McFeely blog: A loss for regional sports radio

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John Gaskins and Craig Mattick. Photo courtesy of John Gaskins

Count me as biased as could be, but the Sioux Falls, S.D., sports market lost a great asset last week. By extension the regional sports scene did, too.

A radio show titled "Sports Talk," hosted by Craig Mattick and John Gaskins, was cancelled by KWSN-AM and FOX Sports 98.1 FM in Sioux Falls. It was a victim, as so many things have been recently, of the coronavirus. Station owner Midwest Communications (which owns KFGO, 740 the Fan and several music stations locally, and a company for which I worked for a few years) ended the show after 19 years because of lack of sports and advertising revenue caused by the pandemic.

It is one of the brutal realities of this pandemic. People are losing jobs. Companies are seeing drastically reduced revenue. Forum Communications Co., the company that owns The Forum and employs me, has not been immune. We've had layoffs and reduced printing days for our newspapers. There are more than 30 million newly unemployed people in this country.

So I'm not trying to make the loss of "Sports Talk" into any sort of unique event. I'm not going down the outrage road, as bad as I feel for Craig and John. These are just such strange times and media are one of those areas taking a hard hit.

And there's a chance the show might be back. More on that later.


In the interest of transparency: They had me on their show occasionally to talk about the North Dakota State Bison or my thoughts on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits or the Vikings or other similar topics. We always had fun, I think. So that's where my bias comes from.

But I do want to point out that Craig and John did a great job of covering local and regional sports in an even-handed, fair and yet strongly opinionated way. They were local hosts talking about local sports, not afraid to jump into controversy but always willing to be fair and allow all sides to be heard.

And, bless them, they didn't do stupid "hot takes" meant to rile up listeners with little other redeeming value. There was a sense of journalism to their show, not something often seen in talk-radio. They made news once in awhile with some of their interviews, including a couple of times with South Dakota State football coach John Stiegelmeier that I turned into column fodder.

For example: Jackrabbits coach tells Sioux Falls radio station 'one million dollars' separate SDSU, NDSU football programs

As Sioux Falls Argus Leader sports writer Matt Zimmer wrote in a column lauding the radio show and its hosts , national topics often took a back seat on this very local show:


"But if you want to hear weekly updates from the coaches at SDSU, USD, Augustana and USF, debate on issues facing high school sports in South Dakota, conversations with the Canaries’ skipper or just other people in the area with deep ties to the local sports scene, ‘Sports Talk’ was it. In the interest of full disclosure, yes, I was a weekly guest, but no, they didn’t pay me. I won’t even miss my weekly spot that much, to be honest. I’ll just miss their show. Because it was unique and it was good (most of the time)."

Living in Fargo-Moorhead, I wasn't a regular listener. But I did catch the program online once in awhile and while driving in South Dakota, and Gaskins would send me a heads-up (with links!) when he thought they had something on the program that might be of interest. I found the show's hosts to be informed, well-connected to the community and unafraid to ask hard questions of their guests if warranted.

According to Zimmer's article, Gaskins is hoping the show will return when the pandemic-related economic problems ease some and sports return to action. Gaskins is actually encouraging listeners and supporters to email Midwest Communications to lobby for that. Operations manager Tom Gjerdrum's email address is

Mattick and Gaskins do a fine job of covering the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the Summit League and all the issues involving those leagues. So if you're a Bison fan who appreciates coverage of those topics, send an email to Gjerdrum.


Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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