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"Above and beyond" fuels a dream come true

The host of "Bison Tailgate" and "Bison Rewind" on KFGO in Fargo carries a deep, dark secret: he is a Beaver at heart.

Ryan Gellner spent his first year of college in Bismarck. His sophomore year, he transferred to Minot State because of its strong Broadcasting Department.

"When I saw what Minot State had to offer in its broadcasting and communications program, I knew that was the place for me," he said.

Soon after graduation in 2000 he moved to Fargo to work as the sports anchor at FOX affiliate KVRR-TV. For three years, Gellner maintained the hectic pace of broadcasting, but once he got married, late nights and long hours took their toll. He moved into homeland security with the North Dakota Association of Counties (NDACo), where he was responsible for training city and county departments in the nuances of national incident management and disaster drills.

In 2011, Gellner became NDACo's traffic safety outreach director, where he collaborates with the NDDOT in developing safety training geared toward public awareness.

"We're trying to figure out ways to implement at the local level how to get everyday citizens to wear seatbelts, and not to drink and drive," he said.

As he effortlessly recites traffic fatalities related to seatbelt use and alcohol consumption, he is painfully aware that as the population grows, so do the numbers.

"It's become a passion of mine to get people to wear their seatbelts," he said. "If I can just get one person to wear a seatbelt who normally doesn't, then that's potentially one life that's saved in a traffic crash. North Dakota had the largest increase of traffic deaths in America over the past year. These are not just numbers, these are people."

It's that same drive and passion Gellner brings to his hour-long pre- and post-game NDSU Bison football shows. Although he's on air only two hours a week, preparation demands additional behind-the-scenes research.

"I learned a lot from Neil Roberts (MSU broadcasting professor). The department was close-knit and allowed me to be involved in many different things. Neil taught me that if you are going to do the job, you have to put the time in and go above and beyond. In the end, it will pay off," he said.

To read this article in its entirety, or other articles like this, check out the Spring 2013 issue of Connections Magazine [pdf].