Welcome to KFOR-TV-DT the NBC Affiliate for Oklahoma City and surrounding areas.
June 2019 the station celebrates 70 years of broadcasting excellence.
The switch was flipped, power flowed to the transmitter and a tiny screen flickered to life. Television had arrived in Oklahoma. WKY-TV became the first television station in the state—beginning a decades- long tradition of making broadcasting history.
This new invention would change the landscape of entertainment and news in Oklahoma. Owned by the Oklahoma Publishing Company, (which also owned WKY radio and the Daily Oklahoman newspaper), WKY-TV first broadcast on June 6, 1949.
Scroll to find archival videos and pictures from the decades. You can also find features on some of the most iconic and legendary people who built the station’s last legacy. You will also find the latest updates on the new building, and other exciting news!
The station was affiliated with the four major networks at the time: NBC, ABC, CBS and DuMont. Channel 4 took a primary affiliation with NBC as a result of WKY radio’s association with NBC Radio.
Currently, KFOR-TV and KAUT-TV are owned by NexstarMedia Group with studios and transmitter co-located on East Britton Road in Oklahoma City.
KFOR also carries Antenna TV on digital subchannel 4.2 and channel 247 on Cox Digital Cable. On cable, KFOR-TV can be seen on channel 4 or 704 in HD on Cox Oklahoma City. KAUT-TV can be seen on channel 16 or 714 on HD on Cox. KFOR-TV and KAUT-TV can also be seen throughout Oklahoma on four translator stations serving northwestern Oklahoma and several cable systems across the state.
The station signed on June 6, 1949 as WKY-TV, owned by the Oklahoma Publishing Company, publishers of the Daily Oklahoman, along with WKY radio. The station was affiliated with the four major networks at the time (NBC, ABC, CBS and DuMont). It is Oklahoma’s first television station, having signed on a few months before KOTV in Tulsa. Channel 4 took a primary affiliation with NBC due to WKY radio’s association with NBC Radio.
Due to an FCC-imposed freeze on station licenses, WKY-TV was the only Oklahoma City television station until 1953 when KTVQ (channel 25, now KOKH-TV) signed on, taking an ABC affiliation. Later that year KWTV (channel 9) debuted as a primary CBS affiliate. WKY-TV continued as a dual NBC/DuMont affiliate until the DuMont network shut down in 1956. KTVQ closed its operations that year as well, and channel 4 picked up ABC once again. In 1958, ABC station KGEO (channel 5) was moved from Enid into Oklahoma City, becoming KOCO-TV, and that allowed WKY-TV to become an exclusive NBC affiliate.
In 1954, when NBC became the first television network to broadcast color programs, WKY-TV subsequently followed as one of the very first local TV stations in the U.S. to broadcast its own color programming many years ahead of most other local stations nationwide, most of whom did not follow suit until the mid-1960s.
The first tornado warning in the nation was broadcast on WKY-TV. The story behind that historic day in September 1954 involves bootlegging, ignoring government rules and the avalanche of mail that poured into the station after the warning aired.
Harry Volkman, who broadcast the warning, talks about that fateful day and how it was the beginning of a television weather department that was the first one of its kind in the country.
Gene Allen, who joined the station in 1951, says Wally Kinnan was an officer at Tinker Air Force base who was feeding Volkman information from Tinker’s developing radar research.
Allen says Volkman was the sole weather department staff member working on the day that first tornado warning was issued from a bootlegged Tinker Tornado Forecast.
Tinker was doing warnings, but not for public broadcast. Station management believed that the FCC’s ban on broadcasting tornado warnings (which they feared broadcasting such warnings would cause panic) was responsible for the heavy loss of life, such as in the Flint-Worcester tornado outbreak sequence, a year earlier. They figured that giving advanced warning on such storms would save lives.
Today the KFOR weather center is state-of-the-art.
Chief Meteorologist Mike Morgan leads a team of experienced and passionate meteorologists.
Mike is a fourth generation Oklahoman, Mike grew up in the Tulsa area. His interest in meteorology was apparent at an early age. As a 13-year-old, Mike interned with the National Weather Service. He stepped into the working world at the age of 19, doing the weather at a Tulsa television station. He joined KFOR in 1993.
He has helped keep Oklahomans 4Warned along with the 4Warn Storm Team through some of the deadliest storms in Oklahoma history.
In 1972 news director Ernie Schultz hired Pam Henry and she became the first female television reporter in Oklahoma. While at WKY she became the first female to anchor a news broadcast in Oklahoma. She had contracted polio at age 14 months and had been the National Poster Child for the March of Dimes in 1959. She had a 30-year career in television news despite walking on crutches.
Scroll down to see more historical archived photos.
Over the years, Oklahoma Publishing acquired several other television and radio stations, including WTVT in Tampa, Florida (in 1956), WVTV in Milwaukee (in 1966), KHTV in Houston (launched in 1967), and KTVT in Fort Worth, Texas (in 1971). WKY-TV was their flagship outlet, and Oklahoma Publishing called their television subsidiary the WKY Television System. When the Federal Communications Commission disallowed same market co-ownership of newspapers and broadcast licenses in the early 1970s, the combination of the Daily Oklahoman and WKY-AM-TV was grandfathered under the new rule. But in 1976, WKY-TV was sold to Universal Communications, a subsidiary of the Detroit-based Evening News Association. Universal Communications changed channel 4’s call letters to KTVY after the sale was finalized. Oklahoma Publishing retained WKY radio, and its television group was rechristened Gaylord Broadcasting, after the family which owned the company.
The Gannett Company bought the Evening News Association in 1986. Gannett had owned KOCO-TV since 1979, and FCC rules of the time forced Gannett to sell KTVY (along with KOLD-TV in Tucson, Arizona and WALA-TV in Mobile, Alabama) to Knight Ridder Broadcasting after just one day of ownership. In 1989, Knight Ridder sold all of its broadcasting properties to separate buyers, with KTVY going to Palmer Communications, owner of fellow NBC affiliate WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa. Palmer changed the station’s call letters to the current KFOR-TV in 1990. The New York Times Company purchased the two stations in 1996.
KFOR-TV eventually became the first station in the country to introduce color Doppler weather radar and in the 1990s, becoming the first television station to broadcast pictures and video of severe weather via cell phones.
On the evening of June 13, 1998, a severe thunderstorm which produced several tornadoes in northern Oklahoma City, including one that hit the Frontier City amusement park, destroyed the old WKY-AM-TV tower not far from KFOR-TV’s studios.
KFOR.com was registered by KFOR on August 21, 1995. Click here to see how the site looked on November 8, 1996.
KFOR became the first television station in Oklahoma City to launch a digital signal in June 1999.
On September 13, 2006, The New York Times Company announced that it plans to sell off its television stations, including KFOR and KAUT. On January 4, 2007, the New York Times Company entered into an agreement to sell the stations. On May 7, 2007, KFOR and KAUT officially became part of Local TV LLC.
On July 1, 2013, the Tribune Company (which formed a management company that operated both Tribune and Local TV’s stations in 2008) acquired the Local TV stations. The sale was completed on December 27, 2013.
The station was sold to Nexstar and that was completed in September 2019.
Some of this information gathered from Wikipedia.com
Linda Cavanaugh was a fixture on the station for 40 years.
Linda began her career as a reporter/photographer and in a short time, became the first female co-anchor of the evening newscasts at Oklahoma’s News Channel 4.
She has earned more than 30 national awards for her reporting as well as twice that many state and regional awards in addition to 15 Emmys from the Heartland Chapter of NATAS.
An Oklahoma native, she has worked throughout her career to better her community and the state she calls home. Through her efforts, the first hospice in Oklahoma was born. Her documentary, “A Time to Die,” raised the seed money that was used to start Hospice of Oklahoma County, a non-profit organization that brought home care to the terminally ill.
Her investigative reports on conditions inside Oklahoma restaurants resulted in changes in the law. “Behind Kitchen Doors” moved lawmakers to open the inspection records of the health department so that consumers, for the first time, could be aware of violations.
In the early 90s, she became the first journalist allowed to photograph ancient Indian rituals that had been closed to all except tribal members. Her resulting 12-part series, “Strangers In Their Own Land” brought a sense of understanding and pride to Oklahoma’s 37 Indian tribes.
Watch: Linda’s story
So, what’s next for Linda?
“If I’m lucky, I’ve inherited by dad’s DNA gene for longevity. If that’s the case, I have another couple of decades to contribute to our state. I intend to take a few months to reboot and then I’ll make decisions about my future. I never thought I’d find myself anchoring news for 40 years. So, I’m sure I’ll be equally surprised and challenged by whatever comes next. What I do know, is that I’m as excited about the future as I am grateful for the past.”
She retired in December 2017.
She left a lasting mark on those who worked with her.
“Linda and the Ogle family’s history with Channel 4 intertwine. When she was a young reporter, my Dad was an anchor at Channel 4. Decades later, she and I would share the anchor desk together for 19 years, said Kevin Ogle. “During major events in Oklahoma, she was adept at expressing – on the air – the exact emotions viewers at home were feeling. Because her heart is 100%, Grade A…Okie.”
“Linda was a true professional in every way. She knew her stuff in just about every area of the news, and if she didn’t know, she asked the right questions to get to know more about it,” said Sports Director Brian Brinkley. “She seemed to find the right note and tone on every story she worked, and that’s not easy to do.
I feel honored and privileged to have been able to work with her for more than 27 years at KFOR.”
“If anyone set the bar for women in Oklahoma journalism, it is Linda Cavanaugh. Not only did she pave the way, but she also established the standard. The first job I ever had was working behind the scenes at KFOR, first as an intern, an assignment editor, reporter, and eventually anchor. I had the honor and privilege of not only learning from but working alongside a legend every step of the way. Linda took me under her wing and continues to do so even in her retirement. She is a class act,” said Joleen Chaney.
In 2019 the news studio in the new state-of-the-art media center was named in honor of Linda and her contribution to the legacy of the station and the lasting change she had on the news industry in Oklahoma.
More photo galleries below of vintage shows, personalities and behind the scenes with WKY KTVY KFOR through the 65 years of broadcasting excellence.
Scroll down after the slideshow for a peek inside the new state-of-the-art multi-media KFOR complex.
KFOR/KAUT Multi-media complex
OKLAHOMA CITY–August 20, 2017, Oklahoma City, OK KFOR-TV, the first television station to sign on the air in Oklahoma (on June 6, 1949, as WKY-TV) creates history again. KFOR-TV relaunched as “Oklahoma’s News 4”, with a high-tech news set, new on-air graphics, and music package. “Oklahoma’s News 4”, moved into a state-of-the-art media center designed to withstand Oklahoma’s toughest weather.
“We are so proud our new media center was designed and built by Oklahomans who poured their hearts and souls into the construction,” said Wes Milbourn, President and General Manager of KFOR-TV and KAUT- TV.
The new facility was constructed based on a plan that encourages open collaboration between each department, allowing the KFOR staff to work and communicate more efficiently. The open environment improves workflow between teams of reporters, photographers, producers, and directors.
“This design enables us to serve Oklahomans with breakthrough technology. Whether we’re reporting the news or tracking deadly storms, we will now be working in the most technologically advanced broadcast studio, weather center and newsroom in the state, perhaps the nation,” said Natalie Hughes, News Director of KFOR-TV and KAUT-TV.
The 4 Warn Storm Center has been completely redesigned, enhanced and upgraded from top to bottom. “We’ve been working on this for years,” said Hughes. “Our weather team is grateful for the time, effort and financial backing that went into making sure they had the most effective technology to protect Oklahoma families.”
Several conference rooms in the building pay homage to the history of Channel 4 and the incredible people who made it a legendary station. Among those spaces is the Barry Huddle Room in honor of the late sports broadcasting duo, Bob Barry, and his son, (BBJ) Bob Barry, Jr.
“Oklahoma’s News 4” produces 11 newscasts every weekday, and KFOR-TV is one of the strongest NBC affiliates in the country. KFOR.com and KFOR’s social media presence are dominant in the Oklahoma City area as well. “We are building for the future and we will continue to lead the way on all communication platforms in our fast-changing world,” added General Manager Wes Milbourn.
In the interest of serving Oklahomans better, KFOR finished a massive installation of new equipment that will ensure the best signal coverage possible in the spring of 2019.
Earlier in the year, KFOR brought in a sky-crane – basically a huge helicopter – to lift our new state of the art antenna 1600 feet in the air to sit high atop our tower located in north Oklahoma City. The height of the new tower is 1530 feet with 635,000 watts of power.
The old one had been there for almost 60 years! The previous *beacon* had been atop the tower acting as a “blinking eye” in the Oklahoma sky for decades, now sits in the lobby of the KFOR new state-of-the-art facility.