Joe Friedrichs is news director at WTIP, a community radio station in Grand Marais. He hosts and produces the station’s Boundary Waters Podcast.
“The Haymakers: A Chronicle of Five Family Farms.” I visited a family farm near Grand Marais this summer called the Good Nature Farm. I went there to report on a story about eating local food. I found this book by Minnesota author Steven R. Hoffbeck on the shelf of the local library. Reading about family farms during the early days of statehood and having that visit fresh in my mind has been fascinating. It’s not easy to run a farm or grow produce on the North Shore. And despite the weather and poor soil, the locally grown food scene is a part of so many people’s lives. I love that. Meanwhile, I’m also thumbing through Charles Bukowski’s “What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire” to stay grounded in the fact there is a struggle happening out there beyond just my own backyard and the [Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness], and elsewhere. That “day-to-day war of life” sentiment that Bukowski shares so well.
The team at Canadaland is doing some great work (canadalandshow.com). They had a series on Thunder Bay that we aired on WTIP. I got to know some of its staff and it’s obvious they care about the issues they are covering. It’s journalism and storytelling, something that most podcasts aren’t combining with this type of authenticity. I appreciate that.
I met a Canadian named Joe Robinet this past spring at the Canoecopia outdoor expo in Madison, Wis. He has a YouTube channel all about camping, paddling and outdoor adventure. He’s an interesting guy and I respect his approach to wilderness camping and travel. Promoting the outdoors with video and audio, and encouraging people of all ages to record their trips and share online — that seems to be an effective tool for advocating for the wilderness without having to be forceful. It’s a natural, modern form of advocating for how great the outdoors can be for people.
Whenever we travel in the United States, I always try to pick up the community radio station. I picked up the station in Moab, Utah, for example, and had it on pretty much nonstop for an entire week when we were there. I felt so connected to what was happening that way. I actually attended a county commissioner meeting about vacation rentals in Moab because the reporter was so excited on the local news program that morning when previewing the meeting.
We have a new host on the Boundary Waters Podcast that we’re excited about. It’s Chelsea Lloyd. She is joining Matthew Baxley and me on the program, which is all about people’s stories and trip reports from the BWCA and Quetico, as well as gear used in the region.
Also, North House Folk School in Grand Marais built a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin on our property near the Devil Track River this summer as part of a school course. My first big project in this new building is writing the biography of Janice Matichuk, the longest-serving ranger in the history of Quetico Provincial Park. I’m writing that this fall and through the winter. Long winters up here near the Boundary Waters — seemed like a good time to write a book. As long as I can still find time to go ice fishing for lake trout, it should be all good.