70 years, July 2023

Josh Kramer

Seventy years. That is the duration of time the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives has produced this magazine.

My rough, back-of-the-napkin math indicates 829 issues – more than 12,000 eight-page sections of local pages, easily more than 100,000 total pages of content – delivered more than 82 million times to mailboxes over seven decades.

The North Dakota Living magazine, which began as the North Dakota Rural Electric Magazine in July 1954, has been consistently published each month since Volume 1, No. 1. The magazine has proudly told the stories of generations of local people, events and places through good and tough times. We have covered cooperative stories, featured our members, provided education on the electric industry and championed rural North Dakota, often covering topics others do not.

Through it all, we’ve remained the largest-circulated print publication in the state. We’ve also witnessed several sister publications cease operation due to inflationary pressures or challenges of the digital age.

Despite these challenges, North Dakota Living has evolved to provide complementary digital components online, maintained relevancy and readership, and proven itself to be a publication of substance. Our bread and butter, however, remains our monthly print publication. We like to call North Dakota Living the baseload power of our communications resources.

It is interesting to look back on those early issues of the magazine (see page 6 for a snapshot). Meeting minutes from our association provide insight into the conversations amongst electric cooperative leaders as they considered creating this magazine.

In a March 24, 1966, speech, outgoing association president Helge Nygren spoke to members about the new magazine: “Managers were screaming that they needed these little newsletters, and there were a thousand reasons why the North Dakota Rural Electric Magazine couldn’t possibly work. … Your magazine is the best in the nation and won the Haggard Award just for that. … Without this organization, we were 21 cooperatives running in different directions, often against each other.”

It is incredible to think the success of the magazine Nygren spoke about then was nurtured and carried through generations of cooperative leaders. For 70 years.

We must thank our readers, advertisers and the member-cooperatives who have supported, and continue to support, this publication. Our relationships helped make the last 70 years possible.

It is humbling receiving feedback from readers and members. Each time, I say thank you, and encourage them to thank their local electric cooperative, which provides this critical member communication resource for their members. Without the support of local electric cooperatives, there wouldn’t be a North Dakota Living magazine – and there would be even less coverage of the local stories we have enjoyed telling for 70 years.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at jkramer@ndarec.com.