It was an inventor’s dream-an idea that sparked creativity, community involvement and knowledge that would span beyond anyone’s imagination. In the 1950’s, three Williston businessmen, W.S. Davidson, Jr., E.C. Kresbach and Arley R. Bjella had an idea to bring television to Williston. It was this inspiration that has made Williston and KUMV-TV what it is today.
After years of meetings with television and telephone officials in Chicago, Minneapolis, Fargo and Bismarck, a plan was organized to build a station 10 miles west of Williston. Residents of three North Dakota counties and five Montana counties joined forces and formed the Upper Missouri Valley Television Corporation (UMV). Between 1955 and 1956, $450,000 was raised to start construction on the new KUMV-TV building.
Upon completion of the television facility, Missouri Valley Television Corporation turned operation of the station over to Meyer Broadcasting Company of Bismarck. On February 6, 1957 with the approval on the Federal Communications Commission, KUMV-TV began telecasting.
On June 2, 1957 KUMV-TV held their open house from 2 to 4pm. For the festivities, six area bands played. Free soft drinks were provided by a Plentywood wholesaler. Ice cream was handed out by two Williston creameries as well as one from Minot, Sidney and Plentywood. Jerry Wilder, captain of National Guard Company C, was in charge of parking while the North Dakota Highway Patrol and Williams County Sheriff’s Department took charge of highway and entrance traffic. Special guests included Governor John Davis; Bill Ekberg, president of Meyer Broadcasting Company; Arley R. Bjella, president of Upper Missouri Valley Television Company.
Since 1957, KUMV-TV has provided great entertainment and memorable programs like Bonanza, Dragnet, Hill Street Blues and the local Be Our Guest program. Today the KUMV-TV Evening Report and Night Report remains number one in viewership. Monday thru Friday residents tune into a local program called the Noon Report where viewers can learn about local happenings, interesting people and great recipes from Mr. Food. KUMV-TV has also provided great local programming over the years including Band Day, Rotary Auction and Santa Show.
Just as shows have changed over the years so has the equipment. In 1973, a new Gates 166,000 watt transmitter cost $200,000. Today replacing that transmitter would cost the station an estimated $450,000. While equipment is not the only improvement made at KUMV-TV, advancement was made into the new modern era in October 2005 by switching over to fiber optics.
Today television plays an integral part of our daily lives. Who could have imagined television’s potential so long ago. What started as a vision ended up as a great endeavor.