Michael Rathke died Thursday in Rochester, Minn. He was 59 years old.
Michael was born Oct. 4, 1963, to Ladonna and John Rathke at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. He graduated from Grand Forks High School in Grand Forks, N.D., in 1981 and attended the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. He graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications.
Michael made public radio his lifelong passion. He was employed at a number of public media outlets throughout his career. He held positions in programming and operations and as a producer and announcer. This included stints at WRTI in Philadelphia; New Hampshire Public Radio; Georgia Public Broadcasting; WOSU Public Media in Columbus, Ohio; WFCR in Amherst, Mass. (now New England Public Media); WCAL (now Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current); Northwest Public Radio in Pullman, Wash; WNIN in Evansville, Ind.; and WKMS in Murray, Ky. In all of these positions, Michael demonstrated his knowledge with programming, music scheduling, audience research and fundraising during on-air pledge drives.
To say Michael was a baseball fan was an understatement. Every year, he looked forward to spring training and joining his baseball fantasy league(s). He always rooted for his “home” team, the Minnesota Twins, but wherever he lived during his public radio career, he attended home games for that town’s ballclub, including Boston’s Fenway Park, Atlanta’s Turner Field and The Metrodome and Target Field in Minneapolis.
Michael was also a huge music fan, not only of the classical music he programmed but also rock and popular music. He loved The Beatles, Elvis Costello and Squeeze, just to name a few. He was one of the biggest fans of Bruce Springsteen, attending his countless concerts all over the country. He recently attended the show in Minneapolis on The Boss’ current tour. Michael was also a devoted dog-dad to many pets over the years, all of which he loved with his whole heart.
He is survived by his wife, Lisa Thompson, and his father, John Rathke. He is also preceded in death by his mother, Ladonna Rathke, and his grandparents, Mildred and Russell Larson. There are no services or calling hours.
Donations on Michael’s behalf can be made to your local Humane Society in his name.