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Gather ’ round: KMSU hosting radio broadcast event

A listening party for Sunday’s re­broadcast of Public Radio International’s popular program, “ This American Life.”

Tanner Kent, Mankato Free Press, 11-22-2012

Even Jim Gullickson had to admit: A group of adults spending a Sunday after­noon gathered around the radio seems a bit ... old­fashioned.

“It’s going to be kind of weird,” said the program director at KMSU who is nonetheless moving for­ward with a plan to host a listening party for Sunday’s re­broadcast of Public Radio International’s popular program, “This American Life.”

That day’s episode fea­tures John Biewen, a Mankato native and audio program director for Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, and his audio documen­tary, “Little War on the Prairie.” The piece explores the sensi­tivities that have shrouded pres­ent­day understanding of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Gullickson said he simply wanted to organize a way for people to listen to the show together, then discuss it afterward.

“It’ll be like the days before television when everyone sat around a radio,” he said.

I can appreciate the sen­timent.

A few nights ago, I listened to “Sorry, Wrong Number” on the radio.

Well, actually I listened on Internet radio. These days, that’s the only place you can find recordings of old radio shows like “ Suspense,” which aired for 20 years on CBS radio stations and is where “ Sorry, Wrong Number” debuted.

I listen to such radio programs often. From Sherlock Holmes to Johnny Dollar and The Whistler, my imagination is still captivated by these dinosaurs of radio’s Golden Age.

But they don’t help my social life. In fact, nothing sends friends and family scurrying faster than when I announce that a 70-year- old radio program is about to come on, and all are welcome to join the excitement!

Even though Agnes Moorehead’s performance as the snobby, bedridden daughter of a millionaire who overhears a murder plot on the telephone remains some of the most convincing (and unnerving) acting I’ve ever experienced, I still felt unsatisfied when the radio show’s tagline for Roma Wines marked the episode’s conclusion.

Mainly, I had no one with whom I could share.

When “Sorry, Wrong Number” debuted in 1943, people listened to the radio together. These days, people listen to the radio mainlywhen others aren’t present.

Ever since I was a teenager and would steal out to my truck on Saturday nights to listen to Jim French’s Imagination Theater on WCCO, I’ve always wished for an audience I could join. And it appears I’m not alone.  

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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