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Wendy Reuer, Published August 15 2011

It's My Job: WDAY Radio newsman talks news, sports

On the air

FARGO - Most days before the sun is even up, radio newsman and “First News” co-host Erick Johnson is up and at the happenings of Fargo-Moorhead.

The veteran radio man has been riding the radio waves since 1988, talking news and sports to thousands every day as he co-hosts the “First News” morning program, talks breaking news each hour and covers local high school sports around the area.

But even before he became a professional, radio was in his blood.

As a child riding with his grandfather in the grain trucks, Johnson would practice his best weather forecasts on the CB radio.

“It was always a stormy day every time I was in the truck with my grandfather,” Johnson joked.

Johnson has taken a break from radio at times, but he always returns, working with Forum Communications since the 1990s. The multimedia aspect is something Johnson said he is lucky to enjoy.

“For me, I actually get to have the best of all worlds. I get to work with the TV news people and with you guys, The Forum; it’s like this huge information pipeline,” he said.

The Detroit Lakes native sat down with The Forum recently to answer a few questions about what it’s like to work in radio.

Q: How did you get started in radio?

A: I began working for Detroit Lakes at KBLM as a senior in high school. Then I took my first job in radio at Thief River Falls. They have a technical school up there or a community college up there that has a broadcasting program. I went to talk to a professor there, and he said, “Well, you already have a full-time job in radio, so it doesn’t make sense for you to spend all this money to get a degree in something you already have a full-time job in.”

What is your average day like?

Mine is a little confusing.

I’m up fairly early. At about 5 o’clock, I start monitoring news channels, doing different things, looking at the newspaper, the news channels just to see what’s out there.

I get in at about 6 and start writing news stories. At 7 a.m. I go on the air on the third hour of “First News,” and that is from 7 to 8 (a.m.). After that is done, I basically start my news-anchoring duties.

So, I do a news cast at 8:30 a.m., then I’m off the air for a couple hours, then 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. I do news casts on WDAY Radio. Also, I’m responsible for giving news scripts for the rest of the afternoon.

That’s kind of what my job is in a nutshell.

You’re on mostly news and talk radio; do you miss the music side?

No, not at all. I’ve always been a news guy. When I was in school or even elementary school – and this going to sound like a homer – but I actually listened to WDAY AM radio. I wasn’t listening to FM radio.

Don’t ask me why, but news is what I’ve always loved.

What is your involvement in the sports side?

I do high school play-by-play. I also do the scheduling of it, getting the games together and which ones we’ll play through the year.

Do you enjoy doing the play-by-plays?

That’s one of my favorite things. I love doing sports.

I don’t know if I’m the world’s best at it. Technically, I would probably do it for free because it’s kind of like just one those things. People like to ride bike or they like to run; for me, I just like going to the high school games doing the play-by-play, watching athletes and kids do something that they really like for the fun of the game.

Do you get a lot of call-ins?

We’re not really a talk show, so we don’t get a lot. But if we do something wrong, or we pronounce a name wrong, people will call in. From that standpoint, no news is good news: People don’t call if you’re doing something right.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

Every day is a new day. Every day is something different. Sometimes there is a big accident or crime, and sometimes it is little stuff that makes the news. It’s fun just trying to figure out what that new thing that is going to be news and how to make it local. The most important thing for me is trying to bring information to the local side.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

To submit an idea for “It’s My Job,” e-mail businessnews@forumcomm.com.