KSHB-TV, virtual channel 41 (UHF digital channel 36), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Kansas City, Missouri, United States and serving the Kansas City metropolitan area. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, as part of a duopoly with Lawrence, Kansas-licensed independent station KMCI-TV (channel 38). The two stations share studios on Oak Street in southern Kansas City, Missouri, and transmitter facilities at the Blue River Greenway in the city's Hillcrest section. On cable, KSHB is available on Charter Spectrum, Consolidated Communications and Google Fiber channel 13, Comcast Xfinity channel 8, and AT&T U-verse channel 41.
KSHB-TV also serves as an alternate NBC affiliate for the St. Joseph market (which borders the northern portions of the Kansas City Designated Market Area), as its transmitter produces a city-grade signal that reaches St. Joseph proper and rural areas in the market's central and southern counties. KSHB had previously served as the default NBC affiliate for St. Joseph from its assumption of the Kansas City affiliation rights from WDAF-TV (channel 4) in September 1994, until locally based KNPG-LD (channel 21) switched its primary affiliation from The CW to NBC on November 1, 2016.
Though the station remains available on Suddenlink Communications and smaller cable providers in St. Joseph, duplicate NBC network programs carried by KSHB are blacked out on the station's cable channel slots within that market out of exclusivity to KNPG, in compliance with regulations imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that allow local television stations to require cable systems to black out network programs shown on out-of-market stations that the provider also carries if a station holds the exclusive local affiliation rights.
The station first signed on the air on August 10, 1970 as KBMA-TV (standing for Businessmen's Assurance Company of America, which provided the initial funding for the station at its founding). Founded by Wilson D. Grant, it originally operated as an independent station, with a programming format consisting of off-network sitcoms and drama series, some first-run syndicated programs and feature films. However, it had much stronger financing and a better inventory of programming than the first independent ever to operate in the Kansas City market, KCIT-TV (channel 50, now Ion Television owned-and-operated station KPXE-TV; the KCIT calls now reside on a Fox-affiliated television station in Amarillo, Texas), which ceased operations in July 1971, at which time, channel 41 became the only independent station in Kansas City for the next twelve years (channel 50 eventually returned to the air in December 1978 as a religious independent station).
The station's original studio facilities were located in the BMA Tower in downtown Kansas City, Missouri; its transmitter facilities at the time were located on Summit Street in the city's Signal Hill section, on the same tower used by then-NBC affiliate WDAF-TV (channel 4) to house its transmitter. The first local program to air on KBMA was 41 Treehouse Lane, an afternoon series aimed at children which also showcased cartoon shorts. From the early 1970s through the 1980s, channel 41 extended its availability to many cable providers in the neighboring states of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma – including many large Midwestern cities that did not have independent stations of their own, such as Des Moines, Omaha, Lincoln and Wichita – effectively attaining status as a regional superstation. In the mid-1970s, KBMA launched the first locally originated cable network, Target Network Television, a channel distributed via microwave to cable systems within the market that featured a mix of locally produced programs separate from those carried on the station.
In 1977, Grant sold KBMA to the Scripps-Howard Broadcasting subsidiary of the E. W. Scripps Company. To reflect its new ownership, the station eventually changed its call letters to KSHB-TV on September 28, 1981, at which this time, it adopted "Kansas City 41" as its on-air branding. Under the purview of Scripps, channel 41 acquired some stronger off-network sitcoms and movie packages; it remained the area's leading independent station, outpacing the competition that it gained when KEKR-TV (channel 62, now MyNetworkTV affiliate KSMO-TV) signed on in September 1983 as the market's second independent. During the 1980s, the station instituted other technological firsts, including becoming the first U.S. television station to utilize computer automation for broadcasting operations and the first in the world to use communications satellites for point-to-point transmission delivery of its signal.
KSHB became a charter affiliate of the Fox Broadcasting Company when that network launched on October 9, 1986. As was the case with other Fox-affiliated stations during the network's early years, channel 41, for all intents and purposes, was essentially a de facto independent as the network initially aired only a late-night talk show at its launch, before expanding to include a weekend-only prime time schedule beginning in April 1987. Around the time channel 41 joined Fox, the station began identifying itself as "KSHB-TV 41".
Until Fox began offering seven nights a week of prime time programming in September 1993, KSHB-TV aired a movie at 7:00 p.m. on nights when network programs did not air. The station received additional content from the network, when Fox launched a children's program block, Fox Kids, in September 1990, replacing several of the syndicated children's programs that KSHB had aired to occupy portions of the weekday daytime and Saturday morning time periods. In 1991, KSHB changed its on-air branding to "Fox 41" under the network's stricter branding conventions; it also began to add a few talk and reality shows to its programming schedule during the early 1990s.
As an NBC affiliate
On May 23, 1994, six months after the National Football League (NFL) awarded the network the rights to the National Football Conference (NFC) television package (outbidding CBS for the contract), New World Communications reached an agreement with Fox parent News Corporation, in which the latter company purchased a 20% equity interest and reached a multi-year affiliation agreement with New World. Under the terms of the deal, New World would affiliate most of the twelve television stations that the company had either owned outright or was in the process of acquiring – specifically those affiliated with one of the "Big Three" networks – with the Fox network, once individual affiliation contracts with each of the stations' existing network partners expired.
One of the stations involved in the wide-ranging agreement was Kansas City's longtime NBC affiliate, WDAF-TV, which had been affiliated with that network since it signed on in October 1949. Earlier on May 5, two weeks prior to its signing, New World had announced that it would acquire WDAF-TV and three other television stations owned at the time by Great American Communications – which was subsequently renamed Citicasters – for $350 million in cash and $10 million in share warrants (CBS affiliate KSAZ-TV in Phoenix was also acquired through the deal, although New World would sell Great American-owned ABC affiliates WBRC in Birmingham and WGHP in High Point, North Carolina to Fox's owned-and-operated station group, Fox Television Stations, as its purchases of stations from Great American and Argyle Television Holdings put it over FCC ownership limits prohibiting a single company from owning more than twelve television stations nationwide and its purchases of WBRC and Argyle-owned WVTM-TV in Birmingham would have violated rules in place at the time forbidding common ownership of two commercial stations in the same market). New World included WDAF among the stations that would switch to Fox as part of its affiliation agreement with the network.
With only five months to find a new partner to replace WDAF as its Kansas City affiliate, NBC almost immediately entered into negotiations with other area stations. The network first approached CBS affiliate KCTV (channel 5) for a deal and briefly held discussions with the station for a contract. However, CBS – concerned about the prospect of losing another of its stronger affiliates in a market affected by the New World deal, which had forced the network to affiliate with a former Fox affiliate or an independent station in most cases – approached the Meredith Corporation for a proposal to keep the network's Kansas City affiliation aligned with KCTV. Under the terms of the deal, it persuaded Meredith to agree to switch two of the company's stations – NBC affiliate WNEM-TV in Bay City, Michigan and independent station KPHO-TV in Phoenix – to that network as a condition of keeping the CBS affiliation on KCTV. KMBC-TV (channel 9) was in the middle of a long-term affiliation agreement with ABC at the time, making it a non-viable option for NBC to replace WDAF as its affiliate; for that reason, KSHB was not included in Scripps' affiliation deal with ABC (a caveat of retaining the network's affiliations with WEWS-TV in Cleveland and WXYZ-TV in Detroit, which were themselves being approached by CBS to replace affiliates that displaced it through the Fox-New World deal), which was struck around the same time. NBC eventually signed an agreement with Scripps to affiliate with KSHB on August 1, 1994, on the condition that it carry as much local news programming as WDAF had aired as an NBC affiliate.
Channel 41 officially became an NBC affiliate on September 12, 1994, when Fox programming moved to WDAF, ending that station's affiliation with NBC after 45 years. However, as WDAF (as did the other New World Communications-owned stations that joined Fox around the same timeframe) chose to decline carriage of Fox's children's programming block, Fox Kids, which KSHB could not retain due to its programming commitments with NBC, the Fox Kids programming rights were acquired instead by KSMO-TV, which also acquired much of the syndicated programming inventory that KSHB was not able to retain because of NBC's network-dominated programming schedule; the syndicated programming that channel 41 was able to retain on its schedule consisted mainly of off-network sitcoms and first-run newsmagazines. At that time, KSHB accordingly dropped its existing "Fox 41" brand and began branding itself as "KSHB 41" (eventually becoming known as "NBC 41" in November 1999).
In April 1996, Scripps-Howard Broadcasting took over the operations of independent station KMCI (channel 38) in Lawrence, Kansas under a local marketing agreement it signed with then-owner Miller Television; after Scripps began managing the station, KSHB moved sitcoms to which it had held local syndication rights that it did not have room to air as part of its schedule due to the heavy amount of network programming from NBC as well as its new local news programming commitments to KMCI. Scripps acquired KMCI outright on March 3, 2000, becoming the first official television duopoly in the Kansas City market (KCWE (channel 29) and KMBC-TV were technically the first, however, the Hearst Corporation owned KCWE independently of the company's broadcasting division that KMBC was owned under until May 2010). In July 2003, KSHB and KMCI relocated their transmitter facilities to an 1,164-foot (355 m) tower at the Blue River Greenway in the Hillcrest section of southern Kansas City.
|TV stations in Missouri|
|KSDK, St. Louis|
|TV stations in Kansas City|
|WDAF 4 (Fox) |
KCTV 5 (CBS)
KMBC 9 (ABC)
KCPT 19 (PBS)
KCWE 29 (CW)
KCDN-LD 35 (Daystar)
KMCI 38 (Ind.)
KSHB 41 (NBC)
KCMN-LD 42 (Decades)
K45IO-D 45 (HSN)
KUKC-LD 48 (UNI)
KPXE 50 (Ion)
KSMO 62 (MNTV)