Someone You Should Know: Friendly voice of WNAX Radio

By Erik Thorstenson


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) – A Yankton man has been a friendly voice for radio listeners in the five-state region for decades.

Jerry Oster has been a familiar voice on WNAX Radio for 45 years.

It all started in 1976.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” Jerry said. “I had a friend working here and called and said we have an opening for a news guy. I was working in Aberdeen at the time, and I thought, that sounds interesting.”

Soon after, the Aberdeen native and USD-Springfield grad got the job, doing what he always wanted to do.

“Strangely enough, I was one of those who listened to the radio. The transistor in the dark. The distant stations early on in the early 60′s. I got to know some of the jocks at the local radio station. When I was 14 years old, we had a Cub Scout tour of a local radio station. I thought that was the neatest thing in the world,” said Jerry.

For Jerry, the job would lead to a family.

“The other part was is I met my wife. She was working at the radio station. We have four boys, actually, three of them have worked here. They’ve been part-timers, or they’ve worked the Jacks game and that type of thing,” said Jerry.

Jerry has been the station’s news director for most of those years, covering so many newsmakers and big events. And there was one month, he’ll never forget.

“The station burned down in 83′, December of 83′, downtown. That was kind of hairy, but we were only off the air for five hours,” said Jerry.

Oster is one of many legendary WNAX personalities, on a historic station, that’s been on the air for almost 100 years.

“The cool thing is, you can go from Minneapolis to Mount Rushmore, and you pick up the station. You can hear it in Lincoln. You can hear it in Omaha. You can go north and hear it. If you haven’t heard of Jerry Oster in the region, you haven’t been listening to the radio,” said WNAX’s Scott Allan.

“We go to different farm shows. Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. And the listener’s response has been great because they treat you like a friend. You know our motto for years was ‘your big friend’. And that’s kind of how we try to come across. And also pretty much I try to be the same when I’m out there as when I’m on the air,” said Jerry.

He’s now 68 years old. How many more news stories, and weather forecasts are left in this radio veteran?

“Well, I think I kind of want to max out at 70. Max out my retirement and stuff. And I owe it to my wife. We need to take some time because she’s been at her job for over 40 years, so it’ll be time. And we’ve got more grandkids coming, things like that. Well yeah, you gotta enjoy what you do, and I do. And it’s the stories that people tell you as you get people to talk. And they’ll tell you about their lives, and the good stuff, the bad stuff, and you try to relate that to your listeners. We are just storytellers. Everything starts with, once upon a time,” said Jerry.

Jerry also did color commentary for South Dakota State’s football broadcasts for 30 years at WNAX.

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