In 1955 several CKCO employees, who were members of the KW Kinsmen club, were involved in a club meeting at which time fund raising ideas were tossed on the table for discussion. Program manager Bruce Lawson suggested a live television auction as a means of making some quick money and that germ of an idea became the engine for an annual event that has spanned more than 50 years. The KW Kinsmen TV auction is truly an unmatched television success story.
The following month after the ground breaking meeting the first live auction was held in the studios of the fledgling television station. The goal was to raise $2,800.00. It fell short by $300.00. However the following year it took off and the Kinsmen realized $1,500 more than the target figure they had set.
The event grew larger in the volume of items up for auction, items that included new cars, motorcycles, cute little puppies that created much interest, even a newly constructed home. Viewers also bid on household appliances and smaller items that were crammed in a studio display. The results were two-fold. Not only could viewers see the items they were bidding on, they also became part of the show through the the banks of telephones manned by Kinsmen volunteers.
Today, the KW Kinsmen auction has been recognized as one of the longest running shows of its kind in the history of television.
Over the years, dating back to the initial special event in 1955, KW Kinsmen have managed to raise over two and a quarter million dollars for their principal charitable work with the mentally challenged.
Did anyone imagine that such a simple idea would defy a brand new medium's laws of longevity and creativity, where highly successful programs lasted for only 4 or 5 years? Not likely.
In the end, the KW Kinsmen club continues to fund its worthwhile projects thanks to an idea that doesn't show its age and keeps on giving while it continues to flourish.