When radio connected ‘lonely souls’

If you’ve never lived in small-town America, you’ve missed heroes at work — the people who got up before dawn and went into a tiny shack somewhere, read the school-lunch menus, the lost and found items, spinning some platters, and making people feel as if they’re listening to a neighbor, because they are.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking; we get that now on MPR and other radio stations.

But you don’t — as fine as those all are — because there’s an intimacy that can’t exist in larger markets, and, for the most part, no longer does in the small ones anywhere. There are, of course, exceptions.

So when colleague Julia Schrenkler sent this video from “The Atlantic” Wednesday about a small station in Arizona, it was like a trip back in time, when people didn’t know what they were about to lose.

There are people hanging on, fighting their own past, while trying to hold on to it.

Mark Lucke, was the station’s only employee, filmmaker Zach Wright tells The Atlantic.

“He has a traumatic past with the genre,” co-director Ryan Maxey said. “He’s a bit of a tragic hero, a lone cowboy who happens to prefer metal and horror films over Rex Allen movies and country tunes. But he finds meaning in connecting with other lonely souls over the radio.”

Connecting with other lonely souls over the radio. A perfect description of a once personal medium.

“It’s a tale of broken dreams, resiliency, and redemption,” Maxey says. “Most of us don’t end up living out our lives the way we would have imagined as a youngster. Mark’s narrative acknowledges the pains of life — the unwanted turns — but also the ways in which we can find our little ways to keep going and find meaning.”

It’s the best 12 minutes you’ll spend today, unless you’ve never lived in small-town America.

(h/t: Julia Schrenkler)

Archive: The heroes of small-market radio (NewsCut)

  • Guest

    Some folks make an impact for good with their lives.

  • John F.

    This is one of the best things I’ve seen all year.

  • The Resistance

    WDRT in Viroqua, WI has a nice community feel for those of us with a connection to The Driftless. And I like their call letters. Take a listen online sometime.

  • Gary F

    You still got KASM out of Albany MN. You get crop reports, town team baseball scores, and of course, polka music.

  • Hikertrash

    A few years back, while camping up at Scenic SP, we were lucky enough to discover KAXE’s Green Cheese trivia show. Lots of good questions and a great host, but the best part was listening to all the “regulars” calling in from around their campfires across cabin country MN.

    • John

      KAXE is a good station. KTIP in Grand Marais as well. (For a long time, WELY was good too, but I haven’t listened in years, so I don’t know how it’s doing)

      There are a few good locals in northern MN.