Our first-ever Radio Heartland live show at the Minnesota State Fair is one week from today. And while I say "first-ever", I recognize that what we're doing will feel very much like a continuation of the 17 year long tradition of live Morning Shows from the MPR booth. If it feels familiar, that's on purpose.
The fair is all about familiarity, and I see no reason to stray too far from a successful formula.
The similarities? Same location. Same musical style. Same "Where's Eric" game. Same audience (I hope).
The differences? No pirates. No mad food scientists. Later time. One hour less. Half the number of hosts. More people on the grounds.
True, we're giving up a lot, but for those (myself included) who thought last December that we would never get to spend time together at the fair ever again, this is an acceptable compromise.
My musical guests will be the funny and fair-savvy Ann Reed, an excellent and energetic trio called BoJoNo, and a very rootsy and multi-faceted duo, The Ditchlilies.
The "Where's Eric" cast is intact, including the stuffed decoys, Farmer Eric, Fair Fanatic Eric and Security Eric.
Eric Ringham now works for MPR as Commentary Editor for our new website MPRNewsQ. That means now we can both convince ourselves that the fun we're having is really "work". Toward that end, he and I visited the fairgrounds earlier this week and chose some hiding places. We have streamlined the game and tightened the deadlines to fit it into our two-hour time slot. And we're introducing a real-world merit adjustment into the structure, allowing for Ochen Kaylan and Leslie Ball's exceptional performance last year. Simply put, they were so good, they must be severely punished with a more difficult challenge.
That's the way it goes, kiddoes. Bothered by the ingratitude? Forward your complaints to the 20 thousand very smart and engaging Chinese Phd's clamoring to do your job online for half the price. And considering that we don't pay you to begin with, that's saying something.
In 120 minutes, Ochen and Leslie will search for two Little Erics and the Real Eric. They'll have to find at least one of the tiny ones and the genuine article to be declared winners of the game.
The will receive only five clues for each of the three fugitives and will have just 40 minutes to succeed before having to move on to the next target. That means the last third of the show is a guaranteed nail-biter as Ochen and Leslie attempt to locate Mr. Ringham before time runs out at 11 a.m..
Here he is, squeezed into a since-rejected fairgrounds hideaway.
And there's one more thing. That third Little Eric. He is an audience-only challenge.
That's right, next Friday morning we'll reveal five clues to the whereabouts of the third Eric, and if someone from our audience finds him, they'll assist Ochen and Leslie during the final frantic forty minute push to find the Real Eric.
But if we can do this, Universal Health Care will be a cinch!
All that remains is to set out the right number of chairs.
So ... who is planning to come to the show?