News Director Pat Powers has worked at KQWC radio in Webster City for more than four decades. Paul Yeager of Iowa PBS and Cliff Brockman, a retired broadcast journalist and journalism professor, recently interviewed Powers for the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting Oral History Project.
Here are excerpts from Powers’ interview which have been edited for length and clarity. (Audio of the full interview is posted below.)
What made you decide to get into broadcasting? My father was a farmer in Duncombe (Iowa) and I wanted to work with him. But I was allergic to corn dust. Well, what can I do? I had this interest in radio here. I did the announcements for about a year or two at Webster City High School in the 11th and 12th grades.
And so, you went to Brown Institute of Broadcasting in Minneapolis? Yes, I did. The school is no longer there. I graduated in June of 1978 and that’s when I had an offer from KQWC. And, I’ve been employed here going on 43 years, officially August 14th (2021).
What do you remember about the equipment that you’ve had? We had typewriters at the time, no computers. Also we recorded via reel to reel tape. We also used cassette recorders.
And now you’re using a cell phone. Yes, it’s amazing how far music and technology has come these 43 years. This is a breeze right now just using this cell phone. As a matter of fact, I use this to record all the meetings that I cover.
Watch a video about Pat Powers produced by Izzy Wootoon.
Was there ever a time where Pat Powers said I think it’s time for me to go, try my hand somewhere else? Never has crossed my mind here, because this is home. I love Webster City. I have great respect for the people here and they have a lot of respect towards me.
And you have been involved, your stitch is all through the fabric of the community. I see you on Facebook, and I know people in Webster City who say Pat hosted this and Pat hosted that and Pat came to this. Why are you at all of these things Pat? Because I want to support these organizations, no matter what they are. I like to be there as best as I can. I’ve announced the Prom Walk, the Raspberry Festival in Webster City, I hosted a Christmas dinner for many years at the Methodist church. I’ve also helped out at Webster City schools. I’ve been an actor, too with the Webster City Community Theater. I got my start in a production called “Charlotte’s Web.” I’ve also appeared in musicals. I’ve also appeared in a drama production, and even some horror classics like Frankenstein.
You’ve received the Iowa Character Award through the Robert Ray Center. Yes, it meant the world to me. I was surprised by the award.
You were also named Broadcaster of the Year in 2017 by the Iowa Broadcasters Association. That was very special to me. My general manager at the time, Mary Harris, told me to come to the IBA summer meeting. I didn’t know what to expect. Lunchtime rolled around and I was just floored when the general manager of KCCI television made the announcement of me getting this award. That was quite a shock.
What are some of the big news stories that you’ve covered? The biggest story happened 30 years ago on Halloween. It was an ice storm. By mid-afternoon power was out and there was no city-wide generator at that time. Thank goodness, we had a generator here at the radio station. I credit the staff at that time with keeping people informed. We finally signed off that following Sunday night.
That was quite a storm. Any other stories that stick out in your memory? There was an accident involving a very dear friend of mine back in 2014. I was preparing the news at five o’clock in the morning and received an email from the Iowa State Patrol about an accident that occurred in this area. I was shocked, I was saddened because a dear friend of mine died in the car accident. And a few days later, I had the chance to speak at the person’s funeral.
How is Pat Powers going to be remembered as a radio broadcaster? One that’s devoted to his work and just enjoying what I do. It’s been 43 years.
Do you have a goal in mind of how long you are going to work? Are you trying to get to 50, 60, 70 years in broadcasting? I sure hope so. As long as my community gives me the chance to do that, I will carry on as best as I can.