KETC, virtual channel 9 (UHF digital channel 39), is a PBS member television station located in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. The station is owned by St. Louis Regional Public Media. KETC maintains studio facilities located at the Dana Brown Communications Center on Olive Street in St. Louis' Grand Center neighborhood, and its transmitter is located in Fenton.
The station first signed on the air on September 20, 1954, the call letters KETC represent the St. Louis Educational Television Comission, the former name of the organization responsible for bringing public television to St. Louis. It was the first community-licensed educational television station in the United States. The station's first general manager was Shelby Storck, who also emceed the station's first evening of broadcasting. KETC originally broadcast from the Baer Memorial Building on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, the first facility specifically built for an educational television station. In 1998, it moved to the Dana Brown Communications Center in the Grand Center district.
During the 2004 elections, KETC partnered with area NBC affiliate KSDK (channel 5), to provide St. Louisans with comprehensive and up-to-date local and national election results. This partnership was first utilized to simulcast a gubernatorial debate between Republican candidate, Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt and Democratic candidate, State Auditor Claire McCaskill. On election night (November 9), KSDK aired NBC's primetime election coverage with Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert as well as segments of local results. KETC, meanwhile, ran three hours of local election results hosted by KSDK anchors Mike Bush and Karen Foss. Viewers could also watch election results online on the websites of both stations.
The successful KETC/KSDK partnership was used again in September 2005 when, along with radio partners KYKY (98.1 FM) and KEZK (102.5 FM), a telethon for Hurricane Katrina relief was simulcast that raised more than $5 million. The telethon featured an appearance by Affton native John Goodman, who now calls New Orleans home and whose family went missing for a time during the storm's peak. Kennett native Sheryl Crow and her then-fiancé Lance Armstrong urged viewers to call when they were interviewed by phone from the region.
In May 2008, E! contracted with KETC to film two episodes of the cable network's weekly pop culture series The Soup at the KETC studios to accommodate host Joel McHale's filming of The Informant! in the St. Louis area. After being known for most of its history as "KETC 9," the station rebranded itself as "The Nine Network" in 2010. On October 13, 2010, the station partnered with the St. Louis Beacon, an online-only, non-profit news publication, to form the Public Insight Network, a citizen journalism initiative created in conjunction with American Public Media.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|9.1||720p||16:9||KETC HD||Main KETC programming / Nine PBS|
KETC shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 39. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 9.
KETC has been controversial among viewers in St. Louis for preempting a large number of PBS programs to air library program content or less controversial programs, such as WQED-produced doo-wop specials, on a regular basis, preferring to air the network shows at late hours. However, KETC has been known to cave in to pressure regarding this: when St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Eric Mink wrote an editorial complaining about the station's scheduling of a Stars on Ice show instead of a PBS documentary on the September 11 attacks, KETC announced the next day that it would instead air the scheduled network program.
Some of the programs produced by KETC for national distribution include Inside/Out and The Letter People, an instructional program about reading, which was seen on many PBS and educational television stations in the mid-1970s; A Time for Champions, an hour-long documentary chronicling the St. Louis University soccer dynasty of the 1960s and 1970s; and Homeland, a limited series examining the topic of immigration in the United States.