Sheldon, Iowa — On the morning of Thursday, October 26, 1961, a new AM radio station signed on the air for the first time.
It was on that October morning that radio station KIWA-AM began broadcasting in Sheldon. The station was owned and put on the air by Red Stangland of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and remained under Red’s ownership and guidance until his death in 1995, when it was passed to his family.
The first KIWA studios were located in the Sheldon National Bank building, located on the south side of 9th Street, just east of the 3rd Avenue intersection. That building had become notorious earlier that year after the daughter of the bank’s owner, Bernice Geiger, had been discovered to have embezzled more than $2,000,000 from the financial institution.
In later years, the building housed an eatery called Pucci’s. After the restaurant closed, the building fell into disrepair and was eventually torn down. The lot where the building stood that first housed KIWA is now a downtown park.
Beginning October 26, 1961, KIWA broadcast only on the AM radio band, at a frequency of 1550 khz. It wasn’t until 10 years later, in 1971, that KIWA built new studios and offices at the current location, 411 9th Street, and added an FM station that broadcast at 105.5 mhz. Later, KIWA-FM moved to its current dial location of 105.3 mhz. KIWA’s transmitters are located on the Sioux County side of Western Avenue in Sheldon, with the original tower being replaced more than 30 years ago to allow the station’s signal to reach a larger area. Within the past few years, KIWA added an AM Translator at 100.7 on the FM dial. That translator broadcasts the same programming as KIWA-AM, but allows a clearer audio signal to listeners, especially during the nighttime hours.
From the beginning, KIWA was a “local” radio station, focusing on the listeners and what was important to them. Though the technology KIWA uses to inform and entertain northwest Iowa, southwest Minnesota and southeast South Dakota has changed drastically in the past 60 years, KIWA’s local focus has not.
On behalf of the staff and management of KIWA Radio, I’d like to thank you for your listenership, your sponsorship and your friendship over the past 60 years. Here’s to the next 60.
The downtown Sheldon City Park that sits where KIWA’s first studio once stood…..