A Death In The Family

I don’t know why but as each passing year draws to a close, I get a little verklempt.

For me, one of the saddest things this year was learning that WDAZ-TV newscasts would no longer originate from Grand Forks, but rather from WDAY in Fargo. No surprise, but still very sad.

I suppose because I worked at Channel 8 for so many years, I’m asked for my take on it, just about everywhere I go, just about all of the time.

I’ve also been asked to write about it. So, here goes. This won’t take long and it will likely be the last word you’ll hear from me about it.

When WDAZ went on the air in 1967 it was meant to augment the ratings of WDAY in the northern valley, the lake region of Devils Lake and northwestern Minnesota. It did that and much more. Maybe that was part of the problem. From the beginning viewers were more than accepting of the station and especially its newscasts. And they got a lot more than news from the station, including live sports events and other kinds of special programming.

Times change. Business is business. Both are clichés and both are true.

From the beginning WDAZ had its own identity, separate from WDAY. Until lately when viewers began seeing an odd blurring of WDAZ and WDAY images. No longer “Your Home Team,” now suddenly WDAZ was “Your News Leader,” WDAY’s longtime slogan. Logos changed. Promos changed. All of it meant to make for a more seamless transition, I guess. It didn’t work. In fact, it backfired, raising even more questions about the station.

Management tried to sell it as a merger of newscasts. It’s not. Already viewers are seeing much less “northern” content in newscasts than they are used to and they know it.

One of my biggest disappointments in all of this is that nothing was said on air about the final Grand Forks newscast on December 21. Nothing to thank people, especially viewers. A planned story about the final Grand Forks newscast in the Grand Forks Herald was “killed.”

Some people will continue to work in the WDAZ newsroom and other areas of the building, but it’s unlikely the station will ever be what it once was, a plucky, little outfit that accomplished much more than it should have, especially considering the resources it had to work with. And much more than it was given credit for.

It’s easy to place the blame for what’s happened. But there’s no need. Also, I found out a long time ago, it’s not my television station.

These are difficult times for journalism just about everywhere. We’ve all seen major changes in the Herald as well. There is a great deal of concern about what will happen to it.

Again, times change. Nothing is easy. And not to be overly dramatic or anything, but losing a daily newscast feels a little bit like a death in the family.

24 Responses

  1. Phyllis Brooks

    Well said Terry . My husband Bob Brooks would be so disappointed about this as I am. Fargo is our home town but this makes me so angry. kXJB here I come or KVLY

  2. Stacey

    I never liked the change at all. It does not feel like a Grand Forks channel at all. Some of the news shared, I did not even know where these cities are located,and I did not care. So I don’t watch it very much at all. And I also know many many people don’t watch it either. Kinda like how the Herald has changed for the worse too. I know times are changing but for the citizens of Grand Forks and our surrounding area ,it hasn’t been good.

  3. Lori

    I totally agree. It’s a sad day, and it’s just not the same! The same with the Herald, terrible coverage now that it’s more of a Forum☹️

  4. Anonymous

    Losses like this do feel like a death because it is. When something is no longer, the loss is just that. We replace it with whatever it will be but nevertheless—-history has been made. I am sorry.

  5. Anonymous

    I will be deleting my DVR recording for WDAZ never WDAY and will now start watching either KVLY or KVRR because if I am forced to watch Fargo news at least I will watch a better one. Anyone interested in KNOX as GF’s newest TV news station?

  6. Anonymous

    Grand Forks is a big enough town why don’t they start their own channel and news station and quit doing everything Fargo wants. Because if they don’t get their own channel the northern valley will never be heard from again, maybe for 10 seconds. It will be all about Fargo and that’s just how they want it.

  7. Melissa Jensen

    Thank you, Terry for everything you did for us watchers. You are missed. And now the station will be missed as well.

  8. Anonymous

    They no longer care about the northern valley. Only Fargo news. Sports only about NDSU. What happens when we all stop watching up north and they only have Fargo left. Guess they can just pay the bill for it to.

  9. Jay Schmaltz

    Terry as a Broadcaster myself and someone who grew up in Northeastern North Dakota I know the viability of WDAZ. I understand that changes have been made in Broadcast Media over the past many years. The death of small market Radio and Newspaper have been so prevalent. Changes always come yet many are not welcomed or needed. WDAZ was a serving a purpose and a need in North Dakota and to yank the rug out from under them and the dedicated viewers was crazy. What Forum Communications has done since day one has been take care of themselves (Fargo) and not consider anyone else. You can call it cost cutting you can call it a necessity, I call it Wrong! The people of Grand Forks and NE North Dakota deserve better, damn shame as long as Forum Communications is in charge that will never happen…sad sad truth.

  10. Beth Karol

    I completely agree. It’s been “off” for quite some time because the weekend news was from Fargo. Then we lost CH 8 because of being on Directv. Annoyingly we were “stuck” w/CH6. I’ve so missed Matt & Stacy. Seeing them 5 days a week, they become like family & one is so comfortable watching them. They shared their life, Stacy’s expanding family, etc. I also agree w/the comments about the GF Herald. It is getting smaller & both CH 6 & the Herald do a very poor job of covering our neck of the woods here in Roseau County. I know we have to accept change, but sure wish it would be GOOD changes once in a while. Miss you, Terry! You & Stacy were so fun to watch.

  11. Anonymous

    Thanks Terry for all your good work. We in the far north country will have to switch to Canadian tv for more accurate weather news.

  12. Kris Braaten

    I will miss WDAZ! Why could it not continue?First the Forum takes over the Heraldand is too lazy to give us a Monday paper then Fargo takes over TV. Ridiculous!!!

  13. Anonymous

    I live 150 miles northeast of Grand Forks, the news was already borderline not reaching us when it came out of Grand Forks! Now when the stories come out of Fargo not anything is of much interest! Weather hardly touching on what is going on and sports of local teams is a joke now! Doesn’t even pay for us to watch! So so disappointed!!!! Much better off to check on the Facebook page for updates!!

  14. Robin

    We really miss any type of local news in the “northern” region. I think you hit it right on & it’s really sad & maddening as well. And no explanation from the station shows a lack of respect for it’s viewers.

  15. Jo Beth

    It is sad to see WDAZ lose its local newscasts. Bemidji lost their local newscasts years ago and when I am there on vacation it’s strictly Twin Cities news.

    I remember Chuck Bundlie and Madelyn Camrud and Santa’s Toyland, as well as all the other personalities that made WDAZ local and great (you’re in that particular group Terry). Even though Dewey Berquist did his weather broadcasts down in Fargo, he was the “drunk Uncle” everyone had in their family and as a kid I loved his staredowns until the screen went black. My grandfather would call him Dumbf**k Dewey because he would say it would be a Grade A day with sunshine but it would turn out to be a Grade D day with rain! But I loved him.

    Terry you should write a book about WDAZ and all the wonderful people that have been associated with it through the years. I’d definitely buy it!

  16. JoDee Lagein

    The unfortunate thing of living in Devils Lake, is this is the second change for us. When the Devils Lake office was here we had our own reporter and we had a great grasp as to what was going on here and the surrounding area. With this change we lost everything. Now we have to try and get used to their way of doing things. It will be a miracle if we ever hear anything about our neck of the woods. I was an everyday at least once a day WDAZ news watcher. Now I couldn’t care less

  17. Anonymous

    So sad to see the local news coverage for all of the smaller towns, rural areas as well as Grand Forks disappear from both the loss of the Herald and WDAZ. The ability to mentor local high schools students and more jobs lost is also felt. Sorry to see you all go but too late a realization the difference you made in many lives.

  18. Geri

    The change is noticeable…even if one did not read about it, or hear about it. The lack of “news” about the northern end of the valley is obvious. Grand Forks is given a passing notice, but anything north of the that…forget it. Just like the way the Twin Cities view us…we are the great “nothing” up here. So very very sad. I miss WDAZ and all the newscaster and commentators who became “family” over the years. SAD!!!!

  19. Cheryl Flesche

    When I was a child, grow in up in a VERY small town. MY parents had the local news, weather and sports on, while dinner was served. The family based it communications on what was occuring in our area each evening.
    IT hurts to know, NOW, there is no more traditional trends that will be carried on!
    A part of Grand Forks has died, along with the journalism with the Grand Forks Herald!

  20. Julie Moravchik

    Excellent story as always Terry. It is like a death in the family. Well said. This is a huge loss for the community & I am heartbroken for the viewers.

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