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KCMT alums come together to reminisce

From 1958 to 2004, KCMT came into the homes of individuals in west central Minnesota.  They provided news, weather, and entertainment to families across the area, and in many ways, were much more than a television station.  The recognizable faces that came into the homes of so many day after day became like family.  And with that, a legacy was born. KCMT (Central Minnesota Television) first aired in 1958, operating with a staff of just 16 people.  Through a stock sale, financing was secured, and a group of more than ten individuals served as incorporators for the newly formed company.  Joseph Perino, at the time serving as general manager of Runestone Electric Association (REA), also began serving as president of KCMT.  And for several years, KCMT operated out of the basement of REA. Through nearly 50 years of broadcasting, the station saw a multitude of changes.  Initially an NBC affiliate, the station transitioned to a CBS association in the 1980s, and was later sold to WCCO, where it was reintroduced as KCCO.  The 1990s brought more change, as the Twins Cities began providing the bulk of the daily format, until mid 2004 when the station went off the air entirely. But throughout those years of broadcast, a significant impact was made in the Alexandria area communities.  The individuals who appeared on the TV screen each night became reliable sources, trusted informants, and even friends.  And there were hundreds more people working behind the scenes, making the many programming possible.  Over the course of KCMT’s existence, more than 300 employees came and went through their doors.  Because of that significant impact, former employees of KCMT organized a reunion for former coworkers and colleagues to gather, reminisce, and have a little fun. On Sept. 19, dozens of former employees and their family members gathered at the Alexandria Golf Club.  They enjoyed an afternoon on the course, followed by dinner and happy hour in the club house.  And the camaraderie between these individuals, whether they worked together directly or not, is hard to ignore.  Those that had the privilege of being a part of KCMT are clearly proud of the role they played, and throughout the reunion, the smiles and laughter were reminders of just that. For Joe Korkowski, the reunion is exceptionally meaningful. A latecomer to the KCMT family, he continues to be involved with radio broadcast in the Alexandria area.  But as someone who grew up watching and admiring the KCMT team, seeing so many influential individuals is a powerful event.  “Seeing and talking with John Froyd and Jim Rohne again is incredible.  They were influences on me growing up in the Alexandria area. I have a picture of my family and me, when I was only about 10, posing with Mr. Rohne.  It was a big deal to meet a TV celebrity as a kid.  And now I get to meet them again, as an adult.” Many of the people at this event have left a big wake behind them. Sandy Guyan, who did Welcome Inn and the weather on KCMT, travelled to be in attendance from Bemidji.  Jim Olmsted, a former reporter, travelled from Washington D.C. where he now teaches at American University.  Mary Jo Perino, granddaughter of Joe Perino, also attended.  She is now a reporter in Lexington, Kentucky.  These, and so many others, have gone on to achieve incredible things across the country, but are proud to have gotten their start at KCMT. For Audrey Behrens, the reunion was more than a chance to gather and remember.  It’s a chance to maintain the legacy that KCMT has left in Alexandria.  “We don’t want it forgotten that there was a TV station in Alexandria.  This event allows us to gather memorabilia, pictures, and other items that can be used at the Douglas County Historical Society or another museum.  KCMT was a part of so many lives; its memory should be preserved,” shared Behrens.

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