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Radio Legends and Dickinson State Alumni - Rod Kleinjan '75 and Tim Ost '75

It is not true that Dickinson State University graduates Rod Kleinjan and Tim Ost have been on-air radio personalities in North Dakota since radio became a thing. It just seems that way to the thousands who have been entertained and enlightened by the 1975 DSU grads in the decades since they hit the airwaves.

Kleinjan starred as an athlete in Mott, N.D., and has been the voice of the Dickinson State Blue Hawks for 49 years. He still travels the byways and backways of the Upper Midwest with the Blue Hawk football and basketball teams. Inducted into the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 2009, Kleinjan has no plans to step away from KDIX anytime soon.

“It’s a great gig. If you love it, do it,” Kleinjan said. “I knew this was what I wanted to do because my dad was a sports fanatic, and we’d have three or four radios on and we would listen to Rog (Bismarck’s Rog Higgins) and Russ (Minot’s Russ Smith) and I fell in love with it. I didn’t know the opportunity would present itself in Lemmon (S.D.) or here and I didn’t know I’d be here forever. I’ve never had any regrets.”

Kleinjan’s broadcasting career started at Mott High School where he would record play-by-play of the Cardinals’ JV basketball games and play them back. His professional career started right out of high school at KBJM in Lemmon. Once a multi-sport athlete at Mott, he went from his graduation party to KBJM the next day and became an 18-year-old play-by-play man (boy?). In August 1973, Kleinjan took radio broadcasting at DSU and worked part-time at KDIX. Two days after returning to Mott following graduation in 1974, KDIX called him back to do radio and TV news work. He was a TV news anchor beginning on Memorial Day 1974.

Ost, who grew up in Ellendale, was hooked on radio as a kid. “KFYR was one of the giant radio stations and a top 40 station and we didn’t have a lot of FM,” Ost recalled. “I thought, ‘Hey, I want to be like that.’”

Ost’s 48-year on-air radio career recently ended after stints as a sports director and announcer, sales manager, station manager and program director, and host of “Tost in the Morning” at KOVC. But he hasn’t left the media. He simply turned a page going from the Valley City radio station to a job as an advertising salesman at the Valley City Times Record newspaper.

During his career, he promoted 35 concerts in Kansas and North Dakota

“I retired in May and took the summer off, but when October rolled around I decided had to do something,” Ost said. “I’m selling advertising for the paper and Paul (another radio-to-newspaper defector, Paul McDonald) and I do a podcast called ‘Tost and Jam.’”

Ost ended a nearly five-decade on-air career in September 2023. Because he was on the air every morning and performed managerial duties in the afternoon, 12-hour days – and longer – were the norm. But he didn’t shy away from the work. “I loved going to work every day,” he said.

“One thing I’m learning about newspaper is it has a shelf life,” Ost said. “Paul writes stories about kids and sports and it’s there. Radio was tougher. I sold radio for 35 years, and you’re selling air. It’s intangible, whereas paper is tangible. But I still believe in radio.”

Whereas Ost’s career included two stops at KEYJ in Jamestown, one at KKBJ in Bemidji, Minn., one at KJJQ in Brookings, S.D. and finally at KOVC for 32 years – of which 28 was station manager – Kleinjan never left Dickinson or KDIX.

“I like KDIX and the people I work for. I’ve always felt loyalty is the most important thing. They’ve been loyal to me so I feel I should be loyal to them,” said Kleinjan, who has turned down offers to work in major markets like Denver.

“I got married, we had kids and I just thought it was a great place to bring your kids up,” Kleinjan said. “Amy had a great job and I had a job I love. I just never had any interest in leaving. And once you get hooked on Dickinson State, Dickinson High School, Dickinson Trinity High School, and smaller schools, I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”

Kleinjan joined KDIX in Dickinson while attending college and has worked at the radio station ever since. He has been voted state sportscaster of the year five times, in 1992, 2004, 2009, 2014, 2021. The press box at Biesiot Activity Center in Dickinson is named in his honor. Kleinjan played basketball at Dickinson State as a freshman.

Known as the Rocket, the Sports Voice of Dickinson State University, and the Wheeler-Dealer, Kleinjan is a member of both the North Dakota and National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Associations. He is a past president of the NDAPSSA and the Blue Hawk Boosters and presently serves on the booster board of directors.

Kleinjan has received the North Dakota Sportscaster of the Year award five times, the North Dakota High School Coaches Association Award of Merit, and the Blue Hawk Boosters Loyalty Award. He is a North Dakota Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Famer.

Rod and his wife Amy (Klug) Kleinjan raised two children, Kayla Rae and Trent James, as well as grandchildren Jayden Harmony, Emma, and Evan.

“I consider Dickinson State the epicenter,” Kleinjan said of his life. “You have to remember with DSU changing conferences, we’re on the way end of the North Star and Frontier conference, so you’re always the only game in town. Dickinson High and Trinity are always passionate … They don’t play each other anymore and that’s too bad. That impressed me when I started here. It was insane.”

That community passion is why Kleinjan is still going strong after a half-century. “I never gave (50 years) a thought. I just come to work,” Kleinjan said. “We’re in a unique situation. In this size market, you do everything. There aren’t many markets that have a full staff like we do on air all day and at night.

“(But) it is a different time. It seemed like in the 70s, they gave you more opportunities, they just kind of let you go – like ‘here’s what you do if you need help, (KBJM manager Larry Bauer) would say ask me, or if I think you need help I will tell you.’ I miss that.”

By Scooter Pursley

DSU Heritage Foundation Communication Specialist

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