By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer
NEW ULM — Richard “Dick” Ginn had plenty of interests — hunting, fishing, the Vikings, stock car racing — but music was his abiding passion.
“He lived and breathed polka music,” former KEYC TV General Manager Dennis Wahlstrom said of the longtime co-host of the station’s “Bandwagon” show.
The New Ulm resident who died Monday of throat and lung cancer at 68 not only played his favorite music with bands that came on the show but promoted it as well.
Tom Goetzinger, his co-host for 18 years, emphasized Ginn’s touting of old-time music beyond the confines of “Bandwagon.”
“I really feel that given the time he spent on the show, and with all the activities he did beyond it, he should be recognized as one of the leading polka promoters in the region. That’s something I feel strongly about.”
Fellow musician and former New Ulm school band director Steve Moran said Ginn years ago was able to combine work with pleasure in promoting polka.
In the early 1980s Ginn was manager of Randall’s supermarket in New Ulm, where he erected a polka shrine of sorts in the store’s cafe that included musical instruments and photos of bands that had appeared on “Bandwagon.”
That display was instrumental in forming Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in New Ulm.
Moran said Ginn also brought bands into the store to play on Saturday mornings.
“People would come in and eat breakfast and listen to music.”
Ginn was Chuck Pasek’s co-host of “Bandwagon” from 1974 until Pasek’s death in the mid-1990s.
When Ginn went looking for his own co-host, he espied an unsuspecting Goetzinger in late 1994.
“I’d run into him at polka events and we knew each other casually,” said Goetzinger, general manager of KCHK Radio in New Prague.
At the time, Goetzinger was hosting the station’s morning polka show. He said during a show Ginn showed up out of the blue bearing doughnuts and New Ulm-centric sauerkraut juice.
“Drink it,” he said.
Goetzinger declined, but put Ginn behind a microphone and chatted with him on air.
“Dick got back to New Ulm and was surprised at the number of people who had heard him on the radio.”
At that point Ginn was sold on having Goetzinger as co-host.
The ailing Ginn last appeared on “Bandwagon” in January, not knowing it would be his final program.
“It was a special show for him because the band was Kris and the Riverbend Dutchmen. They were making their first appearance on the show and that was the band Dick had been playing with when he learned of his affliction,” Goetzinger said.
Minnesota Music Hall of Fame official Charlie Braunreiter said the museum wanted to record Ginn’s oral history of his involvement in southern Minnesota polka, but his weakened condition foiled that plan.