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After selling the building, in 1990, Hearst weighed plans to move KMBC-TV's operations to a new studio space elsewhere in the Kansas City metropolitan area; however, company management eventually decided to continue to operate the station out of the Lyric Theatre, with which the station entered into a leasing agreement after Hearst turned over ownership of the building.
Channel 9 would gain a sister television station in 1997, when Hearst Broadcasting – which was renamed Hearst-Argyle Television after Argyle Television Holdings II merged with Hearst's broadcasting unit (now named Hearst Television) that year – entered into a local marketing agreement to manage the operations of KCWB (channel 29, now CW affiliate KCWE), which signed on the air in September 1996 as the market's original affiliate of The WB (it would later assume the UPN affiliation from KSMO-TV (channel 62, now a My Network TV affiliate) in August 1998, as part of a swap that resulted from then-owner Sinclair Broadcast Group's multi-station affiliation agreement with The WB).
Construction of the facility – which was designed in the mold of the Spanish-inspired architectural style of Country Club Plaza, and built by Oklahoma City-based architecture firm Rees and Associates, which also designed the studio facilities of sister stations WDSU in New Orleans and WESH in Orlando – began later that month, and was completed in early August 2007.
The modern purpose-built concrete and glass studio facility incorporates a master control facility with digital and high definition transmission processing equipment; a two-story 4,500-square-foot (420 m) newsroom; a satellite management center supporting downlink and uplink capabilities; a helistop for the station's "News Chopper 9" helicopter; and surface parking for station employees and guests.
As part of the deal, Meredith agreed to affiliate KCMO-TV (channel 5, now KCTV) with CBS, as compensation for sister station KPHO-TV in Phoenix, Arizona (which rejoined CBS in September 1994) losing its affiliation with the network to KOOL-TV (now Fox owned-and-operated station KSAZ-TV).
KMBC-TV subsequently signed an affiliation agreement with ABC, granting it assumption of the Kansas City affiliation rights to that network from KCMO-TV, which had carried the network since its September 1953 sign-on in a dual-affiliation arrangement (KCMO also initially carried select programs from the Du Mont Television Network on a part-time basis until the network ceased operations in August 1956).
The station is also available in that market on select cable providers (including Suddenlink Communications) and on satellite via Direc TV and Dish Network, as a secondary ABC outlet to KQTV (channel 2), which has served as the network's official Saint Joseph station since it became a full-time affiliate in June 1967; KMBC's near-ubiquitous cable distribution in Saint Joseph dates back to KQTV's former status as a primary CBS affiliate from its September 1953 sign-on until the former KFEQ-TV disaffiliated from that network in 1967, a period in which the station supplemented its CBS offerings with a limited selection of ABC programs.
Cook Paint and Varnish subsequently sold WHB radio to Storz Broadcasting in order to comply with FCC rules of the time period that restricted a broadcasting company from owning more than two radio stations in a single media market.
In January 1955, the Meredith Corporation signed a multi-year agreement with CBS to affiliate five of television stations that the company owned at the time with the network.
In April 1954, Cook Paint and Varnish purchased Midland Broadcasting's television and radio holdings – KMBC-TV, KMBC radio and sister radio station KFRM (550 AM) in Concordia, Kansas – in a deal that transferred the rights to Midland's lease to the Victoria Theatre, at the intersection of East 18th Street and Central Avenue in Downtown Kansas City, to Cook.
After Cook formally assumed ownership of the station on June 14 of that year, KMBC-TV began occupying channel 9 full-time, absorbing WHB-TV's share of the operation and the lease to the Victoria Theatre, wherein Midland had rented space in the lower floors beneath the building's performance stage since it purchased the facility in 1947 to house the operations of KMBC radio and later KMBC-TV.