Mainstreet Radio began in 1987, with an introductory member staff of Rachel Reabe, John Biewen and Leif Enger, whose mission was reporting from rural Minnesota to all of Minnesota. It first appeared as part of MPR Journal and Morning Edition broadcasts, providing both long and short form news features. In the years following, Mainstreet Radio expanded both in reporter contributions and programming. Starting in the 1990’s, Mainstreet Radio presented a monthly two-hour special, focusing on rural issues. Important regional topics included the environment, economy, and health matters outside the Twin Cities metro.
Mainstreet Radio has won numerous journalistic awards, including for the programs “Meth in Minnesota” and “The Rural School Challenge.”
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October 19, 1987 - Mainstreet Radio-Brainerd’s John Biewen presents the October Pumpkinland events at Kopischke farm, in Vernon Center. Biewen interviews farm owner Gordie and Dorothy Kopischke.
October 28, 1987 - Mainstreet Radio-Brainerd’s Rachel Reabe profiles Four Winds Lodge Treatment Center, a culturally based Native American chemical dependency treat program. Reabe highlights the annual sobriety pow-wow through various sounds and interviews.
January 2, 1988 - MPR's Mainstreet Radio team presents a documentary entitled "Against the Grain," which collects conversations with rural Minnesotans about how they are adapting to the forces of economic change.
January 25, 1988 - Mainstreet Radio's Leif Enger interviews northern Minnesotan farmer Floyd Cartwright and others about weather “prophesying.”
February 8, 1988 - Mainstreet Radio’s John Biewen follows along doctor Alan Fleischmann in Caledonia, a town in southeastern Minnesota. Fleischmann practices small town medicine and makes house calls, something many in community feel are all too important.
April 25, 1988 - As part of a Mainstreet Radio series on rural education, Rachel Reabe reports on the merging of schools in Buhl and Mountian Iron, Minnnesota.
April 26, 1988 - As part of a Mainstreet Radio series on rural education, Rachel Reabe reports that with declining enrollment at the high school in Motley, a plan has been set to incorporate the Motley students into the nearby Staples high school.
April 27, 1988 - As part of a Mainstreet Radio series on rural education, John Biewen reports on Norman County West, a school created out of the combination of Halsted and Hendrum-Perley schools.
April 29, 1988 - A special Mainstreet Radio call-in program from KSJR, in central Minnesota. Program highlights the concern over problems of rural school districts. Rachel Reabe interviews Irvin Bjerga of Motley, Minnesota; Kathy Berger of Mountain Iron-Buhl School District; and Congressman Glen Anderson of Bellingham, Minnesota.
May 10, 1988 - Mainstreet Radio's Rachel Reabe profiles a senior variety act in Brainerd, called “Geritol Frolics.” Reabe speaks with a dancer and group’s theatre director.