ELY – Northern Community Radio has come to Ely.
This popular, independent, community-supported radio service is best known in the region as the operator of Grand Rapids-based KAXE radio, but the non-profit organization recently began a second station, KBXE, in Bagley, which extended the station’s coverage into much of northwestern Minnesota.
Now, in an effort to extend their reach further into the Arrowhead, Northern Community Radio has added a translator in Ely, which had long been on the outermost fringes of KAXE’s radio signal, found at 91.7 FM. Now, the station comes in loud and clear in Ely and its immediate surroundings at 103.7 FM.
KAXE General Manager Maggie Montgomery said Range Paging of St. Paul, which owns the tower and translator in Ely, had no tenant for the tower and reached out to KAXE for possible use. “The translator we are using to rebroadcast KAXE’s signal formerly re-broadcast KGPZ Real Country,” she said. “We can be heard within Ely proper, but not so much on the outskirts,” she said. Actually, depending on the weather, the translator station has generally outperformed the station’s expectations and residents throughout Morse and Fall Lake Townships should be able to tune in most of the time.
Northern Community Radio now serves a wide swath of northern and central Minnesota and northeastern Minnesota with a 100,000-watt signal originating in Grand Rapids and a 50,000-watt signal originating in Bagley at 90.5 FM. The radio service also operates translators in Brainerd at 89.9 FM, in Bemidji at 105.3 FM and, since January, at 103.7 FM in Ely. The radio service airs a wide variety of local programming, an eclectic mix of music, and news coverage through National Public Radio.
The organization also manages a series of 18 community websites at www.northerncommunityinternet.org (including http://www.elycommunityinternet.org/ in Ely) and a website at www.kaxe.org, plus social media on Facebook and Twitter.
“We are really excited to serve the Ely area,” Montgomery said. “Ely has some great local radio, but it’s also a natural fit for our regional service that covers most of the northern part of the state. All of us up here share some issues and ecology.”
Timberjay Publisher Marshall Helmberger is a Friday-morning regular on KAXE/KBXE every week at 7:20 a.m., when he provides the Border News Roundup.
Northern Community Radio was founded in 1971. KAXE began broadcasting in 1976, and KBXE opened in April 2012.
The organization is a founding member of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) and a member of National Public Radio (NPR). KAXE is also a member of Ampers (the Association of MN Public Educational Radio Stations).
Northern Community Radio currently employs nine full-time and four part-time staff, and has about 120 on-air volunteers. “The volunteers are a hugely important part of our organization, lending depth and authenticity to what we do that isn’t found on broadcast media,” Montgomery said. “ They produce music shows, serve as citizen journalists, and help with projects like youth radio.”
Northern Community Radio is a first-of-its-kind rural public radio station and a national model for regional rural public radio of its type. The organization’s mission is to build community through programming and linkages with the people of northern Minnesota, she said.