KXAN celebrates 50th anniversary

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Fifty years ago today central Texans turned on their television sets to discover a brand new station to watch. What was then known as KHFI-TV became only the second commercial television station on the air in Austin.

In a 1995 interview with KXAN, a longtime Austin broadcaster recalled the first day on the air.

“It was total bedlam. The studio was full of dignitaries,” said the late Mel Pennington, who later would become the station’s sportscaster. “In 1965 we really, honestly didn’t know what we were doing. But we faked it beautifully.”

The first owners spread the word about the new station in a unique way, using the picture of a white mutt named “Punch the Pup”.

“That dog was plastered on ever bill board in 22 counties,” Pennington remembered.

Today Jim Spencer’s dog Kaxan has similar duties.

The station became a full time NBC affiliate in 1966. In 1973 KHFI changed call letters to KTVV. In 1987 the station made another switch to the current KXAN. It was meant to associate the station with the word “Texan.”

Today news from KXAN can be accessed from your phone, iPad, TV and our website. But as the more things change, our relationship with our viewers and readers remains the same.

“We have these incredible relationships in our local community. So we’re going to know where the stories are because we have these relationships,” said KXAN President and General Manager Eric Lassberg. “So many practices that we’ve developed through trial and error for half a century; we really know what to do in those situations and the community knows that.”

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