KBJR-TV is the NBC-affiliated television station for Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin that is licensed to Superior, Wisconsin. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 19 from a transmitter west of Downtown Duluth in Hilltop Park. Owned by the Granite Broadcasting Corporation, the station operates CBS affiliate KDLH (owned by the Malara Broadcast Group) through alocal marketing agreement (a.k.a. LMA). The two share studios on South Lake Avenue in Duluth. Syndicated programing on KBJR includes:Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Family Feud and Dr. Phil.
|KBJR: Superior, Wisconsin/Duluth, Minnesot
KRII: Chisholm, Minnesota
|Branding||KBJR 6 & Range 11 (general)
KBJR 6 & Range 11 News My 9 (on DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 19 (UHF)|
|First air date||March 1, 1954 (KBJR)
December 18, 2002 (KRII)
|Call letters' meaning||KBJR: Keeping Business,Jobs, and Recreation in Duluth
KRII: Range II (11)
|Former callsigns||WDSM-TV (1954-1974)|
|Former channel number(s)||6 (VHF analog, 1954-2009)|
|Former affiliations||CBS (1954-1955)|
|Transmitter power||KBJR: 384 kW
KRII: 63 kW
|Height||KBJR: 311.9 m
KRII: 200.4 m
|Facility ID||33658 (KBJR), 82698 (KRII)|
|Transmitter coordinates||KBJR: 46°47′21.1″N92°6′51.4″W
KRII (Range 11), ATSC channel 11 in Chisholm/Hibbing operates as a semi-satellite and has a bureau on East Howard Street in Hibbing. KRII serves the northern portion of the market, including the Iron Range area, Grand Rapids and International Falls. Although it identifies as a station in its own right, it is considered a semi-satellite of sister station KBJR in Duluth. This station simulcasts KBJR except during commercials and station identifications. Master control and internal operations of KRII are based at KBJR's facilities on on South Lake Avenue in Duluth. It also acts as a full-power translator station of all of the various channels and subchannels of KBJR and KDLH. In terms of coverage, KRII serves the northern portion of the Duluth market while KBJR serves the southern.
It operates the area's MyNetworkTV station on a second digital subchannel of KBJR. Known on-air as My 9, it is offered on Charter channel 9 (hence the branding). This can also be seen on KRII's ninth digital subchannel from a transmitter in Meadow Brook. Syndicated programing on KBJR-DT2 includes: Family Guy, My Name Is Earl, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
Its signal is multiplexed.
|6.1||main KBJR programming / NBC HD|
|6.2||KBJR-DT2 "My 9"|
|6.4||KBJR-DT4 "Weather Now" (The Local AccuWeather Channel)|
|11.1||main KRII programming / NBC HD|
|11.2||KDLH-DT2 "Northland CW 2" (The CW)|
|11.4||KBJR-DT4 "Weather Now" (The Local AccuWeather Channel)|
|11.9||KBJR-DT2 "My 9" (MyNetworkTV)|
In addition to the main signal, KBJR/KRII can be seen on several outlying repeaters.
|Call sign||Channel||City of license||Licensee||Transmitter location||Displacement application channel|
|K57BK-D||57||Northome||Koochiching County||south of Orth||18|
|K60BO-D||60||Big Falls||Koochiching County||center of city||27|
|K60BT-D||60||Birchdale||Koochiching County||southwest of Lowman||42|
|K63DV||63||Orr||Orr Area Minneonto II||south of city along U.S. 53||28|
|K67EH||67||Kabetogama||Koochiching County||between Koochiching County line and U.S. 53 in St Louis County||34|
|K69CR-D||69||Bigfork /Marcell||EZ-TV, Inc.||south of Bigfork along MN 38||23|
The station began on March 1, 1954 known as WDSM-TV and was affiliated with CBS. It was owned by Ridder Newspapers, owner of the Duluth Herald (now part of the Duluth News Tribune), along with WDSM-AM 710. WDSM was the first VHF television station in Duluth, signing-on days before KDAL-TV (now KDLH). In October 1955, the station switched affiliations with KDAL and became an NBC affiliate. It began local color broadcasts in November 1965. It also aired some ABC programs, sharing them with KDAL, until WDIO-TV signed-on in 1966. Ridder merged with Knight Newspapers in 1974 to form Knight Ridder. However, the merged company was not allowed to keep the WDSM stations. It was grandfathered under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules forbidding common ownership of newspapers and broadcasting outlets. The FCC considered the Knight-Ridder merger to be an ownership change, and as a result, the WDSM stations lost their grandfathered protection. On December 6, the call letters were changed to the current "KBJR-TV". Channel 6 is one of the few stations in the country whose call sign begins with "K" despite being licensed to a city east of the Mississippi River. However, its studios have long been located in Duluth.
Current owner Granite acquired KBJR from what was then RJR Communications at the end of October 1988 making it one of the company's earliest acquisitions. In March 2005, the Malara Broadcast Group purchased KDLH from New Vision Television and outsourced most of that station's functions to KBJR.
Under this agreement, KDLH laid off most of its staff, and KBJR began to handle nearly all of channel 3's operations. Filings with the FCC showed Malara could operate KDLH with as few as two people on the payroll.
On January 24, 2006, The WB and UPN announced that they would cease broadcasting and merge. The new combined network would be called The CW. The letters would represent the first initial of its corporate parents, CBS (the parent company of UPN) and the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner. On February 22, News Corporation announced that it would start up another new broadcast television network called MyNetworkTV. This new network, which would be sister to Fox, would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication divisionTwentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created to give UPN and WB stations, not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates, another option besides becoming independent. It was also created to compete with that network. KDLH operated the area's cable-only WB affiliate, "KWBD", which was part of The WB 100+. Area access to UPN was offered in two ways. KBJR operated an affiliate known on-air as "Northland's UPN" and later "UPN 9" (based on its Charter channel location) on its second digital subchannel. This was also available over-the-air inAshland, Wisconsin on WAST-LP which was an over-the-air, low-powered semi-satellite of the digital subchannel. WAST was owned by a separate entity from KBJR.
At some point in time, it was announced that KDLH would carry The CW on a new second digital subchannel as part of The CW Plus which would be simulcasted on "KWBD". That service would be a similar operation to The WB 100+. It was later announced that "UPN 9" would become an independent station known as "Northland's 9" complete with new logo and graphics. In March 2006, it was made public that KBJR-DT2 would become an affiliate of MyNetworkTV. In July ahead of the launch of the network, "Northland 9" became known as "My 9" while WAST was shut down in August. MyNetworkTV began broadcasting on September 5 while "KWBD" began broadcasting The CW on September 18. On that date, that station officially started using the KDLH-DT2 call sign.
KBJR, along with WDIO and KQDS-TV, terminated analog broadcasts on February 17, 2009—the date originally mandated by the FCC to switch to digital. KDLH waited until the new date of June 12 to become digital exclusive. On April 5, 2010, KBJR and KRII re-branded their look introducing new graphics and a new logo combining the branding with "Range 11". The stations also reverted back to their pre-NewsCenter slogan, "In Touch". The stylized 6 was phased out after twenty years.
In July 2010, Hubbard Broadcasting, which owns competing operation WDIO/WIRT, filed a brief with the FCC asking for clarification and action on the KBJR/KDLH 'virtual duopoly', along with another operation in Rochester, arguing the arrangement violates the spirit of the law which in all but action outlaws duopoly operations in small markets, and alleging that the KBJR/KDLH shared services agreement violates FCC rules.
KRII signed-on for the first time on December 18, 2002 as a semi-satellite of KBJR. It was originally licensed to International Falls but was changed to Chisholm, which is closer to Duluth, before signing-on. It was granted an original construction permit after the Federal Communications Commission finalized the DTV allotment plan on April 21, 1997. As a result, it did not receive a companion channel for a digital television station. Instead on January 6, 2009 over a month before the end of the digital television conversion period for full-service stations, KRII turned-off its analog signal and turned on its digital signal (an action called a "flash-cut"). After shutting-off analog broadcasts to switch over to digital television, KRII began multi-casting programming on digital subchannels. Its bureau is home to a reporter who contributes Iron Range coverage (identified as "Range 11") to the KBJR and KDLH news broadcasts.
1997 studio fire
On December 14, 1997, KBJR's studios were destroyed in a fire late that evening. It left the air temporarily but managed to get back on-the-air the next morning cobbling together a makeshift workspace at its transmitter building. Two days later, the news operation moved in with PBS affiliate WDSE and sales and business operations moved to open office space at the U.S. Bank building in Downtown Duluth while master control remained at the transmitter. In June 1999, it relocated to its current location in Canal Park.
Winter transmitter and production difficulties
In April 1999, a spring ice storm swept through Duluth. The heavy accumulation of ice severely damaged KBJR's transmitting tower and, as the melting ice started falling off the tower, large ice chunks broke through the roof of the transmitter building flooding it with water and damaging much of the equipment inside. Master control operations were moved again using a temporary transmitter on WDIO's tower while KBJR's own tower and transmitter were replaced.
On April 11, 2008, a blizzard swept through the area. Winds over 50 miles per hour, and heavy, wet snow caused power outages in Duluth which caused KBJR, KDLH, and WDIO to lose their signals at times. Weekday morning anchor Dan Hanger was on the air live from 5 until 9. At times, he and meteorologist Shannon Murphy were in the dark but were able to broadcast audio. By late morning when KBJR returned to the air, Barbara Reyelts and George Kessler anchored nonstop using a newsroom setup with one microphone and one camera. By Noon, KDLH anchor Pat Kelly was reporting from outside the studios. Also, any phone interviews were done through a cell phone by holding a microphone up to the speaker of the cell phone.
Christmas City of the North Parade
Each November on the Friday before Thanksgiving, Northland's NewsCenter puts on a parade in downtown Duluth called the "Christmas City of the North Parade". It is broadcast live on KBJR and streamed live on its website. In recent years, the parade also has been replayed numerous times on the networks of Northland's NewsCenter in the weeks and days beforeChristmas. According to this station, the parade dates back to 1958 when KBJR (then WDSM) started the event as a way to kick off the holiday shopping season in the area. However, it does not seem to have any evidence to corroborate that starting date. Articles and the station's own ads in the Duluth News Tribune over the years indicate that 1961 was the actual date of the first parade.
It has been held every year since except in 1963 when the event was canceled following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the early 1960s, the station commissionedMerv Griffin to produce a song especially for the parade. The "Christmas City Song" has been used for the parade every year and also has been the closing music for all Northland's NewsCenter newscasts from Thanksgiving until Christmas. In 2006, Barbara Reyelts, Mark Mallory, Michelle Lee, and Pat Kelly anchored the parade. 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of the parade. It was hosted by Michelle Lee, George Kessler, and Barbara Reyelts. The pacer car was driven by Shannon Murphy, Dave Anderson, and Kevin Jacobsen.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, KBJR was in third place behind competitors WDIO and KDLH. That all changed beginning in the late-1980s when the anchor team of Steve Karsjen, Patti Craig, Brian Allen, and Paul Guggenheim successfully led KBJR to its first dramatic ratings gains in decades. By 1990, they had elevated the 6 p.m. broadcast to first place. The same team led the 10 o'clock show to second place in its time slot. In the early-1990s, KDLH made the fateful decision to fire longtime anchor Michelle Lee in hopes of attracting a younger audience. KBJR quickly signed Lee, and by the next ratings cycle, had surpassed KDLH in the ratings. Now firmly in second place for the first time in decades, KBJR slowly built its audience during the 1990s to a point where the station seriously challenged long-dominant WDIO for first place. They continue to compete against each other and whoever is currently number one during specific newscasts usually fluctuates. However, both stations can frequently claim bragging rights for their weeknight newscasts (one station might have the most total viewers while the other has the highest number of 18-49 viewers which is the age group most attractive to advertisers).
While it was widely believed that the KDLH merger would drive viewers to WDIO, the change has not proved extraordinarily beneficial to either KBJR or WDIO. The weeknight 5:30 o'clock newscast on KDLH attracts similar numbers to its pre-merger news at 6. In the May 2007 ratings race, KBJR was beat out by WDIO in all time slots except weeknights at 5 where it was first. KBJR's 9 p.m. newscast on "My 9" took second to Fox affiliate KQDS. In July 2009, KBJR fell even farther into second place behind market leader WDIO whose 10 p.m. show garnered about 7,000 more viewers than KBJR who had about 10,400 viewers. Meanwhile, KQDS' 9 o'clock show had about 8,650 viewers. KBJR's weekend news only got about half the viewers of WDIO.
In November 2009, KBJR fell even further behind market leader WDIO at 10:00 receiving only a 6 share compared to WDIO's 12. KQDS at 9pm drew a 5 share, even beating KBJR in a key demo. KBJR also fell at 5:00 and 6:00 with a 10 share in both time slots compared to WDIO's 11 and 14 respectively. KDLH got a 3 rating at both 5:30 and 10:00. KBJR's disappointing 10:00 rating can be partially to blame by a weak lead-in from The Jay Leno Show.  This ratings period marks 1 year that WDIO has had a dominant lead in the market over KBJR.
While operating its own news department, KDLH was the last of the big three stations in Duluth to have a weeknight 5 o'clock broadcast. It aired Judge Judy in the time slot instead. In 2004, it debuted a 5 p.m. show that featured anchor Amy Rutledge and meteorologist Phil Johnson. This was replaced along with its 6 o'clock show with the current one at 5:30 when KDLH merged with KBJR in March 2005. Judge Judy has since reclaimed the 5 o'clock spot on that channel and the CBS Evening News airs at 6. After the KDLH buyout, that station had its news department closed and merged with KBJR. To maintain a separate identity, there were some personalities on this channel that were also seen on KDLH. However, due to KBJR's existing newscasts not all of this station's personnel were seen on that station. More recently, the news teams of both stations have been downsized.
Currently, KDLH's weekday morning show is known as KDLH 3 Morning Plus and is essentially a simulcast of the second hour of KBJR's morning show, KBJR 6 and Range 11 News Today. Originally, KDLH had aired a separate ninety minute broadcast before being dropped in favor of a ninety minute simulcast of KBJR. KDLH's Northland's NewsCenter at 5:30 had been anchored by Pat Kelly who was the only news team member remaining after the KDLH sellout. Its weeknight 10 o'clock newscast, which continues to be a separate production, was known as Northland's NewsCenter Express and consisted of a ten minute news "capsule". The other 25 minutes was a Seinfeld rerun. After thirteen months of mediocre ratings, KDLH changed its 10 o'clock show to the traditional 35 minutes and re-branded it to Northland's NewsCenter Tonight. On Sunday nights at 10, there continues to be a ten minuteNorthland's NewsCenter Express update followed by a Judge Judy rerun. Otherwise, there are no weekend newscasts on KDLH. Saturday nights at 10, there is a local sports highlight show that airs on that channel known as Sports Zone.
As part of its schedule, KBJR-DT2 "My 9" offers several newscasts. This includes a simulcast of the first hour of the weekday morning show and a re-airing of the second hour at 7. There is a simulcast of KBJR's Noon and weeknight 5 o'clock broadcasts. Weeknights at 9, the channel airs a live newscast (known as Northland's NewsCenter Tonight at 9) that had been simulcasted on KDLH-DT2 "Northland CW 2" but was dropped. This competes with Fox affiliate KQDS. Finally, KBJR-DT2 re-airs the main channel's 10 o'clock show early the next morning.
Until its shut down in late-December 2008, KBJR offered NBC Weather Plus with local inserts on a third digital subchannel and Charter digital channel 391. When the national service ended, KBJR-DT3 became part of NBC Plus which featured a computer-updated loop of regional satellite/radar images, current weather conditions and temperatures, and daily forecasts. A new forth digital subchannel was created featuring news and weather updated and the "L-Bar" that is a remnant of the former NBC Weather Plus service. This was known on-air as "Northand's NewsCenter Now" and can also be seen on KRII's forth digital subchannel. KBJR-DT3 eventually became vacant. KBJR-DT4 and KRII-DT4 has since become part of The Local AccuWeather Channel known as "Weather Now".
KBJR, KRII, and KDLH began broadcasting their local newscasts in 16x9 widescreen on May 4, 2009. They were the first television stations in the market to do so. Although not true high definition, the format matches the ratio of HD television screens. As of November, KDLH began to brand its separate weeknight shows as KDLH 3 News which air from a secondary set. That station continues to use the Northland's NewsCenter branding when simulcasting KBJR's newscasts. On January 11, 2010, KDLH starting airing the area's only weeknight 6:30 o'clock newscast.
- News Picture/News Final (1950s)
- NewsCenter Six (1970s)
- Channel 6 News
- Metro News 6
- News 6 (1980s–2006)
- Northland's NewsCenter (2006–2010)
- KBJR 6 and Range 11 News (2010–2016)
- KBJR 6 (2016-present)
- "KBJR-TV 6, The Station Of The Twin Ports Area" (1976-1978)
- "TV-6, Proud As A Peacock!" (1979-1981; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- "TV-6, Let's All Be There!" (1984–1986; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- "Come Home to the Best, Only on Channel 6" (1988–1990; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- "Channel 6, The Place to Be!" (1990–1992; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- "Your News Channel" (1991–1999)
- "In Touch" (1999–2008 and 2010–present)
- "We Give You More" (2006–2009)
- Courtney Godfrey- weekday mornings and multimedia journalist
- Michelle Lee - weeknights and "Heart Healthy" segment producer
- Kevin Jacobsen- weeknights at 10pm
- Barbara Reyelts - News Manager seen weekdays at noon and investigative reporter
- TBD- weekends and multimedia journalist
Weather Now Meteorologists
- Adam Clark - Chief seen weeknights
- Jeff Edmondson - weekday mornings and Noon; also "Your Green Life" segment producer and multimedia journalist
- Dave Anderson - weekends and multimedia journalist
Sports (both seen on Sports Zone)
- Tom Hansen - Director seen weeknights at 6, 9, and 10 p.m.; also "Athlete of the Week" segment producer
- Zach Schneider - weekends and multimedia journalist
- Elayne Crecelius - Range 11 reporter
- Trevor Roy
- Zach Schneider
- Matt Standal
- Jena Pike
Notable former staff
- Karl Spring - weather
- Dan Hanger - Newscenter Today anchor/reporter (Now at GapWest Broadcasting)
- Edward Moody - mornings (2002–07) now at WHAM-TV
- Matt Smith (now at WBAY-TV)
- Mark Mallory - 5,6 & 10 p.m. (1998–2007)
- Kellie LaVoie - reporter (now at WFFF Burlington, Vermont)
- Jason Kuss - sports
- Rachel Slavik (now at WVLA-TV Baton Rouge)
- Todd Nelson - morning weather (now at WeatherNation LLC)
- Shannon Murphy - weather and a weekly segment called "Your Green Life"
- Erin Jordan - mornings (March-April 2004)
- Dave Jensch - anchor until late 1990s. Now Vice President and Station Manager.
- Paul Heggen - weather (now at KOKI-TV in Tulsa)
- Sven Sundgaard - weather (now at KARE-TV in St. Paul/Minneapolis)
- George Kessler - weather (left in 2002, Returned to KBJR in 2007.)
- John Schottenbauer - weekend sports (January 1997 - December 1999)
- Rob Stafford - later correspondent for Dateline NBC and now at WMAQ-TV
- Adam Ghassemi- reporter, now at KATU in Portland
- Jane Skinner - political correspondent, now at Fox News Channel
- Kim Kaiser- mornings/reporter
- Keith Marler- morning weather. Now morning weather at KMSP-TV in minneapolis.
- Chris Buckley - based at KRII and seen weeknights at 6 and 10
- Alex Walker - seekend sports
- Jason Rice - morning news
- Joel Runck
- Eric Green - morning weather
- Stacy Eckes - weekends
- Jason Pool - morning weather
- Molly McMillen - mornings and noon
- Toni Shockley - weather
- Jodi Grayson - mornings
- Rachael Burich - reporter
- Steve Karsjen - anchor
- Patti Craig - anchor
- Adam May, now at WJZ Baltimore
- Jack Mckenna - weather
- Carol Hall - weather
- Mike Woodley - sports
- Jim Rich- sports (now at KMSP)
- Paul Guggenheimer - sports
- Leonard Lee - reporter
- Felix Humphrey - weekend weather/news
- Tiffany Tarrolly
- KBJR/KRII website
- KBJR/KRII mobile
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KBJR-TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KRII
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K57BK-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K60BO-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K60BT-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K63DV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K67EH
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K69CR-D