Influential Northland Journalist Mike Simonson Dies |

Influential Northland Journalist Mike Simonson Dies

Jon Ellis
October 07, 2014 10:50 AM

Mike Simonson, a longtime Superior-based reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio who taught generations of journalists at UW-Superior, has died.

 Simonson, 57, died in his sleep Sunday at his home.

A Duluth native, Simonson worked at local radio stations in the early 1980's before moving to North Carolina.  He returned to the Twin Ports when WPR established a Superior bureau in 1990.

Over the decades, Simonson taught hard news and journalistic ethics to students who have gone on to work in just about every broadcast and print newsroom in the Northland. He continued to mentor former students for decades after their graduation.

Besides reporting and teaching, Simonson produced numerous documentaries and won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for "Secret Suffering: HIV Discrimination in Northern Wisconsin" and a National Headliner Award for "Forever Ace: The Richard Bong Story." Those documentaries and others can be heard on the KUWS website.

He also produced "Radio Superior," a long-running radio drama recreating what listeners might have heard on KUWS had it existed in the 1920s to 1950s with local broadcast icons including Jack McKenna and Dennis Anderson as hosts.

"Journalism wasn’t just a job for Mike," said WPR Superior Regional Manager John Munson in a statement posted on the network's website, "it was a passion. He felt a deep responsibility to find and tell the stories of the people of Northern Wisconsin." Munson pointed out that Simonson came back in the middle of a vacation to cover the Nemadji River benzene spill in 1992 and paid his own way to Kazakhstan to cover Col. Jeffrey Williams' launch into space in 2009.

 Simonson is survived by his wife Jennifer. 

A visitation will be held Friday, Oct. 10 at Our Savior's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 4831 Grand Ave., Duluth. A memorial service will be held at the same church on Saturday at 11 a.m. 


Jon Ellis

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