Sacramento / Stockton /
Modesto, California
Branding KCRA 3 HD (general)
KCRA 3 News (newscasts)
KCRA 3 Night Team (11 p.m. newscasts)
Slogan Where the News Comes First (primary)
It's how you know (secondary; website slogan)
Channels Digital: 35 (UHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
Subchannels (see article)
Affiliations NBC
Owner Hearst Television
(Hearst Stations, Inc.)
First air date September 3, 1955
Call letters' meaning Misspelled call letters for original radio sister; intended to be KRCA
Sister station(s) KQCA
Former channel number(s) Analog:
3 (VHF, 1955-2009)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 462 m
Facility ID 33875
Transmitter coordinates 38°14′49.4″N 121°30′6″W / 38.247056°N 121.50167°W / 38.247056; -121.50167
Website www.kcra.com

KCRA-TV, channel 3, is a television station in Sacramento, California, United States. KCRA-TV is owned by Hearst Television, a subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation, and is an affiliate of the NBC television network. The station's studio and offices are shared with sister station KQCA (channel 58) at 3 Television Circle in downtown Sacramento, and its transmitter is based in Walnut Grove, California.



KCRA-TV was founded on September 3, 1955 by the Kelly and Hansen families, who also owned KCRA radio (1320 AM, now KCTC, and 96.1 FM, now KYMX). The radio station's call letters were intended to be KRCA, but the letters were tranposed when the license application was filed with the Federal Communications Commission. By the time KCRA-TV went on the air, the KRCA-TV calls had already been taken by NBC's owned-and-operated television station in Los Angeles (which is now KNBC). KCRA inherited the NBC affiliation from the now-defunct KCCC-TV (channel 40), the Sacramento market's first station which carried affiliations with all four networks before other outlets went on the air.

The Kelly family bought out the Hansens' share of the KCRA stations in 1962. The radio stations were sold to the Tribune Company in 1975, and Kelly Broadcasting continued to operate KCRA-TV until January 1999, when it was purchased by what was then known as Hearst-Argyle Television.[1] Channel 3 has always been an NBC affiliate, and along with Fox affiliate KTXL (the present-day channel 40), is the only "Big Four" station in the Sacramento market that has never changed its affiliation.

The classic KCRA-TV logo, with green border, was used for over three decades. This version dates to 1975. A similar version of this logo was used at former sister station KCPQ. Its original design is credited to Bob Miller, the station's first art director.

KCRA-TV is best known for its commitment to local news. Early on, the station devoted significant resources to its news operation, resulting in a higher-quality product than conventional wisdom would suggest for what was then a medium-sized market. The station's motto, "Where The News Comes First", has become a symbol for its news coverage. KCRA has used the slogan since December 1958 (Kelly filed to trademark the slogan in 1980)[2] and has licensed it out to other television stations. It has been the dominant news station in Sacramento for many years, winning every timeslot during sweeps periods by wide margins. In the May 2010 sweeps period, KCRA had the highest-rated 11 p.m. newscast but trailed KOVR's 10 p.m. newscast in total households.

KCRA has long been an innovator in local news coverage. In 1965, it first used color film in its newscasts. A station press release at that time claimed that KCRA was the first station in Sacramento with video tape, the first NBC affiliate with "network color," and the first station with local film, slide and video tape color. Starting in 1975, it used remote cameras to report the news live. Recent years have brought helicopters and satellite remotes. On September 10, 1966, Bob Wilkins hosted a late Saturday Night horror movie show called "Seven Arts Theatre". Bob Wilkins later moved his show to KTXL, and then to KTVU in Oakland in the 1970s.

Harry Geise was hired by KCRA as its main weatherman in the mid-1960s. While he used information coming out of a weather bureau in Suitland, Maryland; his forecasts were so accurate that almost every farmer in the Sacramento Valley listened to his forecasts. He developed many techniques which are now taken for granted. Through his weathercasts he taught a couple of generations all about weather from "upper level devils" to looking out the window. On the scantest of data - weather bureaus, out the window, smell in the air, and nut gatherers) but prior to satellite, doppler weather radar, space weather, home weather stations, and little local information - he could look globally and tell what the local weather would be in six weeks or six months.

By the mid-1970s, KCRA established news bureaus throughout the state to broaden its range of reporting, as well as producing its own public affairs programming, and initiating a consumer affairs division to answer the needs of concerned consumers.

KCRA/KQCA Studios at 3 Television Circle
KCRA's Live Copter 3 at Executive Airport.

Like other local stations, KCRA developed an in-house production facility, with local children's programming, news magazines and talk shows. By the beginning of the 21st century, KCRA became the first station in the Sacramento market to broadcast digitally in HDTV.

KCRA satellite truck at the 2006 California International Marathon.

In early 2004, KCRA opened the new exhibit, "The KCRA 3 Experience" at local Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, California, allowing visitors to see a KCRA newscast produced live. KCRA's noon newscast was broadcast from there until late 2008 when KCRA ended its presence at the Mall.[3]

In February 2010, KCRA introduced a new slogan, "It's how you know." This features local news, weather, and sports that would lead to its website. Hearst sister-stations KSBW and WMUR also uses this slogan, which is seen at the beginning of each video segment on YouTube.

Weather Plus

In early 2005, KCRA introduced its localized version of NBC Weather Plus. Although NBC shut down their NBC Weather Plus branding after purchasing the Weather Channel in 2008, KCRA continued to use the NBC Weather Plus branding on sub-channel 3.2 until late 2008.

On August 2, 2010, KCRA relaunched their digital subchannel 3.2 as "moreTV Sacramento," a locally-programmed channel that shuffles syndicated programming from KCRA and sister-station KQCA, a branding used by Hearst sister station WMOR-TV in the Tampa, Florida market, and previously by KCWE in Kansas City, Missouri before their 2006 affiliation with the CW. The channel shows comedies (Roseanne, The Cosby Show, That 70's Show), dramas (Law & Order: SVU) and talk shows (Maury, Jerry Springer, Dr. Oz, Oprah). moreTV Sacramento also rebroadcasts news from KCRA, including a 7pm rebroadcast of KCRA's 6pm newscast; a rebroadcast of late news on KCRA and KQCA at midnight; and a simulcast of KCRA's news at 12pm. KCRA continues WeatherPlus programming in the early morning hours in lieu of paid programming,[4] however, as of October 15, 2010, KCRA no longer shows Weather Plus. (At the same time, nearby Hearst station KSBW also started broadcasting an alternate set of primetime programming over on its second digital subchannel branded as "KSBW PrimePLUS+" until February 1, 2011.)

Digital television

KCRA-TV and its second digital subchannel broadcasts on digital channel 35.

Channel Video Aspect Programming
3.1 1080i 16:9 Main KCRA programming / NBC
3.2 480i 4:3 moreTV Sacramento

Analog-to-digital conversion

KCRA-TV ended programming on its analog signal, on VHF channel 3, on June 12, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States,[5] and remained on its pre-transition digital channel 35 [6] PSIP is used to display KCRA-TV's virtual channel as 3.


Over the years, KCRA preempted some NBC programming, notably the soap opera Another World. That show would reair for a brief time, but was preempted again due to low ratings—this was the case with local counterpart KOVR, which did not run Guiding Light due to poor ratings, and had not aired at all in the market since former affiliate KXTV dropped it in the early 1990s. Given its image as a news-intensive station, KCRA also preempted the weekend version of The Today Show and the T-NBC lineup which aired Saturday mornings for more local news. It also aired a 4:30 pm newscast, pushing Days of our Lives to air half an hour earlier than the typical practice. That newscast ended with KCRA's acquisition of "The Oprah Winfrey Show;" in September, 2002. "Days" now airs at 1pm weekdays. However, despite NBC's historically low tolerance towards preemptions, NBC has been more than satisfied with KCRA, given its near-total dominance of the Sacramento market.

Currently, KCRA airs the third hour of The Today Show on a one-hour delay due to Live With Regis and Kelly airing at that time slot; and does not air the fourth hour. Sister stations WBAL-TV in Baltimore and WYFF in Greenville, South Carolina do the same thing. In addition, other syndicated programming includes The Real Housewives, Rachael Ray, The Dr. Oz Show, Access Hollywood, and Extra.

Whenever NBC special programming pre-empt any of its regularly scheduled newscasts, sister station KQCA (channel 58) will air them at the times KCRA would have aired them.

News operation

KCRA news open from November 2008.
KCRA news open from July 2011 without the "Reports" branding which was used for over 1/2 a century.

Like many stations that have long dominated their markets, KCRA tends to take an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach. Its original logo—a roman "3" inside a green square—was used from the time the station signed on until the late 1980s, when the current logo was adopted. Also, it refers to its newscasts as "Reports" rather than "News," despite that its newscasts on KQCA are titled as "KCRA 3 News". However in August, 2009, KCRA re-titled its 11 p.m. newscast as "the KCRA 3 Night Team." It removed "11 p.m." from the newscast name, but the mandated Hearst news theme is not used in the opening. In July 2011, the "Reports" branding was phased out and all the newscasts are referred to as "KCRA 3 News".

In late December 2005, KCRA began using a new "Triple Doppler" system for weather reports. In addition to KCRA's own doppler weather radar system at Walnut Grove, range and accuracy were increased by adding data from NEXRAD sites. KRGX north of Reno on Virginia Peak improves the accuracy of Sierra images, KMUX south of San Jose on Mt. Umunuhm has a great view of storms approaching from the Pacific Ocean, and KBBX at Beale Air Force Base gives improved detail in the valley.

On February 12, 2007 KCRA started broadcasting all of its news broadcasts in high definition television (HD) and also debuted its news set designed by FX Group and also LiveCopter 3 HD, becoming the first station in the Sacramento viewing area and first in the Hearst-Argyle family to broadcast the majority of its programming and the first to deliver local newscasts in HD. Upon the launch of its HD newscasts, the KCRA logo made a slight change, adding the NBC "peacock" and "HD" to the current logo. Only in-studio cameras shoot in HD, while the helicopter's camera, field cameras and other station camera feeds are in SDTV and are up-converted to a 16:9 aspect ratio in the control room. In September 2008, KCRA began using a new "Triple Doppler" system with high-definition graphics. As of August 25, 2010, with KSBW upgrading it's newscasts to HD, both KCRA and KSBW now share resources in this format when covering each other's news. The current weekend news anchor also acts as the sports anchor.[when?]

Under Hearst ownership, KCRA has either hosted or co-hosted many gubernatorial debates within California, often with moderator and political reporter Kevin Riggs and one other personality hosting the debate. Many of those debates are simulcasted on KSBW. A notable example of such is the debate between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown.[7]

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • Channel 3 Reports (1960s-1999)
  • KCRA 3 Reports (1999–2011)
  • KCRA 3 Night Team (2009-present; 11 p.m. newscast)
  • KCRA 3 News (2011–present)

Newscast Music

  • KCRA 1975 News Theme by unknown composer (19??-19??)
  • KCRA 1978 News Theme by unknown composer (19??-19??)
  • We Take You There by Peters Productions (1981–1986)
  • KCRA And You by Peters Productions (1981–1986)
  • Where The News Comes First by L. Earl Grizzell, Jr. (1987–1992)
  • KCRA 1992 News Theme by Sam Cardon and Non-Stop Music (1992–2000)
  • B Package by Gari Communications, Inc. (2000–2004)
  • Hearst TV News Music Package by Newsmusic Central (2004–present)
  • KCRA 2009 Night Team Theme by unknown composer (2009–present)

News team

(Year person joined KCRA in parentheses)

Current on-air staff

Weather Team
  • Mark Finan (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6, 6:30, 10 (on KQCA) and 11 p.m. (1991)
  • Eileen Javora (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings and noon (2005)
  • Dirk Verdoorn (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekend mornings and weekend evenings at 6 and 11 p.m. (1998)
  • Britta Merwin - Meteorologist; weekend mornings and weekday noon show. (2010)
Sports Team
  • Del Rodgers - Sports Director; weeknights at 6, 10 (on KQCA) and 11 p.m. (1997)

Note: Some reporters are also feature reporters for nearby Hearst sister station KSBW.

Hearst Television Washington Bureau

Notable past on-air staff

  • Miguel Almaguer - reporter (March 2003-May 2006; now works in Los Angeles as a West Coast Correspondent for NBC News)
  • Stan Atkinson - anchor (1970s?-1994; later moved to KOVR in Sacramento, now retired)
  • Carol Bland - anchor/reporter (1980s?-1994; later moved to KGW in Portland as Carol Jensen, now retired and lives in San Diego)[8]
  • Joan Blunden (1970s as first television job; she later changed her surname to Lunden, moved to ABC's Good Morning America)
  • Lisa Breckenridge - Anchor/Reporter (1991–1997; now at KTTV in Los Angeles and with Fox News)
  • Angela Buchman - meteorologist (1998–2001; now at WISH-TV in Indianapolis)
  • Ryan Disch - traffic anchor (2005–2009)
  • Maurice DuBois - anchor/reporter (now at WCBS-TV in New York, NY)
  • Jim Finnerty - host of local talk show Finnerty and Company (later renamed Look Who's Talking)
  • Sarah Gardner - 6 and 10 p.m. anchor (1993–2007; now a stay-at-home mother)[9]
  • Gary Gerould - sports anchor (now radio play-by-play for the Sacramento Kings)
  • Ron Hyde - Sports Director/Anchor (1992-2006, later News Anchor /Weather Anchor at KOVR 13), Now Anchor/Reporter "California Life" TV show of Los Angeles
  • John Gibson - Bay Area correspondent (now at Fox News Channel)
  • Marty Gonzalez - host/reporter/producer (1980–1987; now at KRON as weekend morning anchor in San Francisco)
  • David Gregory (now moderator of Meet the Press)
  • Kristine Hanson - sports anchor/weather anchor/entertainment reporter (1980s; former Playboy Playmate)
  • Ethan Harp - reporter (2000–2003; later at KNTV in San Jose/San Francisco, now writer at CNN in New York)
  • Lois Hart - 5 and 6:30 p.m. anchor (1990–2008; retired)
  • Bob Hogue - sports director (early 1980s, former Hawaiian State Senator)
  • Ron Jones - anchor/reporter (1998–2001; now anchor/reporter at KOVR/KMAX)
  • Rob Mayeda - meteorologist/anchor/reporter (1999–2000; now at KNTV in San Jose-San Francisco)
  • Leyna Nguyen - anchor/reporter (now at KCAL in Los Angeles)
  • Suzanne Phan - reporter (later at KXTV as a multimedia journalist)
  • Jeff Ranieri - meteorologist (2000–2005; later at MSNBC/NBC Weather Plus, now chief meteorologist at KNTV in San Jose-San Francisco)
  • Sam Shane - reporter (1996–1999; now anchor/reporter at KOVR/KMAX)
  • Bianca Solorzano - weekend morning anchor/reporter (1999–2003; now a CBS News correspondent in New York City)
  • Kaity Tong - anchor/reporter (1979–1981; now at WPIX in New York City)
  • Roy Walkenhorst - anchor/reporter (1969–1980; now CEO of Lightbridge Media)[10]
  • David Walker - 5 and 6:30 p.m. anchor (1990–2008; retired)
  • Julie Watts - weekend morning weather anchor (2005–2008; now fill-in weather anchor and Consumer Watch reporter at KPIX in San Francisco)
  • Pamela Wu - weekend anchor/reporter (2001–2009; now director of marketing and communications at the University of California, Davis School of Law (King Hall)[11]


  1. ^ Abate, Tom. Hearst to Buy KCRA-TV, Affiliates in Sacramento, San Francisco Chronicle, August 22, 1998
  2. ^ United States PTO trademark filing, SN 73216228)
  3. ^ "Where shopping comes first". Sacramento Bee. 2008-09-11. http://www.sacbee.com/shallit/story/1227411.html. Retrieved 2009-01-04. [dead link]
  4. ^ "MOREtv Frequently Asked Questions - KCRA News Story - KCRA Sacramento". Kcra.com. 2010-07-23. http://www.kcra.com/station/24370323/detail.html. Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
  5. ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf
  6. ^ "CDBS Print". Fjallfoss.fcc.gov. http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101256678&formid=387&fac_num=33875. Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
  7. ^ "Videos: Watch Brown, Whitman Debate - Politics News Story - KSBW The Central Coast". Ksbw.com. 2010-09-29. http://www.ksbw.com/politics/25203206/detail.html. Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
  8. ^ "More comings and goings of the local tube tribe". http://www.portlandtribune.com/features/story.php?story_id=14894. Retrieved 2007-02-01. 
  9. ^ "Anchor Sarah Gardner to leave KCRA". Archived from the original on 2007-12-23. http://web.archive.org/web/20071223165839/http://www.sacbee.com/102/story/582287.html. Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  10. ^ "HealingQuest - Press Kit - Roy Walkenhorst, CEO". Archived from the original on 2007-07-26. http://web.archive.org/web/20070726152436/http://www.healingquest.tv/RoyBio.html. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  11. ^ "UC Davis School of Law - News & Events - News". Law.ucdavis.edu. 2009-02-17. http://www.law.ucdavis.edu/news/news.aspx?id=1986. Retrieved 2011-11-14. 

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