Thursday, January 01, 2009

Off the air after 56 years

I know none of you will really care about this, but around here, this is huge news. Needless to say, it's the talk of the town right now.
Cliff Mitchell’s daughter found out about the veteran broadcaster’s retirement the same way everyone else did: on the air. She said she thought he might call it quits six years ago when he celebrated 50 years on the air at KASM-AM in Albany. He talked about retiring but never did anything until this week.

“When we heard it on the air Monday, it was kind of a surprise with the rest of the world,” Karen Mitchell-Schleicher said.

Wednesday was bittersweet for Mitchell’s listeners and friends. The man who has graced the airwaves from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. for 56 years at the Albany station has left the air. The North Dakota native spent his entire career at KASM, a station that hit the air two years before Mitchell arrived.

“I thought he would be there forever,” said Paul Stacke, who worked with Mitchell at KASM in 1955 and 1956 and retired from Regent Broadcasting in St. Cloud.

“Cliff has made KASM what it is today. He is such an icon,” said Diane Haskamp, a saleswoman and afternoon radio co-host who has worked at the station for 10 years. “Usually, you say KASM, they say ‘is that old guy still on?’”Today, the answer to that question is no. Not that Cliff Mitchell, who turns 81 in March, will be easily forgotten. His name is on just about every plaque that covers the walls at the small studio just off Interstate Highway 94 in Albany.

Mitchell was installed in the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Minnesota Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2002. Stearns County commissioners declared April 12, 2002, Cliff Mitchell Day.

Mitchell’s smooth voice has been coming out of radios in homes, cars and tractors for almost six decades. His daily program “Unbearable” took its final call Wednesday from a woman who said she had been listening to Mitchell and hearing her mother talk about him since she was 4.
“What Cliff would say is God’s word. If he said it, people would believe it,” Haskamp said.Jesse Job, who has owned Charlie’s Cafe in Freeport for almost two years, said the restaurant has been advertising on Mitchell’s show for decades. He said people value Mitchell’s opinion.

“A lot of people in the area listen to Cliff,” Job said. “When I talk to people about the weather, they say ‘Cliff said it will snow at 1 o’clock.’ A lot of people take what he has to say pretty highly.”

Link - it's a pretty lengthy article, as it should be. He is one helluva man.

I had to laugh at the last comment I quoted... just the other day when we got that snowstorm, I went to my parents and asked if they knew how many inches we ended up with. All my dad said was "Cliff said we got 9 inches". hysterical2.gif That was that... thats what we got because it's what Cliff said.

Everyone knew who Cliff Mitchell was and when you mentioned KASM, people really did follow it up with Cliff's name. A lot of people think Cliff was what kept KASM going all these years (they play a lot of polka, old time music and farm reports).

Cliff is also a family friend. I worked under his daughter (mentioned in the article) when I worked at the Chamber of Commerce. He's the one who also found his friend, Clyde, when Clyde passed away - in the house we own now.

It's amazing at how this is going to affect our town and the surrounding areas. We all grew up with Cliff in the mornings (regardless if you listened or not - you heard about it). He is the nicest man you will ever meet and he really is a local celebrity. And I will admit that I got a little teary eyed at the thought of mornings around here without Cliff.


Rae said...

We've got a nice guy named Dave Pratt who just got laid off from KMle country radio station, maybe he could take over for Cliff. I have no idea what KMLE was thinking when they let Dave go. Dumb idea! Only thing is, he's a country-western music player, but he's nice to listen to.
I hate it when they make changes without asking me!

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

Having spent as many years in radio and television, I found this interesting. No, I've never even seen Cliff. But I have SO much respect for the guys who pioneered media and were smart to be the big fish in a small pond as Cliff was. Hartford has those types, too. But they are a dying breed. Thanks for sharing a great post!

K said...

Whoa! Didn't know Cliff found Clyde. That makes sense, but had to be really hard for him. I can't believe you bought his house.