Holding On To History: Channel 3′s original Old Timer Gil Fawcett

Published: Apr. 10, 2023 at 10:53 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 10, 2023 at 10:58 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - When KDAL Channel 3 opened a new broadcast center in the 60′s, adult visitors were given one of these souvenir books. Kids got a Channel 3 coloring book. The little ones could color an office or a portrait of Gil Fawcett, someone who had been with both the radio and TV operations of KDAL since day one.

The KDAL broadcast center on Superior Street
The KDAL broadcast center on Superior Street(kbjr)

“We’re going to hear from KDAL’s old timer in just a moment.” said Carl Casperson in a March, 1964 broadcast celebrating Channel 3′s 10th anniversary.

“I think the camera’s on us, Gil. Everyone knows who Gil Fawcett is, our official historian.” “And I’m going to slip in a bit of history. We had one of our first pioneers George Stuntz and all the settlers who came up here said Stuntz had always been here and I feel like Stuntz, I’ve always been here.” said Herb Taylor and Gil Fawcett in the same broadcast as Casperson.

Gil Fawcett was born in 1893. He served in World War One as an Army engineer. By the mid 30′s, Fawcett was part of the team that put KDAL radio on the air. In 1954, Gil helped launch Channel 3 TV which he reminisced on air about in 1964.

“I came here on the first day in 1936 when radio opened and on that Sunday 10 years ago we felt a little depressed although we were happy about TV going on the air. We felt deposed because up to then radio had been king of the living room and car radio.” said Fawcett in 1964.

At KDAL TV, Fawcett was king of the archives. On the radio, he hosted numerous history based shows like “Historic Site Ahead” and “Diary of Duluth.” His first radio show in 1936 featured a pair of unusual co-hosts.

“He was egged on by one or two parrots whom he taught to say let’s have a drink and I’ll have another.” said Rik Jordan, a former personality on KDAL radio.

Eventually, the old timer retired and did a little world traveling. Gil Fawcett died at age 80 from injuries sustained when his home on Ninth Avenue East burned down. Decades later, Bernard McCarthy of Twin Ports Trailer Trash found Fawcett’s water logged photo album in a storage unit he was cleaning out.

“Whenever we find family heirloom type things or something the family would want we try to get it back to them.” said McCarthy.

But, Fawcett was a bachelor with no family so his album is now a treasured part of our archive which is perhaps where the Old Timer would have wanted it to go.

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