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St. Louis Missouri Television Stations
  KSD-TV, Channel 5, St Louis, MO (KSDK)
  WTVI, Channel 54, Bellville, IL (KTVI, Channel 2)
  KWK, Channel 4, St. Louis, MO (KMOX, KMOV)
  KPRL, Channel 11, St. Louis, MO
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St. Louis Television, the early years
KMOV, Channel 4, St. Louis, Missouri (KWK-TV, KMOX)

The narrative below is a brief description of the history of St. Louis' Channel 4.  A much more detailed description will be eventually included in a future work.....

The Fight for St. Louis VHF Television

When it was announced that the FCC would be processing applications for television stations on July 1,1952, the St. Louis Board of Alderman made a request to the FCC that St. Louis be given first priority for the granting of additional television stations to serve the market. At that time the Gateway City had 372,000 television receivers and only TV station, KSD-TV.

The request was so popular, that even KSD-TV signed it with the support of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Newspaper, its affiliated station. The other newspaper in town, the Globe-Democrat which had minority interest in KWK Radio ran a series in the pages of the newspaper about the TV freeze and the request form the city officials.

At that point, there were already applications for the other VHF allocations assigned to St. Louis. Unfortunately, there were not enough VHF stations to go around. Those seeking a St. Louis VHF television station included WEW Radio, KXOK Radio, WFUO Radio, the St. Louis Amusement Company, 220 North Kingshighway, Inc., the New England TV Company and KWK Radio. An additional application would be filed later from CBS, Incorporated, Meredith Engineering Company, Missouri Valley TV Company and St. Louis Telecast, Incorporated. There were all of those applications, but only 2 commercial VHF stations available along with 3 UHF stations.

It was much more of a sure thing to request a UHF station. In October of 1952, Signal Hill requested channel 54 allocated to Belleville while Missouri Broadcasting Corporation (WIL Radio) would seek channel 42 in St. Louis. Broadcast House, the owner/operator of KSTL Radio applied for channel 36 in St. Louis, while the Empire Coil Company would apply for channel 30 in St. Louis, the Donze Broadcasting Company was requesting channel 14 in Festus, Missouri as was the Ozark Television Corporation. The Belleville Broadcasting Company filed for channel 42 during the last month of 1952, as did The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod which applied for channel 30 in Clayton, Missouri.

(continued below)
(from Broadcasting-Telecasting)

(top row): These pictures are from a celebration of sorts when the construction permit was assigned to the group of owners under KWK Radio.  It reportedly took place at Lambert Airport in St. Louis upon the arrival of a group of executives who were going to make the official announcement of the new TV station at channel 4.  Pictured at the top right,  identified as "Hope," "Ed Wilson," and "? Budde."

(left): Mac McFarlin is identified in the picture to the left. 

(photos from Shannon McFarlin)

Being granted a UHF station was a much easier proposition, although even it wasn't a sure thing. In late 1952, Signal Hill was granted channel 54 for Belleville, Illinois. In January of 1953, the Ozark Television Corporation would be granted channel 14 for Festus, Missouri and Broadcast House Incorporated (KSTL Radio) would receive the permit for channel 36. Also granted for St. Louis were UHF stations on channel 30 to KFUO-TV and WIL-TV on channel 42.

Still, the FCC would not decide on the grants for the two commercial VHF stations for quite some time. Among the two, the permit for channel 4.

(continued below)

CBS Shows Airing on KWK-TV, 1955-1958
"$64,000 Question" "Valiant Lady" "Gunsmoke" "The Garry Moore Show" "The Edge of Night"
"Have Gun Will Travel" "The Ed Sullivan Show" "Perry Mason" "The Heckle and Jeckle Cartoon Show" "The Twentieth Century"
"Shower of Stars" "December Bride" "The Lone Ranger" "The Millionaire" "Sgt Preston of the Yukon"
"The Secret Storm" "The Texan" "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" "Climax" Trackdown"
"The General Electric Theater" "The Johnny Carson Show" "Playhouse 90" "The Brighter Day" "This is CBS"
"Mighty Mouse Playhouse" "The Lineup" "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour" "The Danny Thomas Show" "The Gale Storm Show"

The First Hearings for Channel 4

The first FCC hearings for the permit to operate on channel 4 in St. Louis took place in Washington on December 31, 1953 where testimony would be heard and considered from all of the applicants including that of the ownership o KSTM-TV which was already operating on UHF channel 36. KSTM-TV was hoping to add its name to the list of applicants by petitioning the FCC to consider moving the allocation to East St. Louis. Broadcast House was seeking favor for its application by taking on another East St. Louis local investor, the local newspaper, The East St. Louis Journal.

The other applicants were St. Louis Telecast, Incorporated, the St. Louis Amusement Company, CBS, Inc (KMOX Radio) and 220 Television Incorporated.

Before the hearing, St. Louis Telecast would protest the application of CBS, Incorporated because of its ownership of KMOX Radio, and the new multiple ownership rules which were taking legal effect on January 4, 1954. This would limit TV station ownership to five outlets for a single entity. However, a grandfather clause would allow CBS to continue to seek out the television permit, if was to give up another interest in the event of the grant. This sacrifice of a property would not necessarily be limited to St. Louis.

(continued below)

Dave Allen

Les Carmichael

(all photos from Shannon McFarlin)
unidentified KWK-TV staff members

Another Channel 4 Hearing

In late March of 1954 a hearing for awarding the allocation for channel 4 was back before FCC Examiner Claire W. Hardy. This would involve the ownership of KWK Radio, KXOK Radio and Missouri Valley TV Corporation. Missouri Valley TV Corporation was half owned by Stanley Hubbard's KSTP AM/TV in St. Paul, Minnesota. In early April, talks were taking place before the hearing that would involve a possible merger among the applicants.

It was those talks between the applicants which would open the way for the FCC to grant the second VHF station for St. Louis. An agreement would bring about the withdrawal of the competing applicants, KXOK Radio and Missouri Valley TV with KWK being the surviving applicant with options being offered to the    stockholders of KXOK and Missouri Valley.

The agreement would create a company in which KWK-TV would be owned by the St. Louis Globe-  Democrat at 23%; Robert T. Convey and Associates at 28%; KXOK Incorporated at 23%, KSTP Inc. (Missouri Valley) at 23% and various other investors would own 3%.

It sounds simple but, this was a complicated agreement that would also force Elzey M. Roberts Jr. who was the president and minority stockholder of KXOK, to divest himself of his ownership of his company. Meanwhile, C. L. Thomas, the general manager of KXOK, would purchase the AM station.

The hearing that would announce the merger of the previous applicants didn't go quite as smooth as expected. A protest of the merger was filed by WTVI based on the ownership of the Globe-Democrat in KWK-TV. It was claimed by WTVI, that having newspaper ownership in two of the cities VHF stations would result in “concentration of control of mass media of communication” in the market.

The objection by WTVI was dismissed by the FCC as the Commission granted channel 4 to the new KWK-TV ownership group. WTVI would not go quiet after the grant, by once again filing an application for channel 4 saying it was filed two days before the KWK merger took place and the application was re-filed. WTVI claimed that the application was denied without a hearing.

(TV Guide® from the Doug Quick Collection)

This would bring about an objection from Frieda B. Hennock, an FCC commissioner who was the only dissenter on the grant decision. Her lack of approval would not change the final decision of the FCC. The official grant for KWK-TV to operate on channel 4 was filed on May 7, 1954.

Despite of the official grant, WTVI would not be silent. A petition would be filed once again to fight the merger of the applicants for channel 4 claiming that it was illegal. The point was that each company would pay only part of the option value for what would be a $5-million dollar asset. Signal Hill would claim that the operation of the station by KWK-TV would also create a duopoly contrary to FCC rules, that would cause economic harm to existing UHF stations in St. Louis. Later, this case would end up with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. The court would decide against the bid of WTVI, but also told the FCC not to issue a license to KWK until it had decided the merits of the WTVI appeal. The FCC was approved by the court to issue a special temporary authority for KWK-TV to operate at channel 4.

(TV Guide® from the Doug Quick Collection)

KWK-TV Affiliates with CBS

As expected KWK-TV, would sign with CBS as its primary television network. With the announcement being made in late June of 1954, it was also announced that the station would go on the air later the following month, in July of 1954 with an effective radiated power of 100kw, the maximum power allowed. The operation would be headed by Robert T. Convey as president and general manager with V.E. Carmichael as vice president and director of sales.

KWK-TV Color Ready

In August of 1954, CBS-TV announced that a number of its affiliates would be equipping their stations to broadcast in color by January 1, 1955. Among those were KWK-TV, Channel 4 in St. Louis. CBS, though, would provide very little programming in color with any regularity until 12 years later!

KWK Makes Ownership Legal

The merger and all of its layers of legal maneuvering was approved by the FCC in October of 1954. All of the necessary steps of the requirements of ownership were met and approved to allow for KWK-TV Incorporated to operate as a legal business. A week later, Signal Hill Telecasting was granted a request for withdrawal of its protest to grant the construction permit to KWK.

KWK-TV and CBS Make a Weak Agreement

In May of 1955, KWK-TV and CBS signed a two year affiliation agreement, but it was a weak reassurance to the ownership of KWK-TV. CBS was in line to acquire channel 11 in St. Louis. Should CBS be granted channel 11, that would mean the end of the KWK-TV and CBS agreement. There would be a clause providing for a 60 day cancellation if CBS would win a competitive hearing for channel 11.

Such a move taken by the FCC, would take CBS away from KWK-TV leaving the new VHF station with the only hope for a network being ABC, which would have taken ABC away from KTVI, Channel 36. Even though, ABC was not a major network at the time, this would have immediately brought down KTVI.

In September of 1955, the FCC examiner in charge, Thomas H. Donahue, would announce that CBS, Incorporated was favored by the Commission to be awarded channel 11. The futures of both KWK-TV and KTVI were now in question.

(continued below)

The Captain (left) and Cookie (right) hosts of the "S.S. Popeye" later re-named as "Cookie and the Captain" which aired on KMOX-TV from 1958 to 1967

(photos from Don and Ron Franciois)
Here is a video of "Cookie and the Captain" recorded at KMOX on January 1, 1961.

(from You Tube and a contributor which may be withdrawn without notice)

(far left): a KWK-TV production of a children's religious show.  It's host is unknown and as the format.

(near left): Tom Dailey's Women's Show from the 1950s, as broadcast on KWK-TV and KMOX.

(pictures from St. Louis Media History)

St. Louis Contestants for Channel 11 Seek Delay

Before the scheduled hearings for the granting of channel 11 were to take place in September of 1955, four of the five contestants asked for more time reply to the FCC examiner's decision to favor CBS, Incorporated. The hearing was to held on September 24, the request by the applicants was to delay the  hearing to October 24, 1955. The major issue as stated by the prospective owners was the new multiple ownership rules and policies against CBS owning both a major radio property in that KMOX was a clear channel 50-thousand watt station and channel 11 would have been a strong CBS affiliated station.

This hearing would also determine the status of Broadcast House (the former owner and operator of KSTM, Channel 36) as a legitimate applicant for the VHF allocation. KSTM held the permit to operate on channel 36 in St. Louis. Broadcast House was offering a variation of the permit, in that the station ownership was offering to allow the FCC to change the allocation to be assigned to East St. Louis. The company had also offered to move the studios to East St. Louis, while still serving St. Louis proper. This change in city of license would have better served the Illinois side of the Mississippi, while most other broadcast stations were all licensed to St. Louis. The company was hoping that this would have made it the most favorable choice for the allocation of channel 11 because of what the company called, “a more fair, efficient and equitable distribution of television service to the communities involved” as stated in the Communications Act.

In July of 1956 oral arguments were heard for the channel 11 decision. CBS, Incorporated was drawing fire from the other prospective owners. One argument stated that “CBS domination” should preclude it from getting channel 11. CBS was also criticized for its programming record, although specifics were not reported. One attorney said the initial decision favoring the awarding of channel 11 to CBS, Incorporated was “replete with error.”

The following year, two of the applicants for channel 11 would ask the FCC to reopen the record and investigate the activities of CBS after the record was closed in  1956. The contention included that “CBS has been guilty of multiple and serious violations of the anti-trust laws” and if “the practices of CBS and its progressively greater nationwide dominance in the broadcast field require a denial of its instant application.” CBS would argue against the reopening of the record.

One of the previous applicants would sit out the hearings for channel 11. St. Louis Amusement Company, an area theater owner would not participate in the hearings or the appeals which would follow.

(continued below)

CBS Shows Airing on KMOX-TV 1959-63
"Person to Person" "The United States Steel Hour" "The Jack Benny Program" "Candid Camera" "Mister Ed"
"Video Village" "Dennis the Menace" "Wanted Dead or Alive" "Pete and Gladys" "The Defenders"
"Mr. Lucky" "Bringing Up Buddy" "The Judy Garland Show" "The Twilight Zone" "Lassie"
"My Friend Flicka" "The Andy Griffith Show" "This is CBS" "The Lucy Show" "This is CBS"
"Frontier Circus" "Love of Life" "Masquerade Party" "My Favorite Martian" "The New Bob Cummings Show"
"Hennesey" "Dotto" "Angel" "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" "Glynis"
"East Side/West Side" "CBS Reports" "Password"  
"My Three Sons"
"I Love Lucy" "Petticoat Junction" "My Sister Eileen" "The Lloyd Bridges Show" "The Beverly Hillbillies"
"The Dick Van Dyke Show" "Rawhide" "Father Knows Best" "Ichabod and Me" "Checkmate"
"Route 66" "Alvin and the Chipmunks" "Tightrope" "The Real McCoys" "The Danny Kaye Show"

KWK-TV Applies to Change Transmitter Location

On November 4,1955, KWK-TV applied to the FCC to change the transmitter location to a rural area of Missouri. The location was listed as Avenue H north of the Reavis Barracks Road near St. Louis. The tower and antenna would be at 1,113-feet.

(continued below)

(top row-left to right): A listing for a KMOX-TV late night movie from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an ad for Dick Ford and Jim Kincaid and the KMOX-TV newscasts in the morning and evening with Dick Ford and Jim Kincaid; and "Cookie and the Captain" publicity shot from the 1950s from St. Louis Media History

(bottom row): ads from TV Guide® with various newscasts from the 1960s to the mid 1980s.

CBS Awarded Channel 11

On March 1, 1957, it was announced in Broadcasting-Telecasting that the FCC would announce that CBS, Incorporated would be awarded the permit for channel 11. It was stated that CBS's “superior” performance of KMOX in serving the listeners of St. Louis over the years influenced four of the commissioners. Three commissioners dissented and one favored the application of 220 Television Incorporated.

The subjects of media ownership and diversification were discussed and the other applicants were strongly considered in regards to this issue. However, it was determined that the previous actions of CBS, Incorporated, or more so the reputation of KMOX Radio would be the determining factor.

Later the next month, Broadcast House filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals against the FCC grant of channel 11 to CBS. The former owner/operator of KSTM, Channel 36 claimed that the FCC errored in not giving it the grant for channel 11 since Broadcast House had no current TV outlets.

CBS and KWK-TV Pull a Switcheroo

In September of 1957 a proposed sale was filed with the FCC involving CBS, which had been granted channel 11 in St. Louis with the existing owner of Channel 4, KWK-TV! This change in ownership would not affect the KWK Radio ownership. The plan would include the passing of the construction permit for channel 11 to 220 Television, Incorporated one of the three former applicants for channel 11. This move by CBS would have ended all and any litigation against CBS in which 220 Television and the Kopler Hotel interests and the other applicants had against it.

Under terms of the contract 220 Television would give the other contenders for channel 11 $200-thousand in debentures to the other two litigants. 220 Television would also get first refusal rights to purchase KWK Radio when that St. Louis station and its sister station in Haines City, Florida, WGTO was to be liquidated within a year in order to realize some substantial tax benefits.

The $4-million dollar sale was broken down to $1.5-million for the license and $2.144 million for the physical property and equipment. AT that time KWK-TV ownership was listed as 28% by Robert T. Convey and Associates, 28% the St. Louis-Globe Democrat, 23% Elzey Roberts, 23% KSTP, Incorporated as well as a number of St. Louis investors at 3%.

The balance sheet of KWK showed current assets at the time of the sale of $2,714,656 and total assets of $4,531,697. The net working capitol was listed as $1,586,275.

The major reason for the preference of CBS to channel 4 as opposed to channel 11 was given that it was the desire of CBS to begin to deliver CBS programming and local television service at soon as possible. What wasn't stated was the companies desire to obtain the lower dial position between that of KTVI, at channel 2 and KSD-TV at channel 5.

The approval for the sale was announced in late October of 1957, with the call letter change from KWK-TV to KMOX-TV. Channel 4 would remain as a CBS Television Network station.

CBS-TV Takes Control of KWK-TV

On March 1, 1958 the Columbia Broadcasting System Television Network took control of KWK-TV, Channel 4. CBS would operate Channel 4 as KWK-TV until the call letters of KMOX-TV were applied to the the station on March 16, 1958.

The management of the new CBS owned Channel 4 included Gene Wilkey, as general manager (former general manager of KMOX-Radio); Charles McAlbee as general sales manager (former CBS-TV spot sales in New York) ; Leon Drew was programing manager (former program director of CBS owned WXIX(TV) in Milwaukee); Harry Harvey was director of technical operations (formerly of KMOX Radio now both KMOX AM/TV) and Tom Stanton (formerly with KWK promotions) was director of promotions and publicity.

KMOX-TV (KMOV) A Brief Look at the Future

KMOX-TV would continue to operate at the former home of KWK-TV until 1968, when CBS built a new office and studio in downtown St. Louis to house the CBS television affiliate and its AM/FM radio counterparts, which up to that time had operated separately. The television station would vacate its Cole Street studio and move to One Memorial Drive near the gateway arch. The Cole Street Studio would be acquired later by KDNL(TV), Channel 30 when it signed on in 1969.

In 1986, CBS would sell KMOX-TV, which was its smallest market owned and operated television station at that date. Viacom, a former CBS subsidiary, purchased the  station from CBS for $122.5-million, and its call letters were changed to KMOV(TV). The television station operated from One Memorial Way along with its former radio station sister stations until 2012 when the radio stations would move after being sold by CBS.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, various program practices began to get attention from CBS and St. Louis area viewers. Many CBS prime time shows were preempted by paid programming such as the Billy Graham Crusades and other syndicated specials.

(continued below)

(upper left): The KMOX film chain control pictured in 1962;
(upper right): the KMOX 2" VTR recorder/player also from 1962.

(lower left): A CBS TK41 color camera as pictured in 1969
(lower right): The KMOX live truck showing the microwave antenna reflector on the top of the Chevy Van in 1972.

(photos courtesy of Leo Tevlin,   Don and Ron Francis)

According to Ken Auletta's book “Three Blind Mice” about KMOX, a total of 103 hours of CBS prime-time programs were preempted in 1987. Channel 4 also reduced its hours of operation signing off at night.

By the mid 1990s it began to fall in line with CBS guidelines having fewer preemptions and a 24-hour broadcast day. This would coincide with the A.H. Belo Corporation acquiring KMOV(TV) in 1994. Belo would operate it until 2013 when it was sold to Sander Media LLC, which was owned by former Belo executive Jack Sander. There were business connections between Sander Media and the owner of KSDK(TV), Belo, which had just acquired Channel 5 from the Gannett Company. This would force the US Department of Justice to block the merger of Belo and Sander until Sander would divest KMOV to a real third party potential owner.

Meredith Corporation which owned the CBS television affiliate in Kansas City, would come in and purchase KMOV(TV) along with KTVK and KASW in Phoenix for $407.5-million.

Thanks to:

Leo Tevlin, Don and Ron Francois
St. Louis Media History
TV Guide® copyright Triangle Publications, and the Doug Quick Collection
Bob Lee and TV screen grabs
Shannon McFarlin
Wayne Brasler

Next is The History of KPLR Channel 11 and KDNL Channel 30

St. Louis Missouri Television Stations
  KSD-TV, Channel 5, St Louis, MO (KSDK)
  WTVI, Channel 54, Bellville, IL (KTVI, Channel 2)
  KWK, Channel 4, St. Louis, MO (KMOX, KMOV)
  KPRL, Channel 11, St. Louis, MO
  KDNL, Channel 30, St. Louis, MO
  St. Louis Ghost Television Stations

This Ad could be yours....e-mail for information

updated 1/1/2017
web master:  Doug Quick
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