Former, as in 30 years ago, KSTP-AM talk show host Turi Ryder is returning to the Twin Cities this week for a private book party.
“She Said What? (A Life on the Air)” contains many stories about Minnesotans and the state, a cherished stop on Ryder’s résumé. A 555-page read, it can be ordered at Tortoisebooks.com. Although nothing specific is scheduled, there might be some public appearances while she’s here. I’m almost positive she’ll make a stop at St. Paul’s Grand Ole Creamery, if not at a Hubbard Broadcasting radio station.
Later, when Ryder hits the road for performances of her one-woman show based on the book, there will be shows here. This week’s visit is not a rare trip here for Ryder, a married mother of two sons who lives in Chicago. Her husband has Minnesota roots, so family visits bring them back often.
This is Part 2 of a conversation we had in May. Part 1 was published then, and there’s likely even more coming.
Q: What did you learn from your time in AM 1500 that served you for the rest of your career?
A: Omigosh. I learned Minnesotans are the most observant people you could ever meet. They notice everything. It was mortifying to me sometimes how observant they were. I used to swim at a pool. I one time made way for somebody at the Y, you know, in a lane. I was wearing a swimsuit and goggle glasses. Not a lot of people had seen me like that. I get a call on the air, “Thank you for sharing your lane with me at the Y.” I wouldn’t recognize my mother with goggles and a cap.
So I was really careful what live commercials I would do. I’ll give you an example. Some nice lady came up to me at Rainbow Foods, which I understand is no more, around University and Snelling, in the parking lot and she says: “Turi Ryder!” I said “Well, yes I am,” and she said, “I tried those fries you told me about and they were really good.” I was like “OK, I’d better never sell anybody a bad bag of fries.”
The [radio] salespeople, bless her heart, wanted me to do a restaurant endorsement, and I went to this place and, honest to God, I would not have fed this food to my dog. I said. “I’m really, really sorry, I can’t do a personal endorsement. I can read live copy but I can’t endorse it personally.” She [the sales staffer] was furious with me, but I really had to respect the fact that when you talk to Minnesotans they really pay attention and if you’ve earned their trust you have to honor it. It’s an honor system state.
Q: Must you get permission from your kids to talk about them on air like Kelly Ripa?
A: No. I just don’t use their names. I call them “The Big Cutie” and “The Small Cutie.” Mercifully, they have not been a great trouble to me. If they were, the only person with whom I would have to negotiate that is “The Spousal Unit.” The deal we made, which I talk about in the book, is that he does not wish to find out that I am angry with him on the air. I can go on air and say anything I want as long as he knows ahead of time so that people don’t start calling him saying, “What the hell did you do?”
I want to be clear. I am not working on the air right now. I am doing off-air stuff for Bloomberg and this book and a one-woman show off the book. Since my WGN gig and my weekend syndicated show have all been off the air, I [have not been] a full-time host for a good four years now.
Q: Remember what an on-air expert you were about kids before you had any? Since having children, have you discovered you were prescienct or an idiot?
A: Oh, my Lord. [Laughing.] Huh. Well, it could be I’m just the worst mother in the world. I think I have stayed more or less the same. Here’s what’s different: I swore I wasn’t going to have a lot of plastic [in my house]. But the first time you get thwacked in the ankle with a solid handmade wooden toy, you change that.
Q: Childless Turi’s harsh takes on parenthood used to drive listeners bananas when you advised parents about what they should and shouldn’t do.
A: I’m totally with them on bribery now. I say if you have to, bribe them. I will say that I think one of the reasons I have well-behaved children is that I made it very clear that I would kill them if they didn’t behave well. I wasn’t a spanker. What I was good at was withdrawing privileges. I tore up a pair of highly desired, by my firstborn, baseball tickets right in front of him and his dad, who was going to take him to the game. They were aghast. I had warned him three times. I looked at my husband and said, “Trust me, we’ll only have to do this once.”
The whole thing I have learned about child-rearing is, if you say you’re going to do it, you must be prepared to do it. I would say, “You will lose every privilege that you have” and they know that I mean it. My second-born made a little trouble for himself this year. He’s a straight-A student, but he did something he shouldn’t have. When he came home there was no door on his bedroom. And he had to earn that door back, yep.
I’m pretty hard-core. Have I changed my attitudes? I believe it’s chemical. You have a tolerance for your own children that you don’t have for other people’s. So I’m a pretty good actress and can pretend I’m a decent human to other people’s children. It seems to work well.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.