John Nguyen

Morning Edition host

Originally from Shakopee, MN, John graduated from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, with a degree in Economics and Hispanic Studies. 

Katy Beem: How were you inspired into broadcast journalism?
John Nguyen: “My freshman year, I had the opportunity to apply and receive the general manager position for our student-run radio station, KJNB Radio. I had that leadership position until senior year when I transitioned to more of an advisor role. And starting my sophomore year, I wrote for the student newspaper. It was such a fun experience. And then I got the Gary Eichten Fellowship with Minnesota Public Radio. That was a combination of journalism for print and radio. It was so cool to work with so many professional and established reporters, editors, newscasters, and I really wanted to continue that forward. So that led me to here.”

KB: What was your beat at MPR?
JN:  “General assignment. For example, one day I'll be covering the Special Olympics Summer Games at the University of St Thomas. The next, I'd be covering extreme weather happening in Southeast Minnesota with all the flooding going on and farmers. It ranged from mental health in farming communities to topics like that.”

KB: Tell us about your internship in Washington, DC.

JN: “I was a communications intern for the Washington Office on Latin America, which is a human rights research nonprofit. I managed all the social media and collaborated on research and analytical work.”

KB: How are you feeling about the transition from Minnesota to South Dakota?
JN: “I think it's really connecting with South Dakotans on a personal level, because radio is such an intimate medium for broadcasting. And being that person, being that advocate for the listeners in terms of delivering the news and helping people out in the mornings is a big thing. I love talking to people, getting to know people like face-to- face, but also given that we're in the most southeast corner of the state – there's so much more out there that many people might not realize and everybody has a story. It's about telling it. That's important.”

Morning Editionwith SDPB host John Nguyen airs weekdays, 5am-9am (4-8am MT), on SDPB Radio and


Construction will start soon in Rapid City for a new corporate headquarters. The Department of Labor and Regulation reports unemployment claims are down.

United States Drought Monitor

Weather officials expect droughts in South Dakota to continue through the summer. 


Most of the region remains dry, and meteorologists worry there might not be enough spring rain. 

National Integrated Drought Information System


 South  Dakota weather officials say drought conditions are getting worse. 

The U.S. Drought Monitor reports the entire state is now abnormally dry.

Areas of northwest South Dakota are in extreme drought. That includes all of Corson County and the surrounding area. 

State climatologist Laura Edwards says current conditions are partially due to an extremely dry spring. 

National Weather Service

Low soil moisture may lead to a spring with no major floods in South Dakota. 

National Weather Service reports show drought conditions could expand without more rain or snow. 

Weather officials say March precipitation improved drought conditions in the state. The west and southeast are now in moderate to severe drought. 

Climatologist Pat Guinan says drought conditions for most of the Midwest may worsen this summer. 

Small business owners will have an additional year before they need to pay back disaster loans they received during the pandemic.  

The federal government provided thousands of low-interest pandemic relief loans to help small businesses and non-profits pay debts, payroll and other bills. 

The Economic Injury Disaster Loans have gone to more than 7,700 South Dakota businesses. Jaime Wood directs the South Dakota office for the Small Business Administration. She says the definition for federal loans is different because of COVID-19. 

Credit: Missouri River Water Management Division


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it responded during last month’s cold snap, to generate more power. Dam operators increased hydropower along the Missouri River from Montana to South Dakota. 

A severe cold spell in February sent temperatures across the country into record low territory. 

Office of Governor Kristi Noem

House lawmakers have rejected a bipartisan bill disclosing protection and security spending for public officials.


The proposal is a response to Governor Kristi Noem’s national travel last year to campaign for then-President Donald Trump and other Republicans.


Representative Taffy Howard is the prime sponsor of the bill. She says taxpayers deserve to know how their money is spent.



A legislative committee has approved a bill to protect people and organizations from lawsuits related to COVID-19 exposures or damages.


House Bill 1046 intends to limit liability for certain COVID exposures. It’s designed to protect business owners, healthcare providers and the manufacturers of personal protective equipment.


Property owners cannot be liable for damages related to COVID-19 transmission or injuries on their property. Healthcare providers cannot be liable for any damages relating to death or injury as a result of their COVID response.

SDPB News Podcast: Jan 8

Jan 8, 2021

The state Department of Health releases expected COVID-19 vaccine availability times. Plus, a look into Governor Kristi Noem's account on a social-media app where commenters on her posts are condoning the riot at the U.S.

COVID Numbers Nov 3

Nov 3, 2020

The state Department of Health reports one-thousand-and- four new South Dakotans have contracted COVID 19. Eight more South Dakotans have died. The latest numbers bring the state’s death toll to 446 individuals. 480 South Dakotans are hospitalized. That’s a sharp increase of 80 people. 

14 South Dakotans died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. That ties with a record made earlier this month.

That’s according to the South Dakota Department of Health, which is reporting 973 new positive cases of COVID-19, which is a new record.

Active cases surged by 585 for a total of 9,273 individuals who have the disease.

The state remains the second highest in the nation of cases per capita over the last few weeks. According to a New York Times database, there are roughly 546 new cases per 100,000 people.

Map of South Dakota that covers drought areas.
U.S. Drought Monitor


Drier than normal conditions have expanded across South Dakota as certain areas of the state are seeing abnormally dry to severe droughts.

According to the United States Drought Monitor, intensity levels have increased, especially in the far southwest.

State climatologist Laura Edwards is surprised with the newest update on drought conditions, especially after South Dakota’s wettest year on record.

Hunters are standing in a field.

The pheasant hunting season is a few months away and the Game, Fish and Parks department is proposing big changes for the upcoming season.

In a meeting on July 17, the Game, Fish and Parks Commission discussed three major proposals for the upcoming pheasant hunting season.

One change sets a constant shooting time at 10 a.m. CT for the resident-only and traditional pheasant seasons. Another proposal extends the season to January 31. Currently, the pheasant season ends the first Sunday in January.

Tom Boyko speaks behind a podium at SDN Communications in Sioux Falls.
John Nguyen

A new initiative between several South Dakota businesses is trying to provide housing for rural communities in the state.

The goal is to attract and retain South Dakotans and spur economic growth.

SDN Communications, Avera Health and First Bank and Trust are working together to fund a housing-development initiative.

The effort is spearheaded by East River Electric Power Cooperative.

Tom Boyko is CEO of the co-op and said there’s a lack of housing in rural South Dakota.

People are standing along a street holding signs.
John Nguyen

The protest began at 2 p.m. along Minnesota Avenue, one of Sioux Falls' busiest streets. More than 200 people were lined up with some chanting and cheering, and others playing music while cars drove by honking.

It was originally planned as a march from McKennan Park to Falls Park. But after working with the Sioux Falls Police Department, organizers moved to the new location for visibility and safety.

Seymour Otterman is one of the organizers. He said the nature of the protest changed after talking with officers.

A person stands in front of an autoclave.
Black Hills State University

Medical workers and first responders are using masks and protective equipment to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 but are finding that supplies are dwindling.

The Spearfish Emergency Ambulance Service now has a new way to extend the life of its face masks.

The service is partnering with Black Hills State University to use the school’s autoclave. The machine sterilizes equipment with high temperature and steam. It’s commonly found in hospitals and labs. 

Power lines are lined by the side of a road.
SDPB Photo

About three dozen electric cooperatives in South Dakota power the state’s homes and businesses. They are changing their workflow to meet critical needs for power during the pandemic.

Dick Johnson said electric co-ops are vital. Johnson is the CEO and general manager of West River Electric, which serves more than 45-hundred square miles. 

“This day and age, there's no way, or it's very difficult to operate or live without electricity,” Johnson said. “We depend on it in our daily lives very, very much.”

Table set with a candle on top.
John Nguyen

A retirement community in Sioux Falls hosted a speed dating event for seniors in time for Valentine’s Day.

Touchmark at All Saints created this first-ever opportunity for residents and members outside the community to get to know each other.

Charlotte Cooper-Tracy is a resident at Touchmark. She’s been living alone in an apartment for some time and hesitated on participating.

Mount Marty College sign displayed in a gymnasium.
John Nguyen

Mount Marty College is changing its name to Mount Marty University.

College administrators wanted to officially accommodate their addition of graduate programs as well as a growth in enrollment.

The process started about two years ago from an editorial in the Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan that advocated for the name change.

South Dakota governor talks to legislators on the state budget.
State of South Dakota

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem spoke for almost an hour reviewing the highlights of her first year in office and outlining her legislative priorities to South Dakota lawmakers for 2020.

In her second State of the State address, Noem covered many topics from developing agriculture infrastructure to legalizing hemp with regulations.

Most topics mentioned in the address will serve as talking points for many legislators in the 95th state legislative session. Here are five main points from the 2020 State of the State address.

Three students look over a spreadsheet on a computer.
John Nguyen

A research project is starting to take flight at South Dakota State University with a little help from NASA.

Seven students are building a drone capable enough to lift a human being for their capstone senior design project, motivated by the NASA University Student Research Challenge.

“The first two, three weeks to a month of school, we brainstormed trying to think of ideas that would fit well with this challenge,” said senior Nick Runge and one of the mechanical engineers on the project. “We came up with this idea of this drone large enough to transport a human.”

Workers in safety gear look at packages.
John Nguyen

The United States Postal Service is already in full gear to process, distribute and deliver holiday mail on time this December.

Most packages come through the Sioux Falls Processing and Distribution Center, where more than 300 workers handle millions of cards, letters, presents and packages.

Senior manager of distribution operations Phil Konkel says they see double the number of items during the holidays.

“On a normal mid-summer, we might do 50,000 packages,” he said. “On our busiest nights here, we’ll go up to 100,000.”

A small mannequin wears the mini replica suit of First Gentleman Bryon Noem
Lee Strubinger

Nestled in a glass case within the halls of South Dakota's Capitol building is a tuxedo—a little tuxedo.

It’s a miniature replica of First Gentleman Bryon Noem’s outfit worn on Governor Kristi Noem’s inauguration day.

Paula Van Scharrel is committee chairman of the South Dakota Federation of Republican Women, which took on reconstruction of the outfit.

State of South Dakota

Gov. Kristi Noem delivered the 2021 budget address on Tuesday, Dec. 3, noting that the proposed budget reflects a difficult financial year.

“As you probably already suspect, money is tight this year,” Noem said to house representatives.

Ahead of the address, Noem announced a $9 million reduction to state agencies. There are no inflationary increases for education or state employees.

The proposed 2021 budget is $28 million higher than the proposed adjusted budget for 2020.

Students sit in front of computers playing video games
John Nguyen

Dakota State University students Morgan Garber and Liz Gwaltney loved playing video games growing up, and now they’re competing at the highest level in the esports collegiate scene in South Dakota.

DSU is in the middle of its first season as a competitive sport this fall—and Garber and Gwaltney are playing as athletes.

“It’s really built up my skill, being able to play with other players and getting feedback and then learning how to play different playstyles,” Gwaltney said. “It’s a different experience when you’re playing with the same people over and over again.”

Map of South Dakota and surrounding states with weather updates
National Weather Service - Sioux Falls


The National Weather Service is issuing a winter storm warning for southeast South Dakota from Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

There’s also a winter weather advisory covering areas of the far southwest and south-central South Dakota.

"We’re going to start see some snow developing over south-central South Dakota and that will lift to the north and east through the afternoon and into tomorrow evening," said NWS meteorologist Jim Murray. "In addition to that we are going to see the winds begin to pick up on Tuesday afternoon that’ll continue into Wednesday morning."

Main Street in Brookings, South Dakota
Alexius Horatius

The United States Department of Transportation awarded the city of Brookings more than $18.7 million in a transportation infrastructure grant.

The grant is a portion of the $900 million investment from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program.

“The Administration is targeting BUILD Transportation grants to repair, rebuild and revitalize significant infrastructure projects across the county,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

Welcome sign on top of a desk denotes that people are welcome at the Community Connection Center.
John Nguyen

A community resource center in Vermillion launched a new program in partnership with the University of South Dakota.

The United Way of Vermillion and members from the USD Master of Public Health program created the Community Navigator program in efforts to support local families and individuals.

The navigator position is tasked to provide an opportunity for area citizens in need of services to get one-on-one guidance and assistance navigating local, state, federal and tribal programs.

Draft of apartments
Glory House

A social services organization is appealing for funds to build an affordable housing project in Sioux Falls.

The non-profit Glory House is partnering with the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce to raise $1.35 million in a campaign to construct at least 72 efficiency apartments next to its current campus on South West Avenue.

The City of Sioux Falls partially donated the land in return for the organization to build affordable housing.

Glory House president and CEO Dave Johnson says the project began to fill a need in the community.

Employees standing behind a pallet of peanut butter.
John Nguyen

Jennifer Adamson could not believe it when she saw a huge check and one ton of neatly stacked jars of peanut butter moving to a room across the food pantry.

Hormel Foods and the local Hy-Vee in Yankton donated 1,000 pounds of Skippy peanut butter to the Yankton County Contact Center in a small ceremony Tuesday morning.

When Adamson heard the news, she was overwhelmed by emotion.

“First, I was so shocked, and then I cried,” said the center’s director.