Iowa – KTVO

About KTVO

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lifted the "Freeze of '48"—the nationwide halt to reorganize TV frequencies—on April 14, 1952 the VHF channel 3 was assigned to the Kirksville, Missouri market. This prime channel attracted the attention of North Missouri Broadcasting Partners, a group led by former U.S. Congressman Sam "Wat" Arnold and Sam Burk, owners of Kirksville radio station KIRX, who had already been discussing the feasibility of adding a television station to their operations. Hoping to defray the costs and risk of the new venture, in early 1953 the Kirksville group joined with another led by James J. Conroy, owner of KBIZ in Ottumwa, Iowa. In return for shares in KBIZ, the Kirksville group would allow construction of a tower and transmitter site whose signal would cover both Kirksville and Ottumwa. Following FCC approval, a 1,100-foot (340 m) tower was built near Downing, Missouri.

KTVO signed-on November 21, 1955 airing an analog signal on VHF channel 3. However, by time of sign-on the Kirksville group felt the venture held little hope for profitability and had sold all shares back to Conroy. For much of its early history KTVO was a primary CBS affiliate, although its single market status allowed it to cherry-pick the most popular programming from NBC and ABC. At first, Arnold and Burk's fears that the Ottumwa/Kirksville Designated Market Area (DMA) was too small to support a television station were proven true but Conroy persevered, believing southeastern Iowa and northeastern Missouri would be proud to have a locally based station. This was not a surprise, given that KTVO was the area's only channel until 1986, when KOIA-TV (channel 15, now Fox affiliate KYOU-TV) began operations.

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