Searching for Bobby Aro — memories

A documentary about Aro is scheduled to air on WDSE-WRPT in December. (Photo courtesy of WDSE-WRPT)

WDSE-TV wants to know if you have any “Finn-glish” memories or mementos of musician Bobby Aro.

The famed northern Minnesota radio star, singer and entertainer put St. Louis County’s Highway 7 on the map (not literally; a cartographer probably did that). WDSE-WRPT is searching for memorabilia and memories for a new Aro documentary that is set to air in December.

If you have any souvenirs, stories, pictures, film and/or video of Aro you’d like to share, contact WDSE-WRPT at, (218) 788-2831 or (888) 563-9373.

Real Marge Simpson was from Iron Range

Margaret Groening is seen here with her son, Matt Groening, in this Nov. 13, 1996, photo. (Photo courtesy of the Oregonian)

The mother of “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening died April 22 in Oregon, and her obituary in the Oregonian became a popular read on the Internet this week because of the familiar names that appear in it.

Margaret, of course, is the formal name for Marge. She married a man named Homer. She had children named Lisa and Maggie. And her maiden name was Wiggum, the last name of the cartoon’s police chief.

But something else you might not know is that while Margaret Ruth (Wiggum) Groening went to school in Everett, Wash., she was born March 23, 1919, in Chisholm, Minn., forever tying Springfield to the Iron Range.

Duluth in ‘Hannibal’

Actor Laurence Fishburne (left) plays Jack Crawford and actor Mads Mikkelsen portrays Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the NBC crime drama “Hannibal,” which premiered Thursday, April 4, 2013. (Brooke Palmer / NBC, Associated Press)

Duluth made an appearance on the premiere episode of the NBC show “Hannibal” on Thursday — well, at least it did by name.

The episode centered on an FBI investigation into the — purely fictional — serial killings of eight women from college campuses throughout Minnesota, with the last one occurring in Duluth, where a portion of the episode “took place.” The show’s characters, including Dr. Hannibal Lecter, attempt to find a killer nicknamed the “Minnesota Shrike.” There’s even a reference to “a genius at the Duluth PD” who took a photo of a victim that found its way onto the Internet.

The full episode can be viewed on the NBC website.

Zach Braff loves Duluth

Actor Zach Braff voices Finley (right) the flying monkey and James Franco (left) plays Oz in “Oz the Great and Powerful.” (Disney Enterprises / Associated Press)

Well, we don’t really know if the actor loves Duluth, but he has mentioned the city at least twice.

Braff, known for his role as J.D. on the show “Scrubs” and Finley the flying monkey in the box office’s No. 1 movie, “Oz the Great and Powerful,” told Conan O’Brien on Tuesday’s “Conan” that he decided to reward one of his Facebook and Twitter followers with a visit to the winner’s hometown.

Hopefuls submitted videos telling Braff what they’d do with him if they got to hang out with the star. Braff told O’Brien he had expected to get a winning submission from somewhere a little closer to home.

“I thought, like, Duluth, you know, Newark,” the New Jersey native said.

Instead, the winning video came from a group of guys in Vienna, Austria.

Tuesday was the second such reference to Duluth from Braff, who wrote, directed and starred in the 2004 film “Garden State,” which also mentions Duluth.

Zach, consider this your invitation to spend the day in Duluth. We’ll drop nickels off the top of Enger Tower and complain about how there’s nothing to do in town — both Duluth traditions.

Big, bad media wolf

Less than a week after the Academy Awards, the International Wolf Center weighed in and Facebook fans voted: the 2013 Scat Award goes to “The Grey.” Also nominated was Jodi Picoult’s book, “Lone Wolf.”

The award calls attention to the worst portrayal of wolves in the media, according to the organization’s executive director Rob Schultz.

“The Grey,” for instance, demonizes wolves, and Picoult’s book romanticizes and anthropomorphizes wolves to an absurd level.

The award will be on display in the trophy case at the International Wolf Center in Ely.

St. Scholastica student makes national news

“CBS Morning News” last week picked up on the fish-out-of-water aspect of this tale.

A student from the College of St. Scholastica who also is a native of Venezuela recently played in the World Pond Hockey Championship games held on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. Gabriel Velandia Briceno invited his roller hockey team from Venezuela. Velandia Briceno told a “CBS Morning News” reporter he and his friends had grown up playing roller hockey, but had never played on ice.

“I told my team back home it would be nice to fulfill our dream come true to come here and play ice hockey,” he said on the news program. “We don’t have ice back home.”

Trade in your mom

Attention, families: Looking to switch out the maternal figure in your household? The ABC reality TV show “Wife Swap” will be casting in Duluth the week of July 9. The mix-and-match program takes Mom A and inserts her in Family B, while Mom B joins Family A for a weeklong, usually awkward adventure in learning how other people live, in front of a national audience.

Producers are looking for families that include two parents and at least one child between ages 6-18 who is living at home. Call (855) 777-7927 or e-mail a family photo and description to

TV show (Duluth) Pack-ed with love

Jenny McCarthy hosts the NBC show “Love in the Wild.” Duluth Pack backpacks are featured on the show. (Kristina Bumphrey / Starpix, Associated Press)

The NBC reality dating show “Love in the Wild” pairs sexy singles for adventures in the Dominican Republic. The couples are sent on wild adventures — cliff jumping, hiking, scorpion attacks — to test their adventure compatibility. Relationships shift, new couples are formed, heartbroken contestants are sent home.

Through it all there is one consistent: the Wanderer, a waterproof, multi-pocketed backpack made by Duluth Pack.

The lovelorn stars of the show started carrying the locally made packs last season and have continued during the second season under dating-game-show veteran Jenny McCarthy’s reign.

Duluth Pack is taking advantage of the product placement and bills the bag as the “Backpack from ‘Love in the Wild’ NBC TV show” on its website.

“The fact that network TV is really reaching out to handcrafted companies, that says a lot,” said Molly Solberg, Duluth Pack’s director of sales and marketing. “They liked the look of the rugged pack; it fits in with the show.

“They chose a pack that looks traditional; it’s hand-crafted, it’s not flashy. It’s going to last.”

But will the matches made on the show be as durable?

We welcome your submissions and suggestions. Drop us a line at, on Twitter, Areavoices, or mail items to Eh?, Duluth News Tribune newsroom, 424 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802.