The River Signal
Lustig, Huckins, and Benson on their riverboat, photo by Vance Walstra
Longtime friends Brian Benson, Galen Huckins, and Reid Lustig put a spin on broadcast journalism with a new fictional narrative riverboat radio show that follows their travels from the Twin Cities to New Orleans this summer. Since their Mississippi boat launch on June 14, the pioneers have written, produced, and published several episodes, and they’re just getting started.
“The whole project requires a lot of collaborative energy. We’re responsible for holding up all these different things while also trying to stay open minded and flexible,” Benson says.
Each broadcast features live music produced on the boat’s deck from musicians the team meets along the way, and no featured performer is the same. In order to get in touch with the right artists, whose talents and personalities set the tone for every episode, the team has learned to network like never before.
“We’re meeting really incredible people who are inspiring us to write something different every week. Those deep interactions are what make any hardships worth it,” Benson says.
A hailstorm in Lacrosse a couple weeks back marked the first of many obstacles. Benson says constant and deliberate communication is key to handling each hardship the team comes across. Only after the crew sits down to talk about how each is feeling can they decide how to work together to make the experience better for everyone involved. Not the typical plan of attack you’d assume from a group of men roughing it in the great outdoors for months on end, but approach is necessary—not only for survival, but for sanity, as well.
Each member of the team had a different draw to the project at first. But the overarching theme of the trio’s collective inspiration goes back to what they learned while working together on 150-foot war ships in Portland a few years back: Stories produced on the waterfront offer a shifted perspective on what’s important.
“Being able to share the diversity of culture and people who live along the river, talk about what they find important, and incorporate those ideas into a real-life narrative makes the River Signal what it is,” Benson says. “We want people to consider the way stories are told and constructed.”