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Glenn Maxham, Twin Ports broadcasting pioneer, dies at 88

Longtime Duluth television and radio broadcaster Glenn Maxham, who went on to become an environmental activist for the Save Lake Superior Association, died Monday. He was 88.

Maxham’s family said he died unexpectedly of natural causes Monday in his home at Mount Royal Pines Apartments in Duluth.

“He was just at his granddaughter’s wedding in Milwaukee over the weekend,” his daughter Kristine Maxham Dwyer told the News Tribune. “I guess he wanted to get through that wedding and see all his family and then he must have decided it was time to go.”

Glenn Maxham was born in Rockford, Ill, and grew up outside Winona, Minn in the tiny town of Minnesota City. He attended school in Winona and then Brown Institute school of broadcasting in Minneapolis and later UMD.

Maxham was a disc jockey in the Armed Forces Radio, working in Tokyo during the Korean War, and was on the air to announce the declaration of a cease-fire agreement with North Korea to the military and civilians.

He started a Twin Ports broadcasting career in 1953 that would span four decades and multiple stations, including WEBC radio and as a news writer for WFTV, the first television station in Duluth. In 1957 he was hired as the news director and anchorman at KBJR-TV. He later worked at KDAL radio and KDLH-TV and did freelance work for WDIO-TV.

Maxham moved to WDSE Duluth Public Television in 1980 where he helped found the long-running regional program Venture North that featured both newsworthy and unknown, quirky characters and stories from across the Northland.

After leaving public television in 1985 Maxham started Upper Midwest Visuals doing video  production for schools, and he remained active in the University for Seniors program at UMD. But he also dove into his second passion after broadcasting — environmental advocacy — including decades of work for the Save Lake Superior Association. He staked sometimes unpopular stands against the development of the McQuade Road safe harbor and against intentionally introducing non-native species of fish into Lake Superior for sport angling without knowing the potential impact on native species.

“He was always interested in environmental issues, I think because he saw it every day in the news business,” Dwyer said. “I think he really got interested in Lake Superior because of the (Reserve Mining) taconite tailings issue and all of that. He was right in the middle of that when it  was a big issue. … He later said he didn't mind being called a tree hugger.”

Glenn  Maxham was also an accomplished nature photographer and writer, Dwyer noted.

In addition to Dwyer, of Barnes, Glenn Maxham is survived by another daughter, Karen Maxham Hardy in San Antonio, Texas and son Scott Maxham of Waupaca, Wis. plus six grandchildren and one great grandson.

A full obituary will appear in the News Tribune in coming days, Dwyer said. A Celebration of Life service is pending later in September.

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