80-year-old keeps the cameras rolling in her public access show
Claire Schumacher just can't quit the showcase. Every time Schumacher, 80, contemplates ending her long-running public access show, "Claire's Community Showcase," she finds someone else she'd like to interview. Perhaps it's a painter, like Lee En...
Claire Schumacher just can't quit the showcase.
Every time Schumacher, 80, contemplates ending her long-running public access show, "Claire's Community Showcase," she finds someone else she'd like to interview. Perhaps it's a painter, like Lee Englund of Duluth. Perhaps it's a president, like Pat Burns of the Miller-Dwan Foundation.
Something will spark Schumacher's interest, and she'll drive from her home in Proctor to the Public Access Community Television studios in Duluth City Hall, and producer Jon Donahue will line up the cameras
"Hello again from 'Claire's Community Showcase'!" Schumacher beams at the camera, her earrings sway and the show goes on.
Last week, her guest was Sara Haugen of Foxboro, Wis., a potter who lights up her wood-fired kiln a few times each year. Haugen had brought a sampling of her work, from clay watering cans to unique bowls.
"I just find it interesting to bring people of interest to the showcase," Schumacher said. She began doing the show in 1994 and has more than 200 episodes under her belt.
"I was born in Proctor and I'll probably die in Proctor," Schumacher said. "But in between I've had an interesting life."
"Showcase" episodes air about three times a week on the Duluth, Superior and Proctor public access channels. Schumacher's Monday time slot recently was shuffled around with the addition of Duluth Mayor Don Ness' "This is Your City" program.
"I don't know why he's better than me, but he is," Schumacher said.
Many episodes are of the show-and-tell variety, though Schumacher isn't afraid to mix it up. She's done a small airplane tour over the Apostle Islands and a candlelight dinner on Whiteside Island, also known as Clough Island, in the St. Louis River estuary. And she used to record episodes in the Proctor public access studio, though lately she has switched to Duluth.
"Claire herself is an institution," said Donahue, Duluth's Public Access Community Television producer. "I admire her tenacity and her go-get-'em attitude."
Anyone can propose a public access show, Donahue said, and he hears a lot of people who have a lot of good ideas. He has co-hosted the popular sports-themed show "The Average Guys" for more than 10 years. Finding someone who can sustain an idea for so long is rare, because few realize how much work goes into keeping a show going, he said.
"People come in, produce a few shows," Donahue said. "Some fall by the wayside, and others keep chugging along."
Schumacher slipped in a plug at the end of Thursday's "Showcase" for her newest book, "Frank Lloyd Wright, The Prodigal Son of Spring Green."
Writing is yet another facet of Schumacher's life. She has published nine books so far, and has a trilogy about a family of alcoholics that's been written but has not hit the public yet. Schumacher mortgaged her home to publish her first book, "Codyview, Buffalo Bill's Link with Duluth," and she drew on her 15 years of working for the railroad in Proctor to write the mystery "Ore Dust in Her Shoes."
People sometimes tell her that her that writing must be easy for her; she's so prolific.
"I say, 'Hey -- it's not that easy,' " Schumacher said as the cameras rolled on. "It's just that I can't quit."