KMEG: The Beginning
Sioux City, IA —
They called it "The Summer of Love" in 1967 as "hippies" flocked to San Francisco's Haight Ashbury.
Sergeant Pepper was released that June, going to number one for 15 weeks. And Le Mars native Doctor Thomas Starzl performed the world's first successful liver transplant.
In Sioux City a new television station was getting ready to charge into viewer's living rooms. Former channel 9 salesman Bob Donovan and his wife Norma formed a group of local investors who were building the foundation for a third television station, KMEG-14. One of the employees lending a hand was George Lindblade who'd returned home following a stint as a photographer at NBC in Los Angeles.
When asked if he remembered his title at KMEG during that time Lindblade replied, "It depended on what day it was and what the job was. Could be photographer. It could be chauffer, janitor, electrician, whatever happened to be.”
Lindblade recalls that on KMEG’s first day of operation September 5th of 1967 an engineer jumped in at the last second to help a nervous staff member punch the button to launch the station's black and white signal. He says the first words that went out over the air where, "That one!” Lindblade adds the person then hit the button and said, (bleep) (bleep), we're not ready yet!”
Despite the rough start KMEG featured the Newsbeat 14 news department. The noon show with Howard Garland and Rosemary Post was the hottest show in town according to Lindblade. "He played the piano and sang terribly. He always tried to make everything humorous. And Rosemary was the fashion plate. She was always dressed to the nine's and had the lady's in the community all very faithful to 'em,” says Lindblade.
There were two kids shows. One featured H. Tedd Bush. The other with salesman Bill Bass as Klarence the Klown.
"We had the first remote truck which was an old Bunny Bread truck.” Says Lindblade. He adds, “The first thing we had to do was get it painted because we were the laughing stock of the city driving around in it."
KMEG was the also the first commercial television station in town to broadcast on a UHF signal at a time when few people had the special antenna necessary to pick up the finicky signal. "There are areas of this town that were totally dead to the signal," Lindblade adds.
Despite the challenges, Lindblade has fond memories of the spunky little station that signed on 50 years ago. "It was fun. It was an experience. Would I ever want to do it again? No. But the thing is that I think everybody at the time, uh, it was a good group of people and the camaraderie was good."