Channel 41 signed on August 10, 1970 as KBMA-TV (for Business Men's Asurrance, which provided initial funds for the station's founding), owned by Wilson D. Grant. KBMA was originally an independent station--the second in Kansas City. However, it had stronger financing and programming than the city's original independent, KCIT-TV (channel 50, now KPXE). KCIT went off the air in 1971, and for the next 12 years, channel 41 was the only general entertainment station in Kansas City (channel 50 eventually signed on once again in 1978, but as a religious station). From the early 1970s through the 1980s, it was available on many cable systems in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. This included many large Midwestern cities that didn't have independent stations of their own, such as Des Moines, Omaha, Lincoln, and Wichita.
KBMA was sold to Scripps Howard Broadcasting in 1977. To reflect its new ownership, the station later changed its call letters to KSHB-TV in 1981. The station acquired some strong off-network sitcoms and movie packages and remained the area's leading independent station.
The station affiliated with the newly-founded Fox network in 1986, becoming FOX 41, but remained essentially an independent station since Fox only provided a couple of hours of network programming a day. The station began to add a few talk and reality shows in the early 1990s.
Fox signed a longterm affiliation deal with New World Communications' television stations in 1994, including longtime NBC affiliate WDAF-TV. NBC agreed to affiliate with KSHB on the condition that KSHB run as much local news as WDAF had as an NBC affiliate.
In September 1994, Fox's primetime and sports programming moved to WDAF and Fox Kids moved to KSMO. KSHB became an NBC affiliate and launched newscasts in the morning and at 5pm, 6pm and 10pm.
Scripps Howard began to manage KMCI in 1996, and moved KSHB's sitcoms to that station. At one point, KSHB also produced a 30-minute newscast at 9pm on KMCI. Currently, KSHB produces a 30-minute sports show for KMCI, but no newscast.
KSHB has since become a more news-intensive operation -- to the point where the station currently brands itself as Your NBC Action News Station, rather than by its call letters or channel number. Although KSHB's newscast ratings are generally lower than WDAF, KMBC-TV and KCTV (and NBC's ratings have been lower than ABC, CBS and Fox in the past three years), the station has seen some slow growth in the last several years.
The "Action News" branding, as a UHF owned by Scripps, is also shared with sister station WFTS in Tampa-St. Petersburg, which is an ABC affiliate. But in the case of the Kansas City market, KSHB is the second station to use the branding -- dating from when WDAF used it for its news branding back when it was an NBC affiliate.
In September 2005, KSHB started its mid-morning chat program, "Kansas City Live." This show is similar to "Kansas City Today" which aired on the station in the late 1990s, and "AM Live" which aired in the 1980s. The show was canceled in early 2008, replaced with a late-morning newscast.
On April 24, KSHB launched their newscasts in high definition, starting with their "Mid-day" 11 a.m. newscast. They are the second station, behind KMBC to switch to HD. The new High Definition set was unveiled on August 8 2008.
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