March 14, 1954: KDAL-TV goes on the air for the first time

KDAL-TV’s logo from 1954–1958 would not be considered politically correct today. Image: logopedia)

On this day in Duluth in 1954, KDAL-TV went on the air for the first time, just 13 days after WDSM-TV first hit the airwaves. Duluth’s “Channel 3” went live at 6 p.m., becoming the third station to serve the Twin Ports. On March 1st WDSM—“Channel 6”—took to the air; both stations were powered at 5,000 watts. The third station was WFTV, Duluth’s UHF service, tuning in at channel 38. WDSM was affiliated with CBS and KDAL with NBC—but according to the Duluth News Tribune, “direct network service” was not expected to begin until September because the network had to install a microwave relay station in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, the network sent pre-filmed shows for the station to air, including the “Colgate Comedy Hour,” “Howdy Doody,”  “One Man’s Family,” “Western Ranger,” “Uncle Harry,” and the “NBC Newsreel.”To fill in each day’s five-and-a-half hours of programming (just five on Sundays), KDAL offered news read by Bill Krueger and Dick Anthony, weather from Don Mason and sports with Don Dahl. The first broadcast involved station owner and manager Dalton A. LaMasurier introducing the “local personalities” mentioned above and airing a filmed greeting from Minnesota Governor C. Elmer Anderson and members of the Minnesota and Wisconsin congressional delegations. The March 4, 1954, edition of the <Duluth News Tribune> carried no less than five half-page advertisements for televisions ranging in price from $149 for the cheapest 17-inch model to $289 for the priciest 21-inch sets. Duluth’s WDIO-TV—the Zenith City’s ABC affiliate—did not hit the airwaves until January 24, 1966; you can read about that here.

6 Responses to March 14, 1954: KDAL-TV goes on the air for the first time

  1. Uncle Harry was Harry Novitsky, a local string musician. His band was Uncle Harry and the Western Playboys. He was also co-owner of the Associated Music store, where he gave guitar, banjo, and mandolin lessons. I took guitar lessons from him in the late 50s.

  2. Uncle Harry and the Hillbillies and the Western Ranger were two of the few locally-produced shows so they would not have been shipped in on film by the networks. Other local shows that soon appeared on Channel 3 included PeeWee Boxing, Rocky Teller, Mister Tollivers Travels, Stringbusters, Marian Key, Hans Freischle, plus news, sports and weather. I worked at Channel 3 so remember their programs best, but Channel 6 had Ray Paulsen and Jack McKenna among many others.
    Almost all the on-air people learned TV from scratch as they were converted radio announcers, reporters or entertainers.

  3. Uncle Harry was Harry Novitsky, whose string band was called uncle Harry and the western play boys. He was also call owner of the associated music store on first Street. In addition to selling records and stringed instruments Harry gave music lessons on banjo guitar and mandolin.

  4. Sure beat watching the test pattern on Channel 38 waiting for Sagebrush Theater to come on.

  5. I’m surprised that ABC didn’t come to town until 1966. I grew up in So Cal in the 1950s and we had ABC, CBS, NBC, and four independent stations. We were thrilled with that many. I kind of laugh when satellite and cable stations brag about having over 200 channels. Who needs all that?

  6. Youtube has the Colgate Comedy Hour and One man´s family of the 50s. Wonder if Uncle Harry and Western Ranger were local problems? I think back in 54 we got our first RCA TV.

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