Nexstar has announced that it has promoted South Dakota native, Mari Ossenfort to Vice President and General Manager of the company’s broadcast and digital operations in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.
In her new role, Ms. Ossenfort will have full oversight responsibility for the KELOLAND Media Group, including KELO-TV (CBS/MyNet), KCLO-TV (CBS/CW) and KELOLAND.com, serving portions of South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana—one of the largest coverage areas in the nation. Ms. Ossenfort will assume her new responsibilities immediately and report to Doug Davis, Senior Vice President and Regional Manager, Nexstar Broadcasting.
Ms. Ossenfort takes over leadership of KELOLAND from Jay Huizenga, who is retiring after an impressive 40-year career in broadcasting. Mr. Huizenga began his career at KELOLAND as an account executive in 1980, rising through the ranks to become Vice President and General Manager for the past 13 years, enhancing the market-leading position of KELOLAND’s operations.
Ms. Ossenfort brings more than 25 years of local broadcast management, sales, and marketing experience to her new role with Nexstar. Since 2017, she has served as the General Sales Manager for KELOLAND, where she oversaw all aspects of broadcast and digital advertising sales strategy and management, as well as KELOLAND’s relationships with Nielsen, ComScore and programming syndicators. During her tenure with KELOLAND, Ms. Ossenfort consistently grew revenue and profitability by identifying and cultivating new streams of revenue, sponsorship opportunities, and maintaining customer relationships to achieve unparalleled marketing results. Under her leadership, KELOLAND secured the rights to broadcast several football games of the South Dakota State “Jackrabbits” and the University of South Dakota University “Coyotes” on its digital subchannels. Ms. Ossenfort was also instrumental in creating important community relationship programs, including “Buy Local,” designed to educate and encourage area residents to support local businesses, and “KELOLAND on the Go,” a daily news digest and weather update available on the KELOLAND mobile app.
Prior to joining KELOLAND, Ms. Ossenfort served as Vice President and General Manager for Forum Communications, overseeing its broadcast operations in Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck, and Minot, ND. During her tenure, Ms. Ossenfort and her team were responsible for developing and launching several new local newscasts, extending their position as the #1 news leader in the Fargo market, and adding a significant amount of local content to the station group’s programming schedule. Prior to Fargo, Ms. Ossenfort served as General Manager of KDLT-TV (NBC) in Sioux Falls from 2006-2013.
“Mari’s years of experience in both North and South Dakota broadcasting have well-positioned her to oversee the market-leading operations at KELOLAND,” said Mr. Davis. “She is very familiar with our broadcast and digital operations in Sioux Falls and Rapid City and understands the vital role KELOLAND plays serving local communities across six different states. Mari also has a vast amount of experience in sales, news, marketing, station operations and establishing meaningful community partnerships. She recognizes the importance of creating and developing unique local content and finding new ways to grow the local audience and meet the needs of advertisers and marketers through a variety of cross-platform solutions. I am looking forward to working with Mari as she guides KELOLAND to even greater success in the years to come.”
“I am honored to be assuming this new role at KELOLAND and extremely grateful to Nexstar for giving me this opportunity,” said Ms. Ossenfort. “As a native of South Dakota, I am well-aware of KELOLAND’s legacy of service to the area’s viewers and advertisers and the important role played by its broadcasting and digital operations. The strength of KELO-TV, KCLO-TV, and KELOLAND.com and their digital and social media channels, combined with Nexstar’s commitment to hyper-local content and the unique and customized advertising and marketing solutions we can offer, create a distinct advantage for the area’s viewers and advertisers. My years of experience in broadcasting management, sales, news and programing and my familiarity with the needs of our vast coverage area have prepared me well to lead this dominant broadcast and digital operation. I have always appreciated the talented and dedicated staff of KELOLAND, and I am thrilled to lead and collaborate with them as we move forward.”
Ms. Ossenfort has been deeply involved in the Sioux Falls community during her tenure at KELOLAND. She serves as a board member of Kids’ Chance of South Dakota, which supports and educates the children of South Dakota’s injured workers, and also volunteers with Junior Achievement and The Banquet-Sioux Falls, providing meals to those in need. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the March of Dimes of the Dakotas, as Chairwoman of the North Dakota Broadcasters’ Association and as a member of the ABC Network Affiliate Board of Governors. Ms. Ossenfort graduated from the University of South Dakota/Vermillion with a degree in business management. She and her husband, Mark, have been married 22 years and have two sons, Matthew and Michael.