Live from the lake
Pepin dweller Mike Slygh has had a trifecta of accomplishments this year.
After reacquainting himself, 25 years later, with the acting scene in Widespot Performing Art Center winter show, he was given the chance to star in a community-based film “River Road Romance” shown at this year’s Flyway Film Festival. Now Slygh thrives — possibly in his most fitting role, some say — as host for the second edition of the live radio show “Goin’ Coastal” based out of Stockholm.
The program can be seen and heard at 7 p.m. Sunday Nov. 17 at Widespot.
“How sweet. Three things that would be on a bucket list if you have that kind of interest,” Slygh said. “But I really like radio.”
In fact, the one-hour live radio variety show could not have been a better fit for Slygh, who at one point worked as a disc-jock for a small Duluth-based radio station and later could be heard doing play-by-play over the loud speakers at high school sporting events.
However “Goin’ Coastal” is much more than just Slygh on stage.
The show, originally masterminded by former Widespot art director Kelly Tatum, is and has been a major collaborative effort among western Wisconsin’s talent.
Funded through a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with help from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, the radio program serves not only as an outlet for local entertainment but also has opened up communication options to meet the community’s need for local information, organizers said.
“There had been this long-arranged dream that ultimately ended with a happy ending - having a radio station on the west coast of Wisconsin,” Slygh explained. “But initially it was to produce this radio show and to make it into Podcast.”
The dream has come true to a degree and after the successful debut of “Goin’ Coastal” in August, Slygh says he is hopeful for Sunday evening’s show. “We’d love to fill up the house,” he adds.
Think of the show as a downsized, Wisconsinized version of National Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion” based out of the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul.
Paralleled show structures emulate the same feel-good community-based vibes through conversational dialect, on-going stories, perfectly-placed sound effects and music.
“Garrison Keillor set the bar” Slygh said. “But you don’t want to be an exact clone of ‘Prairie Home.’”
Radio experience plus a love for the outdoors have seemed to work in favor for Slygh – his likable radio-friendly voice doesn’t hurt either.
That show dances around nature-themed word and song, as the first program opened with a monologue about the Great River Road and Sunday’s show will touch on the upcoming hunting season.
“Goin' Coastal” is recorded in front a live studio audience. “It’s the key to our success,” Slygh said of the crowd. “We opened it to the public, because you have to have that feedback and if you listen to the show there is a good track of laughter in the background. That’s what gives it life.”
The show features Slygh and a slew of local talent including music by Emily Huppert, sounds effects by Gib Krohn, actress Michelle Meyer, radio engineer Tim Caswell, writers Mary Logue and Lu Lippold plus an ensemble cast of on-air talent.
Maiden Rock-based American roots duo the Ditchlilies will perform live and also be joined by Huppert to create a whole new sound and band The Flyright Girls.
Huppert has even composed theme songs.
“There are solid leads with solid local talent,” he added, “This is not a just a bunch of farmers.”
Once recorded, the shows are posted online and can be heard by anyone. Slygh says, “We’ve gone from a local show with local performers to an audience that listen from coast to coast - we’ve gone coastal.”
Two more episodes are planned for “Goin’ Coastal” through the grant provided. Those shows are planned for next April then June.
Tickets at the door or can be purchased by visiting www.widespotperformingarts.org.
Wine, craft beer, soda, and water are available at the WideSpot cash bar located inside the theater.
At a glance ...
What: Widespot’s “Goin’ Coastal: A Radio Variety Show from the Shores of Lake Pepin” records its second episode
When: 7 p.m. Sunday Nov. 17
Where: Widespot Performing Arts and Community Center, second story of N2030 Spring St., Stockholm
Cost: $10 general, $5 for ages 12 and under
More info: 715-307-8941 or www.widespotperformingarts.org