KIMT-TV celebrated its 50th anniversary in broadcast on Saturday, May 15, 2004. President and General Manager Steve Martinson says, “For those that have watched KIMT over the years, they will remember Bart’s Clubhouse, a local children’s program that aired from 1958-1976, and watching Bob Clausen and his Shell Weather Tower. It is absolutely amazing what innovation and technology has brought to broadcast television, giving us abilities they couldn’t have dreamed of 50 years ago.”
More than half a million dollars was spent to build and equip the television station and the new home of KGLO AM and FM radio and KGLO-TV. The building that had occupied a former radio chapel, originally built by an intenerant evangelist was gutted even of its floor and plastered walls during the remodeling. Lee Loomis, president of Lee Radio (a division of Lee Enterprises, owner of the Mason City Globe Gazette, signifying the GLO of the call letters), incorporated pressed the button during a opening ceremony, which put KGLO-TV on the air at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, 1954.
The opening ceremony featured a special 10-minute puppet show contributed by Bill Baird, native Mason Cityan, and his wife, Cora. The New York puppeteers had their puppets speak directly to prominent Mason Cityans. A Columbia Broadcasting System and DuMont television affiliate KGLO-TV first broadcast on channel 3 with 100,000 watts effective radiated power, the maximum in its day permitted on that channel.
The audience included a population of more than half a million people, and the signal blanketed what was referred to as “The Golden Triangle,” including Mason City, Iowa, and Austin and Albert Lea, Minnesota. Signals were reported as far away as Gary, Indiana, and Rochester, Minnesota.
“You are hitting Rochester real good.”
Among the regularly scheduled CBS and DuMont network television shows, programming opening night included, “The Goldbergs” DuMont network program, “Let’s Go Fishing”, a 20-minute feature on the opening of fishing season in North Iowa that day, followed by “The Nightcap”, a full-length moving picture chosen especially for the first night program.
Among the regularly scheduled and featured programs were “Jack Benny, Ann Southern in “Private Secretary,” Edward Murrow’s “Person to Person”, Arthur Godfrey and his friends; Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnes in “I Love Lucy,” Red Buttons, “Ford Theater,” and Gene Autry, “Amos and Andy.”
In an editorial in the Mason City Globe Gazette dated May 10, 1954, the view on television during that time is reflected with a bit of caution,
“While it isn’t to be discounted as a medium of entertainment, its possibilities for disseminating education, culture, good citizenship and good will are of vastly greater importance. TV is obviously quite closely related to radio. But there is no reason in logic or on a basis of experience to believe that one is inimical to the other. TV is a jealous claimant of the viewer’s time and attention. You can, for example, read and listen to the
radio. About the only other thing you can do successfully while viewing TV is eat!”
In August of 1977, FCC regulations required the combined ownership of the Globe Gazette, KGLO radio and KGLO-TV to be separated as it would no longer be allowed to own a television and a radio station in the same community.
KGLO-TV was sold to BY Communications, and with this change in ownership came the change in the call letters to KIMT-TV, the “IMT” representing “Iowa-Minnesota Television.”
In June 1980, Daily Telegraph Printing Company based in Bluefield, West Virginia, bought the the station. The station was again under new ownership effective June 29, 1984, when it was acquired by Spartan Radiocasting Company (later to become Spartan Communications).
Spartan was later bought by Media General Broadcasting of Richmond, Virginia. In 2006, KIMT was bought by its current owners, New Vision Television.
KIMT-TV has grown and innovated along with the television broadcasting industry, bringing news and programming from black and white to the implementation of digital television in May of 2002, expanding later that summer to high-definition television. The current demographic area viewing audience, now referred to as the “Rochester, Minnesota, DMA,” has tripled and is closer to four times the viewership in 1954.
KIMT News 3 is moving into the future with determination in bringing North Iowa and southern Minnesota top news coverage, the latest in meteorology equipment and top-rated CBS prime programming.