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State Fair Speaker Tells Iowa’s Unique History in Broadcasting

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Broadcast television has been in the United States for almost 100 years, and unlike many of the western states, Iowa has been a part of that history for the entire time.

David Ostmo, the regional engineering director for Sinclair Broadcast Group, gave an hour and a half presentation at this year’s Iowa State Fair on Iowa’s unique history in broadcasting.

Ostmo said television was demonstrated at the Iowa State Fair in 1931 by engineering students from the University of Iowa.

WHO played a big role in the history, from the radio broadcasts to the television broadcasts of the WHO Barn Dance Frolic show, which ended in 1958. The WHO Crystal Studio at the state fair was where people could meet the talent, live and in color.

“I saw Floppy in person, I saw Duane Ellett in person, I saw Bill Riley in person, and it was a big deal for me to come to the fair and see this stuff live because back then it was still in black and white, so you got to see floppy in color and you got to see the sets in color. I’m still getting goosebumps just thinking about it,” Cal Beirman from the Des Moines Radio Group said.

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