KPLR 11 is St. Louis’ CW network affiliate.
KPLR-TV was founded by the late Harold Koplar, owner of St. Louis’ famed Chase Park Plaza Hotel in the city’s Central West End neighborhood. Koplar and other prominent St. Louisans participated in naming the company 220 Television, Inc.
CBS had originally applied for Channel 11 in St. Louis in 1953 and was given a grant in 1957 but later that year, the network purchased KWK-TV, Channel 4. After 10 years of FCC hearings and legal challenges, Koplar won the broadcast license for Channel 11 over four competing applicants.
On April 28, 1959, Koplar signed his new television station on the air with a live telecast of a St. Louis Cardinals-Cincinnati Redlegs baseball game. Over the years, the station featured many famous broadcasters like Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Joe Garagiola, Bob Costas, and Joe Buck.
The KPLR 11 studios were located next to Koplar’s hotel,
The Chase Park Plaza would come to host several events associated with Channel 11. KPLR newscasts were often telecast from the hotel lobby and occasionally relocated to the hotel’s outdoor pool, with a “bobbing” anchorman in an innertube! Special events, like the Veiled Prophet Queen’s supper, as well as St. Louis Symphony concerts originating from the Chase Hotel’s Khorassan Room were telecast live.
Less than a month after the station went on air, KPLR 11 launched the “Wrestling at the Chase” program with Sam Muchnick, president of the St. Louis Wrestling Club. KPLR would air wrestling matches for the next 24 years and “Wrestling at the Chase” became a staple of local culture long after it ceased.
The station enhanced its image as St. Louis’ hometown station with the addition of St. Louis Hawks basketball and St. Louis Blues hockey to its lineup.
And in 1988, after a 25-year absence, the station won back the exclusive broadcast rights to telecast St. Louis Cardinals baseball, which helped elevate the station to the number one independent station in the country by July 1989.
Harold Koplar’s son, Ted, began working at the station full-time in the 1960s and rose to become president of the station ownership group in 1979.
In 1995, KPLR-TV went from being the top independent station in the country to the #1 Warner Bros. affiliate. Two years later, Ted Koplar sold KPLR to The WB Television Network’s broadcast group.
Warner Bros. sold the station to Tribune Broadcasting in 2003. Tribune relocated KPLR from the Central West End to its current studios in Maryland Heights.
In the fall of 2006, CBS, which owned the UPN network, and Warner Bros., which had the WB, merged to form The CW Television Network, and KPLR-TV was declared the affiliate in St. Louis. The “C” in CW stands for CBS and the “W” represents Warner Bros.
KTVI began managing KPLR-TV under an agreement between Local TV and Tribune Broadcasting, Inc. and moved into KPLR’s studios in Maryland Heights. In 2013 Tribune Broadcasting bought Local TV’s 19 television stations, including KTVI. Then in 2019, Nexstar Media Group, Inc. purchases Tribune Broadcasting.
In 2019, Nexstar Media Group acquired Tribune Media and its stations and took over operations for both KPLR 11 and KTVI in 2020.
Both stations are available across many digital platforms.
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