The Man Who Invented WDAZ

Jack Lester died this week.  He had eighty-six fascinating years as a broadcaster, soldier, pilot, race car driver, motorcylist and much more.    

In the heyday of people like Dewey Bergquist, Marv Bossart and Boyd Christenson , he managed WDAY-TV in Fargo. I was never exactly sure where his authority began and ended, but I knew by he way people talked about him, he was "the man."  

In those days Jack had the final say in hiring on-air people at WDAZ in Grand Forks, too.  After watching my tape, along with WDAZ News Director Chuck Bundlie, he hired me as a young, not very experienced reporter.

Almost the first thing he said to me after we met for the first time was, "Terry, I hope you’re with us for a long time."  That was in 1975, almost thirty-four years ago.  (The moral of that story is "be careful what you wish for.")

Back in the 60’s, when then KTHI-TV (now KVLY) constructed what was the world’s tallest tower near Blanchard with a booming television signal, WDAY had to do something to compete.  As I’ve heard the story, most everyone thought it should be something similar to the Channel 11 tower nearby.  Jack thought it should be a smaller tower with a signal to cover just the northern valley.

Still a good idea today, it allows separate newscasts and other local programming for WDAY and WDAZ.  It also allows us to do a better job of covering the news locally by being free to concentrate on northeast North Dakota, the Lake Region and northwestern Minnesota, while at the same time being able to share news and information of state-wide interest with WDAY News.    

Thanks, Jack, for inventing WDAZ.  I’ve had great fun playing with it for thirty-four years.