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NSSADanny Olson, affectionately known by his friends, peers and listeners as "Danny O", is a sports broadcasting pioneer in South Dakota. A seven-time winner of the South Dakota Sportscaster of the Year award from the National  Sportscasters and Sportswriters Awards (NSSA), Olson has for many years been referred to as "The Sports Voice of South Dakota."

Danny O is known for his enthusiastic on-air style and passion for all sports, with a special affection for baseball. Over the years, he interviewed many of  the great major-league baseball players in history, including Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Ernie Banks, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, George Brett, and Hank Aaron.

Former Baltimore Oriole great Boog Powell spent two hours as a guest in the mid-'80's on "Sportstalk with Danny O" at KELO Radio in Sioux Falls.

Olson also has spent many years providing leadership and volunteer hours to Sioux Falls sports-related civic activities. For example, he has served on the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerceís Sports and Recreation Committee for more than 30 years, and has served on the Howard Wood Dakota Relays Committee for as many years. Two South Dakota governors have proclaimed "Danny Olson Day" in the state (Feb. 8, 1989, by the late Gov. George S. Mickelson, and Aug. 21, 1993, by Gov. Walter D. Miller) for his many years as a South Dakota goodwill ambassador.

Olson, a 1949 graduate of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, came to Sioux Falls in 1952 as sports director at KIHO-AM Radio. He was later hired by the late Mort Henkin at KSOO-TV and Radio in April 1956 as their sports director. He was employed with KSOO until 1983 when the station changed its programming format, with less emphasis on sports, based on a listener survey. Danny with Harmon Killebrew
A young Harmon "The Killer" Killebrew spends some time at the mike with Danny O in the early 1960s at Spring Training.

During his long relationship with KSOO, Olson did play-by-play for thousands of high school, college and amateur sporting events in addition to his long-running "Outdoor Sports Show," which had a run of more than 10,000 shows (Olson is an avid fisherman). The Outdoor Sports Show ran on KIHO Radio (1952-1956), KSOO (1956-1983), and then on KELO Radio.

One of his career highlights with KSOO was covering Major League Baseball Spring Training in Florida and  Arizona for 20 consecutive

Media Credentials

seasons, which provided Olsonís tri-state listeners with many hours of interviews with big leaguers. At that time, KSOO was an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins baseball network. Olson also has particularly enjoyed positive relationships with area coaches, players, school administrators, and show sponsors.

Danny was full-time with KELO Radio sports from 1984-1994. He has been part-time with the station since then. There, he manages a telephone-based fishing report service. He also writes monthly sports columns for several South Dakota newspapers and does occasional play-by-play commentary for several South Dakota radio stations.

Though few of his listeners realized it, Olson had significant responsibilities during his career for on-air advertising sales and production of commercials.

Olson started his broadcasting career at Luther College at KWLC in 1942. He later worked at Decorah radio station KDEC from 1947-1949. Other sports directorships included: WMRI, Marion, Indiana, and KSUM, Fairmont, Minnesota. From 1950-1951, Olson studied broadcasting at the American Institute of the Air in Minneapolis. He then joined KIHO Radio in Sioux Falls in 1952, and later joined KSOO-TV and Radio in 1956.

Danny Leonard Olson was born in a farmhouse near Story City, Iowa, in April 8, 1922. (April 8, coincidentally, is the same day Hank Aaron hit his historic 715th home run to break Babe Ruthís record for career home runs.) After graduating from Mason City High School, he majored in speech and social sciences at Luther College, where was graduated in 1949. His college days were interrupted by four years of service in the U.S. Navy, where he served aboard USS Alpine as a dental assistant in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.

Olson also has been an athlete himself and remains active today in sports competition.

Hank Aaron
Danny with Hank Aaron

He played baseball for the Manly, Iowa, High School team and helped organize the first college-sponsored golf team while attending Luther College. He was a member of several championship basketball teams while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. One of his favorite pastimes over the years has been to serve as a batting practice pitcher to his sons and grandsons.

He also has played in numerous Old-Timers games and has participated in several pick-up games at the Field of Dreams movie site, located near Dyersville, Iowa. He remains an active participant in the Senior Games competitions, and holds several state records for various events. On several occasions he has qualified for the National Senior Games competition.

Danny and Helen
Engagement photo of Danny and Helen  taken approximately six months before their wedding in the summer of 1949. 

Olson has been married to his college sweetheart, the former Helen Eileen Stoen, of Decorah, Iowa, for more than 50 years. Danny and Helen have five grandchildren (oldest to youngest): Josh Zuraff, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Shawn Zuraff, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Brooke Olson, St. Paul, MN; Nathan Olson, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Taylor Olson, Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Nicholas Olson, Sioux Falls,  S.D.  Danny and Helen are longtime members of First Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls. Now in their seventies, they volunteer occasionally for the Meals On Wheels program in Sioux Falls and enjoy their exercise regimens (Danny at local jogging tracks, and Helen at her cardiac rehabilitation sessions).
Danny and Helen
Danny and Helen, who met while attending Luther College, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August 1999.
To contact Danny and Helen:

Danny and Helen Olson
2613 West 26th Street
Sioux Falls, SD  57105

Scott and Terry Olson (Danny's sons) on vacation in New York City.  (World Trade Center in background). Scott was in New York City on a business trip for Mayo Clinic.


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