Early Riser Dan Klefstad to retire
After more than 25 years on the air, morning host Dan Klefstad has announced that he will be retiring at the end of this month.
Since 1997, Dan has been waking WNIJ listeners with his signature catchphrase, “Good morning, Early Riser!” to offer the latest news, weather and program information as the local host of NPR's Morning Edition. As WNIJ’s content manager, he’s been responsible for on-air content, as well as the WNIJ website and social media platforms. Longtime listeners may also remember his time as host of the Saturday Blues on WNIJ.
Klefstad is a highly-esteemed colleague and a popular host who will be missed by colleagues and listeners alike.
“Dan is someone we have all come to rely on at the station,” said Northern Public Radio General Manager Staci Hoste. “He has to be on air and alert by 5 a.m. every weekday morning, and in the decade I’ve been here, he’s never missed a day of work. We all depend on his intelligence, work ethic and sense of humor, and he will be missed.”
Moving to mornings 25 years ago
Dan recalls the station struggling to find a replacement host around 1997. At the time, he had already been at the station for a couple of years in different roles, but was looking for job security.
He realized that the early morning shift might not be the right fit for everybody, but figured he could make the transition to waking up at 3:30 each morning. And he has done just that for the past quarter century. He says he has treasured connecting with listeners no matter how or when they tune in each morning.
“I’ve enjoyed spending time with listeners, wherever they go throughout their house -- giving them the latest information that they need and then being their companion when they go to work,” Klefstad said.
Dan’s attention to detail and precision in building the perfect news breaks have not gone unnoticed with other member stations across the country. Dan has led several workshops, including “Morning Edition Grad School,” teaching emerging hosts about the mechanics of the unique morning shift. That includes choosing the perfect music interludes to connect stories and fostering a conversational atmosphere for the trusted connection with listeners each day.
His says his favorite music beds “have rhythm” like Booker T. and the M.G.'s and The Meters.
A new chapter
Dan says starting in May, he is planning to sleep in until at least 6 a.m. and focus on writing his next novel. He is also making a move to Kentucky to be closer to family in retirement.
“I thought 30 years is a good run at a WNIJ and talking to our beloved audience,” Klefstad said. “That includes a quarter century of Morning Edition alone. And I really haven't had a good night's sleep for 25 years!”
The station is asking listeners to record their messages and memoriesof Dan at wnij.org, and will broadcast a retrospective celebrating Dan’s contributions during the week of April 24.
WNIJ 89.5 FM is one of two non-commercial public broadcasting radio stations managed by Northern Public Radio, the broadcast arm of Northern Illinois University, and provides independent, local, national and international news. The mission of Northern Public Radio is to enrich, inspire and inform adults in northern Illinois through programs and services that share ideas, encourage thought, give pleasure and create community.