Whoda thunk it? Six years and the Chuckanut Radio Hour is still going strong. It all began when Phil Printz approached me about doing some sort of program on Community Radio station KMRE. My mind jumped immediately to a show friends of ours were doing at Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, called Thacker Mountain Radio. It's cast, as is CRH, in the mold of the old radio variety shows. You would also recognize the format if you've seen or heard Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion.
In November we decided we would pursue it, Phil would be our producer, and we would perform our first show the next spring. Then, early in December we learned that Erik Larson had been booked for an author event at the store in January. His new book, Thunderstruck, involved Marconi and the Museum of Radio and Electricity (now called the Spark Museum), home of KMRE, actually had artifacts from Marconi's laboratory. How could we find a more perfect launch for the program? So, on January 10, 2007, in a Bellingham blizzard and with about fifty folks in the audience, the Chuckanut Radio Hour was born.
As audiences increased we outgrew the studio at the museum and moved the show to the Crystal Ballroom of the Leopold Retirement Center. In March of this year we'll move once again to the Heiner Auditorium and Whatcom Community College.
Reflecting on the past six years has been a lot of fun. We've had an amazing array of authors, talking about a wide variety of subjects. The list, in fact, reads a bit like a who's who of folks who have published books in the past six years, beginning with bestselling author Erik Larson, who returned to the show for his next book as well. Guests have included Garth Stein, Elizabeth George, Sherman Alexie, William Dietrich, J.A. Jance, Ann Rule, Alexander McCall Smith, Cheryl Strayed, Jodi Picoult, and of course, Garrison Keillor himself.
It's been a great ride. Most of our original cast and crew is still with the show and we're all still having a great time. Will the show still be going strong in another six years? That's hard to say. I doubt any of us would have thought it would last this long. But as long as folks keep coming and enjoying it we'll likely keep putting it on. The show has taken on a life of its own. So, happy birthday Chuckanut Radio Hour!