|Beaumont/Port Arthur/Orange, Texas|
|Slogan||You Can Count on Us!|
|Channels||Digital: 15 (UHF)|
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
(KFDM Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||April 24, 1955|
|Call letters' meaning||Kall For Dependable Magnolene|
K FreeDoM (reference to former owner Freedom Communications)
|Former callsigns||Cable only: KWBB|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:|
6 (VHF, 1955-2009)
21 (UHF, until 2011)
25 (UHF, 2011-2018)
|Transmitter power||560 kW|
|Height||275 m (902 ft)|
|Public license information||Profile|
KFDM, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 15), is a dual CBS/CW+-affiliated television station licensed to Beaumont, Texas, United States and serving southeast Texas' Golden Triangle region. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which also operates Port Arthur-licensed Fox affiliate KBTV-TV (channel 4) under joint sales and shared services agreements with owner Deerfield Media. The two stations share studios at the I-10/US 69 (Eastex Freeway) interchange in Beaumont; KFDM's transmitter is located in Vidor, Texas. On cable, the station can be seen on Charter Spectrum channel 3 and in high definition on digital channel 1209.
KFDM also previously served the Lake Charles, Louisiana market as the market's default CBS station until KSWL-LD signed-on February 15, 2017 (especially since Lafayette affiliate KLFY-TV's coverage was severely crippled by its low-power digital signal on channel 10; KLFY's analog signal could easily cover Lake Charles).
KFDM-TV commenced broadcasting on April 24, 1955, and is the oldest on-air TV station in the Beaumont-Port Arthur market. UHF TV channel 31 preceded KFDM by about a year, but went off the air less than a year after its sign on. KFDM-TV's call sign was borrowed from its then sister radio station KFDM (AM 560), which was founded in 1924 by the Magnolia Petroleum Company; the calls stood for "Kall For Dependable Magnolene," the brand name for Magnolia's motor oil line. KFDM used the "-TV" suffix in its call sign to differentiate from KFDM radio from 1955 until 1964, when KFDM radio was sold and became KLVI, and again from 1980 until 2009.
Original Chief Engineer Harold Bartlett, ham call sign W5KWA, oversaw all technical aspects of the station from its construction until his retirement in July 1980. His assistant, Richard Kihn, took over after Bartlett's retirement as acting Chief Engineer, and was appointed Chief Engineer on August 4, 1980. Kihn retired on October 26, 2012, and was replaced by Jim Hobbs. Hobbs did not last long and returned to radio engineering in Nebraska. Don Dobbs, former Director of Engineering at KTVT and KXAS-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth, took over as Director of Engineering at KFDM to oversee a major rebuild of the studios.
KFDM-TV was sold by Beaumont Broadcasting to A.H. Belo Corporation in 1969. In 1983, Belo merged with Corinthian Broadcasting, owner of Houston's KHOU-TV. This raised concern with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which at the time did not normally allow common ownership of two stations with overlapping signals, as was the case with the Grade B signals of KFDM and KHOU. The merger also put the company over the VHF station ownership limit, as at the time the FCC allowed one company to own no more than five VHF stations at once. As a result, Belo sold KFDM-TV, along with WTVC in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Freedom Communications in 1984.
From 2003 to 2006, the station was an affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN). In 2008, KFDM agreed to provide Southland Conference Television Network programming on Time Warner Cable Channel 35 starting on September 13. At the beginning of 2007, KFDM started broadcasting The CW on its second subchannel.
KFDM shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, 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 21. With the mandated shut down of the station's analog signal, the channel lost its ability for its audio to be transmit on radio channel 87.7. On April 7, 2010, the FCC issued a Report & Order, granting KFDM's channel change from channel 21 to channel 25. This was done because viewers in the eastern sections of the viewing area had difficulty receiving their signal on channel 21, due to the antenna issue and the fact that channel 20 was occupied by KLTL, the Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) station in Lake Charles. On April 11, 2011, KFDM completed its move to channel 25 with higher power and a new omnidirectional antenna. Later tests showed the coverage was close to what KFDM had on analog channel 6, though forested areas had a weaker signal and poorer coverage.
Freedom Communications announced on November 2, 2011 that it would bow out of television and sell its stations, including KFDM, to Sinclair Broadcast Group. The deal made KFDM the fourth Sinclair-owned television property in the state of Texas and the first in Eastern Texas. Sinclair already owned KABB and KMYS in San Antonio and completed its purchase of Austin's KEYE-TV on January 3, 2012. Sinclair began operating KFDM under a time brokerage agreement from December 1, 2011 until the group deal was consummated on April 2, 2012.
On August 22, 2012, Nexstar Broadcasting Group filed with the FCC to sell its Fox affiliate KBTV-TV to Deerfield Media, a company also involved in Sinclair's acquisition of stations from Newport Television.) Following the acquisition, KFDM took over operation of the station under a shared services agreement. The sale was completed on December 3.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|6.1||1080i||16:9||KFDM-HD||Main KFDM programming / CBS|
|6.2||720p||KFDM-CW||Southeast Texas CW|
Syndicated programming on KFDM includes The 700 Club, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dr. Phil, and Wheel of Fortune. The Beaumont area is one of the few markets to carry Wheel and Jeopardy! on separate stations, with Jeopardy! airing on Fox affiliate KBTV-TV.
This section needs expansion with: further information on KFDM's news operation. You can help by adding to it. (October 2010)
The 1970s KFDM weekday news team consisted of Beaulieu, Burandt, weatherman Gary Powers, and sportscaster Cy Hurst. KFDM received an award from the Texas chapter of the Associated Press for their coverage of Hurricane Rita in 2005. KFDM also won a regional Emmy in 2006 for the same coverage.
Greg Bostwick has been with the station over 30 years and approximately twenty as chief meteorologist. He rode out Hurricane Rita in downtown Beaumont with weeknight anchor Bill Leger.
Former KFDM manager Larry Beaulieu joined the station in 1974 when he was hired as News Director. He teamed for over 15 years with Cecile Burandt, who was the first female anchor hired in the Beaumont area. Beaulieu retired on September 29, 2011, and was replaced the following December by longtime station employee Rix Garey.