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KTBC
KTBC logo
Austin, Texas
Branding Fox 7 (general)
Fox 7 News Edge (newscasts)
Slogan Just You Watch (general)
Giving You the Edge (news) So Fox 7
Channels Digital: 7 (VHF)
Affiliations Fox
Owner Fox Television Stations, Inc.
(NW Communications of Austin, Inc.)
First air date November 27, 1952
Call letters’ meaning Texas
Broadcasting
Company
Former callsigns KTBC-TV (1952-1998)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
7 (VHF, 1952-2009)
Digital:
56 (UHF, until 2009)
Former affiliations Primary:
CBS (1952-1995)
Secondary:
ABC (1952-1971)
NBC (1952-1966)
DuMont (1952-1955)
Transmitter Power 98.6 kW
Height 383 m
Facility ID 35649
Transmitter Coordinates 30°18′35″N 97°47′34″W / 30.30972°N 97.79278°W / 30.30972; -97.79278
Website www.myfoxaustin.com

KTBC, channel 7, is the Fox owned-and-operated television station in Austin, Texas. Its studios are located in downtown Austin at the corner of Tenth and Brazos Streets (a block away from the Texas State Capitol Building), and its transmitter is located in the city.

Although KTBC's digital signal is on channel 7 over-the-air, it airs on cable channel 2 on most cable systems in Austin. This is because when the Johnson family established the first cable system in Austin, interference from the strong KTBC broadcast signal overpowered the signal carried on the analog cable channel 7.

Contents

History

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As a CBS affiliate

KTBC signed on the air on November 27, 1952. It was originally owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company (hence the call letters) which was in turn owned by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson and his wife Lady Bird, alongside KTBC radio (AM 590 and FM 93.7). As the city's first television station, it carried all four major networks at the time: ABC, CBS, NBC and the now-defunct DuMont Network. KTBC was primarily a CBS affiliate until 1995, with roughly 65% of its programming being carried by the station in its early history. NBC and ABC roughly split the remaining coverage in half.

KTBC was the only commercial station in Austin until KHFI-TV (channel 42, now KXAN-TV on channel 36) signed on in 1965. While KHFI should have logically taken over the NBC affiliation, NBC didn't move its programming there for a year and a half for reasons that remain unknown to this day. KTBC finally lost ABC when KVUE signed on in 1971.

The shared affiliation between all three networks had unforeseen benefits with regards to news and events. After Lyndon Johnson became President following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the networks established direct feed lines between KTBC and affiliates in New York, Dallas, and Chicago to facilitate news report relaying while the President was either in Austin or at his ranch in Johnson City. The Johnsons maintained a penthouse apartment on the fifth floor of the station, which was wired for camera and sound equipment, and used on occasion for local programming on occasions when the Johnsons were away.

This multi-network capability was first demonstrated live on August 1, 1966, following the UT Tower sniper incident. After Charles Whitman's sniper rampage had been stopped, the primary newsman on the scene, Neal Spelce, presented a concise, complete wrap-up of the event that was carried on all three networks live later that evening. Although the connections were later replaced by satellite uplink technology, the lines were maintained for contingency usage for several years.

KTBC was the dominant station in Austin for many years, in part because, then as now, it is the only full-powered VHF station in town. While it was suggested the Johnsons used their clout to keep KTBC as the area's only VHF station, in truth this dates back to a quirk in the system the Federal Communications Commission used to allocate television channels. In the early days of broadcast television, there were twelve VHF channels available, and 69 UHF channels (later reduced). The VHF bands were more desirable because they carried a longer distance. Because there were only twelve VHF channels available, there were limitations as to how closely the stations could be spaced. After the FCC opened the UHF band in 1952, it devised a plan for allocating VHF licenses. Under this plan, almost all of the country would be able to receive two commercial VHF channels plus one noncommercial channel. Most of the rest of the country ("1/2") would be able to receive a third VHF channel. Other areas of the country would be designated as "UHF islands," since they were too close to larger cities for VHF service. The "2" networks became CBS and NBC, "+1" became PBS, and "1/2" became ABC, which, as the weakest network, usually wound up with the UHF allocation where no VHF was available.

However, Austin is sandwiched between San Antonio to the south, Waco/Temple/Killeen to the north, Houston to the east and San Angelo to the west. This created a large "doughnut" in central Texas where there could be only one VHF license. KTBC was fortunate to gain that license, and thus had a large advantage over KXAN and KVUE until cable arrived in Austin in late 1970s, especially in the Hill Country since UHF signals usually do not get good reception in rugged terrain.

KTBC logo as of June 1974

The Johnsons sold KTBC to Times Mirror in 1973, making it a sister station to KDFW in Dallas. They kept the KTBC radio properties, and under FCC guidelines back then, changed calls to KLBJ-AM-FM. Times Mirror dropped the direct-feed facility in 1992 as a cost-cutting measure. In 1994, Times Mirror sold KTBC to Argyle.

As a Fox station

In 1994, New World Communications signed a long-term affiliation deal with Fox, which was establishing itself as a major network and was looking for more VHF stations. In late 1994, most New World-owned stations (except for two) dropped their longtime "Big Three" affiliations and switched to Fox. The year after, New World merged with Argyle, owners of KTBC. As a result, on July 1, 1995, KTBC swapped affiliations with KBVO, picking up that station's Fox affiliation. Channel 7's old CBS affiliation went to KBVO, which changed its calls to KEYE-TV. The station, in turn, came under ownership of Fox when New World merged with Fox Television Stations Group in 1996.

As the new Fox affiliate, KTBC was able to continue as Austin's unofficial "home" of the Dallas Cowboys, since Fox had won the rights to the National Football Conference a few months earlier. KTBC had carried most Cowboys games since the team's inception in 1960 by virtue of CBS winning television rights to the NFL in 1956. For many years, it also carried Cowboys pre-season games, though as of 2006 these have moved to KEYE. Fox 7 also carries Big 12 Conference college sports games in the fall. Distinctively, Austin (along with the Evansville, Indiana and Tri-Cities, Washington markets) has the rare distinction of having Fox on VHF and the other "Big Three" affiliations all on the UHF dial.

KTBC logo from 1997 to 2008

In the early years as a Fox station, rather than carry Fox Kids programming, of which KVC would air instead, KTBC filled the daytime lineup with more talk shows and the nighttime lineup with off-network sitcoms such as The Simpsons, Seinfeld and King of the Hill. However, in recent years, the station's daytime lineup has leaned away from the talk show format in favor of courtroom shows such as Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Judge Alex, and Divorce Court.

Currently, KTBC is the only network owned and operated television station in Austin, except from 2000 to 2007, when it was one of two network O&O's in the market, alongside the aforementioned KEYE.

In September 2006, KTBC launched MyFoxAustin.com, a website that is part of a larger re-imaging campaign currently conducted by Fox owned and operated stations nationwide. In January 2009, Weekend Marketplace premiered, replacing 4KidsTV. KTBC has since picked up Weekend Marketplace, allowing the station to finally clear the entire Fox network schedule.

Children's programming

For the first two decades of its existence, KTBC was a leader in children's programming, most notably with the long-running Uncle Jay Show. Starting in 1953, host Jay Hodgson entertained local children each weekday afternoon with the assistance of the "crusty, hunnert-year-old trader" known as Packer Jack Wallace, and both were later joined by Francis "Piper" Dyer in 1961 as the show's organist. The show also featured an on-screen studio audience of local children, ranging from 30 to 50 in number depending on the set design at the time.

The Uncle Jay Show featured the typical fare of cartoons, including many of the classic Warner Bros. cartoons as distributed by Associated Artists Productions. During 1965, the show also hosted the King Features Syndicate series of cartoon shorts featuring Beetle Bailey, Snuffy Smith and Krazy Kat, and in 1967 expanded to an hour-long show to facilitate airing of Gerry Anderson's Supercar, which had just been syndicated to US markets. Both Hodgson and Wallace provided humor in the form of skits and jokes, as well as minor educational material such as guest appearances by local naturalists, botanists and even movie stars and sports figures. Children in the audience were called on to participate in games, and received prizes for successful participation. Among the show's primary sponsors whose products were promoted live on-air by either Hodgson or Wallace, were the legendary Villa Capri restaurant, local shoe emporium Kara-Vel Shoes, Mrs. Johnson's Bakery, and Superior Dairies products. The latter of these was promoted by Wallace in a very fondly remembered commercial where Wallace extols the benefits of authentic wild west cooking out on the range, where the deer and the antelope play, and the secret ingredient being Superior Dairies Chocolate Milk.

Hodgson, who was the voice of KTBC from the station's original broadcast, was with the show throughout its run. Wallace, a local morning air personality who appeared with Richard "Cactus" Pryor as part of the Cack and Jack Morning Show on KTBC-AM during the 1960s and 1970s, co-hosted the show with Hodgson until Wallace's death from cardiopulminary failure in late 1973, while Dyer left the show the following year to pursue other interests. Hodgson continued the show as solo host until the show's cancellation in the fall of 1977. By then, the decline in the live children's show was in full effect, and the show was moved from a weekly afternoon schedule to a Saturday morning time slot in the fall of 1975. Dropping all cartoon programming, the show concentrated more on local informational and educational issues that would be of interest to children. Gone also was the "live" element of the show; while groups of children were still part of the on-screen, shows were taped during the week for later broadcast on Saturdays. By the fall of 1977 ratings had dropped to the point where it was decided to put the show to rest once and for all.

Hodgson continued to work for KTBC as a public affairs journalist after The Uncle Jay Show was canceled, appearing in such shows as The Eyes of Central Texas, and This Is Central Texas. The latter was his final show, and was retired after Hodgson himself retired in 1991. The final episode was an hour-long tribute to the long-time host, with testimonials by many of Austin's media personalities, including former KTBC and then-current KVUE news anchor Dick Ellis, who'd barely made it to the show on time and appeared dressed in hunting gear, having only heard about the show a few hours earlier while on a dove hunting trip. Hodgson died in May 2007.

KVC 13

KVC 13 (officially K13VC) was an independent low-powered television station co-owned alongside KTBC which was on the air until March 2003. Like most independents, KVC ran sitcoms, dramas, cartoons and several shows shared with KTBC. Upon KTBC's network switch to Fox, Fox Kids, which originally aired on then-KBVO, did not air on KTBC (as with most New World stations), with the exception of the Saturday morning lineup (which was initially simulcast on both KVC and KTBC; KTBC would later drop it in 1997). KVC continued to air the block on weekdays and Saturdays until Fox ended the weekday lineup in 2002. When KVC became a UPN affiliate, it also picked up the UPN Kids lineup which later rebranded to Disney's One Too. (At the present, 4Kids TV did not air at all in Austin.)

KVC inherited the UPN affiliation from LIN TV's Hill Country Paramount Network in 1998. That move saw the loss of UPN coverage in much of Central Texas outside the immediate Austin area for a short time because KVC was a low-powered station that could be barely picked up by antenna or not at all in those regional parts. However, UPN saw increased viewership by way of Austin area cable systems. The station continued to air UPN programming until August 2000, when new Fredericksburg station KCWX (then KBEJ) went on the air on channel 2. At that time, KVC returned to being an independent station, showing typical independent programming as well as University of Texas sports and other college sporting events.

KVC was forced off the air on March 29, 2003 [1] in order to make room for the digital signal of KAKW-TV, a Univision affiliate in Killeen (also serving Austin).

Tower

KTBC transmits according FCC-Query from a 338.9 metres tall guyed TV tower at 30°18'38"N 97°47'37"W, which was built in 1998.

Digital television

KTBC-DT broadcasts on digital channel 7.

Digital channels

Channel Name Programming
7.1 KTBC-DT main KTBC/FOX HD programming

KTBC's digital signal was first broadcast over-the-air on channel 56 until the analog shutoff on June 12, 2009, at which time the analog signal was shut down and the digital signal moved from channel 56 to its former analog channel assignment of 7.

With a final permitted power of 98kw, KTBC will have the 2nd highest effective radiated power (ERP) of any station broadcasting on channel 7 in the United States (per the FCC database).

News operation

KTBC building

KTBC broadcasts a total of 35½ hours of local news a week (6½ hours on weekdays, and an hour-and-a-half each on Saturdays and Sundays), more than any other station in Austin; however as is standard with Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts, KTBC's Sunday 5PM newscast is subject to preemption and the Saturday 6PM newscast is subject to delay due to sports coverage.

Even after KTBC joined the Fox network, it continued its 10 p.m. newscast, with the 9 p.m. hour time slot filled by syndicated programming, unusual for that network's affiliates. This changed in 2000 when the station moved its evening newscast to 9 p.m.--the first primetime newscast in Austin.

KTBC's newscasts have been named Fox 7 News Edge since 2006. The station went through a graphic overhaul in early 2008 to match the Fox News Channel-influenced look of its stablemates. KTBC was the last Fox O&O to introduce this look on April 17, 2008.

On July 1, 2009; KTBC offically switched its news broadcast to high definition, becoming the last of the four Austin television news stations (behind KEYE, KVUE and KXAN) to do so.

KTBC is one of four Fox O&Os (and the only ex-New World station that switched to Fox) with a 5 p.m. newscast, but no 6 p.m. newscast (along with WHBQ-TV in Memphis, KRIV in Houston and KMSP-TV in Minneapolis). KTBC had a 6 p.m. newscast until 2000, when it was discontinued in favor of an expansion of the 5 p.m. newscast to a full hour. However, the station does presently carry a 6 p.m. newscast on Saturday evenings.

FOX7 Notable Personalities

Current On-Air Staff

Current Anchors

  • Joe Bickett - weekday mornings "Good Day Austin" and noon
  • Loriana Hernandez - weeknights at 5 and 9PM (also reporter)
  • James Irby - Sundays at 5, Saturdays at 6, and weekends at 9PM (also reporter)
  • Katherine Kisiel - weekday mornings "Good Day Austin" and noon
  • Jenni Lee - Sundays at 5, Saturdays at 6, and weekends at 9PM (also reporter)
  • Mike Warren - weeknights at 5 and 9PM (also reporter)

Reporters

  • Keri Bellacosa - general assignment reporter
  • Nik Ciccone - "Good Day Austin" reporter
  • Crystal Cotti - city hall reporter
  • Foti Kallergis - general assignment reporter
  • Rudy Koski - general assignment reporter
  • Lauren Petrowski - general assignment reporter
  • Nancy Zambrano - general assignment reporter

FOX7 Weather Team

  • Scott Fisher (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5 and 9PM
  • Scott Prinsen (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; Sundays at 5, Saturdays at 6, and weekends at 9PM
  • Zack Shields - Meteorologist; weekday mornings "Good Day Austin" and noon

Sports Team

  • Dave Cody - Sports Director; weeknights at 5 and 9PM
  • Dennis de la Pena - Sports Anchor; Sundays at 5, Saturdays at 6, and weekends at 9PM
  • John Hygh - sports reporter

Former on-air Staff

  • Paul Alexander - Reporter
  • Jack Balzersen
  • Barry Brickman
  • Keith Brunson - Weatherman/Brunson's Beat reporter (now runs an advertising agency)
  • Rick Carr - Sports (now attorney in Denver)
  • John Cones - Anchor/reporter (now an attorney in Los Angeles)
  • Brian Christie - Anchor/reporter (returned to Headline News after a short time with KTBC, now hosts The Boomer Show for Wealth TV)
  • Arezow Doost - Freelance Reporter - DFW Market
  • Dick Ellis - Anchor/reporter (Later KVUE-TV, Austin, now PIO Leander School District)
  • Danny Elzner - Sports
  • Mike Emanuel - former weekend anchor/political reporter, now Fox News White House Correspondent
  • Richard Goodman - Anchor (later KVUE-TV, Austin, later Austin City Council, deceased)
  • Paige Gresset - Anchor
  • John Hambrick
  • Linda Hunter - Reporter
  • Dave Jarrett - Anchor (later KNOW-AM, Austin)
  • Dr. Ken Jeans - Meteorologist (UT Professor 1960s-70s)
  • Will Jensen - Reporter
  • Troy Kimmel - Weather (now weather for Austin's KEYE-TV and Clear Channel Radio cluster)
  • Vern Lundquist - Sports [later WFAA-TV Dallas, ABC Sports, now CBS Sports)
  • Mark Mathis - Weather
  • Jim McNabb Weatherman (later KLBJ AM & FM, and KXAN-TV)
  • Phil Miller - Sports Anchor
  • Barbara Monaco - Reporter (later MSNBC)
  • Maclovio Perez - Meteorologist (later KNXT/KCBS Los Angeles, WOAI-TV San Antonio, now spokesman for San Antonio area school district)
  • Fred Rhodes - Anchor (later KHOU-TV, Houston, KTVI-TV, St. Louis, Houston City Magazine, now an attorney in Houston)
  • Nancy Rice - Anchor (now an attorney in Austin)
  • Bob Richardson - Anchor (now an attorney in Austin)
  • Stephanie Rochon - Anchor (now WTVR-TV Richmond, VA)
  • Joe Roddy - News Director/Anchor (deceased)
  • Mike Rosen - Political Reporter (now aide to Rep. Michael McCaul R-TX)
  • Steve Ross - Sports
  • Jeanette Scruggs (aka Jeanette Muenchow) - voice only traffic
  • Brenda Sheppard (First African-American TV reporter in Austin)
  • David N. Smith - Photographer/Reporter (Retired from KTBC, Residing in Austin)
  • Ken Snow
  • Neal Spelce - Anchor (later KEYE-TV), Austin, now a consultant)
  • Randy Sumner - Sports (later KPRC-TV & KHOU-TV, Houston, now Director of Communications at Champion Forest Baptist Church)
  • Bob Thompson - Reporter (later KVUE-TV, Austin, The Washington Post, now an attorney in Washington , D.C.)
  • Connor Vernon - Meteorologist (now owns Crosswinds Communications, a marketing company in Dothan, Alabama, and does the evening weather at WTVY-TV News4)
  • Brooke Wagner - Anchor/Reporter, (now KCNC-TV, Denver)
  • Stephanie Williams - Anchor/Reporter
  • Lorraine Woodward - Anchor and host of "Central Texas"

News/Station presentation

Newscast titles

  • KTBC News (1952-1980, as a CBS affiliate)
  • NewsCenter 7 (1980-1983 and 1995-1996)
  • Channel 7 News (1983-1995)
  • FOX 7 News (1996-2006)
  • FOX 7 News Edge (2006-present)

Station slogans

  • Great Moments on Channel 7 (1982-1983; local version of CBS campaign)
  • Austin's News Channel (mid 1980s)
  • Austin's Leading News Station (late 1980s-1990)
  • Austin's News Center (1990-1995)
  • News You Can Count On (1995-1997)
  • Austin's Watching Fox (1997-2000)
  • Just You Watch (2000-present; general slogan)
  • Get the Edge (2007-present; news slogan)
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References


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