Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friday Night Football

© Ken Mills © 2010

October 1981

In the early ‘80s I was the Program Director of KXRB-AM and KIOV-FM, two country music stations in Sioux Falls.

KIOV-FM had a honker signal --- 100kw at 900 feet HAAT --- that covered a wide section of southeast South Dakota, southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa.

Coverage map for 104.7 FM, now KKLS-FM, Sioux Falls

Though the station did well with city listeners its bread-and-butter were listeners and advertisers in the rural communities that dotted the map.

KIOV had broadcast Friday night football games for many years. It was seen as supplemental income from a low listening daypart. Rather than cover the city school games, KIOV concentrated on the bigger towns around the region.

I came up with the idea that we could greatly increase revenue from the games if the coverage became more of an “event” --- something that the town and high school would perceive as a big deal. This tied into the sales plan to get local merchants to sign annual advertising agreements with KIOV. The games were a way to position KIOV -- at least for one or two nights a year -- as the champion of the town and the high school.

Here is how the events happened. I hired a well-known TV sports anchor (Mark O) to do the play by play and a former Pro Bowl linebacker for the NFL Detroit Lions (Wayne R) to do the color commentary. I was the third member of the team.

We copied the ABC-TV Monday Night Football formula.

ABC-TV Monday Night Football 1981

I was Cosell doing the intros, offbeat observations and delivering the advertising announcements. Mark O and Wayne R called the games.

We had a huge banner behind the broadcast booth that screamed KIOV 104.7 FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL and lots of lighting that made the booth brighter than the football field.

All of this staging made it look like KIOV Friday Night Football was the Biggest Fucking Deal ever to arrive in Smallburg.

And we picked games with the only the best teams playing their arch rivals. Friday night football is more than religion in small towns. If the hometown team was good, you could count on a packed house and a fevered crowd for the games. In other words, the whole scene rocked.

One of our favorite places to broadcast games was Brandon Valley High School.

Recent renovations to the Brandon Valley High School football field pressbox

The Lynx were sorta like little Nebraska Cornhusker’s. They had a very good team ever year and had built a stadium than was better than what most small college teams had. In fact, a couple of local colleges would rent the Brandon Valley stadium for their home games.

The particular Friday night I am thinking of was crisp and cool. Early October with leaves in full fall color. No wind (and that matters in South Dakota). The smell of cotton candy was in the air. Pom poms were hoisted high. Moms and dads sat on “comfort cushions” and looked through binoculars for their kids. Young guys were off under the stands smoking cigs and laughing.

This was no ordinary game. The Lynx were undefeated. They were facing the West Central High Trojans, last year’s conference champs who had knocked off the Lynx in the state playoffs. The Trojans were 6-1 and had a quarterback who was destined to play Division I college ball.

The first quarter was close. Brandon Valley trailed at the end of the period 7-3.

In the second quarter the Lynx exploded. Three quick touchdowns – including two from interceptions of passes from the bigtime Trojan QB. The Lynx led 24-7 at the half. The crowd was wild with celebration.

During the half time, Mark O, Wayne R and I did a (hopefully funny) bullshit routine as we gave the mid-game stats.

That night the Lady Lynx --- the Brandon Valley cheerleaders and pom pom girls --- were on the field doing their half-time show accompanied by Brandon Valley High School band.

Actual Brandon Valley High School cheerleaders

There were lots of kicks and jumping and gymnastics that brought to mind the porn flick (which I had recently rented) called “Debbie Does Dallas.”

Debbie Does Dallas was released in 1978 on VHS video cassette

So, Mark O, Wayne R and I were doing our usual gabfest while the Lady Lynx danced to the delight of the crowd.

I said on the air, “Boy those Lady Lynx are sure pumped tonight.” Mark O and Wayne R enthusiastically agreed. I said, “I know this song they are dancing to.... It’’ve almost got the’s........”DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP” BY AC/DC!”


I don’t think Wayne knew the song because he said “Whaaaa?”

So Mark O and I began singing along with the song. Since lots of people who came to the game brought along radios to listen to the play-by-play, they heard us singing. And they started singing too. Loudly.

So here is a whole stadium of revved up football fans singing DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP while the Lady Lynx, hearing the crowd, put special emotion into their routine. The kicks became higher. The panties were in full view. Lady Lynx butts were shaking.

The Lynx won by a touchdown. Awesome night.