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The station first signed on the air on July 1, 1953 as KTVH. It was the first station licensed in the state of Kansas. Channel 12 originally operated from studio facilities located in Hutchinson. It has been a primary CBS affiliate since its sign-on, although the station originally also carried programming from the three other major networks of the time (NBC, ABC and the DuMont Television Network).

In 1955, the station was bought by the Minneapolis Star & Tribune, later known as Cowles Media with newspaper and broadcasting interests, publisher of LOOK Magazine and the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Newspaper. John Cowles formed the Wichita-Hutchinson Company as a subsidiary to hold the license. In 1956, it moved its main studio facilities to the former studio of KEDD, where the station remains to this day. In 1957, the station boosted its transmitter power from 240,000 ERP to 316,000 ERP to cover all of the Wichita metropolitan area. In 1962, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that central and western Kansas were part of the Wichita market. The Kansas Broadcasting System was formed with KTVC-TV in Dodge City, Kansas, KAYS-TV in Hays, Kansas, and KLOE-TV in Goodland, Kansas, with KTVH serving as the Flagship station.

In 1963, on July 3rd, KTVH's signal coverage was greatly increased with the construction of a new 1,504 foot transmitting tower nine miles east of Hutchinson, which had a full 316,000 WATTS of power. The tower and antenna was 32 feet taller than the Empire State Building in New York City, and is considered the tallest man made structure in Kansas. In sports, KTVH was helpful in forming the Missouri Valley Conference Basketball Television Network. KTVH served as the originating station for a 10 game schedule each year which was carried on a 24 station network.

In 1983, the Cowles family began selling off its vast media holdings. KTVH was sold to Ross Beach and Bob Schmidt who owned KAYS-TV and KLOE-TV. The station's call letters were then changed to KWCH-TV on July 4 of that year (the KTVH call letters are now used by an NBC-affiliated station in Helena, Montana, which adopted the calls two years after channel 12's call sign switch).

In 1989, the purchase of KTVC-TV was completed which placed the Kansas Broadcasting System under one ownership, then the four stations were sold to Smith Broadcasting which included, as an owner, longtime Wichita television executive Sandy DiPasquale (who later became the CEO of Newport Television). Smith sold the station to Spartanburg, South Carolina-based Spartan Communications in 1994; Spartan merged with Media General in 2000. In 2005, KWCH received the "Large Market Television Station of the Year" award from the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. On April 6, 2006, Media General announced that it would sell KWCH, its satellites, and four other stations as a result of its purchase of four former NBC owned-and-operated-stations (WVTM-TV in Birmingham, WCMH in Columbus, WNCN in Goldsboro, North Carolina and WJAR-TV in Providence). South Bend, Indiana-based Schurz eventually emerged as the winner and took over on September 25, at which time Schurz formed a new company known as "Sunflower Broadcasting, Inc.," which became the licensee for its Kansas broadcasting properties. However, KWCH still uses the same logo from the Media General era. In July 2007, KSCW became a sister station to KWCH after Schurz bought the station through a failing station waiver.

In the spring of 2010, Schurz entered into a long-term website management agreement with the Tribune Company's Tribune Interactive division. Schurz's Kansas properties were the first to launch new Tribune-run websites in late June 2010. This lasted until 2013, when Schurz began a new multi-year hosting deal with Internet Broadcasting.

Entry: KTVH and KWCH

Author: Laverne E. Goering

Author information: Mr. Goering is the Director of Programming and Operations at KWCH-12, KSCW-HD, and KDCU-31.

Date Created: April 2015

Date Modified: January 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.