KFSM-TV is the CBS-affiliated television station for the Arkansas River Valley and Northwest Arkansas that is licensed to Fort Smith. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 18 from a transmitter northwest of Winslow. Owned by Local TV, the station has studios on North 13th Street in Downtown Fort Smith. It also operates facilities on North Shiloh Drive in Fayetteville along U.S. 71 Bus. Syndicated programming on KFSM includes: Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Inside Edition, and Dr. Phil. KFSM operates a low-power analog translator, K62DQ channel 62, licensed to Fayetteville with a transmitter in Johnson along I-540/U.S. 62/U.S. 71. It has a construction permit to air on channel 44.
It operates the area's MyNetworkTV affiliate on a second digital subchannel. Known on-air as My 5.2, this can also be seen on Cox digital channel 661. Syndicated programming on KFSM-DT2 includes: Family Guy, King of the Hill, Extra, and Seinfeld. Overnight, it re-airs the main channel's 10 p.m. broadcast in a repeating cycle.
|Fort Smith / Fayetteville, Arkansas|
|Branding||KFSM 5 (general)
KFSM 5 News My 5.2 (on DT2)
|Slogan||Keep it Local|
|Channels||Digital: 18 (UHF)|
|Translators||24 (UHF) Van Buren, AR
(construction permit) K62DQ 62 Fayetteville, AR
|Owner||Local TV, LLC
(Local TV Arkansas License, LLC)
|First air date||July 9, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||Fort SMith (FSM is airport designation for Fort Smith Regional Airport)|
|Former callsigns||KFSA-TV (1953-1958, 1959-73)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
22 (UHF, 1953-1958) 5 (VHF, 1958-2009)
|Former affiliations||NBC (primary, 1953-1980)
CBS (secondary, 1953-1956 & 1958-1971) ABC (secondary, 1953-1978)
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||35°49′49.2″N 94°9′24.1″W / 35.830333°N 94.156694°W / 35.830333; -94.156694|
Channel 5 hit the airwaves for the first time on July 9, 1953 as KFSA-TV on UHF channel 22. The station was owned by Donald W. Reynolds who also owned Fort Smith's two major newspapers, the Southwest American and Times Record (later merged as the Southwest Times Record) and KFSA-AM 950. It aired programming from all four networks but was a primary NBC affiliate.
At first, KFSA-TV relied on kinescopes of network programming. At that time, the network live signal reached only as far as Memphis, Tennessee. However in 1957, the networks extended the AT&T coaxial cable to Little Rock in order to provide live coverage of the Little Rock Crisis. Reynolds then built a microwave transreceiver on Mount Magazine to relay live programming from the Little Rock stations. Although the system was less than dependable, it was far better than kinescopes which aired as many as three weeks after the original air date.
KFSA struggled for viewership, in large part because its signal didn't make it too far out of Fort Smith. The problems became even more pronounced in 1956 when KNAC-TV signed on channel 5 and took the CBS affiliation. Reynolds and KNAC's owner, Fort Smith businessman Hiram Nakdeiman, concluded that Fort Smith couldn't support two television stations and reached a deal to merge the two stations under the KFSA license, but operating on the stronger channel 5. KFSA signed off for the last time on channel 22 on August 16, 1958. Due to delays in the paperwork, the merged station operated under the KNAC call letters until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued final approval of the purchase in January 1959. At that time, Reynolds changed the call letters back to KFSA-TV. Before this, channel 5 had already moved its main studios from the Mount Vista transmitter site in Van Buren to the warehouse district in Downtown Fort Smith at North 5th and B Streets in an old furniture warehouse.
After the license transfer, the station was managed by one of Reynolds' key executives, Harry Huey. However, many of the original personnel at the original KFSM (Pat Porta, Harry Freeman, John Candler, wrestling promoter Jimmy Lott, plus engineers Bob Platt and Willie Matten, traffic manager Alma Duncan, and executives Bill Slates and John Whitt) made the transition to channel 5. KNAC's weathermen LeRoy Stollard and Cy Spicer were also staff members of the blended operation. All became icons in Fort Smith broadcasting history. Many started their broadcasting careers at KFSA radio just after the war.
In 1969, the FCC barred common ownership of newspapers and broadcasting outlets. Donrey owned one other newspaper/broadcasting cluster, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KORK-TV (now KSNV-DT). While Reynolds was able to get grandfathered protection for his Las Vegas cluster, he was unable to get it for his flagship cluster in Fort Smith. As a result, KFSA was sold to Buford Television in 1973 and renamed KFSM-TV (after the airport designation for Fort Smith Regional Airport). The station was purchased by the New York Times Company in 1979 which then sold its entire television group, including KFSM, to Local TV on May 7, 2007. Aside from KNAC's brief time on-the-air, analog VHF channel 5 was the only station in Fort Smith for eighteen years. However, the Fayetteville area was served by KFAY-TV in the late-1960s and 1970s.
Changes were set in motion in the Fort Smith/Fayetteville market in January 1978, when Heinrech Broadcasting bought KFPW (now KHBS), and created a new station for Fayetteville, KTVP (now KHOG) as CBS affiliates. In addition, KLMN (now KFTA) signed on in November as a CBS affiliate, forcing the Heinrech stations to switch to ABC. KFSM swapped affiliations with KLMN in 1980 and became a CBS affiliate which it remains today. At some point in March/April 2010, KFSM added MyNetworkTV to its second digital subchannel. Previously, this had been serving as a local news repeat channel. Eventually, new newscasts and sports call-in shows will be added. The area's original affiliate, KPBI-CA which was repeated on KPBI, went silent after its owner Equity Media Holdings went bankrupt (full-power KPBI has since become a standalone RTV affiliate). During the analog television era, KFSM was the only big three affiliate that did not need a second full-power station to reach the entire market.
On September 1, 2010, the FCC granted KFSM a construction permit for a fill-in translator in Van Buren, AR on channel 24.
KFSM currently provides five newscasts during the week and three broadcasts on Saturdays and Sundays which is a considerable amount for a station in the 100th market. It also provides a 24-hour local newscast seven days a week on Cox channel 55 in Springdale and Fort Smith. This has since moved to digital channel 661. The station launched a mobile application in 2005.
Over the years, KFSM has been the ratings leader in the area. It was the only full-powered commercial station on VHF in the market due to a quirk in the FCC's original television allocation plan. Most markets received two commercial VHF licenses plus a noncommercial VHF license. However, Fort Smith and Fayetteville are sandwiched between Little Rock to the east, Shreveport and Texarkana to the south, Springfield and Pittsburg/Joplin to the north, and Tulsa to the west. This created a large "doughnut" in Northwestern Arkansas where there could be only one commercial VHF license plus a noncommercial license (eventually occupied by AETN's KAFT). KFSM-DT2 simulcasts the weekday morning show and then re-airs it in a rotating cycle. It also simulcasts the weekday noon and nightly broadcasts.
- Bill Thomas and the News (1956–1964)
- TV 5 News (1964–1979)
- The Newspeople (1979–1989)
- TV 5 First Team (1989–1997)
- KFSM 5 News (1997–present)
- Ashley Beck - weekday mornings and noon
- Daren Bobb - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
- Mike Irwin - TBD
- Ashley Ketz - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
- Carla Scallan - Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10 p.m.
Live 5 Max Doppler Weather Team
- Garrett Lewis (NWA and AMS Seals of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
- Jason Adams - Meteorologist; weekday mornings and noon
- Joe Pennington-Meteorologist; Weekends
- John Engleman - Sports Director; weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
- Adria Goins - Sports Anchor; Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10 p.m., also sports reporter
- Robert Boyd - general assignment reporter
- Jared Broyles - weekday reporter
- Russell Jones - general assignment reporter
- Kate Luck - general assignment reporter
- KFSM channel 18
- KFSM-DT2 "My 5.2"
- KFSM mobile
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KFSM
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K62DQ