Monday, April 26, 2010

90.5 KBXE Finds Studio Space!


TO: Current & Future Friends of 90.5 KBXE
FROM: Steve Downing (

On 91.7 KAXE’s 34th birthday we’re officially announcing what some of you already know. The story was in the Bemidji Pioneer two days ago, meaning it must be true, and it is: 90.5 KBXE will join Harmony Natural Foods Cooperative in its prospective new home, the former TruStar Federal Credit Union building at 413 3rd Street Northwest. To say that Northern Community Radio is excited about the news understates it by a lot. This arrangement was our first, best hope; it seemed to have run aground awhile back; seeing it come around again has improved everyone’s spirits.

Harmony’s new space---a 7,500 square-foot structure on a half-block of property--will have three times the retail capacity the co-op has now, plus a true loading dock, plus loads of parking, plus a genuine restaurant, plus a perfect partner in 90.5 KBXE. KBXE will be moving into the east-facing side of the building, next door to Dave’s Satellite, a 2,600 square-foot suite of rooms that we first walked through in November and have been thinking about ever since. Lease? Buy? Both? We haven’t spelled out the details yet, but this relationship feels very symbiotic. Our two membership rosters share quite a number of names. Whatever the eventual legal agreement comes to look like, the organizing principle will be win-win.

We’re still looking for a tower site. No news to report on that front. Ideas? We’re all ears.

The Publicity/PR Committee continues to meet the first Thursday of every month, at 5:30, in the meeting room at the MN Energy Resources building (corner of 2nd & Minnesota, Bemidji) and everyone’s welcome to attend.

Next big events: “Upper Shores”: Saturday, May 1, 3:00 PM, at Beltrami History Center (130 Minnesota Avenue Southwest, Bemidji). Singer-songwriter Miriam Tell has written and gathered songs for a unique and entertaining approach to musical storytelling. A free will donation at the door will benefit both the Beltrami County Historical Society and KBXE. Be there! That same day, KBXE volunteers will be at the Council of Indian Students Pow Wow at John Glass Field House, BSU from Noon-10pm – bumper stickers and buttons for all!

Committee 1 (major donors) has been meeting regularly and has just begun approaching prospective large-gift contributors.

If anyone asks you, “What is KBXE?,” remember the short form summary we used in the first newsletter. 90.5 KBXE is a soon-to-be-built nonprofit, community/public radio station that will serve Bagley, Bemidji, Blackduck, Birch, Buzzle, and beyond. KBXE will be operated by Northern Community Radio, which has 34 years of experience doing this sort of thing (91.7 KAXE). The two stations will feed and inspire one other; the sound of Northern Community Radio will be even more creative, more diverse than ever. That’s saying something! The tower will be built near Bagley. The studios---it’s official now---will be in Bemidji. KBXE will begin broadcasting no later than March, 2012.

Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested and tell them how easy it is to get onto our list: send an email to

90.5 KBXE 218.326.1234 800.662.5799

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Join John Latimer for a Phenology Walk/Birding Expedition

by Doug MacRostie

"I need an angle to write a blog about the Phenology walk coming up," I said to Heidi Holtan while sipping my soda and spinning around in my chair. "How about your love of donuts?" she asked. I paused..., she said, "Oh wait, that's MY love of donuts." And such was my dilemma.

It is true there will be donuts and even tea and coffee and sugar and cream (powder) at 8:30am this Saturday at the Gathering Place in Clearbrook (the old school gym), and I really enjoy donuts - but that's not why I'm excited. I don't have any idea what to expect on the Phenology Walk/Birding Expedition starting at 9, especially not in rice paddies. But, I guess that's what's fun about nature walks, you never know what you'll find! And when someone as passionate and knowledgeable as John Latimer is leading the way (don't tell him I said that!) tiny little plants or critters that I normally don't notice suddenly become specimens of some exotic creature. A butterfly floating by isn't a fleeting moment, it's an opportunity to observe, identify and appreciate.

With the crazy weather we've been having this Spring (and the last year) it's hard to predict what we may find. There could be thousands of migrating birds... or not. But there definitely will be coffee and tea, there will be good company, and it's looking like great weather to get outside and explore around Clearbrook and see what we find. And just like the fun of not-knowing-what-comes next of a nature walk, we've got the mixed-tastiness of a potluck at Noon back at the Gathering Place! Booya!

All are welcome at the Phenology Walk/Birding Expedition with John Latimer this Sat., the 24th at the Gathering Place in Clearbrook (221 3rd Ave SW - here's a Google Map), meeting at 8:30am for coffee and rolls, walks starting at 9 and a potluck at Noon. If you're on Facebook, the event is listed here. As you can see in the picture to the right, John is so good at this, students from all over MN send him hand-drawn portraits! BE THERE!

This event was orchestrated by the KBXE Publicity Committee, a group of local volunteers working to raise awareness of 90.5 KBXE, a new, local station being built by Northern Community Radio, who have been operating 91.7 KAXE for 34 years in Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Virginia and the Iron Range, also heard at 89.9 in Brainerd and 105.3 in Bemidji. Get more information at

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why Is KBXE?

by Scott Hall & Maggie Montgomery

There's much excitement and energy for KBXE, the new station Northern Community Radio is building to better serve the Bemidji and Bagley areas. Many people have come forward in Beltrami and Clearwater counties to help us with the planning, building and fundraising. Some listeners from other parts of the KAXE listening area have asked, "Why are you building KBXE?"

The answer is to preserve community radio in that region. Many new radio stations have been built in north central MN since KAXE first went on the air in 1976. It is getting harder to get KAXE’s 91.7 signal to Bemidji due to HD Interference and summer fades, and the signal will get worse because the FCC just gave radio stations permission to increase the power of their HD transmissions. In the case of 105.3, it's possible we could lose that signal altogether because it's in the commercial spectrum - which means a commercial entity could take the signal and we would have no recourse.

Northern Community Radio intends to preserve a signal for community radio in our region and has the financial resources to expand its service. Failure to act will mean loss of audience, and that will erode our financial support. KBXE will add energy, creativity and substance to Northern Community Radio’s programming, on both KAXE and KBXE, and on our websites and social media networks.

This is an opportunity to expand our mission to over 40,000 new people and several communities to the west, including people who don’t currently have access to a public radio signal, giving more people the opportunity to directly participate—the opportunity to create radio programs and other media using Northern Community Radio’s facilities. KBXE will be a regional broadcaster and an asset in its communities of service.

KBXE will broadcast at 90.5 and is the best solution to guaranteeing a reliable signal for those many loyal KAXE listeners. It will also enable us to reach people who may have never heard KAXE. This is an exciting opportunity and we hope you'll be involved.

We have a very active Publicity Committee that is planning monthly (or more) events - whether you'd like to share ideas, answer questions at an info table, want to help with construction, or just have a lot of energy to focus - please let us know, email, or call 800-662-5799.

KBXE FAQs [Revised March, 2010]

Frequently Asked Questions:
What is KBXE?

90.5 KBXE is a soon-to-be-built nonprofit, community/public radio station that will serve Bagley, Bemidji and the surrounding area. It’s a big project! Many individuals are working hard to plan the station, raise funds, and build the tower, transmission plant and studios. This document endeavors to answer questions about 90.5 KBXE. If you need to know more, email or call Northern Community Radio at 800/662-5799 or 218/326-1234.

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about KBXE!

What is community radio?

Community radio is distinguished by community support, community control, and community programming. It is radio “of, by and for” the community. Community radio stations may be licensed to local organizations, universities, tribal councils, or others. All community radio stations are educational in mission and non-profit in structure.

90.5 KBXE will be licensed to Northern Community Radio. Northern Community Radio’s board of directors has established a mission that will guide how this remarkable asset will be used: to build community.

90.5 KBXE will achieve this mission by making connections, bringing people together, and encouraging a sense of regional identity and belonging. 90.5 KBXE will use its broadcast and Internet facilities to support the efforts of community groups and organizations.

People in northwestern and north central Minnesota will be fortunate to have a radio broadcast facility like 90.5 KBXE in their community. 90.5 KBXE’s broadcast license, studios and transmission facilities will be an asset!

How is community radio different from other kinds of radio, like public radio and commercial radio?

Community stations like 90.5 KBXE are a special type, or subset, of public educational radio. Like other public radio stations, 90.5 KBXE will receive some of its funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, conduct pledge drives, and will carry some programs from organizations like National Public Radio. But KBXE will be independent and focused on northern Minnesota in its daily operation and programming. It will be locally owned and operated and will involve people from this area in all aspects of its operation.

90.5 KBXE is part of a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit so, unlike commercial radio, any profit it makes will go back into the organization rather than to a private owner or company.

Will I be able to produce a radio show on 90.5 KBXE?

Volunteers will be extremely important to 90.5 KBXE. In fact, they will be the foundation of its programming!

Some volunteers may be interested in producing music shows. Others may want to produce public affairs segments, write commentary, or help produce specialty programs. 90.5 KBXE will provide free training classes for new volunteers that will teach them how to create professional radio programs. There will also be plenty of opportunities to volunteer off the air.

What kind of music will be on 90.5 KBXE?

Because it is planned that volunteers will produce music programming for KBXE and KAXE simultaneously, the music on 90.5 KBXE will be similar to the music you hear now on 91.7 KAXE. That is, it will be a mix of folk, rock, blues, jazz and world music that is 50% male/female. Each program is hand-made by a volunteer from the community, who will bring his or her special knowledge and creativity to the airwaves.

KBXE will eventually create specialty programs, and share those with KAXE. It will include many local musicians and musical performances in its musical mix, and music that is part of the cultural heritage and cultural present of northern Minnesota.

Who’s behind this project…Who’s in charge…Why is this happening?

Northern Community Radio (NCR) will own 90.5 KBXE’s broadcast license on behalf of the community. Northern Community Radio has operated community radio station 91.7 KAXE since 1976. NCR is an independent, nonprofit membership organization headquartered in Grand Rapids MN. Northern Community Radio also operates Northern Community Internet dot org, which consists of 18 websites for individual communities in northern Minnesota, including Northern Community Internet is a place where people can share their online content with their neighbors.

A ten-person board of directors governs Northern Community Radio and establishes its mission. Members elect four of the directors, and the board itself appoints six more. You are considered a member of both KAXE and KBXE if you join either one!

When 91.7 KAXE was founded it was one of the original FM signals in northern Minnesota. Its signal reached people in Bemidji and beyond with little trouble. When more stations started crowding the FM dial, Northern Community Radio had to provide KAXE’s signal to the Bemidji area via a 250-watt translator (currently operating at 105.3 FM, located atop the Federal Building in Bemidji). This worked fairly well - at least within Bemidji city limits - for about 20 years. However, for a number of reasons (including other stations crowding in, the advent of HD radio, and the fact that 105.3 is in the commercial part of the radio spectrum) it is getting harder to provide KAXE’s signal to the area.

Northern Community Radio procured a construction permit for an entirely new broadcast station in the summer of 2009, from a community group that wanted to bring a community radio signal to the Bemidji area (Headwaters Unitarian Universalist Fellowship - HUUF). HUUF transferred the permit to Northern Community Radio because they had confidence that the organization could fulfill that purpose. This was perfect for Northern Community Radio too, because of the signal difficulties it was having.

Northern Community Radio will provide management and administrative support for KBXE. It will provide experience, systems, and resources that will help 90.5 KBXE operate efficiently, legally, and transparently.

Will KBXE be affiliated with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)?

No, KBXE will not receive any money or support from MPR. KBXE will be operated by Northern Community Radio, which is totally independent from MPR.

MPR is much larger than Northern Community Radio. MPR is headquartered in St Paul and operates almost 40 public radio stations across the United States. In turn, American Public Media Group (APMG) is the parent organization that operates Minnesota Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, and Classical South Florida, as well as American Public Media, the Greenspring Company and the Fitzgerald Theater. APMG also directly operates the Pretty Good Goods Catalog, The Lake Wobegon USA Store at the Mall of America and Public Radio Market, an Amazon dot com affiliate.

Northern Community Radio is locally owned and operated by people in northern Minnesota. It is a membership organization that holds an annual meeting and allows its members to vote and submit resolutions. Northern Community Radio is a member of NPR, or National Public Radio. This membership allows Northern Community Radio to pay dues and purchase programming like Morning Edition, Car Talk, World Café and All Things Considered from NPR.

Minnesota Public Radio is also an NPR member, just as Northern Community Radio is. MPR pays NPR dues and purchases NPR programs. Some members of Northern Community Radio pledge money to MPR too. Money given to either one of these organizations does not support the other.

Will I get 90.5 KBXE on my radio where I live?

90.5 KBXE’s signal will originate from a 500’ tower near Bagley. The primary signal will probably encompass all of Clearwater County, plus parts of Mahnomen, Red Lake, Becker, Hubbard and Beltrami Counties. Depending on terrain, conflicting radio signals, the quality of your antenna and the selectivity of your tuner, you may be able to hear KBXE beyond the primary signal area.

If you live in certain areas (east of Bemidji, for example) you may be able to receive both KAXE and KBXE, but with a less robust (fringe) signal.

Will KBXE be just like KAXE? What will the programming be like?

People in the communities served by KBXE and KAXE will co-create programming that will be broadcast all across northern Minnesota because shows created in either station’s studio can be broadcast on both stations. Volunteers and staff at KBXE will originate some special programs that grow out of the culture of the Bemidji and Bagley area, and those programs will be shared with KAXE. What we hear on both stations will be better because of this relationship, and because of the influx of new volunteers and communities! It will expand our sense of the northern Minnesota region and our understanding of its people, communities, and nature.

It takes a long time and a lot of input and experimentation to make high quality radio programs that will help build community. We think KBXE will rely more heavily on KAXE for programming at first, and will contribute more programming of its own as time goes on. It will grow its capacity and its ability to develop new programs over a period of months or years.

Like KAXE, 90.5 KBXE’s programming will reflect our community, our culture and the natural environment. You will hear the voices of your neighbors, local musicians and artists, local events, businesses, community groups and organizations, history and humor. KBXE will be inclusive and participatory, will provide companionship and entertainment, and will help you learn more about where you live.

In community meetings so far, people have told us that they would like KBXE’s programming to include news and information from National Public Radio. They would like a morning show and other programs that include information and people specific to northwest and north central Minnesota. They would like to hear live performances by local artists on KBXE. They would like to help produce programs that might be broadcast simultaneously on both KBXE and KAXE. They are interested in KBXE possibly operating a live performance venue.

We will be gathering more input throughout the process of building KBXE.

Where will KBXE’s studios be?

Studios will be located in Bemidji. A site has not been chosen yet, and we’re not sure if KBXE will rent space or own its own space.

Is there a deadline for building KBXE?

The station has to be on the air by March 2012.

Can I stop in for coffee?

Sure, but only after the station has walls, an electrical outlet and a coffee pot.

Will KBXE have an official bird or an official pancake?

Possibly, but that’s up to the community!

Is it true that a KBXE bumper sticker will add value to my car/truck?

Definitely. It will also add character to your car, help hold your vehicle together better than duct tape, and allows your car or truck to hang out with likeminded vehicles that also sport KBXE bumper stickers.

What can I do to help?

KBXE is a grassroots community project. You can give time, money, input or all three! Here are some helpful things you can do:

  • Help spread the word! Tell your friends and neighbors about 90.5 KBXE.

  • Serve on a committee. You can help with special events, publicity, technical committees, building committee or fundraising. More committees may be developed in the future! Call 800/662-5799 or email to find out more.

  • Most importantly, give generously to the capital campaign. You can pay your pledge all at once or over as much as three years’ time! Call 800/662-5799 or email to find out more.

What will my contribution be used for?

We are conducting a capital campaign. If you contribute to KBXE right now, your money will be used to help build the station. The campaign includes “brick and mortar,” broadcasting and studio equipment, land for a tower, transmitter building, fundraising materials and expenses (your money will not be used for the staff time Northern Community Radio is contributing directly but may be used for consultant fees), publicity costs, events related to the campaign, legal fees, license costs, contingency, and other similar things.

We believe the final cost of this project will be around $1,000,000, but it may be more or less depending on the results of tower studies and final decisions about the studios. Of this total, we hope to raise about $250,000 from individuals, businesses and special events. The rest will come from federal sources and foundations.

How do I sign up? Call 800/662-5799 (those are Northern Community Radio’s offices) or email