KCPT, virtual channel 19 (UHF digital channel 18), is a PBS member television station serving Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas, United States. The station is owned by Public Television 19, Inc.. KCPT maintains studio facilities (which are shared with sister adult album alternative radio station KTBG (90.9 FM)) located on East 31st Street in Kansas City, Missouri's Union Hill section (adjacent to the transmitter tower of CBS affiliate KCTV (channel 5)), and its transmitter is located near 23rd Street and Stark Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri's Blue Valley section.
On cable, the station is available on Charter Communications and SureWest channel 11, Comcast channel 4 and AT&T U-verse channel 19.
The station first signed on the air on March 29, 1961 as KCSD. It was founded by the Kansas City School District, and originally operated as a member station of National Educational Television; it later became a charter member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) when it launched on October 6, 1970. The school district put the station's license up for sale in 1971. A group of civic leaders formed a nonprofit broadcasting entity called Public Television 19, Inc., and bought the license. The station changed its callsign to KCPT in January 1972. That fall, it began broadcasting PBS programs in color for the first time. In 1973, the station held its first televised auction.
In 1984, KCPT relocated its operations to facilities in the Union Hill neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, located south of downtown Kansas City, which had originally served as the broadcast facility of KCTV (channel 5) from 1955 to 1983; that station's trademark transmission tower still rises above the building. In 2002, KCPT won a National Emmy Award for Best Documentary for Be Good, Smile Pretty, a film which documents Tracy Droz Tragos' journey to find the father she lost in Vietnam.
In 2008, KCPT began broadcasting its programming in high definition. In December 2013, KCPT gained a sister radio station when Public Television 19, Inc. finalized its purchase of KTBG (90.9 FM) in Warrensburg from the University of Central Missouri for $1.1 million, plus $550,000 in "in kind" services; the transmitter for the station would also be moved 20 miles west to adequately cover most of the Kansas City area.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
In addition to its main channel, KCPT operates digital subchannels: KCPT2 on digital channel 19.2 offers programming from the PBS Encore service, KCPT Create on digital channel 19.3 features how-to and other instructional programming from the Create network; both subchannels launched in 2008. KCPT4 on digital channel 19.4 offers programming from PBS Kids and launched in January 2017.
KCPT shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 19, 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 continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 18. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 19.
In addition to carrying PBS programs and programs syndicated for public television distribution, KCPT produces local programs such as Kansas City Week in Review, Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations, the political affairs program Ruckus, Check, Please! Kansas City and The Local Show.
Some of KCPT's former on-air program hosts have included John Masterman (the host of Kansas City Illustrated) and Laurel Defoe, who joined the station from commercial outlet WDAF-TV (channel 4).