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Mike Shane: “The newspaper – they wanted weekly articles about museum exhibits, and so, I got voted to write those articles."

Rebecca Smith
Rebecca Smith

Mike Shane spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at the Margaret Harwell Art Museum in Poplar Bluffin July.

He's a writer and spoke about some of the stories from his book, “Tall Tales: Stories from the Poplar Bluff Museum.”

Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

Mike Shane: I've been here 20 years, and, you know, [in] small towns, that means you're still a new guy. Unless your great-grandfather, you know, was here, you're a carpetbagger. I retired out of the military 20 years and come here for the job.

There's a Butler County Historical Society, along with a Sports Hall of Fame – they have their own exhibits. The VA hospital setup the veteran’s exhibit. There's [a] police and firefighter exhibit. The Forestry Service set up [a] huge, beautiful room of taxidermy. A Bowling Hall of Fame.

The newspaper – they wanted weekly articles about museum exhibits, and so, I got voted to write those articles, you know, the old they threw the question out and everybody goes “not it, not it, not it,” and I was just too slow. So, I got the job.

I've got over 100 articles written, and, you know, when people read a newspaper, you know, “Boom, it's gone!” Well, I put all those articles in a book, and it ends up we have a history book of Poplar Bluff. One-page stories, very easy to read, you know, and they're all, you know, about the museum and exhibits.

I just wrote a story about the song “40 miles from Poplar Bluff.” Have you ever heard it? Have you ever heard 40 miles from Poplar Bluff?

Rebecca Smith: Nuh uh.

Mike Shane: Dolly Parton and Porter Wagner wrote a song, and, you know, nobody's heard it. It came out in the 60s. Well, we play it in the museum in a loop. So, it's in the museum. So, I wrote about it and people are just floored.

Let me tell you about Scooby Doo. You know about Scooby Doo, right?

Grace Pankey: Yes.

Mike Shane: Scooby Doo’s from Poplar Bluff.

Grace Pankey: Really?

Scott Innes. He was, you know, a high school, you know, class clown, and, you know, all has all his voices and all the other crazy stuff class clowns do.

Well, at 16, he got a job at the radio station doing voiceovers and everything, and so, he got involved in the industry, you know, doing the voice work.

Somehow, you know, through his connections, he ended up being the voice of Scooby Doo, and he's from Poplar Bluff. But he also he got involved with Hanna-Barbera, and he did Scrappy Doo, Shaggy, Popeye, Fred Flintstone, you know, Yogi Bear, Booboo Bear, Captain Caveman, Snagglepuss, Papa Smurf, you know.

He's done all this voice work and, you know, he's still a young man. He's still alive, and he comes to Poplar Bluff regularly supporting all kinds of charities, but Scooby Doo is from Poplar Bluff

Strange things come from small towns.

Rebecca Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk. Born and raised outside of Rolla, Missouri, she has a passion for diving into often overlooked issues that affect the rural populations of her state – especially stories that broaden people’s perception of “rural” life.
Caoilinn left KBIA in December of 2022.
Caoilinn Goss is the Audio Convergence Editor at KBIA. She trains and oversees student reporters, editors and anchors to produce daily afternoon newscasts. She's also a Missouri Journalism School alum.