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

On this day in Duluth in 1954, KDAL-TV took to the airwaves for the first time, just 13 days after WDSM-TV first hit the small screen. 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. LaMeasurier 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.