MASON CITY, Iowa – On May 15th, 1954, the first broadcast aired on KGLO-TV in Mason City, Iowa. The news took place in a converted radio chapel that was ready to go after a $500,000 renovation. Mason City native and puppeteer, Bill Baird kicked things off, by welcoming the station to town, using the help of his wife Cora, and puppet, Charlemane. The station reached an audience with a population of half a million people. It’s the coverage area that we still have today, and includes Mason City, Albert Lea, Austin and Rochester.
Over the years, technology has changed, from times without computers, Teleprompters, or color cameras. Former KGLO/KIMT-TV engineer Bill Elsbury, says the biggest difference for him is the quality of the picture. “The difference in quality, the new system is 1000 times better than the old analog.” Elsbury says that things were always evolving and changing while he worked at the station from 1959-1999, but things like instruction manuals helped keep everyone on track.
In 1977, by order of the FCC, KGLO radio and KGLO-TV had to separate, and would no longer be allowed to be owned by the same company. KGLO-TV was sold, and became KIMT-TV. The “IMT” translated to “Iowa, Minnesota Television”.
Bill Schickel was an anchor at KIMT in 1989, and says quite a few things were different in his time. “We didn’t have the Internet back then. We didn’t have Facebook back then. We didn’t have all of the Internet sites where they were also producing news. We didn’t have a second or third channel like you have now and so in one way, what I think we did was maybe more dominant back then.” But he says, at the heart of it, the goal of telling stories, and good journalism remains, no matter the year.
Schickel says, there is an important place for television news, and that even though there have been skeptics in the past, the medium is here to stay. “Something I’ve observed over the years is that when radio came out, people said; that will be the death of newspaper, and then when television came out people said; that will be the death of radio, and then when the Internet came out people said; that will be the death of all three. Really, that hasn’t happened. It seems there’s a market for all of them and we’re very fortunate to have that.”
If you want to see some of the old items from KGLO Radio and TV, visit the Kinney Pioneer Museum in Mason City. Here is a link to more information: http://www.visitmasoncityiowa.com/index.php/kinney-pioneer-museum