Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Good morning!   It's just a few minutes after my Tuesday Morning Cool-Site Pick of the Day Radio Program with Jim Bollman on KNOX radio in Grand Forks, ND.  (July 24, 2012).  Tomorrow is going to be a BIG DAY on our radio program.   But first a little time in the WAY BACK machine!   It was Christmas of 1976. I had been attending Brown Institute in Minneapolis, wanting to get into the radio announcing business.  I had worked for Yamaha Canada Music in Winnipeg since graduating from UMC in Crookston, and decided that rather than advising and helping organ and piano dealers across Canada, I'd like to be in the business myself.  I ended up with a small organ and piano and CB radio store in Crookston.  That was fun for a short time, but I could see that there was no way to purchase a real house and go on vacations and have a life trying to do that in this little town in Minnesota.

As part of closing down that business, my Mother suggested that I had this great radio voice and that I should consider that as my next career.  HEY sounded good to me!  Any time you can actually make a living just talking, well how much better could life get?  So I called the local Crookston radio station and talked to their long time morning man and asked for some advice.   He had one thing to say..."GO TO BROWN!"  It was a definitive message.  So a couple of calls to the broadcast school in Minneapolis, and I had my appointment to visit.  Fortunately one of the 6 starting times of the year was just coming up, and I could be enrolled and in class almost immediately.

It was a heady time, a quick move to an apartment in the heart of Dinky Town (just off the U of M campus) and I'm back in school!  Seven months or so of that and I'm home for Christmas 96.  There in the newspaper was an ad for a new farm director at KNOX in Grand Forks.   Well I'm a farm kid and now a broadcast specialist.  So I applied.  And I interviewed with this guy named Jim Bollman, and believe it or not I actually got the job.  This was a time when the farm news started at 5am each day, a carry over from the time when lots of farmers were up and in the barn starting the morning milking...or at least in the house getting some breakfast before they headed to the barn.  The most expensive commercials on the station were farm oriented spots that ran starting at 5am, although even by that time in the 70's few folks were actually up and preparing to slip on the milkers.  I worked in that job till the spring, but just decided that it wasn't the place for me in radio and slipped across the river to KRAD, the country music station in town and took the evening shift, 7pm till 11pm...actually to signoff at midnight, but there was a 1 hour interview show out of Nashville that filled in the last hour.

So in those first months, I had the great experience of sitting across the desk from this Jim Bollman guy and although our paths parted ways until 1996, we always knew each other and would bump into each other here and there.   I learned a lot from Jim in those months, about radio and about having a job, and about what was right and honorable!   What a hoot when almost 20 years later, he ends up back doing morning radio, and I'm doing my Cool Site-Pick of the Day program and we're back doing it together!    Then it was on KCNN and when KCNN merged with KNOX we moved to the same building, the same room, and most of the same equipment, that we had worked together on 2 decades before.

And now, can you believe, it's been almost 16 years of Jim and I spending some time together each morning.  He's been on the Grand Forks end while I've called in from over 28 US States, Canada, Mexico, over 100 days from Germany and more from all the surrounding countries.  When I flew out of the Grand Forks Air Force Base on a KC135 tanker to England and then on to Turkey and back to England and back home Jim was there at the controls.  When I spent a week in Israel and even was handed off to the Palestinians for 2 days, Jim was waiting to get my regular reports.  It's been a long and a good run.  But change is inevitable and so Jim has decided that his radio career that moved him to Grand Forks in 1967 must come to an end.  The big announcement comes tomorrow (Wednesday) and there will be festivities and events with the big climax on Monday July 30th, and Jim's last day on Tuesday July 31st.  I'll have more to say about all this in the coming days.  With today's media market such as it is, there will probably NEVER again be a career like this, anyplace!  Jim is one of a kind.  Stay tuned!

Monday, July 4, 2011

What? John's working another holiday!

Some folks I know find it interesting or even weird that I seem to end up working most all the holidays. Well I don’t mind and here’s some of the reasons why.

1. I don’t mind! Every day is the same to me in the fact that I feel that, other than a day I might be married on, or witness the birth of a child, or the death of a family member, most holiday days are “remembrance” days. Even Christmas and Easter are not “the days” they are annual remembrances of things gone past. By the same token, if I can stop and listen to the silence, every day is Christmas, and every morning is Easter.

2. My staff feels it’s a special bonus to have a holiday off. I’m happy to give it to them!

3. I don’t pay my employees enough and I’m the first to admit it. Part of living and working in a small town is the reduced availability of money. Of making it, of investing it, of keeping it. I’m the first one to say that all my staff needs a raise. So if I can trade even a small amount of joy to them to have their “holidays” with friends and family, well, I feel I’m contributing a little bit.

4. It’s usually very quiet. In my business, barring some kind of power outage or anomaly, a holiday day is usually a quiet day. So I get time for me that I wouldn’t get otherwise. Some days we do almost 14 hours of non-stop telephone calls helping people across the region. Today, the 4th of July, 2011, there has been 2 calls so far at 1:00 pm. I have no radio on, no TV on, just me and the dog and the cat and the ever presence of our creator God! I don’t spend enough quiet time with him anyway.

5. These days give me a chance to try to “forgive and forget!” It’s so easy to carry grudges and anger because in the help desk and computer repair business, no one calls up and says, “Hey I just want to tell you that my computer worked perfectly today and thanks for making that happen!” Some times (actually a lot of times) we go out of our way to help people and they burn us in one way or another. Some how it’s the help desk’s fault that their computer hard drive died, or that someone is trying to send them an email that never even gets to this end of the chain of devices that handle it. Or just last week when we tried to turn down a computer disaster job, but acquiesced after the client begged and begged us to help him. We stopped all our scheduled work, put in over 14 hours of research, discovery, travel, repair, consulting with providers, training him in his new equipment and trying to get cables that match new computers with old peripherals. Only to present a bill that’s half of what the Geek Squad would have charged. And then get screamed at that we are unfair in our billing and that he’s only going to pay one third of our statement. (which we also haven’t yet received) In the daily rush of activities, the pain and anger of such a moment doesn’t go away. Only today in the silence and solitude can I finally unhook my personal feelings from a distasteful situation and say. OH WELL, his problem, not mine.

So that’s why I don’t mind working on holidays! It’s a moment for me to reset myself with my Savior and with my office and with my home and with the world. When’s the next holiday??

Things seem to be in chaos in our country right now. It’s my prayer that we put things back on track, individually and as a country . May we continue to give thanks for the freedoms that those before us fought and sometimes died for. And remember that we have an obligation to give it to the next generation in a safer and better situation than we got it.

John Reitmeier

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Now they're smoking in the new Crookston Sports Center...WELL DUH!!

First, this from the Crookston Daily Times Editorial Page...

Staff reports
Crookston Daily Times
Posted Mar 29, 2010 @ 12:59 PM
Crookston — How about a little willpower?
When the debate raged over what smoking policy to implement at the Crookston Sports Center, most of the talk was about smokers lighting up outside, and pushing the rules more and more as they sucked up as much nicotine as possible before entering the facility. No one during the debate worried about smokers actually smoking in the building. But it’s apparently happening. A member of the Times staff, in the Blue Arena last week, was summoned by a hockey mom to “check out” the women’s bathroom nearby. Sheepishly, the staff member wondered what it was all about, and was even more incredulous when the mom opened the door and said, “Just take a whiff.” But he didn’t have to; the cigarette smoke smell was so thick it poured out of the bathroom, and it was obvious what had taken place in the small bathroom minutes earlier. So, you’re so addicted and so determined to subject others to your toxic, secondhand smoke that you’ll fill a bathroom full of smoke a few feet from where dozens of youth hockey players get dressed in their locker rooms. Nice!

WELL SAID Crookston Times!  But here's the bigger problem.  And first of all let me say... I believe in smokers rights!  I believe that if something is sold in a community/area and if I as an adult can go and purchase it, then I have the right to be able to use it.  However it seems that we have determined that smoking is not only bad for the smoker but also for those around them who inhale some of the second or third hand smoke that's in the air.   So without an argument that that is bad for you...WHY does the city allow such items to be sold in the stores?  It's time to take a stand and make the community smoke free?  ANYTHING ELSE IS JUST BEING and ACTING the part of a HYPOCRITE. 

OH but wait!!!  We need the tax revenue.  HYPOCRITE! (then sell illegal drugs and really bring in some cash!) 

We can't do that to the local businesses!  HYPOCRITE!!   

WE can't do that because then people won't come to our town to shop or do sports. 

ANYTHING less than a total ban on smoking is selling yourself and your community out for money!  And I'm tired of hearing about it.   There should be BIG SIGNS on the edge of town.  SMOKING IS NOT ALLOWED ANYWHERE in the CITY LIMITS of CROOKSTON.  Then there needs to be a $500.00 fine for gettng caught the first time, and $1000.00 after that, and then big fines and jail after that.  Anything less is just a wink wink nod nod, we want to pretend that we're against smoking cause it's politically correct at the moment. 

EVERY young couple that has a baby, that I happen to know also has at least one smoker among the parents.  Yet the anti-smokers don't seem to care about that.  Over most of my life I remember people changing a baby with a cigarette hanging from their mouth (it muted the smell of baby formula having passed through the baby).  That goes on thousands of times a day in Crookston yet I hear no one saying anything about it.

IS SMOKING BAD FOR US?   Then take steps to outlaw it (use AND SALES) no matter what the costs!   IF NOT, put in smoking areas in the new sports complex and SHUT UP!  (and think of the revenue it would bring in if we sold cigs at the venue!)

I keep hearing that we want to make noise as Crookston being this great town.  Well what better town to raise kids in then a SMOKE FREE TOWN? ?  It would make national news, probably for a long time.  We'd be on the map as the little city that dared!!   NA..let's just whine about it instead.  It gives us this feeling that we're doing something good.  If you're serious about making the sports venue smoke free then there should be signs, BIG SIGNS at the drive in entrances.  There should be anti-smokers stopping every car as it enters and handing them a pamphlet outlining the law and the penalties.  We need to publically ridicule anyone caught breaking the law and hand them a big fine.  Everything else is  WINK WINK NOD NOD!

(PS...PLEASE I hope you see the tongue-in-cheekness that I wrote this!  But based on so many comments I see following others written comments it appears that many people just don't get sarcasm and inuendo so I'm telling you - this is sarcasm!)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The RE-Birth of the Winter Shows Building is the RIGHT Thing at the RIGHT Time

I'll be talking more about this as time goes on, but mega hats off to the group that is RE-Developing the Winter Shows buildings back into what they once were! It's going to be a big challenge but I really am excited about the possibilities. AND the fact that it started as a ground swell of interested people, rather than some consultant wanting to put their wishes on the people! HURRAY KUDOS and 1,000 ATA- BOYS to you all. Please keep the momentum going.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Welcome Spring - we're back!

Well it's been one of those "tough winters." Between the weather, and work pulling at me from all sides, and participating in the caregiving for my, now 94 year old Dad, and some quick & surprise trips, I haven't been updating like I used to. I think we're back to some semblance of normalcy and plan to be back here generating our opinions on a bunch of topics. In the mean time you can now follow us on TWITTER and FACEBOOK. Just visit http://johnreitmeier.com and all the links you need are there. Looking forward to hearing from you! Exciting things coming up this summer.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year...harvesting Sugar Beets

This morning I woke up to a familiar sound, but one that only happens about the first of October each year! Just as hunters listen for that first sound of a goose heading south in the fall or seaman's widows waiting for the first faint blasts from the ships horn announcing that it soon will be appearing out on the horizon.

It's a combination sound usually starting off with the revving of a powerful diesel engine followed by a clunk,clunk clunk, clunk clunk clunk clunk, and then a constant stream of bumps as thousands and thousands of sugar beets are dropped from the conveyor chains into waiting truck boxes. It's called the campaign and it is always scheduled to start on October the First, midnight, October 1st. Why they start at midnight I'll never know, but I do know that it sets the stage for the coming 3 weeks as thousands of Diurnal men and women, for just a few weeks become Nocturnal. Trying to go to bed and get a good rest at nine in the morning just doesn't work for most of these people and so it's a time of tiredness, eating food out of lunch boxes, and mega amounts of coffee/hot chocolate and these new premium energy drinks.

My cousin Paul didn't get married till he was past 40. When the announcement was made, aunts and cousins all scrambled to find the perfect shower gift! A steel/tin box about 18 inches by 14 inches by 12 inches tall with two handles on it, much like a picnic basket. This box could NOT be made of plastic, or look like a back pack, although it resembled a picnic basket (handle wise anyway) it could not be woven of wooden strips, that would let the dust in...it has to be of a thin tin, much like the storage boxes that farm women kept open chocolate chips, and brown sugar (tightly wrapped in plastic of course).

And so the hunt was on to find the perfect dinner packing box. I believe the prize went to my sister who found an authentic one on ebay which exactly fit the bill. Although it looks like a wicker picnic basket it's all metal with wicker handles and is an exact copy of the box that his father used for decades! Now Leah is complete as a farm wife (he says smiling!) They are big enough to hold a couple of thermos bottles of coffee and or hot chocolate, another 1/2 high thermos that hold hot food hot for many hours. Many sandwiches in plastic bags, home made cookies, and a few energy bars round out the contents. This is enough "fuel" to keep a hard working farmer going, sometimes for 18 hours at a time.

So the sugar beet harvest is on. Waterfowl season opens on Saturday, but for sugar farmers, that is only an item on the morning news. Their chance at harvesting some goose or ducks must come later.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


So often people as the question, "Are you a dog person or a cat person?" There's much written about the different temperaments that people supposedly have based on whether they've selected from the canine or the Felis catus. I don't know how to decide what I am since I've been the guardian of both for most all of my life. I'm reminded of the Jimmy Buffet interview where he was asked how he can write such quiet loving songs and such trashy songs. His reply was, "well, some days I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy and some days I'm feeling pretty trashy!"

That how it is with cats and dogs for me. Some days I enjoy the quiet peaceful nose push of my 18 year old cat who just wants to sit quietly and be held and some days I'm out seeing if I can ride my recumbent three wheeled cycle faster than my 2 year old 60 pound guardian of small children, protector of farm and property.

I am, however, convinced that my cat is an addict! This cat came into my life somewhat by accident. Back in 1994 when I moved back to the family farmstead from Tennessee, the folks that had been living here had 5 cats. Three inside which they took with them, and a pair of lovable, yet very acclimatized outdoor cats. They were presented to me as sisters, three years old, and very independent! They often would disappear for up to three days at a time and I got used to the idea that they might be around, and that they might not. If they were here, they would often be sunning themselves on the railings of my entry deck. Each one taking up residence on their own side, looking much like a smaller version of the sitting lions at the New York Public Library! I arrived in March of 94 and within 3 months they were both pregnant. YIKES this was not in my plans! Soon after they gave birth in the same barrel in the barn. All told 13 little kittens. They did everything as a group and I'm sure there was no issue of yours or mine...just ours. Fortunately I got them all placed (I've seen the great great (how many Great) grandchildren of their kittens over the years. Then a quick trip to the vet (yes with 2 everything costs double) and this was NOT going to be a stop for the feral tabbies anymore. They were named Bobby and Susie, although no one had ever showed us which one was which. They were identical except that one had a black tip on their calico tail and one had a silver-white tip. The one with the black tip was a little more gregarious and had this trait of trying to climb up on hour shoulder and around your neck. Not always fun because I left their claws on so that they can protect themselves out in the Wilds of Lowell Township.

Then in the fall of 1999, a couple of days after I realized that one had been gone I got a call from Cousin Paul asking me if I was missing a cat. With a bit of hesitation I answered in the positive and he told me that news that he felt that he knew where she was. Leaving her with her claws on was no match for a sugar beet truck, and so I got a spade out and a plastic bag and went on that walk that no pet owner ever wants to do! About 1/4 mile down the road I found her and it was obvious that she got too close to where the rubber meets the road. So I brought her back to the farm an picked a spot out on the edge of a garden and laid her down to start digging a hole.

At that moment one of the most interesting things that I've even witnesses with animals happened. Here sister, her raise 13 kittens together best friend had followed me out to find her, and then was stuck right to me as I carried her back to the yard. When I laid her down, Bobby (or is it Susie?) walked up to her, gave sort of a sniff, then reached out a paw and gave the lifeless body a little push. Exactly at that moment, here attitude and attention completely changed, she walked away, totally having lost interest, like it never happened. Right away I remembered the Bible verse where Jesus said, "let the dead bury the dead" as he was encouraging his followers to be about the living! A good lesson that I would have never learned except for loosing a pet under those circumstances. That winter I decided I wasn't going to go to the barn to feed and water (and keep a heat lamp running) for one cat, so she because an INDOOR cat. She took to this very well! For the first years, she would spend some time outside, but with the passing of each fall season she was less anxious to go out, and always a little quicker to come in. Now, although in the evening she likes to go out every night, she never leaves the porch area, and is ready to come back in within about 15 minutes.

About six months ago things were not going well for her, health wise and I was sure the end was near. Drinking way to much water, not always able to control her bladder, weight loss, hair and skin now having lost it's vibrancy, and she didn't seem to care. So putting off what I though was going to be a sad trip to the vet, I hesitated each day until finally I knew it was time. Although this seemed like a big deal to me, it wasn't so out of the ordinary for the good Doctor. Within a minute or two of exam he said, well I'm guessing she has diabetes and it can go either way. If we run some tests and they come up as fail, then you have no other choice but to make the tough decision.

HOWEVER if the test shows that with insulin she can function normally, well then you have new choices to make. Choice number one, is that she needs to get a shot every 12 hours and you need to be pretty regular with it! Number 2, it costs a quite a bit. Do you notice that they always talk in generalities. Not, "it'll probably cost XXX.XX a year" but just "quite a bit!" Well does that mean 50 bucks a year? Or fine hundred bucks a year? Either price could sound like quite a bit depending on a persons financial condition and how much they love or put up with their pet. So let's get down to dollars. OH and don't forget, I'll have to be administering the shots (not such a big deal...I have some diabetic friends and I felt I could do what I saw them do to themselves) (BUT when you're gone you have to get someone else to do it...something I didn't recon on how difficult it would be to do!) If I reuse the needles several times (fine for cats...nix for humans), and I dose correctly so that the vial would last six months, it comes out to about 80 cents a day. Well that fits into my love of a good pet and ability to pay range, so it's off to the drug store to fill the prescription, then back to the vet to learn how to give the shot, then home with a very sick cat!

I really felt that I had just spent a couple of hundred bucks in vain. Vet services, tests, drugs, needles, it all adds up. But it was worth a try to push back the inevitable having to say goodbye to a good friend moment. I sure wasn't expecting a miracle, but over the next month or so that's exactly what happened. She gained a couple of pounds, took to giving herself daily baths, was drinking the typical amount of water needed for a cat, never missing the litter box...it's really been a miraculous experience.

But there is one interesting thing that’s happening. She wants these shots. If I’m a little late, she comes and finds me and is not quiet about it. I can’t imagine that she has someone tied together better feelings with getting an injection twice a day, but it sure seems that way. NEVER does she try to get away, always she is waiting and it’s not tied to getting food cause she has free access to her food 24/7. I can only determine that my cat is an addict! She needs the steel, she’s a junkie…and I’m her enabler! My cat is an addict!