10/11 Celebrates 60 Years

By: 10/11 News
By: 10/11 News

February 18, 2012 marks 10/11's 60th Anniversary. This week we're celebrating by taking you on a journey through each decade.

2000 - 2010
In the early 2000s 1011 News embraced change and adapted to the growing use of the internet and social media.

The year 2000 changed everything as the computer age had officially begun. The internet was taking off.

Jon Vanderford joined the anchor desk right in the thick of the boom.

10/11 was no longer just a television station with half hour news broadcasts, it adapted to the new media putting the information where the consumer wanted to view it.

The internet didn't just affect news. The weather department also had to adjust to the new world. Equipment also upgraded and gone were the days of video tape as digital editing took over.

In the middle of the decade there was another big switch at the desk as Deb Collins said goodbye and Serese Cole made the switch from the morning show to the evening desk.

10/11 kept up with the times, continuing to push the boundaries and stay on the cutting edge. It's a commitment that will lead the station into this decade and beyond.

The 1990s
In the 90's, there was a renewed emphasis on breaking news and live coverage at 10/11 News.

The more things change the more they stay the same. The 90's were proof of that at 10/11. News took the forefront for programming.

The addition of Deb Collins to the anchor desk strengthened an already strong team that had decades of experience by that time.

The real push in the 90's was to be on the scene as the news happened.

Reporters and viewers alike were getting used to being live. Change is always around the corner and in 1995 Mel Mains stepped away from the desk after a lifetime of service.

Bill Robertson took over for Mel, and Randy Lynn helped 10//11 move into the new century where more change awaited, this time in the form of news gathering and social media.

The 1980s
In 1980's 10/11 already had a number or household names. Mel Mains had taken over as a staple on the evening news, Leta Powell Drake was a fixture waking the state up in the mornings and was famous as a children's host.

Most on-air personalities were thought of as friends to the viewer.

In 1981 another friend was introduced who would become a fixture in living rooms across the state. Ken Siemek started as a producer on the morning show in the 80's

His big break into weather came in 1982 when a weekend spot opened up. The focus on weather and keeping viewers safe was just as strong in the 80's but the technology was completely different.

More changes defined the decade as Leta Powell Drake said goodbye and the station introduced its first female evening anchor, Deb Collins.

This news team would lead 10/11 through countless stories and major events and provide the backbone to station heading into the 90's.

The 1970s
The 1970's was a decade of change for the nation and for 10/11.

The station had already made the big jump from black and white to color, but technology kept changing rapidly and the station made the commitment to be on the cutting edge.

In 1971, 10/11 unveiled its first remote vehicle, allowing for the possibility to go live outside of the studio. By 1974 computers were making themselves more and more valuable. Computers were especially helpful during big events like election nights.

The newsroom was still pretty small both in staff and space back then, but commitment to quality was as strong as ever.

As the 70's ended and the 80's began there was a changing of the guard as Bob Taylor handed the reigns to Mel Mains. Another familiar face would emerge as the 80's rolled in.

The 1960s
By the time the 1960's began, KOLN was rolling. As a CBS affiliate, the station had strong national content and in 1961 a transmitter was added in Grand Island creating KGIN and making 10/11 what it is today. The real focus remained on live, local programming. No one knew that better than Leta Powell Drake.

"It was important that we serve the community and that involved community service, getting as many local people in, letting everybody know what was going, as our audience was growing and growing and growing," said Powell Drake. "We did a lot of live programming in those days and it was very fun. A commitment to local programming was the starting point."

Leta would kick off everyone's day with the morning show alongside Sarah Murdock on the piano, John Ludwick with the guitar, and singing Joe Kinney with weather Lloyd Oliver with farm markets, and Sherry Prochaska as another singer.

"It was a combination of everything. Of course we had news, weather and farm market reports. We had the standard. We had many guests. I used to call it a public service junk pile. We wanted to focus on Nebraska since we covered the majority of the state.

CBS chipped in with Captain Kangaroo but then it was back to Lincoln for Romper Room.

It was in the 60's that Leta also made her claim to fame taking the reins of the Cartoon Corral as Kalamity Kate in the afternoons.

The station celebrated it's 10th anniversary in 1963. Lincoln mayor D.L. Tyrrell proclaimed it Television Week.
By the end of the decade 10/11 was a staple in living rooms across the state. As the audience continued to grow so did the station. In order to serve the viewers 10/11 stayed on the cutting edge adding color in 1967.

The 1950s
On February 18, 1953 Nebraska was introduced to KOLN. Originally part of the Dumont Network, 10/11 actually got it's start on Channel 12.

Just getting on the air was a battle back then. The owners wanted to be up and running in 1950, but the FCC said there were already too many television stations. KOLN would have to wait three years to get approval.

Programming started at 5 a.m. that first day. There were 56 hours of shows a week including 20 minutes of news, weather and sports per day.

The Dumont Network provided another 90 minutes of programming a week leaving local programming to fill out the rest. That was an emphasis from the start. KOLN hosted a variety of shows from children's programming like Merry and Mr. Bill to talk shows like Woman's World.

1954 was a big year. The state's largest broadcast tower was built in Beaver Crossing. The coverage area expanded and became known as Lincolnland. That same year KOLN officially became a CBS affiliate and moved to Channel 10.

Owner John Fetzer gave up Channel 12 through a partnership with the University of Nebraska to air educational programming.

Local news aired twice a day at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Even though there were fewer shows and people, the mission to bring the latest breaking news as well as the big stories could be seen clearly throughout the first decade.

KOLN was there for president appearances, fires and accidents and in 1958 the station covered it's biggest story to date, the killing spree and capture of Charles Starkweather.

The early years laid a foundation to build on. And it introduced the state to television personalities they would grow to love.


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