“My gosh, it still works,” I thought to myself as I waved my old coded ID card in front of the little black box outside the Keloland parking lot and the gate slowly rose to let me in. It had been a few months since I’d paid a visit to the TV station where I spent so many years of my life. The KELO building at 13th & Phillips as it looked when I started in ’74 and how it still pretty much looks today.I guess I’ve always been surprised that the gates of Keloland were ever opened to me at all. I had no real credentials when I was hired in 1974, just an obvious love of the business and a willingness to do anything and everything they asked just so I could be a part of it and learn.
In those early years, that meant operating the audio board and recording lots of commercials. I kept asking for more to do until finally they gave me a shot in the news department. At first my jobs consisted of ripping wire copy from the AP and UPS machines, typing up stories for others to read and making daily runs to Harolds Photography for news film to be developed. By some miracle, I was never stopped for speeding along Phillips or Minnesota Avenues as I raced back to the station in the KELO car with cans of film sitting next to me in the front seat..film that needed to be edited in a hurry to make the six PM newsreel. We always made it but sometimes just barely.Those daily deadlines were incredibly stressful, exceedingly exciting and fantastically fun.
Eventually, in late March of 1975, the news director handed me a Bell and Howell film camera, gave me a quick lesson on how to run the darn thing and sent me out to do a story on my own from start to finish..which meant shooting, writing, editing and voicing. As I recall, it wasn’t much of a piece, just a simple report on how people were about to go nuts from cabin fever because it had been three solid weeks of overcast skies and cold. As luck would have it, the clouds suddenly parted as my camera was rolling and I got a great shot of that precise moment and wrote something like; “There can now be a great feast of joy and celebration in Keloland because the prodigal “sun” has returned.”
The next day I was called into the office of General Manager, Evans Nord. I figured for sure he was going to fire me for blasphemy but to my surprise, he said he found my little report amusing and to keep it up.Speaking of amusing. This picture is from 1976 or 77, just after Keloland switched from film to video cameras. With the hair, tie and jacket, these were my Ron Burgundy years. And, yes, I know the lens cap is still on the camera. Someone just handed it to me, told me to pretend I was shooting video and then took the photo. I swear that’s true..at least I think I swear that’s true.Before long, he called me back into that same office, only this time it was to offer me the co-anchor spot on the 10 O’clock news; a position only a handful of others had occupied since KELO signed on the air in 1953.
All these years’ later, wonderful memories like those rush to my brain every time I return to the KELO building and I still marvel at my good fortune at having been a part of it for so long.
Now, let’s see if my key will still open the back door. Yup! Ah, it’s so good to be home again but I better not stay too long, these people have more important things to do than listen to a grey haired geezer ramble on about TV stories from the olden days.
By: Doug Lund