KAAL more commonly known as ABC 6 News is the ABC television affiliate serving the Rochester/Austin, Minnesota/Mason City, IowaDMA. The station is licensed to Austin. It broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 36, using its former analog channel assignment of 6 as its virtual channel via PSIP. Its transmitter is located near Grand Meadow, Minnesota.

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

ABC 6 News (newscasts)

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

Virtual: 6 (PSIP)

Subchannels 6.1 ABC
Translators 33 (UHF) Mason City
Owner Hubbard Broadcasting


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 620 kW
Height 326 m
Facility ID 18285
Transmitter coordinates 43°37′42″N93°9′11.6″W


KAAL went on air August 17, 1953 as KMMT. It was owned by three Austin-area businessmen along with KAUS radio (AM 1480 and FM 99.9). The calls didn't originally stand for anything, but were picked at random by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from a list of selected call letters. In 1954, after KGLO-TV (now KIMT) signed on, KMMT became an ABC affiliate. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[1] It is the longest-tenured ABC affiliate in the Upper Midwest.

Blackhawk Broadcasting of Waterloo, Iowa bought KMMT and the KAUS stations in 1957. Channel 6's calls became KAUS-TV (for AUStin) in 1968, after its radio sisters. In 1975, Blackhawk sold KAUS-AM-FM, and KAUS-TV became KAAL, representing Austin and Albert Lea (a nearby city).

Blackhawk sold KAAL to News-Press & Gazette Company of St. Joseph, Missouri in 1980. Dix Communications bought the station five years later, and sold it again to Grapevine Communications in 1997. Grapevine renamed itself GOCOM in 2000.

Hubbard Broadcasting purchased KAAL from GOCOM on January 1, 2001. Hubbard Broadcasting now owns all of the ABC affiliates in Minnesota, including KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities and WDIO-TV in Duluth. The three stations frequently share stories.

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]

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.

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]

News operation

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • Regional Roundup (1950s)
  • The Upper Midwest Report
  • Television 6 Reports
  • TV-6 News/Channel 6 News
  • NewsCenter 6
  • News 6 (1990s)
  • Region 6 News (1990s–2002)
  • 6 News (2002–2004)
  • 6 News First (2004–2007)
  • ABC 6 News (2007–present)

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)

[1] This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.===News team===

Current on-air staff


  • Melanie Bloom - weekday mornings
  • Laura Lee- weeknights at 10 p.m.; also reporter
  • Kenny King - weekday mornings
  • Betsy Singer - weeknights at 5 and 6 p.m.
  • TBD- weekday mornings
  • Ellen McCardle - weekend evenings; also weeknight reporter
  • James Wilcox - weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.

ABC 6 Weather Team

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

Sports Team

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


  • Dan Conradt - general assignment reporter
  • Jill Kasparie - general assignment reporter
  • Andrew Lovelette - general assignment reporter
  • Ellery McCardle - general assignment reporter
  • Gordon Severson - general assignment reporter
  • David Springer - general assignment reporter; assistant news director

Past on-air staff

  • Nicole Agee - 6 and 10 p.m. anchor (now at KCRG in Cedar Rapids, IA)
  • Josh Benson - 6 & 10 p.m. anchor (now evening anchor at WFTV in Orlando, FL)
  • Dave Berggren - sports director (now reporter at KARE in Minneapolis)
  • Kyle Bosch - 6 & 10 p.m. anchor (now morning anchor at KSPR in Springfield, MO)
  • Adam Branstad - sports anchor (now at MLT in Rochester, MN)
  • Ezra Broder - sports director (now sports anchor/reporter at WSHM-LP in Springfield, MA)
  • Erin Connors - 6 & 10 p.m. anchor (now communications specialist for American Psychiatric Association in Arlington, VA)
  • Bill Dallman - reporter (now vice president of news at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis)
  • Steve Danehy - reporter and Rochester bureau chief
  • Lauren Dittmer - reporter (now associate producer at Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul)
  • Theresa Ebreo - anchor/reporter (now anchor at KERN Radio News Talk 1180 and television host at KERO-TV in Bakersfield, CA)
  • Tim Elbertson - chief meteorologist (now meteorologist at KXRM in Colorado Springs, CO)
  • Elise Finch - Reporter (now meteorologist at WCBS in New York)
  • Terrie Foster - 6 & 10 p.m. anchor (now director of communications and marketing at Timbervest)
  • 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 - sports director/morning anchor (now communications coordinator at Fairmont Medical Center-Mayo Health System)
  • Karla Hult - reporter (now reporter at KARE in Minneapolis)
  • Terry Kelley - morning anchor, producer
  • Alix Kendall - 10 p.m. anchor (now morning anchor at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis)
  • Stacy Lilienthal - reporter (now a reporter at KIMA 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)
  • Dan Ruiter - 6 & 10 p.m. anchor (now news director at KEYC in Mankato, MN)
  • 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)
  • Jessica Taff - weekend sports (now New Jersey Nets reporter for YES network in New York)
  • Carrie Vincent - morning anchor (now online editor for Wausau Daily Herald)
  • Jay Williams - weekend sports (now owns TV production company in Madison, WI)


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

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