Former KWWL G-M Bill Bolster into Iowa Broadcasters Hall of Fame - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bill Bolster inducted into Broadcasters Hall of Fame

Former KWWL G-M Bill Bolster into Iowa Broadcasters Hall of Fame

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Bill Bolster has always been a man of unique vision, and his many career successes have landed the former KWWL General Manager in the prestigious Iowa Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.

The IBA recently elected Bolster to its Hall of Fame, honoring Bolster Thursday during the 2015 Iowa Broadcasters Association annual convention at the Marriott Hotel in West Des Moines. 

Starting in radio at KDTH in Dubuque, the Waterloo native and Loras College graduate, embarked on a broadcasting career which would become remarkably successful. 

Bolster's career would eventually take him to New York City, where he was President and General Manager of WNBC-TV and later CEO of CNBC and CNBC International.

Early in his Iowa career, Bill used his exceptional sales and business skills to create a foundation for success. He quickly became General Manager of two Black Hawk Broadcasting Company radio stations, KLWW in Cedar Rapids and KWWL in Waterloo.

Later, he moved to television as Vice President and General Manager of Black Hawk's flagship station, KWWL-TV. There, Bill used his talents to turn KWWL into one of NBC's best performing local affiliates across the country.

While at KWWL-TV, Bolster used his unique vision to create a statewide sports network, which would appeal to an audience of all Iowa demographics. It would become known as the Iowa Television Network. 

Creation of the ITN came at a time when only the national networks were televising college basketball games, and only on a very limited basis, usually weekends. Bolster's creation of the ITN was a partnership of Iowa's local NBC affiliates, KWWL, WHO, WOC & KTIV, plus stations in Omaha and Mason City.

The ITN began in the late 1970's, shortly after Bolster approached then-University of Iowa Athletic Director, Chalmers, 'Bump' Elliott, about the possibility of televising Iowa Hawkeye men's basketball games. A skeptical Elliott agreed, as long as the televised games did not hurt attendance for home games in the old Iowa Fieldhouse. 

The gutsy Bolster even promised Elliott that KWWL would pay for any unoccupied seats in the Iowa Fieldhouse. Fortunately for Bolster and KWWL, televising the Hawkeye games did not hurt attendance. In fact, the televised games heightened interest in Iowa Basketball like never before. Years later, Bolster would say he couldn't believe he made that original promise on the unoccupied seats.

The Iowa Television Network rocketed to immediate and sensational success. Hawkeye 'Game Nights' became 'Must See TV' for hundreds of thousands, long before NBC would coin that promotional phrase for its NBC network shows. The televised Iowa basketball games produced ratings which would never again be seen in Iowa television markets.

The ITN success put Bill Bolster in high demand. He accepted an offer to become General Manager of KSDK-TV in St. Louis, where he also enjoyed tremendous ratings success. Later, Bill accepted an offer to become President and General Manager at WNBC in New York City. NBC named Bolster President and President of its new CNBC business network and CEO of CNBC International.

Bill has never lost sight of his roots. He often returns to Iowa to visit friends and help on various projects. For example, he has been instrumental in development of the highly successful broadcasting program at Loras College in Dubuque.

Bolster joins KWWL founder, the late  R. J. McElroy, the late KWWL President Robert Buckmaster, and the late KWWL News Director, Grant Price, as notable KWWL figures in the Iowa Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.


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