Glenn Maxham has spent his life listening to and reporting on people’s life stories. As a radio announcer, reporter, and writer of histories, he knows the importance of stories. Even now he continues to write, working on revising his book The Fires of 1918, in time for the centennial of the Cloquet-Duluth-Moose Lake fires.
Glenn was born in Rockford, Illinois, but early in his life his family moved to Minnesota City, near Winona. He graduated from Winona High School in 1948. He had always wanted to get into radio, and so shortly after graduating he went to a radio announcing school in Minneapolis. He remembers you paid your tuition weekly. The Browns, who ran the school, found Glenn a job even before he graduated. He went to work at a radio station in Houghton, Michigan, where he was a staff announcer doing the news and a general reporter. He loved the Copper Country.
He was drafted during the Korean War and was scheduled to go with a combat unit to the front lines. He was blessed with an opportunity to work as a radio announcer serving in Japan. He remembers his interview with a Navy captain, who ripped the news feed off and said: “read.” Glenn thankfully did well. He was an announcer over all of East Asia for two years and served as a disc jockey to the troops from 8pm to midnight. He would play tunes from the big band era and helped the troops through the sharing of music and stories. He remembers guys telling him how they would listen to the tunes while they were dug in.
In 1953, Glenn returned to the States and was hired by WEBC radio in Duluth. He worked for them for three years and then got hired by Channel 6. This was the beginning of his work in television. He was the news director for four years at Channel 6 and then went to Channel 3 to work as news director, then as an anchor man.
Glenn then created his own production company, Maxham Films. He produced videos on mining and lots of educational pieces for the public schools – history and natural history videos that were used in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan school districts. He also produced a written weekly reader called the Gopher Gazette for Minnesota sixth graders.
Glenn also worked for Channel 8 (PBS), hosting Venture North. He loves hearing the stories of others and sharing them with the world. “Remembering our histories is so important.” One of his favorite interviews was with Albert Wilson, the last survivor of the Civil War. Albert, who died at age 109, had served as a drummer in the Civil War. He lived here in Duluth. Glenn said it felt like shaking hands with history to meet with him. He also had the opportunity to interview John Kennedy when he was campaigning here. That also was a very moving experience.
Glenn says he always looked out for the underdog. His job was to make sure that people’s stories got told. The world is full of interesting people, and Glenn still has much more to learn and write about them.
Interviewed by Kathy Nelson