On a good day, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) news host Kerri Miller can make the trip from her home in Hudson to MPR headquarters in downtown St. Paul in approximately 20 minutes. All bets are off if the weather is bad, when Miller says her morning commute can easily be doubled or sometimes take up to an hour.
However, for Miller and her husband Greg, living in Troy Township just outside Hudson is well worth the occasional inconvenience. Their home is situated on 3½ acres, with a view that overlooks a farm and rolling hills nearby. “It’s like a retreat,” she says.
It’s also a perfect place for the vast amount of preparation Miller has to do for her work at MPR, one of the nation’s premier public radio stations producing programming for radio, online and live audiences. In addition to her weekday program, MPR News with Kerri Miller, which airs from 9 to 11 a.m., Miller also hosts literary events including the Talking Volumes series and the recently launched MPR initiative known as The Thread, which Miller calls “an all-encompassing digital media and event-oriented initiative for people who love to read.” The 2016 season of The Thread will launch in March.
Pre-commute, Miller’s day begins at 5:30 a.m. when she checks a variety of social media, along with national and international news sites. She arrives at the MPR studios by 8 a.m., and following her radio program at 9 a.m., she and her staff gather for a quick debriefing and Miller does a bit of writing for the next day’s show. By noon, she’s back on the road to Hudson to her quiet home office where she spends the afternoon, and sometimes evening, writing, researching, preparing scripts and reading, reading, reading.
“It’s intensive hours of reading, which is great because I love it,” Miller says. “I don’t feel like it’s a burden.” She reads entire books by authors she plans to interview and isn’t a believer in shortcuts.
Fans of Miller’s program, which she has been hosting for more than a decade, know that these hours of preparation result in interviews that are sharp, informative and engaging, whether she is interviewing politicians or pundits on her weekday show or talking to authors such as Jonathan Franzen or Jane Smiley.
Miller describes The Thread events as “much looser” than Talking Volumes, spotlighting both fiction and non-fiction, and appealing to a wider range of readers. Talking Volumes, co-sponsored by the Star Tribune and the Loft Literary Center, features a traditional format where Miller interviews an author on-stage.
While the new season of The Thread will feature author events, Miller says, “We will do some Thread events out in the community for people who love books. No authors, just me hanging out and getting to know the book community better, but in a more personal space,” she says, mentioning the possibility of adding happy hours and library gatherings.
Stephanie Curtis, senior producer for The Thread, says this literary initiative has strong appeal for radio listeners and book lovers. “In Minnesota [and Wisconsin], we have a highly educated population, a lot of avid readers, a lot of amateur and professional writers, and a good collection of bookstores,” she says. “We have a really loyal group of people who come to Talking Volumes, and one of our big goals is to get new people in the door with The Thread events.”
When Miller isn’t reading or writing, she is a devoted member of the YMCA in Hudson, where she works out daily. She and Greg like to spend time hiking at Willow River State Park or taking walks with their beloved dog, Dara, a 70-pound Belgian shepherd/German shepherd mix. According to Miller, one of the couple’s favorite local spots is Urban Olive & Vine in downtown Hudson.
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