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May 30, 2018 10:00 PM

Eye On KELOLAND: Global BACK Channel

A re-booted Sioux Falls radio station is finding a new audience over the Internet.  Announcers with the now-defunct K-BAD radio, one of investor Chuck Brennen's failed enterprises, formed a new station, KBACK, which now broadcasts online.  While the programming is geared toward a local audience, people from out-of-state and even overseas are listening-in as well. Music, especially rock and roll, is truly an international language.

KBACK radio has become an unlikely melting pot.

"I love the fact that we are a local company that really has our roots firmly embedded in Sioux Falls but we can take Sioux Falls to the world," Ron Keel, The Metal Cowboy said.

The rock and roll upstart that began from deep inside a basement, has grown into a state-of-the art studio at the 8th & Railroad Center.   But it's impact stretches far beyond the soundproof walls of the broadcast booth.
"Norway, Sweden, South America, Germany, all over the country, all over the world," Keel said.

KBACK's target audience is the Sioux Falls area, yet the station is rapidly gaining a global following.

"I don't know if Kim Jong Un is listening, but I know that we've got some listeners in Germany.  Oh boy, that's a good one," Jeff "The Rev" Koller said.

KBACK's international outreach is the result of broadcasting online, beyond the reach of FCC rules that govern terrestrial radio.

"I know with our former radio station, because of rights fees and what not, we can only stream to North America, unless we were paying music rights in Canada or whatever in naming these specific countries.  With the Internet, being an Internet-based radio station, we don't have those restrictions," KBACK announcer "Crash" said.

KBACK's foreign fans regularly call in requests.

"I've got fans all over the world internationally, hey, great show today, can you play some of this, here's a great, great band from Norway and I'll pop that band into the playlist and play it on the spot of my hard drive so they're getting their favorite bands and songs that I've never even heard of," Keel said.

"There's a guy who works out at a gym in Switzerland, in Zurich and will message us from there in the morning requesting songs while he's lifting weights, it's the craziest thing I've ever seen," 'Crash' said.

Even local forecasts have an international appeal.

"And all the flavoring they're getting from Sioux Falls like the weather, that just kind of spices it up for them.  It makes them feel like they're listening from halfway across the world, which they are," Koller said.

While the KBACK DJ's see internet radio as the wave of the future, it's back-to-the-future when it comes to attracting an international audience.

"The reason why radio became so big in the first place, back in the Twenties when families would gather around the old-timey, it was a family event, because they were engaged with the listener.  And I think that's why we've had the international success that we've had," KBACK announcer "Crazy Frank" said. 

Such is the untapped power of Internet radio.  Announcers with the names of Crash, The Rev, The Metal Cowboy and Crazy Frank  conducting a form of international diplomacy at the microphone

"I think it's cool.  I'm glad that they're not offended that sometimes I do the Swedish chef voice, work-work-workin,' we're just American idiots, we're having fun," Crazy Frank said.

KBACK is hosting local barbeque vendors and live music during Pork-Palooza at the 8th & Railroad Center June 8 and 9.  And they're not ruling out the possibility that some of their international fans might just show up for that event.

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