Where technology brought us 

Super 8 Motel
2201 John Deere Expressway
East Moline, IL 61244

Pheasant Ridge
3500 70th St
Moline, IL

Watch Hill Tower
3705 9th St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Colona House
54 41 Ave
East Moline, IL 61244

Chateau Knoll
29 & Middle Rd
Bettendorf, IA 52722

Southpark Towers
2424 40 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

L & W Bedding
1211 16 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

L & W Bedding
1660 W Locust
Davenport, IA

Hodgson Funeral Home
608 20 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

WaterPark Car Wash
3800 38 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

RSC-Foxx Division
3913 24 St
Moline, IL 61265

Joy State Bank
PO Box 217
Joy, IL 61260

American Bank & Trust
4301 E 53 St
Davenport, IA

American Bank & Trust
1600 4th Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

American Bank & Trust
3730 18 Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

American Bank & Trust
2350 412 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Office Machine Consultants
534 16 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Royal Neighbors
230 16 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Midwest- Engineering
2500 36 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

C.O.P.E. Tutorial School Inc.
228 W 2nd Ave
Milan, IL 61264
787-3609 Riverside Cemetary
3300 5th Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Moline Memorial Park & Mausoleum
5001 34 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Umthun Trucking

VFC Distribution
525 E 1 St
Milan, IL 61264

Lipid Research Center
2188 West Lawn
Iowa City, IA 52242

Rux Funeral Home
313 Market St
Galva, IL

Rux Funeral Home
507 S Chestnut
Kewanee, IL

Marycrest International University
1607 W 12 St
Davenport, IA 52804

St. Ambrose University
518 W Locust
Davenport, IA 52804

Palmer College of Chiropractic
1000 Brady St
Davenport, IA 52803

Augustana College
639 38 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

H & R Block
1715 W Locust St
Davenport, IA 52804

E & J
200 24 Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

American Institute of Commerce
1801 E Kimberly Rd
Davenport, IA 52807

Rock Island County Farm Bureau
1601 52 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Hempel Pipe and Supply
951 S Rolff St
Davenport, IA 52802

TV's taken giant strides

By Jonathan Turner, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

When WHBF-TV began broadcasting on July 1, 1950, its 482-foot TV tower was the tallest structure in the Quad-Cities.

When the Quad-Cities got its first local television station -- Davenport's WOC-TV -- 50 years ago this October, just 400 homes in the area had TV sets.

Today in the 17-county area served by the commercial networks, 302,000 households have televisions.

The industry is virtually unrecognizable compared with those days in 1949.

``People talk of the golden age of TV, but if you look at some of those shows, it was pretty awful,'' Marion Meginnis, president and general manager of Moline-based WQAD-TV, said recently.

``The pace was slower. There were fewer choices,'' she said. ``You think, if people had a lot of choices, they wouldn't be watching this. For one thing, production values are much better now.

``It's a very complicated business. It's like every business,'' Ms. Meginnis, a 25-year industry veteran, said. ``It's been getting much more complicated, much more technical than it ever was, even 15 years ago. It's much faster, the medium is more fragmented. All the changes have been driven by technology.''

WOC-TV, before it changed to KWQC in 1986, was one of the first stations west of the Mississippi River. It was granted a W as its first call letter, but later Federal Communications Commission rules called for all radio and TV stations west of the river to begin with a K.

During its first day of broadcasting, the station presented ``Tele-Time News,'' ``Kukla, Fran and Ollie,'' a local program called ``Sightseeing at Home,'' and an hour-long movie, ``Waterfront Lady,'' according to The Dispatch files.

In 1949, the government required TV stations to offer at least 12 hours of programming each week. Local musicians followed the lead of other radio personalities around the country, and brought their entertainment into the new broadcast medium.

KWQC began carrying NBC network programming on Sept. 30, 1950. Kinescopes and film shows were aired on all stations until coast-to-coast relay stations were completed that October, according to files.

On July 1, 1950, WHBF-TV began transmitting to area viewers from a 482-feet-high-tower in downtown Rock Island, the tallest structure in the Quad-Cities at the time.

The first day of its programming started at 2 p.m. with a sports film, then ``Beauty and Fashions,'' ``See the World,'' ``Funny Bunnies,'' and ``Films of the Unusual,'' among other offerings.

There was a break in programming from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., with shows on sports, travel, and trials until signoff at 9:30 p.m. The five-day program week ran from Wednesday through Sunday. WHBF formally affiliated with CBS in 1953.

WQAD-TV, NewsChannel 8, got its license to broadcast in 1960. WQPT-TV in Moline, the Quad-Cities' PBS affiliate, first went on the air in 1983 and KLJB-TV, the Fox affiliate, started broadcasting in 1985. It didn't become the Fox network, however, until 1990.

The importance of television was first proven to WQAD's Ms. Meginnis when she was 13, at the time of the Kennedy assassination in 1963.

Growing up in North Carolina, she didn't have a television in her home. Ms. Meginnis said her father placed more faith in radio and newspapers. That changed with the Kennedy tragedy, which persuaded her father to rent a TV.

Ms. Meginnis remembers seeing the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV. That illustrated the immediate impact and unifying influence TV can have, she said.

``It was more of a recognition that this box could be a pretty significant thing. It was important,'' she said. ``Moving pictures powerfully evoke images, even better than still pictures.''

At first, getting film shot in the field to the airwaves took hours, Ms. Meginnis said.

When local TV started using videotape, the equipment was ``very clunky,'' she said. ``You had a big camera and a tape recorder. They weighed a ton. I used to have to lug one around. Our cameras, everything has gotten smaller. Like with electronics, they have gotten smaller, faster and cheaper.

``It's like computers, you speed up,'' Ms. Meginnis said. ``Shooting live in the field changed everybody's expectations of how long it took from the time you gathered news to the time you got it on the air. And it's very expensive.''

It led to the pervasive influence of CNN, with its emphasis on live reports, she said.

``Viewers expect the major networks and the local stations to do that as well,'' Ms. Meginnis said.

The widespread popularity of cable television, satellite dishes and the Internet have caused intense competition and audience fragmentation, she said.

Fox, the newest major network, purposefully went after a limited demographic -- the coveted 18-to-34-year-old range, she said. ``They were very narrowly focused. We're broadcast, not narrowcast,'' Ms. Meginnis said.

``The very best thing we can do for the Quad-Cities audience, is to give them the best local news we can,'' she noted. ``That's our core competency. We can give them weather that maybe saves their lives sometimes. That's something nobody else can do for them. The Weather Channel can't do that; ABC is not going to.

``If we're not giving them the news that's in a format that they understand, that's interesting to them, they're not going to watch us,'' Ms. Meginnis said.

``Television can bring news and information better than anybody,'' she said of the industry's strength. ``It can be a great source of really quality, free entertainment. The quality of TV in this country is without parallel in the rest of the world. Nothing else touches it.''

However, as opposed to television of a generation ago, networks can't rest on laurels and depend on viewer loyalty, WQAD's chief said.

And because TV series are so expensive to produce today, networks can't afford to wait to let them draw a sizable audience, Ms. Meginnis said.

``I think in terms of the news product locally, you always want to do a better job of news that's more relevant to people,'' she said of how TV can improve. ``Television can have the power to bring the community together. We probably don't take enough of those opportunities.''

While TV has been labeled an ``idiot box'' and ``the boob tube,'' Ms. Meginnis said that with so many programming choices, viewers ``need to be discerning in what they watch.

``It's like, you can read romance novels or you can read classic fiction,'' she said.

On the horizon is digital television, which the Federal Communications Commission wants to see nationwide by 2006. The technology not only will allow much clearer, defined picture quality and sound, but also will provide multiple programs simultaneously on a single channel.

``That's very exciting,'' Ms. Meginnis said. Viewers will either get a new TV or a convertor box. Among the kinds of digital TV will be wide-screen, high-resolution formats known as high-definition television.

As part of KWQC's 50th anniversary this year, the station has published a cookbook that includes photos, historical facts and over 100 recipes from past and present KWQC staff, NBC stars and national celebrities.

Proceeds of the $17.95 book will be donated to United Way. Anniversary activities this summer will include an open house at the station.

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.