KNAZ-TV is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Flagstaff, Arizona, United States. Owned by Tegna Media, the station is a full-time satellite of Phoenix-based KPNX (channel 12). KNAZ broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 22 (or virtual channel 2 via PSIP) from a transmitter located southeast of Flagstaff in rural Coconino County. It is the only full-power television station in northern Arizona that broadcasts programming from a major English-language television network, but as a full satellite station, it originates no programming. KNAZ does operate one translator station: K06AE-D (channel 6) in Prescott.
The station was founded by Wendell Elliott, Sr. as KOAI-TV and began operations on May 2, 1970. Elliott had managed a television station in Dodge City, Kansas in the 1950s, had founded a station in Ensign, Kansas, and was a founder of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters in 1951. Elliott died in 1974, and control of the station passed to a group headed by his son, Wendell Elliott, Jr. For most of the earlier part of its history, the station was unable to afford microwave feeds for network or syndicated programming. Instead, it operated with what was called a "dirty feed," where station engineers switched to and from the signal of KTAR-TV (now KPNX) in Phoenix and had to cover up KTAR-TV's local content (including commercials and news) with its own programming. Programming included a daily live one hour program immediately following the Today show, evening "rip and read" news casts with a single talent and locked-down cameras, plus a weekly program of news from the Navajo nation, spoken in Navajo. Little more is known about the early operations of the station, but Northern Arizona University maintains an archive of KOAI-TV material from 1975 and later.
The group headed by the younger Elliott sold the station to Capitol Broadcasting Company (not related to the Raleigh, North Carolina-based television corporation of the same name) in January 1981 and shortly afterward on March 23, the station adopted the call letters KNAZ-TV, which had been briefly used at what is now KAZT-TV in Prescott. Also in 1981, KNAZ maximized its signal strength to the full 100 kW allowed for a low-band VHF station.
The 1980s and 1990s saw a succession of sales and transfers of control involving KNAZ-TV. In 1984, the station was transferred from Capitol Broadcasting Company to Standard Life Insurance Company, then to Grand Canyon Television in 1988. Grand Canyon Television was placed into receivership in 1991, then transferred to W.A. Franke in 1992. Finally, in May 1997, Gannett, owner of KPNX, acquired KNAZ-TV from Grand Canyon Television, along with KMOH-TV of Kingman. Already an NBC affiliate, KNAZ was made a partial satellite station of KPNX.
In the late 1980s, the station produced three newscasts a day at 5:00 (branded as "News at Five"), 6:00 and 10:00 (branded as "News 2 Nite"), as well as "Northland Outlook," a local community affairs talk show and "From the Bleachers," a Sunday evening sports wrap-up show featuring local high school and college sports. Shortly after the station was placed into receivership, all in-house production, except for local newscasts, was cancelled.
In December 2005, Gannett announced its intention to sell KNAZ, but as of September 2008, no suitable buyer had surfaced. KNAZ ceased production of local newscasts and became a full satellite of KPNX on August 15, 2008, citing inadequate advertising revenues and a lack of satellite carriage as factors in the decision. A Flagstaff bureau was established to cover Northern Arizona news. The only on-air references to the station are in KPNX' legal IDs.
As a satellite station, KNAZ-TV rebroadcasts all primary network programming of KPNX, but does not offer 12 News Weather Plus or any other service as a digital subchannel. Its only digital signal is a simulcast of KPNX's programming.
Before becoming a full satellite, the station had simulcast the 6:00 am, 4:30 pm, and 5:00 pm weekday news and all of the weekend news from KPNX, and broadcast the same network and syndicated programming as KPNX, but aired its own local commercials, retained a separate news staff and produced its own weekday newscasts at 6:30 am, 6:00 pm, and 10:00 pm. KNAZ had produced its own weekend news, but ended it as part of cost-cutting intended to make the station more attractive to a buyer. There was significant cooperation and sharing of news staff among KNAZ and KPNX. Often, KNAZ acted as a Northern Arizona news bureau for KPNX, as KNAZ reporters would also file reports for KPNX using its logo. Some KPNX personnel, especially those in weather and sports, also filed reports for KNAZ, and KNAZ staff often filled in for KPNX staff when they were absent.
In its DTV allotment plan of April 3, 1997, the FCC assigned channel 22 for KNAZ-DT, and on February 22, 2001, granted to Gannett a construction permit to build the digital facilities. KNAZ-DT went on air at reduced power after receiving a Special Temporary Authorization (STA), and after several extensions of the STA and a modification to the construction permit, applied for a license to cover its full-power DTV facilities on January 27, 2007. The station was granted a license May 22, 2007.
KNAZ had originally intended to move its digital broadcasts to VHF channel 2 on a date after the end of digital transition, using transmitter equipment currently in use by another commonly owned station in another city. This would have made the station one of a small few to return to a low-VHF channel after digital transition.
This plan was abandoned as the existing channel 2 antenna had sustained ice storm damage which had left it in a condition (according to an April 2008 inspection) in which both arcing and repeated automatic transmitter shutdown (due to signal power being reflected back into the transmitter) had left the channel 2 facility in a state where it could not operate at full power. A crack in the antenna's mast was noted; the electrical condition of the channel 2 antenna is continuing to degrade and by July 2008, the VHF 2 signal was operating at 30% of licensed power. The channel 2 antenna failed completely on April 16, 2009, forcing KNAZ's analog signal to go dark permanently.
KNAZ was therefore forced to request that the FCC allow it to remain on channel 22 as its DTV channel.Emme Aronson – former reporter/morning anchor and current plus-size model.
Steve Bunin – former sports director/anchor (1997–2000). Now sports anchor at ESPN.
Dina Eastwood – former anchor/reporter and the one-time hostess of the Candid Camera TV program. Currently an anchor at KSBW, she was married to the actor/director Clint Eastwood, but divorced in 2013.