1. Foreman Scotty Slideshow
  2. Untitled Chapter
  3. Weather Slideshow
  4. Sports Slideshow
  5. Familiar Faces and Old Friends Slideshow
  6. To see more historical footage
Linda Cavanaugh and Kari King

Celebrating our 65th Anniversary

Broadcasting Excellence 1949-2014

Celebrating our 65th Anniversary
Broadcasting Excellence 1949-2014
Sign On! June 1949

The switch was flipped, power flowed to the transmitter and a tiny screen flickered to life. Television had arrived in Oklahoma. WKY-TV became the first television station in the state---beginning a decades- long tradition of making broadcasting history. 

This new invention would change the landscape of entertainment and news in Oklahoma.  Owned by the Oklahoma Publishing Company, (which also owned WKY radio and the Daily Oklahoman newspaper), WKY-TV first broadcast on June 6, 1949.

The station was affiliated with the four major networks at the time: NBC, ABC, CBS and DuMont.  Channel 4 took a primary affiliation with NBC as a result of WKY radio’s association with NBC Radio.

Click through the slideshow below.

The Beginning

The men and women who put Channel 4 on the air were pioneers in every sense of the word.  They imagined what they wanted the television station to be---and do--- and worked until it became reality. They didn’t have instruction manuals because these dreamers were writing them as they went along.

The station’s first manager, P.A. Suggs, said television was a gamble.   “We lost money for 18 consecutive months.  On the 19th month, I made $18.64.”

Scroll the the slideshow below.

Due to an FCC-imposed freeze on station licenses, WKY-TV was the only Oklahoma City television station until 1953 when KTVQ (channel 25, now KOKH-TV) signed on, taking an ABC affiliation. Later that year KWTV (channel 9) debuted as a primary CBS affiliate. WKY-TV continued as a dual NBC/DuMont affiliate until the DuMont network shut down in 1956. KTVQ closed its operations that year as well, and channel 4 picked up ABC once again. In 1958, ABC station KGEO (channel 5) was moved from Enid into Oklahoma City, becoming KOCO-TV, and that allowed WKY-TV to become an exclusive NBC affiliate.

Over the years, Oklahoma Publishing acquired several other television and radio stations, including WTVT in Tampa, Florida (in 1956), WVTV in Milwaukee (in 1966), KHTV in Houston (launched in 1967), and KTVT in Fort Worth, Texas (in 1971). WKY-TV was their flagship outlet, and Oklahoma Publishing called their television subsidiary the WKY Television System. When the Federal Communications Commission disallowed same market co-ownership of newspapers and broadcast licenses in the early 1970s, the combination of the Daily Oklahoman and WKY-AM-TV was grandfathered under the new rule. But in 1976, WKY-TV was sold to Universal Communications, a subsidiary of the Detroit-based Evening News Association. Universal Communications changed channel 4′s call letters to KTVY after the sale was finalized. Oklahoma Publishing retained WKY radio, and its television group was rechristened Gaylord Broadcasting, after the family which owned the company.

The Gannett Company bought the Evening News Association in 1986. Gannett had owned KOCO-TV since 1979, and FCC rules of the time forced Gannett to sell KTVY (along with KOLD-TV in Tucson, Arizona and WALA-TV in Mobile, Alabama) to Knight Ridder Broadcasting after just one day of ownership. In 1989, Knight Ridder sold all of its broadcasting properties to separate buyers, with KTVY going to Palmer Communications, owner of fellow NBC affiliate WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa. Palmer changed the station’s call letters to the current KFOR-TV in 1990. The New York Times Company purchased the two stations in 1996.

On September 13, 2006, The New York Times Company announced that it plans to sell off its television stations, including KFOR and KAUT. On January 4, 2007, the New York Times Company entered into an agreement to sell the stations. On May 7, 2007, KFOR and KAUT officially became part of Local TV LLC.

On July 1, 2013, the Tribune Company (which formed a management company that operated both Tribune and Local TV’s stations in 2008) acquired the Local TV stations. The sale was completed on December 27, 2013. 

Some of this information gathered from Wikipedia.com

3D Danny: Danny Williams

Danny Williams joined WKY in 1950.  Williams thought his career in television was over just three years later.  Management had canceled “The Danny Williams Show,” an interview program featuring him as the host.

It turned out to be one of the luckiest things that ever happened to him.

Watch these vintage clips and then scroll through the slideshow below.

Danny Williams as 3D Danny
3D Danny Episode on WKY
3D Danny and Foreman Scotty Movie Clip
Foreman Scotty

When Foreman Scotty rode into the Circle 4 Ranch  another Channel 4 star was born. Steve Powell played a friendly cowboy who was also the star, writer and producer for this wildly popular show. Children sometimes waited a year just to be on the show. Watch the video to see how the name Foreman Scotty originated. You will also see how a four-legged cast member became a star in his own right. 

New Video
New Video

Click through the slideshow below.

Color Television

One of the landmark moments in television history came when color screens replaced black and white pictures.

In 1954, WKY-TV became the first independent station in the world to have regular live color programming. Each camera weighed 900 pounds and took three men to operate and move.

As you’ll see in the video below, Oklahoma had a natural advantage for those first color broadcasts.

And, one of our first color programs drew dozens of country music icons to our studios.  Wait until you hear what they were paid. 

New Video

Click through the slideshow below.

Weather Coverage Pioneers

The first tornado warning in the nation was broadcast on WKY-TV. The story behind that historic day in 1954 involves bootlegging, ignoring government rules and the avalanche of mail that poured into the station after the warning aired. 

Harry Volkman, who broadcast the warning, talks about that fateful day and how it was the beginning of a television weather department that was the first one of its kind in the country.

New Video

Click through this slideshow and the one below the next video.

New Video
Local TV News

Channel 4 was an early leader in television news coverage. In the beginning, WKY radio reporters did double-duty as the television  news department evolved. 

Within a short time, reporters began shooting 16 mm news film that would chronicle life in the ‘50’s, Oklahoma City’s civil rights journey and events that would shape the state’s future. 

That news film is now archived at the Oklahoma History Center.  Click on the video below to see a sampling of the collection.

New Video
New Video
New Video
New Video
New Video

Click through the slideshow below.

Sports

The timing was perfect.  As WKY-TV was expanding its capabilities, OU Coach Bud Wilkinson was leading the Sooners to three national championships (1950, 1955, and 1957).

New Video

The unique combination of an innovative television station coupled with a camera-friendly coach led to the “The Bud Wilkinson Show” ---the first college football show in the nation.  Coach Wilkinson patiently educated fans by using small figurines to demonstrate the plays that led to his record win of 47 straight games.

“The Bud Wilkinson Show” would eventually air in 45 different cities.

WKY-TV’s sports coverage also included professional wrestling hosted by Danny Williams.  Fans would travel from across the state to be part of the raucous audience that was warned to “Watch out for flying chairs.”

Of the many faces of Channel 4 sports, Bob Barry was responsible for leading the sports department for several decades.  He joined the sports department after pairing up with legendary newsman Jack Ogle to broadcast OU football on the radio.  

New Video

Click through the slideshow below.

Remembering Old Friends

Throughout our 65 years of television history, our studios have served as home for many of people that Oklahomans have come to know as friends.  

New Video

Click through the slideshow below.

The News Leader

NewsChannel 4 continues to lead the way in television news coverage. The days of using 16 millimeter film have given way to digital cameras and technology that permit us to give you news on-demand, 24 hours a day.

What hasn't changed are our people.  

Channel Four's news staff have inherited that same sense of pioneering excellence that made WKY a legendary news station. Yet, at the same time, our coverage still reflects the time-tested values that draw people to our channel and web site: compassion, accuracy and a sense of responsibility to those we serve.

NewsChannel Four's Linda Cavanaugh and Kevin Ogle have been at the anchor desk as history challenged our state time and time again.   From the Oklahoma City bombing to the recent Moore tornado, their familiar faces have been part of KFOR's coverage for decades.   

And, speaking of familiar, there's been a Barry sitting in the sports anchor chair for almost fifty years now. Bob Barry, Sr. begane his career at Channel 4 in 1966. When he retired in 2008, Bob Barry, Jr. continued the tradition of excellence. Between the two of them, they've brought home "Oklahoma Sportscaster of the Year" honors 21 times. (Bob, Sr. set the record with 15 of the plaques.) 

And join us as we salute the men and women who laid the groundwork for our news department. These archival photos of those who preceded us are a sampling of the faces who make up the history of NewsChannel Four.

To meet the rest of our current staff, click here. 

News Leader

4Warn Storm Team

Much has changed in the decades since Channel 4 broadcast the first tornado warning in television history.

But on May 20, 2013, when an EF5 tornado carved its way through Moore, viewers knew to turn to the station they have come to trust.  Meteorologist Mike Morgan and crew were the most watched storm trackers as they followed the twister with live, street-by-street pinpoint accuracy.

In fact, over 85% of Moore residents were getting their tornado warnings from live, local television and live-streaming weather apps.

KFOR-TV is the only station in the metro to have two live Doppler radars at its disposal.  The Four Warn Storm Team leads the way in providing critical information when storms threaten the Sooner state. 

Mike Morgan, Emily Sutton and Aaron Brackett are joined by Reed Timmer,the most widely known storm tracker in the world.

Click through the slideshow below

4Warn Storm Team

65 Years

Dominator4

Dominator4

Oklahoma Strong 

Oklahoma Strong

To see more historical footage

To view archived footage from the WKY-TV KTVY KFOR archives click here.

To hear former employees talk about working for this legacy station click here.