History - KBTX Celebrates 60 Years!


KBTX-TV - Celebrating 60 Years (1957 * 2017)

KBTX-TV began broadcasting in Bryan-College Station on May 22, 1957 from a four-room brick building on East 29th Street. At the time, the street was a dead end, and on the other side was a creek that was known to flood during heavy rains. East 29th street was also a dirt road, and the pastureland that the station was built on was considered a remote location.

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From that day, KBTX was broadcasting at full power on a 400-foot antenna located behind the station. Our studios and business offices are still located at the original location, but things on East 29th Street have changed dramatically. The building has gone through multiple additions, and that small dead-end dirt road has changed into a major corridor for traffic linking Bryan and College Station. Engineering work was done on the creek (now known as Carter Creek), and where there was a dead end now is a bridge connecting Bryan and College Station. Where once our studios stood alone, we now have major retail and business development surrounding us as business neighbors. In our 60-year history, KBTX-TV has remained the Brazos Valley’s television news leader. 

Network Affiliation & The Brand

KBTX-TV has been a CBS affiliate since its debut in 1957. In fact, in the early years, KBTX was a dual CBS and ABC affiliate selecting the best shows from both networks. When we expanded our coverage area, we had to choose between the two networks. In 1984, KBTX became an exclusive CBS affiliate. 

From the very first day the station began broadcasting, the importance of news in the lives of Brazos Valley viewers became clear. The station's commitment and dedication to responsible reporting and community involvement became a core part of our mission statement and continues today. Our long history of reporting fair and accurate local news, weather and sports is echoed today in our slogan: “The People You Know, The News You Trust.” 

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A Leader In Broadcasting for the Brazos Valley

Not only was KBTX the first television station in the Brazos Valley, but KBTX was the first television station capable of color transmission and use of videotape, and was the first television station in the Brazos Valley to use color news film. KBTX was the first to cover live news, sports and weather, as well as community events using remote live trucks with cameras and out-of-studio editing equipment. 

To bring more in-depth coverage of community events, benefits and newsmakers, KBTX developed and produced the first magazine show called “Town Talk”. In addition, the first Doppler radar, the first 24-hour television station, and the first to broadcast digital HDTV are also among the impressive list of firsts in the Brazos Valley from KBTX. 

Knowing how important weather information is to the Brazos Valley, KBTX made a commitment to provide important weather information fast. In 1992, Doppler radar technology came to KBTX, showing viewers where it was raining, wind velocity, and the projected path of severe storms. Since then, the KBTX meteorologists use FastTrack to provide the most accurate weather forecasting in the Brazos Valley.

The KBTX news and creative services teams have also received prestigious awards which include: 

Multiple Lone Star Emmys, Multiple Telly Awards, a 2013 TAPB Overall Excellence in Television Award in addition to multiple TAPB awards, multiple Addy Awards, and the Edward R. Murrow Award in 2013.

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A More Powerful Television Signal

On Thursday, October 14, 1983 at 6 p.m., KBTX turned on its new transmitter to provide clearer reception for a larger portion of the Brazos Valley. Installation of a new antenna and 1,700-foot tower was completed in mid-August in Carlos, TX., about 16 miles southeast of Bryan-College Station. The original date to have the new equipment in operation was September 1, but was delayed because Hurricane Alicia took aim at the upper Texas Coast and the eye moved over the tower on August 18, 1983. Other than delaying start-up, the tower weathered the storm with no problems. The new tower and antenna nearly doubled the coverage area for KBTX, going from approximately 89,000 homes to 179,000 homes. 

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The People, The Programs, The History

Many former employees still call KBTX home because of the memories made here and the friendships that were developed. KBTX is proud to have launched many successful careers in broadcasting.

While today’s technological advancements have made the creation and airing of commercials easy, it was not always the case. In the beginning there was no tape, editing, or post-production. All commercials were done live from the studio. Some of the original advertisers on KBTX were Orrs Supermarket, Conlee Moving Company, and Joe Faulk’s Auto Parts.

Over the last 60 years, many memorable moments have occurred at KBTX and on the air. A youngster playing with a B.B. gun shot our transmitter relay in Calvert, taking the station off the air during our very first televised college football game on New Years Day. Many celebrities and politicians (including Robert F. Kennedy) have been interviewed in our studios. The past also brings sadness when we remember the early morning of November 18, 1999 when Aggie Bonfire collapsed, killing 12. KBTX became a hub for information during those long hours of confusion and disbelief.

The people that were a part of the many events that happened during our 60 years of broadcasting will forever be remembered.

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Community Outreach

From the beginning in 1957, KBTX took the initiative to make a commitment to the community and to public service. It has been an on-going campaign to help charitable organizations, no matter how big or small. From public affairs programs and public service advertising to employees making a commitment of their time, KBTX has made helping others a priority. Many public service campaigns have been developed to raise awareness for issues ranging from health care and culture to diversity and civic issues. Among the many programs and initiatives that KBTX has been a part of over the last 60 years are:

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  • Food For Families Food Drive

  • The Jefferson Awards

  • Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon

  • Habit for Humanity

  • American Cancer Society

  • Brazos Valley African American Museum (African American National Heritage Society)

  • American Heart Association

  • Boys and Girls Club

  • Susan G. Komen Foundation

  • Salvation Army

  • Scotty's House

  • Phoebe's Home

  • Bryan Independent School District (Educational Foundation)

  • College Station Independent School District (Mentor Program)

  • Jr. League of Bryan-College Station

  • M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

  • Boy Scouts of America

  • Hispanic Forum of the Brazos Valley

  • Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial

  • Hospice Brazos Valley

  • Keep Brazos Beautiful

  • CrimeStoppers

  • Brazos Valley Rehabilitation Center

  • Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

  • Children's Miracle Network

  • Lincoln Recreation Center

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The Web - KBTX.com

In 1996, KBTX purchased the web address KBTX.com. With the growth of on-line commerce, information, and entertainment, KBTX.com has become the #1 source for local news, weather and sports in the Brazos Valley. Streaming video content, access to community events and information, interactive content, and station promotions continue to be the driving force of the success of KBTX.com.

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The New Age of Television: High Definition

KBTX is proud to be the first commercial television station in the Brazos Valley to broadcast in High Definition Television (HDTV). KBTX-DT first went on the air on Thursday, August 28, 2003. HDTV is a digital signal sent over the airwaves to be received in your home with a digital television or a digital receiver that will convert the output to be displayed on your current television. This broadcast can be divided into multiple sub-channels, such as 3.1 and 3.2. This is a much clearer and more detailed picture than what you have been accustomed to watching.

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Launch of a New Digital Station

On January 23, 2006, KBTX launched a brand new digital television station in the market. It was known officially as KBTX-DT 50-2. This is broadcast over the air along with our CBS signal from our 1,700 foot tower in Carlos. The network affiliation began as UPN, but only 18 hours after launch, the network announced the folding of UPN and its competitor, The WB. CBS and Warner Brother-Tribune merged the two networks and announced the formation of a brand new network with a new name: the CW Network. After re-applying, KBTX was granted the new affiliation and we officially launched CW-Bryan College Station on September 18, 2006. We have since rebranded it as CW8 Aggieland.

CW8 Aggieland.is programmed locally with classic television until 1 p.m. and a mix of syndicated programming throughout the afternoon and late evening. Prime time programming comes from The CW Network. In its first year, CW8 Aggieland (formerly CW-BCS) acquired the rights to Big 12 Basketball, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers games, and Dallas Mavericks basketball. We also negotiated prime cable channel placement on Suddenlink Cable Channel 8 in Bryan-College Station, as well as other cable channel carriage in Robertson, Madison, and Burleson counties.

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KBTX has only had two owners in its 60 years on the air. Originally, KBTX was owned by Brazos Broadcasting Inc. This corporation was made up of local investors (Frank Seale, Brazos Varisco, John M. Lawrence III, Harry Gillam, W.C. “Scrip” Mitchell, and M.N. “Buddy” Bostick), as well as a group of investors in KWTX Broadcasting from Waco. The founding investor in KWTX and KBTX was M.N. “Buddy” Bostick, who handpicked Harry Gillam to become the first General Manager of KBTX. Before coming to Bryan, Gillam was an advertising sales executive at KWTX-TV in Waco. Gillam remained as General Manager until his death in November 1986.

In 1999, Gray Television purchased KBTX and continues to own and operate this station.

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About Gray Television, Inc.

Gray Television, Inc. (NYSE: GTN and GTN.A) is a television broadcast company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, that owns and operates television stations and leading digital assets in markets throughout the United States. We currently own and/or operate television stations across 51 television markets that collectively broadcast over 180 program streams including 36 channels affiliated with the CBS Network, 27 channels affiliated with the NBC Network, 19 channels affiliated with the ABC Network and 14 channels affiliated with the FOX Network. We own and/or operate the number-one or number-two ranked television station operations in essentially all of our markets, which collectively cover approximately 9.5 percent of total United States television households.