Kaiser Broadcasting

Kaiser Broadcasting

Kaiser Broadcasting was the name of an entity that owned and operated broadcast television stations in the United States from 1958 to 1977.

History

Kaiser's involvement in broadcasting began when the Henry J. Kaiser Company Ltd., a multi-industrial conglomerate, purchased KULA-TV (later KHVH and now KITV) in Honolulu, Hawaii. Later in the 1960s, Kaiser explored new opportunities to expand its broadcast holdings on the U.S. mainland. Kaiser secured licenses to construct new UHF stations, all of which were in large markets. The first two of these new stations signed-on during 1965: WKBD-TV in Detroit went on the air in January, followed nine months later by WKBS-TV in Burlington, New Jersey, a suburb of Philadelphia. Also that year Kaiser sold KHVH, partially to help fund its mainland expansion.

In December 1966 Kaiser teamed up with the "Boston Globe" to re-launch channel 56 in Cambridge, Massachusetts as WKBG-TV. The station had been dark (television terminology for being off-the-air) for much of the previous thirteen years. Kaiser started up its final two stations, KBHK-TV in San Francisco and WKBF-TV in Cleveland, within three weeks of each other in January 1968.

The new Kaiser Broadcasting group of stations consisted of independent outlets broadcasting on the UHF band. In Detroit, Boston, and Cleveland, Kaiser-owned stations were the first independents in their respective markets. At a time when viewer interest in watching UHF television was still at its infancy, the Kaiser group did its part in attracting audiences by programming aggressively with movies, off-network programs, and children's shows. WKBD in Detroit invested heavily in sports programming, securing rights to carry games of the NBA's Detroit Pistons, the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, and other area college teams early in its history. WKBD also produced "The Lou Gordon Program", a topical (and often controversial) talk program that started out locally but was later shown by the entire Kaiser group. (Other non-Kaiser stations, including WCIX in Miami, also carried the program.)

In 1971, Kaiser entered the Los Angeles market with its purchase of Corona, California-based KMTW-TV, and changed the station's call letters to KBSC-TV. In 1972 the company sold a minority ownership (about 22.5 percent) in its broadcasting holdings to Chicago-based Field Communications. Through this exchange, Kaiser also acquired a majority interest in WFLD-TV, Field's Chicago station, and added it to its stable.

In 1975 in Cleveland, Kaiser/Field decided to merge WKBF's operations with United Artists-owned WUAB, with Kaiser/Field closing down WKBF and returning its license to the Federal Communications Commission. Kaiser/Field then purchased a minority share of WUAB, but was responsible for programming the station. In Boston, Kaiser/Field bought out the "Boston Globe" and ended its partnership in WKBG, which was renamed WLVI-TV under Kaiser/Field ownership. Kaiser exited television after Field purchased the remainder of Kaiser's shares in 1977, with the exception of KBSC and WUAB (which were not included and sold to other firms). Field continued to run the stations until they were liquidated during 1982-83.

Former Kaiser stations

Footnotes

*1Sold to Oak Television in 1976.
*2Returned to the air in 1992 as WGTW-TV; purchased by/affiliated with TBN in 2004.
*3Co-owned with the "Boston Globe" from 1966 to 1975.
*4Returned to the air in 1980 as WCLQ-TV (now WQHS-TV); purchased by/affiliated with Univision in 2002.
*5Kaiser purchased a minority ownership in 1974 from majority owner United Artists Broadcasting, following the sign-off of WKBF-TV. WUAB was sold in whole to Gaylord Broadcasting in 1977.


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