The arc of Jerry Dishong’s career spans five decades; all at one station. After completing college, he took a part-time job with Duhamel Broadcasting’s KDUH-TV in Hay Springs, Nebraska. However, to become a full-time employee he was required to get his FCC “switcher” license so he could run master control. Following a trip to Hollywood, California, for that specific purpose, Jerry assumed his master control duties, plus delivering three daily news and information programs, and a career was born.
Through the years Jerry has held nearly every imaginable position with the station, including anchor, reporter, weatherman, news director, program manager in 1972, and station manager in 1974. One of the programs he holds most-dear is the “Back Roads” series, where he was able to meet some of the Panhandle’s most interesting people and see the most interesting places and bring them to viewers throughout the area. When KDUH moved from Hay Springs to Scottsbluff, Nebraska around 1980, Jerry moved with it. He continued his on-camera presence, especially anchoring the Noon news and his “Town Talk” interview segments, for another 35 years, until his retirement in January of this year.
While his longevity at one television station may be admirable, that’s really only a small part of the reason he’s deserving of induction into the Gold Circle. Really, it’s his commitment to serving our communities, bringing information to the people of our area over those decades, and becoming a part of those people’s lives. In the spring blizzard of 1975, while stranded at the Hay Springs station with an engineer, Jerry aired what few films the station had on hand, alternately going in front of the camera with announcements of those seeking others stranded by the storm, school closings, information on airdrops of feed to stranded livestock, and what officials were doing to provide help to those that needed it. With seven-foot drifts outside the station, they had very little food and slept on lounge chairs, and when storm-related issues at the transmitter near Hemingford knocked the station off the air, Jerry’s primary concern was how to get information out to the public.
For Jerry, it’s always been the stories of the everyday person, the charitable organization seeking help promoting their cause or event, the family needing assistance after losing their home to a fire, that meant the most. “Town Talk”, the interview segment of the Noon newscast, was one of Jerry’s favorite duties. If you ask him about it, he’ll tell you with a grin exactly how many interviews he conducted over the decades, and it’s a number somewhere north of 10,000.
As the senior member of the news staff, Jerry has had an impact on young anchors and reporters willing to come to one of the smallest markets in the county and develop their tradecraft before moving on to bigger and greener pastures. Part of that impact is showing how a wry sense of humor and quick wit can be used to put people at ease and bring a smile to their face.
Jerry has never been one to seek accolades, but several have come his way. He was named 2006 Trail Blazer by the Scottsbluff/Gehring Chamber of Commerce. In 2009 he received the Lifetime Special Recognition Award for outstanding contributions to Nebraska Broadcasting – Associated Press, and he was inducted into the Nebraska Broadcaster’s Association Hall of Fame in 2016. Among the awards and plaques Jerry has received, one word is repeated over and over: Service. Service to Community, Service to Agriculture, United Way, Boy’s Town, Disabled American Veterans, U.S. Air Force, Nebraska State Education Association, and Scott’s Bluff County Crime Stoppers to name a few. This is Jerry’s history, it has been, and will continue to be one of service to the communities of the Panhandle and the people who live here.