Griffin Communications

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Griffin Communications, LLC
Formerly
Oklahoma Television Corporation/KATV Inc./Tulsa Broadcasting Company (1951–1961)
KATV Inc. (1963–1964)
Griffin–Leake TV, Inc. (1964–1968)
Griffin Television (1968–2000)
Private
Limited Liability Company
Founded September 5, 1951; 67 years ago (1951-09-05) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Founder John Toole Griffin
James C. "Jimmy" Leake
Headquarters
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
,
United States
Area served
Oklahoma
Key people
David F. Griffin
(President/CEO)
Rob Krier
(co-Vice President/COO)
Ted Strickland (co-VP/CFO)
Steve Foerster (co-VP/CIO)
Kevin Fullbright (VP, New Media)
Products Broadcasting
Digital media
Owner David F. Griffin
Kirsten Griffin
John W. Griffin
Ashley Griffin
Parent Griffin Food Company
Subsidiaries KWTV-DT
KOTV-DT
News 9 Now / News on 6 Now (formerly, News Now 53 (co-owned by Cox Communications Oklahoma))
KQCW-DT
KSBI-DT
9 Outdoor
6 Outdoor
Radio Oklahoma Network
Griffin Tower Company
Griffin New Media
Griffin Digital Solutions
Website griffincommunications.net

Griffin Communications is a media company based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The company began as a subsidiary of successful Muskogee-based Griffin Foods, which features a popular line of pancake and waffle syrups and other foods.

It owns Oklahoma's two large CBS affiliates, KWTV-DT in Oklahoma City and KOTV-DT in Tulsa, and duopoly partners in each of those markets, MyNetworkTV outlet KSBI-TV in Oklahoma City and The CW outlet KQCW-DT in Tulsa. It also owns five radio stations in Tulsa.

History

Early history

John Toole "J.T." Griffin – owner and president of the Griffin Grocery Company, a Muskogee-based wholesaler and manufacturer of condiments and baking products that he inherited from his father, John Taylor Griffin, after the elder company co-founder died in 1944 – entered the communications industry in October 1938, when he purchased local radio station KOMA (1520 AM, now KOKC) from Hearst Radio for $315,000. Griffin would eventually become interested in television broadcasting around 1950, after noticing during one of his commutes that many homes in the Oklahoma City area had installed outdoor antennas to receive the signal of primary NBC affiliate WKY-TV (channel 4, now KFOR-TV), the first television station ever to sign on in Oklahoma, which began operation on June 6, 1949.[1] John decided to extend the family business deeper into broadcasting, gathering together several additional backers – including his brother-in-law, James C. "Jimmy" Leake – to finance the development of and apply for licenses to operate television stations in Oklahoma City, Muskogee and Little Rock, Arkansas.

On September 5, 1951, the Oklahoma Television Corporation—a consortium led by Griffin (who, along with sister Marjory Griffin Leake and brother-in-law James C. Leake, became the company's majority owners in July 1952, with a collective 92.7% controlling interest) and investors that included former Oklahoma Governor Roy J. Turner, company executive vice president Edgar T. Bell (who would later serve as channel 9's first general manager), and Video Independent Theatres president Henry Griffing (who acted as a trustee on behalf of the regional movie theater operator)—filed an application for a construction permit to build and license to operate a television station on VHF channel 9. On June 27, 1952, KOMA Inc., a licensee corporation of KOMA radio that was largely owned by Griffin and the Leakes, filed a separate application.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] The Oklahoma Television Corporation was eventually granted the license on July 22, 1953, after the company struck an agreement with KOMA Inc. days before to merge their bids, in exchange for KOMA purchasing 50% of the shares in the former that were owned by Oklahoma Television's original principal investors. (Under FCC procedure, the Commission's Broadcast Bureau board decided on license proposals filed by "survivor" applicants at the next scheduled meeting following the withdrawal of a competing bid.) Instead of using the KOMA calls assigned to the radio station, the Griffin group chose instead to request KWTV (for "World's Tallest Video") as the television station's call letters, in reference to the transmission tower being constructed behind its studio facility (which was also under construction at the time) on a plot of land on Northeast 74th Street and North Kelley Avenue that KOMA had purchased in 1950, with the intention of developing it for a television broadcast facility. (KOMA would vacate its facilities at the now-demolished Biltmore Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City once the Kelley Avenue building was completed.)[9][10][11]

On December 15, 1953 (five days before KWTV's sign-on), the Griffin-Leake partnership launched their first television station, ABC affiliate KATV in Little Rock.[12][13][14] On December 20, 1953, KWTV signed on channel 9 as a CBS affiliate, named for its tall transmitter tower (which did not actually go into use until 1954). Griffin also owned two other television stations in partnership with Leake. The first of these was KATV in Little Rock, which came to air the day before KWTV in 1953. the group would later On September 18, 1954, the company signed on its third television station, ABC affiliate KTVX in Muskogee. Within five years of its sign-on, KTVX began to relocate its city of license and operations to Tulsa; after the move to Lookout Mountain was completed, Griffin–Leake's Tulsa station changed its call letters to KTUL, after its co-owned radio station. In 1956, the two sold their radio assets.

Sole ownership by the Griffin family

In November 1963, the Griffin-Leake interests purchased Turner and Dulaney's 25% interests in KWTV for $200,000 and title rights to the equipment used by KWTV, KTUL and KATV. Turner and Dulaney would then sell the equipment, valued at $2.3 million, to First National Bank of Oklahoma City executives C.A. Voss and James Kite for $3 million. Griffin-Leake's Oklahoma stations would then be folded into KATV parent licensee KATV Inc. (subsequently rechristened as Griffin-Leake TV), which would enter into a ten-year, $4.5 million (or $37,500 per month) agreement with Voss and Kite to lease the equipment. Griffin and the Leakes would own approximately all of the common voting stock and collectively own 84% of nonvoting common shares in KATV Inc. post-merger, with 10% of the remaining nonvoting interest held by Edgar Bell (who would remain KWTV's executive vice president and general manager).[15][16][17]

In April 1969, Griffin-Leake TV announced that it would split into two separate companies. Griffin retained ownership of KWTV under the rechristened Griffin Television Inc. (which was renamed Griffin Communications in 2000), while Leake retained ownership of KATV, KTUL, Ponca City-based cable television operator Cable TV Co. and a controlling 80% interest in the construction permit for Fajardo, Puerto Rico television station WSTE (now WORO-DT) through the spin-off Leake TV, Inc. (Leake's stations were later sold to Allbritton Communications and are now part of Sinclair Broadcast Group.)[18] Ownership of KWTV would transfer to the familial heirs of John Griffin – widow Martha Watson Griffin (who also assumed her husband's post as KWTV board chairman), and sons John W. and David Griffin (both of whom would become KWTV executives in 1990, with David taking over as Griffin Communications's president in 2001) – after he died on July 26, 1985 at the age of 62.[19][20][21]

Post-split from Leake, Griffin expanded its television holdings again in the 1980s; it first bought KPOM-TV (now Fox affiliate KFTA-TV) in Fort Smith from Ozark Broadcasting Co. in September 1985. To solve longstanding reception difficulties the station faced, it later signed on a satellite station in Rogers, KFAA (now KNWA-TV), in October 1989 to relay the signal of KPOM – both of which were owned by the Griffins until 2004, when it sold the NBC affiliates to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group – into Fayetteville and areas of northwest Arkansas not covered by the parent signal. From 1992 to 2004, under Griffin ownership, KPOM/KFAA were the company's only television properties that did not have a local news operation.[22][23][24]

The company eventually announced intentions to re-enter the Tulsa market, on December 3, 1996, when Griffin Television launched News Now 53, a local cable news channel originally developed in partnership with Cox Communications (which only served Oklahoma City proper and Forest Park at the time) and Multimedia Cablevision (which then served the remainder of suburban Oklahoma City, including Midwest City, Bethany, Yukon and Edmond) that primarily aired simulcasts of KWTV's morning, midday and evening newscasts as well as rolling repeats of the station's most recently aired newscast. (During its early years, News Now 53 also occasionally aired sports and special event programs exclusive to the channel or which had originally aired on channel 9.) The service's creation traces to a contractual clause that Griffin included in retransmission consent agreements it reached with Cox and Multimedia in August 1993.[25][26][27][28] Initially available exclusively on Cox's Oklahoma City system, Multimedia began carrying News Now 53 on its suburban area systems (which, in January 2000, were sold to Cox by the Gannett Company) on January 6, 1997. The Cox/Griffin partnership launched a feed for the Tulsa area – offering newscasts from KOTV – in May 2001 on the former local TCI systems that Cox acquired eleven months prior.[29][30][31] Since then, Griffin has expanded and invested in its Tulsa holdings, eventually constructing a new a 50,000-square-foot (4,645 m2) media center on North Boston Avenue and East Cameron Street in downtown Tulsa's Brady Arts District (renamed the Tulsa Arts District in September 2017) to house KOTV and its sister properties, which opened on January 19, 2013. (Some archival material in the former building on South Frankfort Avenue – including news footage, specials and still photographs dating to the 1950s – was donated to the Oklahoma Historical Society.)[32][33]

In 2005, Griffin acquired the Radio Oklahoma Network, a statewide radio syndication service that distributes news, KOTV and KWTV-provided weather content, sports, and commodities reports to radio stations across the state; the network was moved into Griffin's Oklahoma City facilities in 2007 and 2008. On October 8, 2005, Griffin purchased Muskogee-licensed WB affiliate KWBT (channel 19, now CW affiliate KQCW-DT) from Spokane, Washington-based Cascade Broadcasting Group for $33.5 million ($26.8 million for the non-license assets and $6.7 million for the license itself). Under the terms of the deal, Griffin assumed responsibility for KWBT's advertising sales and administrative operations under a local marketing agreement that continued until the sale's closure. When the deal was finalized on September 29, 2005, KOTV and KWBT became the fourth commercial television station duopoly in the Tulsa market. KWBT subsequently migrated its operations from its studio facility in Yukon, into KOTV's Frankfort Avenue studios on December 6 of that year.[34][35]

In 2007, Griffin New Media was established to manage the Griffin station websites, and later, social media. In 2009, Griffin and Oklahoma City-based OETA flagship KETA-TV (channel 13) decommissioned the original KWTV transmission tower due to the analog-to-digital transition. By 2013, it was announced that the tower would be dismantled in 2014, with the top piece being donated to the Oklahoma Broadcast Museum.

On September 29, 2014, Griffin Communications announced that it would acquire MyNetworkTV affiliate KSBI (channel 52) from Oklahoma City-based Family Broadcasting Group. (Griffin had previously submitted a bid to acquire KSBI in 2001, only to be beaten by a competing offer by Family Broadcasting predecessor Christian Media Group.)[36][37] In addition to maintaining some separate programming as well as syndicated programs shared with KWTV, KSBI also serves as an alternate carrier of CBS network programming in the event that extended breaking news or severe weather coverage requires KWTV to pre-empt it (taking over this responsibility from News 9 Now).[38]

On June 25, 2018, Griffin and the E. W. Scripps Company announced that Griffin would acquire Scripps's Tulsa radio cluster – KFAQ (1170 AM), KVOO-FM (98.5), KBEZ (92.9 FM), Muskogee-licensed KHTT (106.9 FM) and Henryetta-licensed KXBL-FM (99.5) – for $12.5 million. The purchase marks Griffin's entry into radio station ownership, even though the company has owned the Radio Oklahoma Network syndicated news service since 2005; the sale would also put the stations under the ownership of KOTV-DT/KQCW-DT, both competitors to Scripps-owned NBC affiliate KJRH-TV (channel 2), which that company retained.[39][40][41][42] Griffin began operating the radio stations under a local marketing agreement on July 30, and completed the purchase that October.[43]

Properties

Griffin owns or operates four television stations located in two markets – both of which are duopolies – consisting of two stations affiliated with CBS, one affiliated with The CW, and one affiliated with MyNetworkTV; it also owns five radio stations in the Tulsa market, as well as the Radio Oklahoma Network, a syndicated radio news service.

Notes:

  • (**) – built and signed-on by Griffin Communications or its predecessors.

Current owned and/or operated properties

Television stations

City of license / market Station Channel
TV (RF)
Owned since Network affiliation
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma KWTV-DT ** 9 (25) 1953 CBS
News 9 Now (DT2)
KSBI 52 (23) 2014 MyNetworkTV
Tulsa, Oklahoma KOTV-DT 6 (45) 2000 CBS
KQCW simulcast (DT2)
News on 6 Now (DT3)
KQCW-DT 19 (20) 2005 The CW

Radio stations

AM Stations FM Stations
City of license / Market Station Owned Since Station Format
Tulsa, Oklahoma KFAQ 1170 2018 News/talk
KBEZ 92.9 2018 Classic hits
KHTT 106.9 2018 Contemporary hit radio
KVOO-FM 98.5 2018 Country
KXBL 99.5 2018 Classic country

Radio networks

Internet

  • 405Moms.com
  • 918Moms.com
  • CoachesAid.com
  • IneedTHIS.com
  • OklahomaFarmReport.com
  • OKBlitz.com

Formerly owned properties

Television stations

City of license / Market Station Channel
TV (RF)
Years owned Current ownership status
Fort SmithFayettevilleRogers, Arkansas KPOM-TV ** 24 (27) 1985–2004 Fox affiliate, KFTA-TV, owned by Mission Broadcasting
(Operated under an SSA by Nexstar Media Group)
KFAA-TV 51 (50) 1989–2004 NBC affiliate, KNWA-TV, owned by Nexstar Media Group
Little Rock, Arkansas KATV ** 7 (22) 1954–1968 ABC affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group
Tulsa, Oklahoma KTUL ** 8 (10) 1954–1968 ABC affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group

References

  1. ^ Interview with Griffin Communications president David Griffin from the anniversary special 50 Years of News 9, Griffin Communications, 2003
  2. ^ "FCC Roundup" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. September 10, 1951. p. 107. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  3. ^ "At Deadline: 51 More Applications Filed for Television" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. July 7, 1952. p. 96. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  4. ^ "Television Applications Filed at FCC" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. July 7, 1952. p. 49. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  5. ^ "Griffin Contracts To Acquire KOMA" (PDF). Broadcasting-Broadcast Advertising. November 1, 1938. p. 26. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  6. ^ "For the Record" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. August 3, 1953. p. 101. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  7. ^ "At Deadline: 65 TV Applications Filed with FCC" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. June 30, 1952. p. 86. Retrieved March 13, 2018 – via American Radio History.
  8. ^ "Television Applications Filed at FCC" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. July 7, 1952. p. 49. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  9. ^ "Oklahoma TV-KOMA Merger Gives State's Capital Its Second VHF" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. July 27, 1953. p. 52. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  10. ^ "KOMA Buys; Laying TV Color Plans" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. November 27, 1950. p. 82. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  11. ^ "Television Digest" (PDF). Television Digest. October 1, 1953. p. 34. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  12. ^ "Second TV Outlet Begins in Nashville" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. December 7, 1953. p. 68. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  13. ^ "TV-On-Air Total Nears 350 Mark" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. December 28, 1953. p. 50. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  14. ^ "FCC Fires First 'Strike' Salvo; Issues CP in Pine Bluff, Ark" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. June 22, 1953. p. 31. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  15. ^ "Griffin expands" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. December 2, 1963. p. 5. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  16. ^ "Terms of KWTV(TV) sale spelled out" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. December 16, 1963. p. 70. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  17. ^ "For the Record" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. December 23, 1963. p. 69. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  18. ^ "Griffin, Leake plan to split up holdings" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. April 21, 1969. p. 42. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  19. ^ "KWTV Owner-Founder John Griffin Dead at 62". The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. July 28, 1985. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  20. ^ "KWTV to Stay in Griffin Hold". The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. August 1, 1985. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  21. ^ "Griffin Communications announces personnel changes". The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. December 18, 2001. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  22. ^ "KWTV Owner To Purchase NBC Affiliate". The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. September 22, 1985. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  23. ^ "Changing Hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc. November 11, 1985. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via American Radio History.
  24. ^ "Nexstar plans to buy Fayetteville's NBC 24/51; Griffin Holdings Co. to sell Fayetteville television station". Arkansas Business. Arkansas Business Publishing Group. September 8, 2003 – via HighBeam Research.
  25. ^ "TV Station, Cable Operators to Provide Local Broadcast Cable Channel". The Daily Oklahoman. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. August 18, 1993 – via HighBeam Research.
  26. ^ "Cox Provides Nonstop News". The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. February 23, 1997. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  27. ^ Jim Stafford (August 18, 1993). "Channel 9, Cable Find Agreement". The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  28. ^ Mel Bracht (August 29, 1999). "News Now 53 to tackle sports, Alternative programs this fall". The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  29. ^ "Cox Cable Shuffles Lineup". The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. December 1, 1996. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  30. ^ "Multimedia Cable Lists Lineup of TV Channels". The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. January 8, 1997. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  31. ^ Rita Sherrow (April 7, 2001). "KOTV, Cox to provide 24-hour news channel". Tulsa World. World Publishing Company. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  32. ^ Frank Beacham (October 25, 2012). "Griffin Going Green With New Tulsa Digs". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media.
  33. ^ Rita Sherrow (January 17, 2013). "KOTV starts work from new Brady District building this weekend". Tulsa World. World Publishing Company. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  34. ^ Jason Collington (October 8, 2005). "Company that owns channel 6 buys local WB affiliate". Tulsa World. World Publishing Company. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  35. ^ Jim Stafford (October 8, 2005). "Griffin acquires 2nd TV station in Tulsa market". The Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  36. ^ "Griffin Communications to buy KSBI". The Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. September 30, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2017.
  37. ^ "Griffin Communications to Buy KSBI, Create Oklahoma City Duopoly". TVSpy. Mediabistro Holdings. September 29, 2014. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  38. ^ "KSBI secondary channel 'This TV' is discontinued". The Oklahoman. Oklahoma Publishing Company. December 14, 2014. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  39. ^ Colleen Almeida Smith (June 25, 2018). "Griffin Communications buying Tulsa radio stations". Tulsa World. BH Media.
  40. ^ Adam Jacobson (June 25, 2018). "Oklahoma TV Owner Enters Radio With Scripps' Tulsa Cluster". Radio-Television Business Report. Streamline-RBR, Inc.
  41. ^ Jon Lafayette (June 25, 2018). "E.W. Scripps Sells Tulsa Radio Stations to Griffin". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media.
  42. ^ "Scripps Sells Tulsa Cluster To Griffin Communications". RadioInsight. June 25, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  43. ^ "Scripps Closes First Of Four Radio Spinoff Deals". Inside Radio. October 2, 2018. Retrieved November 2, 2018.

External links

  • Official website
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