Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 21, 2013

Stories next door go from airwaves to print

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — LELAND — Scott Craig wholeheartedly believes that everyone has a story worth sharing.

The retired documentary maker and Interlochen Public Radio contributor says he is glad that people have chosen to tell their stories to him.

“It is such fun for me now, to be drawn into people’s lives and hear the interesting things they have done,” said Craig, whose program, “The Story Next Door,” features his take on community members and the lives they have led.

Craig, who had a successful 45-year career in television production in Chicago before making northern Michigan his permanent home a decade ago, wanted to use his experience to contribute to the local public radio station.

“I thought about reading the program notes before shows, but Thom Paulson suggested I do something more creative,” he said.

Paulson, Interlochen Public Radio’s general manager, set the wheels in motion for Craig, who started the series by telling a story about Fred Atkinson, his next-door neighbor.

Craig discovered that Atkinson had been a World War II P.O.W. and had married his co-pilot’s sister when the two met while celebrating the soldiers’ homecoming.

“Scott really knows how to tell a story. He is a great writer and is truly interested and curious about the people he tells us about,” Paulson said.

Now more than 70 stories into the series that airs at 8:30 a.m. on the first Friday of each month — a repeat airs at 9:05 a.m. on the following Saturday — Craig has compiled more than 40 of the tales into a book by the same name.

“After doing 40 or 50 of these stories, you realize they just go away after you have read them on the air,” he said.

Craig didn’t want the stories of Atkinson — along with those of Ted Lanham, who each year dresses as Uncle Sam in Leland’s Fourth of July parade, and Stefani Pentiuk, a heart and kidney transplant recipient who danced with her doctor at her senior prom, and Bill Livingston, who built a 24-foot-long sloop, a replica of the boat his dad had built for his mother — to just go away.

“I have liked all of the stories, all of them,” Craig said.

“The Story Next Door” by Scott Craig is available at area bookstores and online at