Talking Iron Range woes on MPR

Your intrepid regional blogger is on MPR today.

Your intrepid regional blogger is on MPR today.

This morning at 11 I’ll be on Minnesota Public Radio News with Tom Weber talking about the economic slump that has hit the Iron Range mining industry. Other guests include Tony Barrett, an economics professor at St. Scholastica in Duluth, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook.

I’ve written about the downturn in the iron ore and steel industry several times recently.

My latest newspaper column explores the history of steel and taconite, putting modern times in proper context.

A number of political efforts to “save” the Range have cropped up, though the real impact of these proposals is uncertain. Actual economic diversification will be more organic, probably resembling something like this a lot more than something like this.

The big question, “Is this the 1980s again on the Iron Range?” My answer, no not exactly. It might be more like the 1950s. And it might be worse than both decades if we don’t figure out a few things pretty quick. Nevertheless, there are green shoots of life everywhere and no amount of kvetching over mining will negate the quality of life in Northern Minnesota or the potential to make our area more economically sustainable than it is now.

If you’re finding this site for the first time from the radio interview, hello! Welcome to MinnesotaBrown. I’m Aaron Brown, an independent writer, radio producer and college instructor who lives and works full time on the Mesabi Iron Range. My book is “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range.” I produce the Great Northern Radio Show, a live music, comedy and feature variety program on public radio. I was raised on a family owned salvage yard in a bog a few miles from an Iron Range taconite plant during the “bad old days” of the 1980s. Now they put me on the fancy radio shows. Thanks for reading! Please join our community here by subscribing or following the blog on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Heard you on the radio. Keep up the good work.

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