on the air, but instead had lost $244,282. The Festus, Missouri station claimed it was the only station that was contractually free from network commitments and could assure that CBS programs could air within its broadcast schedule. The station also claimed a major devaluation of its facility and equipment. A month later KACY would cease operations.

WTVI Applies for Channel 4

KSTM on channel 36 applied for channel 11 along with a number of other applicants, hoping to better its dial position. The station fought during its short life for its future with no success. WTVI also applied for a better dial position, but the station seemed to do little early on to improve its situation concentrating instead on its much talked about sales successes. When there was an attempt to better the dial position, Signal Hill made the move too late in the process with the management failing to show a real commitment to changing the dial position.

On April 20, 1954, Signal Hill Telecasting filed to add its name to the roster of applicants for St. Louis channel 4. This last minute maneuver was similar to the actions taken by KSTM in trying to obtain channel 11. Unfortunately, it was the same time the merging of the various other applicants occurred which placed the ownership of KWK Radio in the most favorable position to obtain the grant of the construction permit for channel 4.

The FCC would award the allocation for channel 4 to the KWK Radio group on May 7, 1954. See KMOV(KWK-TV, KMOX-TV) for more on the history of what would become the St. Louis CBS station.

After the awarding of channel 4 to KWK, Signal Hill and KTVI appealed the FCC decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals saying the FCC granted the revised KWK application even though WTVI filed its application two days before the KWK filing of the merger. WTVI claimed that their application was denied without a hearing. The argument was for a temporary stay of the FCC grant to KWK, pending the court's determination on the appeal. The case was heard by Chief Judge Harold M. Stephens and Judges David L. Baselon and George Thomas Washington. The FCC and the KWK counsel argued that no stay was necessary, since WTVI would receive a fair hearing if the court ordered.

It was also determined that WTVI had no interest in channel 4 until six days after the initial decision and two days before the FCC's final decision. Since the FCC had found that all applicants were qualified, the merged application was not a new application. The case was argued for WTVI by Monroe Oppenheimer of Sher, Oppenheimer and Harris. William C. Koplovitz from Dempsey and Koplovitz for KWK and Daniel R. Ohlbaum for the FCC.

The WTVI case wasn't over yet. Signal Hill challenged the merger once again filing an economic protest with the FCC to challenge the legality of the FCC's merger policy. WTVI contended the channel 4 outlet would represent a $5-million asset, the granting of options to competitors constituted an illegal consideration since KWK would pay only part of the option value for the stock. The procedure would be contrary to both public and FCC policy according to WTVI. A question was also raised concerning the agreement between KWK and KXOK Radio breaking the duopoly rule. Signal Hill also stated that the granting of KWK would mean the end of at least one of the UHF stations now serving St. Louis and the act of the FCC grant of channel 4 to KWK was an act that is legally indefensible.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington would deny the bid by WTVI. The court, though, told the FCC not to issue a license to KWK until it had decided the merits of the WTVI's appeal. The courts did approve for the FCC issuance of special temporary authority to KWK for construction. The efforts of Signal Hill against the awarding of channel 4 to KWK was to no avail. Channel 4 would finally be granted free and clear to KWK-TV and St. Louis would lose two UHF stations during the fall of 1954. After the final decision by the FCC, Signal Hill was granted a withdrawal of its protest against KWK.

Channel 4 Application Indicates Ownership changes at Signal Hill

When the application was made for channel 4 by Signal Hill, the listing of principals had changed since its original application for channel 54. The owners were listed as: president and treasurer, Paul E. Peltason(37.25% ownership); first vice president Harry Tenenbaum(37.25%); secretary H. M. Stolar(0.83%); vice president John I. Hyatt(3.33%); and Mrs. Janet W. Levy(27%).

The Army-McCarthy Hearings and WTVI

The coverage of the Army-McCarthy hearings was a billing bonanza for those DuMont and ABC stations of the era. For WTVI it meant a sponsorship by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Ironically, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch owned competitor KSD AM-TV. Across the country 54 ABC stations and 11 DuMont stations were broadcasting the 78 hours of hearings live. It is unknown if WTVI was taking the ABC or DuMont network feed.

WTVI Testifies as Part of a Senate Subcommittee

In June of 1954 WTVI sent Harry Tenenbaum to testify as to the problems of UHF broadcasters across the country. Tenenbaum called for an immediate “freeze” and a “complete study of the present allocations system” with reference to intermixture of VHF and UHF channels in the same markets. Tenenbaum vied to continue operating as a UHF station despite the odds, and that the station would utilize the maximum allowable power to adequately “do a thorough coverage job in the St. Louis area.” He stated that there were 250,000 UHF sets in the 600,000 set St. Louis area.

The financial picture of WTVI became public knowledge with the admission of a total investment of $828,000 for WTVI. It was also released that the station owed $250,000 in equipment notes. Total losses of WTVI were “slightly under $400,000.” The station had invested $85,000 on UHF promotion. He also referred to $200,000 spent on a 12k transmitter in December of 1953 “despite the fact that we were heavily in the red.”

WTVI according to Tenenbaum had reached the “break even point” in May of 1954. He stated that the published reports that UHF losses should be compared to early VHF losses were “odious, unfair and dishonest.” He told the story of early VHF pioneers were working “from the bottom up” and the station owners could see day to day improvement. He said that that is not the case for UHF stations. He said that as the UHF audience increased, the national business paradoxically decreased.

It was at that hearing that Franklin C. Salisbury announced that KSTM would be losing its ABC affiliation. That would pretty much put an end to Channel 36. It was also soon after that KWK would pick up the CBS affiliation. That would mean more challenges for WTVI as it would be losing its CBS income stream.

WTVI Loses a General Sales Manager and Conducts a Major Promotion

During the summer of 1954 the management of WTVI would lose a major player. John I. Hyatt, vice president and general sales manager of WTVI resigned on my birthday, August 5, 1954. A week later WTVI would host the General Electric “Wonderhome.” This event was hosted by GE and sponsored exclusively by WTVI and televised by Channel 54. The “Wonderhome” would feature a home designed for the future and show the many new technologies involved. The home was revealed in a special program telecast on WTVI using a three camera, ten man production crew. At the conclusion of the program, an invitation was extended to viewers to personally inspect the home the following day. In spite of 110-degree heat, a crowd of 5 to 6-thousand St. Louisans toured the home. The response of the show exceeded the response of similar invitations offered earlier in the year in other VHF only markets across the country.

Programming Challenges

WTVI participated in a plan to set up affordable programming for UHF stations and small VHF stations. John D. Scheuer executive vice president and general manager of WTVI teamed with Harold Goldman of National Telefilm to announce a plan to allow for more affordable high-budget broadcast films.

The arrangement would allow the station to purchase, for example, one hour of programming for $200. The stations time charge is $200 and offering commercial time to amount to $600. That would bring a “profit” of $200, which would be divided between NTA and the station.

The agreement would set up a contract for a certain number of hours of programming over a year commitment. At the beginning 18 stations were a part of the plan with many more in negotiations with NTA. The plan was to have well over 150 stations participate.

This was a much more attractive plan for those stations without a network affiliation agreement and had plenty of time in their schedule for additional programming. Since WTVI was a DuMont affiliate with a rather sparse schedule of programming, this would have been an ideal programming source for Channel 54.

WTVI Becomes an ABC Affiliate

The cancellation of the affiliation agreement by ABC with KSTM and the seemingly ever changing television station scenario in St. Louis brought about an uncertain situation for the network. With the upcoming grants of a total of three VHF stations in St. Louis meant that each network would have an outlet in the future, but the FCC was going to be slow in the issuance of the grant of the last VHF station on channel 11. If CBS would gain the upper hand, and receive channel 11, it was a certainty that channel 11 would be a CBS outlet, leaving Channel 4 as a possible ABC affiliate. So, in the meantime, ABC would need an outlet in St. Louis until such time that the VHF shake down would occur.

Just two weeks after the shutdown of ABC affiliate KSTM, WTVI was announced as ABC affiliate number 206. WTVI joined ABC with programming on Tuesday, August 17, 1954. I would assume it was a short term network affiliation contract.

The Week of August 20, 1955                  Program Listings of KTVI, Channel 36, St. Louis
This listing came from the station which a short time previously was located in Bellville, Illinois.  They had just moved from Belleville to the former home of KSTM(TM) to broadcast on channel 36.  They were not yet of the size the station would become after a few years of operating as a full time ABC affiliate, or as a VHF stations it would become a couple of years later.
Saturday August 20
4:30pm Western Theater-"Man from Utah" John Wayne(local film)
5:30pm Sands of Time(unknown subject/source)
5:45pm Jules Strongbow Presents(unknown subject/source)
6:00pm Roller Derby-(syndicated-kinescope)
6:30pm Championship Bowling-(unknown source)
7:30pm Sports Kaleidoscope-(unknown source)
7:35pm Dugout Chatter-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
7:40pm Great Sports Moments-(live-Cardinal Network)
7:45pm Warm Up Time-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
7:55pm Baseball-"Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Redlegs" from Crosley Field-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
10:40pm Sports Highlights-(source unknown)
10:45pm Name the Face-Quiz-(source unknown)
10:50pm The Scoreboard-Miller-(assumed live local)
11:00pm Million Dollar Movie-"Don Ricardo Returns" Fred Coby, Isabelita, Paul Newland-(local film)

Sunday, August 21
1:00pm Sports Kaleidoscope-(unknown source)
1:05pm Dugout Chatter-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
1:10pm Great Sports Moments-(live-Cardinal Network)
1:15pm Warm Up Time-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
1:25pm Baseball-"Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Redlegs" from Crosley Field-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
4:10pm Sports Highlights-(source unknown)
4:15pm Name the Face-Quiz-(source unknown)
4:20pm The Scoreboard-Miller-(assumed live local)
4:30pm Face the Nation-(CBS live from network)
5:00pm Oral Roberts-(paid religious film program)
5:30pm Holiday-Travelog-(source unknown)
6:00pm It's Magic-(CBS-summer replacement show for "Lassie" starred Paul Tripp
6:30pm Hollywood Backstage-(ABC-also called "Ern Westmore Show"- advise on make-up with beauty consultant to the stars, Ern Westmore.  His wife Betty was also a co-host)
7:00pm Movie-"Bowery Blitzkrieg"-East Side Kids"-(local film)
8:00pm Movie-"Her Sister's Secret" Nancy Coleman, Margaret Lindsay, Phillip Reed(local film)
9:30pm Faith for Today-Religion- (syndicated produced by the Seventh Day Adventist Church)
10:00pm Sacred Heart Show-Religion-(paid religion film)
10:15pm Million Dollar Movie-"Don Ricardo Returns" Note: Repeat from previous evenings movie at 11pm

Monday, August 22
4:30pm Brand 36 Corral-"Feud of the Trail" Tom Tyler also another chapter of the serial "Red Barry" starring Buster Crabbe(possible live in studio kids show, with kids in a studio audience with film features)
6:00pm Soupy Sales-Kids(ABC-live from Detroit)
6:15pm News-John Daley(ABC live from network)
6:30pm News-Roundup-(local origination newscast)
6:45pm The Passerby-Drama(unknown subject/source)
7:00pm Outdoor Sports Club-featuring George Carson-(unknown format/source)
7:30pm Concert-(probably "Voice of Firestone", Host: Howard Barlow-Eugene Conley-(ABC live from network)
8:00pm Big Picture-(military provided film)
8:30pm The Hunter-drama-(syndicated off network filmed drama, originally on CBS and NBC)
9:00pm Boxing-New York-Virgil Akins from St. Louis vs Isaac Logart from Havana.  Chris Schenkel reports from the St. Nicolas Arena.  Bout was fought on Aug 8th.  (filmed boxing match, was received live from ABC network)
9:45pm Sports Spotlight-Miller-(assumed live local sportscast)
10:00pm News-Roundup(anchors, format all unknown but assumed local studio production-perhaps with Bruce Hayward
10:15pm Championship Bowling-(unknown source)

Tuesday, August 23
4:30pm Brand 36 Corral-"Feud of the Trail" Tom Tyler also another chapter of the serial "Red Barry" starring Buster Crabbe(possible live in studio kids show, with kids in a studio audience with film features)
6:00pm Soupy Sales-Kids(ABC-live from Detroit)
6:15pm News-John Daley(ABC live from network)
6:30pm Sports Kaleidoscope-(unknown source)
6:35pm Dugout Chatter-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
6:40pm Great Sports Moments-(live-Cardinal Network)
6:45pm Warm Up Time-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
6:55pm Baseball-"Cardinals vs. New York Giants" from the Polo Grounds in N.Y.-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
9:40pm Sports Highlights-(source unknown)
9:45pm Name the Face-Quiz-(source unknown)
9:50pm The Scoreboard-Miller-(assumed live local)

10:00pm News-Roundup
10:10pm Weather-Forecast
10:15pm Million Dollar Movie-"The French Key" with Albert Dekker, Mike Mazurki

As you look through these listings it becomes obvious that KTVI didn't purchase much programming material, or didn't have it available to purchase.  Movies were run and rerun up to 3 times a week....Even "Championship Bowling" which was probably syndicated(or available through ABC Kinescope) was run and rerun.  Network programming was sparse, having only aired one CBS and one DuMont program the entire week, and only a handful of ABC programs. 

The only big program on the KTVI schedule were the St. Louis Cardinal away game telecast schedule.  Their coverage of the St. Louis MLB franchise was incredibly important to the station and probably was the factor which contributed to its existence in the future!

ABC by time time was airing many shows which were not aired on KTVI, showing the networks lack of enthusiasm about their affiliate.  Shows on ABC but not on KTVI include: You Asked for It, Names the Same, Twenty Questions, Make Room for Daddy, Disneyland, Stu Erwin Show, Lone Ranger, Kraft Television Theater, Rin Tin Tin, Ozzie and Harriet, Dollar a Second, Dotty Mack Show and others.

(TV Guide Schedule
 from the Doug Quick Collection)
Wednesday, August 24
12:00pm Sports Kaleidoscope-(unknown source)
12:05pm Dugout Chatter-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
12:10pm Great Sports Moments-(live-Cardinal Network)
12:15pm Warm Up Time-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
12:25pm Baseball-"Cardinals vs. New York Giants" from the Polo Grounds in N.Y.-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
3:10pm Sports Highlights-(source unknown)
3:15pm Name the Face-Quiz-(source unknown)
3:20pm The Scoreboard-Miller-(assumed live local)
3:30pm Movie-Western-"The Man from Utah"(local film-repeat from earlier presentation on Sat, 4:30pm)
4:30pm Brand 36 Corral-"Trigger Fingers" Johnny Mack Brown also another chapter of the serial "Red Barry" starring Buster Crabbe(possible live in studio kids show, with kids in a studio audience with film features)
6:00pm Soupy Sales-Kids(ABC-live from Detroit)
6:15pm News-John Daley(ABC live from network)
6:30pm News-Roundup-(local origination newscast)
6:45pm Tell it to the Mayor-(local origination-public affairs)
7:00pm Championship Bowling-(unknown source)
8:00pm Sands of Time-(unknown subject/source)
8:15pm Sacred Heart Show-discussion by Wm. K. Schweinher, S.J.(assumed religious paid program)
8:30pm International Playhouse-(DuMont kinescope-dramatic anthology series with short foreign films and other foreign made dramatic stories, originally ran 1951)
9:00pm Boxing-New York-Russ Hodges reports-(also called "Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts" live from ABC network)
9:45pm Great Sports Thrills-(format unknown/source unknown)
10:00pm News-Roundup
10:10pm Weather-Forecast
10:15pm Million Dollar Movie-"The French Key" with Albert Dekker, Mike Mazurki
(repeat of movie which previously on Tuesday, Aug 23)
Thursday, August 25
4:30pm Sports Kaleidoscope-(unknown source)
4:35pm Dugout Chatter-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
4:40pm Great Sports Moments-(live-Cardinal Network)
4:45pm Warm Up Time-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
4:55pm Baseball-
"Cardinals vs. Philidelphia Phillies" from Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)Note: between games news by Bruce Hayward will be followed by the second game at approximately 7:55pm)
10:40pm Sports Highlights-(source unknown)
10:45pm Name the Face-Quiz-(source unknown)
10:50pm The Scoreboard-Miller-(assumed live local)
11:00pm News and Weather
11:15pm Movie-"The French Key"(local film-third time this same movie has been scheduled this week)

Friday, August 26
4:30pm Brand 36 Corral-"Feud of the Trail" Tom Tyler also another chapter of the serial "Red Barry" starring Buster Crabbe(possible live in studio kids show, with kids in a studio audience with film features)
6:00pm Soupy Sales-Kids(ABC-live from Detroit)
6:15pm News-John Daley(ABC live from network)
6:30pm Sports Kaleidoscope-(unknown source)
6:35pm Dugout Chatter-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
6:40pm Great Sports Moments-(live-Cardinal Network)
6:45pm Warm Up Time-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
6:55pm Baseball-"Cardinals vs. Philidelphia Phillies" from Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia-(live-Cardinal Network-KTVI)
9:40pm Sports Highlights-(source unknown)
9:45pm Name the Face-Quiz-(source unknown)
9:50pm The Scoreboard-Miller-(assumed live local)

10:00pm News-Roundup
10:10pm Weather-Forecast
10:15pm Million Dollar Movie-"The Kansan" with Richard Dix

"Roller Derby" aired for several years on WTVI and KTVI on Saturday evenings at 6pm

The TV listings called this one "Concert" to keep from calling it by its sponsored name, "The Voice of Firestone."

"The Big Picture" were hlaf hour public relations features produced for and about the U.S. Military.  It was also a great recruitment tool being provided any and all TV stations at no charge.

This half hour film series was scripted dramas with a religious theme.  It was furnished by the Seventh Day Adventist Church and was hosted by Rev. William A. Sagal.
(more coming soon)

WTVI Sales Department Recovers

In late August 1954, the WTVI sales department added to its ranks with the appointment of Paul R. Litt. It's unknown Mr. Litt's role within the department. In early September WTVI would change its national representative from Weed to Radio TV Representatives Inc.. Also in early September Edgar L. Franciscus was added to the sales department at WTVI. He was formerly an account executive at KXOK Radio. It also seems that the situation with KSTM brought about an exodus of personell and with that, WTVI also picked up a new accountant with the appointment of former KSTM accountant Seral A. Smith.

The Call Letters of KTVI Would Become Available

As it happened a station in Nampa, Idaho, KTVI(TV) owned by Idaho Broadcasting and TV Company merged with another broadcast owner.  In November of 1954 the FCC deleted the former channel 6 KTVI call letters at the request of their attorney. 

Promotional Activity at WTVI

Before the holidays in 1954, WTVI hosted the Cerebral Palsy Telethon. During the charitable initiative pledges were at the $80,000 mark by early January with both pledged and unpledged funds still coming into the station. John D. Scheuer Jr. said the talent lineup for the Dec 17-19 telethon included personalities from a dozen other local TV and radio outlets, plus the services of 4300 volunteer workers. The talent lineup included Ted Mack, Mel Torme, Joe Garagiola and 200 other radio/tv personalities.

On January 11, 1955 the sales department at WTVI hosted 198 Ad Club retail members at a luncheon. At the luncheon the station hired models to pass out a simulated alligator wallet to everyone which contained a new dollar bill with the following message: “This we hope is just one of the many dollars that will make more sales for you on WTVI by buying more audience for less money.” At the luncheon John D. Scheuer Jr. described how WTVI pioneered TV in the St. Louis market.

WTVI moves to St. Louis and Becomes KTVI

The failure of KSTM was a particular lucky break for WTVI. After the KSTM construction permit was turned back to the FCC on September 15, 1954, a decision by Signal Hill Telecasting would bring new life back to Channel 36, not as KSTM, but as WTVI. A request by Signal Hill Telecasting to the FCC would relocate the facilities of WTVI to the then defunct KSTM facilities. The wording of the request included the phrase, “receive and operate” the facilities.

If granted, Signal Hill said it would begin operating within one week of FCC approval. It said it would double its present power to 500kw on channel 36 and change its call letters to KTVI to reflect its change of operation west of the Mississippi River. Signal Hill would also surrender its construction permit on channel 54 back to the FCC.

WTVI at that time was affiliated at least loosely with ABC, CBS and DuMont. The station in its application also stated that the move to the lower UHF channel would permit it to better serve the St. Louis area and save it nearly $50,000 a year in expenses. The savings would come from consolidating its two sales and business offices and reducing the amount the station pays for telephone charges($500 a month). The audience of WTVI was stated as 300,000 households, and described its ability to add to that number by broadcasting with higher power from St. Louis making receiving the signal more easily with inside antennas.

Its also true that UHF tuners of that era were better and simpler for reception of channel 36 than it was for the upper UHF channels like 54. Meanwhile, Belleville would still receive a Grade A signal. Arrangements would include a 15 year lease with the option to purchase the KSTM facilities. The cost of the lease would be about $700 a month, plus taxes and insurance.

General Electric agreed to take back the WTVI transmitter. The note on the KSTM properties, tower and antenna, transmitter building and studio building is held by the Bank of St. Louis. The balance sheet of WTVI by December 31, 1954, showed that WTVI had total assets of $661,701 with $73,712 as current assets. Its liabilities totaled $149,936 with long term obligations of $810,709 and holds an immediate debt of $521,944. WTVI reported a loss of $163,000 in 1954.

In March of 1955, channel 36 was granted to Signal Hill Telecasting Corporation and WTVI. One catch, though, would prevent WTVI from broadcasting simultaneously on channels 54 and 36. Signal Hill would have to surrender the construction permit for channel 54 at the time they would begin to broadcast on channel 36. Also, the FCC would grant the call letters of KTVI to Signal Hill.

By April, plans were announced by general manager and KTVI vice president John D. Scheuer Jr. that KTVI had applied for FCC approval for a power increase to a half-a-million watts by mid May of 1955. The promotional activity which surrounded the changing of WTVI, Channel 54 to KTVI, Channel 36 was detailed in an article in Broadcasting-Telecasting. The promotional budget was set at $60,000 and included full page color ads placed in the two metro daily newspapers (the Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Globe-Democrat) and on radio, outdoor billboards, taxi and bus cards and other ad outlets.

The campaign was tied to the opening of the St. Louis Cardinal baseball season on April 12, 1955. It would work well, as KTVI would be airing the Cardinal games during the 1955 season. With the promotional activities and the change to channel 36, KTVI was expecting to increase its UHF circulation from 317,000 to 450,000 homes by the end of the baseball season. The station also expected another 20-25% increase in its coverage area when it powers up from 250 to 500kw with the expected FCC approval.

NTA Programming on KTVI

KTVI signs with a group of 19 stations with the heading of “National Affiliated Television Stations, Inc..” NATS is backed by GE and National Telefilm Association which holds the rights to over 700 hours of film which will be turned over to the newly formed organization.

Other stations would be granted loans from GE and deferred film rentals from NTA. NATS would handle promotions and sale campaigns at the local level as well. Out of the 19 stations involved, only three had requested financial assistance, but more affiliates were expected to be added to the list. Other stations in central Illinois which were part of the group included WEEK(Peoria) and WBLN(Bloomington).

Management Shake-Up at WTVI

In July of 1955, after a period of time of extreme gamble and growth, John D. Scheuer Jr. announced his resignation from Signal Hill Telecasting and WTVI. He would take a the position of director of public relations and programming for a group of stations owned by The Triangle Station Group owners of WFIL AM-FM-TV in Philadelphia; WNBF AM-TV Binghamton, New York; and 50% of WHGB Radio in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Rumblings of an Additional Allocation at Channel 2 for St. Louis

During 1955 the controversial assignments of all VHF markets, all UHF markets and those intermixed markets with both VHF and UHF allocations and stations were getting a lot of attention. That attention was coming from station applicants and owners, community leaders and the FCC. The fact that so many of those early UHF broadcast pioneers were failing among other successful VHF stations was an incredibly unfair situation for those early UHF broadcasters. It was difficult to understand why the FCC would be so naive as to allow a broadcast business model which would doom so many investors!

When Springfield, Illinois would be granted allocations on channel 2, 20 and an educational station on channel 26 it set up a scenario which would make it difficult for the FCC to grant a permit for channel 2. If more than one applicant filed for that VHF station, it would automatically tie up the grant for years. It was much more of a sure thing to request the allocation for a UHF station which would not be quite so attractive to other applicants. When Elmer Balaban and his company requested channel 20, the grant was a much simpler process. Meanwhile, there were three meaningful applications for channel 2 in Springfield.

When it seemed a nearly impossible impasse was taking place within the FCC, talk was beginning on the concern of the television situation in St. Louis, and the desire of broadcasters to make St. Louis a four commercial VHF station market with one educational station.

There were many proposals made by various entities involved. Some were quite extreme such as one plan which would drop in VHF stations throughout Illinois. Mentioned in this plan was the drop in of channel 3 for Harrisburg(which actually occurred later), channel 6 in Bloomington, channel 7 to Decatur, channel 10 and 13 to Peoria, channel 11 to Galesburg and channel 8 to Cairo. In this plan, Channel 2 would go to St. Louis.

Many meetings would take place with owners of area stations with the FCC. Owners like Elmer Balaban representing WTVO(Rockford) and WICS(Springfield) as well as Harry Tenenbaum of KTVI(St. Louis). The FCC would be in favor of intermixing VHF and UHF stations while a number of central Illinois stations filed petitions with the FCC to eliminate the VHF stations for Springfield and Peoria. WTVP(Decatur), WEEK and WTVH(Peoria) filed such petitions among others.

Even ABC got involved with a plan to bring about additional VHF stations in markets where there are two or more commercial VHF stations and removing VHF stations in markets where there are existing UHF stations having a good chance of survival. Their plain would also give ABC VHF affiliates in markets which would equalize their prominence in markets where other networks have VHF affiliates.

In November of 1955, the FCC “wiped the deintermixture slate clean” denying all pending petitions to transform mixed VHF/UHF markets into VHF or UHF only markets and set the stage for a complete overhaul of the FCC's allocation system. This action specifically denied the five pending cases of deintermixture cases around the country including that for Peoria and Springfield.

Soon after that action by the FCC, speculation began that the FCC would extend the deadline for comments on the KTVI, channel 2 question. In fact, by later in the month the FCC would would conduct hearings for Peoria and Springfield which would tentatively award or favor those allocations to a particular applicant. For channel 2, the FCC favored Sangamon Valley TV Corporation which was affiliated with WTAX Radio in Springfield.

Another St. Louis UHF calls it Quits

In January of 1956, the owners of KFUO, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod surrendered its grant for channel 30. The group said it could not risk entrusted capital while the future of UHF operations in the vicinity remains unclear. KFUO-TV was never to be.

Results of an FCC Questionaire

In February of 1956 the results of an FCC poll on TV allocation problems was released. The findings stated that most UHF stations wanted VHF stations to reduce power, while others wanted additional VHF allocations and that they be given the chance to apply for those.  Among the St. Louis stations, KWK-TV opposed VHF drop-ins and deintermixture. Naturally, they had their VHF allocation, the hell with everybody else.   KTVI, Channel 36 requested the FCC re-allocate channel 2 to St. Louis from Springfield, Illinois and that Signal Hill Telecasting Corporation be assigned channel 2.

By July of 1955 the re-allocation of channel 2 to St. Louis seemed doomed. The FCC went against its previous near decision and awarded channel 2 to WMAY-TV Incorporated. It did contain one caveat in which the holders of the allocation be restricted from construction until another permit was issued. In other words, the FCC promises to grant you your television station, but don't count on it. We may break our promise....which makes a promise, not a promise and a grant, not a grant!

The next month the legality of the FCC's conditional grant to WMAY-TV were questioned by the FCC Broadcast Bureau. According to the FCC BB, the grant for channel 2(and for channel 8 in Peoria) were made following the FCC's now famous June 26
Report and Order on TV Allocations. In September of 1956, the FCC finally recognizes the actions of taking channel 8 from Peoria and sending the allocation to the Quad Cities (Moline, Davenport, East Moline, Bettendorf). This would add channel 25 to the Peoria list of allocations.

The re-allocation of channel 2 from Springfield to St. Louis was also mentioned making Springfield all UHF. This trial balloon by the FCC would also give channel 39 along with channels 20 and 66 to Springfield and channel 49 to Lincoln, Illinois. It's interesting to note that by adding channel 39 to Springfield, the 6 channel separation between allocated channels would be broken. Meanwhile, St. Louis would end up with channels 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, 36 and 42.

The Week of April 27,1957                            Program Listings of KTVI, Channel 2, St. Louis, Missouri
The local television news section on this edition of the TV Guide included this:  Station KTVI in St. Louis completed its changeover of channel numbers last week, and this edition of TV Guide begins listing their log this week.  The station, previously Ch. 36, will telecast seven days a week from 2pm to midnight.  This is the first week of listings for KTVI at Channel 2.
Saturday, April 27
pm Baseball Preview(live-Cardinal Network KTVI)
1:25pm Baseball-Cardinals meet the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  Harry Caray, Joe Garagiola and Jack Buck report(Live-Cardinal Network  KTVI)

5:00pm Big Picture(Army furnished film feature, this time from CBS)
5:30pm Film Feature(assumed local origination, subject unknown)
6:00pm Roller Derby-(assumed syndicated on film or kinescope)
6:30pm Famous Film Festival-"Stranger in Between" 1952 with Dirk Bogarde(from ABC network)
8:00pm Wrestling-(assumed syndicated on film for kinescope)
9:00pm Ozark Jubilee-Variety, with host Red Foley with guests: Gene Vincent, Brenda Lee and others, origination: Springfield, Missouri(ABC live from network)
10:00pm Movie-to be announced
11:30pm News, Weather
11:45pm Movie- "Love in Exile" 1936 with Helen Vinson, Clive Brook

Sunday, April 28
1:15pm Baseball Preview(live-Cardinal Network KTVI)
1:25pm Baseball-Cardinals meet the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  Harry Caray, Joe Garagiola and Jack Buck report(Live-Cardinal Network  KTVI)

4:00pm Dean Pike-Comments, Dean Pike host(unkown format/source)
4:30pm Open Hearing-John Secondari(ABC-public affairs interview program)
5:00pm Oral Roberts-Religion(possible paid religious program)
5:30pm Film Feature "Henry the Rainmaker" (unknown subject/source)
6:00pm Film Feature (unknown subject/source)
6:30pm Hollywood Film Theater "The Locket" with Laraine Day, Robert Mitchum(ABC network)
8:00pm Kate Smith(SPECIAL)- Variety, guests: Ed Wynn, Benny Goodman, Boris Karloff, Gertrude Berg along with Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen(live from ABC network)
9:00pm Mike Wallace(DEBUT) interview program with yet to be determined guest(live from ABC network)
9:30pm International Playhouse-(unknown format/source)
10:00pm Movie "Young and Willing" 1943
11:30pm News, Weather
11:45pm Movie- to be announced
Monday, April 29
2:00pm Afternoon Film Festival-Drama "Fools Rush In" 1949- Don Gardiner is host(ABC live from network)
3:30pm Movie "Below the Deadline" 1946 with Warren Douglas(local movie origination)
4:30pm Buck Rogers-Adventure(syndicated movie serial with Buster Crabbe, local origination)
5:00pm Top Plays of '57-Drama(unknown format/source)
5:30pm By Line, Steve Wilson(unknown format/source)
6:00pm Kukla, Fran and Ollie-kids(ABC live from network)
6:15pm News-John Daly(ABC live from network)
6:30pm Wire Service-drama, starring Mercedes McCambridge (ABC live from network)
7:30pm Voice of Firestone-classical music concert(ABC live from network)
8:00pm Press Conference-Martha Rountree moderates interview with Wilber M. Brucker, Secretary of the Army(ABC live from network)
8:30pm Movie-"The Cobra Strikes" starring Sheila Ryan(local movie origination)
9:30pm Orient Express-(unknown format/source)
10:00pm Movie-"Love from a Stranger" 1947 starring Sylvia Sidney, John Hodiak(local movie origination)
11:30pm News, Weather
11:45pm Nightcap-with Chuck Norman
Tuesday, April 30
2:00pm Afternoon Film Festival-Drama "The Golden Salamander" 1950
3:30pm Movie "Philo Vance's Gamble" 1947 Alan Curtis(local movie origination)
4:30pm Buck Rogers-Adventure(syndicated movie serial with Buster Crabbe)
5:00pm Top Plays of '57-Drama(unknown format/source)
5:30pm By Line, Steve Wilson(unknown format/source)
6:00pm Kukla, Fran and Ollie-kids(ABC live from network)
6:15pm News-John Daly(ABC live from network)
6:30pm Labor Views the News(unknown format/source)
7:00pm Baseball Preview(live-Cardinal Network KTVI)
7:10pm Baseball-Cardinals meet the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field in Pittsburg.  Harry Caray, Joe Garagiola and Jack Buck report(Live-Cardinal Network  KTVI)
9:45pm Film Short-(local origination-format/source unknown)
10:00pm Movie "Fog Island" 1945 starring Lionel Atwill(local movie origination)
11:30pm News, Weather
11:45pm Nightcap-Chuck Norman

Wednesday, May 1
2:00pm Afternoon Film Festival-Drama "A Queen is Crowned" 1953
3:30pm Movie "Army Wives" 1944 with Elyse Knox(local movie origination)
4:30pm Buck Rogers-Adventure(syndicated movie serial with Buster Crabbe)
5:00pm Top Plays of '57-Drama(unknown format/source)
5:30pm By Line, Steve Wilson(unknown format/source)
6:00pm Kukla, Fran and Ollie-kids(ABC live from network)
6:15pm News-John Daly(ABC live from network)
6:30pm China Smith-adventure(unknown format/source)
7:00pm Sport Car News-Honig(unknown format/source)
7:30pm Movie "Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" 1946 Phil Regan(local movie origination)
9:00pm Boxing(special)-from Chicago(ABC live from network)
9:45pm News, Weather(local origination)
10:00pm Movie "Golden Boy" 1939 with Barbra Stanwyck(local movie origination)
11:30pm News, Weather
11:45pm Nightcap-Chuck Norman
Thursday, May 2
2:00pm Afternoon Film Festival-Drama "Caravan" 1946- Don Gardiner is host(ABC live from network)
3:30pm Movie "A Wave, a WAC and a Marine" 1944 Elyse Knox(local movie origination)
4:30pm Buck Rogers-Adventure(syndicated movie serial with Buster Crabbe, local origination)
5:00pm Top Plays of '57-Drama(unknown format/source)
5:30pm By Line, Steve Wilson(unknown format/source)
6:00pm Kukla, Fran and Ollie-kids(ABC live from network)
6:15pm News-John Daly(ABC live from network)
6:30pm Sports-Bill Corum(assumed local origination)
6:45pm Baseball Preview(live-Cardinal Network KTVI)
6:55pm Baseball-Cardinals meet the Brooklyn Dodges at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.  Harry Caray, Joe Garagiola and Jack Buck report(Live-Cardinal Network  KTVI)
10:00pm Movie "The Lone Wolf Returns" 1936 with Arthur Hohl(local movie origination)
11:30pm News, Weather
11:45pm Nightcap-Chuck Norman

Friday, May 3
2:00pm Afternoon Film Festival-Drama "Both Sides of the Law" 1954- Don Gardiner is host(ABC live from network)
3:30pm Movie "Forgotten Women" 1949 Elyse Knox(local movie origination)
4:30pm Buck Rogers-Adventure(syndicated movie serial with Buster Crabbe, local origination)
5:00pm Top Plays of '57-Drama(unknown format/source)
5:30pm By Line, Steve Wilson(unknown format/source)
6:00pm Kukla, Fran and Ollie-kids(ABC live from network)
6:15pm News-John Daly(ABC live from network)
6:30pm Film Short-(subject uknown-assumed local source)
6:45pm Baseball Preview(live-Cardinal Network KTVI)
6:55pm Baseball-Cardinals meet the Brooklyn Dodges at Roosevelt Field in Jersey City.  Harry Caray, Joe Garagiola and Jack Buck report(Live-Cardinal Network  KTVI)
10:00pm Movie "Crime Doctor's Gamble" 1947 with Warner Baxter(local movie origination)
11:30pm News, Weather
11:45pm Nightcap-Chuck Norman

(TV Guide Schedule
 from the Doug Quick Collection)

The Channel 2 Controversy

When the FCC made advances to award channel 2 to WMAY-TV and channel 8 to Peoria and WIRL-TV it appeared that both Springfield and Peoria would be permanently intermixed. There were entities and owners from both sides of the issue making statements, filing protests and petitions to the FCC to try to sway the Commission to either continue or in what seemed to be an incredible uphill battle have them contradict their initial decisions.

Both WMAY-TV and WIRL-TV had asked the FCC to reconsider their prohibition against construction on the newly granted channels. Meanwhile WMAY-TV was granted an extension of time to respond to a rehearing and reconsideration filed in channel 2 proceedings on July 30, 1956. The FCC's Broadcast Bureau came forth in late August to question the legality of the FCC's conditional grants for Springfield and Peoria. The Broadcast Bureau stated that all permittees should be treated equally, whether they received grants before or after the deintermixture proposals.

By early September the FCC floats another trial balloon which would move the allocation of channel 2 to St. Louis and send channel 8 to Peoria. It would also add channel 39 to Springfield to give Springfield allocations for channels 20, 39 and 66, while Lincoln, Illinois would get channel 49. St. Louis would have allocations for channels 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, 36 and 42. Peoria would get the addition of channel 25 to their current channels including 19 and 43.

There were other intermixture/deintermixture plans put forth during the fall of 1956. One plan was calling for all TV channels to be only on the UHF band. This plan was ultimately called “too radical” by the FCC. Others backed the FCC with that decision including CBS, NBC, RCA, NARTB, several states organizations and others. RCA/NBC made recommendations that deintermixture continue and with the use of directional antennas, repeal of the excise tax on all-channel receivers and the encouragement of qualified owners/operators for UHF stations, the problems would be eliminated. The FCC stated that comments from interested parties be submitted by October 1, 1956.

Over 200 comments on the feasibility of moving all channels to UHF poured into the FCC. The consensus: the VHF stations said “no” with many of the largest broadcast groups urged the existing policies to continue. UHF stations made comments which included VHF drop-ins(many of those drop-ins would be taken by current UHF broadcasters), cut VHF transmitter outputs to eliminate the VHF stations from blanketing smaller adjacent community UHF outlets. They also warned against UHF stations with super power outputs which could do the same thing as these high powered VHF stations.

Two weeks later, the FCC invited comments due by November 15, 1956 on a proposed action which would send channel 2 to St. Louis, move channel 36 to Springfield, substituting channel 49 for channel 29 in Jacksonville. One note on the channel 36 move, would involve the concern of the station meeting minimum spacing and coverage requirements.

The day after the deadline for comments, WICS, Channel 20 in Springfield filed to delete channel 2 from Springfield and assign it to St. Louis along with Terre Haute. WICS also proposed an idea which would add channel 26 and either 36 or 39 to Springfield along with education allocation for channel 66.

By December 10, 1956 the industry was introduced to an FCC proposed plan which would give the city of Springfield allocations for channels 20, 39, 66*, St. Louis with 2, 4, 5, 9*, 11, 30, 36 and 42. As you would expect central Illinois UHF stations WICS, WTVP along with St. Louis' KTVI were all in favor. ABC favored the proposal which would give the network a St. Louis VHF affiliate. WTHI-TV, Terre Haute, was in favor of channel 2 to Salem, Illinois. WCIA(Channel 3), Champaign, Illinois proposed the addition of channel 26 and 36 to Springfield. A radio station group from Cape Giraudeau stated that channel 2 should go to that city much further south of St. Louis along the Mississippi River. WSIL, Carbondale, Illinois asked that the FCC deny Cape Giraudeau and favored the rule that would place channel 2 in St. Louis, but place channel 3 in Harrisburg, Illinois. Also, as you would expect, WMAY-TV reported to favor leaving channel 2 in Springfield.

Pieces of the St. Louis TV Puzzle Fall into Place

On January 21, 1957, the FCC announcement was made public on several pending controversial proposals which involved St. Louis television stations of the present and future. Among the decisions, channel 11 in St. Louis was granted to CBS, Inc.. Channel 2 was being moved from Springfield, Illinois to St. Louis and was awarded to Signal Hill Telecasting Co. owners/operators of KTVI(TV), Channel 36 effective April 15, 1957. Meanwhile, WMAY-TV was awarded channel 36 for Springfield, Illinois. Also effecting central Illinois, channel 8 was moved from Peoria to Rock Island, Illinois. WIRL-TV was soon to be granted to channel 25.

Challenges to the Channel 2 Move Come Forward

In March the FCC, expecting a backlash of protests, wanted to arm themselves with enough ammunition to logically explain their decision on channel 2. KTVI was asked to furnish an engineering study by April 1, 1957 before beginning to temporarily operate on channel 2. KTVI admitted that the station has lost in excess of $1-million since going on the air in 1953.

It was also noted that WMAY-TV had agreed to merge with the other group (WTAX) if granted free and clear channel 2, but with the prospect of getting a UHF station in exchange, has called off that proposed merger and was considering to file a court appeal. Also, being announced, was the expected court appeal by WIRL-TV in Peoria.

In March the FCC defended its actions before a Senate Commerce Committee. Illinois was represented by Rep. William Springer(R) of Illinois' District 22 which covered southwestern Illinois. He complained that there were no TV stations in his district, noting that at least one of the St. Louis stations should be licensed for the Illinois side of the river. He stated that the FCC should consider distribution of TV stations from state to state as well as city to city.

Representative John V. Beamer(R-Indiana) questioned the many split votes of the FCC and questioned why there have been so many. He noted that perhaps the FCC laws were either weak or that the FCC had failed to establish “some specific policy.” FCC Chairman McConnaughey stated that UHF has been quite successful in parts of Indiana and Illinois and felt the the future would be bright due to upcoming developments of high powered UHF transmitters, better receivers and antennas that UHF would eventually be “very comparable” to VHF. He also thought that two UHF's could survive in cities with one VHF.

McConnaughey also made the statement that the deintermixture had been successful in Springfield, Illinois. Representative Peter F. Mack Jr.(D-Ill) contended that the people of Springfield, which he represents, did not agree. Mack called the moving of channel 2 to St. Louis and the awarding to KTVI as “a disgraceful episode to follow the channel 2 application.”

Not So Fast....!(Part 1)

A “blistering” attack to the FCC was made in mid March of 1957 from Lon Hocker, a St. Louis attorney and head of a company which plans to file for channel 2. Hocker was president of the Louisiana Purchase Co.. He wired the FCC that his firm had an option to purchase the site which was home to short lived KACY, Channel 14 licensed to Festus, Missouri, and was preparing to operate on channel 2 and was to file an application for the newly established VHF allocation. Hocker said, “We regard today's quickly as to foreclose opportunity of others to show that temporary grant to them would better serve public interests, as in violation of due process of law” and in contravention of the Communications Act. He added his proposed facility would better meet the requirements of spacing of channel 2 from the proposed channel 2 in Terre Haute, Indiana.

By March 22 1957, KTVI formerly applied for channel 2. Louisiana Purchase Co. filed earlier the same week for channel 2. KTVI didn't waste anytime on its plans to convert to channel 2. Amidst protests from Louisiana Purchase, KTVI took channel 36 off the air and proceeded to replace the stations transmitter and antenna.

Lon Hocker went to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington for permission to file a petition for writ of mandamus, to force the FCC to resend its authorization to KTVI. Without an argument by counsel, the three judge court refused to accept the petition.

Meanwhile, additional opposition was coming from Cape Girardequ TV Co with the principal of V. W. Lillard, claimed his company was denied the due process of law and was injured by the FCC action. He opposed any use of channel 2 in St. Louis or channel 36 in Springfield until the courts had reviewed the FCC Action.

After the Louisiana Purchase application was filed the stockholders were revealed. There were nine with the most notable being Lon Hocker(former director of the Globe-Democrat Publishing Co., 23% owner of KWK-TV): William O. and Charles W. DeWitt(former majority stock holders of the old St. Louis Browns); Ethan A. H. Sepley(a trustee of K ETC-TV-educational station); John R. Shepley(less than 1% owner of KWK-TV); and George J. Nooney(profession unknown). They proposed a channel 2 with a maximum allowable wattage of 100kw broadcasting with an RCA antenna atop a nearly 1,000 foot tower from the former site of KACY(TV) in Jefferson County, Missouri. Construction costs of $448,352 were planned along with first year costs of $1,500,000. The group also said that this location would meet all millage requirements for channel 2 in Terre Haute, Indiana.

It was described as a hornets nest of activity around the FCC action in the channel 2 case, the FCC denied that request by Louisiana Purchase asking for the stay of KTVI's conversion to channel 2. WMAY-TV asked the FCC to reconsider its action, KWK filed a protest against KTVI and the Sangamon Valley TV Corp.(WTAX) protested and asked for a rehearing. St. Louis Telecast agreed with the channel 2 move to St. Louis but objected to the KTVI assignment to the channel. In support of the FCC's decision WICS, Channel 20, Springfield filed in support of the FCC decision.

A Change at the Top of the New VHF KTVI

The week before the channel 2 conversion, Signal Hill Telecasting announces a new leader. J. J. Bernard resgined as vice president and general manager of WGR AM-TV in Buffalo, New York to become vice president and general manager of the board of Signal Hill and station KTVI(TV).

(from Broadcasting-Telecasting)

Three weeks after the shut down of channel 36 from the Bethold Avenue studios and transmitter site, the new KTVI(TV), Channel 2 would go on the air March 15, 1957. KTVI(TV) from that time on was listed and contracted to be a basic ABC affiliate. This would bring ABC another VHF affiliate in one of the major U. S. markets.

In early April, it was announced that KTVI would be home to the St. Louis Cardinals for the 1957 baseball season. By mid April KTVI(TV) had appointed Blair TV its national sales representative.

In May of 1957, the former promotions manager of KWK-TV and moved to KTVI as assistant to the promotions manager there. Later that same month, the FCC extended the permit for KTVI to operate on channel 2 through at least February 1, 1959 or until an applicant is awarded the construction permit for the facility. Along with the current operator at channel 2, Signal Hill was challenged by the upstart Louisiana Purchase.

ABC Salutes KTVI, It's New Basic Affiliate

ABC needed major market VHF affiliates to compete with the already established VHF, NBC and CBS network stations. This apparent VHF affiliate addition to the ABC roster was another step in gaining some equilibrium with the other full service networks. It was also at a time when ABC was getting aggressive with better and more attracting and expensive programming. As a result ABC was gaining popularity with viewers and becoming more competitive in the ratings as well as revenue.

In June of 1957, ABC with the help of KTVI and its national rep firm, Blair TV put together a special presentation called “No More St. Louis Blues” directed at national, regional and local advertisers in the St. Louis area, but it was primarily a salute to KTVI and its new Channel 2 dial position. It was a follow-up to a presentation earlier in the year at New York when ABC representatives claimed to be threatening NBC's second place ranking in billing and ratings. It was also announced that KTVI would carry almost all regular ABC programs by the fall of 1957.

“No Moe St. Louis Blues” was held at the Chase Hotel where Oliver Treyz, vice president in charge of ABC and J. Joseph Bernard, vice-president and general manager of KTVI were hosts. St. Louis was ranked 11 in U.S. retail sales and was a very important market for ABC. Interestingly enough in recent years, the ABC affiliate(now KDNL, Channel 30) has been listed as one of the lowest rated ABC affiliates in the nation!
ABC salutes KTVI with "No More St. Louis Blues!"  Pictured above at the promotional event are Jack Davis, vice president of Blair TV, Chicago; James Aubrey, vice president of programming and talent for ABC; J.Joseph Bernard vice president and general manager of KTVI; Joseph Thul, advertising manager of 7-Up St. Louis(and alternate sponsor of ABC's "Tales of Zoro"; and Oliver Treyz, vice president in charge of ABC.

(photo from Broadcasting-Telecasting)

“Cheyenne” Comes to St. Louis and KTVI

ABC was pulling out all the stops to include St. Louis as part of its promotional tours once KTVI became a “legitimate” television power in St. Louis. Clint Walker, who played the character of Cheyenne Bodie in the Warner Brothers production of ABC's “Cheyenne.”

KTVI's Bruce Hayward, its long time news editor and newscaster, hosted Walker on a KTVI telecast while he was in town for an appearance at a rodeo on June 2, 1957. The event was a benefit sponsored by the Alton Police Department with proceeds going to the Alton Police Youth Camp. During his appearance at the rodeo, he was selling autographs for $1 and permitting all fans to shoot his six shooter for $5. It's unknown how much money was raised for the Alton Police Youth Camp.

Clint Walker as "Cheyenne Bodie" in
ABC's "Cheyenne"

KTVI Gains New Leadership, a New Partner....and the Numbers are Revealed

By mid summer of 1957, Harry Tenenbaum became president of Signal Hill Broadcasting, while Paul E. Peltason replaced Tenenbaum as executive vice president of Signal Hill. It was at that time J. Joseph Bernard was appointed vice-president and general manager of KTVI.

By late summer, it was becoming more obvious that the channel 2 move to St. Louis was going to be a likelihood, with the only question being which company was going to broadcast from the lowest VHF channel. In fact the entire St. Louis television station line-up was very unsettled. It was during this time CBS was granted channel 11, then soon after CBS, preferring channel 4, agreed to purchase KWK-TV and gave(sold) their allocation to 220 Television with the stipulation that 220 would “settle” with the other applicants in the form of a cash payment.

It was from the sale of KWK-TV to CBS(KMOX-TV) that KTVI would pick up a new part owner and investor which would increase the viability of the station. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat in selling KWK-TV, in which they were 23% owner, would turn around and invest in its former competitor, KTVI as a 22.2% owner. According to the agreement, upon the FCC approved sale of KWK-TV to CBS, the newspaper would lend KTVI $360,000 and pay $31,000 for 310,000 shares of common stock.

The newspaper would take over two mortgages now held by Harry Tenenbaum and Paul E. Peltason amounting to $145,280. The agreement provides that $160,000 of the $360,000 will go to Tenenbaum and Peltason with $200,000 going into KTVI's capital. The $160,000, in was noted, would be considered partial payment on $795,500 due the two stockholders by the company, but no additional payments would be made to the two until the level of the $279,951 working capital is raised. The interst on the $360,000 loan is for five years at 4%.

Tenenbaum and Peltason agreed to surrender to the company 300 shares of 6% first preferred capitol stock. The two stockholders also agreed to subordinate their claims to the Globe-Democrat's loan. The Globe-Democrat also received option rights to purchase 100 shares of 6% first preferred capital stock for $10,000.

The addition of the Globe-Democrat as a part owner of KTVI also revealed some financial information about Signal Hill and KTVI. The KTVI balance sheet showed total assets of more than $575,450 with current assets listed at more than $142,750. The current liabilities were given at $124,800, fixed liabilities were $265,780 with total indebtedness at almost $1,189,925 and deficit at almost $1,365,000.

Tenenbaum and Peltason each owned 614,500 shares of common stock, 150 shares of first preferred and 900 shares of second preferred. Bernard T. Wilson owned 1,000 shares of common, while Riverside Insurance Company held 100 shares of first preferred.

KTVI Makes Headlines

It was the late 1950's and the United States public was intrigued and somewhat fearful of the Russian's first steps in what would become the space race of the 1960's. The Russian's launch of the first man-made satellites to orbit the earth was becoming quite a big part of the cold war paranoia, but it was also getting becoming an influence on the pop culture of the day.

KTVI cameraman Larry Johnson actually took the first film taken of “Sputnik II,” the bright white spot moving across the dark skies over St. Louis. His footage of the satellite was used on KTVI's local news coverage as well as by other ABC affiliates and the network.

Johnson made his historic films of “Sputnik II” at 5:30 one morning from the roof of a downtown St. Louis building, using a six inch lens and he filmed the bullet shaped satellite the full two minutes it was visible.

KTVI Sales Leadership Changes

Recently hired Shaun Murphy, who was sales director at KTVI was named national sales manager. Murphy's experience included stints at WATS in Sayre, Pennsylvania and at WTVE(TV) in Elmira, New York. He would coordinate sales activities at KTVI with the station's national representative, Blair TV Associates, Inc..

Not so Fast...!(Part 2 and the conclusion)

Now that the future of KTVI was looking somewhat bright, there was more motivation of Signal Hill Telecasting to fight....and fight hard against the application for channel 2 filed by the Louisiana Purchase Company. The FCC in early November of 1957 decided to consolidate the hearings which were for Louisiana Purchase Co which challenged the permit granted KTVI to operate on channel 2, and the request by Signal Hill(KTVI) for an upgrade from their special permit to a more permanent construction permit.

In early December of 1957, Signal Hill Telecasting asked the FCC to dismiss the competing application filed by Louisiana Purchase on the grounds that almost 10% of the company was owned by St. Louis Amusement Company which according the filing of KTVI is still a applicant for channel 11 in St. Louis. This according to KTVI was illegal as involvement in multiple applications in the same market were against FCC rules.

Louisiana Purchase responded by saying that it has not been demonstrated that its stock holder St. Louis Amusement has actual standing as an applicant and is expected to dispute the charge at either a January 10, 1958 pre-hearing conference or at the actual combined hearing on February 28, 1958.

Soon after, the FCC denied the request of Louisiana Purchase to terminate the temporary permit granted KTVI to operate on channel 2. That was a close one....for KTVI, but it still seemed that Signal Hill was still quite nervous about the challenge of Louisana Purchase.

Many early applicants of local television allocations solved problems by merging. This eliminated the sometimes long drawn out process of awarding construction permits for stations which many times took years. The best example in the St. Louis market were the fights for channel 4 and 11 which had been underway since 1953, some 5 years from that time.

In 1958, KTVI was offering a host of locally produced television programming.   Here KTVI
aired "The Tom Dailey Show" weekdays from 11:30 to 12:30 and the Fred Moegle Show on Saturdays from 11am to Noon.

(from Broadcasting-Telecasting)

The uncertainty of Signal Hill's future would surely be a problem if their ability to broadcast on channel 2 would be up for a long drawn out fight with even a much smaller adversary. That was the situation under which a solution would have to be found to bring Louisiana Purchase Company into the fold and eliminate their challenge. It was in early February before the FCC hearing that an agreement was reached and submitted to the FCC.

This agreement to merge would make Louisiana Purchase Company a 10% owner of Signal Hill Telecasting....right after the announced merger which would bring in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat newspaper! At this point the KWK-TV and CBS sale had not been approved. Remember, the merger of the Globe-Democrat with Signal Hill was contingent on the final sale of KWK-TV with CBS.

The principals of the Louisiana Purchase Company would individually pay 10 cents a share for an aggregate 135,190 shares of Signal Hill Telecasting stock. KTVI will repay the Louisiana Purchase $41,000 for out of pocket expenses the company made in the application process for channel 2 since the first filing. KTVI, meanwhile, retains the right to repurchase the 10% interest with a period of 3 years at $1.20 per share. The FCC examiner Herbert Sharfman closed the record and would issue an initial decision within a short period of time. Indeed, within a few days, the FCC gave an official approval of the initial decision by Sharfman.

In early March of 1958, the FCC approved the KWK-TV sale and the dominoes began to fall. Even though the channel 11 decision was on hold, the Globe-Democrat, as part owner of KWK-TV, would be bought out by CBS and would shift its ownership into Signal Hill Telecasting and KTVI. The closing of the purchase of KWK-TV by CBS, immediately made the newspaper a 26.2% owner of KTVI by mid March, 1958.

In very early April of 1958, the FCC granted the construction permit for channel 2 to Signal Hill Telecasting making the station the nearly free and clear owner of the channel without any more challenges....almost. The only “but” in the granting of channel 2 to KTVI was the possible mileage separation issue which could come up when the granting of channel 2 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Since channel 2 in Terre Haute had not yet been granted, it was assumed that the transmitter location of the Indiana station would be placed at the tower farm at Farmersburg, Indiana, south of Terre Haute. The mileage question would be an issue, but one which could be settled by off setting the frequency of the future channel 2 in Terre Haute, or with a directional antenna.

More details coming soon on the History of KTVI!!!  In the meantime, this is a very brief history of KTVI from around the present.

KTVI Ownership Changes and Why ABC was Out and FOX was in

At some point, the ownership of KTVI changed from Signal Hill to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Research is underway to determine more about the future owners of the station. It is known other owners over the years included Times Mirror, Argyle Broadcasting, New World Communications(which took the former ABC station to a FOX affiliation in 1995). When New World Communications was merged with Fox Television Station Group, KTVI became a FOX network o and o. By 2007, FOX sold KTVI along with seven other stations to Oak Hill Capital Partners Local TV LLC. The company was referred to as “Local TV.” The next year, Local TV and Tribune through a local management agreement merged operations with St. Louis' KPLR, Channel 11. The management at KTVI was made the dominant management team and KTVI is the dominant station in the operation. The stations moved into the KTVI site on Berthold until studios located in Maryland Heights, Missouri could be readied for the two stations. The move was completed in October of 2009, leaving the studios on Berthold vacant.

1959 Tornado Brings KTVI broadcast Tower Down

In 1959 an event occurred which would change the face of the neighborhood which hosted the studios of KTVI. A tornado ripped through that section of St. Louis which toppled all but the bottom section of the self supporting tower. With the destruction of it's tower at the studio location, the tower/transmitter was moved to Sappington, Missouri from where the station broadcasts today. Meanwhile, the top sections of the damaged tower were removed and the base remained for many years and used as a sign designating the studios of KTVI, Channel 2 to passers by from Interstate 64/U.S. 40.

KTVI as an ABC affiliate

KTVI remained the ABC affiliate for the St. Louis market through the end of the 1950's through the first part of August of 1995. During its days with ABC, KTVI maintained the status of a full service television station by providing substantial amounts of local news and public service over the years. Even though it was rated third in the local news ratings race throughout the years, by the 1980's it was a close third if not number two in the market.

Some of the newscast titles over the years included its initial attempt with news with a newscast called “The Texaco news Report” which ran from 1953-1955 under the original call letters of WTVI. It was followed by “City News” when local news ran 15-minutes following the 15 minute ABC national-world newscasts during the early evening. The 10pm newscast was called “Nightly News” from 1955 to 1962. When ABC went to a 30-minute newscasts of national-world news, the longer 30 minute version at both 6 and 10 became “The Big News,” a theme that continued through 1971. The station then apparently went with a more traditional consultant driven news theme “Action News” through the mid 70's, after which the KTVI local newscast became “NewsCenter 2” through 1981. A more generic theme of “Channel 2 News” was used through 1987, when it became “2 News Team” through the changeover to FOX affiliation. From 1995 to the present the theme is “Fox 2 News.”

Also, during the ABC years, the various themes of ABC were also included in local station promotion. Themes like “Now is the Time, ABC is the Place,” “Come on Along” were all familiar to ABC viewers throughout the years on virtually all of the ABC affiliates across the country, but KTVI went one step further and incorporated the station within those network promo themes by interjecting local scenes of news, public affairs and other local productions into those network promos. “Now is the Time, ABC is the Place” became “Now is the Time, Channel 2 is the Place.”

KTVI also took on other image campaigns during the ABC era. Many of these were themes owned by image consultants and subscribed to by KTVI, much like the various news themes listed above. Themes like “Coverage You Can Count On,” “The Spirit of St. Louis,” and “The Home Team” are examples.

ABC is passed to KDNL

When ownership of KTVI became a FOX affiliate and dropped ABC, it actually took the FOX affiliation away from a UHF station in the St. Louis market, KDNL. KDNL was the second St. Louis independent TV station when it went on the air in 1969. It even dabbled in a pay-per-view primetime TV experiment in the 1980's. When KTVI dropped the ABC affiliation contract, ABC lobbied to have long time VHF station KPLR take it on. After KPLR turned down ABC for affiliation with the new WB network, the only station left was KDNL by default, even though there were other fledgling UHF stations in the market of even less desirable appeal to ABC. See the History of KDNL elsewhere on this page.

thanks to:
Wayne Brasler
KTVI via You Tube
"Total Television" by Alex McNeil

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KMOV, Channel 4, St. Louis, Missouri (KWK-TV, KMOX-TV)

(from TV Guide and
the Doug Quick Collection)

Channel 4 becomes St. Louis Second VHF station

In 1952 the FCC thawed the “freeze” on the granting of new broadcast licenses which was initiated in 1948. This brought about a flood of new applications for TV stations in most major cities across the country. In the St. Louis market, there was already one station on the air, VHF station KSD-TV, owned by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper.

During the “freeze” it was decided by the FCC that St. Louis would receive an allocation for one additional VHF station on channel 4. The Convey family who already owned KWK Radio(1380am) in St. Louis had applied for and received permission to operate KWK-TV on channel 4. It became a CBS affiliate and went on the air on July 8, 1954 from studios located at 1215 Cole in St. Louis.

CBS on the other hand wanted to own their own station in the St. Louis market and filed for an additional channel allocation to be added to the St. Louis roster of VHF stations. By 1955, CBS won the license for channel 11, although CBS much preferred a lower dial position, certainly lower than KSD's channel 5. Remember, in those days viewers would begin their program search at the lowest numbered channel and would dial up to the higher numbers. They would do this by stooping in front of their TV and hand turning a rotary dial and clicking through the channels, most of which only delivered static.

KMOV 60th Anniversary Part 1

Here we present, courtesy of KMOV, the history of KWK-TV, which would later become KMOX-TV and later still KMOV.  This is a presentation of the early days of the station and what was making news and getting the attention of viewers in St. Louis. 

KWK-TV, was the second VHF facility in the city.  Even though the city was served by UHF stations,  WTVI(KTVI), KACY and KSTM, when channel 4 went on the air, KSD-TV finally had major competition.

The Channel 11 Controversy

It appears that with the allocation for channel 11 came at least three applications for that frequency which held up the issuance of the license. Among those were the St. Louis Amusement Company and Harold Koplar(local real estate developer and owner of the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in west St. Louis), along with CBS which had originally applied for channel 11(and completed most, if not all, of the engineering studies). This process had already consumed two years, when the FCC granted the license for channel 11 to CBS. At the same time CBS was wrangling a deal with the Convey Family who owned Channel 4, KWK-TV.

After being granted the license for channel 11, an agreement for purchase of KWK-TV was reached by CBS and the Convey Family. At that point, CBS had no interest in using the license for channel 11 and then passed the license for channel 11 to Harold Koplar and his company 220 Television, Inc.. CBS didn't sell the license, they literally gave it away. Part of the agreement between CBS, the FCC and 220 Television would include two $220,000 payments to the losing applicants, with the stipulation that it be paid within four years, or the license would be granted to the two losers equally. This immediately brought about a protest from the St. Louis Amusement Company to the US Court of Appeals in January of 1958. It also generated a Congressional subcommittee investigation. It is unknown why CBS selected Koplar as the recipient of channel 11 as opposed to St. Louis Amusement. Eleven months later, in December of 1958 the case was dropped by St. Louis Amusement Company and CBS took control of KWK-TV, changing its call letters to KMOX-TV to match its sister station KMOX Radio.

In April of 1958, Channel 11 went on the air owned by Harold Koplar and 220 Television, Inc. from studios at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel and became KPLR, an independent station.

Images of CBS through 2011 and KMOX through 1960

KMOX-TV moves Downtown

The original studios of KWK-TV and KMOX-TV were at 1215 Cole in St. Louis. The station operated from that location until 1968. During the 1960's the downtown area of St. Louis was going through a redevelopment to a modern downtown with the Gateway Arch being a centerpiece of what would be a showplace for the “Gateway City.” It was natural that KMOX being a strong media voice of St. Louis be located within the shadow of the newly built Gateway Arch. In 1968, the entire operation would be located by CBS in a new facility which served as the home base of KMOX-AM/FM and TV.

The CBS owned and operated station within the new state of the art facility downtown St. Louis would also lead the way in the industry in 1974 with the technical advancement of utilizing video tape for news gathering instead of film. KMOX became the first television station in the country to make the move to electronic news gathering.

This was prepared as a sales piece for agencies and
advertisers after the stations move to their new location
near the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis.

KMOX Ownership Changes

Meanwhile CBS continued to operate KMOX-TV along with KMOX-AM and KMOX-FM(and its various call letter variations over the years). In 1986, CBS in order to raise cash to defend itself from a hostile takeover attempt by Ted Turner the previous year, sold the St. Louis properties to a former CBS subsidiary and what would be it's future owner Viacom.

Under the ownership of Viacom, the long time association with CBS would be broken as the station would lose the right to keep its call letters of KMOX, as CBS retained its radio stations in the sale. KMOX-TV would become KMOV on May 16, 1986.

Under Viacom, some less than desirable programming decisions were made which were quite noticeable by Channel 4 watchers. For example, under CBS ownership, KMOX would air 100-percent of the CBS network fare, including overnight programming. Under Viacom, KMOV saw a reduction of operating hours signing off each night thus pre-empting the CBS overnight news programming. Also, other network programming was pre-empted at times for the broadcast of paid religious programming, syndicated movies and some sporting events.

According to the 1991 book “Three Blind Mice” by Ken Auletta, KMOV during 1987 pre-empted 103 hours of CBS prime-time programming which consisted of nearly 10 percent of the networks prime time schedule! During the 1990's the practice of network pre-emptions began to be reduced and KMOV resumed broadcasting a 24 hour a day schedule.

By 1997, Belo acquired ownership of KMOV in a three way deal which also included the sale of KSTW to Viacom and KIRO-TV to Cox Enterprises in the Seattle-Tacoma market. CBS pre-emptions came to an end by then and the station resumed to add local productions of public affairs and local community productions featuring shows like “At the Zoo”, a behind the scenes look at the St. Louis Zoo; “Extra Edition” in cooperation with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a weekly news discussion program and “Great Day St. Louis” a one hour daytime show featuring topics of St. Louis entertainment and lifestyles.

St. Louis Television news has been dominated by the three early VHF news leaders of KSD and KMOX(later KMOV) and to a much lesser extent by KTVI. During the years KSD and KMOX(KMOV) has had a time on top, with the other playing a very close number two. Much of the leadership of each stations 10pm ratings has come with either CBS or NBC programs being a substantial lead-in to the late night newscasts. If NBC had a weak lead-in, KMOX(KMOV) would benefit and vice versa.

To mention the hundreds of people who have populated the newsroom of KMOX, or any of the other television stations mentioned on this website would be impossible. According to the KMOV website, under the heading of “Notable former KMOV on-air staff” are the names of Robert Grimsby (reporter/news correspondent 1959-61), Linda Lorelle (reporter, late 1980's), Russ Mitchell(anchor/reporter, now at CBS), Reynolds Wolf (meteorologist from 2005-2006, currently with CNN) and Regis Philbin (who hosted one of his syndicated shows from the KMOX-TV studios in 1972-75). I'm sure there are others. You can send any suggested additions to my e-mail.

TV Guide
KPLR source
Bob Lee Collection of screen grabs
ggn information systems(

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KPLR, Channel 11, St. Louis, Missouri
This section on the history of KPLR will be updated and revised soon. 
Be checking back for additional information coming soon!

Thanks to CBS...

As stated in the history of KMOV, Channel 4, the roots of KPLR is a direct consequence of a move by CBS to vacate channel 11 and “give” the license for what was to be KPLR to Harold Koplar and his 220 Television, Inc.. As part of the agreement Koplar's 220 Television, Inc. would pay $200,000 to each of the other applicants for channel 11. The agreement also stated that if 220 Television could not pay off the others within four years, the license would revert to the other two applicants equally.

This agreement would bring about a fire-storm of criticism by members of Congress, ultimately bringing about an investigation by a Congressional subcommittee. Also a challenge was filed by another applicant for channel 11, the St. Louis Amusement Company objecting to the action taken by the FCC and CBS. It took nearly a year for the challenge to be dropped by St. Louis Amusement. The circumstances around why the objection was dropped is unknown, but it did lead to the construction of KPLR(taken from the name Koplar), Channel 11.

One thing that KPLR saved money on, was the construction of a broadcast tower. Koplar worked out a deal with CBS president, Frank Stanton that would allow KPLR to share the broadcast tower of KMOX-TV, and would lease the tower space from CBS, while the station's studios would reside in the St. Louis Chase-Park Plaza.

The St. Louis independent television station went on the air April 28th, 1959.

KPLR and “Route 66” on CBS

Harold Koplar was a real estate developer and owner of the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis. This legendary hotel was used in the early 1960's as not only accommodations for the cast and crew of the CBS series “Route 66” for at least two episodes which were shot in St. Louis. Of course the “Route 66” episodes were broadcast on KMOX-TV, Channel 4. How ironic, that Koplar was able to repay the favor by hosting the cast and crew of this popular CBS drama!

KPLR as an Independent Television Station

During the stations early years, it was a typical large market independent station with a broadcast schedule which included off network reruns from syndication, cartoons and movies. In fact, I remember watching KPLR, Channel 11 on weekends, being a non-sports fan, because of the afternoon movies scheduled on weekends.

Being a strong independent station, the station was also piped during the 1970's and 80's via microwave(non satellite) relay stations by United Video which allowed the station to appear on cable systems across Missouri, Illinois and even Arkansas. I also remember watching KPLR on the Decatur cable TV system in 1979.

Locally Produced Programming

“Captain 11's Showboat” as a weekday afternoon kids show which included a panel of local kids with insertions of cartoons and “The Three Stooges.” The popularity of the “Stooges” in the St. Louis market would influence the schedule of KPRL for a time in the future, as those same kids who watched them on “Showboat” would be watching them during the late night schedule of KPLR in the 1980's.

“Captain 11” was played by long time St. Louis KMOX-radio personality Harry Fender who lived at the Chase-Park Plaza! The show was developed on the hope that by the kids watching Channel 11 when the parents got home from work, the TV would stay on Channel 11 for later viewing by the parents.

An attempt was made to bring local news to KPLR in its early days as well. Gil Newsome would read local news from an inner tube in the middle of the Chase-Park Hotel swimming pool! Other live events were broadcast from the station's “Videocruiser” which was a converted bus which would beam live events back to the studio via microwave for broadcast. Some of those events included the Miss Missouri pageant and other major St. Louis events.

Sports on 11

KPLR was also the home of the St. Louis Cardinals with broadcast agreements from 1959-1962 and again 1988-2009, when the rights went to FOX Midwest Sports. In those original years from 1959-1962, the games were called by Jack Buck and Harry Carey.

I assume that being an independent helped in the signing of the St. Louis Cardinals as KPLR didn't have the same network demands of KSD-TV and NBC. The more flexible schedule of an independent made scheduling more games for broadcast easier and more profitable for all concerned.

Channel 11 also hosted other local sports events including live bowling shows and eventually “Wrestling at the Chase.” Much of the play by play of the wrestling matches were called by future “Today Show” co-host Joe Garagiola, who was Harry Caray's partner for the St. Louis Cardinal broadcasts. The show was produced at the home of KPLR as the stations studios were located on premises during the shows run through 1983.

KPLR in debt...with very little hope

By 1960, it was stated in Candace O'Connor's book “Meet Me in the Lobby: The Story of Harold Koplar and the Chase Park Plaza” that the station was over 4 million dollars in debt, including the $200,000 owned to the other applicants for the license. A suggestion was made by friend Louis Westheimer who worked as a partner in a broadcast consultant firm, that Koplar should hire a high powered manager to turn the station around. KPRL's national rep firm suggested Saul Rosenzweig who took the job. Soon after, though, the Cardinals dropped the lower rated KPLR and returned to KSD-TV.

Rosenzweig took steps to improve the station's ratings by scheduling popular off network syndicated programming in the 5 to 7pm hours. Shows like “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx and “Amos 'n Andy “ were added. Children's programming targeted advertisers like Kellogg's, toy manufacturers and others. By 1961, KPLR turned a profit and added a new sales manager, Mike McCormick. He was a former sales manager for a Louisville TV property. Under his guidance, the station raised its advertising rates, and began to establish relationships with local and regional ad agencies and even a few national ones.

With the added sales success, the financial outlook at KPLR improved enough to add more off network syndicated programming. Shows included popular CBS programs like “Have Gun Will Travel” and “77 Sunset Strip” directly from ABC.

In 1966, Rosenzweig left KPLR to be replaced by McCormick. Mike McCormick would continue as the station's General Manager through 1970.

The Torch is Passed to Ted Koplar

From the 1960's through today, Harold Koplar's son, Edward J. “Ted” Koplar had management positions within the station eventually developing a news department and the independent station's newscasts. He became president and CEO in 1970 and upon the death of his father in 1985, he assumed complete control. It was under his control that the station turned down an opportunity to become one of the FOX networks first affiliates. That role eventually went to KDNL.

In 1995, when KTVI left ABC to go with FOX, KPLR was given the opportunity to become an ABC affiliate, but once again Koplar turned the offer down. It is unknown if KPLR had already signed an agreement to become a WB affiliate or if Koplar just turned ABC down and decided to go with the WB.

KPLR ownership changes to ACME

Two years later KPLR would sell to ACME Communications a new company which was founded by the CEO of The WB Television Network, Jamie Kellner. ACME, would also own central Illinois former religious independent WPXU(WFHL), Channel 23. Under ACME ownership Channel 23 became WBUI and a WB, later a CW affiliate. ACME sold WBUI in 2007 to GOCOM Media of Illinois, owner-operator of WRSP/WCCU, Channels 55/27 and FOX affiliated stations.

Ownership Changes to Tribune

By 2003, ACME sold KPLR to Tribune Broadcasting. Currently the station is operated in partnership with Local TV, owner-operator of KTVI, Channel 2(FOX

“Meet Me in the Lobby: The Story of Harold Koplar and the Chase Park Plaza” by Candace O'Connor

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KDNL, Channel 30, St. Louis, Missouri
This section on the history of KDNL will be updated and revised soon. 
Be checking back for additional information coming soon!

St. Louis' First UHF since the 1950's

This relative newcomer arrived on the St. Louis television scene in 1969 as the first UHF station in the market. It's original owner was Evans Broadcasting who programmed business news, religion, older movies and off network reruns and even some ethnic foreign language programs.

Evans Broadcasting sold the station to Cox Broadcasting in 1981, then 1982, the station conducted an short experiment with what was called “Preview Subscription Television” airing an HBO like combination of Movies and Specials. It was canceled after nine months.

KDNL became the television broadcast home of the St. Louis Blues from 1976 through 1981 and then again from 1983 through 1985. By 1986 the FOX network affiliation was added to the stations mix of off network reruns and movies.

By 1991, the station changed hands again, this time being sold to a local owner, River City Broadcasting. The changeover of KTVI from ABC to FOX took the FOX affiliation away from Channel 30, and by default became the ABC affiliate after KPLR turned down an offer to become St. Louis' ABC station.

In 1996, ownership was to change once again as River City was sold to the Sinclair Broadcast Group which operates the station today. Under Sinclair the station has been one of ABC's lowest rated affiliates. For a time, from October 1986 through October of 2001 the station did maintain a local news presence, but the news department and newscasts were dropped by Sinclair in favor of first run syndicated programming, much of it off network FOX programs such as “The Simpson's.”

KDNL now airs a local news product produced at competitor KSDK at 5 and 10pm on weekdays. Morning newscast/weather cast cut-ins during Good Morning America are produced by Sinclair owned stations WSYX, Channel 6 in Columbus, Ohio.


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TV Guide(the Doug Quick collection)
KTVI-You Tube Posts
Bloomington Daily Pantagraph(through the Abraham Lincoln Library and the Danville Public Library)

updated 8/14/2013
web master:  Doug Quick
copyright 2001-2013  Doug Quick