TV Stations Wikia

KOCO-TV, virtual channel 5 (VHF digital channel 7), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of Hearst Communications. KOCO-TV's studios and transmitter are located on East Britton Road (Historic Route 66)—between North Kelley and North Eastern Avenues—in the McCourry Heights neighborhood of northeast Oklahoma City, within two miles (3.2 km) of the facilities of competing duopoly stations (NBC affiliate KFOR-TV [channel 4] and independent station KAUT-TV [channel 43] to its immediate west, CBS affiliate KWTV-DT [channel 9] and MyNetworkTV affiliate KSBI [channel 52] to its southwest, and Fox affiliate KOKH-TV [channel 25] and CW affiliate KOCB [channel 34] to its southeast).

On cable, KOCO is available on Cox Communications channel 8 (standard definition) and digital channel 705 (high definition) and AT&T U-verse channels 5 (standard definition) and 1005 (high definition) in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, and on channel 5 on most cable systems elsewhere within the Oklahoma City DMA as well as on satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network throughout the market.


Early history in Enid[]

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) originally assigned the VHF channel 5 allocation in the Oklahoma City market to Enid. The initial application to broadcast over the frequency was filed in July 1952—shortly after the FCC had lifted a four-year moratorium on new television station license applications—when the Enid Radiophone Company, a subsidiary of Enid News & Eagle parent Enid Publishing Company and owner of radio station KCRC (1390 AM), applied with the FCC to obtain a construction permit and license to operate a television station on VHF channel 5. Enid businessman George Streets, owner of local electronics manufacturer Streets Electronics Inc., filed a separate license application for channel 5 in November of that year. When the FCC awarded the license and permit for channel 5 to Streets (who would serve as its original general manager), and his ownership group (which included local building contractor Philip R. Banta, who served as the station's president, and stockholder L.D. Banta, both of whom—like Streets—held similar 21.3% interests in the station) in February 1954, he requested and received approval to assign KGEO-TV (for "Greater Enid, Oklahoma") as the call letters for his television station. As consolation for losing the application grant to Streets Electronics, the Streets group gave Enid Radiophone an option to acquire a 20% stake in the station.

Channel 5, which has operated as an ABC affiliate since its debut, first signed on the air on July 2, 1954. It was the fifth television station to sign on in the Oklahoma City market (behind WKY-TV [channel 4, now KFOR-TV], which signed on the air on June 6, 1949; KTVQ [channel 25, allocation now occupied by Fox affiliate KOKH-TV], which signed on October 28, 1953; KLPR-TV [channel 19, allocation now occupied by Cornerstone Television affiliate KUOT-CD], which signed on November 8, 1953; and KWTV [channel 9], which signed on December 20, 1953). It was also the seventh television station to sign on in the state of Oklahoma, the first within the Oklahoma City market's present designated boundaries to be licensed outside of Oklahoma City proper, and was the only full-power VHF station to have operated in northern Oklahoma. The station originally maintained studio facilities located at East Randolph Avenue and North 2nd Street in northeastern Enid, adjacent to a Streets-owned appliance store; KGEO based its 816-foot (249 m) transmission tower adjacent to the property. It initially broadcast nine hours of programming per day from 2:30 to 11:30 p.m. In addition to carrying ABC programming, the station also had a brief affiliation with the NTA Film Network from 1956 until the programming service ceased operations in 1961, carrying only the film showcase NTA Film Spectacular (WKY-TV and KWTV each held rights to most of NTA's other programs). KGEO management charged that some provisions of National Telefilm Associates contracts with NTA Film affiliates (particularly, a compulsory 11-hour "option" for affiliates to carry network programming) violated FCC rules for chain broadcasters; these accusations were rebutted in an FCC hearing on October 5, 1956, when NTA representatives claimed that the company did not abdicate license control over programs and that affiliation contracts, among other allowances, permitted stations to decline clearance of certain programs.

Transfer to Oklahoma City[]

Beginning under the stewardship of the Streets group, a concerted effort was made by station ownership to migrate channel 5 into the larger Oklahoma City metropolitan area. On January 11, 1955, Streets Electronics filed a construction permit application to build a new 1,386-foot (422 m)-tall tower in a rural area six miles (9.7 km) west-northwest of Crescent (31 miles [50 km] south-southeast of Enid). The move came shortly before the FCC proposed rules to limit television transmission antennas from being located more than five miles (8.0 km) from the outskirts of a station's principal city of license. The KGEO transmitter proposal as well as a proposal by KSWS-TV (now NBC affiliate KOBR) in Roswell, New Mexico to build a 1,610-foot (490 m) transmission tower drew opposition from the United States Air Force and the U.S. Department of Defense, which were concerned that broadcast towers standing at heights above 1,000 feet (305 m) would create safety hazards for military and civil aircraft. That August, FCC Hearing Examiner Hugh B. Hutchison issued a recommendation for approval of the move of the KGEO transmitter to the Crescent site, citing that the existing tower near Enid (located within a 12-mile proximity to Vance Air Force Base and Woodring Airport) was more of a hazard to airplanes than the proposed tower would have been, that the proposed tower would substantially place 678,439 residents within KGEO-TV's signal contour. Hutchinson also stated that KGEO was not guilty of charges made by KTVQ owner Republic Television and Radio Company that channel 5 wanted to "straddle" its transmitter between Enid and Oklahoma City to serve both cities, as between 75% and 85% of television set owners in the Enid area owners had oriented their home antennas to receive signals from Oklahoma City and the new tower would provide improved reception in Enid by allowing the signal to propagate into the area at the same direction that these home antennas were aimed.

On December 15, the Commission denied motions by Republic Television and Radio (which was concerned that KGEO's move to the Crescent site would create unfair competition that would result in the shutdown of the bankrupt station) to set aside the recommendation to grant of the transmitter application as well as a petition to reopen the record and call attention to the issues the move would cause. The FCC granted the permit change application by Streets Electronics in a 6-1 vote on May 4, 1956, subject to ensuring that the tower include sufficient lighting and hazard markings; the agency subsequently denied Department of Defense petitions to deny KGEO's permit as well as one filed by WSLA (channel 8, now WAKA) in Selma, Alabama to increase its tower height from 387 feet (118 m) to 1,993 feet (607 m) based on the issues previously addressed. The Enid broadcast tower collapsed in early October 1956, as construction crews prepared to relocate the station's transmitter antenna to the newly built Crescent tower, causing an estimated $140,000 in damage. The crane boom and gin pole that was hoisting the antenna off its platform buckled along with the tower, and the antenna dug a furrow into the ground, folding into four large sections during the collapse. KGEO-TV's analog signal was briefly knocked off the air until it set up temporary transmitter facilities from an auxiliary tower in downtown Enid, where it remained until the new tower became operational.

On October 11, 1957, Streets Electronics sold KGEO-TV to the Caster-Robison Television Corporation (owned by broadcasting executives Louis E. Caster and Ashley Robison) for $950,000 plus the assumption of approximately $500,000 in debt. On March 1, 1958, the station's call letters were changed to KOCO-TV (for "Oklahoma City, Oklahoma"), to reflect its new secondary city of service. Although it remained an Enid station nominally, KOCO had moved its studio operations to Oklahoma City, setting up temporary facilities inside a converted former Kimberling's grocery store on Britton Road. In October of that year, the station's operations moved to a permanent studio facility on a five-acre (2.0 ha) plot of land near Northwest 63rd Street and Portland Avenue, which included a terrace overlooking Lake Hefner for use during local programs produced outside of the studio building. The station later requested a waiver of FCC station identification rules to identify as an Enid-Oklahoma City station on-air and in license documents; however, the Commission denied the petition in May 1961. Following Caster's death on May 15, 1960 due to a heart attack, Ashley Robison and the inheritors of Caster's estate sought offers to sell off KOCO.

In May 1961, Caster-Robison Television sold KOCO to Cimmaron Television Corporation—a subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based Capital City Investment Corporation that included among its investors, oilmen Dean A. McGee and John E. Kirkpatrick, Grayce Kerr (wife of state senator Robert S. Kerr, who also was a minority owner of KVOO-TV [now KJRH-TV] in Tulsa with McGee at the time) as well as longtime KOCO stockholders Philip and L. D. Banta—for $3 million. The sale received FCC approval on September 27 of that year. As that transaction was taking place, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to add a third commercial VHF allocation in eight U.S. markets, under reduced mileage separation requirements. Under the plan, per an earlier filing by the Caster-Robison group, KGEO and its channel 5 allocation would be moved to Oklahoma City, but with its signal radiation suppressed to alleviate co-channel interference with KFSA-TV (now KFSM-TV) in Fort Smith (located 180 miles [290 km] east of Oklahoma City, at a distance below the FCC's 190-mile [310 km] threshold for separation of adjacent broadcast signals transmitting on the same channel). Despite the full proposal receiving backing from ABC, the FCC voted twice against relocating short-spaced VHF channels into seven of the eight proposed markets during the spring of 1963, but granted permission for KOCO's channel allocation to be shifted to Oklahoma City both times, albeit with requirements that it observe standard mileage separation requirements to limit interference with KFSA-TV and that it maintain an auxiliary studio in Enid. The FCC granted KOCO a waiver of the mileage requirement in a 5-1 vote on July 25 of that year, after station representatives convinced the Commission that KOCO's would signal be impaired within Oklahoma City at a distance sufficient under the requirements, and that, if it were to comply with standard spacing rules and Civil Aeronautics Board tower height limitations, it would be difficult for the transmitter to provide a signal that would allow it to adequately serve both the state capital and Enid. (KOCO was the second Oklahoma television station to transfer its license and operations to a larger, nearby city: fellow ABC affiliate KTVX [now KTUL] had moved from Muskogee to Tulsa in 1957.)

In March 1964, channel 5 moved its transmitter facilities to a 1,563-foot (476 m) tower on East Britton Road in northeast Oklahoma City, at an antenna farm housing the transmission towers of other local television and radio stations; the tower was dedicated with two days of ceremonies that included such notable guests as ABC news anchor Howard K. Smith and the husband-and-wife comedy team of Phil Ford and Mimi Hines.[39] KOCO's formal transfer to Oklahoma City made it the third station in the state's capital city to have been affiliated with ABC: WKY-TV served as a secondary affiliate from 1949 to 1956, while fledgling UHF outlet KTVQ maintained a full-time affiliation from its sign-on in 1953 until that station ceased operations in 1956.

One of channel 5's most popular local programs was a show aimed at younger audiences; Ed Birchall hosted a local children's program on the station for 29 years from March 1959 until shortly before his death after a brief bout with advanced-stage cancer in July 1988. Originally debuting as Lunch With HoHo and airing under various titles (including HoHo's Cartoon Circus, Good Morning HoHo and HoHo's Showplace), Birchall—who donned a colored patchwork jacket and suspender pants, a small brown top hat and oversized tie in his portrayal of HoHo the Clown—starred alongside a sock puppet named Pokey (played by longtime KOCO stage manager Bill Howard), and presented various segments from educational content to light-hearted newspaper stories to cartoon shorts. A memorial service (the first of three held for Birchall) had to be moved to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, one of Oklahoma City's largest churches, to accommodate a live KOCO broadcast (which was also carried by KTVY, KWTV and KOKH-TV) as well as a crowd of mourners that included an honor guard of professional clowns. Other notable past local programs produced by KGEO/KOCO included entertainment/lifestyle/fashion talk program The Ida B. Show (originally titled At Home with Ida. B and then Dateline Hollywood), whose host, Ida Blackburn, had previously hosted a local version of Romper Room for the station from 1958 to 1960; and Captain Tom's Popeye Theatre, hosted by Tom Gilmore as the titular character, who read storybooks on the program, alongside the puppet version of the Alfred Lee Whittle character he developed for radio in 1948. and a local version of the Dialing for Dollars movie/trivia franchise.

Combined Communications ownership[]

In November 1969, Cimarron Television announced that it would sell KOCO-TV to Phoenix, Arizona-based Combined Communications Corporation (CCC) for $6.5 million. It was the first broadcast property ever acquired by CCC, which was formed earlier that year through the merger of the KTAR Broadcasting Company (owner of company flagships KTAR-AM-TV in Phoenix) and Eller Outdoor Advertising (a company founded by CCC president Karl Eller). The sale received FCC approval on July 17, 1970. In February 1977, KOCO adopted "5 Alive" as its on-air branding, as part of Combined Communications' rollout of the "Alive" branding concept—which Peters Productions initially developed for Tribune Broadcasting-owned independent station WPIX (now a CW affiliate) in New York City in early 1976—on most of the group's television stations. It was accompanied by a logo similar to that used at the time by Atlanta sister station WXIA-TV, when it began identifying as "11 Alive" in September 1976 (as of 2017, WXIA is the only station out of the four former CCC outlets that continues to use the "Alive" moniker, which had also been utilized by sister station WLKY in Louisville, Kentucky and former sister WPTA in Fort Wayne, Indiana).

On March 31, 1977, Washington Star Communications announced that it would sell its Washington, D.C. flagship station WMAL-TV (now WJLA-TV) to Combined Communications, in exchange for KOCO-TV and approximately $65 million of nonvoting preferred stock in CCC. The deal, which was considered to be the largest purchase price for a single television station up to that time, was done to comply with an FCC rulemaking to diversify print and broadcast media ownership, under which the agency required Star Communications to divest itself of all but one of its D.C.-area media properties by January 1979. The proceeds from the sale, as well as a total of $65 million that Star Communications would have received within 20 years through the repurchase of Combined stock, were to be used to offset the continuing monetary losses of The Washington Star newspaper. Although the sale initially received approval from the FCC in January 1978, it was never finalized: on February 3, 1978, three weeks before the sale contract with CCC was set to expire, Star Communications sold The Washington Star to Time Inc. for $20 million plus the assumption of $8 million in debt. The FCC subsequently rescinded its approval of the transfer pending an inquiry into Time's purchase of the Star, given the basis of the trade on ensuring the newspaper's financial stability. In a meeting to reconsider its approval of the WJLA-KOCO trade in early March (which was rescheduled from its original February 24 hearing date), the FCC once again granted approval of the station trade after the commission determined that Star Communications president Joe Allbritton had not committed himself to retaining the Star and that reevaluating the approval order turned up no reason to overturn the original decision. Despite this, on March 24, Star Communications—which had twice extended its sale contract with CCC to accommodate the FCC's hearing docket following delays in the hearing date—Allbritton terminated the sale, citing a court appeal filed by the Adams Morgan Organization, the District of Columbia chapter of the National Organization for Women, the D.C. Media Task Force and the National Black Media Coalition that accused Star Communications on reneging on efforts to help minority-owned groups obtain financing to acquire the company's broadcast properties.

Gannett ownership[]

On May 9, 1978, the Gannett Company (then based in Rochester, New York) announced that it would purchase Combined Communications—which, at the time, had owned seven television and thirteen radio stations, two newspapers (The Cincinnati Enquirer and the Oakland Tribune), and an outdoor advertising unit—in an all-stock transaction worth $370 million that became the largest print and broadcast media transaction to have occurred in the United States up to that point. The sale—which was contingent on Gannett selling its Rochester station, WHEC-TV (which it later sold for $27 million to BENI Broadcasting) to comply with FCC rules that restricted media companies from owning more than seven VHF television stations nationwide—received FCC approval on June 7, 1979, and was consummated by the boards of both companies later that day. Gannett (which would eventually spin off its broadcast holdings into Tegna Inc. in June 2015) made major investments in the former Combined stations, aiming to improve the local news presence at KOCO and the four sister stations included in the purchase. In the fall of 1980, the station's operations were relocated into a newly constructed, state-of-the-art studio facility located near the station's Britton Road transmitter site (0.5 miles [0.80 km] east of the studios of rival KTVY); the former studio facilities on Northeast 63rd Street were subsequently purchased by the Trinity Broadcasting Network for use as the office and production facilities for TBN owned-and-operated station KTBO-TV (channel 14). The new $2.4-million facility (designed by Oklahoma City-based architect Frank Rees) housed two production studios, offices and an expanded newsroom, and was designed to provide passive solar energy and included overhangs to shield the building's interior from sunrays to keep the building cool during the summer months.

While KOCO remained under Gannett ownership for 18 years, its position in the company's portfolio was placed in limbo several times. On September 25, 1982, Gannett announced that it would sell KOCO to the San Francisco-based Chronicle Publishing Company for $100 million, in exchange for Chronicle's NBC-affiliated Bay Area flagship station, KRON-TV (now a MyNetworkTV affiliate), which Chronicle had built and signed on in 1949. The transaction was contingent on Gannett selling its Oakland-based newspaper, East Bay Today (which served as the prototype for USA Today), to comply with cross-ownership restrictions that prohibit the common ownership of newspapers and full-power television stations in the same market, and was part of an attempt by the company to concentrate its television station holdings to major markets. On September 28, 1983, Chronicle and Gannett "mutually agreed" to terminate the sale agreement, after Chronicle management decided to retain ownership of KRON. Under Gannett, KOCO became heavily involved in community outreach initiatives; from 1981 to 1994, the station held the "5 Who Care Awards," an annual awards telecast recognizing outstanding public service contributions by local volunteers, businesses and non-profit organizations. The station expanded upon these initiatives in 1989, with the creation of the "Project Challenge" campaign, which included the "Oklahoma's Best" honors for academic excellence and dedication to the teaching profession.

On September 5, 1985, Gannett announced that it would purchase the Evening News Association for $717 million. However, the purchase created an ownership conflict between KOCO-TV and NBC-affiliated rival KTVY, as FCC rules in effect at the time had prohibited a single company from owning two commercial television stations in the same market (even today, that combination would have been forbidden as both stations rank in the top four in ratings in the market). Gannett ultimately chose to keep KOCO on November 15, 1985, when it sold KTVY, along with fellow NBC affiliate WALA-TV (now a Fox affiliate) in Mobile, Alabama and CBS affiliate KOLD-TV in Tucson, Arizona to Miami, Florida-based Knight Ridder Broadcasting for $160 million. However, Gannett was allowed to jointly own KOCO and KTVY under a temporary waiver until the Knight-Ridder transaction was completed in February 1986, one month after the KTVY sale was finalized. On May 14, 1990, three days after KFOR-TV adopted a similar schedule, channel 5 began maintaining a 24-hour-a-day programming schedule, adding a mix of syndicated programming and infomercials as well as hourly local news updates to fill overnight timeslots. After having phased out the name from its news branding the previous September, when it began identifying its newscasts as 5 News, KOCO dropped the "5 Alive" moniker from general promotional use in May 1994, in conjunction with the debut of a new logo (which was inspired by the Paul Rand-designed circle 7 logo, and was replaced with the current "circle 5" logo following a subsequent rebranding in February 1995) and on-air graphics for its newscasts and station promotions; prior to that time, KOCO and WXIA (which briefly retired the "11 Alive" brand in 1993, only to begin restoring it upon viewer demand) were the only Gannett stations that had continued to use the "Alive" moniker.

On July 24, 1995, the Gannett Company announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Multimedia Inc. for $1.7 billion, plus $539 million in long-term debt. When the FCC approved the merger in late November 1995, the agency's Broadcast Bureau stipulated that Gannett would have to sell KOCO and NBC-affiliated sister station WLWT in Cincinnati, Ohio to comply with cross-ownership regulations. (Gannett was also required to sell CBS affiliate WMAZ-TV and sister radio stations WMAZ [now WMAC] and WAYS in Macon, Georgia; however, the company was ultimately able to retain WMAZ-TV after the FCC modified its national ownership cap to allow broadcasters to own any number of television stations with a combined reach of up to 35% of all U.S. households.) However, since it could not legally own both a broadcast television station and a cable provider in the same market under FCC rules of the time period, Gannett was granted a waiver that gave the company until December 1996 to divest itself of either KOCO-TV or Multimedia Cablevision (which, at the time, was the major cable provider for most of Oklahoma City's suburban communities, except for Forest Park, the only area suburb that was serviced by primary provider Cox Communications at the time); the sale was finalized on December 4, 1995.

Hearst Television ownership[]

On November 20, 1996, Gannett announced that it would sell KOCO-TV and WLWT to San Antonio-based Argyle Television Holdings II (the successor company to the original Argyle Television, which sold most of its television stations to New World Communications in May 1994) for $20 million, in exchange for fellow ABC affiliate WZZM in Grand Rapids, Michigan and NBC affiliate WGRZ in Buffalo, New York. The sale – which required Gannett to sell the Niagara Falls, New York-based Niagara Gazette to alleviate a cross-ownership conflict with WGRZ – was finalized on January 31, 1997. Subsequently, on March 27, 1997, the Hearst Corporation announced that it would purchase five of the seven Argyle Television stations—KOCO-TV, WLWT, ABC affiliates KHBS in Fort Smith (and its Fayetteville satellite KHOG-TV), KITV in Honolulu (and its satellites KHVO in Hilo and KMAU in Wailuku, Hawaii), and WAPT in Jackson, Mississippi, and the non-license assets of Fox affiliate WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island—for $525 million. The merger was finalized in August of that year, with the combined group of Hearst's six existing television stations and the five it acquired from Argyle becoming known as Hearst-Argyle Television (which was renamed Hearst Television in May 2009). The acquisition marked Hearst's return to the Oklahoma City market; the company owned radio station KOMA (1520 AM, now KOKC) from 1932 until 1938, when Hearst sold that station to John T. Griffin (who founded KWTV in 1953).

On June 13, 1998, rear flank downdraft winds approaching 105 mph (169 km/h) struck the station's Britton Road studio, causing minor damage that included a toppled backyard fence and a large dent to the dome of its weather radar. The event was broadcast live as the station was providing wall-to-wall coverage of the accompanying supercell thunderstorm, which spawned seven tornadoes across Canadian and northern Oklahoma counties, while a KOCO photojournalist positioned in the studio's garage was shooting video of the storm as it approached the Britton Road facility. Believing a tornado had touched down, Mike LaPoint (who was the station's weekend evening meteorologist from 1997 to 2001) yelled to then-chief meteorologist Rick Mitchell, "Rick, it's on the ground!" as the three men ran to take shelter inside the building. Electricity was knocked out to the studio and transmitter facilities, taking the KOCO broadcast signal off-the-air for almost 24 hours; the station remained available to Cox Communications and Multimedia Cablevision subscribers via a direct auxiliary feed transmitted by fiber optic to the cable providers.

In September 1998, when KTEN (which had been affiliated with ABC on a part-time basis since its sign-on in 1956) disaffiliated from the network, KOCO-TV began serving as a default ABC station for areas on the Oklahoma side of the adjacent Sherman–Ada market—including the cities of Ada, Pauls Valley and Sulphur—through its existing availability on most cable providers in the region (WFAA in Dallas–Fort Worth served as the primary default affiliate for counties in far southern Oklahoma and extreme north-central Texas within the DMA). However, residents in southern Oklahoma could view most ABC programs that were pre-empted by KTEN via KOCO for several years beforehand, particularly after the former switched to a primary NBC affiliation in 1986 (steadily reducing ABC-provided content on its schedule to select daytime and prime time programs by 1994, when it added an additional primary affiliation with Fox). The Sherman-Ada market would regain an ABC station of its own when KTEN launched a digital subchannel affiliated with the network on May 1, 2010.[103] Despite this, KOCO remains available on cable and satellite providers within that market. Through this former default status, it was the only Oklahoma City television station to provide extensive live coverage of an EF4 tornado that killed eight people in Lone Grove on February 10, 2009.

Due partly to its strong syndicated programming lineup, KOCO has grown to become one of ABC's strongest affiliates in recent years; it ranked as one of the network's highest-rated affiliates from 2009 to 2012, according to Nielsen Media Research, sharing this distinction with two of its Hearst-owned sister stations, WISN-TV in Milwaukee and KMBC-TV in Kansas City; the station had also made the claim of ranking as the highest-rated ABC affiliate overall from 2007 to 2009. In December 2010, KOCO became the second television station in the Oklahoma City market (after KWTV-DT) and the sixth station in Oklahoma to carry syndicated programming in high definition.

TV stations in Oklahoma
KOCO, Oklahoma City

KTUL, Tulsa

TV stations in Central, Northwestern and West-central Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City
KOMI-CD 24 (Youtoo)
KOKH 25 (Fox)
KOCB 34 (CW)
KAUT 43 (Ind.)
KOCM 46 (Daystar)
KOPX 62 (Ion)