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Dave Thompson reflects on his 40-year career at Prairie Public

Prairie Public’s News Director Dave Thompson has been a familiar voice to North Dakota for 40 years — delivering newscasts every morning as we cook breakfast, drive to work, or ride to school.

Not only is Dave the first voice North Dakota hears every morning, but the first voice ever to grace Prairie Public’s radio network when KCND-FM in Bismarck went live on September 1, 1981. But it almost didn’t happen! That morning, Dave was in master control, and his job was to turn the transmitter on by pushing a button.

“All I had to do was push an ‘up’ button. So, I sit down at about 20 minutes beforehand and I pushed a button. I pushed the wrong button. I pushed the ‘down’ button. And it turned off the plates for the transmitter. I put my head in my hand and said ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Thankfully, a quick-thinking engineer at the transmitter site corrected the error, and at 5:30 am, we played a short pre-recorded announcement and Dave opened the mic — pressing the correct button this time — and said a line that had an extra-special meaning: “Here we are, and are we glad.”

Forty years later, we’re still here, and so is Dave. Throughout the years Dave has covered agriculture, the booms and busts of North Dakota’s energy industries, historic floods, and has become the go-to journalist for legislative news in North Dakota.

Listen to his conversation with Prairie Public’s Erik Deatherage above, as he shares some of his favorite stories from his career in public radio.

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