I grew up in Highland, Wisconsin in the 1960s and 70s, directly across the road from the WHHI radio station. Being the only two houses on the street, we got to know the operators of the radio station on a first-name basis.
I remember on many occasions carrying Thanksgiving dinner over to the station, as well as exchanging holiday gifts. I also believe that my brothers’ and sisters’ Christmas gifts were “”stored”” at the station for “”safekeeping.”
Before the station became fully automated, the operator was responsible for reporting the morning weather from around the state, identifying the call letters of the station as well as taking care of the grounds.
Public radio was played outside almost constantly in the summer, so the operator could be working outside and know when to “”run in”” in order to give the call letters. When our farm chores were done, I would sit in the shade of one of our apple trees reading a book and listening to public radio. I gained a great appreciation for classical music; it is one of the reasons I went on to study and teach music. Public radio has been a part of my life since my earliest memories. I still remember Floyd Hansen, Mike Faber and the Lewis Family, who would serve as station operators. The Lewises had children that were my age – we always enjoyed when they came to Highland.
Image Credit: “School of the Air.” (ca. 1945-1955). UW-Madison Archives Images.