How to eat lutefisk on live TV
Maarja Anderson - Photo courtesy WDIO-TV
Grantsburg native Maarja Anderson is having fun working as a Twin Ports TV news journalist
by Scott Hoffman
Leader staff writer
GRANTSBURG/DULUTH - There’s nothing like Christmas in the northland. Traditions run as deep as the big lake that lies just an hour and a half north.
Krumkake, yulekake and yes, every Scandinavian’s favorite Christmas meal, lutefisk.
Grantsburg’s Maarja Anderson became part of one of those traditions as the rookie reporter at ABC affiliate WDIO Channel 10/13 in Duluth, Minn.
“I had to eat lutefisk on live TV- mmm mmm!" Anderson said. "It's something the station has been doing for years and years, so it was fun to be part of the long-standing tradition. And as a proud Scandinavian myself, it was a delight to go around the church and talk with all the Swedes, Norwegians and Danes about their Christmas traditions. I just hope I won't have to eat lutefisk again on live TV, it's tough to delicately pull out a fish bone on television!”
A link to that live broadcast can be found here.
The daughter of Todd and Renee Anderson of Grantsburg, Maarja (pronounced marEEa), was not sure what direction her career path was going to take her. “I thought I'd maybe follow my father's footsteps and try and do law school eventually, but that wasn't cutting it as far as my interests. When I was in high school, Grantsburg didn't really offer anything journalism-related except for English, so I wasn't truly exposed to the idea of being a journalist until I attended Madison."
Maarja said one of her first courses was an introductory journalism class, as well as the pre-requisite to apply to the School of Journalism & Mass Communication.
"To say the least, I fell in love with the material and topic and had a bit of a career epiphany," she said. "Once in the J-school, I focused on broadcasting.”
She has big pride in her alma mater, so much so that she could easily do a marketing commercial for her beloved University of Wisconsin.
“I can't imagine having spent four better years at any other university. Once a Badger, always a Badger ... and I'm so proud to say that! My freshmen residence hall had more people living in it than all of Grantsburg, but I loved it! I met my best friends in that dorm and lived with them for the rest of my college career. It's a big school, that's for sure, but it offers so many opportunities not only through the university but through the community, too."
Madison, she noted, is a great city, a true college town - nothing beats a game-day Saturday.
"The sea of red heading toward Camp Randall is my favorite sight to see," she said. "The school spirit at Madison is undeniable, I've never met an ashamed Badger. On Wisconsin! "
Being a longtime Packer fan and Badger alum she had an internship deep in the heart of enemy territory working for K102 Radio in Minneapolis and KSTP-TV in Minneapolis. It has even been rumored she was tempted to consider switching sides after a debonair Christan Ponder waltzed through her newsroom.
Maarja has also had to cover the not-so-fun side of TV news. When the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred she was really having to deal with a lot of emotions as she covered the story and the victims of the local Red Lake High School shooting in 2005, who were reaching out to those grieving in Connecticut.
“I followed the story for the week after that tragic Friday, getting local reaction and following relief efforts," she said. "While it was rewarding to report on people helping out those families in Newtown, like the Red Lake students that road tripped out to offer support and the knitters in the northland that are making blankets for all the families, it was tough to constantly report on the tragedy. It's days like those that I think it's tough to be in the TV news business.”
Whether it’s a fun day at the station or tough one Maarja is always aware of her hometown roots.
“I'm proud to be from Grantsburg, and I make sure everyone up here knows it!”