Wednesday, May 12, 2010

KBXE FAQs [Revised May 10th, 2010]

Frequently Asked Questions: What is KBXE?

90.5 KBXE is a soon-to-be-built nonprofit, community/public radio station that will serve Bemidji, Bagley 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 community supported, community controlled, and community programmed. 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.

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. They are public radio stations that are very focused on their communities, and that have a nonprofit structure. 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 by Northern Community Radio, 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. There are just 4 community radio stations in the State of Minnesota, including KAXE. KBXE will be the 5th!

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.

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. KBXE 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 people in our region learn more about where they 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 the Morning Show and other programs to 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 holding and broadcasting live performances from its studios.

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 heard on 91.7 KAXE. KAXE currently broadcasts a mix of folk, rock, blues, jazz and world music that is about 50% male/female. The musical mix includes many local musicians and musical performances—music that is part of the cultural heritage and cultural present of northern Minnesota. Each music program is hand-made by a volunteer from the community, who brings his or her special knowledge and creativity to the airwaves.

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

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. The organization hopes to achieve some economies of scale by operating two stations together.

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. However, 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 that will be located between Bagley and Bemidji. The primary signal will probably encompass most 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.

Where will KBXE’s studios be?

Studios will be located in Bemidji. 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.

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, parking, a larger deli space, meeting room, commercial community kitchen, and 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 with an entrance on America Avenue. Harmony will initially lease the space to KBXE, because that will help Harmony pay its bills as they build a new co-op. At the end of 5 years those lease payments will have accumulated and KBXE will own the space.

Is there a deadline for building KBXE?

The station has to be on the air by March 23, 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 other community-minded 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?

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 $1,300,000, but it may be a little more or less depending in large part on the final location of the tower. Of this total, we hope to raise about $300,000 from individuals, businesses and special events. We are applying for the remainder from federal sources (NTIA/PTFP) and foundation grants.

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

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How To Make A Willow Whistle

At the end of the KBXE Phenology Walk and Birding Expedition in Clearbrook with John Latimer, John displayed to the group how to make a willow whistle. The secret? A sharp knife and pocket full of band aids. Follow along step by step as as John shows the cuts and twists involved:

John Latimer hosts The Phenology Show, which has been on 91.7 KAXE for over 25 Years. Northern Community Radio, which has been operating KAXE for over 34 years, is building a new community radio station to serve Bagley, Bemidji, Blackduck, Birch, Buzzle, and beyond. Read more about KBXE here: or