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SeattleTacoma, Washington
United States
Branding KOMO 4 (general; visually displayed as "KOMO ABC 4")
KOMO (4) News (newscasts)
Slogan Working 4 You (primary)
Seattle's Own (secondary)
Channels Digital: 38 (UHF)
Virtual: 4 (PSIP)
Subchannels 4.1 ABC
4.2 This TV
4.3 Grit
Affiliations ABC
Owner Sinclair Broadcast Group
(Sinclair Seattle Licensee, LLC.)
Founded June 1953
First air date December 10, 1953 (1953-12-10)
Call letters' meaning derived from sister station KOMO radio, pronounced 'Como'
Sister station(s) KOMO, KOMO-FM, KPLZ-FM, KUNS-TV, KVI
Former channel number(s) Analog:
4 (VHF, 1953–2009)
Former affiliations NBC (1953–1959)
Transmitter power 810 kW
Height 223 m (732 ft)
Facility ID 21656
Transmitter coordinates
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website .com.komonewswww

KOMO-TV, channel 4, is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Seattle, Washington, United States. KOMO-TV is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The station's studios and offices are co-located with sister radio stations KOMO (1000 AM and 97.7 FM), KVI (570 AM), and KPLZ-FM (101.5 MHz.) within KOMO Plaza (formerly Fisher Plaza) in the Lower Queen Anne section of Seattle, directly across the street from the Space Needle. The station's transmitter is located on Queen Anne Hill.

KOMO-TV is one of five Seattle television stations seen in Canada on the Bell TV and Shaw Direct satellite providers.

From the station's inception until August 2013, KOMO-TV was the flagship station of Seattle-based Fisher Communications.


  • History 1
    • Beginnings 1.1
    • Mount St. Helens eruption, May 18, 1980 1.2
    • Present day 1.3
  • Digital television 2
    • Digital channels 2.1
    • Analog-to-digital conversion 2.2
  • Programming 3
  • News operation 4
    • Awards 4.1
    • On-air staff 4.2
      • Notable current on-air staff 4.2.1
      • Notable former on-air staff 4.2.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6



KOMO-TV began operating on December 10, 1953 as an KING-TV) was the first to air "wide audience" television in November 1948, KOMO broadcast a television signal nearly 20 years prior. On June 3, 1929, KOMO radio engineer Francis J. Brott televised images of a heart, a diamond, a question mark, letters, and numbers over electrical lines to small sets with one-inch screens – 23 years before KOMO-TV's first regular broadcasts. A handful of viewers were captivated by the broadcast. KOMO would likely have held the distinction of being the first television station in Seattle, and perhaps the nation, were it not for the occurrences of the Great Depression and World War II.[2]

The station was originally owned by the Fisher family, which had its start in the flour mill and lumber businesses. The Fishers branched into broadcasting with its founding of KOMO radio in 1926.[3] In competing for the channel 4 construction permit, the Fishers faced off against the then-owners of KJR radio. KOMO was awarded the license in June 1953 after the KJR group dropped their bid,[4][5] and KOMO-TV first signed on the air only five months later. William W. Warren, general manager of KOMO radio and a nephew of KOMO co-founder Oliver D. Fisher, oversaw the development of KOMO-TV and remained involved with the station's management until his retirement in 1987.[6]

In 1954, a KOMO news photographer discovered a way to develop color film in a new process that took just a few hours instead of days. His discovery allowed KOMO-TV to become the first television station in the nation to broadcast in true color.

In October 1958, however, NBC signed affiliation deals with King Broadcasting Company for their radio and television properties in Seattle and Portland, Oregon.[7] In Seattle, channel 4 shared both ABC and NBC programming with KING-TV until September 27, 1959, when KING-TV took the NBC affiliation full-time. At that point, KOMO-TV became a primary ABC affiliate.[8][9][10]

During the 1960s, local television personality Don McCune became well known in the Seattle market for two programs seen on KOMO-TV. McCune was known to thousands of children in the area who came to know him in the role of "Captain Puget", hosting a children's entertainment program. Channel 4 and McCune also produced the documentary series Exploration Northwest, which explored many of the places and people of the Pacific Northwest. KOMO-TV and its Portland sister station KATU (built by Fisher and signed-on in 1962) were the only two ABC stations in the contiguous United States which aired Monday Night Football on a one-hour delay, from 1970 to 1995, in order to accommodate early evening newscasts on both stations. When the Seattle Seahawks joined the NFL in 1976, the stations modified this arrangement in order to broadcast Seahawks games live. In 1996, after years of fan protests, KOMO-TV and KATU began clearing the entire Monday Night Football schedule live regardless of the teams that were playing each week. A decade later, the program moved to ESPN.

Mount St. Helens eruption, May 18, 1980

KOMO-TV nearly lost one of its staff in the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. Dave Crockett, who had been with the station since 1975, had been covering the mountain every day for three weeks until being rotated out a few days prior. On the morning of May 18, he woke up at 3:00 a.m. in Seattle on a hunch that he would get some impressive video that day, and loaded up his news car and headed towards Mount St. Helens without anyone at KOMO knowing about it. He arrived at the mountain just as it was erupting.[11] His news video, which shows an advancing ash cloud and mud flows down the South Fork Toutle River, was made famous by its eleven-minute long "journey into the dark", six of those minutes of which were recorded in "total darkness" as Crockett narrated to what he thought would be his "last day on Earth." His video made worldwide news and was used in a movie remake of the disaster starring Art Carney. The car he drove, with the remains of KOMO lettering still visible, is now a part of a Mount St. Helens Volcano Museum just outside Toutle.

Present day

In 1984, KOMO became the first television station to broadcast daily programming in full stereo sound.[12]

In 1994, KOMO applied for the first test license for broadcasting new high-definition signals. KOMO began broadcasting a high definition digital signal in 1997; on May 18, 1999, KOMO became the first television station in the United States to broadcast its daily newscasts in high definition.[13] This statement, however, comes into conflict with a claim made by WFAA in Dallas (a sister station to KING-TV) that it is the first station in the nation to broadcast its daily news programs in high definition, on February 28, 1997.[14]

KOMO's present broadcast facility, known as Fisher Plaza, completed in 2001. Broadcast portion of the complex was opened in June, 2000.

On July 2, 2009, a large electrical fire [15] that started in an electrical vault at the Fisher Plaza complex at 11:15 p.m. that evening knocked KOMO off the air during its 11 p.m. newscast.[16][17]

On April 10, 2013, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that it would acquire Fisher Communications for $373.3 million.[18][19] However, the deal was subjected to financial scrutiny; the law firm Levi & Korsinsky notified Fisher shareholders with accusations that Fisher's board of directors were breaching fiduciary duties by "failing to adequately shop the Company before agreeing to enter into the transaction", and Sinclair was underpaying for Fisher's stock.[20] Shortly after the announcement, a lawsuit was filed by a Fisher shareholder.[21] On August 6, the shareholders voted to approved the sale, after they approved that the shareholders will get $41 per share.[22] The Federal Communications Commission granted approval of the deal on August 6,[23] and the sale was consummated on August 8.[24] Prior to the sale, KOMO-TV had been the last television station in the Seattle market to be owned by local interests.

On March 18, 2014, KOMO-TV's news helicopter crashed at the Seattle Center, as it was taking off from Fisher Plaza around 7:40 a.m. that morning, falling onto at least one car.[25] A second car and pickup truck, also involved, caught fire. Fuel from the crashed helicopter, which was leased to the station by St. Louis-based Helicopters Inc.[7] and was also used by KING-TV under a Local News Service agreement,[26] ran down Broad Street (along and south of the crash site), later bursting into flames.[27][28][29] Helicopter pilot Gary Pfitzner and photographer Bill Strothman were both killed in the crash. A 37-year-old man in one of the cars was also critically injured, reportedly suffering burns covering up to 20% of his body (revised from an earlier report of burns at up to 50%) according to the Seattle Fire Department.[30][31] The Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter involved in the crash, FAA registration number N250FB,[25] had been leased to KOMO-TV while technical upgrades were being made to the station's own helicopter.

On September 27, 2015, KOMO introduced a new studio for its newscasts, which was designed by Devlin Design Group—Sinclair's primary set design firm. The new design contains nods to Seattle's scenery, including tribal designs on the floor, a desk inspired by whale pods, as well as a helicopter blade—in memoriam to Gary Pfitzner and Bill Strothman.[32]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[33]
4.1 720p 16:9 KOMO Main KOMO-TV programming / ABC
4.2 480i 16:9 KOMO-2 This TV
4.3 480i 16:9 Grit TV Grit

Analog-to-digital conversion

KOMO-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 4, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[34] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 38,[35][36] using PSIP to display KOMO-TV's virtual channel as 4 on digital television receivers.

In 2009, KOMO-TV became one of four television stations in the country to be the first to launch beta test the ATSC-M/H standard, which has since been officially adopted for free-to-air digital broadcast television with clear reception on mobile devices, which overcomes the defects of the original ATSC standard.


Syndicated programming includes Live! with Kelly and Michael, The Doctors, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy! among others. All of the programs mentioned are distributed by Sony Pictures Television. The station also airs Castle in syndication alongside first-run episodes, as well as the Ring of Honor Wrestling series on Fridays after late-night programming (a practice commonplace on Sinclair-owned stations).

News operation

KOMO-TV presently broadcasts 38 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with six hours on weekdays and four hours on weekends).

The remains of a car, a Mercury Monarch, once owned by KOMO TV that was involved in the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Photo was taken at the 19-Mile House Restaurant and Gift Shop, which was also a former museum, on May 18, 2007 - the 27th anniversary of the famous eruption.

For the last three decades, KOMO has competed directly with KING-TV for first place in the Seattle news ratings. KOMO continually places first amongst the local newscasts.


KOMO-TV's news division has consistently won awards for its reporting, and averages more wins per year than any Seattle television station. The station won the Edward R. Murrow Award for "Best Large Market Newscast" In both 2002 and 2008.[37][38] In June 2008, KOMO was awarded 15 regional Emmy Awards, taking top honors in the "Station Excellence", "Morning News", "Evening News", "Breaking News" and "Team Coverage" categories. KOMO anchor/reporter Molly Shen won the prestigious Individual Achievement Award for the second time in three years, and longtime anchor Kathi Goertzen took home a Silver Circle Award, in recognition of her 25+ years with the station.[39] The station also won the Emmy Award for "Breaking News Coverage". A segment on The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies (Palm Springs, California) received an Emmy in 1997.[40]

On-air staff

KOMO-TV's Kathi Goertzen in a screengrab from a 1989 report on the Berlin Wall takedown.

KOMO anchors Dan Lewis, Kathi Goertzen, and weather forecaster Steve Pool had the third-longest tenure of an anchor team in the United States, having served as KOMO's evening news team from 1987 to 2009. The station's evening newscast has long been co-anchored by Lewis and Goertzen, and was praised by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as being the "Best First-String anchor unit in town."[41]

Following the presidential inauguration ceremony in 1993, Lewis became the first reporter to interview then-president Bill Clinton, which occurred at the White House.[42]

Notable current on-air staff

Notable former on-air staff

  • Kathi Goertzen – anchor and special assignment reporter (1980–2012; died on August 13, 2012)
  • Keith Jackson – reporter (1950s; later with ABC Sports; now retired)
  • Dan Lewis – anchor (1987-2014; retired, but returns occasionally for special projects for KOMO-TV)
  • John Seigenthaler Jr. – anchor and reporter (married fellow KOMO anchor/reporter Kerry Brock in 1992, left the station and moved to Nashville, Tennessee; later weekend anchor of NBC Nightly News)
  • Bill Schonely – Sportscaster, 1955–1959, worked alongside Keith Jackson. Bill later became "The Voice of the Trailblazers" for almost three decades and is now employed by the team as their "Ambassador"
  • Jim Snyder – anchor and reporter (1994–1998; now with KSNV)


  1. ^ "Nine more TV stations take to air." Broadcasting - Telecasting, December 21, 1953, pg. 58.
  2. ^ Viewers watch Puget Sound's first wide-audience TV broadcast on 25 November 1948.
  3. ^ Corr, O. Casey (5 June 1994). "Into the spotlight–the Fisher family, long part of Seattle's quiet wealthy, takes a more visible road in 'hot talk' radio, Lake Union development, family fortune management".  
  4. ^ "FCC grants 1 VHF, 3 UHF." Broadcasting - Telecasting, June 15, 1953, pp. 52-53. [8][9]
  5. ^ KOMO/Fisher's Blend Station, Inc. advertisement, circa June 1953.
  6. ^ Beers, Carole (January 16, 1999). "Obituaries: William W. Warren, 87, pioneer in Seattle TV, radio broadcasting". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ "KGW, KING stations affiliate with NBC." Broadcasting, October 20, 1958, pg. 74.
  8. ^ "Seattle partner-change in '59: KOMO-TV to ABC; KING-TV to NBC." Broadcasting, October 27, 1958, pg. 68.
  9. ^ "KOMO-TV joins ABC." Broadcasting, April 13, 1959, pg. 99.
  10. ^ "'Operation Switchover.'" Broadcasting, October 5, 1959, pg. 100.
  11. ^ Dave Crockett
  12. ^ [10]
  13. ^ [11]
  14. ^ WFAA-TV Fiftieth Anniversary
  15. ^ July 2009 Fire
  16. ^ Electrical fire disrupts broadcasts, Web sites, KOMO-TV, July 3, 2009.
  17. ^ Fire disrupts stations at Seattle's Fisher Plaza, Seattle Times, July 3, 2009.
  18. ^ "Sinclair acquiring Fisher Communications". April 11, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  19. ^ Colman, Price (April 10, 2013). "Sinclair poised to buy Fisher stations". Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  20. ^ "SHAREHOLDER ALERT: Levi & Korsinsky, LLP Notifies Investors of Claims of Breaches of Fiduciary Duty by the Board of Fisher Communications, Inc. in Connection With the Sale of the Company to Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.". Press release. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "Fisher Communications, Inc. (FSCI) Investor Lawsuit to Stop Takeover by Sinclair Broadcast Group Announced by Shareholders Foundation". Press release. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  22. ^ Fisher stockholders approve sale to Sinclair Seattle Times, 6 August 2013
  23. ^ [12]
  24. ^ "Sinclair Broadcast Group Closes On Fisher Communications Acquisition". All Access. August 8, 2013. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b "WPR14FA137 — Preliminary Accident Report". 2014-03-21. Retrieved 2014-03-21. 
  26. ^ "2 Dead After KOMO Helicopter Crashes in Seattle". TVSpy. 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  27. ^ "2 killed in news helicopter crash at Seattle Center".  
  28. ^ "2 die in news helicopter crash at KOMO-TV".  
  29. ^ "2 die in news helicopter crash near Space Needle". The Seattle Times. 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  30. ^ "Pilot, KOMO-TV photographer killed in news helicopter crash".  
  31. ^ "2 killed as KOMO News helicopter crashes near Space Needle". KOMO-TV. 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  32. ^ "KOMO Brings Seattle Scenery Into Its Studio". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  33. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KOMO
  34. ^ List of Digital Full-Power Stations
  35. ^ CDBS Print
  36. ^ What digital TV delay means to North Olympic Peninsula viewers
  37. ^ "KOMO/4 newscast wins Murrow Award for best local newscast".  
  38. ^ "KOMO 4 Television Wins National Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence".  
  39. ^ "KOMO's Molly Shen wins individual achievement Emmy ... again".  
  40. ^ McNary, Dave (July 9, 2004). "Par seeks high-kicking aud for vaude.".  
  41. ^ TV news directors: Make it a clean sweep, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 8, 2002.
  42. ^ Dan Lewis interviews then-President Bill Clinton

External links

  • Official website
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for KOMO-TV
  • Query TV Fool's coverage map for KOMO
  • BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KOMO-TV
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