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Documentary about Detroit Lakes native wins Emmy

A 30-minute documentary featuring a singer/songwriter raised in Detroit Lakes has been awarded an Emmy Award by the Upper Midwest Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

The award was announced on Sept. 28 in Minneapolis. 

“My Way Back Home: Caroline Smith,” won the award for the best program in the Arts/Entertainment Program Category.

It is the first time in the 47-year history of Pioneer Public Television that a locally produced program has won an Emmy Award.

“The fact that a small, rural based public television station won in this competitive Upper Midwest Emmy category is really a notable achievement,” said Pat Kubly of Granite Falls, who recently assumed the chairmanship of Pioneer’s board of directors.

The executive producer and visionary behind the documentary is Dana Johnson, a Willmar High School graduate who has worked for Pioneer Public Television for the past 21/2 years. 

“Of course what makes the documentary so compelling is the talent and charisma of Caroline Smith herself,” said Johnson. “We are very grateful for the opportunity to be able to capture this moment in her life as she comes into her own as an important and influential artist.”

Smith, who now tours internationally, was recently featured in a story in the music and entertainment section of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The documentary captures Smith’s performances, behind the scenes footage, personal stories and glimpses of her family life. Smith was raised by a single mother who owned a coffee shop in Detroit Lakes.

The production was funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

View the documentary at