Posted on December 28, 2018, and last modified on 4 weeks ago.
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FOX 12 Oregon brings you First. Live. Local. news in Oregon and southwest Washington.
KPTV, virtual and VHF digital channel 12, is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Portland, Oregon, United States. The station is owned by Meredith Corporation, as part of a duopoly with Vancouver, Washington-licensed MyNetworkTV affiliate KPDX (channel 49). Although the two stations share studios on NW Greenbrier Parkway in Beaverton and transmitter facilities in the Sylvan-Highlands section of Portland, master control and some internal operations are based at Meredith's West Coast hub facility at the studios of CBS-affiliated sister station KPHO-TV in Phoenix, Arizona.
KPTV signed on the air on September 20, 1952, as Oregon's first television station. KPTV originally broadcast on channel 27, making it also the nation's first commercial television station to broadcast on the UHF band. (the first experimental UHF station was Bridgeport, Connecticut's KC2XAK on channel 24). The station was originally owned by Empire Coil. As Portland's only television station at the time, it carried programming from all four networks of the time: ABC, CBS, NBC, and the DuMont Television Network. CBS programming was dropped from KPTV's schedule when Portland's first VHF station, KOIN-TV (channel 6), signed on the air on October 15, 1953. KPTV then became a primary NBC affiliate, and also continued to air some ABC and DuMont programming.
KPTV also aired programs from the short-lived Paramount Television Network during the early 1950s; in fact, it was one of that network's strongest affiliates, carrying Paramount programs such as Time For Beany, Hollywood Wrestling, and Bandstand Revue. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. Empire Coil sold KPTV and its other broadcast property, WXEL (now WJW-TV) in Cleveland, to Storer Broadcasting on November 17, 1954. On August 11, 1954, KPTV became the first television station in Portland to broadcast in color, three days before KOIN achieved the same milestone.
The VHF channel 12 allocations in Portland were first occupied by KLOR-TV, which signed on March 8, 1955, as a primary ABC affiliate with a secondary DuMont affiliation. However, KLOR's network affiliations were short-lived. In 1956, KLOR lost its affiliations with both networks as the DuMont Television Network ceased operations, and the ABC affiliation moved to KGW-TV (channel 8) when that station signed on the air in December. On April 17, 1957, Detroit businessman George Haggerty purchased KPTV from Storer and KLOR from its local owners. On May 1, the two stations merged under KPTV's license, but using the stronger channel 12 signal (channel 27 was later used by independent station KHTV, which was on the air for less than four months in 1959; more recently, the channel 27 frequency was used by the digital signal of PBS member station KOPB-TV, which returned to its original channel 10 assignment following the analog shutdown; the KHTV call letters were later used to sign on channel 39 in Houston in 1967, that station used the callsign from its launch until 1999; it is now KIAH).
On April 17, 1959, KPTV swapped affiliations with KGW and became an ABC affiliate. Later that year, KPTV was sold to the NAFI Corporation, which then purchased Chris-Craft Boats in early 1960 and changed its name to Chris-Craft Industries. Color broadcasting by KPTV ended when NBC changed affiliations to KGW, in 1959, but returned in 1962, when ABC began color broadcasting.
KPTV can boast being the home of the two top children's TV hosts in Portland's history: Rusty Nails, a sweet-natured clown who was the rough inspiration for The Simpsons creator Matt Groening's Krusty the Klown; and "Ramblin' Rod" Anders. While Rusty Nails ran Three Stooges shorts, Ramblin' Rod ran Popeye cartoons. Ramblin' Rod was the longest-running kid's show in Portland TV history, airing from 1964 to 1997. Other KPTV children's hosts included longtime KPTV personality Gene Brendler who played "Bent Nails" (Rusty's "brother"), and George Ross, who played "Dr. Zoom." Bob Adkins, better known as "Addie Bobkins," brought his show to KPTV from Eugene's KVAL-TV in 1961. "Addie Bobkins" featured a wise-cracking beatnik hand puppet named "Weird Beard." Both Ross and Adkins ran a variety of cartoons to entertain the kids.
The first stint as an independent station
On March 1, 1964, KPTV lost its ABC affiliation to independent station KATU (Channel 2), which had debuted in March 1962. KPTV sued ABC and KATU's then-owner Fisher Broadcasting for breach of contract; the proceeds from the settlement went to rebuild KPTV into a color-capable station and to purchase a color mobile unit. KPTV soon became known as one of the top independent stations in the western United States. By the late 1960s, it was a regional superstation carried on every cable system in Oregon, as well as a number of cable systems in parts of Washington and Idaho.
In 1967, Portland Wrestling returned to KPTV after a 12-year absence. Frank Bonnema, news reporter, and afternoon movie host served as the voice of Portland Wrestling until shortly before his death on October 5, 1982. KPTV had originated telecasts of professional wrestling in 1953, with commentator Bob Abernathy, but lost the franchise to rival KOIN two years later. KPTV regained the franchise in 1967 and aired the wrestling matches until December 1991. Later wrestling commentators were KISN radio DJ Don Coss and former wrestlers Dutch Savage and Stan Stasiak. Portland Wrestling's chief promoters were Don Owen, and later, former wrestler-referee Sandy Barr. Primary long-time sponsors for the show were Chevrolet dealers Ron Tonkin of Portland and Friendly of Lake Oswego, and the celebrated ever-smiling furniture dealer Tom Peterson. Peterson was also the top sponsor for KPTV's late-night movies.
In 1970, KPTV became the first television station in the market to broadcast Portland Trail Blazers basketball games, with sports director Jimmy Jones serving as the team's first play-by-play television announcer; KPTV maintained the broadcast rights to Blazers games until the end of the 1977–78 season. In 1977, Chris-Craft placed its self-named television subsidiary underneath a holding company called BHC, Inc.
KPTV carried Operation Prime Time programming at least in 1978.
First Fox affiliation, then back to independence
On October 9, 1986, channel 12 became one of the original charter affiliates of the newly launched Fox network (although still programmed as independent as Fox wouldn't start a full weeks' worth of programming until 1993; it was one of a few VHF stations to affiliate with the new network upon its startup). However, KPTV did not remain a Fox affiliate for very long. By 1988, KPTV was one of several Fox affiliates nationwide (as was the case with its Minneapolis–Saint Paul sister station, KMSP-TV) that were underwhelmed by the network's ratings and programming in its first two seasons. The station subsequently disaffiliated from the network on August 29 of that year and reverted to being an independent station. The Fox affiliation shifted to KPDX (channel 49), which first signed on the air in 1983. In 1993, KPTV, along with Chris-Craft's other independent stations, began carrying programming from the Prime Time Entertainment Network, a programming service that Chris-Craft had owned in conjunction with Warner Bros. Entertainment.
By the early 1990s, Fox gradually rose in popularity as it began to carry stronger programming than had aired during KPTV's previous stint with the network, with many shows that were starting to rival the program offerings of the "Big Three" networks. In response to this, in late 1994, Chris-Craft/United Television partnered with Paramount Pictures/Viacom to form the United Paramount Network (UPN) and both companies made independent stations that they respectively owned in several large and mid-sized U.S. cities charter stations of the new network. UPN launched on January 16, 1995, with channel 12 becoming a UPN owned-and-operated station—the first such O&O station in the Portland market—as a result of Chris-Craft/United's ownership stake in the network. KPTV would eventually be stripped of its UPN O&O status in 2000 after Viacom exercised a contractual clause to buy out Chris-Craft's stake in the network, although the station remained with UPN as an affiliate for another two years.
Return to Fox
On August 12, 2000, Chris-Craft sold its UPN stations (spinning off two other stations that were not affiliated with that network in the process) to the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of News Corporation for $5.5 billion; the deal was finalized on July 31, 2001. However, instead of keeping the station, Fox traded KPTV to the Meredith Corporation, owner of KPDX, in exchange for WOFL in Orlando and its Gainesville semi-satellite WOGX in a deal which was finalized on June 17, 2002. The KPTV purchase gave Meredith the first television station duopoly in the Portland market.
Meredith then decided to swap the market's Fox and UPN affiliations; on September 2, 2002, Fox programming moved to the higher-rated KPTV—returning the network to channel 12 after a 14-year absence—while KPDX joined UPN. As part of the switch, KPTV's longtime moniker of "Oregon's 12" transitioned to "Fox 12 Oregon." Although KPTV is the senior partner in the duopoly, the merged operation was based at KPDX's newer and larger facility in suburban Beaverton rather than KPTV's longtime home in East Portland. KPTV also absorbed KPDX's news department, resulting in the cancellation of KPDX's 10 p.m. newscast (KPDX now airs a weeknight 8 p.m. newscast that is produced by KPTV). The Fox affiliation switch coincided with a realignment of the National Football League that brought the market's most popular NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks, into the NFC West division. As a result, KPTV became an unofficial secondary station for the Seahawks, airing most of that team's games through the Fox network's rights to air games from the NFL's National Football Conference.
On October 27, 2012, KPTV revived Portland Wrestling after a 21-year absence from the station and renamed the program Portland Wrestling Uncut. The program had been brought back on the air with the help of Rowdy Roddy Piper; Don Coss has also returned to announce the matches along with special guests. The wrestling matches were taped at KPTV's Beaverton studios. Two months later on December 29, Portland Wrestling Uncut moved to KPTV's sister station KPDX, retaining the Saturday night timeslot that the program held when it was revived on KPTV. The show went off the air by mid-2014.
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