Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media and Twitter users are talking about.
Report: The beloved Arctic car may appear again elsewhere
God knows how long it had been hovering there, stuck atop a towering pole overlooking I-94W in Minneapolis: a Porsche 914 with “Psalm 46:10” printed on the side, driven by a ragged-looking mannequin. Like any strange urban folk art, it gave motorists traveling through an impermanent world a sense of permanence. Back in 2021, Racket’s Jay Bowler tried to sort out its murky origins in a game of “Hey, what’s the big deal?” series, although his calls to the bus company that owned the property yielded very little. So a huge journalistic kudos to Tommy Whitta at Bring Me the News, who managed to gather the scoop on the car’s recent disappearance and also connect with the new owner, Bille Bus, whose drivers “honestly didn’t know the extent of its history.” “We thought it would fall any day,” continues Hakim Abdullah, senior manager at Bille Bus. “If it falls on the highway, it is a danger (to others) and will leave us responsible as well.”
Minneapolis city officials approved Bille Bus’s plans to swap the vehicle for a new sign in June, according to Abdullah. BMTN reports that Porsche’s history dates back to the 1970s, and Reddit users remember the model wearing different looks — a yellow bikini, a Minnesota Twins jersey — in times gone by. The car was taken Monday to Hot Sam’s Antiques & Foto Park in Lakeville, where it has reportedly been restored and may one day return to the top of a pole, this time overlooking I-35W in the South Metro. Abdullah, who seems like a good sport, has noticed the dismal reactions online to his company’s decision, and has one regret. “We should have put a bus there, and put (the mannequin) on top of the bus… I thought it was a great idea. But I didn’t think about it at the time,” he says, noting that the removal cost $15,000 and was going the bus route. The small one will add another $15,000. “I’m also a Twin Cities guy, so I would never do anything intentional to disrespect someone who takes pride in where they’re from.”
Outside Magazine: Minneapolis is a great place to live (too bad for the cops)
Nothing makes Minneapolis happier than being featured on the national list of good places. So the news that we’ve been named one of Outside magazine’s “15 Happiest Places to Live in the U.S.” (joining other delightful places like Harrisburg, Tacoma, and Wilmington) will definitely make us jump to the top of some spots on the list. Outside’s criteria are community, quality of life, and access to the outdoors, and they note we’re No. 1 in People for Bikes’ annual large-city rankings and third in the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore rankings. Each entry on the list also has a “Room for Improvement” section, which for many cities seems like a deal breaker like “Everyone has already bought all the houses here” or “Climate change will soon make this city uninhabitable.” ‘Room for improvement’ in Minneapolis? Our police have historically been murderous thugs. Or as Outside says, we have “serious law enforcement problems” and MPD is “suffered by illegal behavior, discrimination, and mismanagement.” But don’t let that stop you from moving on, happiness seekers: As Outside reassures us, “according to a city police spokesperson, the department has undergone a number of reforms over the past few years.”
Goodbye to Fox 9’s Tom Layden
The Twin Cities news scene is about to lose one of its heavy hitters. Senior investigative reporter Tom Layden, who has worked at Fox 9 for three decades, will leave the station later this week. Layden, 58, will spend the foreseeable future caring for his 86-year-old mother in Mariposa, Calif., he revealed in a tearful conversation with the Star Tribune’s Neil Gustin. “I’m really struggling with my identity when I’m not Tom Layden, the Fox 9 investigator,” he says. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find out.” Leyden has been a stubborn embodiment of the industry’s principle of “comforting the afflicted and harming the comfortable,” going after cults (River Road Fellowship), religious leaders (Archbishop John Nienstedt), and discriminatory housing practices, among many noteworthy targets. “He may be the most in-depth reporter the state of Minnesota has ever had,” Fox 9 GM Mim Davey tells the Strib. “He’s kind, but tough. He was the man that ordinary people turned to when they had no hope.” MPR News’ John Wanamaker, who recently announced his departure from our market, predicts we haven’t heard the latest from Layden: “He’s going to do something in journalism in the very near future. You can’t keep a guy like that down.” Fox will present a special tribute to Layden during Broadcast at 9pm on Thursday. The reporter has also prepared a package that will look back at his 30 years in local journalism.
Georgia Fort and Marian Combs bought a radio station
Last year, Georgia Forte and Marian Combs founded the Center for Broadcast Journalism, a nonprofit online newsroom that features stories written by early-career POC journalists for POC communities. This week the duo launched a new radio station, Power 104.7 FM, with similar aspirations. Until now, the station has focused on playing hip-hop and R&B tunes, two genres often missing from Minnesota’s airwaves, with short news segments every few songs. “We’re really hoping to reach people through music and then spread the word,” Forte tells Pat Burzi at MinnPost. “We communicate through music and get people’s attention that way. And then, every two songs, you’ll get a 60- to 90-second news update as well.” Forte is also the founder of BLCK Press, a female-run digital newsroom. Combs is a 20-year veteran At MPR News.