All posts by Dale Connelly

I am a writer and broadcaster living in the Twin Cities.

Advanced Social Media

Many thanks to the gentle baboons who have kept this blog going for several months and especially the past few weeks while I’ve been distracted by work.

Our Fall Membership drive is underway at Fresh Air Community Radio – we’re in the middle of the second week of fundraising, just two days away from the scheduled conclusion. Just recently I’ve been preoccupied helping friends like the Morning Blend hosts (pictured above) as they try to get listeners to call 612 375-9030 to make a contribution.

KFAI_SignIf you’ve never listened, you should give it a try. The most baboon-friendly show on the schedule is Stone Soup, Wednesday mornings from 10am to noon. I often hear host Pam K. playing music that was, or would have been, featured on the old MPR Morning Show.

But that’s no surprise. Our station has many personalities, literally and figuratively. We are the antidote for anyone fed up with tightly formatted radio. While the most popular stations in town strive for stability by trying to sound exactly the same whenever you tune in, we are like the flowing river. Stick your dial at 90.3 / 106.7 FM and you’ll find that you can’t listen to the same station twice. No matter what you think you’re going to hear, it’s always going to become something else.

KFAI_State_FairSome people look at that and say we’re hanging on too long to an outdated model, suggesting that the volunteer-based grab bag approach to programming where individuals use the medium as a form of self-expression is a hippie artifact. They say we’ve got to step into the digital age and create a coherent multi-platform brand that is consistent and predictable and is tied to something more marketable than the quirk factor.

But I look at the digital age and see an environment where any form of media that’s seen as monolithic and prepackaged is at risk of being overwhelmed by thousands of small-time operators who are creatively and subversively employing the same tools as the big players.  And I don’t think subversive is too strong a word.  After all, we have a broadcast frequency in a major American city, and we routinely hand it over to just ordinary folks so they can be heard.

In that sense, community radio is the original social media.

If we were Facebook, we’d give everyone their own show, and I do sometimes encounter people who think they can walk in the door  at KFAI and have an on-air slot within days.  After all, they have excellent musical taste!  Unfortunately, we’re limited by the number of hours in a day, and new program hosts soon find out having your own weekly radio show is a more demanding commitment than simply posting your thoughts and putting up a cat video every now and then.

But it is an enticing thought.

If you had a radio show, what would it sound like and what would you call it?  

Ask Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

Last night I went to a job interview and boy, was I surprised.  There were about sixteen other people there – and all of them were candidates for the very same job I wanted!

I’ve never done well in mass interviews under hot lights. I’m much more comfortable when all the attention is on me, and last night was no exception.

There were “gotcha” questions galore and the job seekers were spreading the nonsense pretty thick, using non-sequiturs to give non-detailed non-answers.

I, of course, told the complete and totally true truth every time a question came my way. But overall I was kind of embarrassed to be there.  And I think some of the others were feeling embarrassed too.  At least I saw embarrassment in their eyes whenever they looked in my direction.

And all of this was for a position that they’re not going to fill until more than a year from now.  Like I can wait that long to have paying work! Even though I’m incredibly, unbelievably rich, I’ve got a whole lot invested in the idea that I work really hard and anyone with half a brain would hire me in an instant.

But will anyone hire me 13 1/2 months from now? Hard to know.

Still, I really, really, really want this job.

Dr. Babooner, should I keep trying to win over the hiring committee, or cut and run?

On the border fence about it,

I told DT he (she?) should stop worrying his pretty little head over what might happen and keep chasing the job. Speak out loudly and often, I say. Don’t hold anything back – tell us every thought you have, every time you have one, as soon as it occurs to you. Really, why would you live any other way?

But that’s just ONE opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Ice Virus Soup

A French research team plans to wake up an ancient virus to study its genetic structure.

This comes as a huge surprise to me.  I’m a cable-connected-American, so the only French people I ever see are on the Food Channel, fighting over condiments.

I had no idea they could be scientists too!

But why would such a person try to revive a virus embedded in a cake of ice?

Only one reason I can think of – glacial ice is a surprise ingredient, thrown in at the last minute to heighten the souffle’ challenge! Leave it to the crafty French to know the secret – bring out the hidden viral flavors and this frosty addition to an ordinary recipe will be a memory-maker.

And (maybe) a killer!

I commissioned Trail Baboon poet laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler to respond to this story with a few lines of simplistic verse, and although he thought his inept rhymes might sicken a few unsuspecting readers, he did it anyway – because there was money involved.


One wonders – What forgotten woes
reside inside what once was froze?
Old viruses, encased in ices!
Are they strong, like southern spices?

Let’s research it! Here’s the deal –
I will dump some on your meal
and then take notes as you complain
about the fever in your brain!

Science is a lot like cooking.
Tasting, testing, always looking
for the flavor of the day.
inside a pathogen souffle!

That’s the foodie’s fondest wish
uncover some forgotten dish
of which we all are unaware
and dress it up as modern fare –

Like Hepatitis Cassoulet
and Dengue Fever au Flambe’
Chicken in a Herpes Glaze
with fresh Ebola Bouillabaisse.

Mononucleosis Stew
and Influenza Dip au jus,
Spicy Cowpox over rice.
with Meningitis Torte sounds nice.

Steaming viral soup selections.
Tasty, trendy mass infections
locked in ice. Forgotten. Dated.
Soon you’ll see them nicely plated!

What food makes you sick?

Mr. Distractible

Today’s post comes from tim

Driving by Lake Nokomis on Thursday morning the crew was out with the truck with the lift in the bucket on the back to hold the chainsaw guy to take down the 40 foot tall Elm tree with the disease.

I was wondering before we got there why there was such a big traffic back up. when I got there I realized everyone has to watch guys cut trees down a little bit. past that was a crew of another 10 workers who were digging a hole to get up some water pipes beneath the sidewalk. the hole was 15 feet long and 10 feet wide and 6 feet deep and traffic going the opposite way was slowing down to watch the guys dig.

I was reminded of leave it to beaver where Larry and the beeve would get distracted on their way to school stop and watch guys dig a hole or wait for people to come out of the manhole cover.

I feel that way when I’m watching guys set up amplifiers and drum sets on stage at a concert. where I should be looking towards the musical guest I get distracted and focus on other tasks.

I think it’s interesting when human instinct takes over and you get to see what can only be described as natural behavior kick in and override all of the polished growth and adult posturing we all do.

What ordinary sight transfixes you?

Back In The Saddle Again

My friend Mike Pengra is very good at his jobs. He has several, but for the most part they all boil down to doing the same thing – Mike makes other people sound better.

As a producer, editor, music-picker and scheduler, Mike supports classical music programming at Minnesota Public Radio, and is the lone human behind the robot-powered rootsy music stream, Radio Heartland.

He’s also the drummer in a band called City Mouse.  In the music world, the rock band drummer is a character who is both essential and undervalued, so the role suits Mike well. He makes everything OK and distributes the credit elsewhere. Somehow people feel more competent when Mike’s around, and he’s too kind to reveal that it’s his doing, not theirs.

This is why everybody likes Mike.

Mike and I worked on Radio Heartland a few years back, and for a good stretch before that we were teammates on the weird three-legged stool that was the MPR Morning Show, Mike playing the silent partner like the multi-talented Silvester Vicic and the saintly Nora McGillivray before him.

Mike contacted me a few weeks ago and said a group of demanding baboons had made a bunch of music requests, and he wanted some help feeding tunes to them.

I don’t host radio shows anymore, but I was happy to oblige this time, knowing that as soon as I walked into Mike Pengra’s studio I’d become two times funnier and at least ten times smarter.

And believe it or not, that Mike Pengra magic still works.

You can listen for yourself to a Baboonish Request show today at noon, and again on Sunday evening at 7.



Why I Don’t Eat The Coleslaw

Header image by Amanda Wood via Flickr

I have been thinking about and reading lately the voluminous works of Ogden Nash, a silly poet who was taken seriously. How he managed to become widely known by working in the disrespected field of light verse is still perplexing. Nash died in 1971. There has been no one like him since.

You hardly hear about Nash today. People have a way of vanishing. Even the most accomplished artists and statesmen can quickly become inconsequential, postmortem.

But during the many hours I’ve spent standing in the supermarket checkout line, one thing I’ve learned that you can stay relevant if you manage to perish under a cloud of suspicion.  If you can’t do that, at least make your exit in some unconventional and potentially memorable way.

It turns out Nash died after eating “improperly prepared” coleslaw, although few details about the incident are available online. The official cause was said to be Crohn’s Disease, aggravated by side dish.

Here is where we might identify some fame-extending mysterious circumstances. How could Nash, a well-known hypochondriac, so casually imbibe a lethal helping of such an unhelpful multi-layered vegetable?   Was he force-fed into oblivion?  Or was it intentional?

In pursuit of the truth,  the public demands a dogged persistence.
But all it will get right now is doggerel.

Did Ogden Nash know?

Did Ogden Nash, with his last breath,
decide to die a funny death?
His final meal – some stringy gabbage
hid the reaper ‘mongst the cabbage.
Did fate, ironic, choose to slay him
with this side of gastro-mayhem?
Or did Nash select this gaffe
to seal his doom with one last laugh?
One last punchline – Woe betide
all those who chews coleslawicide.

Describe the circumstances of your ideal, intriguing death.