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San Diego, California
United States
ChannelsDigital: 18 (UHF)
Virtual: 51 (PSIP)
BrandingKUSI (general)
KUSI News (newscasts)
AffiliationsIndependent (1982–1995; 1998-present)
OwnerMcKinnon Broadcasting Company
(Channel 51 of San Diego, Inc.)
First air date
September 13, 1982 (39 years ago) (1982-09-13)
Former channel number(s)
51 (UHF, 1982–2009)
UPN (1995–1998)
FNN (secondary; 1982–1985)
Call sign meaning
United States International University
(former name of Alliant International University, original owner)
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID10238
ERP355 kW
HAAT576 m (1,890 ft)
Transmitter coordinates32°41′51″N 116°56′5.7″W / 32.69750°N 116.934917°W / 32.69750; -116.934917
Translator(s)K12PO Murrieta
Public license information

KUSI-TV, virtual channel 51 (UHF digital channel 18), is an independent television station licensed to San Diego, California, United States. The station is owned by locally based McKinnon Broadcasting. KUSI's studios are located on Viewridge Avenue (near I-15) in the Kearny Mesa section of San Diego, and its transmitter is located southeast of Spring Valley. Its signal is relayed on low-powered K12PO in Murrieta (which is part of the Los Angeles market). On cable, KUSI is available on Cox Communications, Charter Spectrum and AT&T U-verse channel 9.


15 years of fighting

The construction permit for a channel 51 television station in San Diego was first issued on June 23, 1965, to Jack O. Gross, who had previously founded KFMB-TV channel 8, as KJOG-TV.[1] In October 1967, with the station still unbuilt, United States International University (USIU) filed to have the station transferred to it, stating that Gross was refusing to abide by an agreement reached that April to sell the station to USIU for $16,000 in expenses. However, a complication arose when Gross informed the FCC that he had reached a deal to sell the station to the Broadmoor Broadcasting Corporation, owned by Michael and Dan McKinnon alongside local radio stations KSON (1240 AM) and KSEA (97.3 FM) and television station KIII-TV of Corpus Christi, Texas, for $15,000. Under that agreement, Broadmoor would honor a deal brokered with the university, which had also applied for the channel, to acquire 50 percent. The situation prompted the Federal Communications Commission to designate an application to extend the life of the construction permit for hearing in late 1968.[2]

FCC administrative law judge Basil P. Cooper in 1970 ruled that Gross had trafficked in the permit but granted the time extension. However, the FCC's review board, later joined by the full commission, reversed the initial decision in 1972 and denied the application for more time to build the station.[3] A year later, however, the commission granted authority to extend the permit in order to consider the 1967 application to sell it to USIU, finding that Gross's actions did not merit immediate disqualification and would unfairly harm USIU.[4]

Broadmoor continued to challenge any authority by USIU to build KJOG-TV, and in 1975, the FCC designated the university's acquisition of the construction permit for hearing, this time over concerns about whether USIU was financially qualified to construct the station and whether financial issues at the university itself, spurred by a long-delayed and complicated land sale in the early 1970s and the collapse of one of the university's major lenders, weighed on its capacity.[5] A religious group, Christian Communications Network, intervened in the proceeding. On June 7, 1977, administrative law judge David I. Kraushaar ruled against the proposed transfer to USIU and its affiliate University Television, Inc., concerned over the financial issues and by cost estimates that were extremely low during a period of major inflation.[6]

Early years and sale to McKinnon

In late 1980, administrative law judge James F. Tierney finally adjudicated the matter for good and granted the transfer application to University Television, dismissing Christian Communications's complaints as unfounded.[7] What had changed was an offer by the McKinnons to provide financial support, with an option to buy a minority stake, even though the university was still showing signs of financial stress.[8] The renamed KUSI-TV finally signed on September 13, 1982—more than 17 years after the permit was granted.[8] It operated as a general entertainment independent station, airing a mix of children's programs, sitcoms, older theatrical and made-for-TV movies, drama series and sports events. Beginning in 1985, the San Diego Padres moved their games to KUSI from KCST-TV channel 39 due to problems with network preemptions and to sell their own advertising.[9]

By the end of the decade, however, the university's financial condition had worsened again; further, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges was threatening to revoke its accreditation. USIU was anxious to sell the station and receive a much-needed cash infusion to pay down debt, but McKinnon's ownership of 26 percent of University Television gave him veto power over any proposed transaction, and he had made several offers to buy out USIU.[10] The dispute between the two parties escalated in December 1989, when Michael McKinnon sued the university for $7 million, alleging that the university was still using his leased equipment despite not renewing the lease.[11] USIU negotiated with ABRY Partners—owners of stations in Boston, Cincinnati and elsewhere—to potentially purchase channel 51, but McKinnon did not want to sell out, stalling any efforts.[12] An effort by McKinnon to purchase the university's shares failed in late January 1990, after the station filed for bankruptcy protection.[13] When the sale collapsed, USIU asked some of its highest-paid employees to delay picking up their paychecks.[13]

Just weeks later, however, McKinnon entered into a deal to purchase the remainder of KUSI for $26.2 million;[14] his offer was preferable to a higher-priced bid by ABRY because it would allow USIU access to money faster at a time when it needed cash to make payroll.[15] Immediately, McKinnon announced plans to add a 10 p.m. local newscast and use KUSI as a "test market" for new local and national programs.[15]

UPN affiliation, Fox push and return to independence

In January 1994, the station dropped its weekday morning children's programs, moving them to afternoons upon the launch of a morning newscast;[citation needed] by 1995, KUSI began dropping many of these shows (which were scattered among other local outlets) and added more court, talk and reality shows, mirroring the scheduling format used by Los Angeles independent station KCAL-TV during that time period. The cartoons and recent off-network sitcoms were moved to a weaker station, KTTY (channel 69, now Fox affiliate KSWB-TV), which became a charter affiliate of The WB in January 1995. On January 16 of that year, KUSI gained a network affiliation when it became San Diego's original outlet of the upstart United Paramount Network (UPN). At the same time, KFMB-TV lured the Padres from KUSI under a new radio and television contract.[16]

Eleven months later in November 1995, in an attempt to take the Fox affiliation away from Tijuana-licensed XETV (channel 6), KUSI filed an appeal against the Federal Communications Commission's decision to grant Fox a permit to broadcast live sports on the Mexican-licensed signal of XETV (McKinnon had made an earlier unsuccessful attempt to pull the Fox affiliation from XETV in April 1991[17]). Fox had picked up the broadcast rights to NFL games from the National Football Conference the year prior,[18] as cited in the United States Court of Appeals case Channel 51 of San Diego, Inc. vs. FCC and Fox Television Stations, Inc. 79 F.3d 1187. FCC regulations disallowed television stations that were licensed outside the United States from airing live sporting events from a U.S. broadcast network without licensing approval. The permit was granted to Fox on behalf of XETV, and the case was settled on March 26, 1996.[19][20] However, until XETV started its own news department in December 1999, KUSI provided newsgathering resources to Fox's news and sports divisions for the San Diego market.

KUSI dropped UPN when its affiliation agreement with the network expired on January 16, 1998, citing low ratings for the network's programming locally.[21][22] UPN programming remained available in the market on local cable providers via the network's Los Angeles owned-and-operated station KCOP-TV (whose presence in the market also played a factor in KUSI dropping the UPN affiliation); however, many San Diegans that did not have a cable television subscription or a strong antenna (facing Los Angeles) were unable to view UPN programs within the market until Tecate, Baja California-licensed XHUPN (channel 49, later MyNetworkTV affiliate XHDTV-TDT) signed on in November 1999.

In the fall of 2007, KUSI announced plans to open a new state-of-the-art streetside studio facility in downtown San Diego. However, the site that was intended to house its new studio facilities was eventually sold to Bosa Development;[23] KUSI continues to operate from its Kearny Mesa studios. After McKinnon Broadcasting sold its two Texas stations, KBMT in Beaumont and KIII in Corpus Christi, to the London Broadcasting Company in separate transactions in 2009 and 2010, KUSI became the company's only remaining television station property.[24][25]

Digital television

Digital channel

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[26]
51.1 720p 16:9 KUSI-HD Main KUSI-TV programming


City of license Callsign Channel ERP HAAT Facility ID Transmitter coordinates
Temecula K12PO 12 3 kW 98 m (322 ft) 41601 33°35′34.4″N 117°8′53.9″W / 33.592889°N 117.148306°W / 33.592889; -117.148306 (K12PO)

Analog-to-digital conversion

KUSI-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 51, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 18.[27][28] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 51.


Syndicated programming on KUSI-TV (as of September 2020) includes The People's Court, 25 Words or Less, The Big Bang Theory, Last Man Standing, The Wendy Williams Show, The Real, TMZ on TV, Extra, Funny You Should Ask, Family Feud and Pawn Stars.

From 1987 to 1994 and again from 1997 to 2003, KUSI held the over-the-air television rights to San Diego Padres Major League Baseball games; during the second tenure, the station had only broadcast the team's Sunday games, which were produced by 4SD until becoming exclusive to the cable channel in 2004.[29]

Local programming


KUSI-TV presently broadcasts 62½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week.

KUSI became active in the local television news race when it launched its news department with the introduction of an hour-long 10:00 p.m. newscast in September 1990. Originally anchored by veteran television anchors Roger Grimsby and George Reading,[30] it was the first television station in San Diego to begin producing local newscasts since XETV's original news department folded in 1972, after it lost the ABC affiliation to KCST (channel 39, now NBC owned-and-operated station KNSD). Grimsby resigned in 1991 after he felt the station's news format was becoming too typical.[31] On January 5, 1994, the station debuted a three-hour weekday morning newscast from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. Originally anchored by Laura Buxton and Tom Blair (who was later replaced by Stan Miller), it gradually became a competitor to the national morning newscasts aired during the final two hours of the program.

The station is known for its series of civic and consumer watchdog reports during its evening newscasts called The Turko Files, helmed by investigative reporter Michael Turko (who regularly utters the line "It Ain't Right" during the segments).[32] From 1994 to 2014, John Coleman (a longtime Chicago weatherman and co-founder of The Weather Channel) served as KUSI's chief meteorologist, appearing on its evening newscasts. During his tenure at the station, Coleman was known for his trademark drawn-out pronunciation of the station's call letters ("K-uuuuuuuuuuu-S-I"), and providing his own lively presentation during the forecast segments (often referring to the strong winds that affect the area as the "SOSA" (or "Sort of Santa Ana"), and breaking out in dance at random). Coleman retired from broadcasting in April 2014 after a 61-year career; however, he did not appear on-air for a proper sendoff (as he was on vacation at the time) when KUSI ran a retrospective of his career on the April 10 edition of the 6:00 p.m. newscast.[33][34]

In January 2000, KUSI expanded its news programming into early evenings with the debut of a half-hour newscast at 7:00 p.m.; within a few months, however, the program was moved to 6:30 p.m. Subsequently, in July 2001, an additional half-hour newscast at 6:00 p.m. was launched.[35] In January 2005, the station expanded its late evening news programming with the debut of a half-hour 11:00 p.m. newscast.[36] On April 1, 2010, beginning with the station's 6:00 p.m. newscast, KUSI became the fourth television station in the San Diego market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.[37] In 2011, the station began using the AFD #10 broadcast flag to present its newscasts in letterboxed widescreen for viewers watching on cable television through 4:3 television sets.[citation needed]

In September 2011, the station expanded its weekday morning newscast to five hours, with the addition of an hour at 9:00 a.m. (replacing Live with Regis and Kelly, which moved to CBS affiliate KFMB-TV on that date).[citation needed] On August 11, 2014, KUSI debuted an hour-long 5:00 p.m. newscast; subsequently on August 16, the station expanded its weekend morning newscasts to five hours, with the addition of an hour at 10:00 a.m.[38]


KUSI's newscast drew criticism in December 2019 for an interview with Congressman Duncan D. Hunter in which the only questions asked were those suggested by his staff.[39][40]

Notable on-air staff



See also


  1. ^ FCC History Cards for KUSI
  2. ^ "Question of trafficking in KJOG-TV hearing" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 18, 1968. p. 44. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  3. ^ "FCC backs Gross turndown" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 20, 1972. p. 60. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  4. ^ Federal Communications Commission (June 27, 1973). "(41 FCC 2d 729) Memorandum Opinion and Order". FCC Reports Second Series. pp. 729–731. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  5. ^ "Money problems" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 15, 1975. p. 47. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  6. ^ Federal Communications Commission (June 7, 1977). "(69 FCC 2d 178) Initial Decision". pp. 178–186. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  7. ^ "San Diego". Los Angeles Times. October 23, 1980. p. 2. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Harris, Scott (September 13, 1982). "Channel 51 to Offer Culture . . . Later". Los Angeles Times. p. 5. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  9. ^ Quindt, Fritz (February 2, 1990). "Channel 51 still Padres' home despite refuge in Chapter 11". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. D-5.
  10. ^ Brass, Kevin (August 11, 1989). "USIU Aims to Sell KUSI, but It's Easier Said Than Done". Los Angeles Times. p. F2. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  11. ^ "San Diego". Los Angeles Times. December 15, 1989. p. B7. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  12. ^ Granberry, Michael (January 12, 1990). "Rust, USIU President 37 Years, Is Benched by Troubled School". Los Angeles Times. pp. B3, B4. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Brass, Kevin (January 27, 1990). "Channel 51 Files for Bankruptcy; Sale Is Off". Los Angeles Times. p. B4. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  14. ^ "USIU sells interest in television station". Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise. February 15, 1990. p. 5. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Brass, Kevin (February 19, 1990). "Outcome Was Predictable at Channel 51". Los Angeles Times. pp. F1, F7. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  16. ^ Green, Frank (March 23, 1995). "Baseball sponsors subtract their ads - Advertisers are jumping off the bandwagon". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. C-1.
  17. ^ Brass, Kevin (April 16, 1991). "Channel 51 Hopes to Force Fox TV Shows Off XETV". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  18. ^ CBS, NBC Battle for AFC Rights // Fox Steals NFC Package, Chicago Sun-Times (via HighBeam Research), December 18, 1993.
  19. ^ 79 F.3d 1187 Archived 2012-02-09 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Radio Televisión v. FCC, No. 96-1438".
  21. ^ Hontz, Jenny (January 7, 1998). "San Diego affiliate threatens to ax UPN". Variety. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  22. ^ "KUSI-TV drops UPN, assumes independent status". Electronic Media. 17 (2): 36. January 1998.
  23. ^ Kamban Biberman, Thor (December 31, 2007). "Bosa Development president continues to build residential, mixed-use properties". San Diego Daily Transcript. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  24. ^ Gauthier, Andrew (September 1, 2010). "London Broadcasting Buys Corpus Christi's KIII". TVSpy. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  25. ^ Malone, Michael (August 5, 2009). "London Closes On KBMT". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  26. ^ "RabbitEars.Info".
  27. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  28. ^ "CDBS Print".
  29. ^ Freeman, Mike (September 25, 2011). "Swan song for Cox 4, Padres baseball". U-T San Diego. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  30. ^ Brass, Kevin (October 15, 1990). "MEDIA : New Channel 51 Newscast Is Like Return to the Old Days". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  31. ^ Brass, Kevin (April 16, 1991). "Gruff Grimsby Says Smiling Wasn't Part of KUSI Deal". Los Angeles Times. p. F2. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  32. ^ Strumpf, Daniel (August 4, 2004). "Behind the bluster: The secrets of KUSI's not-so-tough guy Michael Turko". San Diego CityBeat. Archived from the original on August 14, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  33. ^ Karla Peterson; Jay Posner (April 10, 2014). "Forecast for John Coleman: Retirement". U-T San Diego. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  34. ^ "Longtime TV weatherman John Coleman retiring". KGTV. April 8, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  35. ^ Broadcast Briefs, U-T San Diego, July 4, 2001.
  36. ^ Spanish-language radio station ranks second in S.D. County, U-T San Diego, January 26, 2005.
  37. ^ "KUSI-TV Transitions to HD News With JVC". TVTechnology. August 18, 2010. Archived from the original on August 14, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  38. ^ Ortega, Roly (August 12, 2014). "2 newscast expansions at KUSI…".
  39. ^ Clark, Charles T. (December 6, 2019). "KUSI's Duncan Hunter 'interview' was limited to questions suggested by his staff". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  40. ^ Stone, Ken (December 5, 2019). "Scripted KUSI Interview with Duncan Hunter Debated by Journalism, PR Pros". Times of San Diego. Retrieved December 6, 2019.