Flag Family Media branches out from radio with purchase of Watford City newspaper

The purchase of The McKenzie County Farmer marks the company's first non-radio venture. The sale price was not disclosed.

Steve Hallstrom, president of Flag Family Media, which purchased the Watford City newspaper.
Forum file photo

FARGO — A Fargo radio company has purchased a weekly newspaper in western North Dakota's oil country.

Flag Family Media announced Tuesday, June 7, that it has purchased The McKenzie County Farmer in Watford City from Neal and Lisa Shipman effective July 1.

The transaction marks the company's first non-radio purchase. The sale price was not disclosed.

The group owns WZFG "The Flag" radio station in Fargo, KTGO radio in Tioga in far northwest North Dakota and three stations in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

"The McKenzie County Farmer has a rich tradition serving the Watford City area since 1908," said Steve Hallstrom, president and managing partner of Flag Family Media. "The city has gone from 1,500 people to 10,000 people in just six years, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.


"We will work very hard to make the community proud with some new ideas and time-honored journalism," Hallstrom said. "We believe the newspaper has a very bright future in both print and electronic form.”

Scott Hennen, vice president and a partner in the company, said, "From the first time I visited Watford City, long before the Bakken boom, I realized it was a very special place because of its wonderful people. The Bakken has brought me back hundreds of times since, and every trip is memorable. Now, we're here to stay. We look forward to being an eye on smart growth while reporting the stories of the 'locals' and 'the new' families alike."

The McKenzie County Farmer has won hundreds of awards in the North Dakota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. At the 2019 joint North Dakota and South Dakota Newspaper Convention, the newspaper received first place in general excellence and the “Best of the Dakotas” awards in the largest weekly category.

The McKenzie County Farmer is a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 2,000, according to the North Dakota Newspaper Association media guide.

Flag Family Media is a division of Bakken Beacon Media LLC, a regionwide communications and media company, and also manages WDAY Radio, which is owned by Forum Communications.

An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. 701-451-5665
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