What was once old is new again.
KWWL, the NBC affiliate in Waterloo-Cedar Rapids, Iowa, owned by Quincy Media, just completed a major renovation to the building it’s occupied since 1958, returning the exterior to 1916 specifications and the same inside, where possible.
The building was built as a Willys-Overland automobile distributorship and dealer in 1916. The four-story, 50,000 square foot structure was built for $135,000 ($3.3 million in 2017 dollars).
In those days, cars were kept inside and transported from floor to floor via a massive freight elevator.
From 1912 to 1918, Overland was a popular brand, second only to Ford in domestic sales. The distributorship served 22 Iowa counties. The building’s history in the early automobile business qualified it for listing on the National Historic Registry.
“KWWL and our parent company Quincy Media are thrilled with the end result of this historic restoration which benefits not only KWWL and its viewers with a world-class television facility but also the city of Waterloo, Iowa, with a new iconic building that will be part of the cityscape for the next five decades,” said Jim McKernan, KWWL’s general manager.
“It’s a rare thing in the TV business nowadays when a company invests heavily in the renovation of one of its stations,” said Chris Hussey, KWWL’s marketing director.
“That’s exactly what Quincy did with KWWL just a few years ago. Quincy went the extra mile and then some to take our 102-year-old building and restore it to its original look, all while upgrading the “guts” of our television operation.”
In 2013, Quincy Media made the decision to apply for state and local historical tax credits to renovate the structure.
In partnership with the state of Iowa, the National Park Service and the city of Waterloo, construction rehabilitation began in 2015 and was completed in 2017.
Numerous artifacts from the building’s history were uncovered during the renovation, including the original transom window which stood above the entrance.
The window was found with the original numbering and panes of glass completely intact.
In one final nod to the history of the building, region and legacy of the station, a massive 20-foot high, 40-foot long mural was created.
The mural is a montage of iconic photographs and logos from the history of the state, region, KWWL and NBC. The mural dominates the central hallway on the first floor.
The news studio was built by FX Design Group and outfitted with a 13-foot x 4-foot main anchor desk video array and 20-foot x -foot’ weather desk array.
The set is fully modular for multi-purpose news reporting and storytelling. The station has also recently invested heavily in other tech upgrades:
• Main set LED/Fluorescent lighting with color changing LED set backlighting
• Set element flexibility — moveable desks and monitors to maximize on air product
• All wireless mics and IFBs
• Avid HD nonlinear news video editing system with portable editing laptops for entire news staff
• Avid iNews news content system
• Ross XPression news graphics system with iNews integration
• Ross Overdrive automated newscast system with robotic cameras
• Four FAA-certified drone pilots on the news staff
• New HD satellite uplink truck
• New ENG microwave truck
• 4 HD LiveU cellular ENG packs located throughout the market coverage area
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