January 24, 1966: WDIO-TV goes on the air for the first time

On this day in Duluth in 1966, WDIO-TV went on the air for the first time. Ads in the newspapers taken out by president and general manager Frank Befera promised that the quality of its equipment and staff was “the finest available.” The company would operate at a new facility at 10 Observation Road, which Befera called “the only facility in Northeastern Minnesota specifically designed as a television studio.” It was a large one as well, big enough “to accommodate the entire symphony orchestra.” As the ABC affiliate, the station promised local and national news, sports that included the Professional Bowlers Tour and weather with “authoritative weatherman” Jack McKenna. The ABC prime-time line up in 1966 offered dramas Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Combat, The Fugitive, Man Called Shenandoah, The F.B.I, Peyton Place, and Ben Casey as well as comedies Bewitched, the Donna Reed Show, McHale’s Navy, the Addams Family, and F-Troop. WDIO was preceded by WDSM-TV, which took to the air on March 1, 1954, as the CBS affiliate. Thirteen days later  KDAL-TV started airing NBC programming. In the 1960s WDSM and KDAL switched their network affiliations and both stations aired some ABC programming until WDIO arrived. WDSM changed its call letters to KBJR and later KDAL became KDLH. Today, KBJR and KDAL stations are owned by the same company.

Image courtesy Perfect Duluth Day.

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