KPLR-TV was founded by Harold Koplar, owner of St. Louis’ famed Chase Park Plaza Hotel. (Per FCC regulations, radio and TV stations east of the Mississippi have call letters that begin with the letter “W.” All stations west of the Mississippi have call letters beginning with “K.”) Our call letters, KPLR, represent the Koplar family name without the vowels.
Harold Koplar signed his new station on the air on April 28, 1959 with the first-ever live telecast of a Cardinal Baseball game in the St. Louis area. (This is disputable. Ed.)
KPLR was the first VHF independent station in St. Louis, located for 40 years in the Central West End at 4935 Lindell Boulevard – next to the Chase Park Plaza Hotel.
Edward J. (Ted) Koplar, Harold’s son, became a full-time employee in the mid-1960s and soon after developed KPLR’s first newscast. Within three years after its inception, “KPLR Newswatch” was the number one rated Independent television newscast in the country.
Ted was named President, Koplar Communications in April 1979. The company continued to grow and expand its tradition of innovation in programming and technology.
KPLR installed a satellite receive dish (completed in 1976) making KPLR the first broadcast facility in the county licensed by the FCC to own and operate a satellite earth station.
In 1983, the station installed the area’s first and only satellite uplink transmission facility making KPLR one of the busiest teleports in the Midwest for news and sports transmissions.
In 1984, KPLR became the first station in St. Louis and one of the first in the country to convert to full stereo sound.
One of the most important days for our history occurred in 1988 when Ted Koplar headed the effort to win back exclusive rights to telecast St. Louis Cardinals Baseball on KPLR. This put us back on the map as a strong and major player in the marketplace!
KPLR was one of the original “charter” members of the WB Network headed by Jamie Kellner. The WB did whatever they could to secure KPLR – not because KPLR needed the affiliation, but because the WB needed a strong station that brought with it a rich and credible history. In January 1995, the WB officially “launched” the network and KPLR soon became known as their “crown jewel.” KPLR’s network affiliation basically involved prime programming with shows primarily targeted to young adults and ethnic audiences.
ACME Television Holdings, also created by Jamie Kellner, purchased KPLR in 1977. So after a history of family ownership, KPLR moved into the future as a privately held company. By this time, KPLR was recognized as one of the top WB affiliates in the nation. (During that era we usually ranked as the #1 WB affiliate but never dropped under one of the top three.)
In March, 2003, Tribune purchased KPLR to add to the strength of their television empire. It was under this new ownership and umbrella that the CW Television Network launched its 2006 inaugural television season. “The New CW” featured a mixture of programming from both the UPN and The WB television networks, The CW was no more than a joint venture between CBS Corporation, owner of UPN, and Warner Bros. Entertainment, a subsidiary of Time Warner, majority owner of the WB. Its name derived from the first letter of the names of these two giants (CBS and Warner Bros.) In trade magazines like Variety, the CW is referred to as the green network, most likely since its first logos and campaigns were in green.
In 2007 Sam Zell agreed to take Tribune private in an $8.2 billion deal that values the company at $13 billion.
(Provided by KPLR)