Daily Dakotan on Prairie Public’s Hear It Now

In the flurry of producing and publishing this year’s Daily Dakotan, we haven’t had a chance to talk about our experiences and plans as much as we’d like. Now the second season has just wrapped up, and we still have yet to answer:

· Where are you going with this show?

· How do you find Daily Dakotans?

· When is season three?

The good news is that Doug Hamilton at Prairie Public Radio just made it easy for us. Yesterday, he interviewed producer and director, Matt Fern, who describes what’s behind making an episode and how much longer we’ll continue the series.

Hamilton even asks Fern to pick his favorite episode of all, which turns out to be a lot like asking your mother which of her children paints the best rainbows.

Find out how Matt squirms out of that one and more at: http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/hear-it-now?post=46668

Daily Dakotan – Mike Matteson 12/21/12

The town of Garrison, ND, has hosted the festival for the past 20 years by transforming Main street into a Victorian-themed village in late November and December. With a population of just 1500, Garrison residents dress in top hats, full-length skirts, and hand warmers while tourists enjoy parades, street vendors, and the annual performance of the play, A Christmas Carol.
In the upcoming episode of Daily Dakotan, Garrison fire chief Mike Maddison describes how the festival began, and why residents continue to participate every year.

“It’s given my children the opportunity to learn that Christmas is not something that comes wrapped in a box,” says Maddison. “But something that comes from your heart and being involved with others.”

Matt Fern, Daily Dakotan producer, says that spirit is what drew him to feature Maddison and the entire town of Garrison in this episode.

“We only post 15 or so episodes of Daily Dakotan a year, so I can’t include everyone I want,” says Fern. “But I had to feature the Dickens Festival this week because it perfectly conveys the unique warmth of North Dakota at Christmas.”
The Daily Dakotan, now in its second season, profiles interesting and inspiring people from throughout North Dakota in three- to five-minute vignettes, with a new video posted each day.
A Facebook page and Twitter feed are available for anybody who wants to be notified when new episodes become available at facebook/dailydakotan and @dailydakotan.
Learn more about the Dickens Village Festival at dickensfestival.com.

Daily Dakotan – Al Chmielewski 12/20/12

Al Chmielewski began stringing lights on his Kennedy Avenue home in the mid-2000s. “Every year, it kept growing,” he says. “There never were enough lights.”

Today, he says his display is more impressive than that of the Griswold’s, making reference to the fictional family whose excessive Christmas lights shut down power throughout Chicago in 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Chmielewski’s display, which draws lines of cars each December to this otherwise quiet street, includes an animated Ferris wheel, abominable snowmen, a tunnel of lights, Santa Clauses, traditional snowmen, and countless LEDs.

“Every community has a guy who takes Christmas too far,” says Daily Dakotan producer Matt Fern. “We asked Al to be one of our Daily Dakotans because, in Bismarck, he’s that guy. And we love him for it.”

The Daily Dakotan, now in its second season, profiles interesting and inspiring people from throughout North Dakota in three- to five-minute vignettes, with a new video posted each day.

A Facebook page and Twitter feed are available for anybody who wants to be notified when new episodes become available at facebook/dailydakotan and @dailydakotan.

To find the Chmielewski family Facebook page, search on Chmielewskis Christmas Corner.

Daily Dakotan – Tim Walford 12/17/12

I like this story of North Dakota bullfighter, Tim Walford, because he is so calm and precise whether he’s rodeoing or holding his newborn son, Braxton. That unflappable spirit is the essence of North Dakota, in my mind.

My crew filmed Tim at the state finals rodeo in Jamestown. Before he was up, he went behind the pens and talked to the bull owners about how the animals where acting that night.

He said bulls can often be predictable, and he was right. We had a mic on him during the riding, and he would tell us how each bull would likely come out of the gate. He was always right.

Tim’s wife missed our shoot at the Jamestown rodeo because she was getting very close to having their first baby. A couple weeks later, we went to see Tim again in Bismarck and met his new son. Tim had the same steady manner with that child as he had with the bulls.

Although my guess is that in the long run, bulls will prove to be more predictable.

- Matt Fern

Daily Dakotan – John Trautman 12/13/12

John writes a blog on the Fargo Forum Area Voices blog. That’s how I found him. He was talking about his experiences going back to college and being an adrenaline junky in general.

He agreed to be featured in the Daily Dakotan, and I thought we were in for a nice day of videoing John at his house. I expected we’d talk about overcoming adversity, and so on. And we did some of that. But then he invited us to a Bison game the next day, and we saw who John really is.

At the game, everyone seemed to know John. He was welcomed with food and beer at every tailgate party tent we went to. Some there were old high school friends (who say his outgoing and fun personality is the same as it was in high school). Others were friends he’s made because he comes to the games every week.

When the game started, I could see why John is such a Bison fan. The atmosphere was electric, and the game was sold out. The Bison had won the national championship the previous year, and they were hungry for a repeat.

A couple weeks later, when I sent John his Daily Dakotan episode to review, he said he liked it well enough. However, mostly he wanted to know “but did you guys have fun?”

- Matt Fern

Daily Dakotan – Pebbles Thompson 12/11/12

While doing a project for Sanford Health, I visited the Children’s Advocacy Center in Bismarck. I learned how children of abuse go to this place and receive these care packages while getting an evaluation. It can be a very scary time for the kids. The advocacy employee told me how important these care bags are to the children.

But these “bags of hope” don’t come from the Advocacy Center or from Sanford. They come from Pebbles Thompson, a woman in Fargo who has this calling to make sure kids in these crisis situations feel cared for in this one unique way.

Pebbles says that all the items in the bags are new, and they’re custom made based on the child’s age and the things he or she likes. Like the kids, no two bags are alike. Pebbles says she thinks it’s important that the children feel their bag is just for them.

Oh, and about that name: The first question I asked Pebbles was about her unique name. She said her older sister is Mary and her younger sister is Amanda. So she doesn’t know what her parents were thinking. She did say the best part about a name like Pebbles is that people remember her. And that’s important, especially now as she expands Project Nightlight beyond North Dakota’s borders.

- Matt Fern

Daily Dakotan – Robin Huebner 12/10/12

For the season premiere of Daily Dakotan, we talked to Robin Huebner. Most people in Fargo know Robin and her journalism work. If you’re from the area, you know the shock the community felt when she left the airwaves after 26 years in the fall of 2011.
I was watching her Facebook page through that period. The community reaction was huge when reports announced she was leaving her TV news show. I then saw her return to news in July 2012 to an even bigger reaction on Facebook. I knew she had a great story to tell.

My crew followed Robin for a day at work. It starts at the Forum newspaper office with her
making calls for an upcoming story. Pretty much everyone she cold calls for interviews comments about how happy they are to have her back in their day.
After her morning at the Forum, she heads over to WDAY for the evening news.
Just four people work in the studio when the broadcast starts: Robin, her co-anchor, the
weatherman, and the teleprompter operator. All the cameras run and move from the control room next to the studio. The news team is so calm and relaxed. It’s striking to see them like that and then to remember that everything they say is being broadcast live across the area.

- Matt Fern

Daily Dakotan Season 2 Trailer

Just about everyone agrees that people in North Dakota are “nice.” But that doesn’t mean we’re not courageous, passionate, and interesting.

Daily Dakotan, an online video series, introduces you to some of the most fascinating people in North Dakota. In a different video every weekday, from December 10th through January 1st, you’ll meet 15 of them. Sure, we’re nice. But we’ll also surprise you.

Daily Dakotan – Season 2 Trailer