WLUC-TV (Negaunee-Marquette) has announced the first recipient of the Carl V. Pellonpaa Lifetime Achievement Award. The station established the award in honor of the late Carl Pellonpaa. Pellonpaa was an iconic television personality in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and for 53 years the host of WLUC’s “Finland Calling” (or “Suomi Kutsuu”). The show was a Sunday morning staple from 1962 to 2015. Pellonpaa began his career as an announcer for WJPD-AM (Ishpeming) and later signed a minor league contract with the Boston Braves. However, he was injured in a hunting accident, ending his baseball aspirations.
The award will be given annually to one individual in recognition of their service to the Upper Peninsula over the course of a lifetime. It will honor their distinction in various business, volunteer, government, academic, artistic and social fields. The award will acknowledge significant contributions to the advancement and development of Upper Michigan.
This year’s recipient was Don Ryan, selected due to his dedication to area businesses and the community. Ryan’s experience includes working in radio and television, including WJPD-AM, WDJM-AM (Marquette) as well as WLUC-TV, where he served a variety of positions, rising to Operations Manager and Station Manager.
In 1975, Ryan was appointed District Representative for Congressman Phil Ruppe, which involved representing the Congressman at various activities, events and constituent meetings throughout the Upper Peninsula. His other government experience included serving for 12 years on the Ishpeming Board of Education and on the Marquette City Commission, from 2008 to 2014.
“We are paying tribute to a broadcast legend, Carl Pellonpaa, with this award,” said Rhoades. “Carl was all about serving the Upper Peninsula, and everything he did throughout his career was to achieve that goal. Our intention is to remember him every year by recognizing an individual who has similarly dedicated a lifetime of service to Upper Michigan.”