Three years ago this week, went live.  Although we are still in our infancy stage as a media outlet, it’s important to take a little time to celebrate what we have accomplished over the last three years.  We have received overwhelming support from you over these years. Receiving “thank you” emails from our readers is truly the highlight of our day. We are also fortunate and humbled to have incredible advertisers and sponsors that allow us to remain free.  As we celebrate our anniversary week by sharing with you some of our history, numbers, fun facts, and what the future holds for us, we are also giving away a 32-Inch 720p Roku Smart LED TV!

For about a year we did a segment called “21 Things You Might Not Know About Me”.  We shelved the segment this summer and boy, did we hear from you!  It was by far the most requested segment to make a comeback.  Therefore, we are bringing it back and will kick it off this week in 4 separate pieces.  Each day this week we will publish a portion of our “21 Things You Might Not Know About Me”:

  • Monday: Origin (1-5)
  • Tuesday: By The Numbers (6-10)
  • Wednesday: Fun Facts (11-15)
  • Thursday: What’s Next (16-21)

How to Enter

You can enter for the giveaway up to 4 times - one for each of the 4 articles you share on Facebook.  If you do not use Facebook, you can share the article(s) on Twitter, or email us at with the subject line “giveaway” and copy/paste the article URL in the body. On Friday, we will publish all 21 Things and include the announcement of our giveaway winner.  

21 Things You Might Not Know About Me: DrydenWire

Origin (1-5)


1 - Local 'Sportscenter'

In January of 2015, founder Ben Dryden was traveling from his residence in Eau Claire to a northwestern Wisconsin school for one of his daughter’s volleyball tournaments.  He was running late he so pulled over at a wayside and grabbed his mobile phone to see if he could find up-to-the-minute scores for the tournament.  Discovering that it didn’t exist online, he continued towards his destination - saying to himself that he should start a website like that: a “Sportscenter” for local sports.  Although that didn’t come to fruition (we will have more on that on Thursday in our “what’s next” portion), and unknowingly to him at the time, the seed was planted which would eventually grow into what is now called

2 - “Why are you paying for old news?”

The following month, February, Ben was visiting his parents in Shell Lake on a bitterly cold Saturday. While inside chatting, Ben picked up a local paper sitting on the living room coffee table.  After perusing the first few pages he asked his Mother, Diane Dryden - who would later become a features writer for - “Is this an old paper”?  Diane said that it was not. Dumbfounded, Ben stated that he doesn’t mind old news or even paying for news, “but why are you paying for old news"? To which Diane quipped: “Then do something about it.”  

Over the next several weeks, Ben and Diane had many conversations, and as a party of two came to the unanimous conclusion that there was a hole in news coverage for the area — and they were going to fill it.  

A few weeks later, Ben had left his career, sold most of his belongings, closed out his savings account and moved to Shell Lake to turn an idea into a reality.

3 - The ‘UnCola’

In April, Ben hired the Sarona-based business “Magnificites” to create the wireframe and environment for their website with a goal of a fall launch.  During this time, Ben and Diane read through many local papers to see what it was they were doing.  This was not done in an effort to do the same, in fact, it was done to do what they thought the local papers were NOT doing/covering.  It was decided that  would be the ‘UnCola’.

For those of you that don't remember the 7UP slogan

4 - So … What Are We?

During production, we kept asking ourselves one question: “What are we”?  After many discussions and well-thought-out mission statement drafts, core value lists, etc., we were lost.  So we scrapped everything; tore up our lists and drafts and just asked ourselves: “What will we be”?  In just a few minutes,  we came up with 5 things - which we still use to this day.

  1. We will be free to our readers. Not having to choose between paying for a local paper or paying for our content was (and still is) very important to us. By remaining free, we hope that people will still subscribe to their local papers as they have content we do not and do a great job of covering local news, information, and sports.  Besides, papers are like, what?  A buck?  SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPERS!
  2. We will be fluid. What we are at any given time does not mean we have to remain to be that. We want our readers to drive the bus.  If we publish posts about fishing and find that nobody is reading them, then why would we keep publishing them?  We will adjust, be adaptable, and always ask ourselves: “What’s next”?  
  3. We will be unbiased. We will not slant any original articles we publish. We will present the facts and let the reader come to their own conclusion and form their own opinions
  4. We will publish press releases in full. Far too often - and much to our chagrin - we would see a story with “according to a press release” but a press release was never attached.  Drives us crazy!  Just let me see it!!!  So we do.
  5. We will incorporate Social Media. Social Media was not really being utilized by local media outlets at the time of our launch. This was another hole we wanted to fill.  It further gives people the ability to comment on a story directly - something you can’t do when reading a newspaper.

5 - Prepare for Launch!

A few weeks before our launch day, we had yet to decide on a name for our media outlet (more on that in Wednesday’s “Fun Facts” portion). Holly S. Snyder had joined the team and we had no idea what to expect when on launch day.  After scrambling with last-minute design change - including the fact that we had no idea how to even publish a story on our website until just 2 days before our launch - we officially went live on October 1, 2015.

What our website looked like back then is not what it looks like now.  We were publishing 2 or 3 posts a day and had a total of 1,160 unique users (visitors to our site) for our entire first month.  Fast-forward 3 years and we now have, on average, about 6,500 unique users ... every single day (more on that in Tuesday’s “By The Numbers portion).  

The 9 months leading up to our launch was filled with uncertainty, challenges, obstacles, and a lot of naysayers who thought this would be an absolute dumpster fire and would fail in 6 months. But we knew if we stuck to our “5 Things”, it would work. 

And thanks to all of you, our readers, and our amazing advertisers, it did.

Last Update: Oct 02, 2018 2:03 pm CDT

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