New show is 'Prairie Home' with Iron Range 'edge'A variety-style program set in outstate Minnesota that airs on public radio — sound familiar?
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
A variety-style program set in outstate Minnesota that airs on public radio — sound familiar?
“The Great Northern Radio Show,” which debuts on KAXE-FM on Oct. 15, borrows its format from “A Prairie Home Companion,” according to host and producer Aaron Brown. There will be music, stories, laughs. But it also takes a page from “This American Life,” and has a touch of the “Grand Ole Opry.”
In other words: Take a right at Lake Wobegon and head north to the Iron Range — to a place where things are just a little less folksy than the world portrayed by Garrison Keillor.
“It’s like Lake Wobegon with a lot more alcohol and social strife,” Brown said. “The Range is just a little more confrontational and edgy as a people. We’re trying to have some fun with some of the Range traditions and ethnicities.”
The first episode, “Hard Times Good Times,” will include Duluth-based jug band Da Elliott Brothers and Finnish folk music by Pete and Jack Pellinen. There will be storytelling by Ed Nelson of the Grand Rapids Forest History Center, original comedy sketches and a radio drama.
“We’re trying to work with themes based on where it is and what’s going on,” Brown said. “There will be very short and surprising interviews with people, blended in with music and comedy.”
The first program will be recorded at the Hibbing Community College Theater and Brown expects to travel to new sites with each episode of what he’s hoping will be a quarterly program.
KAXE is an independent station based in Grand Rapids that airs National Public Radio programs like “Car Talk” and other nationally syndicated programming like “World Cafe.” But mostly it is original local content like the longtime program “Green Cheese,” a call-in trivia show that airs on Saturday nights. About 75 percent of the station’s programming is done by volunteers. The station has been on the air for 37 years and can be heard in Brainerd, Bemidji and Iron Range cities.
“The Great Northern Radio Show” fits into the station’s vibe, said Scott Hall, community access coordinator.
“Our whole mission is to do as much programming as we can about local culture: northern Minnesota people and culture and the whole natural world up here,” Hall said. “Aaron has been doing essays and reporting for us for years now. It’s an easy fit for KAXE.”
The station doesn’t quite hit Duluth, but it can be streamed online at kaxe.org.