[email protected] Local media jobs are interesting and the folks that work them are certainly a bit different. We work random hours and random days covering all sorts of sports and events around …
Local media jobs are interesting and the folks that work them are certainly a bit different. We work random hours and random days covering all sorts of sports and events around the town we live in. Many of us believe we are lucky enough to get paid doing something we love to do, and it is certainly a labor of love.
To some, local media is a dying thing, to others, it’s a key piece of the community that keeps our freedoms in place. Cottage Grove is a community like Hastings that is so very fortunate to have not one, not two, but three options for local media. For print, you turn to us here at the Journal, for video, we have South Washington County Telecommunications Commission (SWCTC), and for radio, you can pick up AM 1460 – KDWA out of Hastings.
For the last 19 plus years, KDWA has had a consistent voice in their Sports director role, Nick Tuckner. Tuckner was hired at KDWA at 21 years old, fresh out of Inver Hills Community College, and in his words, he was given a mic, the broadcast pack and told to go have fun covering a local game. He had no idea it would turn into his career for two decades.
In his social media post announcing his resignation, Tuckner explained the games he has covered. “I’ve been privileged to be your voice of Hastings Raiders Football, Girls and Boys Soccer, Volleyball, Girls and Boys Hockey, Girls and Boys Basketball, Wrestling, Baseball, Softball, and yes, even a couple of Lacrosse matches at Todd Field! To think that this Winter could have been 500 Hastings Raiders Boys Hockey Games. Now add 400+ Baseball Games, nearly 400 total Basketball games…This run was unbelievable.”
If you have been part of high school sports, especially Hockey and Football, you likely know the name Nick Tuckner. Tuckner has been a part of every Hastings versus Park match up the last 19 years calling it on the radio.
At the Raider Football game on Saturday, November 5, Athletic Director Trent Hanson paused the pregame festivities to honor Tuckner’s dedication to Raider Nation and to give the Raider fans and players in attendance a chance to thank him for the work he has done. Tuckner and many fans could not hold back tears as this would be his last official call of a Raider game on home turf.
“It’s hard to make a living in small town radio without sacrificing your family,” Tuckner said in explaining his primary reason for walking away.
It is tough to make a living in small town media in general without sacrifices, especially during a pandemic where nearly every business is struggling in some way. Those same small businesses that are struggling to find employees or are struggling to acquire products to sell are the same small businesses that advertise with the local media companies. They are the same businesses that provide the funds to keep our kinds of businesses alive. Advertisers are what keeps local media going, they keep local communities strong, they support our teams, our kids and so much more. When they suffer, we suffer with them, and it is even more so in local media.
Tuckner explained that the decision is being made because it is the best decision for his family. “I’m 41, and have gray sneaking in my beard & this Winter’s now-sprouting mane of hockey-hair. It’s time. My family needs me. They need me home at night. On the weekends. On Holidays. At My Son’s Practices and Games. I want to Coach. I would love to go to a Raider Game with my Wife and Son. I would really enjoy continuing my Senior Amateur Baseball playing Career uninterrupted- because for so many years I was at another Amateur game(s) working during the playoffs.”
The impact Tuckner has made on area ccommunities is large. When you are associated with the number one reason to listen to the local radio station, high school sports, you are bound to make an impact on the community. When you clearly love what you do, when you love the families, the fans, the players, and the school staff, that impact becomes even bigger. The hope we have when it comes to local media is that the impact is positive and personal for you, the listener or reader. We hope to invoke an emotional response in a good way to what we are presenting to you. We know there are always critics out there, we can never make everyone happy, and that’s ok. Sure, Tuckner has his critics, he even has people that don’t like his style, but you don’t stay successful in that public of a role for nearly two decades if you are bad at your job, and clearly, he is great at it.
His success was so notable, it has been written about in major market news and been talked about multiple times on major market radio in the Twin Cities, including by John Millea of the Minnesota State High School League. Millea, the media specialist for the MSHSL, made it a point to attend the Hastings versus St. Thomas Academy game on Friday. He explained on KFAN during their prep sports recap, he went to simply be present and listen to one of the best walks away on top. He spoke about hanging out in the press box taking notes on how Tuckner does it the right way. Millea is virtually the face of the MSHSL, for him to pay a visit to your game is pretty cool for the schools involved, when he comes just to see you work your craft, to many, that is an honor.
The Hastings football season ended at St. Thomas Academy and with that, ended Tuckner’s official play by play career with KDWA. Where will he go from there? As he has said, people will know when the time is right. He may have been a part of the public eye for 20 years, but he still is not keen on the spotlight being solely on him.
I’ve now had the opportunity to write two stories about Nick Tuckner and honestly, I thought I would have another 30 years or so of sharing the Raider and Wolfpack sports scene with him so I would write many more. Funny how a friendship that started with me DJ’ing his wedding would lead to me writing about his resignation from a job that I know he loves with every fiber of his being. The thing I also know is, he loves his family just as much and family needs to come first.
So, Nick, I know you are going to read this, I’ve told you before and I’ll say it again, the conversations we had regarding being in local media before I joined The Journal was instrumental in helping me make the leap. Your advice about treating these kids and coaches right, honestly and like they are my own kids aligned with what I already believed, and you were right, they accepted me with no questions like I had been here all along. They truly are the best part of the job. I promise, I’ll continue to treat them the best I can. Best of everything in your next chapter buddy. I know many in the community will miss you being the voice of the Raiders, and I am part of that.
Fans, you know Tuck truly loves being part of Raider Nation and high school sports, nothing you see or hear from him on that is fake, and while he may no longer be the voice of Raider Nation, once a Raider, ALWAYS a Raider, and you can bet, you will still see him at his homes away from home and you know he will not miss the games between Hastings and Park.
Tuckner finished his thank you with the following; “To the next ‘Voice of Raider Nation’- remember, it costs NOTHING to be nice to people. Treat our kids, coaches, and fans well. They will embrace you and NEVER let go. Laugh a ton. Be happy. You are describing a sporting event in its purest form. Just don’t be fake. Be true to yourself. And remember, these are KIDS. They play the games for FUN. Treat every broadcast like it’s their World Series or Super Bowl. For 99.999999% of them, it is. They deserve nothing less.
Thank you all for welcoming me into your homes, cars, and speakers for the last 19 ½ years. It’s not good-bye… it’s “See you around town”.
Nick “Tuck” Tuckner, PROUD Radio Voice of Raider Nation, 2002-2021.”