TV Stations Wikia

KPIX-TV, virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 29), is a CBS owned-and-operated television station licensed to San Francisco, California, United States and serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of ViacomCBS, as part of a duopoly with CW West Coast flagship KBCW (channel 44), also licensed to San Francisco.

The two stations share studios on Battery Street, just north of San Francisco's Financial District; KPIX's transmitter is located atop Sutro Tower. In addition to KBCW, KPIX shares its studios with formerly co-owned radio stations KCBS, KFRC-FM, KGMZ, KITS, KLLC and KMVQ-FM, although they use a different address number for Battery Street (865 as opposed to 855).


KPIX signed on the air on December 22, 1948, the first television station in Northern California as well as the 49th in the United States. It was originally owned by Associated Broadcasters, owners of KSFO (560 AM). Initially, channel 5's signal was transmitted from a tower on top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill. It later moved to a shared transmitter tower with KGO-TV (channel 7) at the Sutro Mansion (which was located midway between Mount Sutro and Twin Peaks), and then to the Sutro Tower in 1973. KPIX's first studio was in the attic of the Mark Hopkins Hotel (just above the "Top of the Mark").

The station immediately joined CBS due to a deal KSFO's owners had worked out with the television network one year earlier. KSFO was CBS radio's Bay Area affiliate from 1937 to 1941, when Associated Broadcasters backed out of a deal for CBS to buy the station. When KSFO was still affiliated with CBS, it was originally slated to move to 740 AM, the dial position of San Jose's KQW. 740 AM was the last 50,000-watt frequency available in the Bay Area, and KSFO was to raise its power to 50,000 watts after moving to 740. However, after KSFO parted ways with CBS radio, the network moved its Bay Area affiliation to KQW and was not about to give up the advantage of owning the Bay Area's last available 50,000-watt station. After lengthy Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hearings, KSFO won the 740 frequency, but later decided to stay at 560 and concentrate its efforts on building a television station. It traded the 740 frequency to CBS in return for getting the CBS television affiliation for the Bay Area. KQW remained at 740 and CBS changed its call sign to KCBS.

The station also carried programming from DuMont until that network folded in 1956. It even carried a few NBC programs until KRON-TV (channel 4) signed on in November 1949, and programs from the short-lived Paramount Television Network, such as Frosty Frolics, Time For Beany, Cowboy G-Men and Bandstand Revue.

When KPIX's first competitor, KGO-TV, signed on in May 1949, KPIX produced programs to welcome it into the Bay Area. KPIX cameras were used on the first episode of the CBS News program See It Now on November 18, 1951, which opened with the first live simultaneous coast-to-coast TV transmission from both the East Coast (the Brooklyn Bridge and New York Harbor) and the West Coast (KPIX-produced images of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay), under the narration of Edward R. Murrow. Under its first general manager, Phil Lasky, KPIX gained an early reputation for news coverage, being noted for originating national CBS coverage of the Japanese Peace Conference of 1951 (the event which "officially" brought an end to World War II, similar to the function that the Treaty of Versailles served for World War I), held in San Francisco (for which Lasky was commended by then-CBS News president Sig Mickelson), as well as local news coverage of the 1953 crash of an Australian airliner while on approach to San Francisco International Airport, and a powder explosion a few weeks afterward at an explosives plant in suburban Hercules. The First Bay Area sports telecast was on December 22, 1948 when the San Francisco Shamrocks vs Oakland Oaks was on KPIX TV. KPIX, owned by Associated Broadcasters (KSFO) was the first TV station in Northern California. There were only roughly 600 TV's in the Bay Area in 1948. In regards to sports programming, KPIX originated the annual college football East-West Shrine Game for DuMont, and was the flagship station of the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League until 1954.

In 1952, KPIX and KSFO moved into a new building at 2655 Van Ness Avenue; KPIX moved out of the facility in 1979, when it relocated to a converted 1920s era warehouse on the corner of Battery and Broadway streets (refurbished by the architecture firm Gensler), where KPIX remains to this day (KSFO moved to studios in the Fairmont Hotel, across the hall from the Tonga Room, in 1955. The studio on Van Ness Avenue (renamed to Bridge Studios after KPIX's departure) was the first building in San Francisco specifically built for television; the game show Starcade taped here after a pilot taped at KRON-TV's studios (it was demolished in 2006 to make way for a condominium complex).

Westinghouse Electric Corporation bought KPIX in 1954 and ran it as part of the company's Group W broadcasting unit. During Westinghouse's ownership, KPIX was the company's only television station on the West Coast. Additionally, it was one of two VHF stations (along with Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV) that didn't have a historic three-letter callsign, the only one to have a "K" callsign west of the Mississippi River, and along with WJZ-TV in Baltimore (until 2008) was the only one without a sister radio station with matching callsigns.

In late 1995, Westinghouse merged with CBS, making KPIX a CBS-owned station and bringing it into common ownership with KCBS radio. Prior to this, KPIX had been CBS' longest-tenured affiliate (a distinction that now belongs to Washington, D.C.'s WUSA). KPIX was also one of two longtime CBS affiliates owned by Group W that became a CBS O&O, the other being KDKA-TV. In 2000, the combined Westinghouse/CBS was bought by Viacom, and when Viacom split up its assets in December 2005, KPIX and the company's other broadcast properties became part of CBS Corporation. Since May 2003, KPIX-TV and WJZ-TV are the only former Group W TV stations that still utilize the classic Group W font.

In May 2006, KPIX moved its San Jose news bureau to the Fairmont Tower at 50 W. San Fernando Street—which served as the original site of Charles Herrold's experimental radio broadcasts that were the precursor of KCBS. Although CBS was not aware of the significance of the San Fernando Street address when the move was planned, it quickly recognized and embraced its significance when informed, giving long-overdue credit to one of the inventors of radio broadcasting during the bureau's opening celebration.


KPIX's distinctive "5" logo dates back from the station's days under Westinghouse ownership, when the "Group W font" was standard on KPIX and its sister stations after about 1965. When Westinghouse merged with CBS, most of the former Group W stations eventually retired the font. KPIX, along with its Baltimore sister station WJZ-TV (an ABC affiliate during its pre-merger Group W history) would become the only two CBS-owned television stations to continue using this logo font.

KPIX was the only CBS-owned station on the West Coast not to follow the CBS Mandate for years after the merger, simply referencing itself as "KPIX-TV Channel 5". Between 1993 and 1996, it was branded simply as "KPIX 5", even dropping the Eyewitness News title for its newscasts and branding them as KPIX 5 News at the same time, before reverting. In 2003, KPIX fell in line with the mandate and rebranded as "CBS 5", and later to "CBS 5 Bay Area". On February 3, 2013, KPIX dropped the "CBS 5" branding and reverted to being branded as "KPIX 5".

TV stations in California
KCBS, Los Angeles

KCOY, Santa Barbara/Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo
KVIQ-LP, Eureka
KOVR, Sacramento
KHSL, Redding/Chico
KPSP-CD, Coachella Valley/Palm Springs
KPIX, San Francisco
KION, Monterey
KSWT, El Centro/Yuma
KGPE, Fresno
KBAK, Bakersfield
KFMB, San Diego

TV stations in the San Francisco Bay Area
KAXT-CD 1 (Decades)
KTVU 2 (Fox)
KDTV-DT/KDTV-CD 14/28 (Uni)
KOFY 20 (Ind)
KTSF 26 (Ind)
KICU 36 (Ind)
KMMC-LD 40 (3ABN Latino)
KBCW 44 (CW)
KZHD-LD 49 (Ind)
KKPX 65 (Ion)
KFSF-DT 66 (UMas)
KTLN 68 (H&I)