Royals Radio Affiliate Profile: [1450 KBFS-AM] Belle Fourche, South Dakota

Nothing says "summer in America" like listening to baseball on the radio. In an ongoing series, Royals Review highlights the once and future regional appeal of the Royals by exploring the Royals Radio Network in detail.

Previous Affiliate Profiles:

York, Nebraska
Conway, Arkansas
Waynesville, Missouri
Topeka, Kansas
Storm Lake, Iowa
Vinita, Oklahoma
California, Missouri
Garden City, Kansas

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Belle Fourche, South Dakota
Miles from KC: 761

The charming hamlet of Belle Fourche, South Dakota is 761 miles from Kansas City, but on the radio dial it sure doesn't feel like it, as 1450 KBFS-AM is a proud member of the Royals Radio Network. The Royals actually have two radio affiliates in South Dakota, with an affiliate in Yankton, some 421 miles to the east of Belle Fourche. I guess the Royal presence is somewhat akin to population centers in Missouri; it's all on the edges. If you decided to visit the Black Hills at the last minute, it is highly conceivable that you'd have to spend the night in Belle Fourche, although you wouldn't care, because you'd end up staying near a radio all night to listen to the Royals anyway. Only the Sundance, Wyoming affiliate is more distant, and only by 20 miles. Belle Fourche is a long way away from Kansas City, and well, from anything. According to their Chamber of Commerce, Belle Fourche is "Where You and the West Are One".

Belle Fourche - French for "beautiful fork" - was originally a French settlement, mostly a resting point for traveling fur traders, missionaries and the like. In the latter part of the nineteenth-century Belle Fourche was established was a key cog in the always crucial Medora, ND to Deadwood, SD stage coach line. Later, Belle Fourche emerged as a railroad stop as gold, cattle and land continued to attract.

In far-western South Dakota, just north of the Black Hills National Forest, lies Belle Fourche, a beacon of Royals-inflected goodness.

Kid Curry, a member of the Butch Cassidy-Sundance Kid Hole-in-the-Wall Gang once semi-humorously terrorized Belle Fourche. According to Elizabeth Gibson:

So in June 1897, the Kid and his gang decided to hold up the Butte County Bank at Belle Fourche, South Dakota. He and his friends got the money with little resistance, but the townspeople captured Tom O'Day. His horse had run away without him.

The others got away, but while planning another robbery a posse caught up with Curry in Fergus County, Montana. While packing his horse, the Kid was shot in the wrist. Then his horse was shot out from under him. Finally the posse captured the Kid, Flat Nose George Curry, and Walt Putney. The jail at Deadwood, South Dakota became home, until they broke out by overpowering the jailer.

Not only did Belle Fourche outbid nearby Minnesela for the railhead, in 1894 Belle Fourche also became the county seat. Basically, Minnesela was Belle Fourche's garce or rouspeter. (Translation from French, here.) Deadwood Magazine has a fascinating piece on the Belle Fourche-Minnesela rivalry.

Today, Butte County is the 19th most populous county in South Dakota, home to 9,326 people, although Charles Mix county is fast on its heels at 9,194. After the holidays I'll be conducting an investigation on the ground in search of updated figures. Belle Fourche is home to 4,675 people nearly exactly half the county. Amazingly, this is good for the 20th largest city in South Dakota. Fellow Royals Radio Affiliate Yankton is 22nd.

Belle Fourche is 52% female and 95% white, with 12.4% below the poverty level; so if poor white girls are your thing, you know where to look.

The very bankish-looking B.F. Post Office, where you can listen to the Royals on your headphones while you wait in line.

But beyond all that, Belle Fourche's truest, most eternal claim to fame is its status as the Geographic Center of the Nation, if you factor in Alaska and Hawaii (but not Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, etc.) The Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce is currently raising money in an effort to build a monument celebrating this fact.

There it is. The center of the greatest nation in the history of civilization.

Actually, this is all rather complicated, and in fact, somewhat uncertain.

The geographic center of the forty-eight conterminous states was determined by the Coast & Geodetic Survey in 1918 by the method described. This geographic center is approximately at latitude 39 degrees 50'N, longitude 98 degrees 35'W, near Lebanon, Kansas. When Alaska was admitted to the Union, the geographic center of the forty-nine states shifted about 439 miles northwest to a point at approximately latitude 44 degrees 59'N, longitude 103 degrees 38'W, about eleven miles west of Castle Rock, Butte County, South Dakota. In arriving at this determination the geographic center of Alaska was determined by the method described and was found to be at latitude 63 degrees 50'N, longitude 152 degrees 00'W, with an uncertainty of about 15 or 20 miles in any direction. The geographic center of the combination of Alaska and the forty-eight conterminous states is considered to be on the great circle connecting their geographic centers at a point where the two areas would "balance"; i.e., considering each having a weight, proportional to its area, concentrated at the corresponding geographic center.

Later when Hawaii was admitted to the Union, its geographic center was determined to be at latitude 20 degrees 15'N, longitude 156 degrees 20'W, with an uncertainty set at about 3 or 4 miles in any direction. The geographic center of the fifty states was then determined as being on the great circle connecting the geographic centers of the forty-nine states and Hawaii at a point where these areas would "balance." The effect of including Hawaii was rather small since its area is only about 1/560 of that of the forty-nine states. The geographic center of the fifty states, thus determined, then shifted about six miles west-southwest to latitude 44 degrees 58'N, longitude 103 degrees 46'W, which is approximately 20 miles north of Belle Fourche, Butte County, South Dakota. The uncertainty of this determination is set at about 10 miles in any direction.

Perhaps inspired by that powerful geographic fact, in 1995 Marty Eaton of Belle Fourche shocked the state by winning the Miss South Dakota Teen USA title. In South Dakota pagents, the two powers are Rapid City and Sioux Falls. However, in 1995, you just couldn't stop Marty. While Katie Blair (pictured left) of Montana may have won MTU in 2006 I could care less after Marty was snubbed back in '95. Typical. South Dakota always gets hated on. If anyone has an update on Marty, I'd love to hear about what she's doing now.

The last full day of school for the students in the Belle Fourche school district was today, and the Purple Passion Caf? served Chicken Pattie on a Bun, Pub Burgers and Orange Jello, as well as a variety of milks.

This season the Belle Fourche Broncs struggled to a 3-6 record. For me however, the season finale 18-13 win over Douglas is what will stick in my memory. Might I remind you, that game was in Douglas.

Does that athletic glory make you hungry? Belle Fourche boasts a Dairy Queen, Hardee's, Pizza Hut, Subway and Taco Johns. And those are just the chains! There's also the Stadium Sports Bar & Grill and El Michoacano Mexican Restaurant. I would give nothing short of a small fortune to watch the Royals play at the Stadium Sports Bar on a Friday night sometime.

B.F.H.S. is also home to a strong Oral Interpretation squad, with eight members making the Regional Championship. Congrats Even Brindley, Jerett Gibson, Cassie McLean, Rachel Sacrison, Jayme Brunner, Samantha Kokesh, Audrey Turbiville and Alma Meza. I was more of an LDer myself, but I can respect Oral Interp as well, especially in South Dakota. Hats off to Mrs. Malone as well. Mrs. Malone also directed the theatre's presentation of "Little Shop of Horrors" this year. Niiiice.

The B.F.H.S. Dance Team listens to the Royals on 1450 AM constantly. It inspires them.

Unfortunately, KBFS makes no mention of the Royals on its website, instead claiming:

Our college sports feature the football and basketball of the University of Wyoming Cowboys. Professional sports is integral to our sports coverage too. We have play-by-play from the Colorado Rockies, Colorado Avalanche, Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Sunday night and Monday night NFL games, NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series races, and the Indy 500.

What?

Sure enough, the Rockies also claim Belle Fourche's 1450 AM as one of its own. Once again, this bitter rivalry raises its ugly head. I don't see how you can consider South Dakota anything but Royals-Country, but the Rockies have no shame, and will do anything to appear relevant. This just makes next season's Royals-Rocks series all the more crucial. I sincerely hope the Royals have not been dropped by KBFS-AM, but it seems like a distinct possibility at the moment.

Only 36 Major League players have ever been born in South Dakota, but Belle Fourche can claim two: John Strohmayer and currently active Twin Jason Kubel. Strohmeyer pitched for four seasons in the early 1970s (1970-4) for the Expos and Mets, posting a career 4.47 ERA in 312 innings. A mid-4.00s ERA wasn't much to brag about in the early `70s National League and Strohmeyer owned an ERA of 8.10 after being sent to the Mets in mid-season '73. He only pitched one inning in 1974, a scoreless inning on September 14, 1974.

Kubel of course, is a little more well-known right now, another semi-young Twins hitter that the Minnesotans can't seem to make much use of. Well, that was the knock, until they finally let Morneau play everyday. Next season will be Kubel's age-25 season, and he really needs to step up, as hitting .241/.279/.386 won't get it done. However, the Kubel's may already be the richest family in town, if that means anything.

Lastly, the late Doug Pappas (lawyer and baseball writer, especially on the business of baseball) had a great love for South Dakota and called the I-90 drive across SD the best road trip in the country on his Roadside Photos. Yes, I-90 through SD was his "Greatest Road Trip Drive".

Pappas died tragically in 2004, at the age of 42. Here's what Joe Sheehan wrote about Pappas then:

of all the people I have worked with, I am most proud to have been able to work with Doug Pappas. His efforts to get at the truth of baseball's economic, labor and public policy issues were ceaseless, their impact lasting. That we were able to get Doug to write for Baseball Prospectus, that I was able to call him a colleague, is one of the most rewarding elements of my career.

It wasn't just the caliber of his work, which of course was high. It was that he had the courage to stand up and say, "They're lying. This is the truth," and back it up with so much evidence that he could not be ignored. Doug had a permanent effect on the way baseball's off-field issues are covered. He made it right--no, he made it mandatory--to question the claims of baseball's authorities, and he did it in the face of opposition from some powerful people. When called on the carpet by Bud Selig, Doug calmly presented the facts and refused to be intimidated.

I like to think Doug would have enjoyed this series.

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