Eight months earlier several opposing groups had vied for the Channel Two allocation. Shortly before the Commission granted a Construction Permit to Central Plains Enterprises in June of 1954, certain agreements were made between these opposing groups. Central Plains, which began as a joint effort of three men, soon expanded to include several more.2
The majority control in Central Plains Enterprises, Incorporated was held by Southwestern Sales, Incorporated, which in turn was controlled by Tulsa oilman, William G. Skelly, His partners in the venture were Senator Robert S. Kerr of Oklahoma and Oklahoma oilman, Dean A. McGee.
When the trio applied for their Construction Permit, they found that other groups wished to obtain the Channel Two allocation also. One group led by oilman, John Mabee, however, soon relinquished its bid. The other group was comprised of several Tulsa businessmen led by Fred Jones and Tom P. McDermott. Others in the group were Tulsa oilman Charles McMahon, insurance executive Dan P. Holmes, and L. Francis Rooney, president of the Manhattan Construction Company.
Before the negotiations had ended, Harold Stuart had joined the Central Plains family. His appearance brought accord to all concerned. An agreement was made between the two factions and the McDermott-Jones group retracted their application proposal. The agreement called for Central Plains Enterprises to provide shares in their company to McDermott, Jones, and the others in return for the release. These shares were ultimately sold back to Central Plains Enterprises in 1963.3
Southwestern Sales has been the single largest shareholder in Central Plains Enterprises since the corporation was founded in 1954.4 The Kerr-McGee interests have remained stable, although several new stations were acquired before the senator's death.5 These acquisitions included WEEK-TV in Peoria, Illinois and WEEQ-TV In La Salle, Illinois. Both stations were sold after Kerr died in 1964.
In 1957 Central Plains voted to give the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma State University equal shares in the corporation. This arrangement is still in effect.6
When KVOO-TV went on the air in 1954, C. B. Akers was named as general manager. When Akers retired in 1960, John Devine took over the management of the station.7
Stability is a factor in much of the KVOO operation. This is evidenced in several ways. One-time opponent, Dan P. Holmes, became the first advertiser to purchase airtime on the station, and 13 years later is still a client.8 In July of 1957 KVOO moved from temporary quarters in the Akdar Building at Fourth and Denver in downtown Tulsa to the elaborate Broadcast Center studios at 37th and Peoria in the Brookside section of Tulsa.9 KVOO-TV shares the facilities of Broadcast Center with KVOO Radio. This places Channel Two in the unique position in Tulsa of being able to share its news department with the radio station, giving it a large degree or mobility in the reporting of news events.
Station Manager, John Devine, recalls much of the development of KVOO since it signed on the air with 55 employees in the winter of 1954. The KVOO remote cameras have been on location for such events as the National Open Golf Tournament at Southern Hills Country Club in 1958, the installation of the Most Reverend Victor J. Reed as Bishop of Oklahoma City and Tulsa at the Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa, and the inauguration of Dr. Ben Henneke as president of the University of Tulsa at the First Presbyterian Church in Tulsa.
From the fall of 1955 until January of 1957 KVOO-TV scheduled "The University of Tulsa Presents," a weekly half-hour program prepared as a laboratory project by the TU television production class. This series was revived during the fall and winter of 1963-64.10
When the station went on the air in 1954, it was equipped to carry network programs in color. In the following year KVOO added equipment that permitted local films and slides to be telecast in color. In November of 1964 the station purchased a color camera and began originating programs in color from the studios in Broadcast Center. These new developments have necessitated the hiring of additional personnel, so that today, some 78 employees are needed to maintain the many facets of the station.
2 Tulsa World, December 5, 1954.
3 Interview with Tom P. McDennott, Tom P. McDermott Company, March 23, 1967.
4 Tulsa Tribune, October 19, 1957.
5 Tulsa Tribune, December 5, 1957.
6 Tulsa World, March 18, 1957.
7 Interview with John Devine, general manager of KVOO, March 6, 1967.
8 Interview with Bruce Washburn, program director of KVOO, March 1, 1967.
9 Daily Oklahoman, June 7, 1959.
10 Interview with Professor Edward S. Dumit, University of Tulsa, Speech Department, April 24, 1967.