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Wichita’s KAKE television signed on the air on VHF frequency 10 on October 19, 1954, among the early television stations in Kansas. The station operated as a primary NBC affiliate, with a secondary affiliation to ABC.  In 1956 KARD channel 3 claimed full-time NBC affiliation and KAKE kept its programming tie with ABC. KTVH was the CBS affiliate, making Wichita one of the smallest U.S. cities to provide the three major networks.

KAKE specialized in live children’s shows including Romper Room, and a regular Christmas program called Santa and KakeMan, featuring a puppet.

Tom Leahy in NightmareNightmare,another popular program, premiered Friday, January 31, 1958. The program, in black and white, starred Tom Leahy as a late night horror movie host. Leahy’s character was “The Host” and Lee Parsons was “Rodney,” the mute sidekick. The duo performed skits and introduced classic horror films. The program’s sets and props depicted a dungeon in a haunted house. The show then moved to 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Leahy was script writer and makeup artist, creating a special vocabulary that used wit and humor. Fans loved the program and sent cards and letters of support in response. Leahy became one of the most popular horror hosts in the region, making public appearances with Parsons at theaters and other public venues. Leahy left KAKE in 1960 and took the program to KTVH.

In 1964 KAKE added a satellite station in Garden City, KUPK channel 14, to cover southwestern Kansas. The station subsequently added another in Colby, with low power stations in Great Bend and Salina. The station added digital high definition and virtual channels.   

Entry: KAKE

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: January 2016

Date Modified: August 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.