KHSL-TV Channel 12 is a CBS affiliate television station based in Chico, California. Its transmitter is located in Cohasset, California. The station is owned and operated by Catamount Broadcasting of Norwalk, Connecticut, which also operates KNVN channel 24, a NBC affiliate owned by Evans Broadcasting. That transmitter is located in Red Bluff, California, shifting the news and advertising focus to Redding. As a duopoly, both stations telecast Action News andAction News Weekend Report. The station's Redding offices are located in the Mt. Shasta Mall.
|Branding||CBS 12 (general)
Action News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Live, Local, Late Breaking|
|Channels||Digital: 43 (UHF)|
12.2 The CW
|Translators||KHSL-LD 36 Redding|
|Owner||Catamount Broadcast Group, LLC
(Catamount Broadcasting of Chico-Redding, Inc.)
|First air date||August 29, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||Harry Smithson
and Sidney Lewis (founders of KHSL-AM)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
12 (VHF, 1953-2009)
|Former affiliations||All secondary:|
|Transmitter power||235 kW|
For many years, KHSL-TV has been the dominant television station in the Central Valley north of Sacramento. News presenters have referred to the viewing area on air as the "North State." Until recently, the San Francisco Chronicle included KHSL-TV in its television listings. Under certainweather conditions, KHSL's old analog signal could occasionally be received as far south as the eastern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area. For many years, KHSL-TV provided a signal to a large network of translators, but due to satellite and cable TV, only the station translators are still in operation.
KHSL-TV's on-air staff over the years has included television host and producer Moriss Taylor, actor Richard Kiel, voiceover announcer and vocalist Ron Palmer, news reporter Rick Rigsby, news anchors Dean Reeter (the former anchor at Channel 7R in Redding), Bill Windsor, Larry Stuelpnagel, Bill Ihle (later with KFBK Radio, Sacramento) and Angela Astore (later with KSTP-TV Minneapolis-St. Paul and CNN Headline News), meteorologist Anthony Watts and sports directors Ray Narbaitz, Dennis Lehnen and Royal Courtain. Former California state assemblyman Stan Statham also anchored news at KHSL-TV and is currently the president of the California Broadcasters Association.
KHSL-TV signed on in 1953, owned by the McClung family's Golden Empire Broadcasting Company along with KHSL-AM 1290. The call letters are in honor of Harry Smithson and Sidney Lewis, who founded KHSL-AM in 1935 and sold it to the McClungs a year later. Ruth "Mickey" McClung was one of the first women to own a television station.
The McClungs owned the station until 1994, when they sold it to United Communications Corporation. On September 14, 1998, KHSL-TV was purchased by Catamount Broadcasting. It had long been the dominant station until the merger with KNVN, when KRCR became #1 in the ratings.
From its infancy, KHSL-TV was an affiliate of CBS. When KRCR-TV entered the Chico-Redding market as the NBC affiliate, the two stations occasionally cherry-picked ABC programming since no third commercial station yet existed. In the mid-1970s, KRCR-TV switched to ABC. KHSL-TV then picked up some NBC programming - notably The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson - but was forced to air it using an air feed from KRON-TV in San Francisco, necessitating awkward masking of KRONs visual IDs and local commercials. Finally, when KCPM (now KNVN) launched and took the NBC affiliation, the sharing of a third network was no longer necessary in the Chico-Redding market. However, there may have been at least one attempt back in the mid-1960s to bring a third commercial station to the area that would have been an ABC affiliate, but it never materialized and even KCPM did not come without challenges and financial troubles of its own.
One of the station's first newscasts was "Valley Headline News," which in 1959 was broadcast on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday's at 7:00 p.m. W.E. Thomas was the news director.
Merger with KNVN
On August 10, 1998 when KCPM changed its callsign to KNVN, Grapevine Communications sold the station because the station was extremely high in debt and overdue for bankruptcy. To avoid possibly putting KNVN off the air, the nearly bankrupt station signed a shared services agreement with KHSL, eventually leading to the creative yet controversial consolidation of the news departments. The ratings of the newscasts have always lagged far behind KHSL and KRCR, and the takeover resulted in the newscast ratings very slightly going up, while KHSL's ratings slightly declined and then the ratings of both stations plummeted once the newscasts were merged. Today's newscasts have slightly increased ratings with six newscasts per weekday and two per day on the weekends, but both KHSL and KNVN still lag behindKRCR-TV and KCVU in overall ratings, placing 4th and 3rd, respectively.
In February 2000, it merged its news department with that of KHSL because the failing new KNVN was at risk of having all of its newscasts dropped because of low viewership, but it still wanted to have some form of local news on. It didn't want to go back to using Sacramento news because it still wanted a complete form of local news, so it merged with KHSL to form Northern California News, or more commonly known as NCN in December 2001. It dropped NCN in 2005 in favor of "The (hour) News" brand. It finally came up with a more permanent name in September 2006 called "Action News".
When the newscasts were merged, the station made more controversial moves that may have resulted in a failed merger to many viewers. In 2001, longtime sports director Royal Courtain was fired by KHSL-TV owners Catamount Broadcasting, which made local headlines at such newspapers as the Chico Enterprise-Record (E-R), the Chico News and Review and the Redding Record Searchlight. Scores of people came to his defense with letters to the editor to the E-R demanding an explanation and encouraging a boycott by local businesses who advertised on the station. Raymond Johns, owner of Catamount, defended the decision in a letter to the editor "wishing Royal the best" and chastizing the Enterprise-Record calling publishing the story "irresponsible journalism". Courtain fired back with a class-action lawsuit that was believed to have been settled. Still today, viewers believe that the station's longtime loyalty and credibility were forever tarnished the day Royal was fired. Many think of it as the day Northern California News (NCN) started.
An almost-similar move occurred when longtime news anchor Debbie Cobb was "reassigned" by management, yet returned to the anchor desk on the weekends. In addition, the contract with longtime anchor Alan Marsden and 15-year meteorologist Anthony Watts has been disputed, resulting in both of them being fired; only Alan Marsden has returned to the station.
The situation became worse in at least three times since 2005. Those are when the on-air logos became similar, a lawsuit accusing the two stations of "fake news" and the improperly-handled digital transition. KHSL has experienced a greater loss of coverage than any other station in Redding or Chico, including sister station KNVN, because it uses UHF 43 (which does not propagate well into higher terrain) instead of VHF 12 (the transmitter needed to be overhauled and would still cause a greater loss of coverage than UHF 43).
Starting in September 2006, its DT2 subcarrier added programming from The CW Television Network. This coincided with the company's acquisition of KIWB from Bluestone Television in July 2006. It has its own 10:00 newscast titled CW Action News at Ten. It broadcasts on cable channel 10 on both Comcast and Charter systems. It is also available on Dish Network channel 43 and on DirecTV channel 10. It gets most of its programming from The CW Plus, but airs Maury at noon and Dr. Phil at 1pm.
- Newscope 12 (1970s)
- The Big News (1970`s)
- News 12 (1980s)
- Channel 12 News (1985–2003)
- Northern California News (2003–2005)
- KHSL News (2005-2006)
- CBS 12/NBC 24 News (Briefly in 2006)
- Action News (2006–present)
- The Northstate's Finest (1990s?-2001)
- #1 in Northern California (2001–2005)
- Where Local News Comes First (2005–2006)
- Live, Local, Latebreaking (2006–present)
Current on-air staff
- Alan Marsden - weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.
- Debbie Cobb -
- Meaghan Wallace - weekdays mornings from 5-7 a.m.
- Linda Watkins-Bennett - weekdays at noon
- Cecile Juliette - Saturdays at 5 p.m. and weekends at 6 & 11 p.m.
- Marc Blaine -
- Lauren Martinez - weeknights at 10 p.m. (on the CW Ten) & 11 p.m. (on KHSL)
Action News Now Stormtracker
- Kris Kuyper - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.
- Darren Leeds - meteorologist; weekends
- Cort Klopping - meteorologist; weekday mornings and noon
- Lee Carrell - sports director; weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.
- Ross Field - sports anchor
- Hayley Skene
- Sara Stinson
- A.J. Abell
Former anchors & reporters
- Kelli Saam (news anchor) (2005–2010) Contract expired June 2010 , Now at KRCR-TV in Redding
- Jerry Olenyn (news anchor/reporter) (2005–2010) Contract expired June 2010 , Now at KFSN-TV in Fresno
- Owen Clark (reporter) (20??-2010) Left to work in Public Relations 
- Stan Statham (news anchor) (1960s-1970s) Former California state assemblyman, now president of the California Broadcasters Association
- Royal Courtain (news/sports anchor) (1982–2004) Formerly with KRCR-TV; Now with Charter Media in Chico
- Moriss Taylor (host of The Moriss Taylor Show) (1956–1995) Now general sales manager at Deer Creek Broadcasting
- Rick Rigsby (news reporter) (1970s-1985) Now an ordained minister
- Bill Windsor (news anchor) (1960s) later with KNBC-TV, Los Angeles
- Larry Stuelpnagel (news anchor) (1970-80s) son of longtime KHSL-TV programmer Bud Stuelpnagel and now professor at Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University
- Bill Ihle (news anchor) (1970s-80s) later news director KFBK Radio, Sacramento
- Angela Astore (news anchor) (1980s) later news anchor at KSTP-TV, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and CNN Headline News.
- Anthony Watts (chief meteorologist) (1987–2002, 2004) Now at KPAY radio in Chico
- Bruce Lang (news director) (1986–2003) Now at KPAY radio in Chico
- Maureen Naylor (NCN news anchor) (2001–2005) Now at KTVU in Oakland, CA
- Louisa Hodge (NCN "Wake Up!" host (2003–2005) Now at KTXL in Sacramento, CA)
- Matt Keller (NCN news anchor) (2001–2005) Now at KFSN in Fresno, CA
- Dana Howard (Reporter, Now at KXTV 10 in Sacramento, Ca)
- Becky Quinlan (Reporter, Weekend Anchor, 1997–99) Now at Eastwick Communications in Mountain View, CA
- Ray Narbaitz (sports director) (1960s-80s) later chief of staff for Assemblyman Stan Statham and candidate for State Assembly
- Dennis Lehnen (sports director) (1980s) now sports director, KSBW-TV, Salinas-Monterey, CA
- Joe Fonzi (director) (1970s) later sports reporter, KPIX-TV and KTVU-TV, San Francisco-Oakland, CA
- The Moriss Taylor Show (1956–1995; now airs on MyTV Northern California)
- "Sunday Evening" with Bruce Lang (1980s-1998)
- KNVN's Your Show Live with Shaye Leeper and Dave Tappan (2002–2004)
|12.2||The CW 10|
|xx.1 / 12.1||KHSL SD|
|xx.2 / 24.1||KNVN SD|
|xx.3 / 12.2||The CW 10|
|xx.4 / 24.2||The AccuWeather Channel|
KHSL became digital-only on December 22, 2008. KHSL shut down its analog signal on January 1, 2009, continuing on its pre-transition channel number, 43. Receivers will also still display the signal as channel 12 through the use of PSIP.
KHSL replaced normal programming with digital TV information on analog channel 12, and eventually turned it off on January 1. KHSL's new 235 kW, 500-foot-tall (150 m) digital tower is up and running and has been for the past four months, but will double its power to nearly 500 kW on February 17, 2009.
Loss in OTA coverage
According to the engineering department, KHSL chose not to return to VHF Channel 12, as digital transmission has much poorer results than UHF Channels, but there was still a substantial loss in over-the-air (OTA) coverage. There has been lots of criticism because a VHF signal better covers the terrain of the rural, mountainous viewing area in communities and could have actually gained coverage if the digital transmitter used the analog tower. However, results by most stations in the U.S. show a loss of coverage with a VHF signal, but the Chico/Redding area is unique in the fact that the valley is suited better for UHF (VHF is notorious for impulse noise) while the foothills and mountains are better suited for VHF (UHF does not travel the natural curve of the Earth well), but KHSL had to take a loss of approximately 50,000 potential viewers since it cannot satisfy both types of terrain at the same time, less than it would have on VHF 12 but still much worse than the other stations in the area which saw little or no loss in coverage . However, it still covers 537,000 people which is still second to KCVU, which now covers 550,000 people; and pulls ahead of KRCR, KIXE, and KNVN, which better cover the core Chico/Redding area but only cover 400,000 people each. Many rural cable systems use Dish Network to feed their systems now since they have now lost OTA coverage. Viewers in northern areas of Sacramento can now occasionally receive a clear KHSL signal, when before they could only get a snowy image at best. To make up with the reception problem in Redding, KHSL has launched a digital fill-in translator from South Fork Mountain on channel 36.
As of March 20, 2007, the Newscasts on KHSL & KNVN are not broadcast in High Definition. On April 19, 2007, both stations began adding high definition (with their respective digital channel number) on their personality promos that they air on TV, signaling that HD will be coming. According to the GM of the station, KHSL/KNVN planned on broadcasting their newscasts in HD on or shortly after January 1, 2009.
As of August 19, 2008 the news was still not broadcast in high definition because of the cost and difficulty of new HD equipment . According to Dave Sien, the chief engineer, the stations are currently working on buying new equipment, signaling that HD newcasts were in the near future. However, the equipment is one year overdue and may be delayed even further because of the current economic crisis. Despite financial difficulties, it is more than likely that both stations will broadcast local news in high definition in the near future if KHSL and KNVN still remain as one news department, but in recent years that is becoming more of a pipe dream.
As of Summer 2009, station management states that local syndicated programs will be airing in HD within the upcoming year. They already broadcast network programs in HD because their affiliated stations (CBS & NBC) both abandoned standard definition, analog delivery of network content. As of 2011, only KNVN is broadcasting some syndicated programs in HD and none of their news is broadcast in HD.