WVIK Staff: On the Air & Behind the Scenes

WVIK (90.3 FM) is the National Public Radio station for the Quad Cities region of eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois. WVIK is licensed to Rock Island, Illinois, and owned by Augustana College. Studios are located on Augustana's campus in Rock Island.  It broadcasts at 90.3 FM across eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois, and at 95.9 FM in Dubuque, Iowa and a small portion of southwestern Wisconsin.

The station signed on for the first time in 1981 on 90.1 FM. The Quad Cities had been one of the last areas of Iowa and Illinois without a city-grade signal from an NPR station. In 1991, it moved to its current frequency, and activated its Dubuque translator a few months later.

More information on WVIK's Governance and Critical Financial Information.

Jennifer Blohm, director of development

Jennifer Blohm started as WVIK's Director of Development in the fall of 2010. A 1994 graduate of Augustana College, Jenny received her Master’s Degree in Community Arts Management (nonprofit management) from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Her fundraising career began in Chicago right after graduate school.

Jenny has raised funds for organizations in the Quad Cities, Chicago, St. Paul and New York, in all aspects of fundraising as well as underwriting.

Jenny loves traveling, spending time with friends and family and spending time outdoors any time of the year. She has also volunteers her fundraising skills for many organizations in the Quad Cities, and is a Past President of the Illinois Quad Cities Association of Fundraising Executives. Jenny has a young daughter named Haley and they reside in Illinois Quad Cities.

Gary Burlingame, classical host

Proving once again that there's no such thing as retiring from public radio, Gary Burlingame returned to the air on WVIK in October of 2008 after "retiring" in June of 2007.

A northeast Iowa native, Gary enlisted in the Air Force at the age of 17. A few years later he received a commission and, after enjoying a 20 year military career, retired. He traveled widely with his family during those years, and tours of duty in Asia and the Middle East and travels in Europe and Latin America helped him to cultivate a love of language, music and the arts.

Family business brought him back to the Midwest and before joining the WVIK staff in 1985, he worked as an auditor with the Iowa Department of Revenue and as the office manager for an Iowa beer distributor.

Gary generously hosts Perspective whenever he's needed. Previously, he hosted Sunday evening classical music on Serenade, and before that, Gary served as Public Service Director and host of WVIK weekday evening classical programming.

Gary and his wife Gloria are also active in the Quad Cities' arts community. Gloria is an art teacher and an exhibiting artist. Together, they facilitate a weekly life drawing session at the Davenport Museum of Art.

Bruce Carter, host of Art Talks (Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m.)

Born in Philadelphia, PA, and raised in Brazil and the United States, Bruce de Gouveia Carter received his bachelor's degree in Art and English from Notre Dame in 1970. Bruce then travelled the western hemisphere for a few years before landing in Iowa City for graduate studies with Lasansky in Printmaking.Having originally come to the Quad Cities to teach at Marycrest College, he remains deeply involved in the area's art scene. Bruce's artwork is primarily in oil crayon, painting "interior landscapes" in vibrant colors.

Dave Garner, operations manager, host of Morning Classics (weekdays 9 a.m.-noon)

A native of Moline, Dave earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio/Television from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He came to WVIK early in 1987 as an engineering assistant, picking up necessary skills along the way.

As Operations Manager and Chief Operator of WVIK, Dave helps keep the technical side of the station running, maintaining automation and audio production systems. As an audio engineer, Dave is responsible for the production of Quad City Symphony, Nova Singers and Handel Oratorio Society concerts, as well as programs like Rock Island Lines, Quad City Oral Histories and Art Talks.

Dave hosted the classical music program “Sunday Morning” from 1989 until 2008, and began hosting the weekday classical program "Morning Classics" in March of 2008.

Mindy Heusel, music director, host of Perspective (Weekdays 12:10-4 pm and Sundays 2-4 p.m.)

A native of Hooper, Neb., Mindy Heusel came to WVIK in 1982 as a student at Augustana College. A strong musical background prepared her for a career as a classical music announcer. Mindy studied piano from the age of 3 and flute from the sixth grade, was a frequent piano accompanist, and was named a Promising Young Musician in the State of Nebraska in 1979.

Mindy started at WVIK on the evening shift, one night a week. But not long after the station began overnight service, Mindy took on the graveyard shift and her job expanded to a full six nights. In 1985, she moved to days, and began her long tenure as host of Perspective, WVIK's afternoon classical music program.

Mindy served as Operations Manager from 1985 until 1988. And from 1992 to 1995, Mindy also served as Membership Manager, running Fund Drives and processing the all-important listener contributions to WVIK. She now serves as Music Director, keeping the CD and LP library up-to-date and organized for WVIK's classical programmers.

Mary McNeil, underwriting sales executive

Mary McNeil, joined WVIK in January 2011 as an Underwriting Sales Associate. Her desk may be at the WVIK studios, but her office is "out and about" in the community meeting with potential underwriters.

Mary graduated from the University of Iowa in 1984, and the University of Illinois is 1986. She spent ten years reporting for Illinois Public Radio in Springfield, and recently has been working as a freelance writer.

Mary lives in Moline with her husband Porter and children James, Jack, and Ellie. In her free time Mary loves to watch her children compete in swimming and perform on stage.

Jared Johnson, director of corporate support, partnerships and marketing

Before coming to WVIK, Jared W. Johnson served as Director of Marketing for the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. His work with the QCSO included managing partnerships with a variety of cultural partners including Quad City Arts, the Putnam Museum, the Figge Art Museum, Augustana College, the River Music  Experience, and many others.

Jared's most memorable moments included overseeing the sold out Music of Led Zeppelin, the performance by world-famous violinist Midori, the multi-media presentation of Holst's The Planets, the record setting Riverfront Pops featuring ABBA: The Concert, and Mark Russell Smith's production of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem.

Before moving to the Quad Cities, Johnson was Assistant Producer at 20/20 Communications, Inc. in Elk Grove Village, IL. While at 20/20 Communications he worked with such clients as the Million Dollar Round Table, Life Fitness, the American Association of Pediatrics, and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. During this time, Johnson also produced and directed a short film, worked on independently produced documentaries, and even directed a music video.

Both Quad City natives, Jared and his wife Beth currently live in Davenport with their four children. Jared received his BA in Communications from Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL, in 1998.

Michelle O'Neill, news editor and morning anchor

After working at Cottage Hospital in Galesburg for 7 years as a respiratory therapist, Michelle moved to Carbondale to study broadcasting at Southern Illinois University. She auditioned for a position in the newsroom at WSIU Public Radio, and volunteered as a reporter and anchor there for two years. She also was a part-time reporter for WDDD in Marion, Illinois, and a reporter and anchor at "Rockin' Radio," WCIL-FM in Carbondale.

In 1995, WVIK hired Michelle News Editor and host of Morning Edition, after working two Saturday evening shifts as a board operator and program announcer. She agreed to accept the news position despite telling Don Wooten that she's NOT a morning person.

Michelle likes reading, travelling, kayaking, hiking, playing drums and music. With her beagle, Kensington, she enjoys walking the Hennepin Canal bike path looking for wildlife and evidence of past criminal activity. Her interests also include learning valuable lessons about how to safely deal with a hound who has devoured a loaf of bread, a large chunk of dark chocolate fudge, and an entire box of high fiber cereal.

Jay Pearce, general manager

Jay H. Pearce became the station's general manager Oct. 3, 2011.

He previously was director of created content at Illinois Public Media in Urbana, Ill., where he was responsible for locally created content for WILL-TV/AM/FM/Online, all public broadcasting stations licensed to the University of Illinois. He also led funding efforts for Illinois Public Media's local content creation.

Previously, he worked as station manager at WILL-AM/FM and program director at WILL-AM. During his 36-year career in radio he has held a variety of positions at stations in Illinois, Missouri and Texas.

Pearce's wife, Melisse, is a Moline, Ill., native, and he has two children and a stepdaughter.

Jim Peterson, co-producer of Quad City Oral Histories, public service director

What do writing cartoons, managing a camera store, teaching in an inner-city high school, working in public radio and losing on Jeopardy! have in common? If you know the answer, please tell Jim Peterson because he isn’t sure either. Returning home to Rock Island after 14 years of dropping anvils on unsuspecting animated characters in California, Jim looked for ways to be involved in the media and the arts while being a stay-at-home dad for his three young children. WVIK was the perfect fit.

Colleen Sibthorp, business manager

Colleen started working at WVIK in 1993, while she completed undergraduate work at Augustana College for a major in psychology and a minor in computer science. Her job then was to coordinate the APRIS volunteers. When she graduated in 1995, General Manager Don Wooten offered her a position as the station’s Business Manager.

Among her many duties at the station are coordinating the Spring and Fall Fund Drives, includes scheduling volunteers and staff as well as tracking the pledge totals during the drive. She maintains the station’s donor accounts, processes every dime that comes in or goes out, handles the office supply inventory, and provides technical support on the computer systems that track it all. Lately she has been updating the station’s underwriting software to provide better service to WVIK's underwriting clients.

There isn't much Colleen can't do. If you call WVIK with a question about most anything, your trail will likely lead to Colleen.

Outside of work, Colleen has been researching her family’s genealogy. She grew up in Maquoketa, and discovered that her family first settled on their farm near Maquoketa before Iowa attained statehood. Her family has lived there for five generations. Colleen also enjoys gardening, camping, and home improvement. She resides in Moline with her husband Bryan and their daughter Laurel.

Herb Trix, news director, afternoon anchor

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disk jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.

While a graduate student in the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield (then known as Sangamon State University) he got his first taste of public radio, covering Illinois state government for WUIS.

Here in the Quad Cities, Herb worked for WHBF Radio before coming to WVIK in 1987. Herb also produces the weekly public affairs feature Midwest Week – covering the news behind the news by interviewing regional reporters about the stories they cover.

Herb resides in Rock Island with his wife Diane, and their dog Sally.

Roald Tweet, writer and narrator of 'Rock Island Lines'

Since 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet has spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet has published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recored segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration is a "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.

It is from Rock Island’s rich heritage that Dr. Tweet spins his histories, biographies and "stretchers." Among his favorite topics are railroads and riverboats, which he combines on a CD in celebration of the Grand Excursion 2004. "Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet" has received awards from the Illinois Historical Society as well as the Towner Award from the Illinois Humanities Council.

Dr. Tweet is professor emeritus, retired from the Augustana College English department, where he was professor and Conrad Bergendoff Chair in the Humanities. A writer and radio personality, Dr. Tweet is also an accomplished woodcarver and whittler.

Don Wooten, host of 'Saturday Morning Live!' (Saturdays from 10 to Noon), and 'Jazz After Hours' (Saturdays 10 to Midnight)

Memphis-born Joseph Donald Wooten was sent, at the age of 17, to the seminary at St. Ambrose College by Bishop Adrian of the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee. After two years he left the seminary, but stayed on at St. Ambrose to pursue a degree in biology.

Don's first fulltime job was that of announcer for KWPC in Muscatine, Iowa in 1950. In 1952, he began a 19-and-1/2 year association with WHBF-TV in Rock Island, serving the station as announcer, producer, weatherman, and director of public affairs. He won nine state-wide awards for his "Spectrum" series, initiated the popular "At Issue" program, and was the only non-print journalist to be named to the Illinois State Medical Society's "Journalism Hall of Fame."

During those years, Don also helped edit the Catholic Messenger for the Davenport Catholic diocese, wrote music reviews for several newspapers and Commonweal magazine, taught six periods a day at Alleman High School in Rock Island (including English, Humanities, and chorus), and founded the Genesius Guild – free, classic theatre and opera performed during the summer in Rock Island's Lincoln Park – for which he remains the driving force.

In 1972, Don entered the political arena and won two terms in the Illinois State Senate; he served from 1977-1980 as chariman of the senate executive committee and was honored with 17 "best legislator" awards.

Then Don returned to his roots, combining his experience in broadcasting with his love for the arts. In August 1980 he began WVIK. Retiring after 22 years of service as General Manager in January of 2003, Don has continued to serve WVIK as host of Matinee, Saturday Morning Live, and Jazz After Hours. In addition, he writes weekly columns for the Dispatch and the Rock Island Argus, is a frequent guest lecturer in area schools, and serves as a board member for a number of local, state and regional arts organizations.

Wooten has been married for more than 50 years to Bernadette; the couple has five children: David, Christine, Steve, Teri, and Caecilia; and three grandchildren, Luke, Carl, and Haili Straka.

Michael Wahlmann

Life's winding journey has lead Michael from birth in Johannesburg, SouthAfricato the airwaves of western Illinois and eastern Iowa. Along the way Michael spent his formative years three hours down the Mississippi in Quincy, Il. Piano lessons first then many years studying the cello have helped prepare Michael for classical programming on SundaySerenade.

Michael's journey also followed the many winding routes through west-central Illinois from Quincy to Augustana College. There he studied geography and music while performing in the Augustana Choir, Orchestra and Opera at Augustana.

Currently a member of Nova Singers, local string quartet Quartrio and occasionally Quad City Choral Arts-Michael also teaches cello privately and is co-music/choir director at St. John's Lutheran in Rock Island. He has performed with Mannheim Steamroller, The Moody Blues, Transiberian Orchestra and Josh Groban at the iWireless Center and has performed in local ensembles like the Clinton and Knox-Galesburg Symphonies as well as pit-orchestras for Opera Quad Cities, Opera at Augustana, Clinton Showboat Theatre and the QC Music Guild. Through small ensemble "gigging", Michael has had the honor of participating in well over 350 weddings, parties and receptions through out our region.

Michael and wife Susan Wahlmann have been blessed with a dynamic daughter, Emma, who like her parents-Susan being the Performing Arts and Arts-in-Education Director for Quad City Art-is becoming involved in the local performing arts scene.