History of Denver's 7

A Tradition Of Excellence

The past of Channel 7 is full of historic firsts, both in the city of Denver and the world of television. The station's proud past guides us into a new millennium of excellence in Denver news and community leadership.

W.D. Reynolds, a dentist and ham radio enthusiast originally from Minnesota, turned his hobby into the origins of Denver's first broadcast media. In 1922, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover granted Reynolds one of the first commercial broadcasting licenses in the country. Reynolds' KLZ radio and television stations would soon become the leaders of Denver broadcast media.

KLZ originated Denver's first radio broadcasts on 560 AM in 1922. In 1947, 106.7 KLZ-FM became the first FM station on the air west of St. Louis. KLZ-TV Channel 7 went on the air as a CBS affiliate in 1953 and established a reputation for excellence early on. The station was the first in Denver to operate a news bureau in Washington, D.C., as well as the first Denver station to receive reports from its own radio and TV correspondents in Europe and Asia.

The decade of the 1960s brought tremendous accomplishments and accolades for Channel 7. The first satellite TV broadcast occurred in 1962, and Channel 7 followed shortly after by conducting one of the first-ever worldwide live satellite TV interviews. The interview featured President Dwight Eisenhower in the Channel 7 studio, linked by satellite to Winston Churchill in England.

Channel 7 televised the first kidney transplant in the mid-1960s. The station also played host to numerous celebrities, sports stars, politicians and other notable figures. Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Otto Preminger, Raymond Burr, Johnny Miller and Jackie Gleason were among the many visitors to the Channel 7 studios.

In 1967, Channel 7 became the first TV station in the western region to win a national Emmy Award. The Emmy was awarded for "The Road to Nowhere," a documentary about death row that was recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as "the outstanding program produced by an individual television station in the U.S. dealing with a significant issue in the nation's community."

In April 1970, the country's attention was captured by the plight of the Apollo 13 crew. One of the astronauts, John L. Swigert Jr., was a Colorado native. As the drama unfolded, Channel 7 provided the network feed to Walter Cronkite in New York for interviews with Swigert's family. Cronkite praised Channel 7 as the best local TV news station in the nation.

In 1972, Channel 7 was purchased by the McGraw-Hill Companies and assigned the call letters KMGH.

Later in that decade, Channel 7's Lynn Noel became the first black woman to appear on a Denver television station.

Channel 7 became recognized for long-running shows. The station covered 18 consecutive years of the Jerry Lewis Telethon, with local fund raising conducted at the station's studios. The station also produced one of the longest-running religious shows in TV history, "House of the Lord," which aired in Denver for more than 45 years.

In 2011, McGraw-Hill sold its nine-station broadcasting group to E.W. Scripps Company for $212 million. Four of the stations, including KMGH are ABC affiliates. The five other stations involved in the transaction – KZSD in San Diego, KZKC in Bakersfield, KZCO in Denver, KZFC in Ft. Collins, Colo., and KZCS in Colorado Springs, Colo. -- are low-power stations affiliated with the Spanish-language network, Azteca America.

With 10 ABC affiliates among its expanded roster of 19 stations, Scripps is the country’s largest independent operator of ABC stations.

Community Service Core To KMGH

Another rich tradition at Channel 7 is community service. In 1959, KLZ radio began donating air time and resources to public service organizations. The station also trained representatives from these organizations in public relations to help them communicate more effectively. In 1969, KLZ radio partnered with the Denver Metro Urban Coalition to begin the "Call For Action" program, which coordinated the efforts of more than 200 state and local agencies to help citizens have their concerns and questions answered.

The tradition that started with KLZ radio carries on with Channel 7 today. We boldly stand up for the concerns of working families by providing direct community service, support, and information to improve the lives of families in need.

The 7Everyday Hero Award is given to Coloradans who initiate solutions, motivate others, represent or serve working families and work on a nonprofit basis.

Our continuing history of community and broadcast leadership is a living reminder of how Denver's 7 is working for you. To learn more, take a visual tour of Denver's 7 history.