‘Dakota Air’ returnsThe longest running radio station in Jamestown is celebrating 75 years on the air with a modern look back at old-time radio this Saturday. “Dakota Air: The Radio Show” will perform and record a variety show with local talent as a tribute to KSJB’s 75 years of broadcasting. Show creator and host Merrill Piepkorn was approached by KSJB to do the show.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
The longest running radio station in Jamestown is celebrating 75 years on the air with a modern look back at old-time radio this Saturday.
“Dakota Air: The Radio Show” will perform and record a variety show with local talent as a tribute to KSJB’s 75 years of broadcasting.
Show creator and host Merrill Piepkorn was approached by KSJB to do the show.
“We just felt it was a perfect fit for us because we were looking for something that specifically included information and the things from our past and present,” said Paul Behle, show co-coordinator with KJSB. “I just thought that program was ideal for that.”
“Dakota Air” is an old-time style radio variety program that’s been rebroadcast on North Dakota Prairie Public for about a year and a half.
The show in Jamestown will also be rebroadcast on Prairie Public at a later date.
Piepkorn travels the state and tells the stories of towns small and large through music, history, comedy and local talents.
“It’s just unbelievably rewarding to get the support from small towns and bigger towns,” Piepkorn said.
Local area guests for Saturday’s performance include Harley Sommerfeld, with swing sounds of the 1940s, Kate Stevenson and a tribute to Peggy Lee, Kristi Goldade with 60s- and 70s-era country music, the Prairie Harmony Singers, and an appearance from North Dakota Poet Laureate Larry Woiwode.
Lee, who graduated from Jamestown High School, even sang for what would become KSJB in 1937, when the station was housed in the old Gladstone Hotel.
“We are definitely diving into the history of radio itself,” Piepkorn said.
Not only with the music that will be played, but also with the acting troupe, the Dakota Airheads, possibly reenacting some old-time radio programs, before the era of TV. Those include programs like “The Jack Benny Program” and “The Lone Ranger.”
“There will be splashes of that type of entertainment,” Piepkorn said.
In addition to the Dakota Airheads, Piepkorn and his band The Radio Stars will play, champion fiddler Loy Larson will be there, and “Dakota Air” regular Steve Stark will provide comedy and history during the program.
“He’s an all-around performer,” Piepkorn said of Stark. “He can sing and write and has all-around skills.”
For Piepkorn, assembling an all-star cast and traveling North Dakota for over a year has been more than rewarding — especially when he gets comments from people who happen to run into him in small towns.
“You’re uplifting North Dakotans to ourselves,” one man told him.
But it is a lot of work. Piepkorn and his group put the show together more than a week in advance and then they spend 15 hours in two days going over everything before a show.
The hard work may have paid off as Piepkorn said he wants to expand “Dakota Air” into western Minnesota, northern South Dakota and eastern Montana in the future.
“Every town has its story,” he said.
“Dakota Air: The Radio Show” will be in Jamestown at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Reiland Fine Arts Center on the campus of Jamestown College.
Tickets are $15 general admission. They can be purchased by calling 252-3570 or at KSJB or Gate City Bank in Jamestown, Dakota Plains Cooperative in Valley City and Ashley, and Hometown Credit Union in Kulm and Ashley.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org