Personalities with Chuck Anderson

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Vintage interviews with well-known and not-so-well-known South Dakotans.

During his long career in radio broadcasting, Chuck Anderson recorded and saved more than 500 hours of recorded conversations. The collection is an archive of stories and anecdotes that capture the essence of our state in the voices of it's people.

"Everyone has a story to tell," says Chuck. "It made me feel good to give them that chance to say it."

Exterior of the Soldiers and Sailors World War Memorial

On July 16, 1994, Chuck Anderson visited Pierre to attend an event called "South Dakotans in WWII." It took place at the newly minted Soldiers and Sailors World War Memorial Building, and Chuck got to take a tour.

He met George Summerside, the Veterans Education Program Representative for the State Office inside the building where the Robinson Museum and State Historical Society used to be.

George begins to describe the layout of the memorial.

Personalities: The Great Flood of 1993

Apr 7, 2017
Map of the Great Flood of 1993

The Great Flood of 1993 hit the American Midwest from May to September, running along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and extending into nine states. Naturally, South Dakota was in its path. Chuck Anderson traveled to the southeast corner of the state, a particularly affected region.

He stopped in Montrose, a town of roughly 420 people seated northwest of Sioux Falls, that fell partially underwater. There, he met John Griffith and his father, Bill, who were in the process of repairing a damaged basement where a wall caved in.

Personalities: At Home with Baxter Black

Mar 24, 2017
Baxter Black, cowboy poet
Source: East Valley Tribune, Tempe, AZ

In Chuck Anderson's first interview with Baxter Black, the duo had a strong rapport. So, Chuck had to visit Baxter again. This time, it was in Baxter's home in Brighton, CO.

The two men picked up right where they left off, which was basically when Chuck lost control over the interview and Baxter switched roles.

Baxter welcomed Chuck to his home, apologizing for a "missing wall" that he removes every summer. Chuck was so comfortable in his environment, he forgot to introduce himself until the second minute of the interview.

Personalities: How to Survive A Death March

Feb 27, 2017
Americans surrendering in Bataan
Fairchild AFB

When you're drafted into the military, you have a chance of being on the front lines. When you're on the front lines, there's a greater chance you're going to die. If you cheat death, you're lucky.

Retired Brigadier General Ted Spaulding met these odds in the Philippines during World War II. He, unlike the thousands who perished there, made it back home. Chuck Anderson got to speak with him about his survival of the Bataan Death March.

Personalities: "Hell No, We Don't Glow!"

Jan 31, 2017
Edgemont, S.D. welcome sign
Edgemont Area Chamber of Commerce

In the southern shadow of the Black Hills sits a small town with a small population...and a big past.

Chuck Anderson was welcomed into Edgemont, S.D., a town of 900 people whose land produced unique and coveted resources.

Communist coup, August 1991
Michigan State University Soviet History Archives

The "Germans from Russia" story continues with Drs. Tim Kloberdanz and Harry Delker, experts in German anthropology and heritage. Radio journalist Chuck Anderson's interview with these men expands on the Volga Russian experience during WWII, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the American experience for German-Russian immigrants.

Tim and his wife, Rosalinda, visited Volga Germans near the port town of Saratov in August 1991, during a coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. 

Volga Germans
German Federal Archive

The Dakotas are a product of Native American and northern European cultures. With a deeper look, one can see the added influence of diverse subgroups such as the Volga Germans.

In November, 1993, Huron, S.D. hosted the national convention "Germans from Russia." Radio broadcaster Chuck Anderson met and interviewed Ted and Corinne Becker, a father-daughter duo who dedicated their lives to researching the experience of being a Volga German.

Personalities: Baxter Black

Oct 3, 2016

The nation knows his tongue-in-cheek performances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. People from the heartland listen to his imaginative-yet-relatable radio program on cowboy life. Meet the master of cowboy poetry, Baxter Black.

Personalities: Roy and Lucille Fitz Pt. II

Sep 19, 2016

In this continuation of the story of Roy and Lucille Fitz, the De Smet couple discusses the reality of the Depression's effects on the plains. Roy says eastern South Dakota was hit in the early '30s. An acre of land valued at around $50 in the 1910's (about $1,200 today) had dropped to a mere five dollars (about $87 today). Crops dropped steeply in value, and it became difficult to feed livestock. Farmers and governments both were accumulating crippling debt.

On top of all this, droughts became normal and the infamous Dust Bowl began.

Personalities: Roy and Lucille Fitz, Part 1

Sep 19, 2016

Sadly, we're losing senior South Dakotans able to share first-hand remembrances of what life was like here in the years before and during World War II.

Fortunately, some of their memories have been recorded and saved.

Chuck Anderson interviewed Roy and Lucille Fitz, a farm couple from DeSmet, for a radio broadcast in 1994. Roy was born in 1911 on a farm near DeSmet. Lucille was born in Yankton County, near Irene in 1915.

Candace Hilligoss grew up in Huron during the 1940s and 1950s and graduated from Huron high school. After three years at the University of Iowa, she moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting and theater. She enrolled in the prestigious Actors Studio, paying her way with money she earned as a dancer at the legendary Copacabana night club.