For many of us in the region, Jim Guidi of KVGC 96.5 FM & 1340 AM has been known as the Voice of the Mother Lode. But another voice, the voice of Cedric Clute, is most definitely the Storyteller of the Mother Lode. For decades, going back to KNGT days, and even prior to that, Clute’s “Tales of the Mother Lode” have been much anticipated and adored by fans as they listen to Clute weave tales from the past and bring them to life as only a master storyteller could.

Now, outside our county, many may not have heard Clute’s tales. But, we are willing to bet that’s about to change.

It started with a simple conversation between Virginia Manner of Pine Grove and Jack Mitchell, Publisher of the Ledger Dispatch.

“We talked about the completion of placing all the newspapers from 1855 to 2019 online in our archives on ledger.news,” said Mitchell. “It’s a free service, and one that took me and a community and about five years to complete. But thanks to the Friends of the Library, The Native Sons of the Golden West, Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians, and a number of donations from all sorts of folks — we saved our printed history and digitalized not only the Ledger Dispatch, but a number of publications and the different incarnations of the Ledger and the Dispatch. It’s truly quite amazing.”

“I mentioned to Virginia Manner my plans going forward, for our archives project,” said Mitchell. “It has multiple phases. The first was saving the printed history. The second, audio files, and eventually, I’d like to develop family trees with photos and documents of the historical families that have lived here for generations, or live here now. A living family history, if you will. Accessible to everyone to call up online, follow, and add their own area history to our offerings.”

Manner immediately told Mitchell that he had to get with Cedric Clute and digitalize “Tales of the Mother Lode,” and all the episodes that have played and continue to be broadcast by KVGC.

Mitchell wasn’t sure he’d be allowed to access the “Tales of the Mother Lode.” Those fears were quickly put to rest when he met the next day with Guidi.

“Jim looked at me and said go for it. Then he said, wait — You’ll do the work, right?” Mitchell said laughing.

And so, with permission and agreements between all the parties, Clute brought Mitchell “Tales of the Mother Lode,” and Mitchell in turn spent his spare time, evenings, and wee hours of the morning, digitalizing and posting Cedric Clute’s “Tales of the Mother Lode.”

“We currently have several hundred episodes loaded into the audio archive,” said Mitchell. “They are cross referenced, so that if you click and play one — the other episodes will show up and you can click on them and play them as well. They all sit with our newspaper archive on ledger.news and we plan to have a link on KVGC’s site for accessibility as well. It’s saving our history one step and one episode at a time.”

For those unfamiliar with “Tales of the Mother Lode,” the body of work is astounding and part of the legacy of Cedric Clute. From the Argonaut Mine Disaster, Preston Castle, Knight Foundry, to the Bombing of Volcano, The Scarlet Streets of Jackson, Tales of Christmas Past and a lot of local characters. Clute’s coverage and care is impeccable.

“Clute has decades of stories, and as you listen, the arc of the body of work, Clute’s narration, timing, cadence and the change in his voice over the decades adds to every episode, bringing an intangible force to the stories he shares,” said Guidi. 

As for Mitchell, he still has a few decades of reel to reel stories to load before continuing the next phase of his archives masterplan.

“Our audio archive of ‘Tales of the Mother Lode’ is not complete yet, but it will be,” said Mitchell. “I imagine we just made every educator that teaches local history extremely happy. More importantly, we just worked together to save a chunk of history. As well as the history of a great storyteller, Cedric Clute. And who knows, someday the story of how “Tales of the Mother Lode” found its way onto the Internet for the enjoyment and education of future generations, well, it may be one of the great stories discussed, shared, and celebrated. A community that honors, respects, and saves our history together — I’d say it’s a pretty big story that will stand the test of time.”

To listen to Cedric Clute’s “Tales of the Mother Lode” visit the Ledger Dispatch website at ledger.news and hold your mouse over the “Archives” tab to get the dropdown menu where you’ll click on “Tales of the Mother Lode,” or use the link: ledger.news/tales_of_the_mother_lode/

You can also download the Ledger Dispatch app, scan the “Tales of the Mother Lode” picture from any newspaper with your smartphone to listen to “Tales of the Mother Lode.”

“Cedric Clute will be the first storyteller in the world to have his radio serial playing using augmented reality,” said Mitchell. “It’s another great tale for future generations. It also means we can link his tales to the locations he covered and have them play on peoples phones when they visit historic sites. Imagine going to Knight Foundry in Sutter Creek, or Preston Castle in Ione, or Kennedy Mine in Jackson — being handed a piece of paper, scanning it with your phone, and having Cedric tell the tales while you stand exactly where the story took place. We can do that, so maybe we’re making a bit of history together.”

And that’s how the Voice of the Mother Lode (Jim Guidi), The Storyteller of the Mother Lode (Cedric Clute), and a Publisher (Jack Mitchell) came together to save the history of the Mother Lode. Welcome to “Tales of the Mother Lode.”