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WDAF-TV is the Fox affiliated television station serving the Kansas City, Missourimarker-Kansasmarker designated market area. The station is owned by Local TV LLC, the media arm of private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners. Its studios and transmitter are located in the Signal Hill neighborhood of Kansas City. The station broadcasts a digital signal on UHF channel 34, using its former analog channel assignment of channel 4 as its virtual digital channel via PSIP.

WDAF-TV is a news-intensive Fox station with 49 hours a week of locally produced newscasts, as well as first-run prime time, late night and sports programming from Fox. It also runs off-network sitcoms, talk shows, reality shows and court shows.

History

As an NBC affiliate

WDAF began operation on October 16, 1949 as the second television station in Missouri and the first in Kansas City. The station was originally owned by the Kansas City Starmarker along with WDAF radio (610 AM, now at 106.5 FM), which began operations in 1922. It was affiliated with all four major networks of the time: NBC, CBS, ABC, and DuMont. It was a primary NBC affiliate owing to WDAF-AM's long affiliation with NBC Radio.

Randall Jessee was the station's first anchorman. Several other notables, including Shelby Storck (WDAF-TV's first weathercaster) and future Hollywood character actor Owen Bush, did announcing for the station during the early 1950s. When KMBC-TVmarker (channel 9) signed on in 1953, CBS and Dumont programming moved there. WDAF shared ABC with KMBC until later in 1953, when KCMO-TV (channel 5, now KCTVmarker) signed on as the CBS affiliate. KMBC and WDAF then affiliated exclusively with ABC and NBC respectively. The station pre-empted moderate amounts of NBC programming, usually some daytime shows and occasionally a prime time show.

In 1953, the federal government began antitrust action against the Star over WDAF-AM-TV. The investigation was reportedly opened at the behest of Harry Truman, who had a long-running feud with the Star. The court ruled against the Star in 1955. After appeals failed, it signed a consent decree in 1957 requiring it to sell its broadcasting properties.

In 1958, WDAF-AM-TV was sold to National-Missouri Broadcasters. In 1960, National-Missouri merged with Transcontinent Broadcasting of Buffalo, New Yorkmarker. Under Transcontinent, the two stations picked up an FM sister at 102.1 (later KYYS and now KCKC). Transcontinent merged with Taft Broadcasting on April 1, 1964. Taft was renamed Great American Broadcasting on October 12, 1987. By that year, WDAF had overtaken KMBC as the dominant station in Kansas City, as was the trend at many NBC affiliates. Great American became Citicasters in 1993.

On July 13, 1984, WDAF-TV became one of the first 20 NBC stations in the country to receive network programming via satellite. In 1986, WDAF-TV also became the first television station in Kansas City to broadcast in stereo.

As a Fox station

In 1993, Fox won the rights to broadcast the NFC football package from CBS, after which New World Communications signed a long-term deal to switch most of its stations to Fox, starting in the fall of 1994. In the spring of 1994, Citicasters sold WDAF-TV and KSAZ (channel 10) in Phoenix to New World. Two other stations owned by Citicasters, WBRCmarker (channel 6) in Birmingham and WGHPmarker (channel 8) in Greensboro, North Carolina, were placed in a blind trust and later sold directly to Fox; in the case of WBRC, it was because New World already owned Birmingham's NBC affiliate WVTMmarker (channel 13) after its purchase of Argyle Television and could not keep it due to FCC rules at the time that did not permit television duopolies. Ironically, WDAF is the only former New World station that switched to Fox, located in an NFL market whose team is not in the NFC conference; the Kansas City Chiefs are in the AFC conference, with their games primarily airing on CBS affiliate KCTVmarker.

WDAF-TV became a Fox affiliate on September 12, 1994, and the NBC affiliation moved to KSHBmarker (channel 41), Kansas City's original Fox affiliate; with NBC agreeing to affiliate with KSHB on the condition that KSHB run as much local news as WDAF did under its NBC affiliation. WDAF is the only former New World-owned station that switched to Fox to be a former NBC affiliate; sister stations WVTM in Birmingham and KNSDmarker (channel 39) in San Diego remained NBC affiliates under New World ownership, and were subsequently sold to NBC; KNSD is still owned by NBC Universal Television Group, while WVTM is now owned by Media General. The majority of the New World stations that changed their affiliation to Fox were CBS affiliates with eight of the stations being affiliated with CBS, and three of them were ABC affiliates.

After the affiliation swap, WDAF-TV increased its local news programming from about 30 hours a week to nearly 50 hours — including expansions in morning and evening newscasts. WDAF-TV was the first station in Kansas City to use a helicopter for traffic and news reporting.

Fox Television Stations Group bought most of the New World Communications stations in the fall of 1996, officially making WDAF a Fox owned-and-operated station, and the first major network O&O in the Kansas City market. However until 2007, the station used "New World Communications of Kansas City, Inc.", as their end tag during their newscasts. New World Communications was used as a licensing purpose corporation for all of WDAF's sister stations as well until 2007. However, as of June 2009, WDAF's former New World sister stations which are still owned by Fox are now once again using the licensee names "New World Communications of , Inc." or "NW Communications of , Inc." — but by that time, WDAF and a few other ex-New World stations were no longer owned by Fox.

On September 23, 2005, WDAF-TV began broadcasting in full-power high definition, going from an HD signal rated at 1.2 Kilowatts to a signal strength of 1000 Kilowatts.

On December 22, 2007, Fox entered into an agreement to sell WDAF and seven other Fox O&O stations to Oak Hill Capital Partners' Local TV LLC, which currently owns nine stations formerly of The New York Times Companymarker. The sale was closed on July 14, 2008.

After three years, WDAF-TV debuted their new website on January 27, 2009 to remove itself from the MyFox umbrella now that Fox no longer owns the station. The new WDAF-TV website is operated by Tribune Interactive, which also operates the websites of most of the former Fox O&Os owned by Local TV as well as the websites of Tribune-owned stations. The other Local TV-owned stations phased in the new Tribune-run websites during late January and into February 2009, partially severing their membership with WorldNow although WorldNow continues to provide streaming video technology to Tribune Interactive.

Digital television

WDAF-DT broadcasts on digital channel 34.Digital channels
Channel Name Programming
4.1 WDAF-DT main WDAF/FOX HD programming


Analog-to-digital conversion

On June 12, 2009, WDAF-TV abandoned its previous analog channel assignment of channel 4, and now broadcasts on its digital channel assignment to channel 34. However, digital television receivers will continue to display WDAF-TV's virtual digital channel as 4.

Programming

WDAF-TV clears the entire Fox network schedule (nightly primetime, Saturday late night, and Fox Sports programming, and the political talk show Fox News Sunday; except for Fox's Saturday morning infomerical block, Weekend Marketplace, which airs on KMCI). However, the Saturday late night lineup (currently Mad TV and TALKSHOW with Spike Feresten) airs a half-hour later than on most affiliates airing at 10:30PM, due to its 10PM newscast on Saturday evenings. WDAF, like most Fox stations, airs a mix of talk/court/reality shows in the daytime and sitcoms in the evening. WDAF is one of numerous Fox stations that carry Divorce Court, Judge Alex, Judge Joe Brown and Judge Judy (which airs before the 5PM newscast) and Seinfeld (which airs in late night). The station also airs Access Hollywood and TMZ on TV weeknights after the 10PM newscast, and airs weekend telecasts of Monk and House.

Like most of its New World-formerly owned sister stations, WDAF had pre-empted Fox Kids programming since affiliating with Fox, instead airing over the years on KSMO-TVmarker (channel 62, now a MyNetworkTV affiliate; as Fox Kids from 1994 to 1999, as an affiliate of UPN and then The WB after KCWE affiliated with UPN; it is now a CW affiliate) and later on independent station KMCI (channel 38; as Fox Kids from 1999 to 2001, Fox Box from 2001-2002, and 4Kids TV from 2002 to 2008); the pre-emption was common among its newer Fox sister stations as well in the same timeframe since the mid-1990s (WDAF instead aired syndicated children's programming in place of Fox's children's block). Fox discontinued children's programming on December 28, 2008 (it is unknown if Fox will resume children's programming in the future).

The station was the over-the-air flagship station of the Kansas City Royals for many years, long after many Big Three affiliates dropped regular coverage of local sports. It lost the broadcast rights for the games in 1992, marking the end of a 13-year business relationship. The station also produced and aired Kansas City Chiefs pre-season games from 1997 to 1999, upgrading the local production presentation to network quality standards. The contract ran through the 1999 season.

News Operation

WDAF-TV broadcasts a total of 49 hours of local news per week (with eight hours on weekdays, and 4½ hours each on weekends), giving the station more hours of local news than any other station in Kansas City and more than any individual station in both Missouri and Kansasmarker); however as is standard with Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts, WDAF's Sunday 5PM newscasts are subject to preemption due to sports coverage (though the Saturday 5PM newscast is usually delayed to 6PM during baseball season). Since WDAF became a Fox affiliate in 1994, the station has placed more emphasis on its newscasts and has maintained a newscast schedule very similar to a ABC, CBS or NBC affiliate, along with additional newscasts from 7-9AM, 5:30-6PM and the hour-long primetime newscast at 9PM. The station is one of a steadily growing number of Fox stations with a newscast in the traditional late news timeslot (in WDAF's case, at 10PM Central time), in addition to the primetime (9PM) newscast, along with one of the few to continue their Big Three-era 10PM newscast after the affiliation switch and one of the few Fox stations to run a 10PM (or 11PM) newscast seven nights a week.

The station also has a Hummer called "Storm Fox" equipped to track and chase severe weather along with Sky Fox. WDAF-TV has gained notice in the Kansas City market for its investigative team created in 2003, called the "FOX4 Problem Solvers", helping people who have been ripped off by businesses and uncovering various scams. Until August 31, 2009 WDAF-TV used a news helicopter, called "Sky Fox" for traffic and breaking news reporting, and severe weather coverage. WDAF is working on alternative methods for covering breaking news from the air.

Beginning in 2006, the Fox-owned stations revamped their sets and graphics, and created standardized logos similar to Fox News Channel's, and changed their websites to use the "MyFox" name and interface (which has also been adopted by all the other Fox O&Os). WDAF-TV debuted the new logo (which retains the "4" logo used since 1992 under NBC affiliation), graphics and music package on October 23, 2007, starting with their noon newscast. Minor changes were made in the studio to match the new theme. WDAF-TV and the other former Fox O&Os that were acquired by Local TV still use the logo, graphics, news music and website interface implemented under Fox ownership. Minor changes were made in the studio to match the new theme.

In April 2007, WDAF-TV began simulcasting the 7-9 AM portion of its weekday morning and nightly 9PM newscasts on Fox affiliate KTMJ-CA (channel 43) in Topeka, Kansasmarker and its three repeaters KTLJ-CA (channel 6) in Junction City, KMJT-CA in Ogden (channel 15) and KETM-CA (channel 17) in Emporia. This was mildly ironic considering that WDAF-TV and the signals of other Kansas City area VHF stations adequately cover the Topeka area. In November 2008, after KTMJ's purchase by New Vision Television (owners of Topeka NBC affiliate KSNT, channel 27) was complete, the simulcasts were dropped and replaced with morning and 9PM newscasts produced by KSNT.

Ratings

Dating back to when WDAF was an NBC affiliate, the station has usually battled Hearst-owned KMBC (and at times, KCTV also) for the #1 spot in local news in Kansas City. During the late 1970s and into the 1980s, WDAF-TV was in second place behind KMBC, but the station ended the latter decade as number one station in the Kansas City market. As soon as the station switched from NBC to Fox, KMBC made a short resurgence to number one in the market. WDAF-TV has since rotated between first and second place with either KMBC or KCTV in various timeslots since the late 1990s after the network switch. WDAF-TV is just one example of a few Fox stations that have actually outcompeted NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates in local newscasts.

According to Nielsen Media Research, as of February 2008, WDAF-TV has Kansas City's #1 newscast in some timeslots, including at 9:00pm (beating competition from KCTV's 9:00 p.m. newscast on KSMO, and network programming on KMBC, KSHB and KCTV). WDAF-TV currently battles KMBC-TV for first place in morning news, and with KMBC and KCTV for either first or second in evening news. The station's 10:00 p.m. newscast placed third behind KMBC and KCTV, however.

Personalities

Current On-Air Talent

(as of October 2009)

Current Anchors
  • Mark Alford - weekday mornings (5-9AM) and noon
  • Kim Byrnes - weekend mornings (7-9AM) (also reporter)
  • Dave Froelich - Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5, weekends at 9 and 10PM (also reporter)
  • Loren Halifax - weekday mornings (5-9AM) and noon
  • Susan Hiland - weeknights at 5 and 9PM
  • Stephanie Hockridge - Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5, weekends at 9 and 10PM (also reporter)
  • John Holt - weeknights at 5 and 9PM
  • Phil Witt - weeknights at 6 and 10PM


Reporters
  • Eric Burke - general assignment and breaking news reporter
  • Leslie Carto - general assignment reporter (also "Try It Before, You Buy It" feature reporter)
  • Megan Cloherty - general assignment reporter
  • Dave Dunn - general assignment reporter
  • Shawn Edwards - film critic
  • Monica Evans - general assignment reporter
  • Meredith Hoenes - fill-in reporter
  • Bill Hurrelbrink - traffic reporter (weekday mornings 5-9AM)
  • Sharita Hutton - general assignment reporter
  • Meagan Kelleher - "Web Watch Weekly" feature reporter
  • Tess Koppelman - general assignment reporter
  • Meryl Lin McKean - medical reporter
  • Lori Patterson - fill-in weekend reporter
  • John Pepitone - general assignment reporter
  • Kathy Quinn - morning and noon reporter (also "Pay It Forward" feature reporter)
  • Russ Simmons - film critic
  • Bob Stepanich - weekend reporter
  • Nick Vasos - "SkyFox" traffic reporter (weekdays 5-9AM and 5-6PM)
  • Linda Wagar - general assignment reporter (also "Problem Solver" investigative reporter)


4WARN Weather Team
  • Mike Thompson (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weekdays at 5, 6, 9 and 10PM
  • Don Harman (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings (5-9AM)
  • Joe Lauria (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist/NWA Seals of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekend mornings (7-9AM), Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5, weekends at 9 and 10PM
  • Karli Ritter (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekdays at noon


Sports Team
  • Al Wallace - Sports Director; Sundays at 5 and 9, and Monday-Thursdays at 6 and 10PM
  • Jason Lamb - Sports Anchor; Fridays-Saturdays at 6, 9 and 10PM


Former On-Air Talent

  • Sue Abrams - morning and midday anchor (1991-1994; now runs Sue Abrams Productions, LLC of Dallas, TX)
  • Carmen Ainsworth - 6 and 10PM anchor (?-?)
  • Frank Boal - sports director (1981-2009; now at WHB-AMmarker)
  • Owen Bush - station announcer (1950s)
  • Heather Claybrook - weekend morning anchor/reporter (?-2008)
  • Carrie Coogan - "Try It Before You Buy It" consumer reporter (?-?; works for "The Johnny Dare Morning Show" on KQRC-FM)
  • Toby Cook - weekday morning (7:30-9AM) anchor (?-?; now with the Kansas City Royals)
  • Casey Curry - noon and weekend morning meteorologist (?-2002?; now at KTRKmarker in Houstonmarker)
  • Harris Faulkner - 6 and 10PM anchor (?-?; now with Fox News)
  • Dave Helling - reporter (?-?; now with the Kansas City Starmarker)
  • Dan Henry - meteorologist (?-?; retired)
  • Paul Herdtner - 7:30-9AM weekday anchor, then, weekend anchor (?-2009; lives in Overland Park, Kansasmarker)
  • Kevin Keitzman - sports anchor (?-?; now at WHB-AMmarker)
  • Tom Lawrence - weekend anchor (?-2007; retired)
  • Nancy Lewis - general assignment reporter/"Problem Solvers" investigator (?-?; now communications director with Independence, MO School District)
  • Gary Lezak - morning meteorologist (?-?; now chief meteorologist at KSHB)
  • Shelli Lockhart - 6 and 10PM anchor (?-?; moved back to Bostonmarker to be with her husband)
  • Sue Mason - weekday morning (6-7:30AM) anchor (?-?; now with Nebraska Furniture Mart)
  • Heather McMichael - morning anchor (?-?; now works for a law firm in Kansas City)
  • Monica Parise - 5 and 9PM anchor (?-?)
  • Glenn Pearson - morning anchor (?-?)
  • Bryan Polcyn - "Problem Solvers" investigative reporter (?-?; now investigative reporter for WITI-TVmarker in Milwaukee)
  • Ken Price - reporter (?-2008)
  • Johnny Rowlands - traffic reporter (?-?; now at KMBC-TV)
  • Steve Shaw - reporter (?-?)
  • Tina Simpkin - noon and weekend morning meteorologist (?-?; later at WTHRmarker in Indianapolis, now a stay-at-home mother)
  • Shelly Slater - 6 and 10 PM weekend anchor (?-?; now at WFAA-TVmarker in Dallasmarker)
  • Cynthia Smith - former anchor (1977-1992; now president & CEO of Sunflower House, a child abuse prevention center; came back for the station's sixtieth anniversary on the 6 and 10PM newscasts)
  • Stacy Smith - evening anchor (1977-1983; now anchor at KDKA-TVmarker in Pittsburghmarker)
  • Shelby Storck - weather anchor (1950s-1960s)
  • Laura Thornquist - 7:30-9 AM weekday anchor (?-2008)


News/Station Presentation

Newscast Titles

  • Your Esso Reporter (1949-1953)
  • The Pepsi-Cola Report (1953-1961)
  • The Big News (1961-1964)
  • The Sixth Hour Report/The Eleventh Hour Report (1964-1974)
  • Action (4) News (1974-1990)
  • WDAF 4 News (1990-1992)
  • NewsChannel 4 (1992-1997; WDAF-TV kept this news title after switch to Fox in 1994)
  • The World Tonight (5:30PM newscast; 1994-1997)
  • FOX 4 News (1997-present)


Station Slogans

  • Your Picture Window on the World (1950s-1960s)
  • Channel 4, Your Action News Station (1974-1978)
  • First in Kansas City (1978-early 1980s)
  • Catch 4 (early 1980s)
  • Four Has More! (early 1980s-1987; general slogan)
  • TV-4, Just Watch Us Now (1982-1983; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Kansas City's News Leader (1982-1992; news slogan)
  • Come Home to TV-4 (1986-1987; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Four Does More (1987-1992)
  • Come Home to the Best, Only on TV-4 (1988-1990; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Kansas City's 24-Hour Newschannel (1992-2000)
  • Working For You (2000-present)


Trivia

  • WDAF-TV (along with a few other television and radio stations in the US) is an exception to the FCC rule that call signs must start with K west of the Mississippi River and W east of it. This is because Kansas City was east of the original K/W line.


Compare KDKA-TVmarker and WOAI-TVmarker.

External links



References


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