If you live in South Dakota, northwestern Iowa or western Minnesota, you live in KELOLand.
“KELOLand” was the invention of KELO-TV’s founder, Joe L. Floyd. He took the new station’s “call letters” and created a brand that is still dominant today. The station will celebrate 70 years of broadcasting on May 19, 2023. That’s a milestone in any industry.
I was lucky enough to be part of the KELO team for about ten years. In my position as a “Continuity Writer” and later “Continuity Director,” I wrote and produced television commercials and long-form videos. What was “continuity”? It referred to anything that wasn’t programming — the content “in between” such as commercials, public service announcements and promos. That’s what I wrote and produced.
As a local television station, KELO produced many of the commercials for its local advertisers. That included lots of car dealers, furniture stores and small, retail stores. We’d often shoot on location which meant that I was both the client liaison and a “grip.” My job as a grip was to ensure that all the cables were tidied up and back in the production truck before we left. Yes, that was a big part of the job!
Writing television commercials taught me how to write succinctly and clearly. In only thirty seconds I had to introduce the client/product/service benefit and finish with a call to action.
The long-form videos allowed me to stretch my “writer’s muscles.” Some of these segments were human interest interviews for telethons. Other long-form videos encompassed larger stories, such as the importance of co-curricular programs (band, orchestra, sports, etc.) in public schools. That was one of my favorite projects.
When the State of South Dakota celebrated its centennial in 1989, KELOLand celebrated with a series of 60-second “Centennial Minutes.” I interviewed famous South Dakotans and dug into historical files to write about notable events, such as the John Dillinger bank robbery in 1934. We produced 100 Centennial Minutes that aired (with sponsorship, of course) throughout the centennial year.
It was a great learning experience and a really fun place to work and play. I made some very good friends while at KELO — friends I’m still in touch with.
Happy 70th Anniversary, KELOLand!