Interview: Long Time AP Reporter Dale Wetzel Talks About New Venture in Covering North Dakota Politics

Dale_Wetzel_Headshot

Earlier this week I wrote about a new media venture started by the Bakken Beacon, owned by former NDGOP Chairman Gary Emineth and conservative talk radio host Scott Hennen, which got a real shot in the arm when 28-year Associated Press veteran Dale Wetzel joined their ranks.

Wetzel was nice enough to let me interview him about this new project, why he chose to get involved and how it will differ from his old job.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DBOzJTHHQg&w=640&h=480]

One of the chief criticisms already being leveled at the Bakken Beacon, which will push content to the Great Plains Examiner (a monthly newspaper based in Bismarck) as well as the two radio stations it owns in Fargo and Tioga, is that it will be a right-wing media source given the politics of its ownership.

I asked Wetzel about that, and he said it’s “not unreasonable to be suspicious.” He said that the questions critics are asking are the same questions he would ask, but that he hopes people “judge the product.”

Speaking about his own politics, Wetzel says he tends to be “pliable” but that he voted for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson in the presidential election last month. He says he is “extremely suspicious of government power,” but attributes that less to ideology than just a common sense feeling all citizens should have.

Asked what’s different about this new media venture from his work at the Associated Press, Wetzel says he’ll enjoy more flexibility. “The AP is a wonderful organization,” he told me, but added “in this venture I don’t have to consult with anyone.” He said he looks forward to creating content without needing input from people out of state who might not understand the local significance.

Wetzel says his radio show will begin on January 7th, airing from 7 – 9pm on KFYR in Bismarck, KTGO in Tioga and AM1100 in Fargo. He also said that they plan to begin re-publishing the Great Plains Examiner, which has been on hiatus, some time in mid-January.

You’ll be able to follow all of Dale’s content at GreatPlainsExaminer.com.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Dallas

    Do the existing radio stations—funded by oil industry money—own the newspaper? Or, does the newly acquired newspaper own the radio stations where the pecksniffian Hennan studies banruptcy law? Legitimate question. I don’t believe FCC regulations allow broadcasting entities to own newspapers.

    However, this may be moot. The newly hyped program featuring the Dale (pass the gravy) Wetzel will be broadcast over a station that really doesn’t have an audience in the evening. KFYR, at one point in the 80s, had three full-time reporters and rivaled KFGO for quality and credibility. Today they have none of either.

    This station once had a 25 audience share, but since being acquired by Clear Channel, it’s dropped to nothing. The only programs where they register in the ratings are The Heitkamp show and Rush (the Viagra Viking) Limbaugh.

    Wetzel is widely considered lazy by other reporters and an intellectual pygmy by Republican office holders he’s supposed to be watching.

    This is tragic. The oil industry deserved more.

    • Jim Fuglie

      Hah! Well, I have a hard time sharing Dallas’s sympathy for the oil industry. But he’s pretty much right about audience share. As a long time media watcher in North Dakota, I can say with some confidence that an early evening Wetzel broadcast from a Bismarck bar on those three stations (Tioga? Give me a break.) is not going to command much of an audience, and thus not much revenue. Nor is a tabloid you pick up for free when you leave the grocery store. But I suspect revenue is not the goal. Not sure who the money is behind this, but my guess is there is plenty of it and the feel-good sensation of just being in the market, having an outlet, being a player, is enough for whoever is behind this. Kind of like my blog, I guess. Okay, enough said. I’ve probably only visited this site 5 times ever (Rob can probably give you the exact number) and now I’ve been here at least three times in a couple days. I’m not sure why, except I’m happy to see my old next door neighbor Dale win the lottery. I just hope it turns out okay for him. Up until now, at least, he’s been a real journalist. We’ll see what happens next.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        Something tells me you’d be singing a different tune if this venture hang been started by Republicans.

        And I think you’ve visited a few more times than five, Jim. :-)

      • Mike

        Mass Communication is not a public service. Well, it is supposed to be, but it isn’t Mass Communication is a business. Both FOX and MSNBC know this. It will be very interesting to see if this enterprise can be self sufficient as a business. I wish them much success.

    • Mike

      Whoa! Dallas clearly does not know the truth. No one no where can call Wetzel lazy. I know. I worked with him for more than a decade. Dallas has never engaged Dale in a conversation, or he would clearly not been able to say Wetzel is an intellectual pygmy. Dallas has lost all credibility. Ignore Dallas.

  • Lynn Bergman

    It is likely extremely difficult for skimmers and looters from the takings coalition to understand potential, opportunity, growth from humble roots, or any of the other valuable attributes of a free market society. As can be seen in the previous posts, the takings coalition is about tearing down, not building from scratch from a vision.

  • Carter

    OK, discussion of KFYR’s reach of some merit. Otherwise, Dallas, you’re a moron. No one works harder than Wetzel. 12, 14 hours a day. Serious, hard, journalistic work. I speak as a former competitor. Carter Wood

  • Dallas

    Carter: You’ve got Motzart’s ear for music. Amazed to see you admit to see you think competing with mediocrity was tough.
    Former Nebraska Senator Roman Hruska, defending a Nixon Supreme Court nominee said, ….”Even mediocre people deserve to be represented on the court.” So happy to see a ‘think tank’ guru thinks the same criteria extends to people who aspire to be called journalst.
    You hang in there “Scoop”.

  • Snarkie

    You got bloggers/reporters up there that aren’t obese?

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