Readers' Views: Readers sound off about radio station's layoffs

Changing of the guard can only hurt KUMD It's a very sad day when a radio station renowned as one of the best in the state of Minnesota, and recognized on national and international levels, starts to dabble in the changing of the guard in surrend...

Changing of the guard can only hurt KUMD

It's a very sad day when a radio station renowned as one of the best in the state of Minnesota, and recognized on national and international levels, starts to dabble in the changing of the guard in surrendering to a liberal arts "agenda." My contact with John Ziegler and Paul Damberg at KUMD Radio in Duluth has been nothing less than professional and supportive. It will be very disappointing to see them go.

Our Highway 61 Folks Festival began six years ago with 30 people in attendance. This year, with the help of the fine people at KUMD, we had more than 2,000 music lovers.

I visited Ziegler and Damberg for a recent in-studio performance with my wife, Colleen, and her partner Tony. Damberg greeted us with respect and Ziegler conducted an interview that made us feel important and accepted. My friends and family who heard the interview were impressed by the quality. All in all, the experience was terrific.

I wish the best to Ziegler and Damberg. They have dedicated many, many years to supporting music in the Northland. My hope is that my relationship with KUMD will continue as the station moves through these tough and strange times. I know that I will miss them both as supporters and friends of a similar cause.


Lastly, I know I've worked with some difficult people in my life, but I've managed to take the high road time and time again and not drag my peers publicly through the mud. I'm disappointed that the state of affairs at KUMD has come to this. Losing Ziegler and Damberg will not only be a great loss for KUMD but, more importantly, for a thriving northern Minnesota music community.

James Myhre


The writer is chairman of the Highway 61 Folks Festival.

Ziegler knows local, national music scene

I was trying to find a way to sound educated about the announced departures of John Ziegler and Paul Damberg, but I think I'll just shoot from the hip instead.

I don't see how laying off two people who gave so much to KUMD Radio will make the radio station better. I performed at KUMD a few times. Each time was a unique experience. I don't know how much Ziegler knows about journalism or the like, but he made me feel like I made a difference in the music scene. The national music scene and the history of music, and how they influence local talent, is something Ziegler knows well. To have such a hands-on and personable figure makes us local musicians feel like we make a difference.

Ziegler deserves many thanks for his help and support of the local "thang." Without his good-natured way, it wouldn't be the same.


Joe Lindzius

Iron River

Listeners should rally on behalf of Ziegler

Anyone who has listened to KUMD Radio in Duluth owes much of their enjoyment to program director John Ziegler, who is being laid off because he doesn't have a master's degree. Now is the time for all listeners to stand up and be heard. Ziegler has been giving his all to keep the station going during fund drives and every day in between. All members past and present, and all those who've listened but haven't joined, must now be heard.

This is a travesty. Ziegler is a few years from retirement. No one the station could possibly hire could replace his 30-plus years of experience. He should be teaching those who hold master's degrees. University of Minnesota Duluth officials say he's being laid off because he does not have a piece of paper.

But he is, without question, in the top echelon of interviewers in the country, having conducted more than 3,500 during his tenure at KUMD. He is a true master at getting countless local, regional, and nationally known musicians to open up, tell stories, and perform songs in KUMD's tiny studio. Again, he does it better than just about anyone anywhere. His encyclopedic knowledge of music, its history, and his personality all combine to make him irreplaceable.

He has trained and taught countless volunteers and student employees everything from microphone technique and radio show production to board technique. He is always giving advice on how to improve skills.

So now is the time for listeners to act. Write to KUMD and university officials, including Bill Wade, Linda Krug, Kathryn Martin and Greg Fox. Now is the time to support John Ziegler.


John Bushey


KUMD in danger of alienating its base

As a steady listener and a financial supporter of KUMD Radio in Duluth, I believe the station's administration is risking the alienation and resentment of its fan base with the unfair and unnecessary termination of John Ziegler and Paul Damberg. Both of them worked to make programming at KUMD a valuable asset to both the regional and national music scene.

In my professional role at SMDC Health Systems, I can offer assurances that the cultural importance of KUMD is vital to many of the health professionals and their families who are recruited to this area. This importance is not only present in the airwaves, but also in the support of the musicians, fans and venues of the region for which the value of the musical arts is reflected in the soul of the community. The majority of professionals who move to this area speak strongly of arts and culture as factors in choosing this city as a place of residence and work. Both Ziegler and Damberg play a major role in the strength of KUMD's cultural presence in the region.

In addition, as a board member for Sacred Heart Music Center, I can guarantee that the musicians who play at the center are thrilled to spend time with Ziegler in the live studio environment. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of musical styles and artists, and is an accomplished in-studio interviewer. He does his homework. I've only heard positive comments from groups that have been featured on his show. His show routinely made the difference between successful and unsuccessful performances in terms of attendance. His loss will be deeply felt on many levels within Duluth's musical community.

The administration at the University of Minnesota Duluth should reconsider its decision.

Dr. Daniel N. Skorich


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