KWTV, commonly referred to as "News 9" is the CBS affiliate in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. During the May 2006 sweeps period KWTV was the highest-rated late newscast in the United States. It has long been one of the strongest CBS affiliates in the country. KWTV is owned by Griffin Communications of Oklahoma City.
KWTV has two buildings in the Oklahoma City Metro: one, which houses its main news studio, master control, sales office and its transmitter, located at North Kelley Avenue in Oklahoma City; the other, which houses a secondary studio, located in the Bricktown district of downtown Oklahoma City.
The station broadcasts its analog signal on VHF channel 9, and its digital signal on UHF channel 39. KWTV can be seen on cable channel 10 on Cox Oklahoma City, and on cable channel 9 on other Cox systems in Central Oklahoma. The station is also available to customers on DirecTV and Dish Network within the Oklahoma City market.
According to Griffin Communications' president David Griffin, his father John (founder of Griffin Foods), noticed while driving around Oklahoma City that all the homes in the area had outdoor television antennas in order to receive the city's (and state's) first television station, WKY-TV (channel 4, now KFOR-TV). It was then that Griffin decided to expand into television and decided to apply for a television license with the FCC. According to longtime employee Spec Hart, the first thing broadcast on KWTV were employees mentioning their name and which department they were in at the station.
The Griffins also owned KOMA-AM at the time it signed on, but decided to call their station KWTV (for World's Tallest Video) after its then under-construction tower, which was to be the tallest in the world at 1,577 feet. Channel 9 activated its current tower in early 1954.
In 1973, KWTV installed the first weather radar in the country for television. Shortly after it was installed, the radar was utilized by Chief Meteorlogist Gary England on May 24 of that year during a televised severe weather alert of a tornado warning for Canadian County following the sighting of a damaging F4 tornado near the small town of Union City which resulted in extensive damage. An original film of that televised warning from 1973 is often still used today in Channel 9's promos of England and its severe weather coverage.
In 1971, after the FCC issued the Prime Time Access Rule that cut the three broadcast networks at the time (CBS, NBC and ABC) prime time schedules by 30 minutes each night from 3.5 hours to 3 hours, KWTV's 6 p.m. broadcast of Newsroom 9 debuted as the first 60-minute newscast in the Oklahoma City market, broadcast from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. (a format similar to KFOR-TV's current 6:00 p.m. news block). The newscast was split into two separate 30 minute broadcasts at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. in 1976, with the CBS Evening News sandwiched in between at 5:30 p.m. From 1966 to 1971, KWTV's newscast was titled Eyewitness News, a moniker later used by rival ABC affiliate KOCO.
In 1981, the first commercial Doppler radar in the nation was installed at KWTV at the recommendation of meteorologist Gary England. England believed the radar would help him better forecast the severe weather that often affects Oklahoma. Shortly after KWTV introduced its first Doppler radar, a tornado located in Caddo County near the town of Binger was indicated on Doppler radar during a live cut-in by Chief Meteorologist Gary England and at the same time, a live shot of that tornado was broadcast during that cut-in from a cameraman stationed inside KWTV's news helicopter, Ranger 9, which was flown to the scene. From 1982 to 1990, KWTV General Manager Duane Harm was a frequent contributor to the station's newscast with regular commentaries concerning local and state issues and concerns. Per FCC regulations, the station provided equal time to parties with opposing viewpoints.
KWTV was the first Oklahoma television station to use a helicopter for daily news-gathering(launched 1 day before KOCO's Sky5), Ranger 9 (replaced in 2006 by SkyNews9 HD, a Bell 407 helicopter), which became installed with a camera below the nose of the helicopter dubbed as EagleVision in 2000 and the first to use one equipped with a High-Definition Video camera as of early 2006. However, it is not currently broadcast in HD.
KWTV introduced the first broadcast automated weather warning system in the country called First Warning.and was among the first to introduce software for the PC that alerted the user to both severe weather alerts and breaking news in the form of I-News.
Famous for its severe weather coverage with meteorologist Gary England, KWTV is known for having the top technology in the country for storm coverage. In 1986, when a devastating tornado tore through the northern Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, Channel 9 and England were credited for their advanced warning efforts resulting in relatively few injuries and no casualties despite the millions of dollars in damage. On May 3, 1999, Gary England went on the air to cover the F5 Tornado that damaged much of central Oklahoma from Chickasha to the southeastern portion of the Oklahoma City metro, including the suburbs of Moore, Del City, and Midwest City. There were many other storms that day as well, the final death toll was 44, though it is believed that it would have been much higher without the advance warning provided by Gary and the rest of the KWTV weather staff.
England and the News 9 weather team present a series of programs each spring and summer season titled "Those Terrible Twisters" to local communities throughout Oklahoma in which they visit with viewers and provide lots of information regarding tornado safety precautions and promote the station's efforts in providing up-to-date severe weather coverage to Oklahoma.
On January 26, 2001, KWTV sports anchor Bill Teegins along with nine other members of the Oklahoma State University basketball team were killed when their plane went down in Colorado after a basketball game against the University of Colorado. A memorial has been erected at the crash site, along with a statue of a kneeling cowboy on the Stillwater OSU campus.
In 2001, the station embarked on a media partnership with The Oklahoman newspaper which included the merger of both their websites. That collaboration ended in early 2008. Incidentally, The Oklahoma Publishing Company, owner of The Oklahoman, put rival station KFOR-TV on the air in 1949 as WKY-TV and owned it until 1976. KWTV also partners with Tulsa station KOTV, also owned by Griffin since their acquisition of the station in 1999 from A.H. Belo Corporation. The two stations collaborate on Sunday night extended sports coverage branded as the "Oklahoma Sports Blitz."
In Early November 2006, KWTV began using a brand-new, state-of-the-art news set, specially designed for high-definition broadcasting that could be implemented in the future. The set was designed and built by FX Group (the same group that built KOCO's set 3 years earlier)
In the 1990s, KWTV attempted to start its own investigative unit called The Investigators, similar in form to that of investigative reports on many CBS and FOX affiliates. Another segment highlighted unsafe conditions at Metro-area restaurants. A similar series of segments was done by rival KFOR-TV in the mid-2000s.
While the Ogle family is a staple of KFOR-TV dating back to the 1950s with Jack Ogle, KWTV's co-anchor of the 5, 6 and 10pm newscasts is Kelly Ogle, whom since 2003 has also had his own opinion segment titled My Two Cents airing weeknights during the 10pm newscast. Morning and noon anchor and former sports reporter/anchor Ed Murray and reporter Gan Matthews have had the longest tenures of any of the station's news staff, both of which date back to the early 1980s. Only Chief Meteorologist Gary England has had a longer tenure as an on-air personality at KWTV, which began in 1972.
KWTV has gone through several different on-air branding schemes including Newsscope, Eyewitness News, Big 9 News and Newsline 9, and finally the present NEWS9, retaining the current logo despite numerous graphics package changes. KWTV has used Image News by Gari Communications as its news music package since 1997 and currently uses the "Series 2" version (Ironically, Hearst-Argyle Television, which owns KOCO-TV, had certain stations choose between Image News and The B Package for their news package until 2004, but because KWTV had used Image News, KOCO was unable to use it).
In May 2003, a tornado hit northern portions of Oklahoma City, KWTV tested a new Doppler radar titled MOAR (an acronym for Massive Output Arrayed Radar, but which Gary England colloquially refers to as the "Mother of All Radars"). The radar detects a tornado's path down to street level. After the radar was put into full-time use in 2004, MOAR also began including GPS tracking of the exact location of the Storm Tracker units.
In February 2007, KWTV launched its new Doppler radar named "Storm Monitor". It has the capability to determine the possibility of a severe thunderstorm producing a tornado via a "TornadoStrengthIndex" and measures the percentage chance of a tornado occurring. Despite its name, the TornadoStrengthIndex primarily determines the strength of a mesocyclone as opposed to guessing how strong the tornado itself will be. Anything on the TornadoStrengthIndex over 5,000 and over 30% on the ProbabilityofTornado is considered significant. The station also uses a VIPIR radar and the long used Doppler 9000XL.
NEWS9 Weather Team In addition to providing forecasts on KWTV, the NEWS9 Weather Team also provides forecasts for KOKC-AM, KOMA-FM, KMGL-FM and KRXO-FM radio, and the Oklahoma News Network family of radio stations.
NEWS9 StormTracker Spotter Unit
Conus Communications. (contract for uplink services for KOVR-TV, Sacramento, California; KWTV-TV, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and KSAT-TV, San Antonio, Texas) (Satellite Circuit)
Jul 05, 1993; * On June 25, Conus Communications Washington Division uplinked the voting session by the Base Closure Commission for KOVR-TV,...