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Austin-Albert Lea-Rochester, Minnesota-Mason City, Iowa
City of license Austin, Minnesota
Branding ABC 6 (general)

ABC 6 News (news)

Slogan It's About You
Channels Digital: 36 (UHF)

Virtual: 6 (PSIP)

Subchannels 6.1 ABC
Translators KAAL-LD 33 (UHF) Mason City
Affiliations ABC
Owner Hubbard Broadcasting Corporation


First air date August 17, 1953
Call letters' meaning Austin/Albert Lea
Former callsigns KMMT (1953-1968)

KAUS-TV (1968-1975) KAAL-TV (1975-1998)

Former channel number(s) Analog: 6 (VHF)

(August 17, 1953 - June 12, 2009) Digital: 33 (UHF) (January 1, 2001-June 12, 2009)

Former affiliations Primary:

CBS (1953-1954) Secondary: ABC (1953-1954) DuMont (1953-1955)

Transmitter power KAAL-DT 620 kW (digital ch. 36)

KAAL-LD: 8.3 kW (digital ch. 33)

Height KAAL-DT: 326 m

KAAL-LD: 80.8 m (digital ch. 33)

Facility ID 18285
Transmitter coordinates 43°37′42″N 93°9′11.6″W / 43.62833°N 93.153222°W / 43.62833; -93.153222


[hide]*1 History

  • 2 Dual studios
  • 3 Digital transition
  • 4 June 17, 2009 tornado
  • 5 News operation
    • 5.1 News/station presentation
      • 5.1.1 Newscast titles
      • 5.1.2 Station slogans
    • 5.2 News team
      • 5.2.1 Current on-air staff
      • 5.2.2 Past on-air staff
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


The station signed on the air on August 17, 1953 as KMMT and aired an analog signal on VHF channel 6. Its first owners were local businessmen Martin Busted, Harry Smith, and Palmer Ulland, who also owned KAUS radio (AM 1480 and FM 99.9). Originally, the station was a primary CBS affiliate with secondary ABC and DuMontrelations. After KGLO-TV (now KIMT) launched from Mason City in late 1954, KMMT switched its primary affiliation to ABC. DuMont would eventually be dropped in 1956 after that network shut down operations. This station is the longest-tenured ABC affiliate in the Upper Midwest.

During the late-1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[1] It shared studios with KAUS radio on MN 105 in Austin where the two radio stations continue to operate today. The television station produced a few local programs most notably The Family Hour hosted by Christian Pastor Joe Matt. The program aired until April 2001 and was one of the longest-running, locally produced religious shows in the United States.

KMMT and KAUS radio were purchased by Waterloo, Iowa-based Blackhawk Broadcasting in 1958. The station would add color television in 1967. Its call letters became KAUS-TV (for AUStin) in 1968 to match its radio sisters. The outlet would begin carrying the yearly Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon in 1973 and remains the area's affiliate to this day. KAUS-AM-FM-TV separated operations in 1974 after the television station moved to its current location on 10th Place Northeast along I-90. The building previously housed a Volkswagen dealership and showroom. The call letters were changed to the current KAAL-TV in 1975 referring to Austin and Albert Lea. Blackhawk sold KAAL to the News-Press & Gazette Company of St. Joseph, Missouri in 1980.

In December 1985, Dix Communications acquired the station and the new company added stereo programming in November 1990. Another ownership change occurred in 1997 after Grapevine Communications of Atlanta, Georgia purchased KAAL. It would eventually drop the use of the -TV suffix on September 23, 1998. Grapevine, in turn, divested the station to GOCOM on January 1, 2000. Exactly a year later, current owner Hubbard Broadcasting assumed control. The year 2001 also saw the launch of KAAL's digital signal on UHF channel 33. As part of the DTV transition on June 12, 2009, KAAL turned off its analog transmitter and moved its digital signal to UHF channel 36.

Its previous digital allotment would eventually be used to sign-on a fill-in translator to cover Mason City. During the analog era, its signal used an FM audio carrier which could be heard at 87.75 in areas where the video signal could be received (and some where it could not). The same practice was true of all analog channel 6 television stations in North America. However, this analog FM carrier no longer exists for full-powered stations after the conversion to digital-exclusive transmission.

At 8 p.m. on June 17, 2009, Austin was struck by an EF2 tornado in the city's north side. It passed one half mile to the north of KAAL's studios. This tornado was powerful enough to take out power for the entire city including this station. However, it continued to cover the severe weather event with a backup generator only able to power a few lights, computers, and camera set up in the weather center. The station would remain without electricity until 2 p.m. the next day. Normal operations resumed with the 5 p.m. newscast on June 18. The EF2 tornado caused structural damage to buildings on the north side of the city from US 218 near 4th Street Northwest to the golf country club.

It has been announced that KAAL will build new high definition-ready studios in Rochester, on Salem Road Southwest, as part of the T.J.Maxx plaza. This facility will be a full base of operations for its news and sales departments. The opening of the new studios will occur in early 2015 but the station will still maintain broadcast operations and studio located in Austin.

[edit] Dual studios

ABC6News is one of few stations in the country to currently employ the technology to broadcast using two different studios simultaneously. This technology is used for the station's weeknight newscasts at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. A bureau has been located in Rochester, MN for several years and has served to better cover the Rochester side of the television market. The Austin Studios will continue to house full operations for morning and weekend newscasts. It also houses the weather and sports staff. KAAL is licensed from the FCC to broadcast out of Austin, MN and can not move all operations to the Rochester studio.[1]

[edit] Digital transition

At 8:55 a.m. CDT on June 12, KAAL turned off their analog transmitter. This also means KAAL can no longer be heard on the 87.7 MHz radio signal. The station's digital transmitter on channel 33 was replaced with their channel 36 transmitter at full power on October 9, 2009. This completed the final phase in the digital transition.

[edit] June 17, 2009 tornado

Shortly after 8 p.m. on June 17, 2009, the city of Austin was hit by an EF2 tornado along the city's north side. The tornado passed one half mile to the north of the ABC6News Austin studio. This tornado was powerful enough to take out power for the entire city, including ABC6. ABC6News continued to cover the severe weather with a backup generator only able to power a few lights, a few computers and camera set up in the weather center. ABC6News remained without electricity until 2 p.m. the next day. Normal operations resumed with the 5 p.m. newscast on June 18.

The EF2 tornado caused structural damage to buildings on the north side of the city from US 218 near 4th St. NW to the Country Club. The tornado snapped power poles along US 218. Hundreds of trees were uprooted in Todd Park as well as extensive damage to the sports complex in the park. The total path of the tornado stretched from south of Blooming Prairie to 3 miles east of Austin. It was 120 yards wide at its widest point and produced winds in the range of 111-135 mph. There were no fatalities. [2]

[edit] News operation

[edit] News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • Regional Roundup (1953–1958)
  • The Upper Midwest Report (1958–1962)
  • Television 6 Reports (1962–1964)
  • TV-6 News/Channel 6 News (1964–?)
  • NewsCenter 6 (?–1990s)
  • Region 6 News (1990s–2002)
  • 6 News (2002–2004)
  • 6 News First (2004–2007)
  • ABC 6 News (2007–present)

[edit] Station slogans

  • The Spirit of the Heartland (1990–1996)
  • When You Need To Know (1996–2006)
  • Your News and Weather Source (2006–present)
  • It's About You (2009–present)
This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.===[edit] News team===

[edit] Current on-air staff


  • Melanie Bloom - weekday mornings
  • Ericka Miller - weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Bryan Piatt - weekday mornings
  • Betsy Singer - weeknights at 5 p.m.; also 6 and 10 p.m. fill-in anchor
  • Sarah Swistak - weekend evenings
  • James Wilcox - weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.

ABC 6 Weather Team

  • Rusty Dawkins (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Chris Kuball - Meteorologist; weekend evenings
  • Steve Sosna - Meteorologist; weekday mornings

Sports Team

  • Caleb Ostrander - Sports Director; weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
  • TJ Werre - Sports Anchor; weekend evenings


  • Dan Conradt - general assignment reporter
  • Jill Kasparie - general assignment reporter
  • Kristin Martin - general assignment reporter
  • Ellery McCardle - general assignment reporter
  • Lorilyn Prestidge - general assignment reporter
  • David Springer - general assignment reporter; also assistant news director

[edit] Past on-air staff

  • Nicole Agee - 6 and 10 p.m. anchor (now at KCRG in Cedar Rapids, IA)
  • Dave Berggren (now helicopter reporter at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis)
  • Adam Branstad - sports anchor (now at MLT in Rochester, MN)
  • Ezra Broder - sports director (now sports anchor/reporter at WSHM-LP in Springfield, MA)
  • Bill Dallman - reporter (now vice president of news at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis)
  • Lauren Dittmer - reporter (now associate producer at Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul)
  • Tim Elbertson - chief meteorologist
  • Axel Gumbel - reporter (now at KTTC)
  • Tom Halden - reporter (now anchor/reporter at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis)
  • Fred Hexom - meteorologist (now chief meteorologist at KCAU in Sioux City, IA)
  • Shelly Hexom - morning anchor (now producer at KCAU in Sioux City, IA)
  • Jason Howland - morning anchor (now Community Relations Coordinator at Fairmont Medical Center)
  • Karla Hult - reporter (now reporter at KARE in Minneapolis)
  • Alix Kendall - 10 p.m. anchor (now morning anchor at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis)
  • Stacy Lilienthal - reporter (now a reporter at KIMA-TV in Yakima, WA)
  • Lane Lyon - weeknight anchor (1994–1996; now at KMGH in Denver)
  • Mark Milbrath - chief meteorologist
  • Brandon McElwain - 6 and 10 p.m. anchor (now at Missouri Department of Transportation)
  • Dietrich Nissen - reporter/sports journalist (now a reporter/photojournalist at KREM-TV in Spokane, WA)
  • Rob Olson - anchor/reporter (now fill-in anchor/reporter at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis)
  • Jackie Orozco - weekend anchor (now at KIVI in Boise, ID)
  • Donny Rowles - reporter (now at KSMQ)
  • Randy Shaver - anchor (now sports director at KARE in Minneapolis)
  • Brian Smith - morning/chief meteorologist
  • Melissa Specken - weekend anchor/reporter (now producer of Twin Cities Live at KSTP-TV in St. Paul)
  • Karl Spring - chief meteorologist
  • Butch Stearns - sports anchor (now at WFXT in Boston)
  • Dawn Stevens - reporter (now fill-in anchor/reporter at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis)
  • Elise Finch - Reporter (Now a Meteorologist at WCBS-TV in New York)
  • Carrie Vincent - morning anchor
  • Terry Kelley - morning anchor, producer
  • Steve Danehy - reporter and Rochester bureau chief

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice: 13, November 10, 1956,

[edit] External links

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