As a ‘Big Dawg’ and community theater actor, DeMars’ performances have had an impact on the region

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He’s been somewhat of a radio celebrity since joining KJ108 in 1994 and has been involved in community theater for over 30 years.

DeMars, who ended his career on the morning show “Big Dawgs” on KJ108 in December, has entertained a diverse audience, whether as a redneck character on the radio or in a wide range of roles for theatrical productions. local and regional.

“I love to play,” said DeMars, from Hannah, ND, in northern Cavalier County.

He enrolled at UND in 1984 and “sort of fell into radio” after taking a broadcasting course, which led to him being a journalist at KFJM on campus. After appearances on professional radio in Grand Forks, Fargo and Minot, he joined KJ108.

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Along with his radio partner, Bill Tanner, DeMars said that the show “Big Dawgs”, with its adult humor, appealed particularly to men between the ages of 18 and 50.

The DeMars character “is a redneck version of myself,” he said. “It allows my identity to come out and play for a few hours in the morning before I have to put it back in the box.”

The audience for the show is “mostly men and people who aren’t too offended,” he said.

“From the start, we were able to convince our management, our team and the other people who worked with us that what we were doing was good for the resort,” said DeMars. “This has become important because I think over the years we’ve pushed some of the boundaries at Grand Forks a bit. And as long as we had that support, we could try to increase the entertainment value that we brought to Grand Forks, especially to adult males.

It is not specific, but alludes to “very grown-up” humor, he said. “We did stuff for adults. In the end, it worked. “

Among ‘Big Dawg’ loyal listeners, “there is a whole variety of people,” DeMars said. “There are people who are in the joke, who know that Bill and I were doing characters, kind of presenting a certain type of person. And there were people who weren’t in the joke and liked that we were there to represent them. Am I talking about it enough?

Acting talent

Theater-goers in this region will also miss the talents DeMars has brought to life in local and regional theatrical productions. Over the past 30 years, DeMars has “become a public celebrity with his work in theater and radio,” said David Paukert, longtime friend and fellow actor.

Paukert fondly remembers their work on several “Radio Hour” shows and when they teamed up to portray the deeply contrasting Felix and Oscar – the hypochondriac monster and shameless slob – who became incompatible roommates in “The Odd Couple. “by Neil Simon. ”

DeMars had played the neglected Oscar Madison several times, Paukert recalls. “I was Felix # 4 at his Oscar. He commanded this role very well – his physique, the way he portrayed this role was perfect. “

“He was very consistent, very natural as a performer,” Paukert said. “You always knew that if you had Pat in your production, you would always get what you needed.”

Paukert enjoyed watching DeMars “take on roles that stretched him as an actor,” he said. Paukert was particularly impressed with his performance in a Fire Hall play, “The Boys Next Door”, about a group of five disabled and mentally handicapped men.

“He was exceptional in this role,” said Paukert.

DeMars has also directed theatrical productions, including “Arsenic and Old Lace”, with his wife, Lana, as stage manager.

“Pat has a really amazing fan base, of all the different things he’s done,” Paukert said, adding that “his radio character and his personal character are at opposite ends – he’s sweet, kind and low-key. He’s actually quite shy.

“Quality actor”

Another actor, Deb Todhunter, first appeared with DeMars in 1989 in the Fire Hall Theater production of “School for Scandal,” the first of several performances in which they shared the stage.

“He’s professional, he’s balanced,” she said. “He’s the epitome of a quality actor – he’s an actor’s best friend, he really was.”

“He just embodies whatever character he’s meant to portray,” Todhunter said. “If he’s supposed to be a southerner, you know, uneducated anything, that’s what you see in him.” If he’s supposed to play an Italian, he does it with aplomb.

As an actor, DeMars “truly embodies the person, the personality and the character of the person. It becomes that – I don’t know how to describe it any other way. But he really becomes the character, ”she said.

Todhunter recalls DeMars’ performance as Pap and the King, a combined role, in “The Big River,” a Frost Fire Theater production in 2012.

“I think he was just great – well he’s great at all of them, but I think in that one you can totally see the person he (portrays) in what he is. brings to the scene, ”she said.

This combined role “really challenged Pat,” said Paukert, who ran the show because it was vocals “and he has limited singing experience on stage. He worked extremely hard to make it work. We think he did a great job.

Paukert, who has also performed with DeMars in various shows, remembers him as “very generous as an actor, kind and helpful, well prepared,” he said. “He always put me at ease and made the process really comfortable and enjoyable – and that was important.”

DeMars has appeared in a number of Frost Fire productions, such as “Annie, Get Your Gun,” “The Music Man,” and “The Big River,” Paukert said.

“Pat is good at his job; he has very good instincts so he brings a lot of talent to the table, ”he said. “He’s ready to step out of his comfort zone.

Animal enthusiasts

Pat and Lana DeMars, who have also made an impact on animal welfare in the Grand Grand Forks, are strong supporters of the Circle of Friends Animal Shelter.

“When you get involved in rescuing animals, you start collecting them. They’re called “foster fails” because they don’t get away with it, ”DeMars said, noting that he and Lana have two dogs, four cats and two parrots.

The couple have also been a driving force in the development of Grand Forks Dog Park.

“The first time they took their dogs to the park, their dogs didn’t get along with the other dogs,” Paukert said with a chuckle. “There is irony in this.

As he joins Lana, who retired as a supporting scientist from the US Human Nutrition Research Center, DeMars said, “I’m retiring from radio mainly because… I’m not going to find a better job than this one which I’ve had for 27 years, so I’m not going to try. I have done everything I ever wanted to do creatively here.

In their mountain home in Virginia, he and his wife “want to enjoy this cabin with our pets – that will be our main focus in life,” he said. “So whatever I do there, it will be secondary to living in the cabin, chopping wood and being a lumberjack. “


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