When David Tallacksen visited the primary radio transmitter site for WNIJ and WNIU in July, he knew without a doubt that he was back home in northern Illinois. “At my previous radio station we had one transmitter, on the 90th floor of a building in Manhattan,” he says, “whereas here we have not just one but several transmitters throughout the region in places like Lindenwood, LaSalle, Sterling and Freeport.” As the new Chief Technical Officer for Northern Public Radio, Tallacksen oversees the station’s radio transmitters, radio playback systems, computer systems and “basically anything that plugs in or works on technology,” Tallacksen quips.
An NIU alumnus who grew up in the region and became enamored with public radio as a listener to WNIJ, Tallacksen is excited to return to his roots while working to make a significant contribution in a field he’s passionate about. Tallacksen earned his BA in Music from NIU in 2002, while also exploring a wide range of courses in communications, journalism, physics and other subjects that sparked his interest. He gained his first public radio experience as an intern at WNIU and even interviewed WNIJ’s Dan Klefstad (now a colleague) for one of his journalism classes.
These broad interests, as well as a deep love of music, have served Tallacksen well in his radio career, which took him first to KMUW in Wichita, Kansas, and then to jazz station WBGO in New York City. “I consider myself really fortunate,” he says. “I’ve always loved music. Music has been a very important part of my life, so to be able to combine that with radio and media – there aren’t too many folks who get to be so lucky in terms of merging all your passions into one profession.”
Tallacksen is a huge advocate for public radio, which he calls “so important in this world right now.”
“I’m really proud of what WNIJ and WNIU do in terms of providing news, information and arts,” he says, “and I commend my colleagues for all of their work.”
Tallacksen feels fortunate to return to the northern Illinois region so his children can grow up close to family, and he’s grateful for the warm welcome he’s received from Northern Public Radio colleagues.
“There’s a great team of folks here,” he says. “As you might imagine, coming into a new job during a pandemic has obviously had some challenges. But everyone here has been extremely welcoming and helpful, so that’s been just a joy and a way to get off on the right foot.”
“Technology is the bedrock for delivering a strong public service — from broadcast to digital platforms — and the need for reliable news and information is stronger than ever,” says Northern Public Radio General Manager Staci Hoste. “David’s knowledge and experience has already been put to work; listeners will no doubt notice improvements throughout the region as upgrades get underway. I’m excited to welcome this fellow lifelong WNIJ listener to the team.”
“In the last decade, news has become such a difficult thing, so anyplace that you can find good information is so important, and WNIJ is one of the great resources out there,” Tallacksen says. “I hope people really do appreciate and support public radio as they can.”