I was out sick last week when KSTP Radio mysteriously canned Tommy Mischke, described in many quarters since as the last of the truly original radio types in the Twin Cities. Garrison Keillor called him his “hero” on a show a few years ago.
Area blogger Mitch Berg wrote what seems to be the definitive column on Mischke from his view as a call screener at KSTP before Mischke started working there.
… like a lot of genuine originals in any art form (and Mischke’s radio was a sort of art form – and I say this while stressing that radio as a whole is a craft), the art depended on having a patron to shield the artist from the spikes and deadfalls of the open market.
That someone, so rumor always had it, was Ginny Morris, one of the granddaughters of Stanley Hubbard the Elder, the founder of Hubbard Broadcasting (and one of the great pioneers of American broadcasting in his own right) and the person who really pulls the strings on the radio side at Hubbard. Ms. Morris – so the rumors in the industry had it, at least when I was paying attention to them – kept Mischke on the payroll, and on the air, for many long years when there was no explicit market demand for a free-form, eccentric stream-of-consciousness show like his. As talk radio morphed into what it is today – a venue for partisan anger, humor and information – Mischke was an outlier who, I think it’s fair to say, could only exist in the market with the aid of someone who really really wanted him to exist.
Here’s the bit when Mischke joined Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion in 2006.
So this month will be a tough one for long-time radio fans. Mischke is gone — for now, anyway — and Tom Keith retires from MPR’s The Morning Show on Thursday. Julia Schrenkler and I will be live-blogging the event.
Icons come and icons go. But they always leave a little bit of themselves behind.