The memories are golden there
my daddy’s pipe, my mama’s chair
my grandma’s braid was done with care
and on the wireless was Mischke.
– Opening of Michael Crouser’s Mischke Poem
On Aug. 1 radio host T.D. Mischke announced his retirement from the airwaves, taking with him one of the last bastions of quality, classic AM radio. I won’t spend too much time trying to explain the mad broadcast genius who stepped down; you’re better off listening to some of his classic bits or reading what is perhaps the definitive Mischke profile written by The Atlantic’s James Fallows.
The Cliffs Notes version is that you never knew what to expect from his show – it was the Calvinball of radio. Tommy would take dialers who had reached the station by mistake and toy with them for 30 minutes or so (the station’s call-in number was one digit away from a JC Penney catalog helpline). His regular callers included a harmonica-playing grandma (yes, she played on the air), an undertaker with a voice that came from six feet under, and Lukey, a 10 year old. In one famous show, he said nothing for his entire two-hour time slot, instead opening and closing phone lines at random and letting people speak into the void. He’d even broadcast during St. Paul Saints baseball games from a small booth mounted on the outfield wall of Midway Stadium.
It was during my time on The Aquin that I discovered Mischke ’87 was an alum (along with Joe Soucheray ’71, both of AM1500 at the time). I wasted no time in finding an excuse to photograph him. Six years later I may also have been responsible for mentioning him as a good subject for a 2008 St. Thomas magazine profile. As a photographer and a fan I was not disappointed on either occasion. His poses were natural, he was generous with his time, and he even signed my “Best of the Mischke Broadcast” CDs. His only request was that I not show his entire face. He believed something was lost when the visual curtain between a radio host and his audience was removed.
The magazine article never ran. Just before we went to press AM1500 canceled Mischke’s show. He would move on to a streaming broadcast with City Pages and from there to a late-night broadcast on WCCO, but the magazine budget was always full and we never used the pictures. I’m pleased to present a few of them now as a small tribute to the man who filled my high school and college evenings with laughter. Don’t stay away too long, Mischke.
Somewhere the sun is shining bright
somewhere the hearts of men are light
and somewhere heroes do things right
and somewhere else… is Mischke