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.

13 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

    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.

  7. 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!!!!

  8. 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!

  9. 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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