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
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
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
|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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
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, 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