KTRK-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 13, is an ABC owned-and-operated television station licensed to Houston, Texas, United States. The station is owned by the ABC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of ABC/Universal (itself owned by Comcast). KTRK's studios are located on Bissonnet Street in the Upper Kirby district, and its transmitter is located near Missouri City, in unincorporated northeastern Fort Bend County.
The station grew out of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-imposed VHF "freeze", when three entities vying for the channel 13 assignment, including the Houston Chronicle, decided to merge as Houston Consolidated Television. The group also bought the studio facilities of KNUZ-TV (channel 39), a DuMont affiliate which had gone dark.
The station first signed on the air on November 20, 1954, as KTRK-TV; as the Chronicle was the largest shareholder in the partnership. The station took the ABC affiliation from KPRC-TV (channel 2) and has stayed aligned with the network since its debut. The station's original studio facilities were located at 4513 Cullen Boulevard (at the defunct Texas Television Center district on the University of Houston campus); this studio later housed KHTV (now CW affiliate KIAH, the present channel 39) and PBS member station KUHT (channel 8). Like many stations located on "unlucky" channel 13, it used a black cat as its mascot.
In 1955, the Chronicle bought out its partners. Although this theoretically left the paper free to change its callsign to KTRH-TV to match its radio station, it opted not to. However, for years it called itself "The Houston Chronicle Station." Soon afterward, the station moved to its current Bissonnet Street facility. The studio was the first domed structure in town, predating the better-known Astrodome by ten years. Both projects were designed by the same architect, Hermon Lloyd.
Early programs involved a heavy emphasis on local flavor and reflected themes of the day. Some of the more popular local shows included:
- Kitirik: a children's program, hosted by an actress in a cat costume.
- Cadet Don: A space-themed children's adventure program that focused on the exploits of an interstellar adventurer and the locations he visited. His alien puppet friend Seymour was from the planet Katark.
- Dialing for Dollars: A game show of sorts where a viewer would be phoned by the host and would win a cash prize by answering questions.
- Good Morning Houston: The successor to Dialing for Dollars, which debuted in the late 1970s and expanded to include discussions on local events and topics important to viewer's lifestyles.
Today, all four of the aforementioned shows are still on the air.