Some big news in North Dakota political coverage as long-time Associated Press reporter Dale Wetzel – perhaps the best journalist in the state – is joining a new media outlet started by former NDGOP Chairman Gary Emineth and talk show host Scott Hennen.
The Bakken Beacon will encompass the Great Plains Examiner, a weekly newspaper which was recently purchased from founder Matt Bunk (who remains on as a partner there) as well as the AM1100 radio station in Fargo and KTGO AM1090 which broadcasts in the state’s oil patch.
Obviously, given the ownership structure, many might be tempted to dismiss this as right-wing media organization, but that would be hasty. Wetzel has a ton of credibility which he brings to the table.
“This is a venture that’s going to focus on news and issues,” Wetzel says in the press release sent out this evening (see the whole thing below). “It is not some Republican propaganda project. If it were, I wouldn’t be part of it. For one thing, nobody would listen to a show like that. It wouldn’t be good business.”
I’m not sure that having an ideological bent is necessarily bad for business (ask Fox News, the Huffington Post and MSNBC), but one doesn’t need to fill an ideological hole to be successful in North Dakota’s media environment. Let’s just say the state’s reporters leave a lot of meat on the bone.
In addition to Wetzel being a part of this media company, they’ll also be doing a weekday evening broadcast (airing on KFYR Radio in Fargo as well as the two Bakken Beacon stations) focusing on covering the legislative session. It will be broadcast, interestingly enough, from the Peacock Alley (a bar and restaurant in Bismarck well-known as a favorite hangout of the state’s politicos) from 7 – 9pm starting January 7th.