Tom Riter Honored by South Dakota Stockgrowers

WNAX (Yankton, South Dakota) farm broadcaster Tom Riter was presented the Media Friend Award at the 128th Annual Stockgrowers Convention and Trade Show, October 31-November 1, 2019, in Rapid City, South Dakota.

“Tom has been a real friend and ardent supporter of the South Dakota Stockgrowers,” said Executive Director James Halverson. “He carries our message accurately and often calls us to get our take on current issues.”

Growing up in Rock Rapids, Iowa, Riter has always had an affinity for agriculture.

“My grandpa always wanted to farm, but being the youngest of 12 siblings, he wasn’t going to inherit any land,” Riter said. “So instead, he became a lawyer. However, he never lost his love of agriculture. Some of my fondest memories are when he would drive me out in the country just to look at the corn fields. Later in life, he purchased some farm ground and pursued his dream.”

Riter and his two brothers now own that farm ground near Rock Rapids today.

Riter has been in broadcasting for 38 years.

“I started out as a nighttime DJ at KORN radio in Mitchell in 1981, and at that time, we were using turntables,” he said.

After some time in Mitchell, he went on to be the farm director for a station in Aberdeen and then Greeley, Colorado, for eight years. WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota, was the next leg of his lengthy broadcasting career.

“I came back to the area with WNAX and went to Sioux Falls briefly and then have been in Yankton with WNAX since 1999. I’ve done a little bit of everything in my career,” Riter said. “I’ve been the news director, farm director, sports play-by-play, night DJ, just about everything you can think of.”

When asked about what keeps him going after so many years, Riter says it’s the people. He loves the people he gets to talk to and still has a passion for agriculture.

“I enjoy coming into work. I work with some amazing people like Michelle Rook and Jerry Oster. We have a great station, and with our signal strength, we can promote agriculture to as many as seven states.”

His joy for his work shines through in his day-to-day.

“Tom has a huge heart,” Halverson added. “He’s just one of those people who lifts others up and is a joy to talk to every time I get the chance.”

After a storied 38-year career, Riter doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

“I’m going to keep doing what I am as long as they’ll let me,” he said.

He also is an active member of the Calvary Baptist Church and their Missions Committee. He has one son who lives near Yankton and enjoys family time, as well.