About KMBC 9The third and final VHF television allocation in the Kansas City market was highly disputed between two locally based firms who had both bid for the building permit to build the new station on VHF channel 9. The potential licensees were the Cook Paint and Varnish Company and the Midland Broadcasting Company, which had each held two of the area's AM radio stations - Cook operated WHB (then at 710 AM, now at 810 AM), while Midland had KMBC (980 AM, now KMBZ). Eventually, the firms agreed to combine their separate permission requests and collectively compete for the license. Under the proposed agreement, Cook Paint and Varnish and Midland Broadcasting would share the channel 9 allocation as well as a transmitter facility; however, each company would structure their common television property as two separate stations, maintaining operational stewardship of their respective stations and operating from different studio facilities within the metropolitan area.
In June 1953, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the Cook/Midland joint venture's plan and issued the individual licenses for which the two businesses had requested. On August 2, that year, Channel 9 went on the air as a joint venture. The call letters for their combined television station were lifted from their respective radio properties: the Midland-owned station was given the call letters KMBC-TV, while the Cook-owned station was given the call letters WHB-TV. The united company shared CBS's local affiliation rights when the network relocated its programming from WDAF-TV (channel 4, now a Fox affiliate), a station that had broadcast the network on a part-time basis since its inception as Kansas City's first television station in October 1949. KMBC-TV and WHB-TV would each maintain 90 minutes of programming airtime on an alternating basis throughout its broadcast day, which initially ran daily from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., similar to the split-station arrangement that WHB radio had maintained three decades earlier with WDAF radio (610 AM, now KCSP; the WDAF calls on radio now reside on 106.5 FM). (The WHB/WDAF radio sharing agreement began in 1922, when both stations broadcast on 730 AM and swapped frequencies when both relocated to 680 AM in 1924; the timeshare terminated in 1927, when WHB radio moved to 710 AM).