CLASS OF 1977
Owen L. Saddler, at the time of his Hall of Fame induction, was Executive Vice-President and General Manager of May Broadcasting Company, at the time owners of KMTV Omaha, KMA Radio Shenandoah, Iowa, and KGUN-TV Tucson May also had a financial interest in KFAB radio in Omaha.
Owen began his broadcasting career in 1938 as Production Manager of KMA. In 1944, he began publication of the KMA Guide, a compact monthly digest available to listeners by subscription, the first publication of its kind.
He was instrumental in the May Broadcasting Company decision to put KMTV on the air in September 1949. He was subsequently named Executive Vice-President and General Manager of May Broadcasting in 1950. I
n 1955, Saddler committed KMTV to pioneering color television. KMTV became the first non-network owned station in the country to originate local live color. (The station had begun airing network color in December, 1953). The station also was the first to present local live opera, live boxing and wrestling in color. This commitment to color broadcasts by KMTV made Omaha one of the fastest-growing color markets in the nation. On April 10, 1960, KMTV again set a precedent when it staged a full 17 hour broadcast day in color.
In 1962, he spearheaded a project that was to earn KMTV an Emmy nomination and one of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ regional awards. KMTV co-sponsored “Sabin Oral Sunday” and at the close of the six continuous hours of telecasting, 85% of the city’s metro population had been inoculated with the polio vaccine.
Saddler was a prime leader in the Omaha television antenna farm project in the mid-’60s. It resulted in all three commercial television towers being relocated to a common site in North Omaha. The tall towers expanded the reach of the stations improving reception quality.
In a unique distinction, Saddler was the only station manager in the country to have served on the Board of Delegates of all three major networks. He was a member of the ABC Affiliates Advisory Board from 1950-1953; CBS-TV, 1953-57; and NBC-TV, 1963-69.
He was active in the National Association of Broadcasters as Nebraska Chairman of their Future of Broadcasting Committee, and served the Nebraska Broadcasters Association in the same capacity.
The year of Mr. Saddler’s passing is unknown to the NBA. We encourage anyone with the information to contact us.