KULR-TV, virtual channel 8 (VHF digital channel 11), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Billings, Montana, United States. The station is owned by the Cowles Company. KULR's studios are located on Overland Avenue in the Homestead Business Park section of Billings, and its transmitter is located on Coburn Hill southeast of downtown Billings. On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channel 9 in both standard and high definition.

Billings, Montana
United States
BrandingKULR 8 (general)
KULR 8 Local News (newscasts)
SloganMontana Right Now
ChannelsDigital: 11 (VHF)
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
TranslatorsK06FE-D 6 Miles City
K50MY-D 25 Cody, WY
Affiliations8.1: NBC (1958–1969, 1987–present)
8.2: SWX Right Now
OwnerCowles Company
(Cowles Montana Media Company)
First air dateMarch 15, 1958 (1958-03-15)
Call letters' meaningKULoR (Color) Television
(calls were inaugurated with launch of color service)
Former callsignsKGHL-TV (1958–1963)
Former channel number(s)Analog:
8 (VHF, 1958–2009)
Former affiliationsABC (1963–1987, secondary until 1969)
PBS (per program, 1970–1984)
Transmitter power16 kW
Height191 m (627 ft)
Facility ID35724
Transmitter coordinates45°45′35.5″N 108°27′17.4″W
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license informationProfile
(satellite of KULR-TV)
Miles City, Montana
United States
Brandingsee KULR-TV infobox
Slogansee KULR-TV infobox
ChannelsDigital: 3 (VHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
AffiliationsNBC (1998–present)
OwnerMarks Radio Group
(KYUS-TV Broadcasting Corporation)
OperatorCowles Company
(via time brokerage agreement)
First air dateAugust 29, 1969 (1969-08-29)[1]
Call letters' meaningcayuse, a type of Native American pony[2][3]
Former channel number(s)Analog:
3 (VHF, 1969–2009)
Former affiliationsIndependent (1969–1970)
ABC (1987–1996)
Fox (1996–1998)
UPN (secondary, c. 1997–1998)
The WB (secondary, c. 1997–1998)
Transmitter power2.9 kW
Height30 m (98 ft)
Facility ID5237
Transmitter coordinates46°25′34″N 105°51′40″W
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license information
satellite of KULR-TV) Profile

satellite of KULR-TV) CDBS

KYUS-TV (virtual and VHF digital channel 3) in Miles City operates as a full-time satellite station of KULR, covering areas of east-central Montana; its transmitter is located northwest of Miles City. KYUS is owned by the Marks Radio Group, which also owns several radio stations in Montana, among other broadcasting properties. Cowles operates the station under a time brokerage agreement (TBA). KYUS is a straight simulcast of KULR; on-air references to KYUS are limited to Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-mandated hourly station identifications during newscasts and other programming. Aside from the transmitter, KYUS does not maintain any physical presence locally in Miles City. At one point known as the smallest network affiliate in the country, KYUS has largely served as a satellite of other stations since 1984, and has simulcast KULR since 1998.

In Miles City, KULR can also be seen on low-powered translator K06FE-D (channel 6), and in Cody, Wyoming, on K50MY-D (channel 8); these translators are owned by Cowles, and not the Marks Radio Group. Marks Radio Group also owns KXGN-TV in Glendive, which broadcasts KULR's newscasts on a digital subchannel.



Channel 8's first broadcast was on March 15, 1958 as KGHL-TV, an NBC affiliate owned by Midland Empire Broadcasting Company along with KGHL radio (AM 790).[4] The station's first studios were co-located with KGHL radio on North 30th Street in Billings.[5] Midland Empire Broadcasting sold KGHL-AM-TV to Crain-Snyder Television in 1962; Crain-Snyder immediately spun KGHL radio off to George C. Hatch, retaining KGHL-TV.[6] The following year, the new owners changed the station's call letters to KULR-TV,[7] which were a play on the word "color" as most programs in the mid-1960s started changing from being televised in black and white to color. During this time, most on-air verbal references to the station called it "Color 8."[5] KULR also added a secondary affiliation with ABC in 1963.[8] In the late 1960s, the station moved its studios to a new building adjacent to the transmitter on Coburn Road, southeast of downtown Billings.[5] Chicago-based Harriscope Broadcasting purchased the station in 1967 for $350,000.[9]

Harriscope agreed in 1967 to change the primary network affiliation for KULR-TV and KFBB-TV in Great Falls to ABC at the end of each station's existing affiliation contract;[10] KULR's switch took effect January 1, 1969, at which point NBC was relegated to secondary status.[11] Channel 8 then became the fourth primary ABC affiliate in Montana. This was very unusual for a two-station market, especially one as small as Billings. NBC wouldn't return to Billings on a full-time basis until KOUS-TV (channel 4, now KHMT), which signed on in 1980, became a primary NBC affiliate in 1982. From 1970 until KUSM in Bozeman (now part of Montana PBS) signed on in 1984, KULR aired some PBS programming, as Montana was one of the few states at the time that did not have a PBS member station of its own.

In spring 1981, KULR dumped the "Color 8" branding and became known as "Straight 8." During this time, its local newscast, Straight 8 Newsservice, featured anchor Dave Rye, sports director Larry Gebert, and weather forecaster Kit Carson. Other on-air reporters and weekend anchors at the time included Joni Earle, Monica Gayle, Kyle Safely, and David Smock. The station announced in September 1983 that it would build new studios on Overland Avenue in Billings;[5] KULR completed the move in 1984.[12]

Harriscope sold KULR-TV and KTWO-TV in Casper, Wyoming to Dix Communications in 1986 for $12.2 million.[13] In 1987, NBC wanted a stronger affiliate in the market, and quickly negotiated a return to KULR; the switch took effect that August.[14]

Dix Communications sold KULR-TV, along with KFBB-TV in Great Falls, to Max Media on June 16, 2004 for $12.25 million.[15][16] Dix chairman Robert Dix said that the sale made sense, as KULR and KFBB were the company's last two television stations.[17] On September 30, 2013, the Cowles Company announced that it would acquire Max Media's Montana television station cluster (comprising KULR and ABC affiliates KWYB in Butte, KFBB-TV in Great Falls, KHBB-LD in Helena and KTMF in Missoula) for $18 million.[18][19] The sale was completed on November 29.[20]


KYUS-TV went on the air August 29, 1969 under the ownership of Custer Broadcasting Corporation.[21] Originally an independent station, it joined NBC in 1970.[22] In its early years, KYUS was known as the smallest network affiliate in America.[23][24] The station's principal owner, David Rivenes, did the news, sports, weather and reporting himself[23] — he was also featured in the late-1970s on NBC's Real People and in TV Guide for his career. He also hosted much of the station's other local programming (which comprised up to five hours of the KYUS schedule) along with his wife, Ella;[23] in a 1980 interview with Sports Illustrated, Rivenes said that the local programs, which were broadcast in lieu of acquiring syndicated programming, were "what the FCC wants: real public service television."[24] During the station's early years, KYUS did not turn a profit, and was supported by Rivenes' title insurance business.[24] In 1984, the Riveneses sold KYUS to the owners of KOUS-TV for $200,000;[23] at that point, channel 3 became a satellite of KOUS[25] and the station's local programming was discontinued.[23] KYUS, along with KOUS, switched to ABC in 1987.[26] After KOUS shut down and moved its programming to KSVI (channel 6) in 1993, KYUS became a satellite of KSVI.[27]

As a satellite of KOUS-TV and KSVI, KYUS-TV was on the verge of closure several times, as the station generated insufficient revenue to cover its costs. In addition, the station's owner, Big Horn Communications, had difficulties listing KYUS for sale due to the size and location of Miles City; one media brokerage company, Blackburn & Company, said it was "economically impossible" for KYUS to operate as a standalone station. Ultimately, Big Horn sold the station to Stephan Marks in 1995. Marks originally proposed to operate KYUS as a satellite of KXGN-TV, his CBS and NBC affiliate in Glendive.[28] However, in 1996, KYUS became a Fox affiliate;[29] by 1997, channel 3 had also added secondary affiliations with UPN and The WB.[30] After two years with Fox, KYUS-TV became a satellite of KULR-TV under a time brokerage agreement on May 1, 1998.[31] The original agreement expired after ten years; KYUS-TV now broadcasts KULR-TV's programming under a series of informal agreements, receiving no payment and keeping no advertising income. Although the station generates no revenue of its own, Marks continues to operate it as a public service.[31][32]

Digital television

KULR digital channels

Channel Video Aspect PSIP short name Programming
8.11080i16:9KULR-HDMain KULR-TV programming / NBC

In February 2009, KULR, KTVQ and two other stations in the Billings market were refused Federal Communications Commission permission[34] to end analog broadcasts and operate as digital-only effective on the originally-scheduled February 17, 2009 date.[35]

KYUS digital channel

Channel Video Aspect PSIP short name Programming
3.11080i16:9KYUS-DTMain KYUS programming / NBC

KYUS began broadcasting in high definition in February 2018.

News operation

In 2009, KULR began broadcasting its local newscasts in widescreen standard definition. KULR became the first television station in Montana to switch to full HD news operation during its 5 p.m. newscast on August 27, 2012. Studio cameras are currently still in 16:9 standard definition, however.

For a little more than a year after HD newscasts began, the station adopted the Look F presentation package, and adopted the "L.A. Groove" music package in use at WNBC, KNBC, and KNTV, along with other NBC O&O's with some modifications. Since KULR's purchase by Cowles Publishing Company, the station is using the same presentation and music package as KHQ-TV in Spokane.

Former on-air staff


  1. The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says KYUS signed on August 29, while the Television and Cable Factbook says it signed on September 1.
  2. Kennedy, Ray. "The Man Who Brought Surfing to Montana", Sports Illustrated. September 15, 1980. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  3. Wishart, David J. (2004). Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press. p. 505. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  4. Broadcasting Yearbook 1959 (PDF). 1959. p. B-50. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  5. Johnson, John C. "KGHL TV / KULR TV Channel 8 Billings Photos". John in Arizona. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  6. "For the Record" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 24, 1962. p. 67. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  7. "For the Record" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 4, 1963. p. 78. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  8. Broadcasting Yearbook 1964 (PDF). 1964. p. A-36. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  9. "Changing hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. March 13, 1967. p. 66. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  10. "Two Harriscope stations affiliate with ABC-TV" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 16, 1967. p. 63. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  11. "Media reports" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 23, 1968. p. 40. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  12. "KULR-8 History". KULR-8 Television. Archived from the original on December 11, 2004. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  13. "Changing Hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 3, 1986. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  14. "In Brief" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 9, 1987. p. 145. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  15. BIA Financial Networks (October 12, 2003). "Changing Hands". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  16. "Application Search Details". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  17. Falstad, Jan (September 30, 2003). "KULR sold; ABC-6/Fox-4 drop local news". Billings Gazette. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  18. Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License "Federal Communications Commission", 1 October 2013
  19. Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License "Federal Communications Commission", 1 October 2013
  20. https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101603121&formid=905&fac_num=34412
  21. Broadcasting Yearbook 1971 (PDF). 1971. p. A-35. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  22. "Media reports" (PDF). Broadcasting. June 29, 1970. p. 39. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  23. "David, Ella Rivenes". Great Falls Tribune. Archived from the original on October 26, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  24. Kennedy, Ray (September 15, 1980). "The man who brought surfing to Montana". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  25. Fahber, Bill (September 1985). "Television News" (PDF). VHF-UHF Digest. p. 6. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  26. Broadcasting/Cable Yearbook 1989 (PDF). 1989. p. C-38. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  27. Smith, Doug (August 1993). "TV News" (PDF). VHF-UHF Digest. p. 6. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  28. Caton, William F. (February 27, 1995). "In re Application of Big Horn Communications, Inc. (Assignor) and KYUS Broadcasting Corporation (Assignee) For Consent to Assign the License for Station KYUS-TV, Channel 3 Miles City, Montana" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  29. Smith, Doug (July 1996). "TV News" (PDF). VHF-UHF Digest. p. 12. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  30. Smith, Doug (July 1997). "TV News" (PDF). VHF-UHF Digest. p. 15. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  31. "Time Brokerage Agreement" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. April 29, 1998. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  32. "Re: KYUS-TV Broadcasting Corporation … Response to Staff Letter Dated September 5, 2014" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. September 22, 2014. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  33. "SWX on TV". KULR8.com. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  34. NBC News
  35. http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2009/02/05/news/local/25-digitalswitch.txt
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