Meet the Radio Staff
Director of Radio Bill Thomas came to North Dakota after working in Lincoln at Nebraska’s Public Radio Network. He’s worked in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; Los Angeles; Washington, DC; and St. Louis. He started small community stations, managed national program distribution, has been a program director, a station manager and a network manager. In his spare time he gardens, cooks, plays music, reads, gets outdoors—and spends time with his wife and two daughters.
News Director Dave Thompson has been saying good morning to public radio listeners in North Dakota since 1981, and under his watch, Prairie Public’s radio service has won nearly 100 awards for news reporting. Dave is a native of Bismarck, and his hobbies are karaoke, bowling, karaoke, music collecting, karaoke—and by the way, did we say karaoke?
Doug Hamilton, host of “Main Street,” joined Prairie Public in 2012. He is well known for his work in broadcasting—as a reporter, producer, director and anchor. More recently, Hamilton was the executive director of foundation/advancement at MSUM and served as the university’s assistant to the president for media and community relations.
Todd McDonald came to Prairie Public after spending 13-years doing news in the realm of commercial radio, and he has spent a lot of his time in newsrooms in northwest Minnesota and eastern North Dakota. When Todd’s not out with his microphone gathering information, he’s spending time with his wife Lynette and son Ian camping, doing backyard astronomy and continuing his search for obscure musics.
Mike Olson, host of “Into the Music” is adored by listeners for his ability to put together fascinating and stimulating sets of music that draw on his very wide and very deep knowledge of rock, jazz, blues, folk, country, bluegrass…the list could go on. A Williston High grad, he did a stint in the oil fields (not this boom, the previous one) before going to UND. In 1984 he started as an announcer at UND’s KFJM and stayed there as it grew into Northern Lights Public Radio. As UND transitioned to having its stations operated by Prairie Public, Mike did, too. He’s can be heard in Fargo, Grand Forks, and Williston on the regular FM channels — if you have an HD radio you can get him anywhere in the state — and, of course, anywhere in the world by the web.
Merrill E. Piepkorn has performed professionally with several musical groups, the most notable of which was Skunk Hollow. He continues to perform on stage with The Radio Stars, and he is the voice of Prairie Public’s “Dakota Datebook.” Merrill and his wife Connie live in North Fargo.
Scott Prebys has enjoyed a highly successful career as a performer, educator, conductor, and clinician. He is a 2009 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts (North Dakota) and recently concluded a 37-year career in higher education. His appointment as program host of “Prebys on Classics” was preceded by a long tenure as a volunteer host of Prairie Public’s radio show “Prebys on Jazz.”
Ashley Thornberg has worked in Prairie Public’s development department since 2009. She’s also a special contributor for the “Main Street” radio show. She has worked as a freelance writer and photographer and was a producer and reporter at Valley News Live before joining Prairie Public. Ashley and her husband, Zach, live in Moorhead.
Danielle Webster joined the staff of Prairie Public as a radio news reporter in 2006. She delivers news from the Fargo area to Prairie Public’s statewide radio audience. Webster is a University of North Dakota graduate who worked as a feature reporter, news reporter and production assistant for the university’s “Studio One” news program. Her work on “Studio One” was nominated for a regional Emmy.
Deanne Forster Willows is in charge of radio production and handles the creation of almost all the short announcements that you hear throughout our programming. She is probably the staff member most in danger of having a person stop her in the grocery store and say “I know your voice…” A Richardton native, she joined the Prairie Public staff as a reporter in 1991. She anchored newscasts as well. These days, in addition to being the voice and creator of many on-air spots, she does a lot of the software jockeying that keeps our local and national programming flowing.
Skip Wood, Producer for “Main Street,” was the news producer at Channel 4 in Fargo/Grand Forks for 22 years. He left to finish a novel and to pursue various independent projects, including “The Next Governor,” a television documentary for Prairie Public. Skip agreed to help out when his current position became vacant, and found the work so interesting, he decided to stick around. Skip lives in Moorhead with his wife Stacy.
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