47 Years On The Radio In South Dakota
It was Memorial Day, 1974. I was a wet-behind-the-ears 18-year-old kid, a farm boy from Leota, Minnesota. And I was going on-the-air at a radio station for the very first time.
Nervous? Yes. Shaking would be more like it.
And so I spoke the first words of a long career in radio. You're listening to KXYR FM, Winner. That was it. That was the entire sentence. I had practiced saying it a hundred times. And when I turned off the microphone, I sat back and let out a long audible sigh.
I've spoken a lot of words on the radio since that first day some 47+ years ago. Some were good, some were bad, most of them forgettable. And all of them, each and everyone, spoken over the airwaves that live above the state of South Dakota.
It's been a fun and crazy ride, all begun when a guy named Al Clark (God rest his soul) offered a job to that 18-year-old kid in Winner, South Dakota. He saw (and heard) a little something in a kid that a whole lot of other people didn't.
Then off to the northeast, Aberdeen. KKAA was a country station back in the day and on the AM dial to boot. Dave Laustsen was the boss and more radio lessons were learned. The station was located a couple of miles south of town on what had to have been the worst gravel road in the state. And one winter back there in the long-ago late 1970s four of us were snowed in there for 3 days and 2 nights. It's one of those memories I look back at and love.
Then it was off to Brookings in 1981 and helping put KVAA (KV91) on the air. With the studio located on the main street in Volga, I was able to not only do a morning show but continued doing the play-by-play that I had started back in Winner, including the Sioux Valley Cossacks, Brookings Bobcats, and South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
By 1984 I had decided to 'go west young man' and landed in Rapid City. 15 years there including a years-long stint as one of the 'Breakfast Flakes' on Hit 100 FM (thank you fellow Breakfast, Flake Tom Collins, we had a hoot!).
Then in '99 back east and Sioux Falls. First to the legendary KSOO (loved being on the air with Sioux Falls Legend Rick Knobe & Viewpoint University) and then moved down the radio ranch hallway to another legendary Sioux Falls radio station KXRB. And here I am, on-the-air with 'The Mess' 47 years later.
Turns out Kenny Chesney was right. Don't Blink.
And I discovered another old adage is right, too. If you love what you do, you'll never have to go to work. Oh, there must have been times I didn't like my job. Days when it was drudgery. But the good times, the great times? They're all I remember.
Thank you, South Dakota. Now I have to run, the song is just about over and I'm sure I have something important to say.
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