call_letters = KOBI
city =
station_slogan = Local News Comes First
station_branding = NBC 5
analog = 5 (VHF)
digital = 15 (UHF)
other_chs = (see article)
subchannels = 5.1 HD 5.2 The AccuWeather Channel
affiliations = NBC
network =
founded =
airdate = August 1, 1953
location = Medford, Oregon
callsign_meaning = K(C)alifornia
former_callsigns = KBES-TV (1953-1962)
KTVM (1962-1968)
former_channel_numbers =
owner = California Oregon Broadcasting, Inc. (Smullin family)
licensee =
sister_stations =
former_affiliations = Primary:
CBS (1953-83)
NBC (1953-1961)
ABC (1953-1984)
DuMont (1953-1955)
effective_radiated_power = 60.3 kW (analog)
40 kW (digital)
HAAT = 823 m (analog)
835 m (digital)
class =
facility_id = 8260
coordinates = coord|42|41|30|N|123|13|50.2|W|type:landmark_scale:2000
homepage = [http://www.localnewscomesfirst.com/ www.localnewscomesfirst.com]

KOBI is a local NBC affiliate based in Medford, Oregon. It is owned by Patricia Smullin. The company, California Oregon Broadcasting, Inc., is the longest continuously independent broadcast group in the West and one of the three oldest in the country.

The station also operates a satellite station in Klamath Falls, KOTI on channel 2, as well as a large network of translators. Together, the two stations serve 12 mostly rural counties in southern Oregon and northern California.

The station's vice president and general manager is Robert Wise, who served as general manager of KOBI's former sister station KRCR-TV in Redding, California, from 1995 to 2005. The studios, located on Main and Fir Streets in downtown Medford, cover an entire city block.


It was founded on August 1, 1953 by Bill Smullin, a 20-year veteran of the television industry. The station's call letters were originally KBES-TV (BESt TV), and it carried programming from all four major networks. [http://www.wsmb.org/Page.asp?NavID=17] However, for its first 30 years, it was a primary CBS affiliate. It was the second television station in Oregon, and the first on VHF, beating KOIN-TV in Portland by over a month.

Smullin soon realized that KBES' signal was not strong enough to cover all of southern Oregon, which the FCC had ruled was part of the Medford market. Fortunately, he was able to buy the license for channel 2 in Klamath Falls, and KOTI debuted on August 12, 1956.

In 1962, Smullin changed the call letters to KTVM. When channel 10 was allocated to Medford, Smullin helped the owners of KMED-AM get the license, as well as space on his transmitter on Blackwell Hill. Partly because of his help, KMED-TV (now KTVL) signed on in 1961. In 1968, KTVM moved to a powerful transmitter on King Mountain and changed its calls to KOBI.

In 1983, KOBI traded affiliations with KTVL and became an NBC affiliate. It carried a few ABC programs for another year until KDRV signed on.

For many years, KOBI branded itself as "Channel 5M," with a logo showing a "5" on an interstate highway sign, reflecting the interstate that goes through the Medford area, Interstate 5. The interstate sign motif was later extended to KOTI and KRCR. KOBI rebranded itself as "The News Channel" in 1998 and as "NBC 5" in 2004, but the highway sign remains today.

The station has a UHF translator, K32DY, to serve non-antenna-rotator-equipped households between Medford and Ashland. It is located on Grizzly Peak.

KOBI has brought many firsts to Southern Oregon and Northern California. It was the first station in Medford to offer local color programming, the first station to operate in stereo, the first Medford station to employ electronic news gathering technology, and was the first Medford station with statewide microwave news coverage.

Bill Smullin retired in 1985 and was succeeded by his daughter, Patricia C. "Patsy" Smullin, who serves as owner and president today.

KOBI added a DT2 channel for AccuWeather's local weather and national weather digital channel to KOBI's digital signal were instituted in early 2008.


KOBI is the home for "NBC 5 News" at 5:00pm. The 6:00pm and 11:00pm newscasts are anchored by Audrey Kuchen and Christina Anderson. The chief meteorologist is Jeff Heaton and Joe Camarlinghi is the sports director. Kuchen and Anderson are one of two all-female news anchor teams in the market. The other is Libby Dowsett and Shannon Young at KTVL.

[http://www.localnewscomesfirst.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=311&Itemid=127 Lyle Ahrens] serves as the Klamath Basin bureau chief at KOTI. In 2006, Fox affiliate KMVU began broadcasting a half-hour newscast, "First at Ten," anchored by Audrey Kuchen and produced by KOBI.

Past News Titles

* "Eye Five News" (1970s ?)
* "Eyewitness News" (1970s-1998)
* "The News Channel" (1998-2005)

Jackpot Bingo

During the 1980's, KOBI broadcast a popular interactive game show called "Jackpot Bingo", hosted by Tom Carnes. The show aired before Days of our Lives. "Jackpot Bingo" gave contestants the opportunity to win up to $5,000 in cash by playing blackout bingo. However, contestants usually won the minimum $200 prize. Carnes was replaced by Sally Holliday in 1987 and the show was renamed "$10,000 Jackpot Bingo" as the prize money doubled. Still, contestants usually won $200. The show was such a hit, it garnered the highest ratings for its time slot. Despite its popularity, it was cancelled in 1988.

"Jackpot Bingo" takes after the popular "Dialing for Dollars" format.

KOBI alumni

Other notables who worked at the station included longtime Rogue Valley meteorologist Leon Hunsaker (also formerly of KTVL Channel 10, now retired) and news reporter/anchor Gayle Wilson, who now produces and stars in her own commercials for a car dealership in Grants Pass, Oregon. Tom Carnes, host of Jackpot Bingo, was recently seen in commercials for a Medford car dealership.

Academic Challenge quiz bowl

This exciting competition, similar to "College Bowl", places local high schools in a head to head battle for the championship title and over $40,000 in scholarship money.

Twenty high schools from all over Southern Oregon are participating in the "NBC Academic Challenge". Each school brings in a team of five students, four participating and one alternate, who answer a series of questions from the host, NBC 5 Chief Meteorologist Jeff Heaton, on topics such as history, math, literature, current events and a variety of other categories.

At the end of this double-elimination competition the final two teams will split the scholarship money, 60% to the championship team, 40% to the second place team. The generous donations from the sponsors have helped produce an exciting new way for students to earn money for college.

The idea for "Academic Challenge" originally started at KRCR-TV in Redding in 1998 and was hosted by Gary Gunter from '98 to 2005, then Tim Mapes from then on. NBC 5's newly-hired general manager Bob Wise brought the identically-formatted program to southern Oregon in 2005.

The program regularly airs on Sundays at 6:30pm, yet does air after "NBC Sunday Night Football" and "NBC 5 News" during the NFL season.

outhern Oregon Meth Project

KOBI started a special program called the Southern Oregon Meth Project to educate viewers and concerned citizens about the dangers of methamphetamine and what can be done to prevent. The project is headed up by KOBI's anchor Christina Anderson. Information can be found at [http://www.somp.org www.somp.org] .

Mission statement

Bill Smullin, who died in the early 1990's, is best known for a mission statement he shared during a rare television interview in 1983 as the company and the station celebrated their 30th anniversary (and it's still true today): "Maintenance-free television is so vitally important to the American people. It's vitally important for the simple reason that communications with the people helps preserve our national institutions and including the freedom which we enjoy under the United States of America flag."

This statement was replayed on "Eyewitness News" in August 2003 in celebration of the station's 50th anniversary.

Digital Television

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Repeater Stations:

ee also

* California Oregon Broadcasting, Inc. (ownership)

External links

* [http://www.localnewscomesfirst.com/ KOBI website]
* [http://www.wsmb.org/Page.asp?NavID=15 Western States Museum of Broadcasting: History of Television In Southern Oregon]
* [http://www.wsmb.org/Page.asp?NavID=18 Bill Smullin: Southern Oregon TV's pioneer]


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