Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Beat

by Steve Downing

We recently had some feedback from a listener who wondered why I had read a poem by Shanthi Siva on The Beat---why not Shanthi, herself, reading it?

Fair question. Simple answer: Shanthi has no access to a recording studio and is perfectly happy to have other readers interpreting her work. She’s not alone. There are other poets in The Beat file right now who can’t provide quality recordings and have no qualms about someone else reading their poems on-air. It’s our preference to have writers reading their own work, but occasionally the overriding goal of getting someone onto the program will trump that preference.

By the bye, I heard from Shanthi after we ran her poem, and she loved how it sounded. So did her friends and family. Some of them accessed it from India, where Shanthi was born. The world is listening to The Beat.

Listen for The Beat after Best Wishes, between 7:30 and 8:00 Monday through Friday mornings and then again before NPR’s All Things Considered in the afternoon. The Beat is funded by Minnesota’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bears and Prairies

by Scott Hall

A conservation officer with the Minnesota DNR shot and killed a collared black bear on Thursday, Aug. 2, in Eagle Nest Township between Tower and Ely.  According to the DNR incident report, the bear had entered a garage where children were present and refused to leave the area.

The agency received a call from upset residents whose children were in their garage when the bear entered it. The residents reported they made repeated unsuccessful attempts to scare the bear away, including using an air horn, and that the bear snarled at them.

Two conservation officers arrived to find the bear still in the area. The bear appeared to have become accustomed to humans through hand feeding. After the bear refused to leave the residence, despite attempts by a conservation officer to frighten it away, the officer killed it.

This story with an unhappy ending got a lot of public attention statewide.  Bears are close to the top of my list of favorite wild animals in northern MN, and I understand the outpouring of sympathy for this bear.  But are we more concerned about this bear than maintaining habitats that insure healthy wildlife populations?  The easy answer is we have concern for both.   Easy to say.

Prairies aren't the preferred habitat for bears, but they are home for a lot of game and non-game wildlife like the prairie chicken (left).  Most of the native prairies in Minnesota disappeared a long time ago.  The DNR sent out a news release about a new prairie conservation plan the same week of the bear shooting, but the death of this single bear generated more headlines than the future of the state's last prairies. 

When corn and soybean (or timber) values go up, the importance of habitat takes a back seat. We expect public and private natural resource managers to maintain a balance, but in good and bad economic times there is the constant pressure to extract more.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Forget Ringing- Now They're Playing Videos

by Maddi Frick

I went out for lunch today, a pizza and salad buffet.  The restaurant was particularly busy, surprising us because we thought the insane construction in Grand Rapids would have deterred people.  I sat down after dodging my way through the buffet line (impatiently waiting behind a woman cherry-picking certain pieces lettuce from the salad bin).  

Ready to delve into my waiting crust pieces, I was disturbed by the sound of a cellphone.  It wasn't ringing, but was displaying a video to its owner.  And it didn't stop.  The restaurant was loud, so the phone's owner had turned up the volume to a jaw-clenching level to make it audible.  I know I'm particularly annoyed with noise pollution- just ask my parents about eating potato chips while I'm in the house.  However, I can imagine I wasn't the only one aghast as the phone's owner played the 30-second clip for the second time so her dining companion could watch.  

At one point, someone's cell phone actually rang at a different booth.  I felt no annoyance at the beeping sound.  Can you imagine?  It's 2012 and I'm not concerned with an interrupting cell phone ring as the early 2000's had predicted- because the cell phones can do things far worse now.  People with no phone etiquette can subject the rest of us to their personal choice of YouTube video, but only the audio bit.

Brad Swenson

by Scott Hall

We lost a fine, hard working journalist when Brad Swenson died on July 22nd.  During his 31 years at the Bemidji Pioneer Brad was a reporter, managing editor, political editor, and editorial writer.  He performed all those roles with the passion required to meet the civic purpose and high standards of journalism.  Brad earned the trust of his readers and sources which enabled him to do some of the best political reporting in northern Minnesota.  I had the chance to work with Brad on the political debates sponsored by Lakeland Public Television.  Brad had a command of the issues and the background knowledge to ask the best questions and he did it with a grace and ease that I admired very much. Brad was on KAXE a few times over the years, but his true passion was print journalism. We will miss him very much.