BEATRICE, NEB. - The man who helped grow a southeast Nebraska radio station and a Lincoln TV station into the giants they are today, is getting an honor from his home county museum.

Mel Mains helped grow KWBE radio in Beatrice and 10/11 KOLN TV in Lincoln, into two of the best known stations statewide.

Now, with the help of his wife Karen, a display on his life is up at the Gage County Museum.

“He was quite an icon in Beatrice and the state of Nebraska,” Karen Mains said. “He was known all over the state and in part of Kansas.”

Mel Mains was born in the southeast Nebraska town of Holmesville, about 10 miles east of Beatrice. In 1949, he first went on air with KWBE-Beatrice, on the stations first staff. He later became the stations News and Farm Director. He then ventured on to work in Iowa and Kansas City, before a short stint in the Army during the Korean Conflict. Upon return, he began work at KOLN, in Lincoln.

Museum Director Cassandra Dean says the idea for the exhibit came from Karen, thinking of ways to celebrate KWBE’s 75th Anniversary, which was June 12.

“She goes, ‘Can we do something to help KWBE celebrate 75 years, could we add a Mel Mains exhibit?’” Dean said. “I said of course!”

The exhibit includes Mel’s famous cuff links, worn each newscast, as well as awards, including his 2003 Nebraska Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame induction plaque, and other relics throughout his career.

After a long career in broadcasting, Mel Mains passed away in May of 2003, at the age of 73, after a battle with cancer. Karen remembers Mel as a kind and welcoming figure to her and her family, as well as a caring and detail oriented broadcaster.

“He was a kind man,” Mains said. “He wanted every name he pronounced to be correct. He’d call places and ask how to pronounce names for sure. He never wanted to make the mistake of pronouncing a name wrong or a town wrong or have anything be wrong.”

After a long career with several stops in between, Mains returned to KWBE part-time as an afternoon news anchor, where he’d bring his 50 plus year career to a close. This week, KWBE is celebrating 75 years of broadcasting - something Karen knows would have meant the world to Mel.

“He would be so proud, he was so proud for 50 years,” Mains said. “He was very happy to be there, and all the memories when it was first turned on… He was there when they put up the tower, he got the job, and he had the voice. He had a special voice that everyone knew and could understand. He was a special man.”

The exhibit will remain on display through October. KWBE will celebrate their 75th Anniversary on Friday night at Charles Park, 6-10 PM. Entry costs $2 or a donation to the Beatrice food bank.