KTVK, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 24), is an independent television station licensed to Phoenix, Arizona, United States. The station is owned by the Meredith Local Media subsidiary of Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corporation, as part of a duopoly with CBS affiliate KPHO-TV (channel 5).
The two stations share studios on North Seventh Avenue in Uptown Phoenix; KTVK's transmitter is located on South Mountain on the city's south side. The station's signal is relayed across northern Arizona on a network of translator stations.
Former U.S. Senator Ernest McFarland, the author of the GI Bill, was awed by the new medium of television. With a few friends, he formed the Arizona Television Company and applied for a television station license with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
KTVK signed on the air as Phoenix's fourth television station on February 28, 1955—shortly after McFarland was elected governor of Arizona—immediately becoming an ABC affiliate. McFarland quoted that he chose the KTVK call letters "because TV will be our middle name."
KTVK cleared most of ABC's network schedule with the exception of some lower-rated daytime shows, as well as an occasional program during prime time hours. It soon built a translator network stretching across the entire state of Arizona, including Tucson. Occasionally, the station preempted ABC programming so as not to interfere with Tucson's local ABC affiliate, KGUN-TV. Despite the preemptions, ABC was generally satisfied with KTVK, as the station was one of the network's strongest affiliates.
Even so, KTVK's news programming was a very distant second to longtime leader KOOL-TV (channel 10, now KSAZ-TV) for many years, even when KTAR-TV (channel 12)'s 1979 sale to the Gannett Company (and subsequent call sign change to KPNX) made KTVK the only locally owned network affiliate in the market. McFarland died in 1985. His daughter, Jewell McFarland Lewis, inherited the station and ran it alongside her husband Delbert.
The station's fortunes began to improve significantly after several members of channel 10's (by now KTSP) news management staff defected to KTVK in 1986. An aggressive marketing campaign, a new brand (NewsChannel 3, one of the earliest uses of the "NewsChannel" brand that became popular with television stations in the 1990s), and a popular new anchor team finally helped make KTVK a truly competitive player in local news. By the late 1980s, KTVK was the top-rated television station in Arizona.
The station slowly expanded its news programming during the late 1980s and early 1990s, eventually adding weekend morning newscasts with the launch of a two-hour program on Saturday mornings from 7 to 9 a.m. in 1993. KTVK's atmosphere was somewhat different from that of a typical major market Big Three network affiliate. McFarland ran his station as a "mom and pop" business, and had an open-door policy that the Lewises continued when they took over the station. Employee turnover was very low, and hugs were very common in the newsroom. This was an outgrowth of what would become the station's longtime slogan, "Arizona's Family" (still used today through KTVK's newscasts, its website, and reporter sign-offs).
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