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A day of Gary

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It's over, then.

Gary Eichten has hosted his last Midday call-in program, this one with guest Gov. Mark Dayton.

At the beginning of  the Midday program, the governor presented Eichten with a proclamation, naming tomorrow Gary Eichten Day in Minnesota. "Holy cow!" Eichten said. "I'm deeply honored, but I'm a little worried we're going to have a blizzard."  And that was that. Eichten went to his first question, and ran the governor right to one o'clock.

WHEREAS   Minnesota Public Radio program host and producer, Gary Eichten has shared his talents with Minnesota for over forty-five years, serving in many capacities: news director, special events producer, and station manager, and

WHEREAS Gary graduated from Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and began his career at Minnesota Public Radio as a student announcer at KSJR, Minnesota's first public radio station, in 1967, and

WHEREAS For the past twenty years, Gary has served as the host of "Midday." He is known for his election coverage, hosting MPR's election night broadcasts since 1976, GOP and DFL State Convention broadcasts since 1984, and political debates since 1992. Beginning in 1998, Gary has been on stage at the Fitzgerald Theatre to host the traditional "final debate" in statewide elections, and

WHEREAS Gary has received numerous awards throughout his illustrious career, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting award for best local news programs and the prestigious Graven Award in 2011 for contribution to excellence in the journalism profession. He also assisted in the development of two Peabody award-winning documentaries, and in 2007, was inducted into the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and

WHEREAS Gary's guiding principle has always been that for the American democracy to work, the people must be informed -- there is nothing more precious to a citizen than truth; and

WHEREAS Gary always saw himself as a proxy and advocate for his listeners, and never as an entertainer, pundit, or sage. Over the past forty-five years, Minnesotans have come to trust Gary and view him as one of the state's most diligent and fair-minded journalists. He is a broadcasting legend and the sound of his voice on radio nearly every day will be sorely missed

NOW, THEREFORE, I, MARK DAYTON, Governor of the great State of Minnesota , offer heartfelt congratulations to Gary Eichten on his forty-five wonderful years at Minnesota Public Radio and wish him luck in retirement by proclaiming Friday, January 20, 2012 as

GARY EICHTEN DAY

in the State of Minnesota

There are lots of people with lots of awards who throw just one more up on the shelf, but -- and stop me if you've heard this before -- Eichten isn't that type of person.

There was no danger, of course, that  Gary would get a big head about a day in his honor, but sometimes you just can't take the chance. "So that's why we don't have light rail out to Woodbury," I said to him. "How much did that cost?"

Minutes later, he was sitting in the daily 1:15 news meeting, where we go over what stories are coming up and what's going to be on the radio.

"A lot of you don't have the luxury of what I've experienced in the last few months and certainly in the last few days," he said. "But what we do really matters to people. The news is a big part of their lives.  And I can remember when we'd call people up and say 'Minnesota Public Radio,' and they'd say 'Who?' We make a difference," he said.

At the end of  our working days, don't we all dream of knowing that we mattered and made a difference? Thanks to the audience he treated with the respect it deserved, Eichten  is living the dream, and things are as they should be.

So maybe it wasn't entirely coincidental that before starting his regular gig today, two of the songs he picked for  The Current's Theft of the Dial series were about dreams.