Marlis Mann begins her day with coffee and Interlochen Public Radio, and throughout the day the sounds of Classical IPR’s music programming fill the Leland, Michigan home she shares with her husband, television program executive Tom Skinner. As one of IPR’s biggest fans and supporters, Marlis recently increased her financial commitment to IPR. Explaining her decision, she says, “There are very few organizations in our region that have made significant contributions to the quality of my life and the life of my friends and family. IPR is among the organizations at the top of that list.”
Marlis’s love affair with music began during her pre-World War II childhood in Braunschweig, Germany, where she was surrounded by classical music. Her father managed a restaurant that often featured live music, perhaps even a full chorus or orchestra. With the arrival of American troops at the end of the war, she was introduced to American music, like Glen Miller, and added jazz to the list of music that she loved. Even her time as a Lufthansa flight attendant was shaped by music, Marlis recalls, describing the wonderful classical music tapes they gave to first class passengers aboard the Super Constellation aircraft during the 22-hour flights between Hamburg and Chicago.
She married an American soldier, the late David B. Mann, and they settled in Chicago where they raised their two children, Tom and Kit. Marlis discovered Interlochen Public Radio during summer visits to Leland, and she made her first gift in 1990 during an on-air campaign. “Everyone sounded like they were having so much fun,” she says, noting that the camaraderie among the staff and volunteers that she heard on the radio motivated her to pick up the phone and make that first pledge. She went on to experience some of that camaraderie herself, joining the staff and other IPR supporters on a trip to Austria, Germany and Slovakia in 2006.
One reason Marlis continues to support IPR is that she loves the programming that fills her home every day. She appreciates the local programming that IPR produces: Saturday morning’s “Music By Request,” a call-in request show hosted by IPR general manager Thom Paulson; “Island Cabin Discs,” which features Interlochen Center for the Arts president Jeff Kimpton interviewing guests about their must-have musical selections; the “New Jazz Archive” with Michigan jazz composer and musician Jeff Haas; and especially “The Story Next Door” with Scott Craig.
But Marlis stresses that classical music and Interlochen Public Radio are important for reasons beyond her own enjoyment. “Music is the language of the world,” she says. “These programs are so important.” Her hope is that many others, especially young people, will discover the joy of classical music through IPR.
As IPR celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, supporters like Marlis ensure that IPR continues to enhance the lives of listeners in northern Michigan and beyond. “Think about how IPR has contributed to the quality of your life,” challenges Marlis. “Multiply that by thousands of listeners times 50 years. This is a very appropriate time to say thank you with a commitment to IPR.”