Owen DeJong Retires; SDPB Daytime Goes All Talk

Owen DeJong
Owen DeJong

Owen DeJong is retiring from SDPB Radio this month. DeJong, who, among other things, used to teach high school English (represent!), has hosted Morning Classics on our public radio stations since 1997. For twenty years, I’ve been able to switch on my radio on weekdays and count on one blissful island of non-commercial, non-talk radio, where the only crap colliding with my ears are the occasional dissonant orchestral works of the 20th century and the inevitable earworming Domingo/Brightman “Time to Say Goodbye” on all-request Wednesdays and Fridays (made up for by BarberRavel, and Gershwin, which you can play for me every day).

Alas, as the mellowest man on South Dakota radio departs, so does music from our public radio daytime line-up:

Beginning Monday, January 2, 2017, SDPB will broadcast On Point with Tom Ashbrook, a live, 2-hour interactive news and culture program, weekday mornings from 9am-11am CT (8-10am MT). Also beginning Monday, January 2, SDPB’s Dakota Midday will expand and return as In the Moment with Lori Walsh – a two-hour news, arts, and culture magazine program featuring extended news coverage by a team of beat reporters throughout South Dakota. In the Moment will broadcast weekdays from 11am-1pm CT (10am-noon MT) [Katy Beem, “Morning Classics’ Owen DeJong to Retire from SDPB,” SDPB.org, 2016.11.28].

Lori Walsh is doing fine work, and I look forward to more local news content, especially during Session.

But I can only take so much talk. And thirteen hours, from the time I switch on Morning Edition to the end of Fresh Air, is too long to wait for my daily jazz respite.

I can’t read with news and talk on the radio. I write better to music. It’s more fun to work in the garage to music.

I know, we have the Internet. SDPB will still play the national public radio 24-hour classical music feed online (and, apparently, on something called HD radio, which I honestly don’t even know if I have). Kids may not get this feeling, but I still find some unique pleasure in turning on my radio and hearing music chosen, introduced live, and played by someone I know, someone in my community.

But I guess that, just as I do without TV, I’m reaching the point where I can do without a separate audio receiver. I can switch on my browser or an array of apps on my phone, catch the news at breakfast, lunch, or supper, and then, when I’m ready to get to work, switch to the classical feed or The Current out of the Twin Cities (which isn’t much farther away than the SDPB Vermillion studio) or blessed CKUA up in Edmonton.

Thank you, Owen DeJong, for two decades of good morning study music.

18 Responses to Owen DeJong Retires; SDPB Daytime Goes All Talk

  1. Don Coyote

    @cah: You can probably buy a HD Radio capable receiver/tuner for $50 at Best Buy, Taget, WalMart, Amazon, etc. or from:


  2. And SDPB just produced a coverage map for their HD service, which you will receive in Aberdeen! http://www.sdpb.org/classical

  3. Roger Cornelius

    More talk radio, just what America needs.
    David Newquist has a comment on Facebook about how public radio is conforming to the Trump transition by softening their condemnation of him under threat of him jerking their funding if he doesn’t like their criticism of him.
    They now only read his Tweets and Facebook postings and allow his surrogates explain them away.
    Who knows, Trump may just attack their funding just for the hell of it.
    DeJong will be missed, he always added a calmness to a hectic world.
    Sorry to see him go.

  4. Owen was wonderful and fully deserves retirement. I’m grateful for his years of service. That said, this really disappoints me. When I’m traveling in SD I have limited classical music opportunities and now it’s going away. Supporting or not SDPB is no longer even a consideration.

  5. Darin Larson

    Cory, the audience for classical music during the day is tiny. I like to listen to Minnesota Public Radio during the day precisely because of the informative content and the debates of pertinent current issues. SDPB’s new content could draw some new listeners including me.

    I pictured you listening to AC/DC as you cranked out your informative political critiques Ironman style.


  6. Wade Brandis

    Cory, what do you think of the commercial radio stations there in Aberdeen, and commercial radio in general?

    I admit, I don’t really listen to public radio that often as I am too used to commercial stations and I’m more into oldies, classic rock, 80s and 90s hits. However, I do like listening to occasional classical music and SDPB used to program the entire overnight hours with this format. They replaced that with BBC World News a couple years ago.

    It’s usually the corporate owned station groups that stuff the airwaves with commercials and talk and have very limited music playlists. There are still locally owned commercial stations out there like KWYR here in Winner and KABD/KMOM in Aberdeen. I don’t really care for KWYR’s hard rock music playlist, but they are one of the main sources of local news and weather in my part of the state. I could include KBAD from Sioux Falls since they actually staff their station with live personalities 24/7, but they are connected to Badlands Pawn and it technically serves as a advertising vehicle for that place.

    I do have a suggestion… have you heard of SiriusXM radio? They still offer traditional satellite radio, but they now offer a streaming app too. They have a rather decent classical station along with Met Opera Radio. This is where I get my classical music fix these days.

  7. I listen to KCRW Santa Monica a lot, it’s public radio, love the music. Need something other classical for my morning commute :D On Point is a good program, I love public radio and telly here in flyover country, it’s a big world out there folks!

  8. Douglas Wiken

    Lori Walsh is kind of soft and fails to ask any tough questions. She had Gov. Daugaard on today and he spun a tale on “Obamacare”, etc. Her questions were pretty much softball. I don’t listen to her programs and then think, “Oh, would it not be just wonderful if she had another hour.”

    I don’t need any more diversity crap propaganda from SDPB or NPR. NPR now has a “diversity” VP.

    Good music was one of the reasons I contributed to SDPB. I think this is a major mistake.

  9. Nick Nemec

    I spend a lot of hours in the tractor or combine listening to the radio. I for one welcome this change to SDPR.

  10. Gail L Swenson

    Mr. DeJong will be greatly missesd. I loved his in-depth explanations of the music.

  11. KBHU. Virtually commercial free. Very little talk. Was once one of, if not the best, college radio station west of the Mississippi. Don’t know if they “rank” those any longer, yet it remains a jewel.
    Catch the Buzz. http://tunein.com/radio/The-Buzz-891-s31721/

  12. It will be new, it will not be better. Long live Owen!

  13. Richard Schriever

    Get yourself an old-school garage stereo system, or den, or wherever it is you want to write. The quality of sound reproduction offered via your laptop/desktop/iPhone simply cannot compete. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2060353.m570.l1311.R4.TR12.TRC2.A0.H1.Xvintage+stereo.TRS0&_nkw=vintage+stereo&_sacat=0

  14. Richard Schriever

    And yes, if you like, you can plug in your laptop, Sirius or dedicated internet streaming “antennae” to those old sweet-music makers.

  15. Porter Lansing

    I love classical and jazz, too. Also, here is the premier rock station in USA, homespun from a little town in Mendocino/Humboldt Counties, CA (known for great gardening and whale watching). The owner and night jock plays the new stuff from the old (60’s and 70’s) artists. I highly recommend giving them an ear, if your mood is trending rock at the moment. Click on this link and then click on the little right facing arrow in the box at the top of the page that says “now playing”.

  16. Wade, I wish there were a local commercial radio station that I could stand to listen to for more than a few minutes at a time. But I just can’t sit through commercials anymore. The disconnect between my daily needs and wants and the content of commercials is huge. I don’t need the media to tell me to go buy something. If I realize I’m out of something around the house or if I want some new toy and can afford it, I’ll go buy it. But I pretty much have all the material things I need and thus don’t need people shouting at me every ten minutes to come buy this and buy that.

    I do have local radio stations on my car radio presets… just because I have to have something on the dial, and public radio takes up only one spot. 94.1 FM plays the rock standards, including a little AC/DC for blogging.

  17. Sirius satellite radio? That’s an additional expense I don’t need. The Internet offers sufficient music variety.

  18. John, I like those campus stations. KBHU needs to put its tower on a taller hill!