By Michael Popham

Steve Staruch’s soothing voice can be heard on the radio weekdays from 3 to 7 pm on Classical MPR. Before joining us at APM he worked at WCAL in Northfield, Minnesota, and before that WXXI in Rochester, NY.  He recently became certified as a yoga instructor, and since that time has been sharing his knowledge with his colleagues, leading chair yoga classes in the Kling Public Media Center.

Q: Steve, thanks for agreeing to answer our questions! How long have you worked at APM?

A: It will be 15 years in December.

Q: What do you like best about working here?

A: What I like best is the connection I can make with the many Classical MPR listeners all over MN, the US and internationally.

Q: What first drew you to classical music?

A: Classical music was a part of my growing up. I remember my Mom playing the piano (Debussy’s Claire de Lune) on hot summer nights when I couldn’t sleep because of the heat. The music was soothing and beautiful.

Q: Many of our music hosts are trained musicians. Are you, and what instrument do you play?

A: I am a viola player….a violist. I also sing. I sang for a number of seasons with the Warland Singers. I freelance as much as I can.

Q: You’ve been hosting the “Friday Favorites” show for quite a while now. What are some of the unusual requests you’ve fielded?

A: I get a number of requests from folks who’ve seen / heard something on YouTube. I wish I could air those requests. It’s gratifying to see so many people passionate about music.

Q: You’ve started a chair yoga group at MPR that meets on a regular basis. How did that come about?

I have been interested in yoga for about 12 years. I started at the YMCA with a Fitness yoga class. My interest in the use of the body to connect more fully with a life of the spirit has grown. I completed a 230-hour yoga teacher training a few years ago. When I saw that many colleagues spend a large part of the day hunched over a computer, I thought some yoga work could help. Yoga class is breathing class. Yoga is meant to connect the physical body with the spirit and the connection is breath. Chair yoga give folks a half-hour break to relax, breath and connect with their best selves. Everybody needs that.

Q: Do you have any pets?

A: No pets. My wife grew up on a farm. The animals belonged in the barn and not in the house.

Q: Do you listen to podcasts in your spare time? If so, which ones?

A: I must admit that I appreciate silence at home. I do listen to the Great Courses series in my car. Right now I’m listening to a series of lectures on Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America.”

Q: Do you have any special skills or abilities that would come in handy during a zombie apocalypse (e.g., hotwire a car, fly a helicopter, etc)?

A: During the zombie apocalypse you’ll find me making a big pot of stew on an outdoor fire. It’ll be tasty and serve as sustenance for all who find me.

Q: What inspires you about Minnesota?

A: The beauty of the land and the spirit of those who wish to protect it is inspiring.

 

For the third year in a row, American Public Media Group has partnered with public media colleagues from across the US on a collaborative diversity recruitment endeavor called Public Media Village.

Public Media Village will be at the career fair at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists on July 18 – 21 – NAHJ) the National Association of Black Journalists Conference (on August 1-5 – NABJ) and the Asian American Journalists Association (on August 8 – 11 – AAJA).  Visitors to the Public Media Village booth will learn about public media job opportunities across the US.

APMG’s recruitment team will be there!  We’ll be promoting APMG Careers. If you’re on Twitter, look for #thinkpublicmedia for APMG and other public media job postings.

Minnesota Public Radio News operates out of our headquarters at the Kling Public Media Center in St. Paul, MN and has long been recognized as one of the foremost journalistic organizations in the Upper Midwest, reaching news consumers across all platforms. We are fortunate to have many talented journalists working at MPR.

Recently MPR News’ Mukhtar Ibrahim has been honored twice for his extraordinary work in the field of journalism.

The Milwaukee Press Club honored Ibrahim as a 2017 Excellence in Journalism Awardee for best Multi-Story Coverage of a Single Feature Topic or Event for the series “Documenting Hate” focused on the recent increase in hate crimes across Wisconsin, and the rise of hate groups that target ethnic and religious minorities. The investigative team named by the Milwaukee Press Club included Ibrahim, Alexandra Hall, Riley Vetterkind and Coburn Dukehart.

Ibrahim has also been named a 2018 Above the Fold Award recipient by the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communications. This award honors alumni under the age of 40 who have made exceptional contributions to their fields.

The Current’s midday host is celebrating 10 years at APMG, and she was kind enough to answer some questions about music, career and life.

Josh Holt, end user support, IT Department has just celebrated five years with APMG, so we asked him some questions about working here.

Q: Congratulations on five years at APMG, Josh! What do you like most about working here?

 A: Thanks, I was honestly shocked to see I’ve been here 5 years. There are a lot of things I enjoy about working here, but it is probably the people. Everyone is friendly, patient, smart, and excellent at what they do. It gives me a genuine belief that everyone is happy to be at APMG, and they’re fully engaged in their job. 

Q: You started out in Member and Audience Services. What was that like?

A: Starting out in Member and Audience Services was one of the best things to happen in my career here. I got a great broad overview of the departments and how they interact, because I had to be knowledgeable about whatever the listener would want to know about. That nature of not knowing what the person on the other end of the line might want also prepared me really well for my shift into IT . 

Q: What do you wish someone had told you before you started working in end user computing?

A: That I would never ever know everything there was to know about end user computing and technology, and to be comfortable with that. 

Q: It’s not unusual to see you leaving or coming back from a run with colleagues. Are you marathoner?

A: I’ve run a marathon and a couple of half marathons as well as a lot of 10 miles and 10ks. 10k is my absolute favorite distance as you can focus a lot on speed rather than conservation of energy. 

Q: You’ve gained a reputation as the building’s animal wrangler. How did that happen?

A: My very first day here as a temp there were a couple of mice in the stairwell by the front desk. No one else wanted to go near them, much less touch them. I put some gloves on and scooped them into a little cup and took them up to the wildlife rehab center. This resulted in me getting direct emails anytime there was an animal inside or around the building. This led to me helping a sparrow, two pigeons, and eventually a Canada goose. Though that’s a story for another time. 

Q: Aw come on, tell us about the goose.

A: Gus the Goose was found outside the loading dock on a fateful MPR day. He spent most of the morning running away from me and hissing. While doing his best to get hit by traffic on 7th Street and Minnesota Street. Eventually we were able to capture him in a soft blanket and put him in the front seat of my Volvo — in a large cardboard box that looked like it would do the trick.

I was driving him up to the wildlife rehab center, and I had just merged onto Hwy 36. I heard a small ripping sound and looked over to see what looked like a scene from an all goose rendition of The Shining. Gus the Goose had managed to use his beak to break through a small tear in the box, and was now looking up at me with just his head and wing poking out from a now mostly ripped apart box. He then burst forth into my lap while I was still driving on the highway.

I managed to wrangle him out of my face, and force him back in the demolished box (at this point the Star Trek fight theme was definitely playing in my head), and tie the box front back up with the blanket we’d use to catch him in the first place. I think the employees at the rehab center must’ve been very confused with me as I showed up looking like I’d been through some kind of horror movie with an undulating, box that had obviously seen better days. 

Q: What happened to the goose?

A: I can’t recall what happened after that, but I hope Gus is now more comfortable and hopefully a continent or two away from me.