CLASS OF 1995
Mel Sauer enjoyed well over thirty years in radio. Despite being blind since the age of six months, he worked in jobs from utility man to general manager.
A native of Bayard, he attended the School for the Blind in Nebraska City from 1947 to 1956 then transferred back to Bayard where he graduated from high school in 1958. Through the use of a tape recorder, his understanding of Braille, and helpful professors, he studied at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln until 1960. That’s when an opportunity arose at KIMB in Kimball.
At KIMB with the help of engineers, the news was read to him to record what he wanted in Braille. But his first radio job lasted only a few months as the station changed hands. Mel then joined KOLT radio in Scottsbluff where owner Les Hilliard encouraged him to finish his education at Scottsbluff College. Upon completion, he was offered a full-time job at KOLT.
His first task was to cut in Braille the titles of records for the station’s record library to assist him with his record shows. For commercials, salesmen would record the general info on his recorder, then Mel would cut it in Braille to be read on the air. Newsmen would do the same for his newscasts.
Engineer friends in Omaha cemented Mel’s ability to pass the FCC licensing requirements by designing a device so that he could read the transmitter’s meters by sound.
Mel’s voice became familiar to listeners through his newscasts, interviews, and his music shows. Assisting his personality patter was his wife who would “see for him” allowing him to talk about Christmas lights, store windows, and other activities in Scottsbluff.
Mel worked at KOLT for 25 years. In 1985, his career continued with a brief management assignment at KOBH Hot Springs, South Dakota. In 1986 Mel moved to KCSR in Chadron but before the year was out he became station manager of KOAQ in Scottsbluff.
In 1989 Mel joined FM station KPNY in Alliance where he wore several hats. He was the sports broadcaster, sales manager for the Scottsbluff office, and the “premier” weather announcer. His weather coverage included storm weather reports and extended agriculture weather forecasts and information. Besides the studio facilities, Mel had weather forecasting facilities at his home.
Mel passed away on January 18, 2007.