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.

  • Jenny


  • Scooterbum

    I would like to see KSTP place cuts from Mischke and Don Vogel in the public domain, heck I would pay a subscription fee the listen.

  • @scooterbum: Several Mischke airchecks are available on the fan site http://www.mischkemadness.com. Sorry, but the archive doesn’t include the famed Edmund Fitzgerald interview.

  • Ann Houghton

    No matter how MPR tries to make tomorrow festive and sugar coat this collosal blunder, the fact is that the MPR Morning Show was also “canned”.

    I wish Tom and Dale well as I would any departing friends – heck, members of my family – after sharing with them for 25 years the most important part of my week days, and relying on them to help bring up my son with a kinder, gentler morning influence.

    So sorry, merely noting that tomorrow is the semi-retirement day for Tom Kieth just doesn’t cut it.

    MPR management – shame on you.

    From a soon-to-be-former long-term (25years) MPR member.

  • Aaron

    I think this wasn’t MPR’s decision to can Dale and Jim Ed. I mean they put up with them and their format for 25 years, which is amazing. I just will miss their humor and music Good luck with Radio Heartland Dale!

  • Bob Collins

    From what I understand, Ann’s sentiments are somewhat widespread and I presume people have canceled their memberships.

    Clearly, The Morning Show didn’t ‘fit” with the format of wherever it was carried and I’m sure more than one radio expert over the years has pointed that out. But A Prairie Home Companion doesn’t fit on KSJN either, theoretically.

    From what I understand Tom really does want to retire now (he’d already cut back on APHC duties) and I’m not really sure what MPR is supposed to say to him. “You can’t?” That doesn’t seem right to me.

    And Dale is doing what Dale has always done, trying something new and blazing a trail on a new platform. Will it work? I don’t know. As someone who’s “left” the core medium and gone digital, I sympathize with the challenge.

    But if people are saying they love Tom and Dale so much that they’re going to do everything they can to have the one guy remaining fail, I guess I’m just not seeing the logic in that.

  • Jim!!!

    Anyone there know or care to comment on why HD radio receivers seem to be so scarce? Is HD radio really going to happen or is it a flop? Radio Heartland is reportedly available on HD starting Friday. I’m going to try to tune in Dale’s stream on my Chumby.

    I’m sad to see the Morning Show go, I’m someone who embraces the eclectic and wonders how the Morning Show is any harder to fit than “Sound Opinions” or “Refinition Radio” – diversity is good. Thank you Jim Ed and Dale for everything you’ve done – you both belong in the Hall of Fame. Mischke too.

  • Bob Collins

    //Anyone there know or care to comment on why HD radio receivers seem to be so scarce?

    Pretty much the same reason as most new technologies. The manufacturers are waiting for the content to drive the marketplace and the Catch 22 is it’s hard to drive the marketplace without the manufacturers.

    It was the same deal back in the ’70s with FM radios.

  • Jim!!!

    I discovered today that Target is carrying one HD receiver now. They weren’t last week.

  • Ann

    Hey, maybe the Current should have Mischke replace the morning show. I miss Mischke & I hope he can find a way to come back to our airwaves soon!

  • Alienbaby17

    Just to make a correction on the comments posted above by “Noodleman”- the ‘famed Edmund Fitzgerald Interview’ is available at the MAdness of Mischke website. It can be found by clicking on the, “Top 11 Mischke Bits (according to a fan)” link. It is the fourth bit down.

    The bit posted there is a later clip of Mischke explaining the origin of the bit. The actual interview is played within this explanation though.

    Definitely worth a listen. Once you hear it you can’t hear the song again without thinking of it.

    Gosh, I’m going to miss Mischke. Hope he finds his way back onto the air somewhere.

    Viewpoints/ perspectives like his make the world a richer place.