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Poets, farming and trees: ‘The Larry Meiller Show’ staff pick favorite programs from 2022

US poet laureate, story of soldier’s miraculous World War II escape top list of memorable programs

Six men who are a crew for a World War II bomber pose for a photo
Part of the crew Gene Moran flew with during World War II. Kneeling from left to right: Donald Curtis and Jesse Orrison. Standing from left to right: Walter Reed, Edmund Swedo, Gene Moran and Wilbert Provost. Photo courtesy of John Armbruster

Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Larry Meiller Show” covers environmental and consumer issues, gardening and helpful “how-to” topics.

But beyond practical tips and advice, the programs seek to share new perspectives and make listeners think.

As 2022 comes to a close, here are a few programs that stuck with staff of “The Larry Meiller Show.” Follow the links below to listen to each show.

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Rita Dove
Rita Dove. Photo Courtesy of Fred Viebahn

Inspirational works of Rita Dove

Host: Larry Meiller

Air date: March 31

Summary: Rita Dove, the first African American to be a U.S. poet laureate, joined the show to share some of her work. In 2021, she published a new collection of poems under the name “Playlist for the Apocalypse.”

Why I liked it: It was an honor for me to interview Dove, who was U.S. poet laureate from 1993 to 1995. Her book spanned so much of my own life’s stories. It is a wonderful read, and our conversation was equally wonderful for me.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger
Diana Beresford-Kroeger. Courtesy: Timber Press

Author shares her Celtic wisdom to save trees

Interim Executive Producer: Jill Nadeau

Air date: March 17

Summary: To ancient Celtic tribes, trees were sacred providers and teachers. On St. Patrick’s Day, we explored the Celtic wisdom of trees and Diana Beresford-Kroeger’s mission to save them and combat climate change.

Why I liked it: I hosted this program. This woman was an amazing guest and storyteller, and had such a connection with trees. It felt a bit magical to me.

A red barn sits on a snowy yard.
Daniel Smith’s barn in Arena, Wisconsin. Photo by Tim Peterson/WPR

A Wisconsin farmer’s poetry remembers the loss and joy of rural life

Producer: Clara Neupert

Air date: Oct. 24

Summary: Daniel Smith’s poetry draws on golden memories, joy and loss found on farm and in rural life. We talked with him about his collection called “Ancestral.”

Why I liked it: What made this conversation special was the connection host Larry Meiller and Smith formed on air. They were able to talk about the joys of rural life while also candidly sharing the very real struggle that farmers face. Personally, I love when we get to talk about things through a new lens. In this case, it was farm life through poetry.

A street sign showing a street named after Gene Moran
A street named after Gene Moran. Photo courtesy of John Armbruster

World War II gunner, Wisconsin native survived 4-mile tailspin, new book says

Digital Producer: Jonah Beleckis

Publish date: May 30

Headshot photo of Gene Moran
Gene Moran. Photo courtesy of John Armbruster

Summary: As with so many veterans, the details of their deployments might remain largely unknown to their families. But after years of “We don’t go there,” Gene Moran’s story of falling 4 miles without a parachute and surviving reached people through a book, a program on “The Larry Meiller Show” and in my article.

Why I liked it: The details in this book, “Tailspin,” are incredible. It was a miracle that Moran — a farm kid from Soldiers Grove — survived the fall, 17 months inside Nazi prisoner-of-war camps and a 600-mile forced march. These stories don’t always make it to light. I’m grateful Moran opened up before passing in 2014 and that he trusted author John Armbruster to share that story.

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