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Sesquicentennial Radio Theatre Presents “A Salute To Palo Alto County”

By Staff | Jun 12, 2008

SALUTING PALO ALTO COUNTY - Work on recording narration for “A Salute To Palo Alto County” is currently underway. The original script used for the 1958 Centennial “theater pageant” is being brought to life by contemporary narrators. This Radio Theatre production will air Sunday, July 6, on KEMB-LP during the Sesquicentennial Celebration. Pictured (from left) are Ed Meyer, Bob Nolan, Father Clem Currans, Lee Beem, and John Schad. -- Lori Hall photo

“A Salute To Palo Alto County” hasn’t been heard in nearly a half of a century, and area volunteers have been endeavoring to breathe new life into that old script.

Jennifer Meyer, manager at KEMB-LP radio station in Emmetsburg, has been coordinating the project to bring radio theatre to Palo Alto County’s Sesquicentennial Celebration.

“It was kind of a fluke how we came into this old script,” Meyer said. “I had been wanting to do live radio theatre for the Sesquicentennial Celebration, but it didn’t seem feasible with everyone’s schedules. A month ago, someone brought in a copy of the script to Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cecilia Miller, and she passed it along to me.”

The script was originally used for the “theater pageant” that was performed at the city’s and county’s centennial celebration back in 1958, Meyer explained. At that time, the actors and actresses recited their lines while dressed in period costumes. Music was also part of the original performance.

“When I looked at the script, I thought it was perfect for radio theatre,” noted Meyer. “We will also be using music provided by the Emmetsburg Municipal Band and other local musicians.”

Between 12 and 15 volunteer readers are currently recording their parts for this ten-episode production which will air on 94.1 KEMB-LP at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 6. The script covers Emmetsburg’s and Palo Alto County’s history from the first land speculators and the Irish families who settled the area up to the present day.

For the “School” episode, Meyer is seeking a local school teacher and a couple of students to record in the one-room school house at the Palo Alto County Fairgrounds.

“I think recording inside the old school house will add a special touch,” she noted.

The “Square Dance” episode is the musical section of the production, and will feature Palo Alto County Attorney Peter Hart on fiddle.

Meyer is hoping to have mayors from each of the county’s nine communities read a paragraph on the founding of their towns as part of the episode, “The Rise of the County Towns.”

In a “Call To Arms,” the military service of Palo Alto County’s veterans will be highlighted.

“Emmetsburg Mayor John Schad is currently writing the tenth episode which will bring people up to speed on what’s happened in the county since 1958,” said Meyer.

Meyer said that the radio theatre project is still a work in progress, and that there are several episodes yet remaining to be completed.

There is still a need for people who might offer their musical talents to the project, specifically, a harmonica player and someone to sing an Irish song.

“Following the recording of all narration and music, the project will enter post-production in order to add the background music and sound effects to really bring it to life,” said Meyer.

The broadcast of “A Salute To Palo Alto County” will also be available for purchase on CD following the Sesquicentennial weekend. Anyone interested in acquiring a CD should contact Meyer.

The station manager is also planning another project related to the history of the county–one that involves the stories of area families.

“We would like to have people with stories of their families–related to the history of Palo Alto County–come in and record something about those histories,” Meyer said. “I’d like to then have those pieces air on KEMB throughout the Sesquicentennial weekend.”

She continued, “I think these oral histories would be a valuable thing. It would really give us some perspective of life back then.”

Meyer intends to donate the recorded oral histories to the Palo Alto County Historical Society for their archives.

To volunteer your family’s history or to contribute in some way to the production of “A Salute To Palo Alto County,” contact Jennifer Meyer at KEMB-LP at 712-852-5362.