For 32 years, KYNT-AM listeners have started their day with the “Morning Coffee” show, with Scott Kooistra hosting the program for nearly a quarter-century.
On Friday, the Yankton radio station will air the talk show for the final time. Kooistra will wrap up the program, which has aired weekdays.
“It’s the end of ‘Morning Coffee,’ but it’s not the end of a morning show on KYNT,” he said. “On Monday, we’re launching ‘Totally Yankton’ with Jeff Erickson as the host. He’s from Slayton, Minnesota, and moved here a year ago. He’s a very good broadcaster and loves it here in Yankton.”
Erickson will take a different approach with “Totally Yankton,” Kooistra said. The new show will remain locally based but feature one interview each hour along with music and features.
“It won’t be just talk for three hours,” Kooistra said.
As he prepares for the final airing of “Morning Coffee,” Kooistra provided a major thanks to Riverfront Broadcasting owners Doyle and Carolyn Becker and KYNT general manager Curt Dykstra. With their support, KYNT has maintained its commitment to a locally-produced, community-oriented morning talk show, he said.
“You’re seeing less and less of that (local emphasis) at stations across the country,” Kooistra noted.
While he won’t host “Morning Coffee” anymore, Kooistra isn’t leaving KYNT, where he worked from 1985-2001 and from 2011 to the present. His continued presence will provide an extra dose of stability in a year turned upside down by COVID-19.
“Morning Coffee” started in 1988 with JoEllen Lindner and Kooistra splitting duties between the news/weather reports and interviews. During the first years, the 7 a.m. hour contained two guests, each for two segments.
During the past decade, “Morning Coffee” has expanded its number of guests in the all-talk format, with breaks for news, weather and sports.
“Morning Coffee” brought national recognition to KYNT.
The station received the “Crystal Award” from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), winning the community service award competing against stations and cities of all sizes.
“I kept track in 2014, and during that year, we had 1,460 segments on ‘Morning Coffee’ featuring 702 different guests,” Kooistra said. “I was very pleased with that. Every day, I jotted down the number of guests we had that day.”
Kooistra accepted the “Crystal Award” for the station at the NAB national convention in Las Vegas. The award was given to only 10 winners across the nation, with Kooistra accepting the honor in front of 2,000 attendees.
“We were the first ones introduced as the winners, and a station from Chicago was the second,” he said. “(TV personality) Steve Harvey was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, so he gave a talk.”
For his work, Kooistra won the “Marconi Award” at Orlando, Florida, in 1999 for the Small Market Personality of the Year. In 2019, he was inducted into the Yankton High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
While known for his news and sports coverage, Kooistra has carved a special niche with “Morning Coffee.”
What makes the show so popular for so long? “It’s 100 percent local, and it has been for 32 years,” he responded.
The show fits the audience’s listening habits as they kick off their day, Kooistra said. “We keep our interviews at 5-9 minutes each, along with giving the news, weather and sports,” he said.
About 12 years ago, KYNT started “Morning Coffee Reheated,” in which Kooistra generally selected three interviews from that morning for repeat airing during the noon hour.
His guests represented a mixed bag. He reached out to 30% of them, another 30% asked to appear on the show, and the remaining 40% were regular guests, such as a city, county or school official.
Kooistra said his guests knew he didn’t approach the show with hidden agendas.
“I wasn’t going to throw them under the bus, but we also weren’t scripted,” he said. “I might tell a guest what subjects to expect but not provide a list of questions ahead of time.”
Kooistra never took a heavy approach with in-depth research. Instead, he kept the show lively and spontaneous.
“I never wrote notes for the show,” he said. “I’ve been around a long time, so I generally have some knowledge of what we’ll talk about. And we often went wherever the conversation headed. One answer led to my next question.”
Kooistra believed in the need for good listening, along with showing interest, in order to create a good conversation. “We all live in the same community. These are my friends and neighbors. My goal was to help inform the public,” he said.
Kooistra also helped promote events, such a hosting multiple guests to discuss the various events and aspects of the annual Riverboat Days.
But in 2020, there won’t be Riverboat Days, which was canceled because of the pandemic. For that matter, little or no activity has been held since March, with many events scrubbed for this year.
“Our focus changed to COVID and providing continuous updates on it and how it affected the community,” he said. “I had the mayor on the show each week. We had members of the health board, and we had doctors.”
The pandemic also changed greatly the usual format for “Morning Coffee,” Kooistra said. The studio remained closed to the public, and the show’s interviews were conducted by phone for the past 10 weeks.
Kooistra has become an “iron man” when it comes to work. If he finishes Friday’s show, he will have worked 31 consecutive years without taking a sick day.
For the final month of “Morning Coffee,” Kooistra scheduled what he considered his “Top 20” guests. Each guest appeared during the entire 7 a.m. hour that day. The extended interview allowed him to explore more of the guest’s personal background and interests.
In a spirit of bipartisanship, Kooistra noted his final month of guests opened and ended with two Yankton politicians — former Lt. Gov. Matt Michels and former District 18 State Sen. Bernie Hunhoff.
“I started the month with a Republican and ended with a Democrat, and we had everyone else in between,” Kooistra joked.
The switch from “Morning Coffee” to “Totally Yankton” isn’t the only new thing on KYNT’s horizon, he noted. The studio is moving to its new home at 1019 Broadway Avenue. In addition to its 1450 AM spot, KYNT has launched transmission at 102.1 FM.
Also, Bryce Ladwig has taken over the sports director’s role and coverage of Yankton High School athletics, while Kooistra covers Mount Marty University athletics.
“For me, this is the ‘Summer of Change’ in so many ways,” Kooistra said. “I’m really looking forward to the next year.”
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