In Ishpeming, Michigan, lives a remarkable man, Carl Pellonpaa, who has been promoting Finland in the United States since 1962. "Finland Calling, Suomi kutsuu" is one of the longest running talk shows in the U.S. and it is celebrating its 53th anniversary this year. Since its beginning, the show has been hosted by Pellonpaa, whose parents are from Finland. The program airs its final episode on March 29, 2015.
The show was born in 1962 when Tom Quayle suggested to General Manager of WLUC TV6 that with a Finnish TV Show, both TV6 and travel agencies around the Midwest would benefit financially. Carl Pellonpaa was chosen as the host, and the name "Finland Calling, Suomi kutsuu" was decided.
Carl Pellonpaa speaks both English and Finnish and has hosted the show in both languages. "Finland Calling" is the only Finnish TV show in the United States. Through the show, Pellonpaa has been able to host 34 tours to Finland and Scandinavia with over one thousand people joining in the tours. Pellonpaa has also hosted the "Finland Calling Dances" that gave the viewers a possibility to meet each other. The last dances were held in March 2015, and over 300 excited fans attended the event. The show is without a doubt a unique program and very important to its viewers.
While filming the show Carl Pellonpaa has had the pleasure of meeting many new people, but he says it's hard to name just one memorable moment. "I have interviewed two presidents of Finland, Urho Kekkonen and Tarja Halonen. That was really remarkable, not everyone can say that they have interviewed a president," he says.
Carl Pellonpaa has been awarded with the Order of the White Rose of Finland by President Mauno Koivisto in 1988, and in 2012 he received the Institute of Migration's John Morton award.
"Finland Calling" has promoted Finland and Finnish culture in North Michigan and has played a major role connecting Finnish communities living in the Unites States. Pellonpaa was working as a news anchor on the WLUC TV6 until 1995, and after his retirement he decided to continue hosting "Finland Calling". After 53 years of hosting the show Pellonpaa is overwhelmed when asked about the final episode. "It's difficult to realize that the show is ending. So many different thoughts are going through my head," he says.
In the future, American-Finnish Carl Pellonpaa hopes to spend as much time as possible with his family, possibly at his summer cabin. "We have a sauna there, of course," Pellonpaa adds. He is really proud of his heritage and hopes to travel to Finland again soon. "My heart and roots are in Finland."
Mr. Pellonpaa received a letter of recognition from Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Erkki Tuomioja, just before filming the last episode of “Finland Calling”.
“You have been a true ambassador of Finland for over 50 years. Through your program you have promoted Finnish culture, music and language to a wide audience in the United States. Your work is most valued, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs wishes to thank you for your dedication and hard work,” Minister Tuomioja wrote in his letter.
We wish Mr. Pellonpaa all the best for his well-deserved retirement!