Karl Gehrke

SDPB Jazz Nightly Host

Karl was born to northeastern South Dakota crouton farmers, but was orphaned as a toddler during the Great Salad War (1966-67). Rescued by a flock of chickadees, he grew up in the woodlands of Sica Hollow. Legends of a bird boy living in the trees attracted the interest of renowned ornithologist and amateur bandoneon repairman Dr. Vogel Gehrke. With a handful of suet, Dr. Gehrke coaxed the timid boy down from the trees. He adopted him, named him Karl and taught him not to molt on the carpet. Dr. Gehrke’s book, The Bird Boy of Sica Hollow, was a best seller and Karl became a minor celebrity and teen idol. He appeared as a guest star on numerous television programs, most notably an awkward role on The Love Boat as the boyfriend of Captain Stubing’s daughter, Vicki. After critics panned his 1980 album, Bird Boy Does Disco, Karl retreated from public life and returned to Sica Hollow. Living in an isolated tree house, Karl achieved a reputation as a mystic. Pilgrims and seekers from around the world came to ask him about the meaning of life and for vinaigrette recipes. Growing tired of answering questions, he climbed down from his tree, shaved his massive white beard and took a job as the host of SDPB Radio’s Dakota Midday where he could ask the questions instead. After three years in that position, he ran out of questions and became host of Jazz Nightly instead. Karl makes his home in Vermillion with his charming wife Kari and three delightful children, Kodey, Kasey and Spatula. His hobbies include reciting the alphabet, combing his hair and doing volunteer work with delinquent songbirds.

Ways to Connect

SD Board of Regents

During its annual planning meeting in Pierre this week, the South Dakota Board of Regents asked Governor Dennis Daugaard to make a tuition freeze for resident students the highest priority for the next fiscal year. The goal is to bring the funding ratio from student and government back to 50/50 over three years. Governor Daugaard's support two years ago led lawmakers to approve a freeze during the 2014 session. A similar request was made last year, but wasn’t recommended by the governor or considered by the state legislature.

A new book for children tells the story of how the gift of a cow changes the life of a young African boy’s family. The story is told from two perspectives. A Moo For You, is the boy’s take on the story. The other, All That A Moo Can Do, comes from the cow’s perspective.

Caribou Productions for SDPB

Over the past several years, the Izaak Walton League has helped organize Missouri River clean-ups in the cities of Pierre, Ft. Pierre and Yankton. Since the first river clean-up in 2009, volunteers have picked up an average of 2.5 tons of garbage each year. They've found everything from bowling balls to pop bottles.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the South Dakota Community Foundation, the conservation group is starting a pilot program to help prevent trash from getting into the river in the first place.

Jonathan Ellis, reporter and columnist for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, and Kevin Woster, Rapid City bureau reporter for KELO-TV, joined the Dakota Political Junkies this week. They discussed competing payday lending ballot petitions; a proposed constitutional amendment establishing nonpartisan elections; new South Dakota Democratic Party executive director Suzanne Jones Pranger; Kristi Noem's re-election announcement plans; and the aftermath of the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Charles Michael Ray SDPB

Norm Evers is the owner of Norm's Greenhouse and Nursery in Aurora. He’s also instructor emeritus of horticulture at South Dakota State University and the former manager of McCrory Gardens in Brookings. He joined Dakota Midday and discussed moss in the lawn, fertilizing, heirloom tomatoes, and transplanted weigela.

Nate Wek SDPB

The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States, but by the middle of the 20th century populations of the bird of prey were decimated. In 1963, there were only 487 nesting pairs in the contiguous states. However new regulations and the banning of the pesticide DDT helped the bald eagle population recover. 

In 1960 Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey was the new medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration when she was assigned the review of a new drug application for thalidomide. The drug was already being sold to pregnant women in Europe and other countries as an anti-nausea drug to treat morning sickness. But Dr. Kelsey refused to approve the application without adequate evidence that the drug was safe. By late 1961 scientists had discovered that thalidomide was causing crippling birth defects in thousands of babies.

Greg Koch

Milwaukee Guitarist Greg Koch is admired for his astounding chops as well as his versatility. He plays a variety of styles: rock, blues, country, jazz and more. Koch has described his approach as “Chet Hendrix meeting the Kings (BB, Albert and Freddie) at the first annual Zeppelin-Holdsworth Coffee Guzzlers Hoedown.”

But there’s more to his playing than just his phenomenal skills and talent. Guitar Player magazine says he also has the feel, the groove, the swing and the soul that draws you in and keeps you there.

Jon Hunter, publisher of the Madison Daily Leader, and Denise Ross, editor of the Black Hills Knowledge Network and South Dakota Dashboard, joined the Dakota Political Junkies this week. They discussed Democratic state legislator Paula Hawks' announcement that she's a candidate for U.S. House, the first Republican presidential debate, and the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Democrats have their first candidate for the U.S. House. Two-term state Representative Paula Hawks of Hartford announced her candidacy on Monday for the seat held by Republican Kristi Noem. Hawks says her experience in the legislature makes her a good candidate for Congress.  She wants to focus on seniors, farmers and ranchers, equality for women, education and student loan debt.

Bob Glanzer grew up on a farm northeast of Huron with dreams of becoming a world champion bull rider, but fourth place in the regional high school rodeo was about as close as he got. Instead he became a teacher, and helped with the rodeo club at Wessington Springs High School. He later served as manager of the South Dakota State Fair in the late 1970s and was superintendent of the grandstand stage shows and events for two decades. During his first year as manager, he had to rush out and buy boots for country Johnny Cash minutes before the country music legend took the stage.

SDSU

South Dakota State University wrestling has officially joined the Big 12. SDSU is one of six schools receiving an invitation, effective for the upcoming 2015-16 school year. North Dakota State, Wyoming, Air Force, Northern Colorado, and Utah Valley are also joining the newly formed alliance. The other schools are Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

Charles Michael Ray SDPB

An estimated one million people could be in the Black Hills this week for the 75th annual Sturgis Rally, which officially begins today. That would be the largest numbers of people ever recorded for the event. Last year’s event attracted less than half that, with an estimated 442,000 people in Sturgis. SDPB's Kent Osborne is one of the thousands of bikers at the rally and he joined Dakota Midday from downtown Sturgis.

See his blog post from the day.

This weekend, the Minnesota Twins are hosting a 50th anniversary celebration for the 1965 team that went to the World Series. One of the big reasons the team won the pennant that year was Tony Oliva. He had earned Rookie of the Year honors the year before as well as the American League batting title, which he won again in ’65.

Jazz often reflects the rhythms and experiences of big city life, but on her new CD, The Thompson Fields, acclaimed jazz composer Maria Schneider evokes rural landscapes. She grew up in the small, southwest Minnesota town of Windom and she still finds inspiration in her childhood memories of the prairie. She’s also an ardent bird watcher and her love of birds is often expressed in her music.

Karl Gehrke SDPB

It’s been about a year since Vermillion’s new water tower went into operation. The spheroid tank sits high above the town with Vermillion’s logo painted on the side. And just like in other communities across the state, it's one of the defining structures in the rather modest skyline.

Even though water towers come in various shapes and sizes, they all work the same way. By using gravity, the elevated tanks provide enough pressure to deliver water to homes and businesses in the area.

Red Cloud was the only American Indian leader to win a war against the United States Army. What's called Red Cloud's War was armed conflict over control of Powder River Country in present day Wyoming. Later he was committed to preserving his people’s traditions and culture as they were moved to reservations.

 Joe West and the Sinners was one of many alt-country bands in Austin, Texas in the late 90s. It was more offbeat than most, though, with songs about dream tractors, chasing UFOs in Roswell, and NPR-listening trailer park liberals. The band's 1998 album, Jamie Was a Boozer, was acclaimed by Austin critics as a masterpiece and one of the best CDs of the year.

Victoria Wicks SDPB

After a year and a half of hearings, motions, and filings, the state Public Utilities Commission is taking testimony on whether to authorize TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline across South Dakota. Both opponents and proponents have been outlining their cases in the seven-day hearing before the PUC. 

Jonathan Ellis, reporter/columnist for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, and Seth Tupper, enterprise reporter for the Rapid City Journal, joined the Dakota Political Junkies this week. They discussed hardball tactics by opponents to a proposed ballot initiative capping payday loan interest rates at 36 percent; Democratic state representative Paula Hawks' possible candidacy for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Kristi Noem; and newly-released FBI files revealing that late South Dakota U.S.

Karl Gehrke SDPB

Norm Evers is the owner of Norm's Greenhouse and Nursery in Aurora. He’s also instructor emeritus of horticulture at South Dakota State University and the former manager of McCrory Gardens in Brookings. He joined Dakota Midday and discussed the care of trees, transplanting Virginia creeper, establishing hydrangeas, and planting grass in sparse areas.

Dakota Midday: Water Safety

Jul 28, 2015
American Red Cross

July has proved to be a deathly month on the water in South Dakota. Over the weekend two more people died in separate drowning accidents in Lake Madison and Lake Francis Case near Pickstown. Brian Shawn, regional communications officer for the American Red Cross, says water safety needs to be addressed to prevent future drownings.

Karl Gehrke SDPB

The price at the pump is falling in South Dakota and across the nation. The average price for a gallon of gas in South Dakota today is $2.72, according to the gas price tracking site GasBuddy.com. That's just under two cents cheaper than a week ago. A year ago the average price was $3.48.  The national average for gas is just under $2.69. Analysts expect  that the latter half of the summer will bring cheaper gas prices while the fall could see gas prices dropping below $2.00 a gallon.

SDSU

Over a 35 year period, the length of forest fire seasons worldwide increased by nearly nineteen percent. That’s according to a study co-authored by South Dakota State University professor and wildfire expert Mark Cochrane. He was part of a team that researched weather data from 1979 to 2013 to determine the impact changing climate has had on forest ecosystems.

In his new book of historical fiction set in 1894, And the Wind Whispered, author Dan Jorgensen takes real-life legends like Buffalo Bill, Seth Bullock, Theodore Roosevelt, Annie Oakley, John Philip Sousa and a young Will Rogers and puts them together in the southern Black Hills. They all play a role as a trio of teens tries to solve the mystery of what happened to a man found dead in Wind Cave. Meanwhile, there's also the mystery of missing Homestake gold and an outlaw gang terrorizing the area.

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota’s School of Education has a new dean. Donald Easton-Brooks has been on the job for a month. He comes to Vermillion from Eastern Oregon University, where he served as professor and dean of the Colleges of Business and Education for two years.

Kealey Bultena SDPB

A railroad company and Sioux Falls have struck a multi-million dollar deal for land in the central part of the city. BSNF Railway Company agrees to sell much of the rail yard in downtown Sioux Falls for more than $27 million.

Annie E. Casey Foundation

According to an annual report released on Tuesday, South Dakota ranks 18th nationally in overall child well-being. That’s according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book. The report compares child well-being in every state based on economics, education, family and community and health.

John Thune

Jon Hunter, publisher of the Madison Daily Leader, and Roger Whittle, managing editor of the Watertown Public Opinion, joined the Dakota Political Junkies this week. They discussed South Dakota's fourth consecutive budget surplus and higher revenues than estimated; a proposed initiated constitutional amendment creating an independent redistricting commission; petition drives that would put the issue of payday lending on the 2016 ballot; and Senator John Thune's campaign war chest.

Over the course of their expedition, Lewis and Clark came into contact with nearly 50 Native American tribes. Some had never seen a white man before, while others spoke bits of English and wore hats and coats they received from Europeans.

Presentation College history professor Brad Tennant says that while the meetings between the Corps of Discovery expedition and the native populations were relatively peaceful and friendly, one of the most strained meetings occurred in present-day South Dakota when Lewis and Clark held council with the Teton Sioux, or Lakota.

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