Thomas “Tom” Alan Riter, 64, died Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at his home in Yankton.
Tom was born March 27, 1957, to Charles Dallas Riter and Letha Odessa (Haldeman) Riter. He grew up in Rock Rapids, Iowa, where he graduated from Central Lyon High School in 1975. His interest in farming and work on his family’s operation were early signs of his life’s work.
He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and attended Brown Institute, where he graduated in 1981. During his time in college, he focused on broadcast journalism. He soon began a 40-year career in the profession. Over his career, he interviewed a wide range of national, state and local leaders as a broadcast news reporter, with a focus on farm reporting.
He spent time at KORN Radio in Mitchell, SD; KKAA Radio in Aberdeen, SD; KFKA Radio in Greeley, Colo.; and KELO Radio in Sioux Falls, SD. He served as a news director, farm and ranch news director and reporter. He also covered many sports, often providing live play-by-play commentary.
He joined the news team at WNAX in Yankton in 1999. He served as the lead agriculture reporter and editor, and covered a wide range of farming and ranching stories. He also served as a news reporter for drive-time and overnight news coverage.
He was a longtime member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, where he was honored numerous times. In 2000, he served as chair for the NAFB’s Trade Talk event, which required considerable time, effort and determination. He was honored in 2014 with the NAFB New Service’s Editor’s Choice for Exceptional Merit award. Tom received his 25-year pin from the association in 2019. Tom also was a longtime member of the South Dakota Broadcasters Association.
As a farm broadcaster, Tom was a big part of the lives of many farmers, land owners and ranchers. He made impacts in their lives and had thousands of listeners who enjoyed his work. They relied on his fact-based reporting to make timely decisions. Farmers’ unions, conservation organizations, FFA groups and many others presented honors to Tom and recognized his valuable work supporting their industry.
He was a beloved member of many church families in the cities where he lived over the years. Tom had a passion for the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Green Bay Packers. He also had an encyclopedic knowledge of movie and television trivia, and he would often quote lines from thousands of different films and shows. During his time in Colorado, Tom took part in stage productions with the Greeley Community Theater.
His survivors include his son, Jake Riter of Yankton; two brothers, Lee Riter of Sheboygan Falls, Wis.; and Robert Riter of Fort Myers, Fla. He was preceded in death by his parents.
A celebration of life service with family fellowship is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021 at Calvary Baptist Church, 2407 Broadway Ave., Yankton, SD. A family burial service will take place later in Rock Rapids, Iowa.
Goglin Funeral Home in Yankton handling arrangements.