KWCH 12 celebrates its 60th anniversary

By ERIKA MALEYKWCH 12 Wichita, Kan.

2013 marked KWCH 12’s 60th anniversary. The Wichita CBS affiliate has come a long way since launching in 1953.
KTVH were the original call letters and it was the first television station to launch in Kansas. In 1955, the Cowles Media Company, that owned a number of news outlets, including the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, purchased the station.

But, it wasn’t until two Kansans, Bob Schmidt and Ross Beach, bought the company in 1983 for $12 million, that Channel 12 turned into the news leader it is today.

Channel 12 again changed hands in 1994, and was owned by Spartan Radiocasting until it was purchased by Media General in 2000. Today, KWCH 12 is part of a larger company called Sunflower Broadcasting, Inc. It is owned by a family company, Schurz Communications.

For their 60th anniversary, KWCH 12 went back to its roots. Being involved with the community is what set it apart from the other stations in 1983.

“We thought about celebrating with a big concert or open house, but that wouldn’t allow us to interact with our viewers and thank them for making us number one,” said Dominic Gauna, Creative Services Director.

To kick the year off, KWCH 12 asked viewers to send in suggestions of events the station should attend throughout 2013. The response was explosive. With nearly 100 requests, KWCH 12 had to narrow down which events. In total, KWCH 12 attended over 30 events between May and October.

Eyewitness News This Morning anchors Brian Heap and Kara Sewell attended the Walnut Valley River Festival in Winfield, KS and were welcomed with opened arms.

“I was stunned by how many loyal viewers came up to tell us they wake up with us every morning and many more who had been watching KWCH 12 for decades,” said Kara Sewell.

Eyewitness News Anchor Michael Schwanke attended Dodge City Days and even hosted The Miss Kansas Pageant in Pratt, KS.

“You quickly realize how much it means to your viewers that you took the time to come to their town. The only time we show up in some towns is to cover bad news or tragedy. This was a way to connect with viewers in a positive way,” said Schwanke.

To let everyone know which events they were attending, KWCH created a special 60th anniversary webpage. The page included a map to show how much of the state they would travel to. It also included photo galleries from the events. The photo galleries were a big hit with over 300,000 page views. The page also had monthly stories focused on the history of KWCH 12 and how things have changed in the television industry.

To give back to their viewers, KWCH 12 announced they were giving away a 2013 Toyota Corolla. People were encouraged to register to win the car at all of events KWCH 12 attended across the state and on social media. KWCH 12 randomly selected one qualifier per week throughout the summer to have a chance to win the car, ending with a total of 20 qualifiers. The winner of the car was picked reverse lottery style live on Eyewitness News This Weekend.

On June 15, 2013, KWCH 12 aired a day of old shows from the 50s and 60s including The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Jack Benny Program, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show to mention a few. KWCH 12 also aired a special 60th anniversary show that featured KWCH 12’s history and how times have changed.

KWCH 12 continued celebrating by having a “KWCH 12 Family Fun Day” on June 29. KWCH 12 sent on-air personalities to different museums and zoos across the state to meet their viewers. In return, each participating location reduced admission by at least 60 percent.

When the State Fair came around, KWCH 12 knew they had to go big. They have participated in the Kansas State Fair since 1961. People that stop by the KWCH 12 booth could sign up to win a 50 inch HDTV and a StormTeam 12 weather umbrella. There were lots of other giveaways, too. including 60th anniversary fans, beach balls, and KSCW and CBS show posters.

KWCH 12 wanted to end the year big, to give viewers a chance to win a great prize just for watching.
During November sweeps, Eyewitness News ran a special promotion during the morning newscasts. Every weekday on Eyewitness News This Morning between Halloween and Thanksgiving, KWCH gave away an HDTV – a total of 20 TVs!

We utilized an existing trivia segment already in the newscasts, but during this contest promotion we aired the answer in advance of the question making it easy for any viewer to win.

We promoted it with a special on-air promo and talked about it inside newscasts as well as on our social media pages.