Chronology data should be put on the appropriate chronology page ("Chronology of call letters KDKA") .
Other material must be reorganized into appropriate categories of articles.
KDKA-TV News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Your Home (general)
Your Home for Local News (news) Your Steeler Station
|Channels||Digital: 25 (UHF)
Virtual: 2 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||CBS (secondary until 1955)|
(CBS Broadcasting, Inc.)
|First air date||January 11, 1949|
|Call letters' meaning||taken from sister radio station KDKA|
|Sister station(s)||KDKA, KDKA-FM, WDSY-FM, WPCW, WZPT|
|Former callsigns||WDTV (1949-1955)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
3 (1949-1952) 2 (1952-2009)
DuMont (1949-1955) Secondary: NBC (1955-1957) ABC (1957-1958)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||40°29′38″N 80°1′9″W / 40.49389°N 80.01917°W / 40.49389; -80.01917|
[hide]*1 Early history
The station went on the air on January 11, 1949, as WDTV (W DuMont TeleVision) on channel 3, owned and operated by the DuMont Television Network. It was the third and last DuMont O&O to go on the air, behind WABD in New York and WTTG in Washington. To mark the occasion, a live television special aired that day from 8:30pm to 11pm, with live segments from DuMont, CBS, NBC, and ABC. WDTV was one of the last stations to be granted a construction permit before the Federal Communications Commission imposed what turned out to be a four-year freeze on new licenses.
When the release of the FCC's Sixth Report and Order ended the license freeze in 1952, DuMont was forced to give up its channel 3 allocation to alleviate interference with nearby stations broadcasting on the frequency. WDTV moved its facilities to channel 2 on November 23, 1952. Not long after moving, WDTV became the first station in the country to broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  At the time Pittsburgh was the fourth-largest market in the country, behind New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Dealing with competition
Until the end of the freeze, WDTV's only competition came in the form of distant signals from stations in Johnstown, Altoona, Wheeling, West Virginia and Youngstown, Ohio. However, Pittsburgh saw two UHF stations launch during 1953 -- ABC affiliate WENS-TV (channel 16, later to become WQEX), and WKJF-TV (channel 53, later to become WPGH-TV), an independent. At the time, UHF stations could not be viewed without the aid of an expensive, set-top converter, and the picture quality was marginal at best with one. UHF stations in the area faced an additional problem because Pittsburgh is located in a somewhat rugged dissected plateau, and the reception of UHF stations are usually poor in such terrain. These factors played a role in both WKJF and WENS being short-lived.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's other VHF stations were slow to develop. This was because the major cities in the Upper Ohio Valley are so close together that they must share the VHF band. After the FCC lifted the license freeze in 1952, it refused to grant any new commercial VHF construction permits to Pittsburgh in order to give the smaller cities in the area a chance to get on the air. As a result, WDTV had a de facto monopoly on Pittsburgh television. Like its sister stations WABD (now WNYW) in New York City and WTTG in Washington, D.C., it was far stronger than the DuMont network as a whole. According to network general manager Ted Bergmann, WDTV brought in $4 million a year, which helped sustain the network. Owning the only viewable station in such a large market gave DuMont considerable leverage in getting its programs cleared in large markets where it didn't have an affiliate. As CBS, NBC and ABC had secondary affiliations with WDTV, this was a strong incentive to stations in large markets to clear DuMont's programs or risk losing valuable advertising in the sixth-largest market. WDTV aired all DuMont network shows live and "cherry-picked" the best shows from the other networks, airing them on kinescope on an every-other-week basis.
WDTV's sign-on was also significant because it was now possible to feed live programs from the East to the Midwest and vice versa. In fact, its second broadcast was the activation of the coaxial cable linking New York and Chicago. It would be another two years before the West Coast received live programming, but this was the beginning of the modern era of network television.
The KDKA Radio and Television building at One Gateway Center in Pittsburgh.By 1954, DuMont was in serious financial trouble. Paramount Pictures, which owned a stake in DuMont, vetoed a merger with ABC who had merged with United Paramount Theaters, Paramount's former theater division, a year before. A few years earlier, the FCC had ruled that Paramount controlled DuMont and there were still lingering questions about whether UPT had actually broken off from Paramount. Paramount didn't want to risk the FCC's wrath.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric had been competing with local politicians to acquire the non-commercial channel 13 license from the FCC, as no other Pittsburgh-allocated VHF station would be signing on for the foreseeable future. After launching WBZ-TV in Boston in 1948 and purchasing two other TV stations, Westinghouse was growing impatient with not having a station in its own home market. Westinghouse later offered a compromise plan to the FCC, in which the Commission would grant Westinghouse the channel 13 license; Westinghouse would then "share" the facility with the educational licensee. Finding the terms unacceptable, Pittsburgh attorney Leland Hazard called Westinghouse CEO Gwilym Price to ask him if he should give up on his fight for public television. Price said that Hazard should keep fighting for it, giving Westinghouse backing for the station that would eventually become WQED.
Westinghouse then turned its attention to WDTV, offering DuMont a then-record $10 million for the station in late 1954. Desperate for cash, DuMont promptly accepted Westinghouse's offer. While the sale gave DuMont a short-term cash infusion, it eliminated DuMont's leverage in getting clearances in other major markets. Within two years, the DuMont network was no more. After the sale closed in January 1955, Westinghouse changed WDTV's call letters to KDKA-TV, sistering it to Westinghouse's pioneering radio station KDKA (and later to FM 92.9, now WLTJ). As such, it became one of the few stations east of the Mississippi with a "K" call sign.
Although KDKA radio had long been an NBC affiliate (due to corporate ties between Westinghouse and NBC dating back to 1926, when Westinghouse was a co-founder and part-owner of NBC), KDKA-TV opted to become a primary affiliate of the higher-rated CBS. The decision would lead to an acrimonious relationship between Westinghouse and NBC in later years. Channel 2 retained secondary affiliations with NBC until WIIC-TV (channel 11, now WPXI) signed on in 1957, and ABC until WTAE-TV (channel 4) signed on in 1958. KDKA-TV became the flagship station of Westinghouse's broadcasting arm, Group W.
The WDTV calls now reside on a CBS affiliate located 130 miles south in Weston, West Virginia, which is unrelated to the current KDKA-TV. That station, which signed on after KDKA-TV adopted its current call signs, did adopt those calls "in honor" of KDKA-TV.
As a CBS affiliate, KDKA-TV dominated the ratings. It was not uncommon for newscasts anchored by Bill Burns to draw a 50 percent share of audience (or higher). It is still the market leader today, though WTAE and WPXI have closed the gap in recent years.
The station was known from the 1960s through the 1990s to pre-empt CBS programs that received low ratings, usually replaced by locally produced shows, high-rated syndicated programming, and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games. Group W's other stations were known for pre-empting network programming in a similar manner. However, CBS didn't mind, given KDKA's near-absolute dominance of the market.
For example, channel 2 pre-empted or delayed As The World Turns for a large portion of its still-continuing run, most notably in the 1960s (for movies and The Mike Douglas Show), The Marie Torre Show during the early 1970s, and from 1978 to 1990, where the 2 to 3 p.m. hour usually reserved for the national CBS feed of ATWT was replaced by the popular talk program Pittsburgh 2Day (originally titled Pittsburgh Today because it started at 1 p.m. and it was a 90-minute show). On November 22, 1963, as CBS broke into ATWT to report shots fired at President John F. Kennedy's motorcade, KDKA was airing The Mike Douglas Show when newscaster Bill Burns broke in with the first bulletin. After Pittsburgh 2Day's cancellation in 1990, KDKA gave in to pressure from both CBS and ATWT fans to air the show. In September 2006, it moved Guiding Light from its longtime 3 p.m. slot to 10 a.m. placing Dr. Phil at 3 p.m.
Starting in 1993, KDKA stopped running CBS This Morning and instead ran Disney's syndicated cartoon block, an unusual move for a major-market station. However, only a year later, Westinghouse made a long-term deal with CBS to convert the entire five-station Group W television unit to a group-wide CBS affiliation. As part of the deal, in the fall of 1994 channel 2 began running the entire CBS lineup in pattern, with no pre-emptions except in the case of breaking news.
In early 1996, Westinghouse merged with CBS, making KDKA-TV a CBS owned-and-operated station, after four decades as being simply a CBS affiliate. Viacom merged with CBS in 2000, making KDKA a sister station with Pittsburgh UPN (now The CW) affiliate WNPA-TV (now WPCW). In 1994, Viacom purchased Paramount Pictures, which had figured so prominently in DuMont's collapse, and in fact had announced plans to launch UPN prior to being acquired by Viacom.
In 2001, KDKA-TV began producing a 10 p.m. newscast on UPN Pittsburgh. In 2005, it added a two-hour morning newscast in 2005 on WNPA.
To this day, KDKA-AM/TV is the last heritage television/radio cluster in Pittsburgh.
KDKA is also available on cable in Johnstown, Altoona and Wheeling, as well as several other out-of-market cable systems in northwestern Pennsylvania, northwestern Maryland, northeastern Ohio, and North-Central West Virginia. It provides at least grade B coverage of most of this area, as the channel 2 signal travels a very long distance under normal conditions. The furthest south KDKA is on cable is in Beverly, West Virginia. This is not far from the Virginia state line near Monterrey.
From 1965 to 2003, KDKA's logo was a stylized "2" in the font made famous by Group W. It retired the font in 2003 in favor of a much plainer logo similar to that of sister station KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. In 2005, it adopted the logo seen above, which is virtually identical to that of WBBM-TV in Chicago. However, it has not come into complete compliance with the CBS Mandate as of 2008 as several Pittsburgh viewers have protested the idea of KDKA being called "CBS 2".
WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, WBZ-TV in Boston, WWJ-TV in Detroit and WJZ-TV in Baltimore also do not follow any form of the mandate.
In August 2007, KDKA revealed a new image campaign, entitled Your Home, with music and lyrics performed by singer-songwriter Bill Deasy. The promo features scenes of Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas, as well as three of the station's personalites. In September 2007, the station unveiled another promo featuring the Joe Grushecky song "Coming Home." Later, a third spot was introduced, called "Long Way Home," and features the voice of Kelsey Friday. 
KDKA-TV and sister station WPCW do not make use of its digital subchannels. This is because of CBS policy; no stations that are CBS O&O's are allowed to have subchannels, preferring to have picture quality over channel quantity. Of Pittsburgh's nine full-powered stations, the only other stations not to make use of digital subchannels are religious station WPCB-TV (owned by Cornerstone Television) and WQEX (which simulcasts ShopNBC), making KDKA-TV & WPCW the only stations in the market associated with major networks not to make use of digital subchannels.
KDKA-TV ended analog programming on Friday, June 12, 2009, during the Late Show with David Letterman. While the digital signal went into a commercial break, the analog played a U.S. Air Force film featuring the poem "High Flight" followed by a montage of historical moments at the station, with the U.S. national anthem playing in the background. The montage went backwards from 2009 all the way back to the station's first years as WDTV, ending with Bill Burns wishing everyone "a good night, good luck, and good news tomorrow" before going into static for a moment and running an analog nightlight.
On Tuesday June 16, KDKA launched in HD during its noon broadcast, with a new set and weather center. KDKA was the last major Pittsburgh news station to begin airing newscasts in HD. The WPCW newscasts were included in the upgrade.
In July 2009 the station applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to have two repeater signals: channel 31 in Morgantown, West Virginia and channel 40 in Johnstown. The Morgantown signal is expected to reach into Forward Township while the Johnstown signal is expected to penetrate Irwin.
- Hometown High-Q (2000- ): Saturdays at 11 a.m. - "quiz bowl" format show with three teams composed of local high school students
- #1 Cochran Sports Showdown (1998- ): Sundays at 11:35 p.m. - sports talk show
- KD/PG Sunday Edition: Sundays at 8:30 a.m. - public affairs programming
- The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show: Sundays at 6 a.m. - public affairs programming
- Pittsburgh Today Live: 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. - Kristine Sorensen and Jon Burnett are the hosts, with weather from Dennis Bowman; local general interest program
- The Sunday Business Page: Sundays at 6:30 a.m. - public affairs programming
KDKA presently offers seven-and-a-half hours of live news each weekday, collectively, on channels 2 and 19 (WPCW). On Saturdays, news is broadcast four-and-a-half hours per day, and there is 90 minutes of news each Sunday.
In January 2009 KDKA celebrated 60 years on being on the air.
- The Children's Hospital Free-Care Fund (1954- ) - (Holiday Season) - yearly pledge drive
- Hometown Holiday Lights - Series aired over the news. Contest between local families with Christmas displays at their residence.
- Steelers Huddle (September 19, 2009 - ) - (during the NFL season) - Saturdays at 11:35 p.m. - Bob Pompeani, Jim Lokay and a rotating member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Steelers Trivia Challenge (July 16, 2005 - ) - Saturdays at 11:35 p.m. - Bob Pompeani hosts a "quiz bowl" format, modeled after Hometown High-Q, with three teams composed of three Pittsburgh Steelers fans who answer team-related trivia questions. The show runs for 9 weeks (mid-July to mid-September).
- Evening Magazine (August 1, 1977 - October 12, 1990)
- The Jerome Bettis Show (September 12, 1998 - February 4, 2006)
- The Hines Ward Show (September 2, 2006 - January 31, 2009)
- Pittsburgh 2Day (1979- January 19, 1990)
- Pittsburgh Pirates baseball (1957-1994)
- Pittsburgh Penguins hockey (1989-1997)
- Wake Up With Larry Richert (1988-1990)
Over the past decade, Pittsburgh has been a perennially competitive market for local news, with news ratings usually differing by less than a full ratings point. More recently, however, KDKA has had a decrease in most dayparts and although it continues maintain a tie with WPXI in the market for daytime news, according to the Nielsen May 2009 ratings period. Also during this period, KDKA trailed WTAE-TV and WPXI during the morning hours and the KDKA-produced 10 p.m. news was second to WPXI's newscast on WPGH. But it maintains a strong lead at noon.