#FunFactFriday – What do Arizona’s broadcast media call letters mean?

A common sense approach to media relations
September 6, 2018
#MediaMonday – Kristine Cannon
September 10, 2018
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call lettersThe HMA team has been busy updating the FinderBinder, the state’s media directory.  At our staff meeting a couple weeks ago, I asked the team if they had any idea what some of the stations’ call letters meant.  After a few blank stares and a couple shoulder shrugs, I attempted to explain.

Broadcast stations in the United States are assigned call letters that begin with either a K or a W.   The stations west of the Mississippi River get K call signs and those to the east of it get W call signs.


Some examples:

KPHO (CBS) – PHO refers to Phoenix

KPNX (NBC) – PNX refers to Phoenix

KSAZ (Fox) – the station changed its call letters a few years ago and the station tagline was Spirit of Arizona (SAZ)

KNXV (ABC) – when Channel 15 launched they were a “new” type of news station.  NXV – the new 15, XV being the Roman numeral for 15

KAET (PBS) – the public broadcast station is based at Arizona State University therefore, AET – Arizona Education Television.  And it is also located at channel 8 or AET.


It applies to some of the radio stations as well:

KMLE  FM – Camel Country, taking its name from Camelback Mountain

KTAR FM – TAR, Talk Radio

KJZZ FM – the station is known for its jazz music

KSLX FM – the station is known for playing classic rock music


Elsewhere around the state:

KUAT (PBS) – broadcasting from the University of Arizona, so UAT – UA Television

KMSB (Fox) in Tucson, the Mountain States Broadcasting Company

KYMA (NBC) – YMA referring to the station in Yuma

KZUL FM – in Lake Havasu City, the station is known for is casual (KZL) format

KNAZ-TV – the former station in Northern Arizona -- Flagstaff to be specific -- where Scott Hanson got his start.


I suspect this holds true in other states as well – from my younger days living in the Twin Cities, I remember:

KMSP (FOX) – Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)

KSTP (ABC) – St. Paul (STP)


A couple others:

WGN – out of Chicago, World’s Greatest Newspaper

WTBS  - out of Atlanta, Turner Broadcasting  System


Can you add to our list?

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

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