Retro: The last hour of KVFD-TV, Fort Dodge, IA - May 4,1977
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Thread: Retro: The last hour of KVFD-TV, Fort Dodge, IA - May 4,1977

  1. #1

    Retro: The last hour of KVFD-TV, Fort Dodge, IA - May 4,1977

    If I had access to an Iowa edition of TV Guide, or microfilm of the Des Moines Register, I'd provide the whole day. For the record, the last show aired on KVFD-TV was The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.

    It was 7 pm, and engineer Don Lewis had rejoined the NBC feed after an hour of local programs. He'd been monitoring severe weather activity that afternoon and evening. At 7:15, a Webster County sheriff's deputy spotted a tornado several miles south of town. Tornado sirens were activated in Fort Dodge. Lewis was able to broadcast tornado warnings several times from the station. At 7:30, there was only enough time for him to dive to safety under a steel table before the station took a direct hit.

    A John Wayne movie was on the schedule at 8 pm for NBC's Wednesday Night at the Movies. It wouldn't be seen, nor would KVFD-TV ever return to the air. The station's 650 foot tower at the studio didn't fall, but suffered major structural damage. Tower experts remarked that they had never seen a tower take so much damage and still remain standing.

    KVFD's owner and founder Ed Breen made the decision to dismantle the tower. Breen, at age 78 had been trying to sell KVFD-TV for some time, but vowed to rebuild the station anyway. Unfortunately, cancer would take Breen's life less than a year later, which marked the end of commercial TV in Fort Dodge.

    KVFD-TV started out life as KQTV in November 1953 on channel 21. Unlike most UHF stations of the time, KQTV actually survived, having a monopoly of sorts in the Fort Dodge area. WOI-TV from Ames was the only other station that reached Fort Dodge at that time. Des Moines' channel 8, KRNT-TV (later KCCI) wouldn't start up until 1955. WHO-TV the NBC affiliate on channel 13 started in 1954, but its tower 15 miles east of Des Moines at the WHO-AM site was too far away to reach Fort Dodge. So it was a natural decision for KQTV to be an NBC affiliate.

    KQTV would take the calls of Ed Breen's AM station KVFD in 1967. In the early 70's, Breen built a 1200 foot tower for channel 21 northwest of Fort Dodge. tv Increased revenues didn't follow, so when Iowa Public Television proposed to build a Fort Dodge station, Breen offered the channel 21 tower to IPTV. KVFD-TV would take over IPTV's channel 46 license, modified to channel 50 as a used antenna and transmitter tuned to that channel was available. It was installed at the original 650' tower site next to the studio. KVFD spent less than a year on channel 50 before the tornado 37 years ago this week put the station into the archives.

  2. #2
    K.M. Richards
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by joebtsflk1 View Post
    If I had access to an Iowa edition of TV Guide, or microfilm of the Des Moines Register, I'd provide the whole day.
    Well, I have been able to access the Sunday television supplement for that week in the Register and here it is, complete with the abbreviations the newspaper used to fit everything into its assigned space. (Amazingly enough, in 1977 they were still listing each station's schedule individually, forcing viewers to consult 25 separate sets of program listings every time they wanted to see what was on ... the high number because of the inclusion of stations in Sioux City, Omaha and elsewhere in a fairly wide radius.)

    Anyway, here is what aired up until channel 50's abrupt demise that day:

    7:00 Today
    9:00 Club
    11:00 Name, Tune
    11:30 Lovers, Fr.
    12:00 News, Mkts.
    12:30 Girl Talk
    1:00 Give Away
    1:30 Barb Creates
    2:00 Another Wld.
    3:00 Gong Show
    3:30 Eve's Kitchen
    4:00 Bozo
    4:30 Bullwinkle
    5:00 D. Friend
    5:30 NBC News
    6:00 News, Spts.
    6:30 Wild King.
    7:00 Grizzly

    Between the separate listings and the abbreviations, I wonder if anyone actually used the Register for a guide.

  3. #3
    I did!

    Believe it or not, when in the late 70s the Register moved to the more accepted convention of listing by time instead of by station, there were complaints. The Register relented, and for a few years published listings both by time and by station. The listings-by-station format had been used by the Register going back to the 50s, so the readers were well conditioned to it.

    The following flight of fatuous fancy would not have been possible with listings by time instead of station:

    Had...
    12:30 Girl Talk
    1:00 Give Away
    1:30 Barb Creates
    2:00 Another Wld.
    ...been combined into a single program, "Girl Talk: Give Away Barb Creates Another World," the description might have read like a tale of Greek mythology crossed with a twist of Jerry Springer. Gossip-py gab about a promiscuous Greek goddess who couldn't take the heat from her girl-frenemies, so she tells them to stick it in Uranus and gallops to a grand new galaxy.

    And who can we thank (blame) for this whole mess? WHO. KVFD-TV picked up NBC over-the-air from preemption-prone WHO-TV which at the time ran movies from 12:30 to 2 pm, so KVFD had to come up with their own programming.

    A few years back, I wrote a brief history about Ed Breen and KVFD that I should post here, but that will wait for another day.

  4. #4

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    When did the Register split their TV listings to "eastern Iowa" and "western Iowa" versions (with both versions containing the DSM stations)?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim from Springfield, IL View Post
    When did the Register split their TV listings to "eastern Iowa" and "western Iowa" versions (with both versions containing the DSM stations)?
    Maybe the 70s, sometime? The daily paper for Des Moines metro only listed the Des Moines & Ames stations, along with radio listings. In the late 60s, they had most of the TV stations plus DM radio listings (yes, actual schedules) in the daily edition we got in eastern Iowa, but the radio listings were dropped at some point, maybe in the early 70s. By the late 70s, I think the radio schedules were dropped in the metro edition, although they continued with a list of radio stations.

    As far as Sundays, I think there were multiple editions... east, central, and west... I think even before cable channel listings began taking up space. But I'm not really sure as we didn't get the Sunday paper.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by K.M. Richards View Post
    7:00 Today
    9:00 Club
    11:00 Name, Tune
    11:30 Lovers, Fr.
    12:00 News, Mkts.
    12:30 Girl Talk
    1:00 Give Away
    1:30 Barb Creates
    2:00 Another Wld.
    3:00 Gong Show
    3:30 Eve's Kitchen
    4:00 Bozo
    4:30 Bullwinkle
    5:00 D. Friend
    5:30 NBC News
    6:00 News, Spts.
    6:30 Wild King.
    7:00 Grizzly

    .
    This is one of the better KVFD schedules, a little disappointing their last day on the air didn't have a single "film feature" or "travel to adventure" slotted somewhere.

    The "Club" at 9am is the PTL Club, obviously buying the time. So they were wiping out two hours of NBC programs (that were carried by WHO) while having to fill 90 minutes in the afternoon due to the WHO movie. I suppose they didn't have enough video recorders to record the NBC 9-11am programs while playing PTL Club.

  7. #7
    Another show that was a regular feature in that 12:30 to 2 pm slot on KVFD was the ongoing saga, "To be ann." "To be ann." in most other markets was a staple of Saturday afternoons, with "T.b.a." occasionally showing up on all three channels in a given market. Of course that was the Register's shorthand and probably inside joke for "To be announced."

    My older brothers both carried the Register, so as far back as I can remember we always had the Sunday edition, and occasionally the daily paper if they had extra copies. In the 60s the Register's Sunday edition showed all of the stations that could be received in Iowa. The "Northwest" part of the page was occupied by the Sioux Falls and Sioux City stations (and I think ch.12 KEYC Mankato MN); "Southwest" by Omaha and St. Joseph, MO (ch. 2 KFEQ, later KQTV really was kind of a stretch); "Southeast" by Ottumwa, Hannibal MO/Quincy IL and the Quad Cities; "Northeast" by Cedar Rapids-Waterloo, Mason City-Austin-Rochester and La Crosse WI (ch.8 WKBT, another stretch); and "Central" were the Des Moines stations plus Ames and Fort Dodge. I'm not sure about the daily Register in the 60s. I think the eastern half of the state got a different edition than the western half. Des Moines was in both, but the eastern edition didn't have listings from the west and vice versa.

    The split, eastern-western Sunday editions of the Register's TV listings definitely started in the early 70s.

    And then there's the ol' PTL Club. That was a staple of a lot of small market stations. KTVO in Ottumwa, or rather by then Kirksville, ran Jimmy and the Make-up Pancake generally around 3:30 or 4 pm.

    Such extensive newspaper TV listings seem rather odd today. But up until the early 80's, the Des Moines Register was one of the few morning newspapers in Iowa. Most other regional newspapers in the state were afternoon papers. Even the Cedar Rapids Gazette was an afternoon paper.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by joebtsflk1 View Post
    And then there's the ol' PTL Club. That was a staple of a lot of small market stations. KTVO in Ottumwa, or rather by then Kirksville, ran Jimmy and the Make-up Pancake generally around 3:30 or 4 pm.
    KTVO ran the PTL Club from 9 to 11AM starting in at least 1978 (maybe earlier). Later on, KTVO only carried one hour of PTL, putting "Donahue" on at 10AM. In 1981, KTVO dropped PTL altogether, along with the local noon newscast, and finally aired ABC daytime in pattern.

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