the Northcountry’s newest music

1460 KKAQ radio in Thief RIver Falls, Minnesota was the home of country music and featured announcers with voices which were cut either from a bolt of tanned rawhide or spooned out of a honey jar. It was “Northcountry’s Best Music” and my one-time place of employment. Last Tuesday, KKAQ cut its hair.

November 2nd, 1979 was the first day of operation for KKAQ radio. It started out in a couple of double-wides just east of town,
later moved downtown and eventually came to share occupancy with it’s Thief River radio kin. KKAQ played narration to most of my high school bus rides and provided my first taste of Country music. I can get 1200 radio stations over the Internet today but there were just a select few at the time that reached the area and they were like a bulletin boardfor this part of the state. Radio was a huge part of my life; KKAQ introduced me to the music of the Back Behind the Barn Boys, Scotty Delray Torgerson and the Meadowbrook ballroom. I grew up on a farm and we
got most of our much-needed weather information from radio and most of our news. It was a good companion when I got to drive a tractor with a radio or something to pass the time while we milked cows. I got used to listening to KKAQ in its old format so I guess that’s why last week’s change really shocked me.

KKAQ went from its Country format to Classic Rock last Tuesday at 5 pm. I spoke with program director, Dave Halvorson, and he said the change was just in the interest of offering listeners another music choice. KKAQ and KKDQ have broadcast the same programming since 1993 which is a little like pulling one trailer with two semi-tractors. KKAQ’s coverage is more tailored to the area closest to Thief River Falls where a classic rock format will find consistent listeners while KKDQ will still broadcast Country Music and local news that it’s listeners have enjoyed the last few decades.

I listened to the new format and I liked it. The Classic Rock
format includes album cuts which are usually longer and more true to what the artist intended; much of what you typically hear on radio has been edited to keep it to around three minutes. Actually there has always been Country and Rock crossovers such as the Charlie Daniels band, Steve Earle, the Eagles or the Marshall Tucker Band so the change is really not that great a stretch.

While much has changed, much will stay the same. You will still be
able to listen to sports play by play on KKAQ and hopefully they will
be able to work a little news into the rotation. It’s also a nice alternative for people working in warehouses or large buildings who want something different to listen to but where a signal from elsewhere might not make it to their ears. It’s like many businesses, everyone is trying to offer a little something extra by diversifying service without extra cost. KKAQ is just offering different music instead of bags of softener salt stacked in front of the building or selling Minnesota lotto tickets.

The new KKAQ will prosper and find new listeners, including me.
However, it will though not be the same place I visited in my youth
to listen to morning announcers Curt and Dave tell me what was on the school lunch menu then later shoot traffic reporter Harv Hover from his lofty perch seated inside a gyro copter high above Goose Lake .

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