Cowles Company

This article is about the Cowles Company of Spokane, Washington. For other persons and entities named Cowles, see Cowles (disambiguation).
Cowles Company
Industry Publishing, Manufacturing, Media, Real estate
Founded c. 1894
Founder William H. Cowles
Headquarters Spokane, Washington, US
Area served
Spokane, Washington, Spokane Valley, Washington, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Inland Empire
Key people
Elizabeth A. Cowles (chair)
W. Stacey Cowles (publisher)
Footnotes / references
Real Cities, McClatchy Interactive

The Cowles Company is a diversified media company in Spokane, Washington in the US. The company owns and operates the newspaper The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, founded in 1894. The company operates Inland Empire Paper Company, television stations, and interests in real estate, insurance, marketing and financial services.[1]

William Stacey Cowles, the publisher of The Spokesman-Review, is the great-grandson of the company's founder, William H. Cowles, and the fourth generation of the Cowles family to run the paper. His sister, Elizabeth A. Cowles, is chairwoman of the parent company. Rob Curley is the editor.


Spokesman-Review tower in Spokane

William H. Cowles came to Spokane at age 24 to be the business manager of the Spokesman, which was founded less than two years before, and excelled at local news coverage. He had experience as a police reporter for the Chicago Tribune and was the son of the Tribune's treasurer, Alfred Cowles, Sr. He soon bought the Spokesman from his partners. In 1893, he bought a rival paper, the Review, and merged the two papers into The Spokesman-Review. He acquired the Chronicle in 1897. According to Time in 1952, he was a "determined man" who had an artificial leg yet walked two miles to the office each day.[2]

Cowles set the Chronicle on a course to be independent, and The Spokesman-Review to support Republican Party causes. Time magazine related the paper's success gaining lowered rates for freight carried to the Northwest United States and an improved park system and that helped the region. Increasing its reputation for comprehensive local news and by opposing "gambling, liquor and prostitution," The Spokesman-Review gained popularity. The paper's opposition to building the Grand Coulee Dam was not quite so universally applauded and when it opposed the New Deal and the Fair Deal, it so disturbed President of the United States Harry Truman that he declared the Spokesman-Review to be one of the "two worst" newspapers in the United States.[3] The Scripps League's Press closed in 1939, making Cowles the only newspaper publisher in Spokane. Cowles created four weeklies, the Idaho Farmer, Washington Farmer, Oregon Farmer and Utah Farmer.[2] Cowles died in 1946. When William H. Cowles, Jr. succeeded his father as publisher, James Bracken received much more news and editorial control as managing editor.[2]

The original Review Building, designed by Seaton & Ferris in 1891 in a style closest to Richardson Romanesque, is ten stories with a tower that reaches 146 feet (45 m). In 1975, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.[4]


Cowles' television operations are centered around the two NBC affiliates in eastern Washington. The flagship is KHQ-TV in Spokane, which was founded by Cowles as Washington's second television station. Cowles also owns KNDO in Yakima and its Tri-Cities semi-satellite KNDU (licensed to Richland).[5] As of September 2007, Cowles planned to acquire two CBS affiliate television stations for USD $41 million from Newport Television, one of the holding companies formed by Providence Equity Partners when Providence planned to acquire the television stations owned by Clear Channel Communications. They are KCOY-TV in Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo, California and KION-TV in Monterey, California. KION carries The CW Television Network on a separate digital channel. Cowles would also have a management agreement with KCBA, the Fox affiliate serving Salinas, Monterey and Santa Cruz, California, and would acquire two low power stations, KKFX-CA, also Fox in San Luis Obispo, California and the Telemundo affiliate KMUV-LP in Monterey.[6] The deal closed on May 7, 2008.

On September 20, 2013, News-Press & Gazette Company announced that it would purchase Monterey stations, KION-TV and KMUV-LP, as well as San Luis Obispo station KKFX-CA. NPG will also take over some of the operations of Santa Maria sister station KCOY-TV, which Cowles will retain, under a shared services agreement (as NPG's holdings in the area already include KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara).[7] The existing LMA for KCBA was terminated on December 1, 2013 as that station's operations were assumed by Entravision Communications through a joint sales agreement (the license was retained by Seal Rock Broadcasters). On September 30, Cowles announced that it would acquire Max Media's Montana television station cluster for $18 million.[8][9] The sale was finalized on November 29.


City of license / Market Station Channel
Owned Since Affiliation
Billings, Montana KULR-TV 8 (11) 2013 NBC
Miles City, Montana KYUS-TV
(satellite of KULR-TV)
3 (3) 1 NBC
Butte, Montana KWYB 18 (19) 2013 ABC
Fox (DT2)
Bozeman, Montana KWYB-LD
(satellite of KYWB)
18 (19) 2013 ABC
Fox (DT2)
Great Falls, Montana KFBB-TV 5 (8) 2013 ABC
Fox (DT2)
Helena, Montana KHBB-LD
(satellite of KFBB-TV)
21 (21) 2013 ABC
Fox (DT2)
Missoula, Montana KTMF 23 (23) 2013 ABC
Fox (DT2)
Kalispell, Montana KTMF-LD
(satellite of KTMF)
42 (42) 2013 ABC
Fox (DT2)
Spokane, Washington KHQ-TV 6 (15) 1952 NBC
Yakima, Washington KNDO 23 (16) 1999 NBC
Richland, Washington KNDU
(satellite of KNDO)
25 (26) 1999 NBC

Other Notes:


Market Station Channel TV (RF) Years Owned Current Ownership Status
Monterey - Salinas, California KMUV-LP 11 2008-2013 Telemundo affiliate owned by News-Press & Gazette Company
KCBA 1 35 (13) 2008-2013 Fox affiliate owned by Seal Rock Broadcasters, LLC
(Operated through a LMA by Entravision Communications)
KION-TV 46 (32) 2008-2013 CBS affiliate owned by News-Press & Gazette Company
Santa Barbara - Santa Maria -
San Luis Obispo, California
KCOY-TV 12 (19) 2008-2015 2 CBS affiliate owned by VistaWest Media, LLC
(operated under LMA by News-Press & Gazette Company)
KKFX-CA 24 2008-2013 Fox affiliate owned by News-Press & Gazette Company

Other Affiliations

Cowles family

The Cowles family of Spokane is descended from Elizabeth (1827–1910) and Sarah Hutchinson (1837–1884) of Cayuga County, New York. The two sisters married two brothers, Alfred Cowles, Sr. and Edwin Cowles of Cleveland, Ohio. Edwin published the Cleveland Leader and Alfred moved to Chicago, Illinois where he purchased one third of the Chicago Tribune.[10]

Feminist and educator Betsy Mix Cowles was Alfred and Edwin's paternal aunt. Edwin's sons Alfred and Eugene were chemists and metallurgists who invented and operated electric arc smelters to extract aluminum. Alfred Cowles, 3rd—the grandson of Alfred, Sr.—founded the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics following the Great Depression.

Distantly related, the Cowles family of Spokane are about sixth cousins of the family of Gardner Cowles, Sr. of Des Moines, Iowa and Minneapolis, Minnesota who owned Cowles Media Company. Both Cowles publishing families are descendants of Hannah Bushoup (c.1613-1683) of Hartford, Connecticut and John Cowles (1598–1675) of Gloucestershire, England.



  1. Yahoo! or Hoovers via Yahoo!. "Cowles Publishing Company Company Profile". Retrieved 2007-10-23.
  2. 1 2 3 "The Inland Empire's Voice". TIME. Time. 7 January 1952. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  3. "When Harry Gave Us Hell". The Spokesman-Review. Cowles Publishing Company. 7 September 2007. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  4. "Review Building". Emporis. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  5. "Business in brief: Cowles Co. buying California stations". The Spokesman-Review. Cowles Publishing Company. 26 September 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  6. "Cowles Buying California TV Stations". TV Newsday. 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
  7. "KCOY to 'share services' with KEYT parent company under planned station purchases". Santa Maria Times. September 23, 2013. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  8. Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License "Federal Communications Commission", 1 October 2013
  9. Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License "Federal Communications Commission", 1 October 2013
  10. White, James Terry (1895). The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Being the History of the United States. James T. White & Company, via New York Public Library via Google Books full view. Retrieved 2007-10-24. and Robert Norton Smith (10 June 1997). Chapter 1, The Colonel, The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick 1880-1955. Houghton Mifflin Co. via The New York Times Company. ISBN 0-395-53379-1. Retrieved 2007-10-24.

External links

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