The Sioux City Community Theatre launched a new theater in memory of a long-time Sioux City broadcaster on March 28, 2019.
“That is not what we do, that is not how this works.”
The curtain opened on the first production at the Tom Peterson Black Box Theatre. A comedy called “Here We Sit”.
“I think I’m going to scream.”
“It’s craziness with actors portraying the audience and some of the audience portraying actors,” said Rick Myers.
Myers is the director of the show and president of the Sioux City Community Theatre Board. He was also friends with Peterson who died in a wintry traffic accident on January 2, 1994 at the age of 45.
“It was like, NO! What? I don’t believe you. It took a really long time for it to really sink in for people who really knew him that he was gone.”
Before the actors hit the stage, an official dedication, for the project more than two years in the making. The theatre named for the former KCAU weather director, well known for his unique way of giving the forecast.
“This all started with a very tragic situation with our loss of Tom.”
“From Sioux City, Iowa.. this is the Major 9 Nightcast.”
“I remember watching the weather on KCAU and people would send him these outrageous and funny pointers. Of course, he loved it. They were so much of Tom’s personality,” said Gretchen Gondeck.
Gondeck, the former General Manager for Siouxland Public Media, first met Peterson 40-years ago. Peterson started his career as a disc jockey before appearing in front of the camera.
“I went to some media function and met Tom Peterson who was so welcoming and gave me a big hug and introduced to a whole bunch of people because I didn’t know anyone here. So, he has always had a very special place in my heart. So, that makes this even more special.”
Gondeck organized the gathering for friends, colleagues, and family including his sister Robbie Adelman who lives in Des Moines.
Reporter: “He had this larger than life personality on TV, was he like that in real life?”
“Yes, very definitely, yeah, he had fun. He had down times. Everyone has down times, but he didn’t have very many of them and he could always find something positive. In any situation.
Adelman says her brother also dedicated his early adult years to another calling.
“He graduated from Central High School and then went to Morningside College. But that was the time we were in the midst of Vietnam. You had to enlist or you got drafted, so he enlisted. He worked for Armed Forces Radio and TV. He did a story he knew was factually correct, but the time they put it on the air it was different. They didn’t want the public to really know what was going on over there.”
Theater meant a lot to Peterson, who also served as the General Manager of the Sioux City Community Theatre at the time of his death.
“He would be out here doing the preview but he had to rush back to do the weather, sometimes in the nick of time when they were going on. He was always out here. He was dedicated to this place. He always took pride knowing the patrons as they walked through the door,” said Rick Myers.
The new Black Box theatre seats up to 100 people and will showcase more experimental plays and performances.
Reporter: “What do you think Tom would have thought about this theater named in his honor?”
“I think he would be really tickled,” said Gondeck.
“This is a great honor for him, it really is. And, I’m sure he’s here to see it,” said Adelman.
“I think he would say ‘let’s have a beer to celebrate’," said Myers.
Even though it’s been more than 25 years since his passing, the “Tom Peterson Black Box Theatre”, brings a lasting legacy to a new generation of fans.
Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer wrote and produced this Special Report on the life and legacy of Tom Peterson. She interned at KCAU in 1990 and still enjoys sharing the story of visiting Tom’s “Pointer Room” in the basement of his home in Sioux City.