Today, Oct. 6, marks the 40th anniversary of KTAB. Forty years ago, on Oct. 6, 1979, KTAB signed on for the very first time.
The only original staffer who remains at the station is Anchor Bob Bartlett. Bob, who had previously worked at KRBC-TV, joined the newest station in town two months before it went on air. Bob celebrated his 40th anniversary at the station back in August.
“It was very unique to be starting a TV station,” said Bob at Friday’s anniversary celebration. “It was locally owned and that’s why we succeeded.”
The station was started by Mr. Bill Terry, former manager at KRBC. KTAB would be Abilene’s third television station, becoming a CBS affiliate.
Bob said Bill decided on a Tuesday that on Saturday, the station would go on the air.
“We were not really prepared,” said Bob. “One of the things we had forgotten was the official sign on and sign off.”
Thus, Bob recorded the sign-ons and sign-offs, making his voice the first ever heard on KTAB.
KTAB’s signal went live on that Saturday morning with CBS children’s programming, sports in the afternoon, CBS primetime programming. At 10 p.m., KTAB’s newscast, dubbed “News Tab 32.”
Larry Fitzgerald was the station’s first anchor and Bill Chaney did the weather. Just a few years later, current KRBC anchor David Bacon, would join KTAB as Sports Director. Bacon spent decades in that spot before changing departments and eventually joining sister-station KRBC.
Terry would eventually sell the station and for the last 20 years, KTAB is now owned and operated by Texas-based Nexstar Media Group.
Over the last 40 years, a lot has changed — namely technology. Long gone are the days with huge cameras and separate audio recorders. Technology has evolved and now KTAB is more than a television station, but now includes several other outlets, like BigCountryHomepage.com and the BCH To Go mobile app.
“We are committed to local,” said KTAB General Manager/Vice President Albert Gutierrez. “Nexstar is 100 percent committed to local and that’s what we do every day. We are engrained in our communities and we care about our audience.”
On Friday morning, several from the community, including Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams and the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Red Coats, gathered to celebrate the occasion.