Radio | Prairie Public Broadcasting



Radio was an exciting medium in the first quarter of the 20th Century. On this date in 1922, three young men from Fargo, Lawrence Hamm, Earl Reinecke and Kenneth Hance, anxiously awaited a very important piece of paper. Only a few weeks before, Mr. Hance had gone to Chicago and successfully completed his federal examination for a commercial license. They men were already active in the radio business, having established a transmitter and receiver in the Cass County Courthouse. The set was situated in the dome under the bell tower, and their antenna was a wire cage affair connected to the flag pole, but under Department of Commerce procedures, they were not authorized to begin the first commercial broadcasting in North Dakota until that paper arrived.

Early Communication

Mar 20, 2020


We are living in an age of information. Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, all of which can be accessed by a variety of instruments, from an available computer in a library, to your own personal smart phones.


On this date in 1924, the Portland Republican reported that the city of Portland, North Dakota, was discovering its own method of instant communication. In an attempt to play radio concerts in Portland’s Opera House, the mayor, J.M. Wesley, had “one of the finest Western Electric Radio Receiving Sets” installed in his store, along with a three-stage loudspeaker. 

Radio broadcasting captured the imagination of Americans in the decade after the founding of first radio station, KDKA in Pittsburgh in November, 1920. In North Dakota, the first radio station was started in 1922 by visionary Earl Reineke, who established WDAY in Fargo.

You don’t have to listen to Prairie Public for very long before you hear News Director Dave Thompson. He’s known as the dean of the North Dakota press pool and he’s infamous for his puns.

Dave visited the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck with his Prairie Public colleague, Lowell Loritz. In this excerpt from their conversation, we learn about Dave's lifelong love of radio, the beginnings of Prairie Public's radio service, and how the radio industry has changed.