Johnny Lee Walker: Allow me to introduce … myselfKDAL morning show co-host Johnny Lee Walker is now (also) a Budgeteer columnist. See what he has to say!
By: Johnny Lee Walker, Budgeteer News
This is so exciting, writing a column. My ego has gotten so big that I e-mailed Budgeteer editor Matt Perrine and asked if “the Budge” had any room for a guy like me. To my surprise, they did — but they were very reluctant to give it to me. After some enticing bribes and strategically placed praise, as well as some home-baked brownies, Matt caved in and here I am.
My name is Johnny. I’m married with three kids. I love bacon. I’m addicted to fishing. I think owning a cat is macho. I fear I may never live to see the Vikings win a Super Bowl.
And I also love the Northland.
I wasn’t born in the Northland, and I point that out only because it matters. It matters if you’ve lived here for two years or 15 years.
I can remember my first years in Duluth and wondering if I’d ever meet true friends. I felt like there was this clique … and I couldn’t get in.
Fast-forward to now and I still believe that’s true. It’s not a bad thing; actually, I think it’s one of the reasons people fall in love with this place. If you can make a living and find your niche of people, you’ll never leave. Your tight-knit circle will embrace you; they’ll support you; they’ll promote you; and you’ll truly feel at home.
Now, there are many different flavors of circles, and finding the right one can be difficult. I also think some of these “circles” blend together — that’s where the “Oh, do you know Bob?” “Oh sure, my friend Sandy works for his sister” comes from.
We have a very diverse group of circles. Some enjoy meeting at the corner bar to discuss whether the Bulldogs will win the WCHA or why the city council voted in favor of chickens in the city. Others spend their time taking in a Renegade comedy act. Some spend more than $100 a plate to raise money for a worthy cause, while others spend $10 to play bingo at a local casino.
I remember one of the most common questions posed to me in my first years here: “So, where you from?” Many times it came out of left field. It stopped the conversation; I would then begin searching for a reason why I was being asked.
Why does it matter? Who cares if I’m from Madison, Minneapolis, Montevideo or Malaysia? It obviously did.
I can’t recall many follow-up questions about what my hometown was like; where I liked to spend my time; or how often I get back home. It always seemed to end there.
My point? We are thick as thieves up here. When you’re in … you’re in. People don’t always do business with a company or individual because it makes sense; often it’s because of a relationship.
If you happen to meet someone for the first time and find out you share a mutual friend, you two are now friends.
It’s an interesting characteristic of this community, and it varies a bit from town to town — but it’s also very similar.
This is why, no matter where I go in the Northland, I feel at home. I feel I have something in common with everybody. I feel we are in this together … whatever “this” is.
Maybe it’s because we’re a tourist town and we have millions of visitors but only so many of us are locals.
No matter what the reason, I love living here and I hope you do too. I love it so much I’d like to invite you over to my house for dinner.
It will be great. We’ll discuss the construction, the Bulldogs, the old jail, the potholes, Bayfront Park, the pipeline … and chances are we’ll find somebody who works with somebody who went to high school with somebody who dated somebody’s brother who you’ve known for years.
Oh, and let me know what your favorite vegetable is.
Johnny Lee Walker co-hosts the morning show on KDAL (610 AM) from 5 to 9 a.m. every weekday. Find out more at www.kdal610.com. Reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org.