W.D. “Dub” Rogers, Jr., signed on KDUB-TV Channel 13 in Lubbock, Tex., in 1952. It was the nation’s first commercial TV station in such a small market.
Rogers helped start KEYL-TV (now KENS-TV) in San Antonio in 1948. He wanted to bring television service to smaller markets. Rogers liked Lubbock as his starting place. It was the largest city between Dallas-Fort Worth and Albuquerque, San Antonio and Denver, and Oklahoma City and El Paso. The city also was growing quickly.
For more practical reasons, Lubbock was situation on flat terrain, meaning signals could travel long distances without interference.
The station signed on to great fanfare and rode a wave of strong early promotion. Part of the promotional effort was getting Lubbock residents to buy TV sets, which they did. Rogers had a reputation as a flamboyant pioneer and promoter. This 1955 ad is typical of KDUB’s message to advertisers: Lubbock was booming, full of young, progressive viewers with money to spend.
KDUB primarily was a CBS affiliate in its first few years, with a secondary DuMont affiliation. It also aired a great deal of local programming.
Rogers’ vision was to sign on a network of television stations in west Texas, all tied to the mothership at KDUB. Over the next few years, he signed on stations in Abilene, Big Spring and Clovis, N.M. It was the nation’s first regional TV network, called the West Texas Television Network.
The station was sold to Grayson Enterprises in 1961 and changed its call letters to KLBK. Grayson ran into trouble with the FCC through the 1970s amid accusations of fraudulent billing, fabricating program and transmitter logs, technical violations and more. The cases were settled in what was called a “distress sale.” Grayson’s stations were sold off to minority-controlled groups at a discounted price. KLBK went to an African-American-owned company.
KLBK is now owned by Nexstar Broadcasting.
Sources: Wikipedia (KLBK-TV), Book: Television in America, an anthology with local TV station histories from around the country