the Pavek Museum

Sometimes people give gems of information to each other, gems which
are worth more than their mineral counterparts. Paul Maloney is a
friend of mine who gave me such a gem and I want to share it with you
today.

Paul and I are former radio broadcasters. Actually, considering I
work with several former radio broadcasters, it appears that there
may actually be an afterlife for us. Paul and I occasionally exchange
books or movies that include the broadcasting industry as a central
or collateral focus. This week he gave me a tip which turned into a
personal trip back in time.

Paul told me about the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in St Louis Park,
Minnesota. The Pavek Museum features many radio receivers,
transmitters and old televisions from the early twentieth century. I
worked with some older equipment in my long-ago career in radio and
it was more hands-on than today. We used to have a massive patch
board that looked like an old telephone operator’s panel through which
we could connect any piece of in-house radio equipment. Today most of
that work is done with computers, networks, permanently installed
category five cable and some pretty handy computer programs.

There are many people who found magic in radios off all purpose in
past decades. In the case of the radio receiver it linked people to
an outside world they would never have experienced without radio and
for those with a transmitter set, it must have been like talking to
the moon. You could sense the technology back then, unlike today. A
radio tube has real heft and creates some heat when it works. You
maneuvered a mechanical dial when choosing a radio station and in a
world prior to digital signals, anything was possible. You may have a
poorer signal some evenings however when the ionosphere was low, you
could receive a program in another language. Although I have not
visited the Pavek Museum, I have spent a pretty good amount of time
on their website and found some of that radio magic, sealed inside my
computer screen.

Fifty years ago most people traveled little beyond a twenty-five mile
perimeter around their home. People really depended on their radio
station for news, commerce and socialization. The local newspaper and
radio station were an integral part of life and almost a part of the
family. People felt so grateful for good announcers that the
Minnesota Broadcasters Hall of Fame was created and is featured on
the Pavek Museum website. I spent a lot of time looking through all
of the old broadcasters whose accomplishments were noted as reasons
for their induction. I recognized many of the names from the Hall but
one in particular was Jerry Dahlberg who worked at KROX in Crookston.
Dahlberg interviewed me once at the Marshall County Fair when I was
young. I listened to KROX for days afterward but never heard the
interview. It was one of the events in my life that made me want to
try radio as an adult. As I wandered virtually through the
Broadcaster Hall of Fame, I was surprised that I did not find Howard
Rokke among the names. Rokke worked as the radio instructor at
Northland College (back then it was an AVTI) where he schooled and
created some of the better talent in radio for the last several
decades. This is talent that rippled across the nation and created
much of the radio we enjoy today. Howard Rokke was also a talented
broadcaster but his real talent was in creating broadcasters that
understood the importance of reading, knowing the community in which
they lived and HARD WORK.

Anyway, if you like radio or just plain enjoy history you should
check out the Pavek Museum. Their website is www.pavekmuseum.org and
they are located 3517 Raleigh Ave in St Louis Park. I will probably
never see the actual building as I am more like those people from
decades ago who never traveled beyond the twenty-five mile perimeter
around their home. Radio broadcasts were originally an abstract world
only made whole through the listener’s imagination. Perhaps it is
right that I enjoy this museum in such a virtual way that my own
imagination provides the magic.

2 Responses to “the Pavek Museum”

  1. Dale Olmstead (your old boss) says:

    Grant…

    Good article on Pavek Museum.

    Would you send me an email so I can get your phone number, I’d like to talk to you.

    Dale Olmstead

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