“I never wanted to be anything but a cowboy.”
Orin Friesen was born in York, Nebraska on September 1, 1946. Orin is a cowboy of many talents as a radio broadcaster, musician, author, actor, lecturer and business manager. He grew up learning how to cowboy, working with cattle and horses. As a youth in York, NE, he was 4-H King and a member of the York Trail Riders Saddle Club. He built a radio transmitter in the early 1960’s and received a ham radio license in 1963. In 1964, Orin graduated from Henderson High School in Nebraska. He has been in broadcasting for over 50 years, beginning his career at the Bethel College and Kearney College radio stations. He transferred to Wichita State University where he earned a BA in Speech/Radio & Television. Since graduation, he has been employed at a number of radio and television stations; the vast majority of them in Kansas. His voice has been heard on KFDI in Wichita since 1977, doing his “Cowboy Hour” radio show for many years. In 1994, Orin started his first cowboy band, the Home Rangers and, in 1999, he started the Prairie Rose Wranglers. He has recorded 17 albums of cowboy music with the Home Rangers, Prairie Rose Wranglers, Diamond W Wranglers and Prairie Rose Rangers. He has performed with Michael Martin Murphey, Roy Rogers Jr., Rex Allen Jr. and fellow KCHF inductee, Barry Ward. Orin produced the Great American Cowboy at Carnegie Hall concerts in 2003 and 2004, and concerts in China in 2006. He also produced the nationally released radio show special “Music of the Wild West.” He was curator of the Hopalong Cassidy Cowboy Museum from 2003 to 2007. He is on the board of directors of Lone Chimney Films, which won the Western Heritage Award for Best Documentary from the National Cowboy Museum & Hall of Fame for “Road to Valhalla.” Orin has received many honors and accolades. In 1990, he was named the first Broadcaster of the Year for the International Bluegrass Music Association. The Academy of Western Artists made him Disc Jockey of the Year for 2002. In 2007, the Elliott School of Broadcasting at WSU honored him as Alumnus of the Year. Orin received a Distinguished Service Award from the IBMA in 2012. He is also a member of the America’s Old-Time Country Hall of Fame. In 2015, Orin received the Authentic Cowboy of the Year from the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty Reenactment & Pow Wow Association. In 2014, Friesen authored the book, “Goat Glands to Ranch Hands: The KFDI Story.” Currently, he is the operations manager of the Prairie Rose Ranch and Chuckwagon, curates their Silver Screen Cowboy Museum and is the leader of their house band, the Prairie Rose Rangers. Annually, Orin produces the Western Days Festival at the Prairie Rose. He raises and trains his own horses on his Rocking Banjo Ranch in Butler County, and has worked numerous roundups and cattle drives over the years. He hosts the KFDI Radio show “Bluegrass from the Rocking Banjo Ranch.” This show was one of the first big bluegrass radio shows in the U.S. and at one time syndicated on 35 radio stations nationally. Orin is musical director for the upcoming documentary about the song “Home on the Range.” In his spare time Orin has lectured on various cowboy history topics. On November 6, 1982 he married Bekki Gardner. Orin has two sons and a daughter and a granddaughter.
Year inducted: 2015