Dakota Datebook | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Dakota Datebook

6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm*, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm* CT
  • Hosted by Prairie Public

Sitting Bull to Phil Jackson, cattle to prairie dogs, knoefla to lefse. Dakota Datebook radio features air weekdays at 6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm*, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm* CT on Prairie Public. Find the 2003-2017 archives here.

*These airtimes during Main Street may vary.

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Dakota Datebook is generously funded by the North Dakota Humanities Council, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of the North Dakota Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Search Is On

Dec 1, 2020

On this date in 1929, the Secretary of War asked the Army to search for famed North Dakota aviator Carl Ben Eielson and  Earl Borland, his mechanic. The two men were missing somewhere in northern Alaska or off the Siberian coast. The Secretary had received a telegram from leading citizens of Nome, Alaska. They informed him that a private search party was unsuccessful, and the expedition’s plane crashed. They needed more help.

Cars were scarce in North Dakota at the turn of the 20th century. They were expensive. There was not a single new car showroom in the state. A buyer could wait for over a year for a new Peerless or Locomobile.

This did not stop adventurous North Dakotans from taking to the open road. In 1902, Frank Jaszkowiak built a three-horsepower runabout, the first horseless carriage in Bismarck. Frank noted that he could make it go, but the trouble came when he tried to make it stop. On his maiden voyage, he smashed into a tree. And no wonder! His runabout could speed along at eight miles an hour on a level road.

Emerson Hough was best known as a writer of the American West. Although he was born in Iowa, he became enchanted with the West when he moved to New Mexico. While there he met and interviewed Pat Garrett. Garrett was famous as the man who shot Billy the Kid. Inspired by his connection to Garrett, Hough’s first book was Story of the Outlaw: A Study of Western Desperadoes.

Norval Baptie

Nov 26, 2020

In the 1890s, World Champion speed skater, John Johnson, raced a young teenager in Bathgate, North Dakota. Afterwards, Johnson told a Minneapolis reporter, “He’s the fastest fellow on a small rink that I’ve ever seen… he’s got such marvelous control that he could skate in a wash tub. His name is Norval Baptie. Keep the name in mind because you’ll be hearing a lot about him.” By the time he was 16, Norval Baptie fulfilled that prophecy by becoming the speed skating World Champion. And it was on this date in 1966, that he died.

Last month we heard how the 1918 influenza pandemic struck Bowbells, North Dakota. Local boards of health closed schools, churches and places of public gatherings. Dozens of families and residents were sickened. Many died, including a newlywed couple who were 26 and 18 years old. Red Cross workers cared for the sick and urged residents to help out.

America mourned this November week in 1963 following the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the murder of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit by Lee Harvey Oswald. Then there was the second “caught on camera killing” of Oswald himself.

When the Federal Suffrage Amendment passed in the U.S. House and Senate on June 4th, 1919, there were many calls in North Dakota for a special session so North Dakota could ratify the amendment. However, Nonpartisan League Governor Frazier did not want the expense of a special session just for the sake of suffrage.

Want Ad Wonders

Nov 20, 2020

The want ads have been a staple in newspapers for generations. The simple premise of posting sale items or help-wanted ads has continued in virtually every community. Today, those ads from the past provide a glimpse into the services, wages, and community, of the decades gone by. Here’s a sampling of Fargo Forum newspaper ads from this week in 1909:

Erosion is constant in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where the colorful but crumbly Badlands are on full display. A scenic loop rings the park’s South Unit at Medora, taking visitors through prairie dog towns, river bottomland and layered bluffs. The park was established in 1947 as Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park, but the 21-mile loop wasn’t completed until 1968, when the final seven miles of road were laid. Visitors previously had to retrace the road from Wind Canyon and Buck Hill.

Women's Vote 1920

Nov 18, 2020


On November 2, 1920, eligible men and women around the country were able to vote equally in the election for the first time. According to the census bureau, approximately 26 million women were now able to vote. However, there were still an estimated 1.5 million women considered ineligible.