KNBC Channel 4 leaves Burbank; moves to new L.A. broadcast center

After 52 years broadcasting Southern California’s biggest stories from the same Burbank studio, KNBC-TV Channel 4 has pulled up stakes and moved into a gleaming new center on the Universal lot.

“Everyone was sad to leave the old building, it had such a rich history with the studios used by Johnny Carson and even ‘Days of Our Lives,’ ” said Steve Carlston, president and general manager of NBC4, on Friday.

KNBC now is broadcasting from Los Angeles.

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“We moved about a mile away, but we have moved into the future,” Carlston said.

The two-building, 150,000-square-foot complex -- which cost more than $100 million to build and outfit -- eventually will be home to more than 600 workers. In addition to the staff of KNBC, the complex along Lankershim Boulevard will serve as the main West Coast bureau of NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo News.

This spring, staff members of sister station KVEA-TV Channel 52 of the Spanish-language Telemundo network, will join KNBC’s operations in the eastern building of the complex. KNBC and KVEA reporters and editors will share a newsroom but the two stations will have separate studios.

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The technologically advanced center required some 12,000 individual strands -- more than 380 miles -- of fiber crossing between both buildings. Specially designed LED lighting, employing technology developed by the Universal Studios engineering staff, is expected to provide more efficient energy usage. That’s increasingly important for such an electricity-burning industry as television.

The entire complex will boast four newsrooms, six production studios and a content distribution center.

“This is the largest investment made on the Universal lot in years,” Carlston said. When Comcast Corp. took over management of NBCUniversal in 2011, it made a commitment to significantly upgrade NBC’s local news-gathering operations, which had been scaled back during the previous ownership during an advertising slump brought on by the Great Recession.

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The move was made necessary after previous NBC owner, General Electric, sold NBC’s historical 34-acre Burbank campus -- where Johnny Carson set up shop on the West Coast in 1972 -- to a developer in 2007.

The new broadcast center, on the northwestern edge of the Universal lot, was previously used by Technicolor. The old building was largely torn down and construction for the new complex got underway about two years ago.

KNBC’s set alone features more than 27 high-definition monitors and a new weather center complete with special graphics that will feature some of the “microclimates” of L.A. Instead of just pointing to the mountains, basin and ocean, the KNBC meteorologists will be able to single out communities, such as La Habra, Pasadena and Fontana.

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“Viewers will see a crisp, clean look that feels very modern,” Carlston said. “And the weather center has a high-tech feel. It’s one of the most progressive television sets in the country.”

The last members of the KNBC management team relocated to the new building Friday. The newsroom staff moved earlier this week so the Channel 4 news team would be in place for the week’s big stories: the end of Jay Leno’s reign on the “Tonight Show,” shot nearby in Burbank, and the run-up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

NBC’s schedule already got a lift from Thursday night’s programming, including pre-Olympics coverage and Leno’s final episode. KNBC’s 11 p.m. newscast saw its ratings soar Thursday night, more than doubling that of its closest rival.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti asked for, and received the spot as the first guest of KNBC’s Sunday morning public affairs program that will originate from the new studios. That edition of “News Conference,” with Conan Nolan, is scheduled to air Sunday.


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