Saddened to learn of the passing of long-time WDAY promotions director Roy “Pete” Peterson.
I didn’t know Roy personally. I wish I had. I did know his work. He played a huge role in shaping WDAY’s identity as a station in its early days, as well as how we think of North Dakota State University and the city of Fargo today.
Working behind the cameras, with more than a little P.T. Barnum in him, Roy made sure that names like Bill, Dewey, Verna, Boyd and Marv stayed in front of the public for decades.
In one memorable filmed promotion for WDAY, he directed a local “actor” as he took (to my recollection) a forward somersault down the open stairway of the Townhouse Motel in Fargo to promote the station’s new “fall” television season. Mercifully, he got what he wanted in one “take.” Today, the lawyers would put a stop to such a stunt before it even reached the talking stage.
But when I think of Roy I will always picture him on top of a cherry picker on a chilly May day lining up a hundred or more local high school marching bands on one of WDAY’s Band Festival events in the mid 1960s. Megaphone in hand, it was, “Hillsboro, you’re up next. Davenport, stand up.”
Somehow, he got thousands of high school musicians on live television and later fed (probably a hot dog and chips) at the Fargo Civic Auditorium and entertained by Dick Dunkirk’s Strangers.
I defy anyone to pull off something like that today.
Rest in peace, Roy. As the children say, you were awesome.