The International Business Center just west of the Salt Lake Airport was nearly new when KSTU began broadcasting on October 9, 1978. It was Utah’s first independent station. And, for those of you who remember, it was the only station on that other UHF dial at Channel 20.
Programming in those early days graduated from local productions like Lighthouse 20 & Close-up to some of the bigger names in syndication such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and Cheers, launching KSTU to one of the top 10 independents in the country.
Eventually, Channel 20 had the opportunity to join the other local stations on the VHF dial at the last available channel (13). The promo campaign became “Lucky 13” with a Basset Hound for a mascot. It must have worked because it wasn’t long before Fox came knocking.
Soon KSTU became a Fox affiliate with shows like 21 Jump Street, Married with Children and The Simpsons, as well as being the home of the Utah Jazz, and the once small independent became a true competitive force in the Salt Lake television market.
Fox knew a good thing when they saw it and KSTU became a Fox O&O in 1989 and is the only Salt Lake City station to remain affiliated with the same network since that network’s inception.
The next big challenge was tackling news in a very strong news market. KSTU launched Fox 13 News at Nine as its first half hour newscast on New Years Eve of 1990. Back then it would be hard to imagine that it would grow into today’s news giant with over 56 hours of news a week – by far, the most in the Salt Lake market.
In July of 2008, KSTU and seven other Fox Owned & Operated stations across the country were sold to Oak Hill Capital Partners. Their television division, Local TV, has maintained a strong commitment to KSTU with major expansions to both the facility and news programming.
In December 2013, KSTU joined Tribune Company and became part of the largest combined independent broadcast group in the United States.
Today, over 35 years after that original broadcast, a much-expanded KSTU still sits in that same location at the International Center. The distant memory of Johnny Depp’s 21 Jump Street has been replaced by American Idol, The X-Factor, Glee, The Following, Sleepy Hollow and other compelling FOX programs.
The UHF and VHF dials are long gone, but as Utahns turn to FOX 13 on their digital big screens, one constant will come in crystal clear: KSTU has become a true powerhouse in Utah television.