For other uses, see KCBS.
Los Angeles, California
United States
Branding CBS 2 (general)[1]
CBS 2 News (newscasts)

Only CBS 2 (general)
We've Got You Covered (morning newscasts)

Expect More (newscasts)
Always on (newscasts)
Channels Digital: 43 (UHF)
Virtual: 2 (PSIP)
Translators (see article)
Owner CBS Corporation
(CBS Broadcasting, Inc.[1])
Founded June 1931
(as experimental station W6XAO)
First air date May 6, 1948 (1948-05-06)
Call letters' meaning K Columbia Broadcasting System
(former legal name of CBS)
Former callsigns
  • KTSL (1948–1951)
  • KNXT (1951–1984)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 1 (VHF, 1938–1945)
  • 2 (VHF, 1945–2009)
  • Digital
  • 60 (UHF, 1998–2009)
Former affiliations DuMont (1948–1951)
Transmitter power 540 kW
Height 950.9 metres (3,120 feet)
Facility ID 9628
Transmitter coordinates 34°13′55″N 118°4′21″W / 34.23194°N 118.07250°W / 34.23194; -118.07250Coordinates: 34°13′55″N 118°4′21″W / 34.23194°N 118.07250°W / 34.23194; -118.07250
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website losangeles.cbslocal.com

KCBS-TV, channel 2, is a CBS owned-and-operated television station located in Los Angeles, California, USA. KCBS-TV is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation, and operates as part of a television duopoly with independent station KCAL-TV (channel 9). The two stations share offices and studio facilities inside CBS Studio Center in the Studio City section of Los Angeles, and KCBS-TV's transmitter is located atop Mount Wilson.

In the few areas of the western United States where a CBS station is not receivable over-the-air, KCBS-TV is available on satellite television through DirecTV.


Early years

KCBS-TV is one of the oldest television stations in the world. It was signed on by Don Lee Broadcasting, which owned a chain of radio stations on the Pacific Coast, and was first licensed by the Federal Radio Commission, forerunner of the Federal Communications Commission as experimental television station W6XAO in June 1931. The station went on the air on December 23, 1931, and by March 1933 was broadcasting programming one hour each day only on Monday through Saturdays. The station used a mechanical camera which broadcast only film footage in an 80-line image, but demonstrated all-electronic receivers as early as 1932. It went off the air in 1935, and then reappeared using an improved mechanical camera producing a 300-line image for a month-long demonstration in June 1936. By August 1937, W6XAO had programming on the air six days each week. Live programming started in April 1938.

By 1939, with the image improved to 441 lines, an optimistic estimate of the station's viewership was 1,500 people in a few hundred homes. Many of the receiver sets were built by television hobbyists, though commercially made sets were available in Los Angeles. The station's six-day weekly schedule consisted of live talent four nights, and film two nights. By 1942, there were an estimated 400–500 television sets in the Los Angeles area, with Don Lee Broadcasting placing television receivers at the following public places: Wilshire Brown Derby, Kiefer's Pine Knot Drive-In, Vine St. Brown Derby, Griffith Planetarium, Miramar Hotel (Santa Monica), Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and The Town House on Wilshire Blvd.[2] During World War II, programming was reduced to three hours, every other Monday. The station's frequency was switched from Channel 1 to Channel 2 in 1945 when the FCC decided to reserve Channel 1 for low-wattage community television stations. The station was granted a commercial license (the second in California, behind KTLA) as KTSL on May 6, 1948, and was named for Thomas S. Lee, the son of Don Lee. The station became affiliated with the DuMont Television Network later that year.[3] KTSL also launched Peter Potter's Jukebox Jury that year, a musical/quiz series that began to be broadcast nationally during the 1953-1954 season on ABC. Many later well-known entertainers appeared on the program to judge the latest releases from the recording companies.[4]

CBS acquisition

Starting in 1949, the CBS television network had been affiliated with KTTV (channel 11), a station in which the network held a 49% minority ownership stake.

Don Lee's broadcasting interests were placed for sale in 1950 following the death of Thomas S. Lee. General Tire and Rubber agreed to purchase all of Don Lee's stations, the centerpiece being KHJ radio, but chose to spin-off KTSL to CBS.[5] Susbsquently CBS sold its share in KTTV to the station's majority partner, the Los Angeles Times, and all CBS programming moved to KTSL on January 1, 1951.[6] On October 28, 1951, KTSL changed its callsign to KNXT to coincide with CBS' Los Angeles radio outlet, KNX (1070 AM). The station also moved its transmitter from Mount Lee, where it had been based since its experimental days, to Mount Wilson.[7]

In 1961, KNXT created one of the nation's first "newshours." It began with 45 minutes of local news, The Big News, which featured Jerry Dunphy, one of southern California's most beloved news icons, along with legendary weatherman Bill Keene and sportscaster Gil Stratton. It aired from 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. weeknights, leading into the 15 minute-long CBS Evening News, which completed the newshour. Also featured were special assignment reporter Maury Green and "Human Predicament" essayist Ralph Story. The team and format helped make KNXT the top-rated news station in Los Angeles. At times, a quarter of Los Angeles television sets were tuned to The Big News, the highest ratings ever for a television newscast in the area. The station eventually added reporters such as Howard Gingold and Saul Halpert, among others, and added news bureaus in Sacramento, San Francisco and Orange County, each with full-time correspondents and camera crews.

The Big News expanded to a full hour in September 1963, leading into the new half-hour-long CBS Evening News.[8] Color broadcasts of The Big News began in August 1966.[9] Eventually, KNXT expanded to 2½ hours of local news programming, as well as a late night newscast. KNBC (channel 4) went head-to-head with KNXT with viewers during the 1960s. However, in the mid-1970s, rival KABC-TV (channel 7) began gaining ground in the local news ratings at KNXT's expense. In 1975, KNXT fired Dunphy (who was quickly hired by KABC) and adopted a format similar to KABC-TV's Eyewitness News with its "happy talk" between anchors. However, the change went nowhere. Just as most of its fellow CBS-owned stations were dominating their cities' ratings, KNXT rapidly fell into last place.

For most of the period from 1975 to 2006, KNXT/KCBS-TV was not a major competitor in the Los Angeles television ratings among the area's local television newscasts. The exceptions were a brief surge to first place in the early 1980s and another in the mid-1990s.

In 1956, CBS began broadcasting NFL games, and with it, the Los Angeles Rams had their games aired on Channel 2. This alliance would continue through the 1993 season, when Fox took over the rights to broadcast NFC games, which led to KTTV being the new home station for one season in 1994, before the Rams moved to St. Louis. With the Rams' return to Los Angeles in 2016, Channel 2 will air games in which the Rams play host to an AFC opponent, and any Thursday Night or cross-flexed games aired by CBS. It will also air all Rams preseason games.[10]


On April 2, 1984 at 12:00 am, KNXT changed its call letters to the present KCBS-TV. In 1997, it adopted the "CBS2" moniker for its on-air image, following the lead of its sister stations in Chicago and New York City. For a time during the 1980s and 1990s, KNXT/KCBS-TV had several locally produced programs such as "2 on the Town," a local show similar to Evening Magazine and KABC-TV's Eye on L.A., and KidQuiz, a Saturday morning children's game show hosted by longtime weathercaster Maclovio Perez (for a time in the mid-2000s, its sister station KCAL-TV had broadcast a show called 9 on the Town). During the period, Channel 2 had frequently changed formats to styles that often became unsuccessful and even controversial. In September 1986, Channel 2 implemented a news-wheel format with each half-hour of news devoted to certain topics and themes (for example, there was entertainment and lifestyle news early on and harder news stories later in the program); this format was heavily panned by critics and audiences alike, and was dropped after only a month. The late 1980s and early 1990s brought to KCBS the Action News format, in which the station's newscast adopted a tabloid-style format; the format grated on the news staff, which circulated a memo that resulted in the firing of news director John Lippmann in 1993. Lippmann was heavily criticized by many, and reportedly had many confrontations with news staff, notably a shoving match between him and anchor Michael Tuck. The station's ratings quickly declined.

CBS management, highly embarrassed at KCBS-TV' subpar performance, responded by bringing in Bill Applegate as general manager. Applegate had previously served as general manager at Chicago sister station WBBM-TV, and was employed at that station as a reporter in the early 1970s. While Applegate had been criticized for making WBBM-TV's newscasts flashier than they had been previously, he set about toning down the format of KCBS-TV's newscasts. One of his strategies involved bringing in popular anchors and reporters from other Los Angeles area stations including Jerry Dunphy, who returned to channel 2 two decades after his earlier firing from the station (Dunphy went on to anchor at KABC-TV and KCAL-TV, both of whom achieved high ratings for their newscasts during each of Dunphy's stints). Also joining alongside Dunphy were colleagues Ann Martin, Dr. George Fischbeck, Paul Dandridge and Mark Coogan from KABC-TV, and Larry Carroll (who worked with Dunphy at KABC and KCAL); KNBC's Linda Alvarez also joined the team.

The station's ratings improved, but Applegate eventually became a casualty of CBS' merger with the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1996; Applegate had bickered with Westinghouse over the station's syndicated programming not long after he had arrived. Westinghouse executives never forgot this, and Applegate was one of the first executives to be let go. Channel 2's momentum ground to a halt, and it soon dropped into last place. The Action News branding was dropped in 1997 and the station's newscasts were renamed to the present CBS 2 News. That year, Dunphy returned to KCAL. In 2002, KCBS-TV became a sister station to KCAL-TV after the latter was purchased by Viacom from Young Broadcasting.

KCBS-TV began making another attempt to get out of the ratings basement at the start of the 21st century. Kent Shocknek, former anchor of KNBC's Today in L.A., joined KCBS to become its morning co-anchor in 2000. The station then hired longtime KABC anchor Harold Greene in 2001 as anchor of its 5 pm and 11 p.m. newscasts. The following year, Greene was joined by his former partner at KABC, Laura Diaz. In 2004, Paul Magers, longtime anchor at KARE in Minneapolis, replaced Greene on the 5 and 11 p.m. newscasts, bumping Greene to the 4 and 6 p.m. programs. The 4 p.m. newscast moved to KCAL-TV with the arrival of Dr. Phil on KCBS in September 2004. At the beginning of 2005, longtime KABC weatherman Johnny Mountain moved to KCBS, surprising many since it appeared that he was planning on retiring from television. At first, it seemed that none of these changes brought KCBS any closer to becoming a factor in the Los Angeles news ratings. However, in April 2006, KCBS grabbed the number 2 spot at 5 p.m. from KABC due to a strong lead-in from Dr. Phil. KCBS shot past both KABC and KNBC to take first place at 11 p.m. for the first time in 30 years.

On April 21, 2007, KCBS and KCAL-TV moved from the historic CBS Columbia Square in Hollywood to an all-digital facility at the CBS Studio Center in Studio City. The move marked many changes at KCBS and KCAL-TV, with several news personalities having departed, including David Jackson (who returned to the duopoly after anchoring at KCAL in the early 1990s), Kerry Kilbride, reporter Jay Jackson, Paul Dandridge, Dilva Henry, Linda Alvarez, sports anchor Alan Massengale and Dave Clark (who left for KTVU in Oakland). Both stations also began broadcasting all their local newscasts, sports shows and public affairs programming in high definition, becoming the third and fourth stations in Los Angeles to do so (following KABC-TV in February 2006 and KTLA in January 2007). In addition, KCBS and KCAL-TV now operate in a completely tapeless newsroom. This newsroom is named in honor of the late former anchor of both stations, Jerry Dunphy. With the move, KTLA and KCET became the only broadcast stations (either in radio or television) in Los Angeles to operate their studios out of Hollywood.

On April 1, 2008, the CBS Television Stations division enacted some of the biggest budget cuts in television history as well as staff layoffs across all of its stations. As a result of the budget cuts, roughly 10 to 15 staffers were released by KCBS/KCAL. 6 p.m. anchors Harold Greene and Ann Martin, who both also anchored KCAL-TV's 4 p.m. newscast, chose to retire from television news (Greene and Martin were slated to have their contracts expire in June of that year and were both considered for layoffs). Additionally, longtime KCBS reporter Jennifer Sabih, and reporters Greg Phillips and Jennifer Davis, were let go by the station.

NewsCentral era

CBS2 NewsCentral logo.

On September 19, 2009, KCBS and KCAL adopted the uniform NewsCentral brand (unrelated to the news organization of the same name formerly operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group). The newscasts were refocused to cover more community news, including stories from outlying communities. Local news headlines from the Los Angeles Newspaper Group and other MediaNews Group newspapers were shown on a news ticker, "street team" submissions of video and photos from viewers were featured, reporters ended stories with NewsCentral rather than the individual station brands, and microphone flags and news vehicles were branded to show both stations' logos at once (the KCBS and KCAL logos were previously displayed on alternating sides). The newscasts claimed that it produced more local news than any other television station in the United States, with reporters in Ventura County, the Inland Empire and Orange County, and the only Los Angeles television station with two helicopters (subcontracted to Angel City Air, owned by reporter Larry Welk). Ed Asner introduced the new newscast.[11] CBS denied that the move was made in response to other stations pooling news gathering resources.[12]

Ratings under the new format during the November 2009 sweeps showed KCBS lagging behind KABC-TV and KNBC in crucial timeslots. On December 10, 2009, Patrick McClenehan resigned after one year as president of KCBS/KCAL and was replaced by Steve Mauldin, who had overseen the CBS-owned duopoly in Dallas-Fort Worth. That week, the NewsCentral brand was rescinded, restoring the CBS 2 News and KCAL 9 News identities. The NewsCentral graphics, microphone flags and logos were retained in the interim, though on-air talent no longer referred to the NewsCentral brand.[13][14]

By spring 2010, the new management had made significant changes to KCBS's news operation. Veteran forecaster Johnny Mountain retired and was replaced by sister KCAL's Jackie Johnson; joining anchor Paul Magers on the lead newscasts was KCAL veteran Pat Harvey. The morning broadcast was also revamped, and the newly renamed "CBS 2 News" was given new graphic design and theme music (both of which were also adopted by most of the other CBS-owned stations).

On October 21, 2014, CBS and Weigel Broadcasting announced the launch of a new digital subchannel service called Decades, scheduled to launch on all CBS-owned stations on May 25, 2015, including on KCBS-TV on channel 2.2.[15]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[1]
2.1 1080i 16:9 KCBS-HD Main KCBS-TV programming / CBS
2.2 480i 4:3 KCBS-SD Decades

Analog-to-digital conversion

KCBS-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 2, and switched to analog nightlight service at 1:10 P.M. on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[16] The station's digital signal moved from its pre-transition UHF channel 60, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to UHF channel 43,[17] using PSIP to display KCBS-TV virtual channel as 2 on digital television receivers.


National evening newscasts from the major networks air at 6:30 p.m. in the Los Angeles market, one hour later than most network affiliates on the West Coast; this includes KCBS' broadcast of the CBS Evening News. During the 1980s, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News (broadcast by KNBC) and World News Tonight (broadcast by KABC-TV) aired on their respective stations at 7 p.m. From 1988 to 1999, KCBS aired the CBS Evening News at 5:30 p.m. (the timeslot that the newscast typically airs in the Pacific, Mountain and Central Time Zones).

KCBS also airs The Young and the Restless at 11:30 a.m., differing from most other CBS-affiliated stations in the Pacific, Mountain and Central time zones, that commonly air the soap opera at 11 a.m.; this later timeslot is because KCBS broadcasts its midday newscast at 11 a.m. on weekdays. KCBS carried Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune at 7 and 7:30 p.m., respectively from 1989 until 1992, when rival KABC-TV acquired the local syndication rights to both programs; Jeopardy! initially aired during the afternoon hours on KCBS in 1984, before KCOP-TV picked it up a year later, where it aired alongside Wheel on that station. KCBS-TV serves as the flagship station for The Insider and Entertainment Tonight; both are distributed by CBS' corporate cousin.

News operation

KCBS-TV presently broadcasts 30 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays and 2½ hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). Sports director Jim Hill, a former San Diego Charger was a sportscaster for CBS Sports during his first stint at KNXT/KCBS-TV, from 1976 to 1987. Hill then left to become sports director at KABC-TV, but returned to KCBS-TV in 1992 and has remained sports director at the station since. Other ex-athletes who are also sportscasters for KCBS and KCAL-TV are Eric Dickerson, James Worthy and Eric Karros. The station's notable former anchors include Connie Chung, Ann Curry, Jerry Dunphy, Ken Jones, Steve Kmetko, Jim Lampley, Dan Miller, Brent Musburger, Pat O'Brien, Keith Olbermann, Maury Povich, Bree Walker and Paula Zahn.

From 1986 to 1987, KCBS produced a 7 p.m. newscast, airing CBS Evening News immediately beforehand at 6:30 p.m. KCBS was also the last station in the Los Angeles area to offer a local early evening newscast at 6:30 p.m., when its 6 p.m. newscast ran for an hour during that time period; CW affiliate KTLA later launched a newscast in that timeslot in January 2009. KCBS produced late afternoon newscasts at 4 p.m. at various points in time. It was the first in the Southland region with a 4:30 p.m. newscast, that was later expanded to an hour. KCBS dropped its 4 p.m. newscast in 1998 in favor of the short-lived syndicated talk program The Howie Mandel Show, which was canceled after its first season, then in 1999, the Woman 2 Woman public affairs show. After the acquisition of now-sister station KCAL-TV, KCBS reintroduced the 4 p.m. newscast, but with it now airing exclusively on KCAL-TV.

On January 21, 2012, KCBS (and sister KCAL) began broadcasting morning newscasts on weekends, that compete with those offered by KABC-TV, KNBC and KTLA. The station was one of the last major-market CBS-owned affiliates to schedule local news broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Notable current on-air staff

Notable former on-air staff


KCBS is rebroadcast on the following translator stations:

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Digital TV Market Listing for KCBS". Rabbit Ears. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  2. "1942 Radio Daily Annual" (pp 903–4)
  3. "KTSL Los Angeles joins DuMont net." Broadcasting - Telecasting, October 4, 1948, pg. 27.
  4. "Billy Ingram, "Oddball Game Shows of the '50s"". tvparty.com. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  5. "Don Lee sale; General Tire bid sets record." Broadcasting - Telecasting, October 30, 1950, pp. 21, 30.
  6. "Don Lee sale; General Tire purchase approved." Broadcasting - Telecasting, January 1, 1951, pp. 19, 68.
  7. "KTSL now KNXT; moves to Mt. Wilson." Broadcasting - Telecasting, October 29, 1951, pg. 81.
  8. Cecil Smith, "The TV Scene," Los Angeles Times, August 30, 1963, p. D15.
  9. Advertisement, Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1966, page L14.
  10. http://deadline.com/2016/06/los-angeles-rams-cbs2-preseason-games-kcbs-tv-1201770091/
  11. Archived September 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. "CBS' L.A. Duop Launches 'NewsCentral' Branding – 2009-09-18 15:39:53 | Broadcasting & Cable". Broadcastingcable.com. Retrieved 2011-02-14.
  13. "Adweek – Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology". AdWeek. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  14. Los Angeles Business from bizjournals (2009-12-14). "Report: 'NewsCentral' brand is out at KCBS, KCAL | Los Angeles Business from". bizjournals. Retrieved 2011-02-14.
  15. CBS Stations, Weigel Partner on Oldies Digi-Net Decades Broadcasting & Cable (10/21/2014)
  16. List of Digital Full-Power Stations
  17. "CDBS Print". Fjallfoss.fcc.gov. Retrieved 2011-02-14.
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