CALUMET - Hundreds of people inside the Calumet Theatre and countless more over the FM radio hopped on the street car from Hubbell to Electric Park Thursday night.
Wait, what street car? Electric Park, that place is still around?
Participants in the Red Metal Radio Show Thursday night could close their eyes and swear they were really riding the street car, seeing bustling towns in Lake Linden, Laurium and Calumet. Swear they really went back in time and met infamous Copper Country historical residents like Joseph Bosch, Johnson Vivian and Maggie Walz.
Michael H. Babcock/Daily Mining Gazette
Red Metal Radio Show host Oren Tikkanen (left) talks to actors Glenna Irwin (middle) and Barry Pegg during Thursday’s show at the Calumet Theatre. The show took listeners back in time to 1910 as they rode a street car from Hubbell to Electric Park, learning tidbits of the Copper Country’s history along the way.
The show took people back to 1910 via a live broadcast on 105.7 FM and a free show at the historical theatre. From all accounts it was wildly successful.
"We had a really good house, very enthusiastic," said Oren Tikkanen, who wrote and hosted the show. "It's great to have this kind of support."
For Tikkanen, it's a great chance to highlight some of his passions.
"I'm fascinated by the history of the street cars and I'm glad we were able to bring that whole bit of history back up," Tikkanen said. "I like the ethnic music from the Copper Country as well, and the fact that we're now approaching the centennial of the 1913 strike brings the consciousness of the labor struggles to light. We were able to sneak some of that in."
Tikkanen was able to sneak in hundreds of historical tidbits during the show, which lasted just more than an hour as he and his sidekick, Professor Storia Longago, entertained listeners.
"I've never been a historian, but I have been a professor," said Glenna Irwin, who played Professor Longago Thursday night and at the same show last year. "The show went terrific tonight, the script couldn't have been better, Oren brought a lot of variety."
Irwin complimented all of the volunteers who made it possible, and said she hopes to be around next year, a show that Tikkanen said could happen again.
"I suspect that if all the factors come together, and the ecology is right for another radio program, there will probably be another one," he said. "I hope that people are able to understand what a really cutting edge, modern and industrial society we had here in 1910 with mass transit, a lot of public facilities and so on."
The show brought in people from all over the Copper Country as well as the world.
"I thought the show was great," said Carla Kotila of Seattle. "I came to last year's show and really enjoyed it, so I really wanted to make sure to get back for this year's."
Kotila said she has her calendar marked for next year as well.
"The history and entertainment were there, and I really enjoyed the music, plus Oren Tikkanen is pretty funny," she said.
Ruth Zamir was visiting the Copper Country from Israel, and enjoyed the experience.
"It was lovely," the retired music teacher said. "I prefer the music of course, it was very nice, they sang very nice and the solos were lovely."
The show was made possible by a heritage grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park and a mini grant from the Copper Country Community Arts Council, as well as dozens of local sponsors and volunteers.
Michael H. Babcock can be reached at email@example.com.