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McGonigal’s Chronicles: Remembering Dan Snyder

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Posted at 5:57 PM, May 16, 2024

GREAT FALLS — If Montana had a Mount Rushmore dedicated to the broadcasting industry, there’s an excellent chance Dan Snyder would be on it.

Before his death in 2014, he compiled stories of the people he met and the experiences they shared over a lifetime of being around the broadcast business.

McGonigal’s Chronicles: Remembering Dan Snyder

His daughter Jacque Snyder Walawander put those stories to the pages of a new book titled “Stationed in Montana: The Memoir of Great Falls Broadcast Pioneer Dan Snyder.”

Snyder worked as an announcer, program director, and salesman for stations across Montana before eventually building and operating stations, including KRTV.

Dominant for years, the Great Falls station’s June 1958 beginning was less than auspicious.

“What happened was they signed on the air and 45 minutes later they were off the air,” said Walawander. “He was in the middle of an interview and his partner came in and told him that there was this huge 75 mile an hour wind in Great Falls and it messed with the antenna.”

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Through hard work and ingenuity, Snyder and Don Bradley helped get the station back on air in October.

Jacque says one of her favorite stories in the book is how Snyder became involved in radio. Living in Missoula with his first wife and attending UM, he saw an advertisement for a radio guild that was being formed. At the urging of his wife, he joined.

New book celebrates the legacy of Dan Snyder

“He finally gave in and said he'd go and she said, you know, and don't come home unless you're elected president,” said Walawander. “And he went, and he loved it. And he was elected president. He met Don Bradley that night. He met Reed Collins that night. And he got a part time job as an announcer at KGVO Radio in Missoula.”

Snyder’s business acumen went beyond the airwaves as evidenced when he bought the historic Milwaukee Dept train station and turned it into the Import Depot, a successful retail and dining enterprise.

Import Depot
Import Depot

“They did purchase it and they did a massive remodel on it and initially put in an import store on one side,” said Walawander. “Then on the other side they put in a beer bar that featured Old Milwaukee on tap, of course, and deli sandwiches and things along that line.”

From a successful career in broadcasting and beyond, Jacque says her father will be remembered as a true trailblazer.

“He came up with all these different programs that were so popular,” said Walawander. “So really, I think for that particular era in broadcasting, it was his intuitiveness to figure out what programing could be successful in that day and age with what he had available to him.”

You can meet Jacque and other members of her family as they hold book release events, Friday night, May 17, at 6:00 p.m. at Cassiopea Books in Great Falls and Saturday, May 18 at 2:00 p.m. at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls. Books will be available for purchase. Walawander says the book will also be available by order on Amazon.

In his latest "McGonigal's Chronicles: Making Montana Connections" podcast, Tim continues the discussion with Jacque:

The "McGonigal’s Chronicles: Making Montana Connections" podcast is available on Omny.fm, iTunes, Spotify, Google, and Stitcher.

Previous guests include:

  • Jeff Ament of the rock band Pearl Jam
  • Sarah Calhoun, creator of the Red Ants Pants Music Festival
  • Jamie Ford, Great Falls-based NYT best-selling author
  • Nada Bakos, former CIA operative
  • John Cameron, retired Great Falls police detective
  • Dava Newman, former deputy administrator of NASA