St. Joseph’s television market enters a new era Saturday with the launch of FOX 26 KNPN.

KNPN will be available over-the-air on Channel 26.1 to area viewers with a digital antenna and a television or set-top box with digital capability, out to about a 30-mile radius.

The station will replace WDAF-FOX Kansas City on Channel 4 on the Suddenlink cable lineup. Suddenlink spokesman Gene Regan said the switch is contractually required and will occur during the overnight hours early Saturday.

Channel 604 on Suddenlink will change from WDAF-FOX HD Kansas City to KNPN-FOX HD. WDAF-DT will be dropped from Channel 427 and also no longer will be carried locally by the cable system. KNPN also will replace WDAF on satellite provider DISH Network and in a month DIRECTV.

Mr. Regan said Suddenlink is working with an outside vendor to change its interactive digital program guide as soon as possible.

News-Press 3 NOW continues unchanged on Suddenlink Channel 3 and Channel 603, and will enhance KNPN's role by serving as a sister news station.

Eric Bradley, the station’s general manager, said KNPN's start makes history as the city's first new television station since the beginning of KFEQ (now KQTV) occurred in the early 1950s.

"We feel that now is a great time," he said of one reason for creating the station. "We're a big part of this community."

The introduction of KNPN meets consumer demand for more personal choice in how news is obtained, Mr. Bradley added.

"It's a great opportunity for the community to have an alternative news outlet," he said. "The 9 p.m. news is going to be the real benefit."

The new station also poses new avenues for advertisers to link with such FOX programs as “American Idol” and National Football League games.

Another goal is to build on complementary news offerings of the News-Press daily newspaper -- along with its website, smart phone and tablet platforms -- in a manner known as convergence journalism.

Besides the 9 to 9:30 p.m. newscast, KNPN’s local news, weather and sports will air each weekday from 5:30 to 8 a.m., noon to 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 6 p.m. Two newscasts will air Saturday and Sunday at 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Ray Scherer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.

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