KFYR-TV, channel 5, is the NBC-affiliated television station for Bismarck, North Dakota. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 31 (or virtual channel 5.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter near St. Anthony. The station can also be seen on Midcontinent cable channel 7 in the Bismarck-Mandan area and cable channel 5 in most other areas. There is a high definition feed provided on Midcontinent digital channel 607.
Owned by Gray Television, it has studios on North 4th Street and East Broadway Avenue in downtown Bismarck. KFYR serves as the flagship of NBC North Dakota, a regional network of three stations relaying NBC network programming and other programs provided by KFYR across central and western North Dakota, as well as bordering counties in Montana and South Dakota. The three satellite stations clear all network and syndicated programming as provided through KFYR but air station identifications and commercial inserts. KQCD-TV in Dickinson simulcasts all of KFYR's programming, while KMOT in Minot also produces its own weekday local newscasts at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 pm, and KUMV-TV in Williston simulcasts KMOT's newscasts with local inserts.
Syndicated programming on KFYR include Access Hollywood, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, The Insider, Jeopardy!, Live! with Kelly and Michael, Wheel of Fortune and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, among others.
The Fox-affiliated subchannels can also be seen on cable channel 4 in most areas. There is a high definition feed provided on Midcontinent digital channel 604. The cable channels previously carried KNDX until their programming moved to the NBC North Dakota network's subchannels. KFYR also serves as the only available NBC affiliate for central and western North Dakota for viewers of Dish Network and DirecTV.
KFYR-TV signed on December 19, 1953 as the third television station in North Dakota (after KCJB-TV, now KXMC-TV, in Minot and WDAY-TV in Fargo) and the first in Bismarck. It was owned by Marietta Meyer Ekberg along with KFYR radio (550 AM). Marietta's parents, Phillip Meyer and Etta Hoskins Meyer, had founded KFYR radio in 1925. It carried programming from all four networks of the time – NBC, CBS, ABC and DuMont, but has always been a primary NBC affiliate owing to KFYR radio's long affiliation with NBC radio. Marietta Ekberg was one of three female station owners in the NBC network, along with Dorothy Bullitt of KING-TV in Seattle and Georgia Davidson of KIDO-TV (now KTVB) in Boise. The station dropped CBS when KBMB-TV (now KXMB-TV) signed on in 1955, and lost DuMont when that network shut down a few months later. It shared ABC with KXMB until full-time ABC affiliate KBMY signed on in 1985.
KFYR-TV's transmitting antenna was originally set up temporarily atop the 19-story North Dakota State Capitol building, and operated from that location for just over a year. In the interim, a new tower (approximately 580 feet high) was erected adjacent to the KFYR radio transmitting site near Menoken. It currently operates from a 1,246-foot tower in St. Anthony, overlooking the Missouri River.
In 1966, KFYR Radio and KFYR-TV were joined by KFYR-FM on 92.9 (now KYYY). The stations all broadcast from the Hoskins-Meyer building on Fourth and Broadway in downtown Bismarck; KFYR-TV is still headquartered there today.
In the mid-1950s the Federal Communications Commission collapsed all of central and western North Dakota into one large television market. Accordingly, the Meyers bought the construction permit for KUMV-TV in Williston from its original local owners and signed it on the air in 1957. KMOT in Minot followed in 1958. KQCD-TV was the last of the four stations to sign on when it debuted on January 25, 1980, and has always been a semi-satellite of KFYR-TV. Collectively, all four stations became known as the "Meyer Television Network," with KFYR-TV as the flagship station.
The Meyers sold their broadcast holdings in 1997, with the television stations going to Sunrise Television Corporation. Sunrise sold them to The Wicks Group of Companies of New York City.
Hoak Media bought KFYR and its satellites in July 2006, as well as KVLY-TV and KXJB-TV (operated through a local marketing agreement with Catamount Broadcasting) of Fargo and KSFY-TV of Sioux Falls and its satellite stations. On November 17, 2006, the sale was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The NBC North Dakota network picked up MeTV in April 2013, with an official launch date of May 1, 2013.
On November 20, 2013, Gray Television announced it would purchase Hoak Media in a $335 million deal. Gray initially planned, through Excalibur Broadcasting, to also acquire Fox affiliate KNDX/KXND for $7.5 million and operate them under a local marketing agreement. On March 25, 2014, Prime Cities Broadcasting, owner of KNDX/KXND, requested that the FCC dismiss the sale of that station to Excalibur. Gray would instead acquire the stations' non-license assets, and, upon the closure of the Hoak purchases on June 13, 2014, shut down KNDX/KXND and moved Fox programming to subchannels of KFYR and its satellites.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
KFYR-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 5, on February 16, 2009, the day prior to the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were set to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later rescheduled for June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 31. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 5.
KFYR-TV serves one of the largest markets in the country. It extends its over-the-air coverage area through a network of three full-power stations encompassing much of the western and central two-thirds of North Dakota and parts of eastern Montana and northwestern South Dakota, branded as NBC North Dakota.
These stations mostly rebroadcast KFYR. However, they all identify as separate stations in their own right, and air separate station identifications and local commercials, as well as different programming if desired. KMOT produces its own local 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts on weekdays, while KUMV airs 20-minute local inserts into KMOT's newscasts. KQCD airs a time-shifted feed of KFYR in Mountain Time for most of the day, except for identifications and commercials.
KFYR's newscasts have led the ratings in western North Dakota for as long as records have been kept. Early on, the Meyers devoted significant resources to KFYR's news department, resulting in a higher-quality product than conventional wisdom would suggest for such a small market. This tradition has continued today. The station broadcasts local newscasts at 5 a.m., noon, 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 pm. Central Time Monday through Friday; 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday. KFYR-TV anchors include Monica Hannan and Alan Miller. Country Morning Today, Noon Report, and First News at 5:00 are simulcast across the entire four-station network, along with all weekend newscasts.
While KFYR still dominates the television news scene, its dominance is not as absolute as it once was. In recent years, KX Television's "KX News Morning" has consistently beaten "Country Morning Today," often by wide margins. It is the only time in recent memory that NBC North Dakota has lost any time slot for more than one ratings period.
KMOT produces its own newscasts from Monday through Friday weekdays at 6 pm and 10 pm, and rebroadcasts KFYR-TV's other newscasts. KUMV airs its own newscasts from Monday through Friday at 6 pm and 10 pm. The first 10 minutes (which includes regional news and weather) originate at KFYR in Bismarck. KUMV has its own news and sports anchor who fill the remaining 20 minutes. It simulcasts KFYR's other newscasts. From 2002 to 2007, KMOT was forced to cut its newscasts to 20 minutes while simulcasting the first 10 minutes of KFYR-TV's 6 pm and 10 pm newscasts, much as KUMV does now. In January 2007, KMOT began broadcasting a full half-hour of news at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m once again. It also added a weatherman and photographer/reporter to the staff.
KQCD once had its own news department consisting of bureau chief Brian Howell and reporter Cebe Schneider, whose stories aired on KFYR-TV's newscasts. They were the only reporters based in southwestern North Dakota. However, they were let go in 2012 due to budget cutbacks. KQCD currently has a reporter that contributes to KFYR-produced newscasts.
The stations occasionally share stories with co-owned KVLY. The five stations simulcast major North Dakota sporting events under the NBC North Dakota brand name and share certain equipment, such as remote broadcasting vehicles. On April 30, 2012, NBC North Dakota began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.
KFYR-TV received international attention when newly hired weekend co-anchor A.J. Clemente uttered several obscenities during his first broadcast on April 21, 2013 after mispronouncing the name of London Marathon winner Tsegaye Kebede. Even though he was unaware he was on air, Clemente was immediately suspended from KFYR following that evening's 5 p.m. newscast, according to a statement released by news director/anchor Monica Hannan. That night, co-anchor Van Tieu apologized on-air on behalf of the station. Hannan fired Clemente the following day, according to a post from his Twitter account. Clemente was mocked by David Letterman on the Late Show's Top 10 List on April 23, 2013 (then appeared as a guest the following day). On April 24, 2013, Clemente appeared on Today to discuss the incident (seeking to redeem himself and hopeful for a second chance somewhere in addition to acknowledging he had no 'animosity' about being fired by KFYR). The same day, he sought that "second chance" with an opportunity to speak on Inside Edition.
The Fox-affiliated subchannel debuted "West Dakota Fox News at Nine" during October 2014, originating from KFYR's studios in Bismarck.Monica Hannan – North Dakota Today co-anchor; also news director
In addition to KQCD, KFYR-TV's programming was simulcast on low-power translator K07FG (channel 7) in Lemmon, South Dakota; that station's license was canceled on May 8, 2008.
Gray also owns KNDX-LD (channel 38) in Dickinson; this station was acquired alongside the purchase of the non-license assets of KNDX and KXND and thus simulcasts KQCD's Fox-affiliated second subchannel.