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

U.S. Senator Mike Rounds

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling any day now in King v. Burwell. The ruling will answer the question of whether health insurance subsidies are limited to those states with their own exchanges. If subsidies are limited to the 17 states that established exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, 6.4 million people could lose their insurance subsidies, including some 19,000 South Dakotans.

Patrick Dobson was a novice canoer when he launched his boat in Montana and began a journey down the Missouri River to Kansas City. A woman in Helena told him he was doomed. “That river’s gonna’ eat you,” she said. But Dobson had just finished a ten week walk to Montana from Kansas City and the Missouri was his way back home.

At the time of his journey in the summer of 1995, Dobson was tired of a dead-end job and feeling empty inside. His journey was a search for redemption and a way to help him reconnect with his life.

Google Images

Last week leaders of the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe moved to legalize marijuana on the reservation. The executive board approved the ordinance after examining how other areas handle legalized marijuana.

Patrick Edwin Moran

Dakota Wesleyan University is spider central over the next several days as the Mitchell campus hosts the 39th annual meeting of the American Arachnological Society. The event includes participants from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan and the Czech Republic.

Brian Patrick, Dakota Wesleyan assistant professor of biology, is organizing the conference. Patrick has published numerous findings on his research on spiders on the South Dakota prairie and identified several new species.

: Photo courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio.

A new exhibit at the National Music Museum in Vermillion, “Banding Together: The American Soldier’s Musical Arsenal,” explores the role of music from the Revolutionary War to the war in Afghanistan.

Reptile Gardens

When the United Nations was born in November of 1945, it didn’t have a home. Rapid City businessman Paul Bellamy thought the Black Hills would be the ideal place for world delegates to deliberate in peace and quiet. He even flew to war-torn London to make his case for making the Black Hills the Capitol of the World.

This year marks the centennial of renowned South Dakota artist Oscar Howe. He was born May 13, 1915 at Joe Creek on the Crow Creek Reservation. He was an art professor at the University of South Dakota from 1957-1980 and one of the most important Native American artists of the 20th century. He’s credited with helping change the direction of Native American art by advancing the cause of personal expression and not conforming to the strictures of what was considered the “traditional Indian style.”

Wikimedia photo by Mark Dumont

This summer visitors to the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls can see a rare Komodo dragon. Four-year-old Natasha made her public debut earlier this month and is on display until September.

The Komodo dragon is a ferocious, carnivore from the islands of southeastern Indonesia. It’s the world’s largest living lizard. Females can get up to six feet long with an average weight of about 150 pounds. The average size for males is eight to nine feet and about 200 pounds.

South Dakota State Medical Association

The South Dakota State Medical Association has a new president. Tim Ridgway, MD of Brandon was elected during the organization's annual meeting May 29. Dr. Ridgway is dean of faculty affairs and associate professor of medicine at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. He has an active gastroenterology practice and serves as director of endoscopy at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Sioux Falls.


Dr. David Graper is professor of horticulture at South Dakota State University in Brookings. He’s also the SDSU Extension Interim Coordinator of the South Dakota Master Gardener Program and former director of McCrory Gardens and the South Dakota Arboretum. He joined Dakota Midday and answered listener questions about clover in lawns, linden trees, hydrangeas, shade plants and Shasta daisies.

South Dakota Civil Air Patrol

The Civil Air Patrol was born one week before Pearl Harbor after volunteers with a love for aviation lobbied for an organization to put their planes and flying skills to use in defense of the country. After World War Two, the Civil Air Patrol was given the mission areas of aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services.

Embassy of the Principality of Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is one of the smallest, but richest nations in the world. It’s an alpine country nestled between Switzerland and Austria and a winter destination for skiers. Claudia Fritsche has been the Ambassador of Liechtenstein to the U.S. since 2002, when the European country first opened its embassy in Washington, DC. With a population of only about 37,000, she describes her country as similar to a small town.

World-class pianists are back in Sioux Falls for the ninth annual Dakota Sky International Piano Festival. The event runs through Saturday, July 13 at the Washington Pavilion and features a series of recitals, seminars, master classes and children's concerts. Pianists Gregory DeTurck and Douglas Humphreys, cellist Maxim Koslov and soprano Kayleen Sanches are the featured artists for this summer's programs. Gregory DeTurck and founder and artistic director Paul Sanchez joined Dakota Midday for festival details.

Health disparity in the U.S. is a problem among certain population groups, such as South Dakota’s rural areas and Native American communities. To help bridge the health care gap, the Rise-Up program offers internships to young men and women from underserved areas who are interested in health care careers. The idea is that they will return and serve their home communities.

National Museum of the U.S. Army

During the Vietnam War, James Pollock entered combat zones armed with a .45 pistol, canteen, camera and sketchbook. The South Dakota native was one of 46 U.S. Army Soldiers commissioned to chronicle the war as a part of the Vietnam Combat Art Program. After two months accompanying soldiers on patrol, Pollock and the other artists were shipped to studios in Hawaii to finish their work. It became property of the U.S. Army Art Collection at the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

Laura Vidler

After staging comedies for its first two productions, the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival is bringing one of the Bard’s darkest tragedies to Prentis Park in Vermillion June 11 through June 14.

Macbeth is a story of political ambition and quest for power for its own sake. After receiving a prophecy from a trio of witches and being spurred to action by his wife, Scottish general Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the throne. But he’s racked with guilt and paranoia as he and Lady Macbeth descend into madness.

John Thune

Roger Whittle, managing editor of the Watertown Public Opinion, and Denise Ross, editor of the Black Hills Knowledge Network and South Dakota Dashboard, joined the Dakota Political Junkies this week. They discussed U.S. Senator John Thune's tweet criticizing Obamacare; the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s discussions over revisions to its policy on transgender student participation in sports; and the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students.

The Donaldson Network

On June 6, 1915 in an 18-inning game, Sioux Falls defeated the visiting All Nations club from Des Moines 1 to 0. But even though he got the loss, All Nations pitcher John Donaldson mowed down 30 Sioux Falls batters in a game the next day’s edition of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune described as the greatest game ever played at the Sioux Falls park. The paper also noted that it was the first game in four seasons the Sioux Falls club ever won from the great Donaldson.

Passenger Productions

The new film, Of Minor Prophets, was inspired by the biblical story of Hosea who was commanded by God to marry a harlot. The film was shot in northwestern Iowa and Sioux Falls and tells the story of lonely, bachelor farmer Doug who befriends Ami, a prostitute with suspicious intentions. It explores themes of love, forgiveness, sacrifice and deceit. Cora Vander Broek stars as Ami and Kris Kling is Doug. 

State of South Dakota

Summer is a time of furious work in South Dakota. Farming and ranching ramp up as the weather warms, and 2015 is no exception. But growing crops and raising livestock comes with risk. Kealey Bultena spoke with South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch for an update on the latest concerns of the state's farmers and ranchers. Lentsch began the conversation by discussing the latest round of heavy rains after a spring that started with fears of a season hindered by drought.

New York-based filmmaker Chloe Zhao’s first feature, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, was shot and largely cast on the Pine Ridge Reservation. It’s a portrait of life on Pine Ridge experienced partly through the eyes of a young Lakota girl who is preparing herself for the departure of her beloved older brother. Johnny and Jashaun live at home with their single mother. An older brother is in prison. At the start of the film, the brothers learn that the father they’ve never met, a famous rodeo cowboy, has died in an accidental fire.

Prairie Repertory Theatre

Prairie Repertory Theatre opens its 45th season on Wednesday with the doo-wop musical, The Marvelous Wonderettes. Other productions this summer include Boeing, Boeing, Dial ‘M’ for Murder and The Sound of Music.

Prairie Repertory Theatre is based at South Dakota State University in Brookings and its mission is to provide outstanding training for student company members and the best possible entertainment for audiences in Brookings and the Brandon Valley Performing Arts Center.

Sanford Harmony Program

The Sanford Harmony Program is a research-based project designed to help improve how boys and girls think about and treat each other. The idea is that by facilitating harmonious relationships between boys and girls at a young age, the learning environment will improve and set the stage for positive relationships throughout a lifetime.

Ipso Gallery

Rapid City artist Bryan Christiansen grew up in a small log cabin in the Black Hills and learned to hunt. He’s still a hunter, but a different kind. He goes hunting through city alleyways and parking lots in search of discarded furniture. He skins and guts couches, easy chairs and tables and reassembles them into life-sized animal forms, such as deer, hare or buffalo skulls. And nothing goes to waste. He saves everything down to the last bit of sawdust and string, as well as the coins, pens and even TV remotes lost in the cushions.

Dakota Midday: Blue Ribbon Task Force On Education

Jun 4, 2015
Charles Michael Ray SDPB

During the 2015 legislative session, Governor Dennis Daugaard announced the creation of a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students to explore teacher pay and education funding.

South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame

On Saturday at the Belmont Stakes, American Pharoah will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 and just the 12th in the sport's history.

Amanda Bachmann

According to the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, there are about 216 South Dakotans keeping bees. Around 93 of these producers maintain their bees on a commercial scale. The state usually ranks in the top five states for number of hives. South Dakota also ranks second in the nation for honey production.

Sioux Falls Development Foundation

A new, 800 acre business park for Sioux Falls is being built at the cross section between interstates 29 and 90. This is the tenth development park for the city and could employ more than 8,000 people once it’s fully built. On Tuesday, economic leaders and government officials, including Governor Dennis Daugaard and Mayor Mike Huether, announced the new Foundation Park.

Charles Michael Ray SDPB

Jon Hunter, publisher of the Madison Daily Leader, and Seth Tupper, enterprise reporter for the Rapid City Journal, joined the Dakota Political Junkies this week. They discussed Tuesday's elections in Rapid City and Mitchell that saw losses by incumbent mayors; municipal election turnout; former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth's conviction on election law violation charges; and U.S. Senator Mike Rounds' first speech on the Senate floor.

Black Hills Playhouse

The two-man show, A Couple of Blaguards, is based on the real-life adventures of brothers Frank and Malachy McCourt. It takes them from an impoverished childhood in Limerick, Ireland to their immigration to Brooklyn in the 1950s. The play is a comedic remembrance based in the Irish storytelling tradition, but it also has a poignant edge.