Meet Lori Walsh
SDPB is pleased to welcome Lori Walsh as the new host of Dakota Midday.
A graduate of Sioux Falls Lincoln High School and Augustana University, Lori also served in the United States Marine Corps. A blogger, a book critic, a children’s book writer, a photographer, and a poet, Lori has most recently worked as a freelance journalist for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and as a Humanities Scholar for the South Dakota Humanities Council, leading veterans writing groups.
SDPB: What did you do after you graduated from Sioux Falls-Lincoln?
Lori Walsh: When I was a junior in high school, I joined the Marine Corps. My senior year was spent in the Delayed Entry Program. I signed up to be a journalist. I wanted to be a war correspondent. But they switched me, because I had studied Spanish and based on my aptitude, they changed my job and I became a cryptologic Korean linguist. It just wasn’t a difficult decision for me. It almost sounds like a cliché now, but I honestly wanted to serve my country. And I felt that was the way that I could do it. And get the benefits of seeing the world and going to college. There were personal benefits, but I really did it because I wanted to serve my country and do significant work that would last a lifetime. I feel like that was a successful decision.
What things learned during your military service have lasted a lifetime for you thus far?
LW: Creativity. It doesn’t seem like that would come from the Marine Corps, but there are a lot of things thrown at you when you’re in the Marines and in the field. A situation never goes like you planned. So, I learned that ability to adapt and overcome things. The ability to know that you can work hard beyond what you thought you were capable of. And that there is an intrinsic reward to that kind of sacrifice and that kind of hard work. And I learned about friendships. I learned how to be vulnerable with other people in close quarters. And you learn what you’re capable of. And you learn that you can’t do everything. And you learn that you can’t do anything by yourself. It’s all about the team. There’s so much I learned from that six years. It’s hard to overstate the significance of it.
After completing your service and travelling the world, you settled back in South Dakota. Why?
LW: When I was done with the Marine Corps, I came home. And I wanted to come home. I wanted to finish college. I had been able to get a couple of years of college under my belt between deployments, but I came home and enrolled at Augustana. I still wanted to be a journalist, after six years of not being a journalist, so I enrolled in their journalism program. And I minored in modern foreign language. After that, I really did want to stay here. I think, like many other people, you see what the rest of the world is like and then you want to come home. South Dakota is the best place to raise children. The most difficult thing about raising a child in South Dakota is convincing them that it’s a place worthy of staying. My daughter and her peer group are so bright, creative, intelligent. They know so much. They have so many great ideas for the future. The challenging thing is convincing them that they can launch those ideas right here in their home state.
You have a great early memory about public broadcasting. Can you tell us about that?
LW: My first memory of public broadcasting is when they had the membership drives on TV. When my mom would pledge for the year, she would always give our names and we kids would rush to the TV, and as soon as they said our names we would jump around and dance. We thought it was the greatest thing in the world. My mom was teaching us at that early age that it was important to support public broadcasting. That it was important to support local content. And that local content was demonstrated when they would say our names and where we were from. We were part of the show then. It was a lesson. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but we learned the importance of public broadcasting early. We didn’t have a lot of money, we didn’t do a lot of donating , but I remember her donating to SDPB.
What about taking over Dakota Midday excites or challenges you?
LW: It’s a huge responsibility to take the helm of something that is so well-established, successful, trusted. It’s a great comfort to come into something and know I don’t have to re-invent anything. On the other hand, I can look to the future and say, “where is this going next.” It’s a great honor, responsibility, and privilege. It’s a little terrifying, to be perfectly honest, because it’s something that has been done so very, very well. But it’s also exciting to say it can continue to get better, to grow. The conversation can continue. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I’m a listener and now I’m a host.
Dakota Midday can be heard on SDPB Radio, weekdays, Noon-1pm (11-Noon MT).