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KQED (TV): Wikis


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KQED logo
KQED: Northern California[1]
KQET: Monterey/Watsonville/Salinas/Santa Cruz[2]
Branding KQED
Channels Digital:
KQED: 30 (UHF)
KQET: 25 (UHF)
Subchannels 9.1 HD
9.2 KTEH (SD)
9.3 PBS World
Affiliations PBS
Owner Northern California Public Broadcasting, Inc.
First air date KQED: May 17, 1954
KQET: May 17, 1989
Call letters’ meaning Quod Erat Demonstrandum
Sister station(s) KQED-FM
Former channel number(s) Analog:
9 (VHF, 1954-2009)
25 (UHF, 1989-2009)
KQET: 58 (UHF)
Former affiliations KQED: NET (1954-1970)
Transmitter Power KQED:777 kW
KQET: 81.1 kW
Height KQED:437 m
KQET: 698.6 m
Facility ID KQED: 35500
KQET: 8214
Transmitter Coordinates KQED:
37°45′19″N 122°27′6″W / 37.75528°N 122.45167°W / 37.75528; -122.45167 (KQED)
36°45′22.9″N 121°30′4.9″W / 36.756361°N 121.501361°W / 36.756361; -121.501361 (KQET)

KQED is a PBS-member station in San Francisco, California, broadcasting digitally on UHF channel 30. This channel is also carried on Comcast cable TV and via satellite by DirecTV and Dish Network. Its transmitter is located on Sutro Tower in San Francisco.

It is one of the most-watched PBS stations in the country during primetime.[3]

Noteworthy KQED television productions include the first installment of Armistead Maupin's miniseries Tales of the City, Tongues Untied by Marlon Riggs, and a series of programs focusing on the historic neighborhoods in San Francisco, such as The Castro and The Fillmore District. Ongoing productions include The Josh Kornbluth Show, California Connected, Check, Please! Bay Area, Spark, This Week in Northern California and QUEST[4].



KQED was organized and created by veteran broadcast journalists James Day and Jonathan Rice on June 1, 1953 and first went on air April 5, 1954. It was the sixth public broadcasting station in the United States, debuting shortly after WQED in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The station's call letters, Q.E.D., are taken from the Latin phrase, quod erat demonstrandum, commonly used in mathematics.[5]

In its early days following sign-on, KQED broadcast only twice a week for one hour each day. Despite the very limited schedule, the station was still losing money, leading to a decision in early 1955 from its board of trustees to close down the station. Its staff got the board to keep the station on the air and try to get needed funds from the public in a form of a televised auction, in which celebrities would appear to auction off goods and services donated to the station. While the station still came a little short, it did show that the general public cared to keep KQED on the air. Since then, the auction became a fund-raising tool for many public television stations, though its usage waned in recent years in favor of increased usage of special pledge drives throughout the year.[6]

Channel 9 had a sister station, KQEC, which broadcast on Channel 32. KQED had inherited the station in 1970 (as KNEW-TV) from Metromedia, but found they could not operate it without losing money. Various PBS and locally produced programs from KQED would air erratically and at different times of the day on KQEC. In 1988, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revoked KQED's license to operate KQEC, citing excessive off-air time, further charging dishonesty in previous filings with regard to the specific reasons. The alleged dishonesty was in reference to KQED's claim of financial woes for keeping KQEC off the air for most of 1972 through 1977, and again for several months in 1979 and 1980. After being revoked from KQED, the reassigned license was granted to the Minority Television Project (MTP), one of the challengers of the KQED/KQEC filing.[7] The KQEC call letters were changed to KMTP-TV under the new license.

On May 1, 2006, KQED, Inc. and the KTEH Foundation merged to form Northern California Public Broadcasting.[8] The KQED assets including its television (KQED TV) and FM radio stations (KQED-FM) were taken under the umbrella of that new organization. Both remain members of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR), respectively.



Televising executions

During the early 1990s, when the State of California reinstituted the death penalty, the KQED organization waged a highly controversial legal battle for the right to televise the forthcoming execution of Robert Alton Harris at San Quentin State Prison.[9] The decision to pursue the videotaping of executions was controversial amongst those on both sides of the capital punishment debate;[10] contemporary reports noted that a number of KQED's members (primarily families throughout the Bay Area) dropped their financial support for the station, intending for their charitable contributions to KQED to support programs such as Sesame Street rather than legal fees.[citation needed]

Tales of the City

KQED was co-producer of the television adaptation of Armistead Maupin's novel, Tales of the City, which aired on PBS stations nationwide in January 1994. The six-part miniseries stirred controversy over the gay themes, nudity and illicit drug use in this fictional portrayal of life in 1970s San Francisco. The controversy led to calls from the public to cancel the series, a bomb threat at WTCI in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which forced that station to pull the program an hour before airtime, and threats from state and federal governments to cut funding for the network and its stations. Although the program gave PBS its highest ratings ever for a dramatic program, the network decided to forgo participation in the production of an adaptation of the second book in the series, More Tales of the City.

Digital television

KQED-DT is an ATSC digital television signal broadcast over channel 30 from Sutro Tower available over-the-air with a digital tuner, through digital cable service from Comcast[11], or through AT&T U-verse[12]. While U-verse doesn't carry KQED World, there is an offering of three sub-channels:


  • KQED HD on DT9.1 (Comcast 709; U-verse 1009)


  • KTEH on DT9.2 (Comcast 10; U-verse 54)
  • KQED World on DT9.3 (Comcast 190)


KQED's television programming is repeated in the Monterey/Salinas/Santa Cruz market on KQET, analog channel 25 and digital channel 58, licensed to Watsonville.

KQET was founded in 1989 as KCAH, a locally-owned PBS member station that served the Monterey area. In the late 1990s, San Jose PBS member station KTEH acquired KCAH, making it a satellite of KTEH.

KCAH changed its call letters to KQET on August 12, 2007, months after the merger of KQED and KTEH. On October 1, 2007, KQET switched programming sources from KTEH to KQED.[13]

KQET terminated its analog transmissions on the morning of May 9, 2009 and has now moved its digital signal from its pre-transition UHF channel 58 back to UHF channel 25, its historic analog frequency.



In 1955, KQED began publishing a programming guide called KQED in Focus. The program guide began to add more articles and took on the character of a regular magazine. The name was later changed to Focus Magazine and then to San Francisco Focus.[14] In 1984, a new programming guide, Fine Tuning was separated off from Focus, with Focus carrying on as a self-contained magazine.[15] In the early 1990s, San Francisco Focus was the recipient of number of journalism and publishing awards, including a National Headliner Award for feature writing in 1993. In 1997, KQED sold San Francisco Focus to Diablo Publications in order to pay off debts.[16] In 2005, San Francisco Focus was resold to Modern Luxury Media, who rebranded the magazine as San Francisco.[17]


  1. ^ KQED
  2. ^ KQET
  3. ^ About KQED
  4. ^ More information - KQED QUEST
  5. ^
  6. ^ Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, by Erik Barnouw; Oxford University Press, 1982
  7. ^ Alex Friend (11 May 1988). "FCC revokes license for San Francisco public TV station KQEC". Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  8. ^ KQED Pressroom (2 May 2006). "KQED, Inc. and KTEH Foundation Form New Broadcast Organization". Press release. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  9. ^ Michael Schwarz. "Witness to an execution". Indiana University School of Journalism. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  10. ^ Jill Smolowe (3 June 1991). "The Ultimate Horror Show". TIME Magazine.,9171,973102,00.html. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  11. ^ "Comcast San Francisco Channel Lineup". Comcast. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  12. ^ "Channel Line-Up - AT&T U-verse - Advanced TV, High Speed Internet & Phone". AT&T. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  13. ^ "KQET Fall 2007 Schedule" (PDF). KQET. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  14. ^ "About KQED: The 1950s",
  15. ^ "About KQED: The 1980s",
  16. ^ "About KQED: The 1990s",
  17. ^ "San Francisco magazine re-launches in a new format that redefines city and luxury magazine publishing" (press release), Modern Luxury Media, October 18, 2005.

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