Day #61: The Morning Program

When I was a teen, I remember sitting in a friend’s kitchen with the producer of a show on our public radio station. “Are you listening to The Morning Program on MPR?” Um, no. I was listening to light rock, Top 10. I was 16. “You should be,” she exclaimed. “It’s the best thing on radio.” She immediately turned the radio on. We listened while finishing our breakfast. I was intrigued.

Garrison Keillor and Jim Ed Poole (Tom Keith) played folk and classical music and performed skits with characters who became members of the family (Dr. Larry Kyle, B. Marty Barry, Captain Billy). From 6 to 9 am Monday through Friday, listeners were transported to another realm.

Tom Keith and Dale Connelly. [Photo: Bruce Bisping / Star Tribune]

When Garrison Keillor left for A Prairie Home Companion, Dale Connelly became Jim Ed’s co-host. Tom Keith was a master at sound effects and voices. Dale Connelly wrote skits and dialogue which the two performed EVERY WEEKDAY. A true feat. Together, their sense of humor and wry observations of life helped listeners be aware of the world without taking everything too seriously. They were a tour de force. The show stopped broadcasting in December 2008, leaving a hole in my heart.

I have a playlist of Morning Show songs including “Rooty Toot Toot for the Moon,” “Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise,” “Across the Great Divide,” “Little Potato,” “Waltzing with Bears,” and “Easter Island.” I play those songs when I need a reminder. But the music, and the voices of Jim Ed and Dale, play in my mind. I am grateful that they are so prominent in the music of my life. As Greg Brown sang, “What good is the radio without you?”

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