Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: June 3, 2010 Archive

Taking Stock & Moving On

Posted at 6:00 AM on June 3, 2010 by Dale Connelly (178 Comments)

Radio Heartland has been rolling along with its eclectic, acoustic mix of listener friendly music for 17 months and 22 days now.

Not that I'm counting.

The aim has always been to stay connected to the listeners who appreciated the casual, quirky style of MPR's long running Morning Show, and to explore new ways to deliver audio programming online and on HD radio in the Twin Cities. For any major Minnesota station to devote a full time announcer to a project that can't be heard over standard radio is, as far as I know, unprecedented.

How has it been going? That's hard to say. HD audiences don't show up in the ratings, and measuring online listenership is tricky. To my way of thinking, the only meaningful yardstick for Radio Heartland has been membership response. In that regard, every individual who makes a contribution and mentions Radio Heartland as a reason for becoming a member represents a success, and we've had thousands of them.

Many, many thanks to everyone who has joined in this effort.

However, management has decided the cost of this project is too great, and I have been told my Radio Heartland assignment will end with this Friday morning's show. My services are no longer needed and my job at MPR vanishes completely at the end of the month. You can read more about the decision here.

The good news is this - two extremely important components remain in place. Mike Pengra will stay in his producer / music picker role and JASPER, the computer you named back in January 2009, is tireless, so the familiar Heartland stream will continue online and on HD radio. What does that mean for the future of Radio Heartland? Alas, I have no crystal ball. If you have opinions and advice regarding what happens next, you may send your thoughts to

This decision comes as a surprise to me. As many of you already know from your personal stories (so generously shared on this blog) when you get to be a certain age, the sudden changes that come are often dark and unwelcome but we are resilient people who are very good at imagining the worst and naturally inclined to hope for the best. This is another one of those situations that only appears dire. Greater trials are visited every day on good people who are much less deserving of trouble. Because I know you'll be concerned, I want to assure you that I'll be fine.

Thanks for your support and friendship during the last year and a half, and in many cases well before that, stretching back 34 years to the June day when I started at MPR's station KRSW in Worthington, a 20-year-old broadcast journalist fresh out of college. It has been my great privilege to be one of the people inside your radio and more recently your computer or smartphone or HD gizmo or whatever you want to call it. Regardless of whose voice is coming out of the speaker, I have always believed that everyone who listens should make a contribution. The personnel will always change. The technology is only a detail. The real success story of public radio in Minnesota has always been about what happens outside the box of wires. You made MPR great with your support, and it will always be great as long as you are there.

As for the Dale Connelly Show, we have two days left to play as many of your requests as time allows.

What would you like to hear?

June 2010
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