KNDC, the radiowave of the future
HETTINGER—For 64 years, the people of Hettinger have been tuning in to their local radio station, KNDC.
"Along with national and local news, we bring the markets to the farmers," Manager Nolan Dix explained. "We have an AgriTalk program we run in the afternoons, after the bell. That's a new program we started up."
In addition to being station manager, Dix is also KNDC sports director.
"We carry the Minnesota Twins during the summer," Dix said. "We cover all the sports for the Nighthawks. We cover football, volleyball, basketball for girls and boys. We do play-by-play wrestling, baseball, and track and cross county updates when we get them."
A challenge for modern-day radio stations is keeping content fresh, Dix said.
"It's trying not to make it sound the same every day, so people have something new every day when they're listening, so they don't tune out," Dix said.
A variety of music is offered, Dix said, and news content is always current.
"Sports is always new because there's just something new every day. Markets is always new, day to day. So the big thing is the music," he said. "When we play our music we try to mix it up as much as we can, and we get quite a few requests throughout the day."
Dix has been station manager since 1997.
"The gentleman who owned it... he sold it to Mike Schweitzer over in Lemmon, who already had a radio station over there, and once it was sold Mike asked me to be the general manager over here... and I said sure," Dix said. "I guess I've been here the whole time.
In the nearly 21 years Dix has served as station manager, he has seen the station's technology evolve.
"We went from our regular cart machines and turntables to CDs, to pretty much everything is now on computers," he said. "We still have CDs and all that, but we still play a majority of our music off of computers."
The new technology offers some convenience, Dix said.
"If we go off the air and I'm at home I can go on the internet and fix it from there, sometimes I have to run back down here," he said. "Most of the time, everything you can do over the computer now."
A joy for Dix is reporting local and area sports.
"It's tough when you're away from your family all the time, but it's something new every day and all my kids are starting to get into the ages where they're playing."
The travel required, though, can be burdensome.
"I average from 1,500 to 2,000 miles a month," Dix said. "In December I had 2,600 because of three trips to Linton and we go to Killdeer. Everywhere we go is at least 40 to 80 miles. They add up quickly."
KNDC covers all sports tournaments, Dix said.
"We used to just do Hettinger and Mott and Bowman, but now we do every game," he said. "If (listeners) can't make it, we don't want them to find someone else. We want them to say, I can't come to the tournament tonight, but I know KNDC always covers it."
Like most small town business, KNDC has been impacted by the recent droughts.
"The drought affects everybody, from the farmers to them spending their money in town, so business say their budgets are tight," Dix said. "So we just have to try to get to them that spending money on advertising is beneficial to them because that will bring people into their business."
He added, "You don't want to cut your name out of the limelight, basically."
KNDC is pursuing an FM license, Dix said.
"It's not one of those that's going to get out a hundred miles, but it's just to get the signal on FM so people in town and the surrounding area, in a couple of mile radius, will be able to hear us on FM if they don't get the FM in their vehicles," he said. "Some people can't get AM in their homes, for some reason."
The coverage provided by KNDC is appreciated, Dix said.
"It's fun knowing people rely on you for the news, the weather, the sports," he said. "I get numerous comments thanking me. When I do miss a game, people always say, 'Where were you?!' It's nice to know people are listening to the games and they notice when you don't do one."
A radio station has the power to unite a community, Dix said.
"We encourage people to call in. We have a birthday club. We have our local news. We have local announcements. People come in and they advertise their garage sales or a birthday card shower," he said. "It's nice people can rely on us to say, I heard this on the radio, I'm able to go to this."