Frame of Reference - Sauk County and Beyond

The Severeness of Storms: Kory Hartman

March 24, 2022 Rauel LaBreche Season 3 Episode 22
Frame of Reference - Sauk County and Beyond
The Severeness of Storms: Kory Hartman
Show Notes Transcript

This is one of those interviews that I've been talking about doing for about 4 years now and just never have gotten around to it.  Well the stars aligned just right and now it's in the can.  When I met Kory over 5 years ago, I thought to myself "Now here's an interesting guy, can't wait to find out more about him".  So why did it take me so long to get this interview done?  Well for one thing I am a SERIOUS procrastinator.  Just ask my wife and she will point to the five million, three hundred and six thousand, four hundred and twenty-eight projects that I've started and never finished if you want a better Frame of Reference.  Suffice it to say that BOTH Kory and I are pretty busy doing urgent stuff so getting IMPORTANT stuff done is pretty hard.  BUT here it is.  In this interview, Kory and I go all the way back to his teen years in Iron River Michigan and trace his roots as a radio personality as well as his fascination with storms and a realization that modern technology could allow tracking of them to be done in a way that could and would save lives.  It's a fascinating story filled with Kory's great sense of humor and inside the studio anecdotes.

Kory Hartman started storm chasing in 1997 and created SevereStudios in 2006.  SevereStudios.com has become the leading storm chaser live streaming platform and online source for extreme weather news.  Kory coordinates, dispatches, and represents a team of over 60 professional storm chasers who cover severe weather for local television stations and national networks such as The Weather Channel and CNN. Kory and his team chase and cover tornados, floods, blizzards, fires, and every kind of storm, but tornado chasing and forecasting is definitely their specialty. They do this year-round and there is never a dull day on the job.
 
 Kory worked directly for The Weather Channel for almost 2 years before going back to his original love, radio, in 2017 when he purchased Baraboo Broadcasting Corp.  BBC includes an AM/FM radio station ("99.7 MAX FM"), an online certificate store ("MAX FM Big Deals"), a low-power television station ("TV43"), two cable channels, a bi-monthly newspaper ("The Express"), and a digital marketing division.  Baraboo Broadcasting promotes Wisconsin's vacationland of Wisconsin Dells, Baraboo, Reedsburg, Portage, and Sauk City.  They bring awareness to the area's attractions, both natural and man-made, and support local businesses, non-profit organizations, and schools.

Announcer:

Welcome to frame of reference informed intelligent conversations about the issues and challenges facing everyone in today's world, in depth interviews with salt counties, leaders and professionals to help you expand in and form your frame of reference, brought to you by the max FM digital network. Now, here's your host Rauel LaBreche.

Rauel LaBreche:

Well, welcome to another edition of frame of reference Sauk County and beyond and we are beyond doing again today. My guest today is a guy that I've known for, what, three, four or five years ago, five years. And he is actually the big kahuna here at WR PQ digital network phi, the max FM which we try to call out to every time we do this podcast because it was his impetus his driving me to you know, you know, what you really should do is a podcast that made yours truly want to do this thing in the first place. But I'm talking about none other than Corey Hartman. Who is the you're the owner, the president, the janitor, all of that. Yes. And more all of that. So, in Korea, how did you come to do this? I mean, you've told me this story before, but just so people know how, how did this happen? Ah,

Kory Hartman:

that's a really good question. I stumbled into my local small town hometown radio station in iron River, Michigan. And they they basically I basically didn't leave until they give me gave me a job. Yeah, and were

Rauel LaBreche:

that persist? I wore obnoxious. I was obnoxious.

Kory Hartman:

How old were you at this? Wow, man. I mean, there's a slightly longer version of this that the, the general manager of the station, okay. His daughter was my fifth grade teacher. Oh, my and she knew that I wanted to do radio broadcasting whatever. And so my grades were not the greatest. And so she she said was rising. I know I thought you had to be a scholar to own a radio station. Right? And, I mean, I knew I was gonna be a radio DJ from the time I was like four years old, but my grades weren't the greatest and so she said, you know, if you get your grades up, okay, I will take you for a tour at the radio station. And I thought, Oh, I got it, I've got to do this. Right. So you know, so I raised from, you know, a C to a B or whatever it was, and and we, you know, got got a tour got to meet the owner there. And, and he went over to the teletype wire, you know, the old paper now, back in the day

Rauel LaBreche:

right next to his mimeograph it's

Kory Hartman:

right next to the media grab was the was the teletype machine and, and he rips me off like this big long sheet of all the news and weather and sports and everything that have been printing out out of there for the last like hour. And he said he said if you want to be in radio take this home and read this. I said read it. Yeah. Out Loud over and over and over again to yourself. Sure. And and pretend that you're on the radio Sure. And I said you got salute Yes, sir. I will. I will do that. I'm on that I'm so I'm I am on that I'm all over that so I'd so I took that teletype piece of paper home. And and I would announce it I would announce it over and over and over again and just read read read. And you know, and then I'd spend records in my basement and I had bought a little mixer at one thing I would read a Radio Shack, you know $5 mixer. And, and and eventually I got I got sick of reading you know a year old news. And so I went back to the radio station I just knocked on the door and the whoever the DJ was says yeah, come on in come on in what's going on? Yeah, I said I I said I want to dig through your garbage can and and he's a dumpster diver dumpster diving work your neighborhood teletype paper diver. And so and so he let me grab a whole bunch of new copy and then eventually that became a routine I would come in once or twice a week and get new copy take it home and I was I was doing radio in my basement here for almost two years before finally one day that guy saw me in a supermarket and said so you're going to come work at the radio station or why you know we got a guy going off to college and we've got brewers baseball games that need to be bored off and and that's how I started I started by running the control board and doing commercials for the brewers and this is iron river iron River up just over the border is just over the border my North Eagle River and Yeah, and like crystal falls Yeah, my brother in law it has a place up in crystal falls. So go through iron River and ice confuse that with Iron Mountain, which is actually much further up the pike isn't that wow, that's yeah, that's closer down toward like Menominee Marinette, and then then you have iron wood, which is all the way over by Duluth, you know, and Ashland and all that stuff. So there was a lot of iron and I worked in all three. I've worked in all three IRS and crystal balls. your IRA has been to many fires. Yes, yes. Yes, it has, such as how it works in broadcast.

Rauel LaBreche:

So here we go. You're in small town, small market, all that stuff. And but you had quite an interesting career from that point back to still do with your your weather work that you've

Kory Hartman:

done? Yeah. You know, I've always been interested in in severe weather, tornadoes specifically. And I got a little bit of that influence because I'd spend summers on my mom's farm in South Dakota. Okay, not not a lot of tornadoes in you know, the up, although we did get a couple. But, but all summer long in South Dakota, you know, it's it's country music and tornado warnings. That's what's on the radio there. And so, you know, I thought that a tornado watch meant a tornado is coming to get me at two o'clock in the morning, you know, that

Rauel LaBreche:

tornado, I'm here

Kory Hartman:

and you're going to be blown away. Exactly. And, and so so anytime there was any sort of, you know, weather watch, I would I would hang out in the bay, I would sleep in the basement of my mom's house because I was just freaked out. And they say, anything that you want to get over any phobia that you want to get over, you jump into it, right? Like, go for your own. Yeah, if you're afraid of a plane crashing, you go learn how to fly a plane or jump out of a plane or whatever you do. So I said, I've got to learn more about the severe weather thing. And then one of those great PBS weather specials came. And it was all about storm chasers and what they do and the science behind it. And, you know, not not just the thrill seeking part, which you know, tornadoes, very exciting, but they also kill people. And so it's a lot about the science and the warning process. And then, in this particular documentary, there was a clip from from a radio station in Wichita, Kansas, and in Wichita, Kansas, this radio station KF di employed storm chasers to go out and broadcast what was happening in and around the Wichita metro area. And I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I'm like, oh my god, I can bridge weather and broadcasting together. I said, I've got to figure out how to how to do that. So there's

Rauel LaBreche:

a huge market there. I'm in Kansas, we're talking Tornado Alley. Right. Right.

Kory Hartman:

Exactly. And so and so, you know, I didn't have the experience to just drive to Wichita and start, you know, chasing tornadoes around. So it took a few years.

Rauel LaBreche:

There's a lot of people that want to do that job though, either was it you know, or

Kory Hartman:

surprisingly, there's, there's, you know, there's probably a good good contingent of people that do want to

Rauel LaBreche:

get a job opening and there will be more than one apple. Yeah, okay. Yeah, there

Kory Hartman:

is so I mean, you know, it's not a full time job. This tornadoes don't thankfully don't happen every day

Rauel LaBreche:

in the offseason you watch Whirlpool.

Kory Hartman:

I've since learned there is no offseason either. So I used to think there was but yeah, but when you when you when you cover things nationwide, like I do now, which we'll get to in a sec, you know, there's no offseason but but you know, so I didn't just like pack up my car and drive to Wichita just I started working at other small town radio stations, I you know, I went to broadcasting school, Minneapolis Brown Institute, and then you know, when you're a young broadcast, you just jump all over the place. In fact, I was just on Facebook a little bit ago, and I was looking at a guy that was that was very, very popular from like the mid 70s to the mid 90s. And his entire resume and he had call letters on there from three different stations in the same year. You know, and so so I thought staying, you know, like a year and a half at each place was bad, you know, cuz, you know, dad's like, are you gonna get the pension and the gold watch and all that and, and here I am jumping station to station, you know, up and down the dial as the song goes. And, and I but you know, a lot of it was in was in the Dakotas in Minnesota. And so there was a lot of weather to cover, you know, there. And so, you know, we had a pretty big tornado in South Dakota in 1998, the Spencer, South Dakota tornado, it was an f4 killed like eight or nine people. I was on the air that night and my radio station covered that the Spencer area, obviously other stations covered the area, but I was on the air. And I knew that we had people listening in that county, and an eight people died. And it felt like they died on my watch, you know? And I said there's got to be a better way to convey the danger and what's actually happening out there because the weather service had come out after the fact and said, you know, there weren't a lot of spotters around. There weren't a lot of there was there were there were like some mobile Doppler crews that were around scanning the tornado but they didn't really call in the fact that we had this massive tornado ripping through eastern South Dakota. And so They weren't getting a stream of information. And I said, There's got to be a better way to do that, you know, and we were already streaming audio. We were doing a lot of stuff with radio streaming already and stuff in, in 1998 99 2000.

Rauel LaBreche:

With progressive actually,

Kory Hartman:

we it was bleeding edge technology, if you remember, real media real player. That's what we were using. I had, I had a server that I had bartered out for the the connection at a library in the up, and I'm broadcasting radio from South Dakota through that server, to whoever wanted to listen. Yeah. And so we've been doing a lot of audio streaming. And I said, you know, the server can do video, is there's a video part to this, and it can stream and it's, you know, it's postage stamp size back in the day. But it's live video, no five frames a second very, very poor. Yes, very poor quality, but it's but it's live video. And I said, I said, What if we can use that server? And somehow broadcast from the field from our car out chasing tornadoes, right? Or whatever? Right. And and broadcast that through the server and let the National Weather Service see exactly what we're seeing. Right. Right. And I don't have to call in real time, it's real time they can see is there a tornado? Is there not a tornado? Right? Is there big hail falling? Sure, you know, whatever. The only time they have to call me is, you know, what direction is your camera pointing? So we kind of know and where and where are you? Well, they

Rauel LaBreche:

can tell from clouds, what kinds of activity is going on? Right. So if you're getting daytime or at least enough light? Yeah, I'm sure. Okay.

Kory Hartman:

Yeah. And you can tell Yeah, is there a wall cloud? Is it rotating? Is there a funnel coming down whatever the case is. And so the Weather Service offices, were able to, to see that in real time. And again, I'm still bridging broadcasting with weather, and also very, very interesting to me. And eventually, you know, we we started a website, we had to wait for technology to catch up with us, we had this idea again in like, late 90s, early 2000s. And we had to wait till 2003 or four for the cellular networks to catch up where there was enough data, right, that we could broadcast video over, you know, over over cellular internet, a 3g network was even 3g it was like 1x or whatever it was before 3g, okay, you could with real player because it was very, very small and able to be broadcast so

Rauel LaBreche:

which is allows it to be postage stamp size. Exactly.

Kory Hartman:

Yeah, you can use this was not HD, there wasn't even HD when we started.

Rauel LaBreche:

HD wasn't magnifying glass to just go oh, that's a person.

Kory Hartman:

Yeah, it was barely SD. So so we started this off, and we started you know, like I said, we waited till about 2003 or four. And then we started doing some tests. We would, you know, those those big Logitech eyeball webcams. Yeah. I had one of those, right. Everybody did. Yeah, that's why I found a cool yeah, I dumpster doh doh for that too. And I duct taped it to the to the dashboard, you know, facing out the front window. plugged in into my laptop, I downloaded the software that I needed. And up comes a picture of the road, except it was all washed out. It was all bright, bright, sunshiny day. Yeah. And those cameras were not great. They were not meant for outdoor usage. So I had to take my sunglasses off and put them in front of the eyeball camera. So that you call them Herman or hell or something. And, and that darken the picture enough that you could actually see it and transmitted and I had a friend at the local TV station in Sioux Falls, punch it up. And and he goes, Oh my God, we've got live video from your location. And I said, Yes, we do. And and then the next year we got our first live tornado on the air and it was the first time that a tornado had ever been streamed live from the field to TV station in in South Dakota. They've been doing it in Oklahoma City for a couple years because that's like the Mecca. But we were doing it with a $10 webcam and a free server at a library and Iron Mountain

Rauel LaBreche:

I have this idea of a webcam one of those with like a nose being built for it and the sunglasses,

Kory Hartman:

Mr. Potato Head or something. Yeah, whatever. But yeah, you know, it was only you know, one one lens worth but

Rauel LaBreche:

potato head to the side. So yeah, whole thing

Kory Hartman:

run. So uh, so we did that for a few years and you know, extremely long story short, you know, TV stations around the country as we started chasing more, you know, we branched out from South Dakota and you know, as you get better and better at storm chasing and for casting your then you will go to Minnesota you'll go to, you know, Des Moines you'll go to Omaha Lincoln Nebraska area, and those stations started taking notice that we had a website and we're streaming and and they said you know, we'll we'll pay for your live stream well we'll you know, we'll give you some costs and stuff. You know first year we did it I think I got a coffee mug and and and a videotape of the of the severe weather special. But the second year, probably happy about that. I was ecstatic. I love the severe weather special. And I love the coffee mug time from Kelo TV.

Rauel LaBreche:

Now we're so jaded, I don't even get a coffee mug.

Kory Hartman:

Forget that, you know, but but they started paying, you know, a couple $100 per day for the access to the video feed. And I said, you know, this is a, this is a business now, you know, this, this is actually something that that we could branch out to. And, you know, we started off with, with a service where I think like 25 or 50 people could watch at the same time, concurrently and, and we would we keep hitting that cap, because people would tune in it's, it's, you know, sure, like today where everybody can stream live. I mean, this was before YouTube, right? This is before you stream, right? This is before any live thing. And we were doing live video streaming of tornadoes, you know, so very exciting for people. So yeah, you know, call it big, you know, crack content, maybe they couldn't, you know, they couldn't get enough. Look at this guy's got blown, that roof got blown away, you know, and, and, but it was also being used again at the weather service. And for people to go, Hey, that was my water tower, you know, in my, in my town, and I live a mile east of town, and I better take shelter, because I'm actually seeing this huge tornado coming into my town, right. And that's what it helps the, the, you know, the warning process, but, but it was also, like I said, turning into like a cottage, you know, industry. And, and so we we, we would hit that that 50 cap, and we'd swipe my buddy's credit card again, and we'd get like a cap of 150. And two more storm chases, we'd bump up against that. And then, you know, a couple chases later, we'd swipe it again. And and eventually, we got to the point where it was costing us like, like $300 a month for an unlimited number of viewers. And we're like, you know, we got to roll our own here, we've got to, we got to get our own server, you know, figure out, you know, what we can do and take out the middleman. And so we had a we had a friend of ours that that actually worked at a at a server farm in Lansing, Michigan, called Liquid web. And we we said, you know, can we get just a little tiny bit of, of bandwidth on, you know, some gigantic server that you have there in the rack. And he said, Sure I can. And because I'm an employee, I get it at at cost. You know, it cost me like, I don't even know what it was like 2020 cents an hour or something. I mean, it was very, very, very cheap. And we could run it all the time. And so that's how we that's how we moved from paying somebody else to running our own streaming service. Okay. But what we built was so much more than what we needed, that we went, Oh, gosh, we could invite other storm chasers onto our server, and get them to stream what they're seeing now we have five times right, the number of camera views out in the field, right. And so your annual goal and a bigger scope, that was it? Well, we couldn't be everywhere all the time. So we started adding associate chasers so we you know, we added a guy in Minnesota, and we added a guy in, in Colorado, and we added one of those storm chaser tour guys, that you know, would put it in his van and go out and drive around driving around anyway. And, and each one of those people would would get paid through us for the use of their video if if a TV station purchased it. And obviously tunes for whether it was like iTunes for weather or like fiber for fiber for a forecast, you know, and, and so obviously the the, you know, Weather Channel, CNN, Fox News, those types of places started noticing as well, especially when we would do hurricane chasing. So we've got all these cameras, they're live, they're on the coast, they're waiting for, you know, a cat three to come ripping in and, and so that's when that's when the national networks really started taking notice of what what we were doing. And at first it was a completely manual process. Like if somebody started streaming live, I would have to go into the server and turn on their their feed so that it would pop up on the website and say live now you know, it's all automated today with scripting and you know, all this back end stuff. But but for for about a year. Literally somebody would have to call and say hey, I'm about to start streaming down here in Arkansas. And when I would see them pop up on the screen, then I'd have to go in and turn it on for the home viewer. Right. And that was that was a crazy year. That was 15 years ago now. About the time I think, in fact, I want to say it was the day, we figured out how to do that automatically, where I would push the button in my car. And about a minute later, it would pop up on the website automatically was the day I drove into a tornado east of Omaha.

Rauel LaBreche:

Wow, firsthand experience can't be that

Kory Hartman:

streaming live streaming live to our channel six partner in Omaha who's still a client today. And it was the day of the little Sioux Iowa tornado. And that tornado, I believe was was a three or four. And it came across the river and went into the the bluffs, the Loess Hills. And it it it had a Boy Scout camp. Oh, yeah, I

Rauel LaBreche:

remember that. Yeah.

Kory Hartman:

After it went over the Boy Scout camp and went over the hill, and it hit us, myself in my my Chase partner and business partner, Kenny Allen. And so obviously, when you have a tragedy of that magnitude, and you have film of it, it's just like, that tornado would have happened, whether we were there or not. Right, everybody says, Well, I can't believe you make money off of tragedy. Well, that's the biz, you know, at times, right. Um, and we give back, you know, we did a big fundraiser for the for the scout camp and all sorts of stuff afterwards. But, um, but when you have that, that exclusive video of an event, you know, like look at some of the video coming out of Ukraine, right? You know, when you when you see the the chopper go down, because it's blown out of the sky, that person got a pay day, you know, for shooting that video, because it was the only one there, we got a pay day, because our video of that tornado that again, had gone through the Boy Scout camp with the tragic consequences rolled on every network in the country at 7am. The next morning, every network, we were in our local TV station control room, and they got all those monitors in there. And across the top they had ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, every network, every network, and at seven o'clock am Central time on the.it was our video and, uh, screaming about being in the tornado rolled on every single network. Okay, every single network paid over $1,000 for the use of that video. So we instantly started our company severe studios, with the intention that we would make it better, we would always have free access for the National Weather Service and for any government agency that that needed it, that we would go out and do spotter training, and that we would serve the public just like local radio stations, just like we had done in radio for years and years and years. But that we would use severe studios to also inform the public of what severe weather can do, and to be prepared for it, and to have a weather radio and all of those things that you need to have to stay safe during severe weather. But, you know, had we not had that experience. I wouldn't be sitting here today with you. Because, you know, after a while, you know, the Weather Channel hired me directly, they paid a pretty decent salary. So I was able to get a few bucks together to buy the radio station here. Right? Um, had had we not gotten hit by a tornado and gotten video of a tragic situation at that boy scout camp, right? I wouldn't be sitting here today doing what we're doing right now.

Rauel LaBreche:

Well, let's face it news is news. Because people want to know the news and it's you know, people talk about it. So you should do that for free. Well, nothing is free. And you have your time and you had personal tragedy and you don't

Kory Hartman:

have Webmin you have gas you have maintenance, you know it blew out three windows in my car. I took my license plate rolled it up like a newspaper you know, certainly absolutely nothing what the what the poor families, right, you know, had to go through, but that's the other that's the flip side of the coin. You know, storm chasers do not root for death and destruction. Right You know, they're there. To log it. We're there to to capture what what is going to happen whether we are there or not. And you know, there's there's chasers that get caught up in the excitement of I saw a tornado and they don't know what's happening on the ground. You know, there's a great video from that. 1998 Spencer, South Dakota tornado shot was one of the first tornadoes ever to shot on 35 millimeter film, you know, up close. Personal widescreen, whatever. And you know, that person had driven from Texas, to Spencer, South Dakota. You know, it was it was forecast, he was actually listening to me on the radio giving reports as to where the tornado was. And I kind of directed him to it. And he got this beautiful film shot sunsetting behind this black churning mass, you know, that was two miles away, or two miles away, you don't know what's happening on the ground. Right? Right. Right. And what was happening while he was filming, that was eight people were dying. You know, these these were elderly people at a at a rest home that were getting blown out of their beds. And but you don't know that that's happening. So he's cheering that he's shooting this amazing footage. And then of course, then you get hit with the flip side that, hey, people died in this. People lost their businesses, their homes, their livelihood, their neighbors, their bank, you know, the bank? Gram. Yeah, all that was left of the bank and Spencer was the the vault. Yeah, everything else was wiped clean. Right. Um, and so you know, there was like two, two businesses, two buildings left standing in Spencer. And they moved the City Hall, the post office and the bank, all to that guy's house, because it was the only thing still standing in town, like one grain silo and that guy's house on the corner of town, Barneveld, gosh, very, very, very similar situation. You know, I thought we were going to have a situation like that a few weeks ago down in Iowa, and a big tornado came very close to Des Moines. I thought we were going to have a really bad day, we had a bad enough day, in Winterset, Iowa, that we had some people killed there from on a day that we didn't really expect big tornadoes, right. And so, you know, it was kind of a surprise to get a 70 mile long EF for in early season. And we lost life there. But if that if that track would have been 40 miles further north 30 miles further north, it would have went right through the heart of the Moines. So think about what an f4 threw the biggest city in Iowa, what kind of tragedy that would have would have been right. Um, but but again, we were there, we were streaming live video, working with our media partners, where we're tweeting or Facebooking, or streaming live, you know, or YouTube, and we're doing all the stuff that we can do to get the information to the public. Through both new media and legacy media,

Rauel LaBreche:

I would hope to those situations inform people in a way that it becomes much more real that tornadoes you don't want to mess around with this is what happens, you know, so when when I hear there's a tornado warning, I mean, I'm, I'm a little bit more of a you know, tornado warning, I think, yeah. Are you inside? Yeah, you've had so many of them that it's, you know, warning this morning, who cares? You know, but the fact when you can see that, really, yeah, up close and personal on the ground experience you're talking about

Kory Hartman:

and the warnings, warnings have actually gotten so good. Over the last decade, that we now have over 20 minutes average lead time, between the time that your weather radio or your phone, beeps and buzzes at you, until the tornado actually hits your house. It used to be three minutes. So we've gone from three minutes average, to a 20 minute average. That's enough time to eat a sandwich and brush your teeth and then Go change your clothes. I got my tornado boots, ready to go? You know, put the helmet

Rauel LaBreche:

on and go we joke about something.

Kory Hartman:

But you think about that you have a you have 17 more minutes than you did in 1980. Right? In 2022. Right. So so so use that time to you know, get your stuff together and get get to shelter and, um, you know, so yeah, it is, you know, we we make fun of it. But it's

Rauel LaBreche:

part of how we deal with the seriousness of it. Yeah, it's not meant to get a job. But social

Kory Hartman:

science is is one thing, because the warnings have gotten so good. People are starting to actually become more complacent. Just like you said, Oh, we get warnings all the time. Well, tornado warnings a little different than a severe thunderstorm warning or, or, you know, winter storm warning. You know, every winter weather advisory every time there's an inch of snow, we get an advisory. Okay, well, that's, you get warning fatigue. Right. So what you just said was exactly right, because the social scientists that we've been working with over the last decade or so have determined that it takes four to five confirmations that something is happening before you will actually take action on that thing, right. So your phone goes off. That's your first and you're like, what, what is that? Then maybe you have a weather radio, NOAA Weather Radio, maybe that goes off and you're like, oh, I should really pay attention to what's going on here. Then you see it on social Media and you're like, oh, that's number three. Then your mom calls you from the west side of town and you're on the east side of town. She says, Hey, I think something's happening over here. And then you tune into severe studios and you see a live tornado coming into your town. That's your that finally, finally, we're stubborn humans, right?

Rauel LaBreche:

Well, it's like a marketing ad issue. You have to get something in front of somebody 11 times or something. Right? From even notice that oh, there's an event going on?

Kory Hartman:

Yep. But to believe it. Yeah, that is even more the problem, especially nowadays, with a lot of misinformation and, and everything being political and everything else. Whether it's not political, whether, whether it doesn't care, that tornado doesn't care, left, right, center, whatever, whether it's microbes, they just Yeah, and you can you can argue about climate change and make that in a political thing. But, you know, here's, here's the deal that that tornado is coming toward your house, you need to do something, you can't be apathetic toward it. So. So it's our job to give you that information. And that's

Rauel LaBreche:

what you will. That's what we do, right? Yep. Folks, my guest today is is Corey Hartman, the owner and founder of severe studios, as well as WR PQ. We're gonna take a brief break and come back here on frame of reference, but don't go anywhere because we're going to talk about a lot of things I hope this afternoon and probably get into two episodes because the way we're going it's this is almost an episode right now you get me on whether it's all over. The passion comes out like so don't go anywhere. We'll be right back here on frame of reference on WR PQ 99. Seven Max FM's digital network. Are you dealing with a moody meow or a whiny woofer or a negative Nayar in your family welfare not Macfarlanes in sock city has just the right pet toys and pet foods to put spring in any step and Whoopie in any Wolfer and a me Wow, in any cat stop by and bring your fur baby with you. We're pet friendly in every way at Macfarlanes, one block south of highway 12, seven at Carolina Street in Sauk. City. We're back here on frame of reference. And my guest today is actually a guy that made frame of reference possible or at least was the impetus for getting it going. So in a way, we're talking with the guy, the guy that said Terol you know what I was doing mornings at Macfarlanes, five years ago, right? And COVID hit and there was all this craziness with COVID. And I started having these longer conversations. And Cory was nice enough to let my longer conversations go longer than the 22 minutes I was supposed to be doing. And a little while, a little while. And then it got to the point where I'll get here get back to 22 minutes, and they're cutting things out and whatnot. And I said why don't you podcast instead. And here we are doing frame of reference for coming up on two years now. That's crazy, you know, and, you know, building the listenership and I hope this show will help do that as well. Because it's it's fun talking with Cory, thank you for being on thank you for doing the show. Sorry, it took so long to because we talked about this back on mornings,

Kory Hartman:

I've pushed you off for like three years. And I can, Raul said I will not be ignored anymore.

Rauel LaBreche:

And I said I will make you smell my armpit if you do not do this. So anyways, we started off. And we just launched into Korea's background on whether and I don't know if you've noticed that if you listen to the first part of this podcast, but Cory is a little passionate about weather. So he just he has got a lot of cool stories to tell. And anyone that's thinking about maybe doing storm chaser, he's a great resource for that sort of thing. Yeah,

Kory Hartman:

or even storm spotting. I mean, the National Weather Service does classes so that you can be part of that, you know, you're not, you know, chasing them down. But you're you're, you're stationed at a specific spot near your house or a part of the county that needs coverage. And you go there and you see what's going on and report the hail and the spinny clouds and whatever else. And and so, you know, spotters are very important to that ground truth, right? Everybody's like, well, we have apps and radars and this and that, well, that's all great, except the radar beam is you know, 6000 feet above the ground. It's not going to see that little tornado spin and down in that cornfield. So. So spotters are very important as well

Rauel LaBreche:

well I'm amazed at how often that radar is very deceptive about you know, their the storm track or what's really going sure it's a machine it doesn't know I mean the information is pumping out there you just don't know what kind of the quality of the equipment or the quality and the interpretive software all that good stuff. Yeah, we blew right past the first part of the show. That's our nature have to backtrack now we're gonna backtrack now. Normally we start the show out with our favorite things and I don't maybe this is not people's favorite thing on the show. So maybe it was a good thing I you know, just like the tornado, right? It just blew through and told you Hey, I'm not doing this anymore. Right but I want to go back to it. I'm committed to favorite things. It's it's something that I'm doing this for me, okay. Because I enjoy what happens very well. Shakti and, you know, we're on the radio.

Kory Hartman:

I didn't cry all so

Rauel LaBreche:

and we're, you know, we just, you know, please no vile language that you know sometimes comes out of our mouths just when we're not on here. Anyway, it's okay. So start out with using one favorite color.

Kory Hartman:

Blue, white blue sky. Okay. All right.

Rauel LaBreche:

Any other variation other times where you're not feeling blue. You're feeling No, no blue, is it? I'm the blue guy is your logo for storm studios? Is

Kory Hartman:

that blue? No, it's red. Like alert. Okay, morning.

Rauel LaBreche:

Ah, that makes sense. Okay, I'm gonna favorite bird.

Kory Hartman:

Favorite bird. I really, I really like eagles. You know, I can't not like geodesy or whatever. But in this area. They're they're a little. They're fleeting to me. Like my family keeps saying, Oh, I see eagles all the time. And I keep missing them. You know, I went to the eagle release. Yeah, in sock. That was great. It was like 14 Bullet zero. That day was fantastic. Why can't we release eagles in the summer? Do they not fly in the summer? No. Is there something that I know I zone

Rauel LaBreche:

over Eagles

Kory Hartman:

should have known what that was. But anyways, he basking. Okay. Okay, fine. So I get it. I'm sure it's something with the mating season and whatever, but But you know, you know, 14 below in January, that's when we released eagles. So, so we checked that out that was, you know, fantastic. And I

Rauel LaBreche:

hate to tell you, but the Eagles don't really give a darn about when you want to see.

Kory Hartman:

I'm just putting that I get that. I'm just asking the why. Okay, I don't know

Rauel LaBreche:

why it hasn't. You're like the kid in class. This is why are we studying this stupid material? Right?

Kory Hartman:

I'm never gonna use this 14 below Eagle release.

Rauel LaBreche:

Hey, okay, how about a favorite quote? Do you have a favorite quote? Favorite? Or do you have a kind of a maxim that you use to go through life?

Kory Hartman:

I really, I really don't. Um, I mean, I have one for radio. And that's tighten up. That means no dead air? No, you know, no sloppiness good presentation, that sort of thing. So I've always been making make it tighter. Which means no gaps between elements. Right? You know, right. Keep it going. Keep it going, keep it going. It should, radio should be like a rushing river and we tune in, you jump in and get carried along with whatever's happening. And so that's what, that's what I think our radio station should sound like, it should be exciting. And you're you become part of something.

Rauel LaBreche:

Well, I mean, media, in fact, is kind of that way. Now if you can't get them in the first 10 seconds. Yeah. You know, oh, my god, yeah, what's going on here?

Kory Hartman:

It's called a stream, right?

Rauel LaBreche:

Hopefully a stream with rapid, so you really get them engaged, right? So how about a favorite place to go when you need to destress or re recalibrate your sigh.

Kory Hartman:

So there's a couple. So I love going back to the up and going to any number of lakes and rivers and we have a little camp little hunting camp, you know, grab a pasty and, and go to and go to camp. So that's that's, that's a family thing. But, um, but I love being out on the open planes in the middle of a field where you can see the horizon in every direction. And you're just there with nature. You know, storms can be a very chaotic, a very scary a very dangerous thing. But and some people don't believe me when I say this, but they can also be beautiful. You can have this spiraling 30,000 40,000 50,000 foot tall supercell thunderstorm that does not produce a tornado, which we still don't know why. But it because because the one the next day that looks exactly the same produces a mile wide wedge or 18 tornadoes. But and and it's the only storm there and you're in the middle of Kansas somewhere and the sun is going down and you can see the stars above this anvil with lightning in it. And you're the only person on the side of this gravel road watching this. It doesn't get any better for me. So when I need to escape, I escaped to wide open space wide open spaces, not barren spaces like Montana. But But wide open spaces with with weather going on.

Rauel LaBreche:

There's a lot of metaphorical stuff going on. There's a little bit going on there. Yeah, but watching the storm from afar and and it's

Kory Hartman:

so weird. The two places that I grew up, you know, in the up to get out of the trees you have to go into town, right? To get to find trees in Kansas. You have to go into town. So it's it's like a complete chagrin

Rauel LaBreche:

point. Anyway, that's the question.

Kory Hartman:

Where do you want to be Make up your mind. Do you want to be in the forest? Or do you want to be in the trees? Yeah. So I'm sure there's something something there surrounded by never being able to see the horizon while I was growing up, right. And then moving to the plains for a while, where you can you know, the, the sun goes down in the up at like 630 in the summer because you've got 80 foot tall pine trees, right, you know, right. Ah, in South Dakota in the summer, the sun sets at 10:05pm Yeah, you know, and it's light until 1030. Right. And you can you saw it go below the horizon. It's up at four and it's yeah, it's so date days are much longer, which is great for storm chasing. Because, you know, tornado time is 6pm. You those tornadoes to hide. Yes, yes. And yeah, nighttime tornadoes. that's those are scary. That's a scary thing, because you can't see him coming. You can maybe I've only done a couple of of nighttime tornado chases. One in northwest Iowa. I can't remember exactly where it was Spirit Lake or Spencer, somewhere in northwest Iowa. And thankfully, it was a low precipitation, nighttime storm, because when the lightning would light up, you could see the funnel. And you could see that it was a damaging tornado it was There was debris and stuff getting turned around. But you only get that split second to see it and you pray for more lightning, because you're like I got to see where that is. So I stay safe. So I can warn these towns that are coming up. Right and so so you had nighttime tornadoes. Those Those are very, very scary.

Rauel LaBreche:

So how about a fever doc?

Kory Hartman:

You have like dogs? Yeah, okay. I like dogs. I like bagels, bagels. I like bagels.

Rauel LaBreche:

Ah my daughter and you and I should get together and exchange Beagle story. Oh, yeah, and Beagles are strange dog breed I think because you Intel you've had a beagle. I don't think you really understand how charming a beagle really

Kory Hartman:

charming it is and how curious that nosy Oh my god.

Rauel LaBreche:

Well, in people will say a beagle is nothing but four legs with a nose, nose with four legs. Yeah, either way. And we've noticed with our new dogs that we have now, a couple of years, we had three beagles before that and you you could not have a gate open ever, because they'd be in the next county, you know, in a couple of

Kory Hartman:

minutes on their nose. So like,

Rauel LaBreche:

there's something going on in Columbia County that I need to snip up close. Exactly. Yeah, it's just amazing. And they have a lot of character

Kory Hartman:

maybe cuz they're, they're, you know, short to the ground. And you know, curious

Rauel LaBreche:

Yeah, was the reason why they're hunting hounds. Right. You know, there's there's that last hounds and then there's the so

Kory Hartman:

we have a we have a beagle terrier mix, right? Okay, that's what our,

Rauel LaBreche:

that'll get us on. And that made everything we could do Beagle and personally. Long Ears, whatever. How about do you have a favorite book?

Kory Hartman:

Oh, goodness. Um, I'm a radio geek. So everything that I have is a educational real? Yeah, I know. Um, the the history of American Top 40 AC K, some. Okay, Chatto Stevens sounds really that whole how that came to be okay, um, that I think that's one of the my favorite favorite books that I've ever read, because I'm just a big radio geek.

Rauel LaBreche:

Any anything about that, that inspired you? Or?

Kory Hartman:

Oh, sure, there were tons of ideas in there. You know, everything from how they felt a format clock should look, you know, where the where your commercial breaks should land and, and just to how you should, how you should deal with people how you should take care of the people that work under you. Casey Casey was great at that. He had a great team around him. You know, Don bustani and Tom rounds and all the guys out in LA that that were were his inner core. Sure. And everybody that worked under him just had you know, nothing but the best things to say about that is such a gentle standard for that. Yeah, if you want somebody to look up to you look up at the Dick Clark's and the even even Ryan Seacrest Nowadays he's doing it for so long, right? Um, and and the Casey Katims of the world as to you know how to do radio but just how to be a good person

Rauel LaBreche:

right? When you think it's inspiring in general to see good people get that kind of success. Yeah, you know, cuz there's so many jerks that don't have success throwing things. Yeah, whatever reasons. And you just think why, you know, I've met a lot of that in my work at the Union theatre Chen. People that were Gregory pecks, wonderful people that had every reason to be complete jerks, and we're still princes. and everything they did the way they treated everyone. And then there were people that were, you know, one shot Mary's or Billy's, you know music industry and they thought they were just the cat's meow and

Kory Hartman:

because they're jaded, jaded well and he didn't get that next role they didn't get that next thing you know

Rauel LaBreche:

nobody wants to work with them you know it's just what

Kory Hartman:

and and sadly the the the media business is like that and the storm chasing business is like that and I would assume that there's a lot of businesses where where you have an exciting I don't know like backhoe driver I don't know of how much competition there is in that but when but when you're competing to get video

Rauel LaBreche:

14 people apply yeah we're known as the backhoe people

Kory Hartman:

or the backhoe kings Yes. But um but but when you're trying to sell tornado video to a national TV network or even internationally I mean that's got a little bit uh you know competition and and stress and everything else there. And so there's there's a lot of people vying for that one two minute slot Ron Good Morning America right and and so that that will bring out you know, the worst in people um, you know, Internet message boards and and social media trolling and trolling and all of that all of that stuff is I like I said I'm sure it's there in every profession. But But media and storm chasing the two things I took

Rauel LaBreche:

it's right out there front and center. It's over the top

Kory Hartman:

Yeah. Um, in fact, we even had I'm getting off your list again.

Rauel LaBreche:

We want less this was just here for fun that's No, this is not air we got the list chamber. That sound effect that's done EBC sound effects Oh, we got nothing on us.

Kory Hartman:

So um, so I was actually pitched a television show. We shot we shot a pilot and everything and it was literally going to be about the the mile you know, Alaskan Road Truckers truckers guy and and you know, they they show like you know, that person got the payday and this person got a little less and this person went in the ditch or went through the water and they they lost you know, $80,000 trucks right they they blew it that day. They were going to do that with me and a couple other storm chasing video brokers, you know which team got the sale and got their video to the Weather Channel and all that kind of thing. And it was all just going to be about the drama and the behind the scenes. Because there's literally enough of it to fill a 13 episode season easily easily.

Rauel LaBreche:

Oh, that can't possibly

Kory Hartman:

possibly be well it is. You know I it's so funny. Everybody asked me about the movie Twister right how real was Twister Well, when I first saw it you know I think I think I graduated from high school the year it came out I said I said well there's no way any of that is true you know these These people are nuts there's there's no way that you'd have a tornado outbreak this big. There's no way any of that you know is is true wrong. There are crazy people there have

Rauel LaBreche:

been that's just evident all around

Kory Hartman:

but but they're there they're you know you got to be a little nuts to chase a tornado now we've got your wife would know we've got some crazy crazy people in the storm chasing community. Um, and so yeah, so this this series was going to be all about all of that all of that drama and back to Twister you know, then for about a few years I'm like oh my god this is like a documentary. I like this is exactly what goes on the love story The all of it. Yes. And now I've gone back to it's it's it's more of of a of a comedy than anything. It's the world you wished it was right so right I wish the tornadoes waited for you to get the perfect get the perfect angle and at the romance turned out is when and that not everybody was happy at the end. Yeah. And so, so yeah, okay, last,

Rauel LaBreche:

okay. Yeah, favorite things, and then we're gonna break this episode of it. Come on back. All right. So do you have a favorite memory from childhood, it's something that if you are reminded of it or just you're in a place you smell a smell that you go back to and just it's one of those kind of nice places that you can go to in your memories and, and kind of change your mood. You know, I mean, I have things of those that I try to catalogue and remember them when I need that kind of lift that endorphin blast that you sometimes need. There's something like that.

Kory Hartman:

Boy, I'm I'm sure there's 100 things that I could I could think of first one off, but you know, it really I started in, in broadcasting. So young men are 15 years old, you know, so I'm going on 30 years of broadcaster here. And so you said smell. And there's nothing like the smell of that coffee pot at the radio station at 5am on a Saturday morning, and you're waiting for that, that coffee to come out of there so that you can, you know, hit the sign on card and and start broadcasting for the day at five o'clock in the morning playing 40s and 50s music because that's that's what I started start doing all these radio since the day I was born. So so that that that smell and that that station very special. To me, the I took a chance on a 15 year old to you know, I think that that's you know, that's the age of my youngest kid, would I put Dexter in charge of a whole radio station for 12 hours on a Saturday morning, I probably would not do that yet. may know maybe maybe a year or two down the road or with Max who's 18 Now, sure why they demonstrate

Rauel LaBreche:

the kind of commitment that you had as well. Who what how many kids you know, that go home and read the teletype? Not that there are teletypes but you know, print off stuff off the internet? Not

Kory Hartman:

much anymore. No, no,

Rauel LaBreche:

we're going right back to the GM shop

Kory Hartman:

and the news from six weeks ago. But there's flash, so but those those early, Saturday mornings or Christmas morning, you know when you're part time you're in high school, you work the holidays. And so we would split Christmas, I think we were on the air for for 18 hours or something and we would split it right down the middle. I would do nine hours. And my buddy Kevin would do nine hours. And by that ninth hour and your fifth time of playing Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. You start to get a gist. You start seeing that you start to get a little punchy. Yeah. Dad and then and then you start doing pranks to the next guy that's coming in to take over from you. And we had this we had this Burl Ives record. And he had just this weird look on his face when he when he did this record album it was kind of like Oh, like that. And and it was just the weirdest looking record album Christmas album. And I put it on the end of a big you know microphone boom arm and I clipped it on there but it was below the window. And as soon as Kevin started reading we had to do all these live read commercials. Oh Langenberg funeral home would like to give you the feeling of the season and I never understood a funeral home doing Christmas ads bunny you know, it pays the bills. Right? So you know from from Billy PD, stinky and Joe. We'd like to issue the all of the the best of the upcoming season.

Rauel LaBreche:

You really don't want a guy doing involving.

Kory Hartman:

That's why he's stinky. Anyway, and and so he would and we had this big binder. It was just full. Everything on Christmas Day was a live commercial tour. And so we put we put this you know, scratchy old piano record in the background. So we had some background music, and he rips into this commercial and and slowly Burl Ives and his goofy face raises up over the control board. And my buddy lost. He lost it he couldn't even run the board. He couldn't get to the microphone to turn it off. He was on the floor convulsing. And that is one of my favorite memories for being 16 year old and messing with this 33 year old guy that's that's taking over on Christmas day. That was the best Christmas present ever.

Rauel LaBreche:

That's priceless. That's one of those Kodak commercial prices. Books. My guest today is none other than Corey Hawkman. So which isn't your real name? But I'm not going to even go there right now. No Corey Hartman who is the owner and general manager and just I

Kory Hartman:

am director and Sales Director

Rauel LaBreche:

of WR P seven Max FM as well as the storm network your storm your studio studio. I can't get that one through my head. I get the pace

Kory Hartman:

that everybody calls it severe storms studios. Type that in you get all sorts of weird things. Oh, severe studio

Rauel LaBreche:

severe students, which makes sense, right? We're gonna take a break and come back with a closer for this episode and come back next week. So you have to tune in and hear that have us laugh like crazy people, and hopefully talk about some meaningful things too at the same time, so don't go anywhere your frame of reference and 99 Seven Max FM's digital network.

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Rauel LaBreche:

You know change can be a scary thing. When ownership of WR PQ changed five years ago, I have to confess that I was a bit scared, or at least nervous about whether or not my live show at that time would be affected. Well, needless to say, I had nothing to worry about. Like most changes, it ultimately ended up being a very good thing because Corey came in with lots of great ideas, guidance and experience that I believe just made my show and my work on it better. The other thing that was evident about Cory from the get go was his passion for radio and passion for doing it well in a small market that would allow him to really focus on serving that community. It was a perfect fit in many, many ways. And that passion has been developing since he was a teenager. But the driving force of it has remained the same to entertain and to serve the needs of his community. And now with the advent of worldwide streaming that community is in fact global. And at the same time, our very own local treasure and then with his other business severe studio. We also benefit from a frame of reference that allows us to see that severe weather is not just an interesting phenomenon, but more importantly, a life changing event for the people affected by its power. Join us next week as we explored both of these passions more and celebrate Korea's professional attitudes toward Sauk County and beyond. Tell them stay well.