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Who's to blame for 'Green Cheese' trivia, anyway? Scott Hall recalls that fateful night

The Green Cheese Picnic is Saturday, August 13th, 2022 at KAXE Studio in Grand Rapids, MN.

If you’re curious about how Green Cheese Trivia got it’s name almost 40 years ago, listen to or read the conversation between Heidi Holtan and Green Cheese Accidental Founder, Scott Hall. Click the "Listen" player above to enjoy this piece of KAXE history.

Heidi Holtan: I get a lot of people asking, ‘Why the name?’

Scott Hall: Well. It was after many hours of focus groups and years of planning.

HH: After a couple of cocktails at the local bar?

SH: No, it happened to be on the turn table on a Saturday night when we decided to open the phone lines back in 1980 or '81, and the song on the turntable was.... Okay, Alright.... Okay a volunteer didn't show up for a Sat night shift...

HH: Let's get real now.

SH: Okay, Bill McKeever who did the “Nova Express” every Saturday night was getting ready for his show, and I don't know what I was doing there. I was there preparing for something else, probably a Monday morning show, I don't know, and then volunteer couldn't show. And it was a last-minute thing. And Bill said I'm going to grab some music, throw something on the turn table. And I had Merle Travis' "Pickin’ and Singin’" album right next to me, so I put “Green Cheese” on and when seven o'clock rolled around.... laughing... do you really want to know this?


SH: Okay, I said, okay, first we’re gonna hear a song from Merle Travis called “Green Cheese,” and then I put the song on and put the mic down and said “Bill what the hell are we gonna do?!!?!?!?" laughing And he said I‘m getting ready as fast as I can.... And I didn't have any more music, so I grabbed the Duluth Paper and said, Bill I'm going to do the cross word puzzle from the Duluth Paper on the air.... laughing. … You REALLY Want to hear... Okay, so I say Bill McKeever's getting ready to bring you some music, in the meantime we're going to do today's crossword puzzle, and the first clue is.... We did the puzzle. Listeners did the puzzle in like 10 minutes, and Bill went BINGO!!!!

HH: Wow.

SH: Then I thought, we got this puzzle done too fast, laughter Bill's still not ready! So then bill got the idea, it was pretty much Bill going you know, this is fun, we can do this Saturday nights and have a lot of fun.

HH: And Julie Crabb was an early adopter of the Green Cheese Trivia.

SH: Julie, yeah, Julie was great. But gee we had, what was interesting, in those days, our signal was not... of course we weren't online right, and our signal wasn't that strong on the east Range and the Brainerd lakes area but man, people started calling in like they do now, they make up names. We had a guy calling from Rainy Lake and he would recite poems laughing, he would use the answer to a question as a wedge to give his latest poem and he wrote poems that were just ridiculous and funny... anyway, and then we had Togo, she was an English teacher living in Togo... in falcetto "HELLO, IT’S TOGO..." and she would recite a poem and give an answer...

HH: Oh my gosh!

SH: It was fun!

HH: So 1981... so how many years of Cheese?

SH: I think it was ‘81, Isn't' it awful I can't' remember. It was just so hectic. So what’s that, 40 years!?!!?! The cheese picnic is, what 15 or 20 years.

HH: Yeah, something like that....

SH: That was great. That was a lot of fun... That IS a lot of fun!

HH: Join us!

SH: So yeah, that' s a long answer to how come Green Cheese came along.

HH: That's great. That's kind of what I knew, but I hadn’t asked you in a long time, so people ask that question a lot.

SH: Unfortunately Bill is not around anymore, but he would have a more coherent explanation.....”

HH: And we'll do some jokes before we go live at 7 o'clock, so it's always a lot of fun. Due to the state of the world, we're not doing a potluck, bring your own food and snacks, what you need for the night, food and beverage and a chair and everything. We're outside, so it's safe, a lot of air moving through, but we just want to take as many precautions as we can. We're gathering for the Green Cheese Picnic.

KAXE/KBXE Senior Correspondent
Heidi Holtan is KAXE's Director of Content and Public Affairs where she manages producers and is the local host of Morning Edition from NPR. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North.