It was 60 years ago Thursday night that KELO-TV first broadcast from this building at the corner of 13th and Phillips Avenue.
From the groundbreaking to construction to the dedication, it was a big deal back in 1959, so big, even the Vice-President of the United States got involved.
In the spring of 1958, crews broke ground on what would later become the new KELO-TV & Radio broadcast center.
Here’s a picture of owner Joe Floyd turning a ceremonial shovel of dirt.
His father, A.M. Floyd was called out of retirement to be the consulting contractor for the construction.
From pouring concrete to block work to electrical wiring, it was a massive undertaking to construct the 30,000 square foot building designed specifically for broadcasting that became the foundation to a lasting legacy.
“This building held both television and radio when it was built, and it was, at the time, modern and had a lot of technological advances that we really don’t think of today,” KELO Media Group General Manager Jay Huizenga said.
After a year of construction, KELO-TV officially went on the air from its new building on May 9, 1959.
It was such a huge accomplishment for South Dakota that it captured the attention of a lot of political leaders, including Vice-President Richard Nixon.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to extend greetings and best wishes to station KELO, on the occasion of the dedication of its new facility in Sioux Falls and also at the same time to extend my best wishes to all of its listeners in what I understand is termed, KELOLAND,” Nixon said.
There were 121 employees engaged in a wide variety of tasks involved in the complex operation of 18 hours of television and 20 hours of radio programming; every day 365 days a year.
Back then commercials were live in the studio.
“We still have a garage door in the back where they could bring in cars for live commercials and showed cars all of those doors were built at the time to bring in larger vehicles, so you look at them now and yes they are useful what they were really for, I think the most amazing thing to me is that the studio itself, while it’s gone through many renovations, including high definition, it’s been the studio for 60 years that’s where the news has been broadcast for KELO-TV for 60 years,” Huizenga said.
Except on a few occasions. At the height of the farm crisis of the mid-1980’s, former anchor, Doug Lund remembers when the news team was basically kicked out of our studio.
We visited with Doug in his basement where he has a lot of KELO memorabilia hanging on his walls.
He says Dan Rather and the CBS News crew came to Sioux Falls to broadcast its news and transformed our studio into their own.
“As a consequence we got to see the whole CBS Evening News done right there in our studios,” Lund said. “In the meantime, we had to move across the street to the brand new KELO radio building, so we were down in the basement over there.”
And that’s where Charles Kuralt joined them on set for a brief interview.
“There’s a lot of memories over the almost 40 years that I’ve been here,” Huizenga said.
One of Huizenga’s fondest memories was the Captain 11 show broadcast daily in the same studio.
“I was a child when I came here to see Captain 11 in the studio, now I see KELOLAND News folks, the KELOLAND Living and all the other shows that we do there that’s where Captain 11 was too and we knew exactly where Captain 11 set up his set, we knew where the kids sat, we put the chairs out, that studio has seen a lot in its 60 years history,” Huizenga said.
While there have been updates and renovations to the building, mostly on the inside, the outside of the structure has pretty much retained its same look over the 60 years.
“I thought the building served us well its changed with the times and modernized,” Lund said.
“It’s a staple there and I love the fact that we have the tower right out the back door and when the tower lights became pretty expensive to replace every Christmas Joe Floyd would say ‘you know I don’t care what it cost those blankety blank lights are going up every blankety blank until I die, but that was him you know,’ Lund said.
“It would be nice to have a modern facility, but this place has great value, and there’s a lot of tradition here, every time that subject has come up we decide we know what we have here, we know where everything is, it would be nice to, but remember in the current age we are in the electronics are getting more condensed not growing, so when you’re able to instead of drive a truck, but carry a backpack to a news conference or to a story, those you don’t need more room you really need less room, the reason television stations build new buildings is because they need less room,” Huizenga said.
Yes it’s old, but so is Lambeau Field and Fenway Park, they are iconic. But it’s not the design of the structures that made them iconic, it was the players who came to work every day striving to do their best, doing miraculous and memorable achievements that only legends are made of.
For 60 years, KELO has provided professional and quality work unmatched in this area. These are our players and this is our stadium.