While many people only know him by his voice, many are missing the man they woke up to every morning on a local Wadena radio station.
For the last 36 years, the people of central Minnesota have been listening to the voice of Mike Danvers announcing news and entertaining the masses with his own humorous take on the days headlines. He used to play records, still occasionally plays CDs and his voice lives on in radio ads throughout the daily program.
The 40-year radio veteran decided to retire this spring from KKWS Superstation K106 in Wadena after seeing radio and country music evolve in ways he never imagined. Despite all the change, Danvers said he "loved radio and still does."
Known for his morning game shows including "Beat the Press" where he gives away cash to anyone who can guess what ridiculous pop culture news was circulating or which ones he made up; and "Dead or Alive" where listeners were tasked with tracking deaths of the famous, sports stars, musicians or the prolific pro wrestler.
Danvers, a graduate of Mankato, moved to Wadena in the Fall of 1984 and was with KWAD-AM, KNSP-AM and the Superstation K106 ever since. In addition to hosting mornings, Danvers called play-by-play for hundreds of high school sporting events. He's broadcasted live from 23 Minnesota State High School League Wrestling Tournaments and coached wrestling in the Wadena area for 22 years.
Having to always talk and often needing to explain his own walk in life, many people know him well. Danvers, 66, often brought up his memories of past pro wrestling stars on the radio. He's a regular attender of NASCAR on his trips to Florida. He's collected many photos of himself with iconic country music singers. He's known to enjoy spaghetti almost daily and yes, he, like his mother, is a fan of country music.
Those are all well known traits for Danvers, but did you know Danvers is not his real name? It's Mike Huber. Danvers was a name he lifted while driving through the town of Danvers, Minn. (population 97), early in his career. The decision to use a different name is not uncommon among radio personalities. His parents did not take it very well. Danvers learned why the change was needed early on when he received a call at supper, at home, asking him to play a certain song for a certain somebody the next morning.
"It started to get out of hand," Danvers said.
The radio voice of Danvers took on a life of its own over his long career. He said he's fine just leaving it as it is if people want to refer to him by either name.
Danvers began his radio career in Iowa in 1976. When they decided to change the programming, he decided to move on. He next took a job in Gillette, Wyo., where a friend invited him to come to work.
"Never do that," Danvers suggested.
About nine months later he decided to part ways with the station due to a very difficult work environment.
"He challenged me to go out back of the radio station to fight," Danvers said of a previous manager. He got up and left that situation quickly.
He next took a job in Pierre, S.D., where he said he learned a lot with a very qualified staff. In that position he was a finalist for the Billboard award.
Looking to make a move and wanting to remain with that company, he found that they owned just one station in Minnesota -- in Wadena. It's there he found a place at KKWS. But Wadena was small. He wanted bigger things at larger markets, so he said he'd give it one year.
"You don't get to be the big timer in radio by staying in small market station all your life," Danvers said.
He met a local girl had children and eventually decided this is where he would stay. More recently he's been asked when he will retire on a regular basis. That tends to happen as you get on the far side of 60. With his daughter getting married in May, he decided now was a good time to exit.
The changing view of radio with fewer people on air is not a change Danvers took easily. He and his co-workers are very proud of the work they are able to do in Wadena and having fewer people to do that work can be frustrating.
"I care a lot about it," Danvers said. With his position as program director open as well as outgoing program director for KWAD/KNSP Kyle Gylsen, the station is out two of its most tenured, each putting in 36 years. It's going to be a major change for the station to work through.
Danvers was still at top of his game upon entering retirement. While most people only listened to his morning show, preparing for the show was something that took hours. Scanning the news to find what items were worth sharing with the public's listening ear and then picking out just the right one liners to add in where he could, helped keep his show lively. He worked countless evenings covering local sports for the region. He kept a detailed history of deaths for his "Dead or Alive" show. As program director for KKWS, Superstation K106, he made sure the airwaves were filled and the advertisers were kept happy.
He was good at his job, and perhaps made better by his co-hosts. When he first started working with Dan Skogen many years ago, he recalls how difficult the first few weeks were with him.
"What am I gonna do with this guy," Danvers remembered. While he liked to be well prepared, he said Skogen liked to "fly by the seat of his pants." It seemed like an incompatible relationship. Danvers soon learned that Skogen was quick witted and able to play along very well. The two did well up until Skogen's departure eight years ago. That's when current morning personality Corey Tackmann came on board.
"Dan was really good at off-the-cuff things," Danvers said. The two got on the radio together on Danvers' last day and it was as if they never missed a step.
Tackmann is the young guy as opposed to the older guy found in Danvers. The two found out early on how to play into each others pet peeves. Danvers knew just what news stories or surveys could get Tackmann riled up enough to fill a time period between news and music.
"If I find something and I go 'he's going to argue with me on this,' that's the first thing on my list," Danvers said. He's going to miss arguing with him daily.
Danvers, of course, enjoyed the game shows and said "Dead or Alive," one game that often brings in salesman Daryl Tumberg, has been going strong for about 15 years. Tumberg happens to remember just about everything from his earlier years including sports stats and musicians. He became a regular in the show when Danvers challenged him to start guessing the right answer.
Danvers is so used to preparing for his game shows that when he heard some deaths and "stupid criminals" over the weekend he was disappointed that come Monday, he wouldn't be back on the air talking about them.
"Those are things that are hard to get used to," Danvers said. Even so, he's pleased to be in retirement. He encourages everyone to prepare for retirement so that you can enjoy life before you run out of any steam.
"It pays to have good health," Danvers said.
While on the air, Danvers tried not to make the show political. He just wanted to make people smile. In his last week on the show, he said he received cards, gifts and well wishes. More than he ever imagined.
Danvers said he likes country music because it's for the everyday, average person -- the people he's been surrounded by his whole life.
Will we hear from him again?
Danvers said he may get called back to cover some sporting events. Being one of the legends of covering state wrestling, it's highly possible he'll come back to do that again. He explains that it's pretty difficult to narrate a wrestling match if you don't understand wrestling and its many moves and holds.