KERA-TV, virtual channel 13 (UHF digital channel 14), is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station licensed to Dallas, Texas, United States and serving the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex. Owned by North Texas Public Broadcasting, Inc., it is sister to National Public Radio (NPR) member station KERA (90.1 FM) and adult album alternative station KKXT (91.7 FM). The three stations share studios on Harry Hines Boulevard (adjacent to North Harwood and Wolf Streets, east-northeast of I-35E) in downtown Dallas; KERA-TV's transmitter is located on Tar Road in Cedar Hill, just south of the Dallas–Ellis county line.

The station's signal is relayed on low-power translator station K26NK-D in Wichita Falls, which provides PBS programming to the Texas side of the Wichita Falls–Lawton market (the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority also provides public television service to that market, via fringe coverage of its full-power stations in Oklahoma City and Cheyenne, and translators based in Lawton, Duncan, Grandfield and Altus that serve southwestern Oklahoma and parts of extreme northwest Texas).

KERA-TV also serves as the default public television station for several markets in North and West Texas that are not serviced by independent, full-power PBS stations, including Abilene, San Angelo and the Tyler–Longview–Lufkin–Nacogdoches market, as well as the Texas side of the Sherman–Ada market (the Oklahoma side of the latter market is also serviced by translators operated by the OETA member network). KERA is also available on cable in Hillsboro, Waco and Texarkana.

History Edit

The VHF channel 13 allocation in the Dallas–Fort Worth market—which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reserved for non-commercial educational use in its list of frequencies assigned for broadcast television transmissions—was originally applied for use by Southern Methodist University in the late 1950s; however, the university had trouble raising enough funds for its planned educational station's start-up, programming and operational costs.

In 1958, the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) partnered with local nonprofit corporation Area Education Television Foundation, Inc. (which later evolved into North Texas Public Broadcasting) to apply for the allocation. In October of that year, W. T. White, then-superintendent of the DISD, announced that the station was slated to sign on the air by the beginning of the 1959-60 school year; programming on channel 13 was scheduled to include Spanish-language instructional programming for area elementary school students. The foundation had difficulty in meeting its fundraising goals to obtain start-up costs for the commencement of operations and broadcasts of its educational station; by May 1959, the foundation was said to be $265,000 short of its $890,000 target to cover the proposed station's first two years of broadcasting.

The original license application filed by the organization-school district partnership had obtained permission from the FCC to operate the station from broadcast facilities located in Fair Park (on land donated to Area Educational Television Foundation and the DISD by the Dallas city government). However, in January 1960, the partnership applied for permission to broadcast from studios on Harry Hines Boulevard that were set to be vacated by ABC affiliate WFAA-TV (channel 8), which had been used by that station since its sign-on (as DuMont-Paramount affiliate KBTV) in September 1949. A. H. Belo Corporation was in the process of building new studio facilities at Young and Houston Streets to accommodate the operations of local newspaper The Dallas Morning News, WFAA television and its companion radio stations (570 AM, now KLIF and 97.9 FM, now KBFB; the latter of which ironically once held the KERA-FM call letters now used by KERA-TV's sister radio station on 90.1 FM). The Dallas Independent School District purchased the building on Harry Hines for $400,000.

KERA-TV (the call letters are said to represent a "new era in broadcasting") signed on the air on September 14, 1960, originally serving as a member station of National Educational Television (NET). It originally operated from temporary studio facilities at the Davis Building—located behind the original WFAA studios—in downtown Dallas, in two portable buildings that were made to resemble a schoolhouse. It also used the original transmission tower used by WFAA-TV from 1960 to 1971, before moving its transmitter to a tower in Cedar Hill owned by then-independent station KTVT (channel 11, now a CBS owned-and-operated station) until 2009, when KTVT moved its transmitter to a different tower site a short distance away. However, KERA's transmitter only produced a medium-power signal that covered Dallas and surrounding suburbs in Dallas, Collin, Hunt, Rockwall, Ellis and Kaufman counties. The station would migrate its operations to the Harry Hines Boulevard facility in April 1961.

During its first years of operation, KERA benefitted frequently through help from commercial broadcast stations in the Metroplex. The Dallas Independent School District also paid the station to carry instructional telecourses that it would produce for broadcast on channel 13. The issues concerning channel 13's limited signal range would be resolved on August 31, 1970, when a new transmitter was installed that expanded KERA's signal coverage into Fort Worth and surrounding communities in Tarrant, Denton, Wise, Parker, Hood and Johnson counties. That same year, KERA became a member station of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which was launched as an independent entity to supersede NET and took over many of the functions of its predecessor network.

In 1974, KERA gained a sister station on radio, when National Public Radio station KERA signed on the air on 90.1 FM; over time, KERA radio would expand its reach throughout North Texas through the launch of translators in Wichita Falls, Tyler and Sherman. That year, channel 13 became the first television station in the United States to broadcast episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus; the station is often credited with introducing the British comedy series to American audiences, which eventually gave Flying Circus a cult following.

On September 1, 1988, North Texas Public Broadcasting signed on KDTN (channel 2) in Denton to serve as the market's secondary PBS member station, a project which the organization had been working on since May 1977, when it filed an FCC application for a construction permit to build an educational station on VHF channel 2 (North Texas Public Broadcasting would reach an agreement with its lone remaining competitor for the permit in 1984 to obtain the permit). The organization primarily used KDTN to run educational and instructional programs that had previously filled much of KERA's daytime schedule, along with carrying some programs produced by the University of North Texas (the KDTN studio facility was based on the university's campus). At that time, KERA shifted its schedule to offering primarily entertainment programming from PBS and other public television program distributors such as American Public Television; channel 13 also identified Denton as part of the station's service area in station identifications during the period it operated KDTN.

After making the decision to divest the secondary outlet on the basis that its funding was no longer sufficient to continue operating two television stations in the Metroplex, North Texas Public Broadcasting sold KDTN to religious broadcaster Daystar—which bought the station in a $20 million deal in order to get a better signal in the market to replace its original flagship, KMPX (channel 29, now an Estrella TV owned-and-operated station), which it sold in turn—on August 12, 2003; the acquisition was finalized on January 13, 2004.

Through a special arrangement, KERA announced plans to continue carrying programming sourced from the station over KDTN's digital signal, in order to free up bandwidth on KERA's main digital signal to allow the station to begin transmitting high definition content on digital channel 13.1. This has never been utilized as improvements in multiplexing technology have allowed a high definition channel to exist with standard definition channels, and KERA has had no need to use KDTN's bandwidth.

TV stations in Texas
KUHT, Houston

KLRN, San Antonio
KLRU, Austin
KERA, Dallas–Fort Worth
KAMU, College Station
KACV, Amarillo
KTTZ, Lubbock
KEDT, Corpus Christi
KMBH-DT2, Harlingen
KPBT, Odessa
KCOS, El Paso

TV stations in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
 KDTN 2 (Daystar)
KPFW-LD 18 (IND/Religious)
KBOP-LD 20 (Infomercial)
KNAV 22 (Hot TV)
K25FW 25 (HSN)
KODF 26 (Hot TV)
KWDA-LD 30 (Rel)
K31GL 31 (SBN)
KDAF 33 (CW)
KVFW 38 (Infomercial)
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