SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Joe Floyd made history in South Dakota in 1953 when he announced KELOLAND Television was the first television station to launch in the state. 

Fast forward to May 19, 2023, KELOLAND Television now goes by KELOLAND Media Group. To celebrate the milestone, you can watch an hour-long 70th Anniversary Special in the videos attached above. 

KELOLAND News Executive Producer Anna Peters produced the show with the help of photographer and editor Ashton Fechner. Peters and Fechner dug deep into the KELOLAND archives to take you on a journey through the decades. 

“We didn’t realize so much history has happened here in KELOLAND,” Peters said. “Even if you were here when certain things happened, some of those stories, it brings back memories. It brings back thoughts of where you were at that time and you forget about some of the really interesting things that happened here.” 

Key dates in KELOLAND-TV history: 

  • 1955: KELOLAND-TV starts live programming, including Captain 11 show. 
  • 1955: KELOLAND-TV adds KDLO and KPLO towers to allow people to watch in Aberdeen, Huron and Pierre. 
  • 1959: KELOLAND-TV moves into the building in downtown Sioux Falls at 13th St. and Phillips Ave. 
  • 1961: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is interviewed in KELOLAND-TV studio. 
  • 1968: KELOLAND-TV launches live color cameras.
  • 1975: KELOLAND-TV installs 2,000-foot tower near Rowena.
  • 1986: CBS News temporarily moves studio to KELOLAND-TV. 
  • 1988: KELOLAND-TV launches SpaceLink satellite uplink truck for live coverage.
  • 1991: KELOLAND-TV provides closed-captioning of newscasts. 
  • 1992: KELOLAND-TV launches LiveCams. 
  • 1997: KELOLAND-TV launches website 
  • 1998: KELOLAND-TV hosts telethon for Spencer tornado victims. 
  • 2011: KELOLAND-TV launches High Definition broadcasts. 
  • 2018: KELOLAND Living launches lifestyle show. 
  • 2020: KELOLAND Media Group launches revamped studio and set.
On the left, works start building the KELO-TV building in the late 1950s.
On the right, the current KELOLAND Media Group building in the 2010s.

Peters said the favorite old video she discovered from the archives was of legendary trumpet player Louis Armstrong. 

“He’s on set talking about playing his horn and he’s got a scratchy voice,” Peters said. “Then all of a sudden, you see him bring a cigarette up to his mouth. So he’s on the KELO set smoking a cigarette and talking about a concert in Sioux Falls.” 

Louis Armstrong smoking a cigarette in the KELO studio during an interview in the 1950s.

“I like to say when history happens, it happens on KELOLAND-TV,” Paul Farmer, KELOLAND Media Group Director of Marketing and Creative Services, said. “That’s really true when you start digging through the archives. You’ll not only see the stories, but the culture at the time, even how people talk.  

Peters said it was easier to find archive video after the 1970s when video started being recorded on tape more than film, which was much more expensive. 

“We shot a lot more video,” Peters said. “We had a lot more staff, and we had so many stories to go through.” 

Peters thanked the KELOLAND operations team and graphics team for all the extra work put into the 70th special. 

“We have all the different logos,” Peters said. “We even have graphics for the old video that looked like old fashioned TV sets from the 50s, 60s, 70,s 80s and 90s because everything’s changed about TV over the years.” 

The special will be re-broadcast on KELO-TV on Memorial day and the 4th of July at 4 p.m. CT.