I finally got a definitive answer to the KRIS news question, and in a way, both sides in this discussion are correct. Here is the text of an email I received from the Chief Engineer for KRIS/KZTV:
'You are correct. We are producing the news in a 16x9 SD format that is up-converted to 1080I HD. The Panasonic cameras are HD capable. We have not replaced the production switchers (both KRIS and KZTV) yet and they cannot handle HD content. All of our news field cameras and NLE editing equipment is HD capable as is all of the graphics equipment."
So what we are seeing is the same as when you take a standard DVD and put it in a DVD player that will "upconvert" the signal. It's not really HD but it's damn close. The difference in the quality between this and the San Antonio stations isn't camera quality, set or lighting. It's because it's a true HD signal--not upconverted SD.
Now my attentions turns to the pressing question--when will D* and E* get all of our locals in HD?!!!!
My AM21 from D* is doing a great job of tuning the local HDs, but it would be nice it that was a backup.