In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 23-29), we're featuring two of our MPR volunteers, Mikayla Mehle and Dave Degenhardt.
Mikayla Mehle and Dave Degenhardt love MPR.
They really love it. Mikayla says she listens to MPR news and the Current. Dave reports that he's mostly a Current listener, with "a smattering" of MPR News tossed in. But talking to them it quickly becomes clear that -- between the two of them -- the radio's on pretty much all the time.
For hard-core listeners like these, a sustaining membership isn't enough. They caught the volunteering bug, and now both represent MPR at shows and events around the Twin Cities area.
Dave was the first to take the plunge. A friend put him in touch with Matt Perkins, who was then the volunteer coordinator for The Current. Dave became part of the "Street Team" that shows up at big events. Mikayla started volunteering with Dave a year later.
"My first shift was working the State Fair booth," Mikayla says. "It's always been my favorite volunteer shift. Dave and I work two to three shifts in the booth each year". Fair volunteers hand out swag, sell merchandise and answer questions about programming. As an added bonus, they get to hang out with MPR employees and meet fairgoers who - like them - are really, really into MPR. "It's amazing to see the love and support that listeners have for the station and I enjoy being a part of it.
MPR has events going on at various venues throughout the year. "I enjoy interactive volunteer shifts, selling merch or handing out swag at events," says Mikayla. "Recently Dave and I were lucky enough to volunteer at the Lucius microshow in the State Capitol rotunda and it was one of the most incredible musical performances I've ever experienced."
And Dave's favorite? "A recent one that comes to mind is the sensory overload that is The Flaming Lips at the most recent Rock the Garden," he says. "Nonstop confetti, balloons and inflatables, and Wayne Coyne on the shoulders of Chewbacca and crowd surfing in the hamster ball. Amazing!"
Both talk about the fact that this intersection of art and community doesn't just happen. People must work together to make it happen. "MPR to me is about community ownership of media," says Dave. "I am a big fan of the cooperative model where we all invest our money in support of the common good. It's also instructive in our current political climate where public funding of the arts and media appear to be in jeopardy to reiterate the value in paying for things that benefit society and enrich our daily lives. Mikayla and I enthusiastically maintain our sustaining memberships to help maintain all the programming MPR produces".
What would they like to see happen in MPR's second 50 years? "We hope," says Mikayla, "that MPR News can continue to provide quality reporting and information to listeners when deliberately misleading or outright fake news is pervasive. We also love that The Current gives airtime to bands that might not otherwise be heard, and hope it will continue to help support a vibrant local music scene in Minnesota."
"Finally," she says, "we hope others will join us in becoming sustaining members of MPR."
You can also join Dave and Mikayla as MPR volunteers. Learn more and make plans to attend new volunteer orientation on Wednesday, May 10, at 6 p.m. at The Kling Public Media Center, located at 480 Cedar Street, St. Paul. Questions? Contact Bethany Barberg.