KCWE, virtual channel 29 (UHF digital channel 31), is a CW-affiliated television station licensed to Kansas City, Missouri, United States and serving the Kansas City metropolitan area. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of Hearst Communications, as part of a duopoly with ABC affiliate KMBC-TV (channel 9). The two stations share studios on Winchester Avenue (along I-435, near Swope Park) in the Ridge-Winchester section of Kansas City, Missouri, and transmitter facilities at the intersection of East 23rd Street and Topping Avenue in the city's Blue Valley section. On cable, KCWE is available on Comcast Xfinity channel 2 in Missouri and channel 13 in Kansas, Charter Spectrum channel 7, Consolidated Communications channel 16, and Google Fiber and AT&T U-verse channel 29. There is a high definition feed provided on Spectrum digital channel 1212, Xfinity channel 802, Consolidated channel 615 and U-verse channel 1029.

KCWE also serves as an alternate CW affiliate for the St. Joseph market (which borders the Kansas City Designated Market Area to the north), as the station's transmitter produces a city-grade signal that reaches St. Joseph proper and rural areas in the market's central and southern counties. It previously served as the default CW station for St. Joseph until June 2, 2012, it when Fox affiliate KNPN-LD (channel 26) signed on with a CW Plus-affiliated digital subchannel on virtual channel 26.2, resulting in KCWE's displacement from Suddenlink Communications and smaller cable providers in the market (originating as cable-only "WBJO" prior to then, the News-Press & Gazette Company—which took over that channel's operations—moved the CW affiliation in St. Joseph to low-power station KBJO-LD (channel 21, now KNPG-LD) in March 2013, eventually moving to its 21.2 subchannel when that station's main feed switched to NBC on November 1, 2016).

History[edit | edit source]

Prior history of channel 29 in Kansas City[edit | edit source]

The UHF channel 29 allocation in the Kansas City market was originally occupied by K29CF (now Univision affiliate KUKC-LD on channel 20), a low-power station that was affiliated with the home shopping network ValueVision. That station eventually moved to UHF channel 48 in early 1996, changing its call letters to K48FS, after Channel 29, LLC (owned by Kansas City native and television executive David Salzman and his wife, Sonia Salzman, KCWB president Bob Liepold and Thomas B. Jones, owner of Bardstown, Kentucky-based American Chestnut Television) received approval of a construction permit by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a new full-power station on channel 29.

KCWE station history[edit | edit source]

Early years: as a WB affiliate[edit | edit source]

Channel 29, as a full-power outlet, first signed on the air on September 14, 1996, as KCWB (standing for "Kansas City's WB"). Originally serving as an affiliate of The WB Television Network, a joint venture between Time Warner and Tribune Broadcasting (which would eventually purchase Fox affiliate WDAF-TV (channel 4) in July 2013), Channel 29, LLC owned the station's license but turned over its non-license assets to the Hearst Corporation—which had owned ABC affiliate KMBC-TV since 1982—through a local marketing agreement that was reached shortly before KCWB's launch. For the first 18 months of the network's existence, residents in the Kansas City market were only able to view programming from The WB through the superstation feed of the network's Chicago affiliate WGN-TV, now standalone cable channel WGN America, on local cable and satellite providers. The station originally operated from KMBC's studio facilities in the underground floors of the Lyric Theatre at the intersection of East 18th Street and Central Avenue in Downtown Kansas City.

Alongside WB prime time programming and a blend of cartoons from both the network's children's program block, Kids' WB, and those acquired via syndication, KCWB initially carried recent off-network sitcoms and drama series, and some first-run syndicated scripted programs, talk shows, court shows and reality-based lifestyle and documentary series, including some series that had not been able to receive clearance in the market previously due to the lack of available time slot clearances on Kansas City's four major network affiliates—KMBC, WDAF-TV, CBS affiliate KCTV (channel 5) and NBC affiliate KSHB-TV (channel 41)—as well as Home Shopping Network affiliate/part-time independent station KMCI-TV (channel 38, now a full-time independent) and UPN affiliate KSMO-TV (channel 62).

As was typical of WB-affiliated stations of the period, KCWB filled the 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. time slot with feature films and first-run syndicated programs as The WB had only maintained a lineup of prime time programs on Sunday and Wednesday nights and, around the time the station launched, had also just debuted an evening block on Mondays; this would become less of an issue as The WB launched additional nights of programming over the next four years, adopting a six-night weekly schedule in September 1999 (running Sunday through Fridays). In the spring of 1997, after Argyle Television Holdings II merged with the Hearst Corporation's broadcasting division, Hearst transferred KCWB's operations to its broadcasting division, Hearst-Argyle Television (now Hearst Television). For most of its tenure as a WB affiliate, KCWB's logo under the initial "WB29" branding was similar in style to the "WB32" logo used by Tampa, Florida sister station WWWB-TV.

As a UPN affiliate[edit | edit source]

On July 21, 1997, the Sinclair Broadcast Group signed a long-term affiliation agreement with WB co-parent Time Warner, under which the group committed five of its UPN-affiliated stations and three independent stations to become affiliates of The WB, an agreement that came as Sinclair had entered into a programming dispute with the network (ironically, Sinclair would later acquire several UPN affiliates through its purchases of stations from Max Media and Sullivan Broadcasting the following year). One of the stations involved in the deal was KSMO, which had been a charter affiliate of UPN since that network launched on January 16, 1995. On March 24, 1998, American Chestnut Television announced that it had reached an agreement with UPN to move the network's Kansas City affiliation to KCWB.

Channel 29 took over as the market's UPN affiliate on March 30, at which time the station changed its branding to "KC29". However, even though KSMO concurrently took over the WB affiliation on that date,[10] KCWE chose to retain the local programming rights to the Kids' WB programming block in the interim partly because of that station's existing rights to the Fox Kids lineup, which KSMO had carried since September 1994 through an agreement between Sinclair and Fox (WDAF-TV had declined to carry Fox Kids upon becoming a Fox affiliate, a situation that would become commonplace among its then-sister stations that joined Fox through the network's affiliation deal with New World Communications). The rights to the Kids' WB and Fox Kids blocks would eventually transfer between the two stations in June 1998, when KCWB took over the local rights to Fox Kids at the same time that KSMO began clearing the entire WB programming lineup when it added the Kids' WB weekday and Saturday lineups to its schedule. The assumption of Fox Kids gave KCWB an expanded inventory of children's programming; the station carried the weekday morning blocks of Fox Kids and UPN Kids (which was replaced by Disney's One Too in August 1999) together on Monday through Friday mornings, with the two-hour UPN block being separated into two one-hour blocks bookending the Fox Kids programs, while Fox Kids' weekday afternoon and Saturday morning blocks aired in pattern and the UPN Kids weekend block aired in its normal Sunday time slot.

On August 24, 1998, Channel 29 changed its call letters to KCWE (a modification of its original calls, and standing for "Kansas City's World of Entertainment"). The following month, the station realigned its branding to once again match its Tampa sister (by then WMOR-TV, now an independent station), identifying on-air as "MOREtv 29". Alongside UPN prime time programming and a blend of cartoons and a few live-action children's shows from both Fox Kids and UPN Kids, KCWE carried some recent off-network sitcoms and drama series, movies on weekend afternoons and evenings, some first-run syndicated shows, and overnight programming from the Shop at Home Network.

KCWE's programming focus would gradually shift over time; in September 1999, KMCI assumed the local rights to Fox Kids, where the block and its successor, FoxBox/4KidsTV, remained until Fox stopped providing children's programs within its schedule in December 2008. Channel 29 ceased carrying children's programs on weekdays altogether by August 2003, after UPN's decision not to renew its time-lease agreement with Buena Vista Television resulted in Disney's One Too being discontinued, with the network turning over the time allocated to that block to its affiliates. As it had done after dropping Fox Kids, KCWE acquired additional first-run talk and reality programs to fill the vacated time slots; the only children's program offerings that were carried on KCWE afterward were acquisitions from the syndication market.

In early October 1999, the Salzmans—through their television station group, Qwest Broadcasting, which also owned WB affiliates WATL (now a MyNetworkTV affiliate) in Atlanta and WNOL-TV (now a CW affiliate) in New Orleans through an outsourcing agreement with Tribune Broadcasting—purchased Liepold's controlling 51% interest and Jones' 9% interest in KCWE in an all-stock transaction for $558,000. Hearst would purchase the station outright in 2001, creating Kansas City's first television duopoly; however, Hearst-Argyle continued to structure its control of KCWE as a management arrangement rather than direct ownership for several years afterward, as the station was nominally owned by an indirect subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation doing business as "KCWE-TV Company", instead of its Hearst-Argyle broadcasting division (which at the time, was a publicly traded company controlled by Hearst). In September 2005, the station changed its on-air branding to "KCWE, Kansas City's UPN", using a modified version of the "MOREtv" logo design (KMBC would resurrect the former "MOREtv" branding on September 14, 2010, when it launched "MOREtv Kansas City," a weekday-only prime time block of general entertainment programs that aired on digital subchannel 9.2 until it switched affiliations from The Local AccuWeather Channel to MeTV on June 21, 2011).

As a CW affiliate[edit | edit source]

On January 24, 2006, the respective parent companies of UPN and The WB, CBS Corporation and the Warner Bros. Entertainment division of Time Warner, announced that they would dissolve the two networks to create The CW Television Network, a joint venture between Time Warner and CBS that initially featured programs from its two predecessor networks as well as new series specifically produced for The CW. Subsequently, on February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of MyNetworkTV, a network operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television that was created to primarily to provide network programming to UPN and WB stations with which The CW decided against affiliating based on their local viewership standing in comparison to the outlet that the network ultimately chose, allowing these stations another option besides converting to independent stations.

On March 7, 2006, in a joint announcement by the network and Hearst-Argyle Television, KCWE was confirmed as The CW's Kansas City charter affiliate. Since the network chose its charter stations based on which of them among The WB and UPN's respective affiliate bodies was the highest-rated in each market, KCWE was chosen to join The CW over KSMO as—at the time of the agreement—it had been the higher-rated of the two stations, despite channel 62 having signed on thirteen years before the full-power Channel 29 debuted; KMCI also vied for the CW affiliation, although it likely would not have obtained the affiliation in any event.[18][19] Two days later on March 9, the Meredith Corporation announced that it had signed KSMO to an affiliation agreement with the Fox Entertainment Group to become the market's MyNetworkTV affiliate, as part of a deal that also saw its UPN-affiliated sister station, KPDX-TV in Portland, Oregon (which was passed over for the CW affiliation in that market in favor of Tribune-owned WB affiliate KWBP, now KRCW-TV), being committed to join the network.

As the station already had the "CW" initialism in its call letters, KMBC/KCWE management stated that it would take advantage of this fact for branding purposes and retain the existing KCWE callsign. KCWE adopted a new wordmark logo based around and inspired by the network's logo design that August, at which time the station changed its on-air branding to "KCWE, Kansas City's CW"; however it officially remained a UPN affiliate until September 15, 2006, before affiliating with The CW when that network debuted on September 18. KSMO, meanwhile, joined MyNetworkTV upon that network's launch on September 5, although it remained a part-time affiliate of The WB—carrying only the Daytime WB block for the remaining two weeks of that network's operation—through September 15.

On August 23, 2007, KMBC and KCWE moved their operations into a new 53,000-square-foot (4,900 m2) facility at the Winchester Business Center (located at 6455 Winchester Avenue, near Swope Park) in southeastern Kansas City, Missouri. Announced in 2002, construction of the facility—which was designed in the mold of the Spanish-inspired architectural style of Country Club Plaza, and built by Oklahoma City-based architecture firm Rees and Associates, which also designed the studio facilities of sister stations WDSU in New Orleans and WESH in Orlando—began in June 2005, and was completed in early August 2007. The modern purpose-built concrete and glass studio facility incorporates a master control facility with digital and high definition transmission processing equipment; a two-story 4,500-square-foot (420 m2) production studio; an expanded 8,000-square-foot (740 m2) newsroom; a satellite management center supporting downlink and uplink capabilities; a helistop for KMBC's "NewsChopper 9" helicopter; and surface parking for station employees and guests. The move of operations of KMBC and KCWE formally migrated to the Winchester Avenue studio ended KMBC's 54-year tenure at the Lyric Theatre, which had earlier been sold by the Lyric Opera to real estate firm DST Realty.

In late March 2010, the Hearst Corporation filed an application with the FCC to transfer the KCWE license from the KCWE-TV Company subsidiary to the Hearst Television unit; the transfer was completed on May 1 of that year, officially making KMBC-TV and KCWE directly owned sister stations. After the transaction was finalized, KCWE's designated licensee, "Hearst Stations Inc." began to be used as the default licensee name identified in the copyright tag displated at the end of KMBC-produced newscasts on both station, even though "KMBC Hearst Television Inc." remains the licensing purpose corporation for KMBC-TV.

TV stations in Missouri
KPLR, St. Louis

KCWE, Kansas City
KNPG-LD2, St. Joseph
KOMU-DT3, Columbia
KYCW-LD, Branson

TV stations in Kansas City
WDAF 4 (Fox)
KCWE 29 (CW)
KCDN-LD 35 (Daystar)
KMCI 38 (Ind.)
KCMN-LD 42 (Decades)
K45IO-D 45 (HSN)
KPXE 50 (Ion)
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