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KAAL/ABC6 logo
Austin-Rochester-Mason City
City of license Austin, Minnesota
Branding ABC 6
Slogan It's About You
Channels Digital: 36 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
Subchannels 6.1 ABC
Translators 33 (UHF) Mason City (CP)
Affiliations ABC
Owner Hubbard Broadcasting Corporation
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)
Former affiliations Primary:
CBS (1953-1954)
ABC (1953-1954)
DuMont (1953-1955)
Transmitter Power 224 kW (digital ch. 33)
324 kW (digital ch. 36)
Height 293 m (digital ch. 33)
Facility ID 18285
Transmitter Coordinates 43°37′42″N 93°9′11.6″W / 43.62833°N 93.153222°W / 43.62833; -93.153222

KAAL, more commonly known as ABC6News, is the ABC television affiliate serving the Rochester/Austin, Minnesota/Mason City, Iowa DMA. The station is licensed to Austin. It broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 36. Its transmitter is located near Grand Meadow, Minnesota.



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 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 Corporation 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 weekday newscasts at 5,6 and 10pm. 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. ABC6 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 AM CDT on June 12, ABC6 turned off their analog transmitter. This also means ABC6 can no longer be heard on the 87.7 MHz radio signal. ABC6 turned off their digital transmitter on channel 33 and their channel 36 transmitter was boosted to full power on October 9th, 2009. This completed the final phase in the digital transition.

June 17th, 2009 Tornado

Shortly after 8pm 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 ABC6 studios. This tornado was powerful enough to take out power for the entire city, including ABC6. ABC6 continued to cover the severe weather with a back up generator only able to power a few lights, a few computers and camera set up in the weather center. ABC6 remained without electricity until 2pm the next day. Normal operations resumed with the 5pm show on the 18th.

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 111-135mph. There were no fatalities. [2]

News/Station Presentation

Newscast Titles

  • Region 6 News (1990-1996)
  • 6 News (1996-2000)
  • 6 News First (2000-2006)
  • ABC 6 News (2006-present)

Station Slogans

  • The Spirit of the Heartland (1990-1996)
  • When You Need To Know (1996-2006)
  • Your News and Weather Source (2006-2009)
  • It's About You (2009-present)
Television.svg This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.

ABC 6 News On Air Staff

Current Personalities


  • Melanie Bloom (Morning Anchor)'
  • Bryan Piatt (Morning Anchor)
  • Betsy Singer (5pm Anchor) (Fill in Anchor at 6 and 10)
  • Ericka Miller (6pm & 10pm Anchor)
  • James Wilcox (6pm & 10pm Anchor)
  • Sarah Swistak (Weekend Anchor)

ABC 6 Weather

  • Rusty Dawkins (Chief Meteorologist)
  • Chris Kuball (Weekend Meteorologist)
  • Steve Sosna (Morning Meteorologist)

Sports Anchors

  • Caleb Ostander (Sports Director)
  • TJ Werre (Weekend Sports)


  • Dan Conradt
  • Axel Gumbel
  • Donny Rowles
  • David Springer (Reporter/Asst. News Director)
  • Lorilyn Prestidge
  • Jill Kasparie
  • Kristin Martin

Past Personalities

  • Nicole Agee (6pm & 10pm Anchor) now at KCRG in Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Dave Berggren (Sky Fox9 Reporter) at KMSP-TV Fox 9 in the Twin Cities
  • Adam Branstad (Sports Anchor) now at MLT in Rochester, MN
  • Ezra Broder (Sports Director) now Sports Anchor/Reporter at WSHM-LP Springfield MA
  • Bill Dallman (Reporter) now VP News at KMSP-TV Minneapolis
  • Lauren Dittmer (Reporter) now Associate Producer at Twin Cities Public Television St. Paul
  • Tim Elbertson (Chief Meteorologist)
  • Tom Halden (Reporter) now Anchor/Reporter at KMSP-TV 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 (Morning Anchor) now Community Relations Coordinator at Fairmont Medical Center
  • Karla Hult (Reporter) now Reporter at KARE 11 Minneapolis
  • Alix Kendall (10pm Anchor) now at KMSP-TV as Morning Anchor
  • Stacy Lilienthal (Reporter) now a Reporter at KIMA-TV in Yakima WA
  • Lane Lyon (Evening News Anchor) 1994-1996 - now at KMGH in Denver
  • Mark Milbrath (Chief Meteorologist)
  • Brandon McElwain (6pm & 10pm Anchor) - now at MODoT
  • Dietrich Nissen (Reporter/Sports Journalist) - now a Reporter/Photo Journalist at KREM-TV in Spokane, WA
  • Rob Olson (Anchor/Reporter) now Fin In Anchor/Reporter at KMSP-TV Minneapolis
  • Jackie Orozco (Weekend Anchor) now at KIVI in Boise, ID
  • Randy Shaver (Evening News Anchor) now Sports Director at KARE 11 in the Twin Cities
  • Brian Smith (Morning/Chief Meteorologist)
  • Melissa Specken (Weekend Anchor/Reporter) now Producer at Twin Cities Live at KSTP-TV 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 Minneapolis


External links

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