Creative Casting The Hutchinson
By KAY JOHNSON
It's not often your voice is more recognizable than your
face, but that's the case for KARP radio personality J.P.
Meier. He job shares the afternoon 2 to 7 p.m. slot with
Sandy Buetler. She's on the air Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
and J.P. takes over Thursday and Friday. He's also the voice
on Saturday mornings from 5:30 a.m. to noon. "My real
name is John Petermeier," he said. "When I went
to Mason City, Iowa, to work in radio, they told me my name
didn't cut it. That's how we came up with J.P. Meier and
I've used it ever since." As much as radio has been
Petermeier's first love since childhood, he shared it with
an interest in creating art - drawing.
"I always knew I'd go into radio," he said, "but
I enjoyed art, too.
My mom was very creative. She made crafts and dolls. My
dad is a plasterer and there's an art to that. My sister
Paula paints sculptures and my brother Dan is a writer.
I come from a family of seven and I think everyone loves
art and works at it.
"I recall as my earliest artistic memory," he
added, "coloring on the living room wall when I was
3 or 4 years old. I wasn't aware that I was doing something
so horribly wrong, but Mom confiscated my crayons for a
Early years Petermeier was born in Minneapolis, but the
family moved to Watertown when he was a young child. He
grew up there graduating from Watertown High School in 1980.
That fall, he enrolled at Mankato State University where
he took general education classes, as well as a lot of art
courses. "I liked the fine art classes of painting
and drawing," he said, "but I wasn't much interested
in the commercial art end. I realized that art might be
a hobby for me instead of a career. After one year, I decided
to pursue my interest in radio and applied to Brown Institute
Petermeier took a one-year course in radio and television
broadcasting. "I loved it more than art," he said.
"I ate it up."
Following graduation in 1982, he landed his first job working
at a country music station near the Iowa/Missouri border.
"I made $600 a month," he said. "Can you
believe it?" About a year later, he moved to a rock
'n' roll station in Mason City, Iowa, where he picked up
his new radio call name, J.P. Meier. "I wanted to be
closer to my family and closer to home," he said, "so
this was a move in that direction."
The life of a gypsy
After two years, Petermeier moved to Stevens Point, Wis.,
where he returned to a country music formatted station.
After a year there, he moved back to Iowa, taking a job
again in country radio in Spencer. Petermeier admits that
at this point in his life, he was getting tired of living
the life of a gypsy. "I was tired of moving around,"
he said, "and I really wanted to be closer to home."
He did a lot of soul searching at this point in his career
and decided to move back to Minneapolis and return to school.
"My thought was that I could find a part-time job in
radio and go back to school to try art again," he said.
Petermeier followed his heart and relocated to the Twin
Cities. He enrolled at Hennepin Technical College where
he earned a one-year business degree, but admitted that
he took every art course they offered. He juggled his school
responsibilities with a part-time radio job with a Buffalo
In 1995, he was offered a job with KARP radio in Hutchinson
and he took it. "I joined the staff about two years
after they started," he said. "It felt good to
be there. By this time, I had moved back to Watertown. I
truly found a radio home when I was asked to work with the
KARP gang. We have been great friends for several years.
Plus, John Mons, KARP operations manager, has always allowed
me the freedom to develop as a creative radio air talent."
In 1998, John's father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Following his surgery, Petermeier left KARP and followed
his brother to Arizona. He didn't like Minnesota winters,
so this was an attractive alternative. Although he enjoyed
the Southwest, he missed his family and he felt he should
Following his heart, he came back to Minnesota and was rehired
at his radio home at KARP, where he started working weekend
hours and eventually moved into a position that he jobshares
with Sandy Buetler.
"When I came back, I also worked at Wells Fargo,"
he said. "From there, I took a job with Traveler's
Express, where I provide custo service help to our agents.
I'm still doing this today. I'm able to work out of my home
office Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and I'm on the radio
Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning."
In July 1998, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. She
died in June 1999.
"Caring for my mother was one of the hardest things
I've ever done," he said, "but I wouldn't trade
the experience for anything. I'm glad I was here to help."
About his art
John Petermeier is a versatile artist who works in a variety
of mediums and styles. Much of his artwork reflects his
love of small-town life and wildlife of the prairie and
upper Midwest, but he's also known for his portraits of
"Being a radio announcer and an artist is a big part
of my life," Petermeier said. "There's definitely
a connection between drawing and being a creative radio
announcer. It's self expression in two different forms.
People who can work from that 'creative side' of their mind,
typically can express themselves in many ways."
Petermeier works in a variety of mediums, including: pencil,
colored pencil, design marker, computer sketching and occasionally
Many times he will combine drawing mediums to create a unique
piece of art. "When I was in high school and college
I loved painting," he said, "but I never liked
the cleanup aspect of it. It was also hard to travel with
paints and brushes. I decided that drawing was a better
fit for me, so I've stuck with it."
Petermeier credits a trip to Italy in 2000, which included
a visit to Rome, Florence, Vatican City and the Sistine
Chapel for reinspiring his interest in his art. "I
actually met Pope John Paul II in the Papal residence,"
"Meeting him has been the high point of my life. If
I could meet anyone, it would be the Pope. He's a champion
of the arts. I love the Pontiff's recognition and salute
to artists. In a letter to artists recently the Pope said,
'Society needs artists, just as it needs scientists, technicians,
workers, professional people, witnesses of the faith, teachers,
fathers and mothers.' He confirmed my belief that art is
of great importance. My visit to Italy helped me reflect
on my talent and that I truly need to express the gifts
that God has given me, and to give this gift back to Him
with my art." When Petermeier returned from Italy,
he drew several images of Pope John Paul, as well as Mother
Theresa. Some of his images can now be seen on the Web site,
"I've always taken my art seriously," he said,
"but maybe not seriously enough."
With the recommitment to his art, came the creation of Prairie
Wind Art, an online gallery.
"John Mons has been a huge supporter of my work,"
he said. "He'd been after me for years to do something
with it and one day we got started talking about a Web site.
When I came back from Italy, we decided it was time to stop
talking and to take action. We came up with the name Prairie
Wind Art because it reflects this area of the state and
so much more. When I think of the prairie, I think of wide
open spaces, the outdoors, wildlife, Minnesota and beyond.
John and I enlisted the Web expertise of Erv George from
KARP/KDUZ to help put our Web site together. I've been lucky
because the whole KARP family has been very supportive of
my work. Our eventual goal is to feature the artwork of
several artists. It takes a lot of time, but it's coming