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Extra, extra! Here's my first column for The Extra newspaper

by Mike McFeely

EDITOR's NOTE: This is my introductory column that originally appeared in the Feb. 20 edition of The Extra. You can read the entire edition by clicking here.  The Extra is a free-distribution newspaper available throughout the Red River Valley.

These words are ink printed on paper, unless you're reading this column on a laptop, Nook, Kindle or iPad. In those cases, you'll just have to play along. Hey, I'm trying to make a point here.

It is good to see my words printed in ink on paper again, because it's been awhile. Just about five years, to be exact. That is when I left my job as a columnist for The Forum, where I made my living with my fingers and brain, and became a talk-show host on KFGO, where I make my living with my mouth. And, at random times, my brain.

It's not that I've stopped writing. I write a blog at the radio station's web site, www.kfgo.com. It seems popular, judging by the number of page views, unique visitors and readers who call me a semi-literate hack. Those readers often misuse the word "your" in place of "you're" when calling me semi-literate, by the way. I wonder if the irony is lost on them. I wonder if they know what irony is. Probably not. Fox News doesn't teach its viewers about irony.

There is still something special for a writer to see his words in ink, to actually be printed. I remember the first time something I wrote appeared in print. I sent a question to Baseball Digest magazine in 1976 asking who hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium. The magazine printed it with the answer, Babe Ruth. I was 9 years old and my name was in print. There was proof I existed. I was entered into the historical archive of mankind. The excitement I felt the day I saw my name and words on the page never waned, even after thousands of bylines and hundreds of thousands of words.

I worked at The Forum for about 20 years, mostly as a sports columnist. I was paid to be an opinionated smart-ass, which I did for free in my spare time anyway. In 2009, Joel Heitkamp offered me more money to be an opinionated smart-ass on KFGO. Don't tell him I do it in my spare time anyway.

Being a talk-show host is energizing, exhausting, humbling, empowering, fun, frustrating and a million other things. People tell me I have the easiest job in the world because I talk on the radio for living. How hard could that be? I tell them it's not. Just stand on the 50-yard line of the Fargodome with 19,000 people in the stands and a microphone in your hand. Then keep those 19,000 people entertained for three hours and make sure none of them walk out because they're bored or you've ticked them off or they don't know or care what you're talking about. Nothing to it. Good luck.

Truth is, it is a great job. KFGO is one of the best news/talk stations in the country and I'm a part of it. It was great long before I got there and will be great long after I leave, and I am privileged to work there. For somebody who said about 15 words, total, in five years of college, the fact I flap my gums for a living is equal to the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team on the miracle scale.

But I missed seeing my words in ink, on paper. So when Tammy Finney offered me the chance to write a weekly column for the official newspaper of Moorhead, it took me two seconds to say yes. It then took Tammy half the time to say, "I need 700 words by Sunday afternoon. Don't be late." And here we are, 11:30 on a Saturday night and I'm hacking away. I forgot about this part of the ink-on-paper equation.

The goal here is not to stand on the mountaintop and dispense my wisdom while solving the world's problems. I've tried to do that weekdays from 2-5 p.m. for five years and haven't made much headway. Cripes, they were shooting innocent dogs on the streets of Sochi. How much impact could I possibly be having? No, we'll have some fun and be irreverent and contrarian and stubborn. Hopefully I'll entertain you and make you think. One column I wrote about my dad for The Forum made grown men cry. And once in awhile, yes, I'll piss you off. It's in my DNA. I can't help myself.

I will ask only one thing of you. If you are going to send me a nasty e-mail, please write "You're a semi-literate hack," not "Your a semi-literate hack." I don't want to have to write a column explaining irony.

(Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on 790 KFGO-AM in Fargo-Moorhead. He can be heard 2-5 p.m. weekdays) 

 Follow on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO