About KMBC 9The third and last VHF television allocation in the Kansas City market was hotly contested between two locally based companies which had each competed to become the granted holder of the construction permit to build the new station on VHF channel 9. The prospective licensees in question were the Cook Paint and Varnish Company and the Midland Broadcasting Company, which had respectively owned two of the area's AM radio stations – Cook was the operator of WHB (then at 710 AM, now at 810 AM), while Midland owned KMBC (980 AM, now KMBZ). Eventually, the companies reached an agreement to combine their individual inquiries for the permit and jointly bid for the license. Under the proposed deal, Cook Paint and Varnish and Midland Broadcasting agreed to an arrangement in which the two licensees would share the channel 9 allocation as well as a transmitter facility; although each company would structure their common television property as two separate stations, individually 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) granted the proposal made by the Cook/Midland venture, and awarded the individual licenses for which the two companies had applied. Channel 9 first signed on the air as a shared operation on August 2 of that year. The licensees borrowed the call letters of their shared television station from their respective radio properties: the Midland-owned station was assigned the call letters KMBC-TV and the Cook-owned station was assigned the calls WHB-TV. The combined operation shared the local affiliation rights to CBS, which had moved its programming from WDAF-TV (channel 4, now a Fox affiliate), a station that had carried the network on a part-time basis since it signed on as Kansas City's first television station in October 1949. 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), 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. (the WHB/WDAF radio sharing arrangement originated in 1922, when both stations transmitted on 730 AM and transferred frequencies when both moved to 680 AM in 1924; the timeshare ended when WHB radio moved to 710 AM in 1927).