Happiness is key to success for Ron West

by markjohnson on May 22, 2013

Thanks to Missy Thompson, reporter for the East Grand Forks Exponent for this story in this week’s paper.

Ron West, radio host on Northland Community and Technical College’s Pioneer 90.1 FM, says he’s a fortunate man.

“I’m fortunate to have been able to work within a chosen profession that I truly enjoy.  In a broad sense, ‘communication’ is my passion, through the written word or orally,” West said.  “While thousands of people have “known me” over 30-plus years, I have known very few of the people who have listened to me.  It may come as a surprise, but my public position is often very ‘alone,’ as I’m relaying information, music, entertainment, and my very dry brand of levity without direct contact.  It’s fascinating to have the feedback on how people imagine me or what role I have played in their lives, as they start or end their day.”

West has worked in the radio scene for 33 years, mainly in talk-information formats. You may have heard him as the morning drive anchor at KNOX in Grand Forks and three years at WDAY-AM in Fargo. He has also worked in Crookston, Langdon, Grafton and Detroit Lakes.

West is relishing his current position with Pioneer 90.1.

“I grew weary of some of the behind the scenes politics and decision making within the commercial broadcasting industry.  Other than those occasional points of dissolution, I relish the many challenges and aspects of radio,” West said.  “Pioneer 90.1 is insulated from the profit-driven aspect of commercial radio and that, for me, has generated a great deal of energy, creativity, fun and diversity.  Pioneer 90.1 is able and willing to produce features and programs that are unique to an independent, regionally-based, public radio station.”

When asked what his magic formula for success would be, West was very philosophical.

“I prefer to define success as it relates to “happiness”, which comes in many forms.  In my life, achieving happiness is not based on material wealth or the amount of “stuff” that I have,” said West.  “Happiness  rests on love, simplicity, honesty, integrity, trust and contentment.  Those key gems of life are priceless and bring a substantial amount of happiness to me; especially when the rough waters of life lap at your door.”

In his “spare” time, West enjoys spending time with his sons, a very close friend and his parents and also reading. You can also catch him at various sporting events throughout the year.

West is entering his third year at Northland and at Pioneer 90.1, however, the program at NCTC started in 1968 as a way for students to study for the FCC license that was required before anyone could get on the air, according to Station Manager Mark Johnson.

“The radio station went on the air in 1972 as KAVS (Area Vocational School). It was a 10-watt station, which only covered Thief River Falls. The station upgraded to 24,000-watts in the early 1990s, making it possible to be heard in Grand Forks/East Grand Forks,” Johnson said. “The station took on the name Pioneer 90.1 around ten years ago. Pioneer 90.1 is the only student and volunteer-staffed radio station at any 2 year college in Minnesota. We do still have a Radio Broadcast diploma, along with a diploma or AAS degree in New Media Production. New Media Production covers skills that are required for jobs in media and marketing today, such as video production, graphic design, social media, blogging, and photography.”

According to Johnson, classes are held on the Thief River Falls campus, where there is a newly-remodeled classroom, featuring an iMac for each student. The East Grand Forks campus radio studio was added in March of 2012.

“The New Media program is still fairly new. I believe there were four grads this year. I teach an occasional class, but Del Wright is the fulltime instructor. In the 40 year history of the media programs at Northland, hundreds of students have graduated,” Johnson said. “Some have found work in markets as large as Los Angeles, Orlando, Dallas, and the Twin Cities. Some prefer to stay close to home, and work in smaller markets. We have four recent grads working at the co-owned stations in Ada and Mahnomen right now.”

Johnson said the radio industry is realizing that it needs to compete online against streaming.

“The industry is turning to video, podcasts, and other online products to capture a local audience with local information – something that satellite radio and web jukeboxes can’t do. It used to be that radio broadcasters had just one platform – the audio from their transmitters,” Johnson said. “Today, we have so many more – blogs, websites, apps. Radio is now a visual medium, and stations need employees skilled in creating content for a number of platforms. Some even have a fulltime video producer on staff. As an example, the nation’s largest broadcaster, Clear Channel, advertised earlier this year for an entirely new role called a Digital Program Manager. That new position manages the company’s digital and social media platforms. With Northland’s three radio stations (one FM, and two digital channels, along with our new website www.radionorthland.org), matched with Del’s instruction, we are uniquely able to produce graduates with the skills necessary for this new job.”

West feels the future is bright for Pioneer 90.1.

“I’m excited about the growth that the radio station has experienced recently, to include our new studio in East Grand Forks, and the accessibility/presence that we now have in Greater Grand Forks,” West said.  “The role that Pioneer 90.1 has, in serving citizens of northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota, is very unique.  Unlike other public radio outlets, Pioneer 90.1 is based right here.  It’s regional, reflecting and connected to the region.  I’m thrilled to be a part of Pioneer 90.1’s present, potential and future!”

For more information on NCTC’s New Media program, see www.northlandcollege.edu. Tune in to 90.1 to catch the many wonderful locally produced programs and a wide variety of music.

Reach Missy Thompson at missy@page1publications.com

1 Comment »

  1. Pam Schorsch — May 29, 2013 @ 8:30 am

    I really enjoy the variety of old and new artists plus state and local information. Thanks Ron!

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