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Wide Awake and Smiling

June holds a special place in the hearts of Dale Connelly and Jim Ed Poole, hosts of The Morning Show, heard on 89.3 The Current. "On June 6, 1983, Jim Ed and I began broadcasting The Morning Show together," Dale says.

Twenty-three years is a long and respectable run for any program in any medium, and The Morning Show remains as fresh as just-brewed breakfast coffee.

At one time, Garrison Keillor hosted The Morning Show. Jim Ed Poole was the program's engineer and an occasional voice talent. Dale Connelly, then a newsroom writer with a reputation for composing humorous pieces, was asked to substitute on days when Keillor was away. When Keillor went full time at A Prairie Home Companion, Dale and Jim Ed teamed up permanently. The show's content-characterized by comedy sketches, news and information, and of course, an eclectic offering of music-continues the format introduced by Keillor.

"Garrison mixed up different styles of music," Dale recalls. "He and Jim Ed had established an audience for this varied sort of program."

The Morning Show has appeared on every FM frequency Minnesota Public Radio has operated in the Twin Cities. It began on 91.1, then moved to 99.5 when that frequency was acquired. When The Current launched on 89.3 in 2005, The Morning Show found its home on the new station. It's a good fit given The Current's modus operandi of playing music that spans genres, artists and eras.

"Our focus has long been on genres and styles of music that are somewhat out of the mainstream," Dale says. "The Current has opened new worlds of music for me, and we've been working that music into The Morning Show."

"We're being introduced to new music all the time," Jim Ed adds. "There's some really surprising stuff."

Fans of The Morning Show know they can expect to hear comic sketches, ad spoofs and other skits featuring characters such as Captain Billy, Bud Buck and Genway's Dr. Larry Kyle. It all originates at Dale Connelly's keyboard.

"Basically, I create the characters in the scripts," Dale says, "then I hand the scripts over to Jim Ed and he brings them to life in his own way."

Jim Ed Poole is a master at doing various voices, dialects and characterizations. "There are so many different characters," Jim Ed laughs, "that some characters are starting to sound like other characters."

In addition to voicing these human characters, Jim Ed does a very convincing dog bark, which he was able to employ in a recent ad spoof for "Bowser Bed" and when he and Dale read Maxi the Taxi Dog at The Current's "Rock the Cradle" event.

If trying to catch the sketches on The Morning Show proves an elusive hunt, fans can now download a weekly podcast of comedy highlights.

The sketches, the sports reports and the music all boil down to one thing: helping people start the day off right. Dale and Jim Ed take that job very seriously.

"If listeners can come away with a tune they can hum and a feeling that maybe not everyone is angry and stressed," Dale says, "then we've done our job."

"To come away with a smile on their faces," adds Jim Ed, "is what a lot of people need each day. I hope we can give that to them."

Listen to The Morning Show from 5–9 a.m. weekdays on 89.3 The Current in the Twin Cities, on 88.7 in Rochester and on all Classical Minnesota Public Radio stations in Greater Minnesota.

(This article also appeared in the June 2006 "Plugged In" section of Minnesota Monthly.)

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