20 Years Later: KVRR Local News Hits a Milestone
July 10th 2000, Fox News went on the air for the first time in the Red River Valley
FARGO, N.D. –This weekend marks a milestone for KVRR Local News.
We have been around 20 years ever since our first on-air newscast in July 2000.
Former news director Jim Shaw says, “with us, we had to look different. I did not want to be the same.”
July 10th 2000, Fox News went on the air for the first time in the Red River Valley.
It was competing against three other local stations at the time. Shaw knew the newscast had to stand out.
Shaw says, “…different graphics, fast-paced music, hard hitting stories.”
Fox gave the area something it didn’t have before, a 9 o’clock newscast.
“That was our big marketing pitch. Why stay up late when we’ve got it for you an hour earlier?,” says Shaw.
Fast forward 20 years and the idea is still the same.
“We’re still the number one news station at nine, many nights beating most of the prime time programs that are on so that says a lot too. People have that need to tune in and get their news, get their weather and their sports and get to bed, I guess,” says Nelson.
TJ Nelson has been an anchor at KVRR since 2013. He has seen the station evolve over the years.
Nelson says, “Let’s see, when I first got her, we had a really old set. I don’t know if it was the original set or not but I remember getting on the chair, trying to roll back on that chair on the first night and almost fell through the flooring.”
Like most businesses, there’s always a need to stay up to date.
Shaw says, “These big bulky cameras, we had video tapes. The whole mechanism of putting together a story has changed.”
In 2014, the station switched to digital editing.
“That was a massive change for us,” says KVRR director James Crawford.
Cameras got replaced, both in the studio and out in the field. Also, the capability to go live got easier.
Crawford says, “Now we’ve got these Live U packs that are like the size of a purse and they’re easy to carry. As long as you have cell service somewhere, you can go live anywhere and that’s been a huge game changer.”
KVRR, like every other news station, has welcomed a new player over the years. Social media.
Nelson says, “Everybody and their mother has got an account on Facebook or Instagram or one of the accounts.”
Shaw added, “You can use their take on some close friend or relative who died tragically or what happened in a very important incident and you’ve got it instantly.”
With so much information now online, many people are turning away from traditional television.
Shaw says, “I think it’s a harder sell now to get younger people to watch television news or read a newspaper.”
“I think if you want to stay connected to your community, it’s a good idea to tune into KVRR because we cover the people in our community,” says Nelson.
In the past two decades, KVRR has welcomed many new faces. Some of those staying awhile.
“Since this station started, you’ve had two main anchors, Austen Schauer and myself and you’ve had two meteorologists Kip Hines and Rob Kupec so that says lot for a station to have that kind of consistency over a couple of decades,” says Nelson.
That trend holds true to many employees behind the scenes.
Crawford says, “It’s a huge juggling act to keep everything going. The fact that I’ve been able to keep the good people around me that I have for as long as I have means that I can trust them and I know that they are going to be doing what I need them to do so I can focus on everything else for the show and I think t hat’s a big part of what makes this a success.
As times change and the ways to get news increases, there’s still something to be said about sitting down and tuning in.
Shaw says, “TV news stories can take you there. You can see what happened. You hear the voices. You can get a feel for the event. There’s no other medium like it.”
One narrative that doesn’t change is that there’s always going to be a story to tell.