Here is chapter 2 of my book, more in the coming days!
Chapter 2 — On the air in God‘s Country!
Not to long after Hanna came to live with us, Mom and Dad started a new job as Morning show radio hosts at the local Country radio station AM 1050 RWNB known as “God’s Country” which seemed strange at first but it worked, they were naturals and attracted quite a following. The way they talked about life and the music they played it all just came together.
Over the years when Mom and Dad did their radio show, Hanna and I were in the studio on a regular basis. They enjoyed talking about their family, friends, and other life experiences. Among their favorite topics was little Hanna. They even talked about me, their son Harold.
I really enjoyed listen to the little quips and how they analyzed the lyrics of the music they played, they really had a lot of knowledge. For the first time in my life I really started listening. Many people through out the area felt the same. While many other DJs were getting rude and crude, my parents were doing just the opposite. The “Ole and Emma in da morning” show quickly became a favorite of people who could pick up the station. Because of Holikow’s location and frequency we could be clearly heard in most of the Twin Cities area. The broadcast into the Twin Cities was intentional on the part of the station owner Gunner Erickson because of the aggressive nature the Metro stations to get their signal out to the motorist, and cabin owners in the area. Gunner felt that much of what they broadcast was negative. His concerned about the side effects to “hearing all that trash” was and would be devastating to the community, so he fought fire with fire.
I remember that, many people in the community thought Gunner was just being paranoid. But my parents truly believed in what He had to say. After the years went by and the shows on other stations got worse and society at large got worse, I came to believe the same way Gunner did.
One of the benefits of the radio business is sponsors gave you free stuff to promote their product or service. On one such day after the show, The True Blue Diner invited us to lunch to discuss a new advertising campaign they were about to do. I remember Dad got in a long heated discussion with the owner over politics. For awhile we all thought Dad blow it, when he went into “The Big Theory” which went something like this.
Ole says “I believe that the reason why we have problems is because people are unwilling to listen to other people. Most of us including myself are so self centered they don’t see the simple solution staring them in the face. Over time we have the same old problems and we forget to look at what we already know about them and look for some new solution. Most young people think that Us old folks couldn’t possibly know what’s going on with the things of today, and that’s just plain wrong because life is a cycle and the details may be new but the core issues remain the same. People who forget history are doomed to repeat it. At the same time many of us older folks resist the new, which can be just as bad as ignoring the past.
People look at all that went wrong in the past, like slavery, and the way women were treated, and conclude that there was no value in that bigoted, racist society. Well that’s throwing the baby out with the bath water to me, we learn from our mistakes.”
Dad went on to even more detail and the back and forth continued for some time. Eventually they got to the business part, but I had already started to think about my past, and focused out of the main conversation. The rest of that day I reflected on my past.
Over the month following Mom and Dad’s retirement party, Maria and I had became boyfriend and girlfriend. She was a nice Christian girl, and I was the opposite in all ways. But I really made an effort to be good to her. The relationship had continued to be non-sexual for nearly a year or so which was outline for my character.
Then has my birthday approached, Maria having no money to get me a gift, and with a lot of pressure from me, she gave me the only gift she could afford. Which looking back it was really the most expensive gift she could give. And for Me the gift of Hanna is far more valuable than that one night thing.
Part of me now wishes I would have had the maturity then to make Maria my friend, instead of my girlfriend. To this day we would probably still be a part of each others lives.
I have never totally forgiven myself for the sins my youth, but one thing I know for sure is I wouldn’t change a thing. Because if I had the power to change all the wrong in my life, I would not have my beautiful daughter Hanna today. It is truly amazing how God can make good out of a persons sins.
On that day after listening to “The Big Theory” I decided I would start writing things down, and keep a very extensive journal for Hanna when she turned sixteen. I figured it would both give her an idea of happened in Her younger years, and also give her a guide post to help her from repeating some of the same mistakes I made.
I remember it was the beginning of November in 1975 is when Mom and Dad started doing the Ole and Emma Show. By Thanksgiving Day they were old pros. On Thanksgiving day they played a special year in review show that they pre-recorded. One of the parts of their show was they way they personalized the news by telling little stories with almost every story. They helped make this crazy world seem understandable. And that Thanksgiving broadcast really became the essence of their show, warm family memories and the news all wrapped up in one neat package.
About that same time Country music begin changing too, maybe Nashville found God, or maybe the songwriters just felt it was time for healing. Country music had always told stories, many of which lightened the soul. Prior to that time Country music had rebel themes, which started to become Patriotic and Religious. Songs that once told of barrooms begin to be replaced by songs of family.
I remember well one of Dad’s favorite songs in the early days of the show was “An Okie from Muskogee” Which said we don’t burn our draft cards or smoke marijuana, and talked about knowing right from wrong. I feel that my Dad probably in part played that song for me, since I was so hard hit by that whole “sex, drugs and rock & roll” thing. Dad and Mom would then after the song played discuss what it all meant. Maybe then share a news story or family story to tie it all together.
Basically what made the show so popular was the stories they told and their positive attitude. Many things in the late 70’s and early 80’s were a mess. While the President talked about the misery index, Mom and Dad told great old farm stories. They put their hopeful outlook into every heart that listened to the show, and spoke of how are children and grandchildren would grow up in an even better world. The way they saw it was “yes bad things happen but they just overshadow all the good things that happen.”
I told Dad I wanted Hanna to understand what went on when she was young and I was writing a journal for her. So I asked my Dad to tell me about some stories on how and why he got into the radio business. The first story He told me was about “Gunner and the radio station” and here is how it went.
“Gunner was an unusual man in many ways, he spent hours coming up with concepts and ideas for just about everything. So much time he devoted to figuring things out, he never found the time to get married. Don’t get me wrong Gunner was a nice man, and very intelligent. In fact he could have had just about any woman in town he wanted, at least that’s what I gather from what I overheard many a woman say about Gunner.
I was too old to have been drafted to go to Vietnam but Gunner was a young buck and his number came up, so he proudly went to defend a cause he thought was worth fighting. When he went to the draft office the commanders in charge decided the young man with the Swedish name Gunner would be a perfect candidate for the position of Gunner in the Air Force.
So in 1967 Gunner at age 33, went to Vietnam to serve his country. He and the crew he served on had many successful missions, until in the fall of 1970 when the Bird He was in was shot down. A rescue crew managed to save him, but it was to late for the pilot and co-pilot. Gunner was badly wounded and was discharged with honors. It took the good part of 1971 for him to recover both mentally and physically.
Gunners’ older brother Hans worked for me on my farm at the time. Hans was like the younger brother I never had. In my small family I was the middle child. I had both an older and younger sister. In Hans family there were 5 boys and 2 girls, and by the time it was time to pass on the Erickson family farm it was only big enough to support 4 families. So Gunner and Hans went to look for other work, and one of their Sisters was already a school teacher. The other 4 siblings took control of the farm. Gunner found work with a company that built electronic components. And Hans went to work for me on the Olson family Farm.
My wife Emma and I had our first child in 1937 and a second in 1939. My Father Olaf passed on in 1940 leaving me in charge of the farm at age 30. We had a simple quite farm life for the most part.
Gunner on the other hand was always thinking and always busy with some project, some was for the company he worked for but most was his hobbies. He was a quite man and kept to himself a lot before the war. But in 1972 He was talking like there was no tomorrow, He became very involved in the community and in politics. He decided to use his electronics knowledge and He applied for a radio station broadcasting license. He was granted in AM 1050 KWNB and it begin broadcasting in the fall of 1972. He started it out has a news and farm station. Later he started playing some Country music to get a bigger audience. The station call letters Gunner picked meant K)ountry W)estern N)ews B)ureau
By the year 1973 The town we lived in Holikow, Minnesota was nearly a part of the Twin Cities metro area and the Twin Cities stations did all they could to have a better signal out in the lake country where many city folks had cabins. And with new homes were going up closer and closer to our old Holikow the metro stations were concerned with getting their signals out to our neck of the woods.
That wouldn’t have been so bad, Gunner wasn’t afraid of a little competition. What bothered Gunner and many of us was what they begin broadcasting. The DJ’s were becoming rude and crude, the songs weren’t much better. And Gunner believed that everything you heard and saw led you to act a certain way. He was very concerned with the cultural aspect of how media affected us all.
Gunner decided to buy a bigger broadcast tower and get a stronger signal. He put up the new tower two miles Southeast of town, and took down and sold the old smaller tower that was one mile Northwest of town. The stations signal was allowed by the FCC to go from 2,000 watts of power up to 30,000 watts of power. With the new tower and more power the station could be heard through out most of the Twin Cities area fairly well.
Gunner with his new and improve station were ready to fight fire with fire, in the Twin Cities radio market. He switched from a news/farm format to a Country format, and waited to see what happened.
In 1974 Gunner was looking to add talent and content to his station, and for some reason he thought Emma and I would make a good morning team. So he asked us if we would consider doing the morning show after we sold off the acreage. We agreed and that as they say is history. It’s where it all started.”
My Father Ole told me these stories when I told him of my want to keep rack of history for Hanna. He recalled a trip to the radio station one day, for me.
Ole tells the story like this. “It was just after that first Thanksgiving show was over when the show was really set on a solid course. It was getting ever so close to Christmas, the snow was knee high with a temperature that morning was a brisk 15 degrees above when the alarm clock rang at 4:30am it was time for your Dad and Mom to get ready for another show. At a few minutes after 5am they were in the truck on their way in to town. While on their way to the radio studio they were discussing what the show would be about that day.
Mom wanted to open up the phone lines and ask people to call in and say what the birth of Jesus Christ meant to them. “After all Ole it’s December 21st” Proclaimed Mom. Dad was a little hesitant over the idea, while he was a devote Christian who had been born again since his he was 12 years old, He had more of a quite practical faith. Dad said “Emma, we’re not preachers, And our show is suppose to be about family values and living right. A lot of people these days are turning away from God and if we come across as zealots we may not be able to get people to listen to those very Christian message we share everyday if people knew their source.”
By this time they arrived at the studio, Dad concluded by saying “what about those letters from “My” Brother Paul we have been doing, we read those almost straight out of the Bible but we read them in such a way that people who are anti Bible because they won’t read it, think Were talking about my Earthly brother Paul.” Mom than replies “I know what your saying Ole but it’s almost Christmas day, and I have been biting my tongue long enough.”
By now it’s 5:20am and they have a brief production meeting with Gunner. Gunner told them He thought it was time for them to do a community event to get them out in public, give those who aren’t from town a chance to get to really know who it is they are listing to. He asked them for ideas on what would be a good community event to host. My Father said “well it nearly new years, how about hosting a Holikow new year. We could call it “the holy cow it’s a new year already countdown” Gunner liked the idea but said he probably wouldn’t have the time to get it set up for this year, and then recommended Valentine’s day. Dad cringed, he has never been a fan of that touchy feely women’s day. Mom said oh come on Ole, Saint Valentine was a man. Gunner says well it 5:43 you two best get in the studio!
After get some records together and checking all the equipment out to make sure everything seemed to be working right, they sat for the last two minutes before 6am quietly waiting. When Dad wrote a quick note to mom, “I’ll agree to the Xmas talk now if you agree to no St. V. day.” Mom blurted out “You bet chya” right before Hans gave the 5 finger count down.”
I put in a remake of an original show log to give you a feel for how it really was.
6:00:01 Ole: Good morning Holikow and welcome to another Ole and Emma show.
Emma: On today’s show we are going to ask you to call in and tell us what the birth of Jesus Christ nearly 2000 years ago means to you.
Ole: Yes Christmas is near and we want to focus on the reason for the season. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Emma: Hans, what about you, what does Jesus mean to you?
Hans: Well I’m just thankful, plain and simple thankful. I know in my own life if someone had kept doing wrong by me I wouldn’t care about that person anymore. But not Jesus, He will forgive 7 times 70.
A call comes in: A Twin Cities business man calls in and says…
Biz man: I don’t see what the need is for Jesus and all the church stuff, I just celebrate Christmas as a day for family to get together.
Emma: Well are you a good person?
Biz man: I try to be. Why?
Emma: Well I can tell ya why, let me start by asking you where do you think you’re going when you die?
Biz man: Wweeell, Heaven of course.
Emma: Have you ever told a lie?
Biz man: well everyone has
Emma: But have you?
Biz man: Yes
Emma: What does that make you?
Biz man: Human
Emma: If I told you a lie, you would call me a liar, correct?
Biz man: Well yes.
Emma: Have you ever stolen anything?
Biz man: No, but what does this have to do with Christmas?
Emma: Humor me and you’ll find out.
Biz man: OK
Emma: So you NEVER stole anything not even an apple from a tree, or a cookie from a jar?
Biz man: Well if you put it that way, yes.
Emma: What does that make you?
Biz man: Let me guess, a thief.
Emma: correct, Have you ever looked at a woman with lust?
Biz man: yes, what man hasn’t?
Emma: Well, Jesus said that if you even look upon a woman with lust, you’ve committed Adultery of the heart.
Emma continues: Have you ever called someone a jerk or a moron?
Biz man: Yes
Emma: Well, Jesus says if you even say bad things about people, you’ve already murdered them in your heart.
Emma continues: You’ve just admitted to breaking at least four of the ten commandments, and Jesus says if you are guilty of breaking one of them your guilty of breaking them all!
Emma continues: So now when you die where do you think you’re going?
Biz man: I’ve done more good than bad so Heaven.
Emma: But Jesus says that only perfect people will be allowed in Heaven. That God can not even be near to a sinner. And that all of our so called good works are like filthy rags. So why should God let you into heaven?
Biz man: Ummm…. I’ve got to go…. (HANG UP)
After that conversation we played the song, “Amazing Grace” and went on with the show, that day many people were forced to think about what Christmas and Christ really meant. Looking back I’m really glad we did that show. Emma that day lead many to repent of their sins and put their trust in Jesus. But out of all the people that listened that day we will only know the full impact when we get to Heaven.
I asked my Dad “For the sake of Hanna, this book, and anyone else who wants to know, how do you know you will be in Heaven?” Dad replies “Well, I am a sinner just like everyone else is, but I realized my sins and asked for forgiveness from Jesus, and from then on because I knew that my fate in Hell was no more, I changed my life and began to live for Jesus. That is why I know I will go to Heaven!”
Then I asked Dad about the name of the radio station RWNB and what it meant and how it came to be. He explained “The call letters of the station are really KWNB but in some of the early advertising Gunner done, the way he wrote his “K” looked more like an “R” so people just started calling it RWNB, which Gunner started talking about “the Red, White aNd Blue Country” which was a perfect fit for this little Country station”
Ok, that’s the story of how it all got started!
—- END OF CHAPTER TWO —-