On Dale Connelly and the art of radio

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After his final broadcast on a Minnesota Public Radio program, Dale Connelly got the send-off by the working folks at MPR News a few minutes ago, even though he asked that no going-away party be held. “It’s true what they say about the news media,” he told us. “You really don’t listen.”

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We gave him a teddy bear, a pillow, some pajamas, and some tea to help him sleep, now that he won’t be getting up early in the morning anymore.

A lot of people — and correctly so — will point out that MPR owes its growth to Garrison Keillor. But it also reflects the work of people like Connelly, who reminded us today that few people listened back in the day when he was part of the news operation. “You’d call people and nobody would call you back and why would they?” he recalled.

Many years ago, an MPR executive decided to brand us with a “Your News Source” slogan, which Dale turned into “Your News Horse,” and a different slogan: “We may not get there first, but we’ll stay longest.”

Like most people in the mainstream media, we’ve gotten pretty good at holding these little going-away affairs with their trips down memory lane. But the institutional memory of organizations like this is fast disappearing, too. And fewer and fewer people who grew up with radio are coming into the radio business because fewer people are growing up with radio as a primary form of communication.

Technology has made the challenges of live broadcasting almost disappear. Twenty years from now, these little parties will have stories like, “hey, remember the time my computer crashed?”

It just won’t be the same.

  • Mike M

    Has MPR announced what will be aired 9-11pm Saturdays? I thought that RH fit in well in the Saturday evening schedule.

  • Bob Collins

    From what I see on the schedule page, a show called “The Blues,” which I think is multi-week series.

  • Cynthia McArthur

    I will miss Dale Connelly and am sad that this format didn’t work with MPR. Dale did a great service to local and folk artists and allowed listeners radio access to their music in an unique venue to. I am always sorry and sad when niches like this become unsustainable. Yes, we move on but we lose something too.

  • mIC

    I think things are going in the wrong direction. MPR should have promoted Dale’s show and slowed down on the old standbys that are really tired and becoming annoying. Loved your show.

  • Tyler

    I agree with mIC.

    Dale is a unique talent, and I find it difficult to believe that MPR couldn’t find a home for him somewhere, somehow.

  • cb

    Just one more shameful act on the part of a clueless management. There are so many substandard announcers/music hosts and broadcasters who should be let go and they choose to eliminate the best?????? Probably because his salary was too high. Why not fire Garrison who is old and doddering?

    We don’t plan on supporting a station that treats the best of the best in this way. And we hope Dale finds another venue to share his wonderful skills and wit. When he does we’ll be there.

    Shame on you, mr. kling.

  • Nancy Anderson

    It is time for me to renew my membership, but I don’t have the heart for it after this week when we so suddenly lost the tremendous talent of Dale Connelly. What I realize is that my membership doesn’t count much in the big picture, but Dale’s show was one of the most important MPR programs in my day. I feel tossed aside, along with him.

  • Henny

    MPR has indeed become mainstream. MPR, as in: Mainstream, Predictable, Routine. MPR, as in: Mundane, Pedestrian, Regressive.

    First In the Loop. Now Dale Connelly. By sending rare, inventive and quirky programming to Siberia (aka: the web), and demanding Orwellian audience standards that cannot be met, MPR reveals its true self, that of an impersonal media conglomerate. This is not your mother’s MPR but an emerging Clear Channel of public broadcasting, a hydra headquartered in Minnesota. Doesn’t that make us all just proud?

    How ironic that critics claim MPR content skews liberal when the company itself becomes increasingly corporate, its public face at odds with its internal practice.

    “In the public interest”. Yes indeed. How long is the public going to keep buying this b.s.?

  • Anna

    Glad to see Dale got a bit of a send off, whether he wanted it or not. He has been a part of my morning since the 80s (including the last 18 months, which involved me carting my laptop around the house so I could hear the show). There will be a Dale Connelly-sized hole in my morning come Monday, with hardly a good chance to wind down and say good-bye.

  • tim

    checkout daleconnelly.com for the further adventures of dale. we will miss him more than kling will ever know. maybe kling will discover how much he meant after he gets the feedback from the faithful.

    how about beginning a sustaining membership drive on daleconnelly.com

    a new place to show your thoughts.

  • Steven Sweeney

    @Nancy Anderson

    No renewals, or further purchases, for me, either. I figure I’ve just been shown the door, as well. Apparently MPR became something else while I wasn’t looking.

  • Scott

    The reality is that HD radio has not been taking off as fast as anticipated. It is still not a common feature available in cars or in the electronics department at Wal Mart. It would be great if Sirrius would pick up Radio Heartland–I might pay for satellite radio if they had good stuff like this.

    MPR gave it 18 months as planned. Personally, I want any charity to which I give to be just a little bit hard-nosed when it comes to spending money–that is just being responsible. Under the circumstances, MPR handled it quite gracefully, and the letter that was sent out was honest and fair.

  • hmw

    I received a letter today (Saturday), mailed yesterday, informing me of Dale’s dismissal. It was all nicely timed to forestall any protest about the loss of a talented and original individual. I assume that the savings from Dale’s salary will net to zero after those of us who followed Dale on Radio Heartland decide not to renew our memberships.

  • Rich Miller

    I will never support MPR again. Dale was the reason that I supported MPR. I also recommend Bill Kling take a pay cut for allowing MPR to lose it most valuable asset Dale Connelly. Shame on you for terminating someone after 34 years.

  • Mark

    I also received the letter on Saturday telling me Dale Connely had left the building the day before. Shabby treatment for Mr. Connely and for his listeners.

    Due to band width, streaming audio is not allowed in the office, and I’m sure most offices have the same rule. Radio Heartland on the net was never an option.Since the Morning Show went off the air, I have been listening to 88.5 at work.

    As a long time supporter of public radio, I think someone owes me an explanation.

  • Kathleen

    I agree completely with the above comments – I have listened to all in incarnations of The Morning Show back to the Garrison Keillor days. I recently played some old cassette tapes of programs that I recorded in 1984-86 and Dale’s program on RH was as wonderful now as it was back then. The reason I recorded those tapes was because I was moving out of state and back then, it was the only way to hear the programs, even if they were “re-runs.” Shame on MPR. Aside from my investment in an HD radio so I could easily listen to Dale’s program in my house, I feel that MPR turned its back on the thousands who turned out in person to say farewell to The Morning Show on that cold, dark December morning in 2008. I was one of those who couldn’t get in, but went over to the church and watched the live stream. Well, thanks for the memories; I guess that’s all that remain.

  • June Wheeler

    I must echo Kathleen, Mark and Rich – MPR has changed forever for the worse and firing Dale Connelly has caused me to see the whole enterprise in a new and unflattering light.

    I listened to the Morning Show from 1985 to that last, sad broadcast in Dec. 2008. When I heard Dale would still be broadcasting on HD Radio I immediately bought one and happily filled my wake-up time listening to the best programming ever to hit the airwaves. Now it’s entirely gone and I’m sure my demographics and taste will never again be addressed by MPR.

    I’m also in agreement that the loss of a critical mass of RH-Dale supporters will stop giving. I count myself among them. It would be more than ironic that the cost-saving could turn into a net loss…

  • Pat

    Mornings won’t be as bright without Dale Connelly’s voice. Over the years, he introduced me to so many musicians that I might not have found without his guidance. I’m a great supporter of public radio, but am saddened by some of the choices they have made. Best wishes to Mr. Connelly and thanks for enriching my life, and by extension, my students’ lives.

  • sherry

    I can’t believe it. You cancel Dale Connelly’s contract and keep Kerry Miller (the shill for corporate America). I quite donating 6 months after Miller joined your staff. Now Connelly’s departure is one more reason to question what is going on at MPR.

  • Bruce

    Did they really fire him? I turned on my radio last Sat. to catch the end of American Routes and Dale’s show — and he wasn’t on. I thought that was a little odd, but I figured he was on vacation or something. I’ve been a member since the 1970s, but I will have to think hard about renewing.

    I nearly croaked when the Morning show went off the air. It was the only thing that made mornings bearable. I find 89.3 excruciatingly boring and the classical station only plays the same 50 pieces in endless repetition. I guess I’ll have to buy a stinking iPod.

  • Former MPR member

    The loss of the Morning Show was bad enough, but this was the final straw. I will not renew nor ever again contribute one cent to MPR. I enjoyed listening to Dale Connelly for so many years and my mornings were never the same after the show was moved to HD which was just not as convenient as turning on my radio in my office in the morning. I wish Dale all the best, he was just wonderful and with any luck, I hope to hear Dale Connelly on some other local radio station with his eclectic music soon! If his show is picked up by some local station, I would gladly provide financial support!

  • austin Ditzler

    I’ve been out of town, what happened to Dale Connelly and why?

    I just sent my check for the year end, should I stop payment?