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In the Know column: A story about two storytellers

Six years ago, Joe Korkowski invited me to co-host the annual Jingle Bells Telethon with he and Chelsea Lee.

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The many faces of Jingle Bells hosts Tim Urness, Joe Korkowski and Chelsea Lee.
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By Tim Urness, Alexandria, MN

Definition of a storyteller: A person who tells stories.

There are five characteristics of a great storyteller: (1) They are enthusiastic, energetic and confident; (2) They listen, engage and interact with the audience; (3) They empower others; (4) They are vulnerable, personable and authentic; and (5) They create strong connections with others.

Now that we have the definition and descriptors done, I want to introduce you to two great storytellers.

Joe Korkowski has spent most of his adult life sharing stories about local citizens on KSAX, KCCO, KXRA, and Voice of Alexandria. He now works for Explore Alexandria Tourism, where he tells the story of Alexandria to the region, state and nation. Definitely a storyteller!

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Chelsea Lee has been employed in media for many of her working years as well. Currently, she does the KIKV 100.7 morning show from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. There she tells stories by reporting on the news, sports and weather, and by highlighting community business and nonprofits. Prior to this, Chelsea helped people involved at Love INC tell their faith life story. Also, a true definition of a solid storyteller.

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Six years ago, Joe Korkowski invited me to co-host the annual Jingle Bells Telethon with he and Chelsea. (December 10, 2022, marks the 74th annual telethon, which helps thousands of area families each year.) Joe’s invitation went something like this, “Hey Tim, want to be a goofball dork with me on TV for five hours all in an effort to help people?” Um, let me think about this Joe… Be a goofball? I’m a professional goofball thank you! And helping others out? I am 100% in!

Do Joe, Chelsea and I expend lots of time and energy to prepare? Yes. Do we enjoy a few very funny work sessions creating content for the show? For sure!

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More importantly, do I love being surrounded by two human beings who are enthusiastic, energetic, and confident; who listen, engage, and interact with the audience; who empower others; who are vulnerable, personable, and authentic; and who create strong connections with others? Without a doubt!

Joe is funny, quick witted, caring and energetic; he has a heart to help others. Chelsea is confident, hilarious and queen of the quick puns. She is a great listener who aims to bring out the best in people. When you get Joe and Chelsea together to brainstorm ideas for Jingle Bells skits or video clips, the air is full of energy and big laughs.

I am so glad I said yes to co-hosting this fantastic event. Working with these two creative and dynamic friends to support such a fantastic event is an annual highlight each year. Perhaps it’s the fun adventures we’ve had along the way: Creating a rap video inside Walmart; dressing as elves; dancing with Miss Minnesota; comparing Chelsea’s elegant Elsa costume from "Frozen" to my far less elegant Anna costume and red wig; and enjoying a ride on the Reindeer Rider with 20 local community members.

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There is one downside to working with Joe and Chelsea: They often quote movies and are flabbergasted at my minuscule movie watching history. I’ve seen “Dumb and Dumber” and “The Jerk” with Steve Martin, but little else. Still, if being heckled to help the telethon is what I get to help others, I am OK with that punishment.

Check out the next Jingle Bells Telethon this Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. You can watch the live show at the Alexandria Area High School Performing Arts Center from 5 to 10 p.m., or you can stream the show on your TV or computer. Full details can be found at jinglebellsalexandria.org.

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I promise you that these two incredible story tellers, stuck with this tall lanky goofball, will do our best to help tell the story of Jingle Bells — all in an effort to bring joy to many people this year in our area.

Tim Urness is actively involved in service groups in the Alexandria area. “In the Know” is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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