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Tom Mix, Published July 24 2012

Valley News Live's Dan Hammer accepts job with Midco Sport Network

FARGO – Valley News Live sports director Dan Hammer has accepted a new job that is taking him somewhere very familiar.

Hammer, a veteran radio and television sports personality in Fargo-Moorhead for more than 25 years, has accepted a position with Midcontinent Communications’ Midco Sports Network in Grand Forks, where he’ll broadcast 42 University of North Dakota sporting events during the 2012-13 season.

Midcontinent Vice President of Business Solutions Mark Powell confirmed the hire on Tuesday.

“It is the most exciting opportunity of my career,” said Hammer, who served as UND’s radio play-by-play voice for football from 2003 to 2010.

“Midco has a talented team of professionals and are committed to producing top-flight broadcasts. … It’s exciting to be joining UND at this juncture of their athletic programs.”

“I’m thrilled and humbled to be joining both the Midco and UND teams.”

Hammer is also slated to host the weekly “UND Sports Extra” show that will air at 7 p.m. Tuesdays for 40 weeks during the year as part of the $1 million, five-year broadcast agreement Midcontinent Communications made with UND last month. The agreement includes five football games and 20 men’s hockey games.

UND begins its first season of competition in the Big Sky Conference in most sports this fall.

“We were looking for someone that had a UND background, certainly, and that had knowledge of the university,” Powell said. “We were also looking for someone that would be energetic on the air and be able to do all the sports plus host the weekly show, and we found all those qualities with Dan.”

Midcontinent Communications is a regional cable company that serves North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is available to West Fargo and Moorhead residents, but not in Fargo.

Hammer, 53, served as the sports director at KVLY and KXJB since January of 2010. Prior to that, he worked for four years as the sports director for Radio Fargo-Moorhead properties KFGO 790-AM and 740 The Fan. Before leaving for Radio Fargo-Moorhead, Hammer worked 21 years at KVLY, serving as sports director from 1983 to 2002.

“I felt really blessed to have had the opportunity to remain in the market, a market that I loved for a number of reasons for many years,” Hammer said of Fargo-Moorhead. “I wouldn’t have gone back to television in 2010 had it not been for the fact that it is the deepest in my heart. Television is my home.”

Midco Sports Network’s agreement with UND ends WDAZ’s affiliation with producing live broadcasts of UND athletics as well as the weekly coaches show. WDAZ – the ABC affiliate in Grand Forks owned by Forum Communications – had produced athletic programming the last 10 years for the Fighting Sioux Sports Network.

WDAZ sports director Pat Sweeney, who has been broadcasting UND men’s hockey games for 28 years starting in 1984, will no longer perform play-by-play duties. Sweeney, who applied for the on-air broadcasting position with Midco Sports Network, said he’ll remain with WDAZ as the station’s sports director.

The first UND sporting event to be televised on Midco Sports Network is the Aug. 30 football game against South Dakota School of Mines and Technology at the Alerus Center. Midco will also broadcast select UND men’s and women’s basketball games along with volleyball matches.

Midcontinent has broadcasting rights in place for the Summit League men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and also has broadcasting agreements in place with South Dakota State and the University of South Dakota.

Hammer will be part of a three-person broadcasting operation, which will include a coordinating producer and a production assistant.

“Dan has a lot of industry knowledge,” Powell said. “He’s a consummate professional. His background and everything else led us to make that choice. He is ready to dig in and understands what UND and Midco Sports are going to develop the next five years.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562