The Real-Phonic Radio Hour

The term "GENIUS" is generally mis-used in the American lexicon and never more so when it is in the context of Paul Bergen, Erik Koskinen, Molly Maher and Thom Middlebrook. They are the "geniuses" behind the creation of the Real-Phonic Radio Hour. Sometime in the summer of 2010 the four of them were sitting in Thom's living room drinking whiskey and talking about starting a show. Whiskey makes you say things like, "We should start a show."

The idea was fairly simple - bring artistry to everything they would do. Pay musicians a living wage and treat them they way that they would like to be treated if they were on the road - nice hotel room, a meal, a great stage and great audience. Isn't that essentially the Golden Rule?

It also never hurts to have an ace up your sleeve. In the case of the Real-Phonic Radio Hour that happened to be a house band that could make anyone in the world sound like they are at the top of their game. Through some amount of luck and unbelievable persistence the show seems to have caught on. It has twice been named as the "Best of the Twin Cities" by the Star Tribune and enjoyed the generosity of the local music press - not to mention the support our wonderful live audience.

Photography by : Jen Barnett & Ilia Horsburgh


It's no exaggeration to say that it takes a community to produce a show like Real-Phonic. Our sincere thanks go out to the Board of Directors and staff of the James J. Hill Center. Thanks also to Jen Barnett, Ilia Horsburgh and Michael Boeckman for their photographic talents in documenting the shows.

JJ Hill logo

The James J. Hill Center is a non-profit business center, located in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The iconic entrepreneur James J. Hill had a vision to provide the people of Minnesota with a Reference Library to support and grow cultural and economic development in the state. The James J. Hill Reference Library opened its doors in 1921. Today we are known as the James J. Hill Center. We continue to house a world-class collection of practical business information resources which is considered one of the most comprehensive business libraries in the country. 

At its core a library represents the best of democratic ideals. It is an icon of a free society where all citizens can gather, access and exchange information.

At the James J. Hill Center our focus is centered on business, leadership and entrepreneurship, and at the heart of those three endeavors rest the concepts of community and optimism that are essential to the success of any idea.

As technology has changed our traditional means of engagement, namely the book, our purpose as an institution has been clarified around not how we engage but where. In the entrepreneurial spirit of our namesake we have committed ourselves to redefining the notion of what it means to be a library; to change from an institution that allowed connections to happen to an institution that actively enables and fosters connections across the broad spectrum that is an economy.

We commit ourselves and our resources to being an iconic place to learn, convene and connect in –  the community, business, the arts, technology, innovation and celebration. Our goal is to be relevant to our community and to build sustainable relationships that enable prosperity by encouraging the exchange of ideas and the pursuit of solutions.