From Wednesday 8 to Monday 13 June, South Dakota State Historical Society Press author Merlyn Magner has been touring South Dakota for her new book, Come into the Water: A Survivor’s Story.
During that time, she has given three presentations, signed books in four locations, and been interviewed by television, radio, and print media a combined twelve times. In other words, Merlyn’s been quite busy! She started the tour soon after arriving in Rapid City, SD, from her home in the Ozarks last Wednesday. By that time, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the Rapid City Journal had already interviewed her, but South Dakota Public Television had not yet had the chance. She unpacked her bags at the hotel and drove out to where her house stood before the flood washed it away to meet Charles Michael Ray of SDPB TV. The interview went well, and the footage will be used in an SDPB special for the 40th anniversary of the flood in 2012.
June 9th dawned and, with it, so did the anniversary of the 1972 Rapid City Flood. A jam-packed day awaited Merlyn, which started bright and early with a radio interview conducted by Don Grant for KOTA-Radio out of Rapid City. From there, she whisked over to SDPB’s radio studio to chat with Dakota Midday host Paul Guggenheimer, and from there, she hurried straight over to KOTA-TV studios in order to appear on the noon news show with Cindy Davis. Don, Paul, and Cindy asked some great questions, gave Merlyn the chance to answer in depth, and conducted flawless interviews.
Not content with a few minutes on the live show, Cindy asked Merlyn to partake in a longer feature piece for the evening news. So, we all headed over to Merlyn’s former home, where Cindy filmed and questioned Merlyn further. At the end of the filming, we finally had a moment to catch our breath before the next appointment: an oral-history interview at the Journey Museum for their comprehensive exhibit on the flood. An hour or so flew by quickly, which left enough time for dinner before returning to the Journey for a presentation, book signing, and reception that evening. Having hoped for seventy-five or attendees, it became apparent by about 6:30pm that we had underestimated rather considerably. The official count ended up at 296 audience members, 3 TV news crews (including Tessa Thomas from Black Hills Fox, as well as a reporter from KNBN in RC), 2 presenters, and a number of pleased-as-punch Journey Museum staff and this SDSHS Press marketing director! Merlyn and Don Barnett (the other presenter) engaged the audience during their presentations, while answering questions, and as they signed books, and when we finally left at almost 10pm, it is safe to say that although rather tired, we were all pleased with the outcome.
Friday, we headed back to Pierre. Merlyn had interviews with the Capital Journal and with KSOO radio to carry out prior to a presentation and signing at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, and, once again, both interviews went well. The presentation and signing attracted more than thirty attendees, including some who had their own recollections of the events of 1972. Saturday, we all jumped back in the car and took off for Sioux Falls.
Again, media responsibilities drew us, as did a signing at Zandbroz Bookstore. Both KDLT and KELO TV (two of South Dakota’s biggest news outlets) welcomed Merlyn into their studios for in-depth interviews. With a slightly different target audience, Maren Larson or KDLT and Angela Kennecke of KELO had some slightly different questions to those Merlyn had answered in Rapid City, and as such drew out some new thoughts from our author. The signing at Zandbroz was also well-attended, and as usual, Jeff, Jamie, and their crew at Zandbroz made us all feel right at home.
A long trip back to Rapid City awaited Merlyn, along with a date at the Adams Museum in Deadwood and an interview with the Mitchell Daily Republic today, by which time, I’m fairly certain our most-obliging author will be just about ready for a nap!