When it comes to rodeo and ranch writing, it’s pretty impossible to find a magazine or newspaper article without the Dianne Finstad by-line on it.
For decades, Finstad has covered rodeo and ranchers events to tell their stories to a mass audience. That work saw her receive recognition in the form of being inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame with the 2018 Bell Memorial Award in rodeo.
In the fall of 1981, Finstad came to Red Deer to become a broadcaster covering western events with a few radio shows and a television show with CKRD-TV.
Initially, the coverage was all about agriculture, plus cattle and grain prices.
“Imagine, back in those days, I would talk about the auction markets and deliver auction market prices on the news. That was how people got their information.” said Finstad.
It was the fact that growing up on a ranch as a kid that became a natural progression for her to start covering rodeo. Finstad grew up in a rural community called Manyberries, south of Medicine Hat.
Her knowledge of the sport took her to writing in-depth articles at the National Finals Rodeo for the Red Deer Advocate.
“What I enjoy is getting the right questions to get the story out,” she said of her motivation.
It’s always about telling the story, said Finstad, who was also inspired by writers such as Dwayne Erickson and how he pursued a story.
There’s enough memories that it’s difficult to pull one right out of the hat, but Finstad jokes about times where they’ve had to reshoot a story after getting “my mords wixed.”
“There’s always outtakes like that,” she laughed.
That being said, Finstad remembers covering one story while she was in a horse-drawn wagon. It seems animals know when there’s a video shoot happening because it was at this time that they had a runaway and Finstad and her subject had to bail out of the wagon or risk injury.
But what really stands out the most for Finstad are the stories of the people she covers.
She is thankful that she can continue her work, most recently, writing and broadcasting Ponoka Stampede’s performances. It’s been a switch though, from sending the stories out to readers to now pushing the stories for organizations such as the Ponoka Stampede.
“Even though technology is changing, one thing that hasn’t changed are the stories,” she explained.
Finstad is writing for Ponoka, Calgary and for media companies such as Everything Cowboy. Despite recent changes in media delivery, Finstad feels there is still a place for professional reporters, but she’s also pleased to see local 4-H groups able to tell their stories through social media.
“The challenge now is trying to do a little bit of everything,” she explained.
Regardless of the changes in media delivery, Finstad loves every minute of her job promoting and preserving the western lifestyle and heritage.
Finding out she was this year’s recipient was a complete surprise. She’s grateful to be included with the others.