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Listening at the newspaper convention

February 4, 2011 - Chuck Hunt
Well, if nothing else, the speakers at the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Annual Convention were enthusiastic. I’m not talking about the ones who led the sessions and seminars. They were good too, but there were three main speakers. One was the governor of Minnesota. One was a former publisher who now runs a Newseum in Washington. The third was a self-proclaimed famous person. Gov. Mark Dayton, well, he pretty much told the audience of several hundred news people what they wanted to hear. He spoke passionately about his plans for the state. He spoke of getting things done, and working with the Republicans. I think the most refreshing part of his speech was when he confessed he may not be able to make good on his campaign promises. He told the journalists that he had promised to leave local government aid and aid to schools alone as he worked to get a huge deficit taken care of. Now, he says he has no idea how to keep that promise. It will be painful, for many people, he says. He is referring to balancing the state budget, in view of a several billion (with a ‘B’) dollar deficit. Charles Overby is the chairman and CEO of the Freedom Forum (which deals with press issues) and the Newseum. As a newspaper editor, I had, of course, heard about the Newseum. But, hearing Overby enthusiastically describe it, I wanted to hop a plane and go see it. It is on Pennsylvania Avenue, between the White House and the Capitol. It hardly seems fair to me that I have never seen it, yet our 21-year-old new reporter, Regan, has been there. She also gives it two thumbs up, and says she would love to see it again, as soon as possible. Me too, because I don’t have as much time left as she does. The third speaker was perhaps the most famous. Or, so his self-proclaimed nickname would have you believe. Famous Dave Anderson, of Famous Dave’s BBQ sauces, was the most enthusiastic of the bunch. Wow, he started off loud and non-stop, and didn’t quit for an hour. He reminded me of Al Rokker, the weatherman on NBC. Dave Anderson is actually of Native American heritage, and started his first Famous Dave’s restaurant in Hayward, Wisc. Now he has 180 of them. He tells a story of how he beat a lot of odds which were running against him, and was able to become successful. It was a very inspiring speech, not just a typical ‘rags-to-riches’ story, but one with a lot of sub-plots and twists. Plus, he gave each and every one of the hundreds in the audience a bottle of his Famous Dave’s BBQ sauce. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak (and he is on the speaking circuit a lot) I highly recommend you attend. I guarantee this is one speech where you won’t nod off. If you did, you might wake up covered in Rich and Sassy BBQ sauce.


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