Tommy Mischke announced on Thursday night that he's leaving his 10 p.m. to midnight show on WCCO. He's walking, not being pushed, which is rare in the radio host business, and even more so in 2013 in the AM radio business.
Mischke's a young fellow, at least in my 67-year-old view of the universe, but if he's out of this market, that basically leaves Joe Soucheray and me as hosts from AM-1500's days as the crazy cousins of Hubbard Broadcasting. There's also Kenny Olson, once the Soul Man sidekick to the great Bob Yates, and The Rookie, as the rookie producer for life.
My resume as a host is a bit scrawny, too, since radio was no-stress for me, until taking on a full-time, 5:30-9 a.m. show in January 2009.
That's gone now, and I've bounced twice with time slots since we started as a sports station in February 2010, but, honest to Steve Cannon, radio wasn't a job in that early time at KSTP ... it was a hoot.
Soucheray and I started with Sunday Night Sports Talk some time in 1981. We were fired in the spring of 1982 and brought back in September 1983 with Monday Night Sports Talk. During our absence, the Hubbard descision-makers had shipped us away from the main headquarters and to the transmitter building on Hwy. 61 in Maplewood.
We were out there for a decade or so, before being brought back to civilization.
Sooch and I started referring to the location as "The Swamp'' on MNST, and on Saturday Morning Sports Talk when that spinoff started in 1985. Sooch became the Mayor of Garage Logic in 1993, and Mondays went away eventually. The Saturday show still exists, with Judd Zulgad as my partner, and The Rookie as producer/ringmaster.
The Mischke connection is that he started his radio career as another of the wack jobs who would wind up employed at The Swamp. This came after he found a soulmate in Don Vogel, the "Round Mound of Sound.''
Vogel first arrived at the station from Chicago in 1985. He was blind, a handicap in some areas, but an asset in giving him the best ear and delivery of impersonations you could ever hear on local radio.
I'll give you an example of the attitude that existed among us in The Swamp:
Sooch and I were presented by a listener with a hat that had two foam-rubber breasts attached to the bill. We gave it to Vogel as a gift -- a baseball hat with the logo of his beloved Chicago Cubs, we told him -- and were pleased to see Don wearing it as he left the station for his ride home.
I found a Strib story from July 1987 that suggested Vogel and Geoff Charles, another odd ball, had left because of budget cutting. I'm not sure about that. Vogel went back home to Chicago and Charles had some wanderlust in his soul.
Vogel found a good gig in Chicago and was able to introduce his spot-on impersonation of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. When the mayor died in November 1987, Don was undeterred, introducing his "Hotline to Heaven'' and regular conversations with Harold.
Vogel returned to KSTP in 1992. Mischke was an admirer and started dropping by the station. They became a team, and then Tommy got his own show.
Don died of cancer in the middle of 1995 at age 49. I was out of town for the funeral.
I'm sorry to have missed it. I've been told the cast of characters who showed up to honor Vogel looked like the bar scene in the original "Star Wars'' -- including a poorly dressed fellow who came down the aisle before the service, bellied up to the casket, popped open a beer, chugged it and left.
Vogel was Mischke's mentor, which tells you most of what you need to know about the character who departed the AM dial on Thursday night.
P.S.: Barbara Carlson was a staple of the Maplewood version of AM-1500, too. She would convince politicans and other prominent locals to do shows from her hot tub at home. That is all.
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