Trial Balloon

The True Beginning

Posted at 4:55 AM on February 19, 2009 by Dale Connelly (45 Comments)

Radio Heartland has been up and running for a little over two months, and today we begin our first official member drive. What happens over the next nine days will answer a lot of questions about where we might go with this thing, because it speaks to a crucial piece of the puzzle - the funding.

Today is, in many ways, our actual launch.

I'm excited and a little nervous.

If you have already responded to one of the regularly spaced, politely worded requests for a contribution, thank you! I don't mean to suggest that you gave too early or that your support is "unofficial". Far from it.

Young radio stations and infants of all kinds need immediate love as soon as they enter the world. That earliest care is life sustaining and sets a pattern for everything that follows. Listeners who "bonded" right away have already sent a strong signal that Radio Heartland can make it.

Now we take the next step. I'm asking everyone who listens and who hasn't already made a contribution to offer financial support in any amount. You decide how much. When you give, tell the person who answers the phone or indicate on the online form that Radio Heartland is one reason you support MPR.

That simple statement will help us measure the value and the potential of this brand new service.

Thanks for listening, and for making a contribution!

Comments (45)

Morning Heartlanders.

For those of you who are already MPR members, you can call MPR and tell them that you listen because of Radio Heartland and that you want your contribution "ear-marked" for Dale and Mike and Jasper. I did this last month. (I'm sure they don't really move the money around, but they probably made a note somewhere.)

On a related note... I got a note from MPR a couple of days ago about gifts that I could purchase as a sustaining member. I notice there aren't any Radio Heartland gifts/incentives. It made me think, what would be a good incentive for RH? Heartland Christmas CD? Heartland Funeral CD (this needs a better name)? Warm socks w/ goats on them? We ought to be able to come up with something.

Posted by sherrilee | February 19, 2009 6:03 AM

I've been an MPR member since '76. When I renewed a couple months ago, I indicated that RH was the reason for my renewal. Do I need to do something else to ensure the message was delivered?

Posted by Ken in Northfield | February 19, 2009 6:04 AM

we also re-upped last month to become sustainable members and said it was for RH, Dale and Mike. i worry....

Sherilee - how about Heartland "Music to Die For" disc?
and add Warren Zevon "I'll sleep when i'm dead?"

Posted by Barb in Blackhoof | February 19, 2009 6:11 AM

Music to Die For. I love it. Thanks Barb!

Posted by sherrilee | February 19, 2009 6:13 AM

Hi Sherilee and Ken,

Thanks for supporting Radio Heartland!
You don't have to do anything extra to indicate that you listen and support us aside from what you've already done, so thanks for that.
And Sherilee, you're right that MPR doesn't allocate money to any of the stations based on the expressed support for that single station, but it does make a difference that you say you listen to RH.
Also, if you check the membership gift pages online, you'll see there is a Radio Heartland mug and a tote-bag, the basic building blocks of public radio membership!

Posted by Dale Connelly | February 19, 2009 6:16 AM

Ah, I see the mug and the tote. I guess since they're new items, they aren't available to "purchase". But I still think we need goat socks.

Posted by sherrilee | February 19, 2009 6:27 AM

Good Morning Radio Heartland,
I just upped my sustaining membership and can't wait to get the mug. I depend on Radio Heartland and love to read the blog....The music makes my days!

Posted by Michelle in Winona | February 19, 2009 6:34 AM

I can't argue with goat socks.
What color? "Trial Balloon" orange?

Posted by Dale Connelly | February 19, 2009 6:35 AM

Monty Python floats my boat!

I love being a member because of the nice emails I get from Valerie. She tells me how important I am and offers me great perks like Keepers CD's, mugs, and so much other great stuff. Whoever does the bubble wrapping does not skimp!
I'm optimistic that this will be a successful drive, but maybe you should play Chuck Berry's, You Never Can Tell, to downplay any harmful overconfidence in that statement.

Posted by Donna | February 19, 2009 6:54 AM

i don't know if this will work, but i've attached a photo of Alba and Dream in their blaze orange Trial Balloon deer hunting season gear that they wear on our twice-daily walks in fall. These stylish bandannas are functional for protection from shooting as well as they make a good chew. we could provide autographed (with hoof), actually-worn bandannas from the goat of your choice: Dream, Alba, Dodger, Niblet and Majority at the $10/month level :-)
Trial Balloon Bandannas

Posted by Barb in Blackhoof | February 19, 2009 6:57 AM

I made a contribution during the first week of the show and another one today. I was sure to indicate that Radio Heartland is why I choose to give. Sometime this week, I'm going to have to head over to my second favorite radio show, This American Life, to do my part to keep it available to listeners, too.

Have a great day, all!

Posted by elinor | February 19, 2009 7:00 AM

Morning RadHeartlanders,

I've been a member long enough that my varied collection of coffee/tea mugs all say MPR, including the Morning Show commemorative and RH classic. I couldn't imagine waking up without this music. I'm still having trouble driving to work and am saving my pennies for an HD car radio. That will be a great day.

Thanks Dale, Mike (and Jim Ed)! I appreciate it!

Posted by Grant in Lino | February 19, 2009 7:11 AM

I wish there were a better way for sustaining members like myself to get our contributions credited toward Radio Heartland. You are the reason I give!

Posted by Dave | February 19, 2009 7:18 AM

Dear Captain Billy:

I hope it isn't too late to apply for a position in the Federal Booty Administration (I was busy yesterday). I have 20 years experience as a secretary in corporate America, shoveling lots of paper, creative accounting, scheduling meetings, making executives who earned 8X more than me look great by fixing their terrible grammar and spelling.

As you know, secretaries do everything, so I'm also quite capable of shoveling for long periods of time. As a (nearly) Brown Belt in Karate, I could also be useful for gentle (or otherwise) arm-twisting to get things done. I'm also quite tall (5'10"), which is intimidating enough sometimes. Thanks for the opportunity!

Good Morning to All Heartlanders!

Looking forward to seeing what chochkes are available for RH when I renew my membership! Are we talking goat hair socks here?

Joanne J

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | February 19, 2009 7:25 AM

I've been a member of WSCD since 1977...I am very proud of my 4 digit member membership always because of the Morning Show...and now Radio Heartland has my heart.

I heard you mention a Radio Heartland Tote Bag...but I didn't see it among the gifts mentioned on the sign-up page...did I just imagine that I heard it?

Goat socks? What I've always longed for!!!!

Thanks Dale, Mike (Jim Ed) and Jasper.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | February 19, 2009 7:31 AM

I was sort of hoping the goat socks were both made of goat hair (at least partially) and had goats on them. I'd wear them proudly! Oooh, how about goats peeking out of a balloon gondola. Do goats like to fly? OK, that could be problematic if they don't. Or just a bit of whimsy - no goats being harmed in the knitting of the socks - they actually aren't flying.
I became a sustaining member a month ago - hoping to keep this member drive shorter. I love Radio Heartland, and it is making being at work early still bearable. Have to listen to the Current on the way to work, and I'm liking the music they are playing - generally a good beat to it that makes me awake enough to make it to work! Then the computer goes on at work, and I can listen until about 8:00 - then too many people log onto the network here, and the listening becomes sketchy. Yesterday, however, I made it to after 9:00!!! Not many people in the office, I guess!
Oh, and a cheerful side note this morning - as I was driving westward at about 6:15 this morning, I saw the lightening of the skyline in the east - a sure sign that the days are getting longer and there is hope of spring! Yippee!
Have a great day, Heartlanders. I'm waiting for my acceptance letter from the FBA !
The Lavender Wench!

Posted by Lindi | February 19, 2009 7:39 AM

Good morning, fellow Heartlanders -

Last week I doubled my sustaining membership because I've enjoyed RH so much. I hope that all listeners find a way to contribute, if you are enjoying this great music. Lots of "music to die for"!

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | February 19, 2009 7:40 AM

I'm going for the tote bag this year. The other one that I had is worn out and doesn't have Hearland on it. I think an umbrella would be a nice gift.

It's so nice to be able to hear the kind of music I like all day and night. It makes home feel even more like home.

I hope the show gets enough money!

Posted by Pat | February 19, 2009 7:45 AM

If I make an online contribution is there any way to indicate that I support Radio Heartland (other than choosing a coffee mug)? I don't see any sort of "comments" field on the online form. Perhaps there's a second page, after my credit card would get charged on the first page...but if there isn't, I might have some sort of buyer's remorse.

Yes, if I call and talk to a human I can do that, but I've normally thought about this at odd hours so I haven't contributed yet aside from my ordinary MPR membership. Besides -- an online contribution would be a fitting way to tell Jasper we appreciate him too!

Posted by Jeff | February 19, 2009 7:53 AM

I don't know about whether goats like to fly but I know they do love high places...always seeking to climb higher and higher...I love the image of goats looking out of a hot air (trial) balloon! What a really, really good idea, Lavander Wench!

signed, ye' ole goat herder of yore

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | February 19, 2009 8:04 AM

Jeff -- yes, when you contribute online, you can indicate which services you listen to and there's a space for comments at the end on what MPR means to you. All of this is AFTER you enter your credit card and address information. Welcome!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | February 19, 2009 8:05 AM

Jeff -- just FYI ... you are NOT charged until you press Submit at the end of telling them how you feel! So, no worries, mon .... Just Do It!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | February 19, 2009 8:09 AM

Good Morning!
I became a sustaining member last June after so many years of listening, I can't quite remember when I started though it was when Garrison was doing the show. I do miss Jim Ed and the original Morning Show but having RH go 24 hours has been fantastic. I listen to all the MPR services at various times though the week but RH is my clear favorite.

Big thanks to Dale for making it happen and for keeping the spirit of the Morning Show alive. Just a little bit ago Neil said there is no other show like this in the country and I sure haven't heard of anything with the musical selection but also the blog interactivity is very cool.

Oh, and I'd like to order a pair of the goat socks and hope there is goat hair in them! Goats peering out of the balloon sounds good to me!

Posted by mark | February 19, 2009 8:29 AM

sorry - this will be my last try.
copy, paste into URL address box, and hit go:

try this for pic of valuable Trial Balloon blaze orange bandannas - no goat pictures, but plenty of goat hair, some spit and a little goat aroma (they are actually quite sweet-smelling - the Girls at least) only four available. please subscribe!

Posted by Barb in Blackhoof | February 19, 2009 8:34 AM

Gosh, now that I look at the graphic at the top of the blog, it's so tiny, how do we know there aren't already goats up there?
And ... could the goat experts weigh in on whether goats might be inclined to eat through the bottom of the basket?

Posted by Dale Connelly | February 19, 2009 8:36 AM

i made a contribution when radio heartland first started, but i just renewed my membership and got the final morning show cd as my thank you gift. that was the one of the best 3 hours of live music i've ever seen/heard, and i'm excited to be able to listen to it over and over! thanks for offering it as a thank you gift, you read my mind!

Posted by jill | February 19, 2009 8:43 AM

Barb- LOVED the goat photo!!!

Dale- We renewed our membership in December in support of RH when it started. Now you are offering the last Morning Show CD for (I think) $120 membership. Do we have to contribute another $120 to get this now? Or is there an upgrading amt that would get that for us?

Posted by Amy in St Paul | February 19, 2009 8:45 AM

Barb in Blackhoof -- loved the picture of your adorable goats with orange blaze bandanas! They are fortunate to have an excellent goat herder as yourself. I think the bandanas should be auctioned off to raise even more money -- they are limited editions, yes?

I've never had animals/pets in my adult life (much to the chagrin of my 3 boys) -- due to cat allergies. That's my story and I'm sticking to it; plus I have difficulty picking up after myself as it is. But I do enjoy other people's pets/animals -- just not big, slobbery dogs.

Thanks for sharing!

Your friend, Joanne J

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | February 19, 2009 8:54 AM

Thanks for including Nikki & the Ruemates! Radio Heartland should make a point of including local music--from our own Minnesota heartland-- regularly on the playlist. You could strive for a song an hour from local artists, or have a local artist of the day who gets several songs played thru the day. (To refine the point, I guess Bob Dylan & Judy Garland and their ilk count as artists from our heartland, but why not help to promote the less well-known folks who embody the spirit of this station?) So now how about something from Trailer Trash, Accident Clearinghouse, Work of Saws, the Roe Family Singers?

Posted by Annie | February 19, 2009 8:59 AM

IF the basket is made of a natural hemp or straw, they just might nibble away at it...starting with the sides. But if they have something more delectable available, like rose bushes or young fruit trees or sweet meadow grass (bringing to mind the 3 Billy Goat Gruffs crossing the troll bridge to get to the mountain meadow grasses), they should be safe in the basket.

Goats, contrary to stereotype, are very fussy eaters and prefer only the finest.

I love this blog and the music, but it is making me late for work...

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | February 19, 2009 9:00 AM

I feel a little responsible, getting the goat sock thread started this morning, but since it resulted in a great photo of Dream and Alba, I'm not complaining. Barb, which one is Dream and which one is Alba??

Have a great day Heartlanders!

Posted by sherrilee | February 19, 2009 9:05 AM

Thanks Barb....I now have goats on my desktop!
Can you tell us their names?

I will miss tomorrow's show since I'll be sleeping in, going to see the Subdudes tonight. Can't wait, always a great show but it's rough staying out late then getting up for work the next day.

Dale, I think I've heard the Subdudes on the morning show before. Could you play one on Monday?

Have a great weekend all......and be sure to pledge what you can.

Posted by Kate | February 19, 2009 9:07 AM

Alba on left, Dream on right
Alba is Dream's first daughter and her full name is "Sogni Alba" or what we've (probably badly) translated from Catalan to "Dream at Dawn"
i'd be willing and happy to work on goat-themed offerings for next fund-drive. except Dale, i hate to push this theme much further; but if it would raise some money to keep RH with us - we'd do it!!

Posted by Barb in Blackhoof | February 19, 2009 9:14 AM

wow, lots of thought-provoking comments this a.m.---y'all are more awake than i am for a thursday morning.

but i'll do me best to express my thoughts and desires (besides re johnny depp) somewhat randomly:

i'd like soft brown cashmere or goat hair socks with a small orange or white goat silhouette near the cuff and the words Radio Heartland on them :-)

I'd like a radio heartland bumper sticker like the early current one---a nice oval or other interesting shape, with the call numbers on it, and maybe a goat...

i LOVE the title Music to Die for! very funny

i do agree with a remark from some days ago, in which the writer suggested it might be time to rename the trial balloon----obviously everyone likes the goat barn stuff----

Radio Heartland: when the other morning stations get your goat? it's organic, grounded, down to earth, sometimes soft, sometimes feisty....

a t-shirt that says on the back the 10 ways Radio Heartland is like a goat?

okay, i'm going to work now....and will send in some dough.

Posted by Kay H | February 19, 2009 9:14 AM

Barb - I think it's safe to say that your goats float our boats! Great picture!

Posted by Donna | February 19, 2009 9:20 AM

Barb, great picture!!

I see Radio Heartland t-shirts with that picture on them. Wouldn't people SO want to know the connection?!

Posted by Jane in Stillwater | February 19, 2009 9:31 AM

Hi Dale- Carnaval has started in Brasil (they practice at least a week before it starts for real!). Any chance you could toss in a samba and or forro' piece the next few mornings so we warm up until it all ends on Tuesday? Okay, New Orleans has their big party too-- some Mardi Gras music will also be in order, I suppose, but Brasilian music will heat us up faster. Muito obrigada!

Posted by Amy in St Paul | February 19, 2009 9:37 AM

Thanks, Joanne and others! Page 2 of the contribution form has checkboxes and a free-form text box, so that's two opportunities to mention Radio Heartland before money changes hands. So I listen via computer and have renewed via computer -- I hope Jasper approves!

Posted by Jeff | February 19, 2009 10:13 AM

Hi Amy in St. Paul,

Thanks for the tip about Carnaval. I'll put something in tomorrow's show.
And regarding your question about getting the Morning Show CD with your December membership, here's an answer from our membership department.

When you become a Sustaining Member, you get access to a web site where you can get all the stuff offered during drives for a small additional contribution to MPR. If you'd like to convert your membership to Sustaining, you can call 1-800-227-2811, or go here:

If you're already a Sustainer, contact Member Benefits to get the link to the site:

So Amy, if you are not a sustainer right now, you can make that change and get access to the gift.

Posted by Dale Connelly | February 19, 2009 10:21 AM

Another reason to become an MPR member is the great member benefits - nice discounts on theatre, concerts, restaurants, and more. Click on the Membership tab to browse the benefits.

Thank you, Dale, for "Volare", and also "'64 Dodge" and "Day Tripper". Made my day!!!

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | February 19, 2009 11:37 AM

the Radio Heartland premium should be an HD radio.

Posted by Jim | February 19, 2009 1:06 PM

Hi all,
Okay the goats did it, elicited a response. The photo is adorable, and the ideas wildly imaginative! I don't know what triggered the goat connection, but it's cute and unique. I also LOVE the "Music to Die For" CD title; my suggestion there, "Ashokan Farewell."

I love that I can listen to the Radio Heartland music variety all day long at my computer (not until just 9am in the car or at home). And, listen I do! I haven't played a CD since. MPR is all over the house, too.

An HD radio in my car will be next. I either drive in silence or tune in to KNOW.

To say this station is valuable is an understatement. It's a part of our lives, an expression of our identities. We couldn't envision life without it, and I'm so glad you were able to continue and even expand the broadcast abilities!


Posted by Lynda | February 19, 2009 1:21 PM

Once HD is available in my area OR I can listen on-line with my dial-up modem, I'll happily renew my MPR membership. until then, will have to settle for Trial Balloon and Sat. night on FM. Any word on when HD territory is expandingt?

Posted by Linda | February 19, 2009 2:00 PM

I still want a Radio Heartland window cling for my car! The Current has them and MPR has them. We could advertise AND feel warm and fuzzy if we saw another Heartlander.

Posted by Carla | February 19, 2009 2:22 PM

i like the bumper sticker idea
happy to see there is a Keepers greatest hits cd, had to have it even tho i have all except K2, which i had but lost to a former boyfriend
have been a sustaining member since they started it, then made my daughter one also
i got the Heartland mug, very nice, drink tea in it every morning
i like to read about the goats but i'm much more into dogs and their antics (i have 2)
thanx Dale and Mike, and of course Tom, may he play golf every day all summer

Posted by shelley | February 19, 2009 2:33 PM

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