Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve on KAXE

What was YOUR favorite music of 2008? We're hosting ON THE RIVER tonight as we welcome in the new year....

KAXE Volunteer Doug Baker called in his top SEVEN CDs of the year....

7. The Mystix "Blue Morning"
6. Michael Franti & Spearhead "All Rebel Rockers"
5. Susan Tedeschi "Back to the River"
4. Fontaine Brown & New Orleans Hellhounds "Tales from the Fenceline"
3. Jackie Green "Giving Up the Ghost"
2. Steve Earle "Washington Square Serenade"
1. JJ Gray & Mofro "Orange Blossoms"

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Macedelic Music Awards – Album of the Year

by Doug MacRostie

I’ve been thinking about my “Top 10’s of the Year” for a while now, and I think I’ll be able to stick with my picks without too many regrets (the only thing a list does is give you the opportunity to forget something). But, I wanted to do more than just a top ten; I wanted to come up with a name for my “award.” I was trying to think of something that expressed what these albums mean to me – how they are more than just good lyrics and melodies, how the songs on these albums can grab you and take you places, give you colors and emotions all in a moment. First I thought of calling them the “F*** Yeah” Awards or the “Right On” Awards, which get the point across about how cool the music is, but isn’t quit what I was looking for. Then it came to me: The Macedelic Music Awards. Tada, simple, yet simple! I will be announcing MN Albums of the Year and MN Songs of the Year coming up later this week. But, to start the show…

The Macedelic Music Award for Album of the Year:

David Byrne & Brian Eno [Everything That Happens Will Happen Today]

Michael Franti & Spearhead [All Rebel Rockers]

Xavier Rudd [Dark Shades of Blue]

John Wilber & Timmy Haus [Road Weary]

The Tisdales [Bakers Dozen]

The Guggenheim Grotto [Happy The Man]

Beck [Modern Guilt]

Yoav [Charmed & Strange]

Ani DiFranco [Red Letter Year]

Belle & Sebastian [The BBC Sessions]

The new David Byrne and Brian Eno is outstanding all the way through! Songs like “Life is Long” and “One Fine Day” have that Talking Heads feel. “I Feel My Stuff” has that spooky sound you hear in some of David’s solo work and “Wanted for Life” is one of those “big” sounding songs. This CD grabs my ear and won’t let it go. Not only is the song writing and playing great, but the production and mixing work is outstanding – it’s truly candy for the ears! Everything that Happens will Happen Today indeed!

All Rebel Rockers from Michael Franti and Spearhead was also an easy pick for album of the year. I saw MF&SH twice over the summer (both times part of my Honeymoon :D), so I got to hear most of the new songs before the CD came out (and while the CD sounds great, he is better live :D). From one end to the other, Franti keeps rockin’ it on, and messages in songs like “Life in the City” and “Hey World (Don’t Give Up Version)” inspire.

Xavier Rudd is outstanding – he’s put out a new CD each of the last 3 years (and more beyond that) and they’ve all been excellent. Dark Shades of Blue brings more moody and edgy undertones to Xaviers work. “Secrets” and “Edge of the Moon” pop to mind as great songs from the CD with “Up In Flames” being one of the more aggressive, and “Home” has that deep and heartfelt feeling that Xavier is so good at.

John Wilber and Timmy Haus put out Road Weary so they would have a CD to sell at the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, MN. This is an outstanding Americana Blues CD. Timmy really shines as a songwriter and singer/musician on “Roots Down Deep,” “What a Time,” and “Down to the River,” and the songs they cover sound great – the highlight being “Talk to Your Daughter.” John brings in a perspective that adds depth to the music and Timmy really brings it to life.

The Tisdales CD Bakers Dozen rocks all the way through. It’s a raw and aggressive, yet fun and catchy piece of work by Rich Mattson and Tony Derrick – they switch back and forth on songs and DAMN – it really just rocks! “Isn’t It Good” and “Box of Wine” have outstanding, cut-loose guitars and songs like “Faces” and “Like a Horse” have melodies you can’t help but hum and sing with (actually, all the songs have cut-loose guitars). The guitars are excellent and intricate, the songwriting outstanding and the sound pure, raw and ready to go.

The Guggenheim Grotto floored me with their debut CD last year, but the new Happy The Man shows the duo evolving and expanding their crafty intricate style. “Sunshine Makes Me High” and “Her Beautiful Ideas” are classic Gugg “love” songs, singing “lets get naked and get under the sheets…now I just can’t seem to get out of bed anymore…”. The emotions throughout the album are expressed in some beautifully arranged music like “The Girl with the Cards” and “Just Not Just.” What can I say, the Guggs write beautiful music, thoughtful songs and have once again presented it in an inviting and exciting way.

When I hear something new from Beck, I expect it to be something that sounds original, different and exciting to listen to as twists and turns (and sudden drops) take you through the music, and Modern Guilt does just that. Still easily recognizable as Beck, the songs come at you from new angles and perspectives, but still have that edgy feel. “Soul of a Man” and “Walls” jumped out at me right away, plus the upbeat “Youthless” and “Think I’m in Love” – all outstanding songs from another outstanding Beck CD.

The first CD that came out in 2008 that really got my attention was Yoav’s “Charmed and Strange.” Yoav opened for Tori when I went down to meet her in Minneapolis and he didn’t even have a CD out in the U.S. yet. It’s 1 person, he plays guitar (and percussion on the guitar) and has a foot-operated loop box and creates beautiful layers and textures in intricate songs that continue to build and expand. Its amazing music and the CD has some great songs like “Adore Adore,” “One By One,” and “Wake Up” being some of my favs.

Ani DiFranco is pretty reliable when it comes to quality CDs, but Red Letter Year stands out, even for her. “Smiling Underneath” might be my fav song on the album, “we could be stuck in a car with quintuplets that are all cutting teeth, and I’d be smiling underneath,” lots of good stuff in that song. “The Atom” is another great song – a nice open feel, layers and textures and things that you need to wear headphones for to fully enjoy. Ani has done it again; Red Letter Year is another outstanding album.

Belle & Sebastain have been through a lot lately, putting out one full length CD after the singer and songwriter Isobel Campbell left the band – this CD shows that B&S still got it, even with out Isobel, and I also like that some of the songs are updated with slight lyric changes (you ever wonder what a writer thinks of a song 10 years later? I do). But beyond that, it’s the great B&S songs, but live recordings from the BBC, it’s so much fun to listen to “new” versions of favorites of old.

So congrats to you winners of the MMA Album of the Year award – you’re songs fill my head with that wonderful feeling that only music can provide; whether happy or sad, fast or slow, loud or quiet, your music inspires and ignites.

BUT, I ended up having to leave myself a safety valve when compiling this top 10 – here are some honorable mentions for the Macedelic Music Award for Album of the Year – they almost made the list, but I had to try to stick to the 10 limit:

Honorable Mentions:

Mason Jennings [In the Ever]

The Cat Empire [So Many Nights]

Ian Ethan Case [Into Open land]

John Mellencamp [Life, Death, Love & Freedom]

The Limns [The Limns]

Death Cab for Cutie [Narrow Stairs]

T Bone Burnett [Tooth of Crime]

Thievery Corporation [Radio Retaliation]

Tom Morello: The Night Watchman [The Fabled City]

Boiled in Lead [Silver]

The Darbuki Kings [Lawrence of Suburbia]

Thanks for reading along, feel free to let me know how you disagree and as always, ROCK ON!


Read more from Doug at

Harry's Christmas Present

John and Harry got great phenological Christmas presents this year... in fact, they sounded like little boys getting train sets they were so excited!

John loved his "Life Histories of Northern American Woodpeckers" by Arthur Cleveland Bent and Harry's favorite gift from his son was "Trees and Shrubs on Minnesota" by Welby R. Smith.

Christmas Bird Counts continue until January 3rd

Check out the Minnesota Ornithlogical Union for their information on the Minnesota bird counts that continue...

John Latimer talked today about one of his favorite Christmas presents this year from his daughter - it was a book on woodpeckers (see the beautiful photo of the red bellied woodpecker) by Arthur Cleveland Bent called "Life Histories of North American Woodpeckers".

Did you participate in any Christmas bird counts this year? Let us know what you saw!!!

Weather Picture for December 29-January 5 from Tornado Bob

Monday morning update:

Last night's snow was largest along the international border with up to 3" in Cook, International Falls and 2" in northern Itasca County. Just a dusting of snow occurred in Grand Rapids.

Tuesday's snows will occur south of Highway 2. There will be a narrow, east-west band of 3-6" between Brainerd and the Twin Cities. I do not expect any accumulation in Grand Rapids-- and maybe just a dusting in Bemidji. The snow will start just after midnight and end just after noon on Tuesday. The heaviest snow will fall around sunrise.

Thursday may bring a general 2-5" snowfall across the entire area as another trough of low pressure moves into the area.

(Sunday evening post)

The snowy pattern continues this week as a series of weak low pressure systems moves across Minnesota under relatively fast west to east flow aloft. We'll have chances of snow early Monday morning (along and north of Highway 2), Tuesday (south of Highway 2), and Thursday (over the whole area). Each of these events appears capable of providing snows in the 1-4" range, but Tuesday's snow could drop up to 6" south of Brainerd. Temperatures will generally be near or slightly below average for late December. That means high temperatures in the teens and lows a little bit below zero.

Generally, there are no major storms on the horizon, but we'll have a chance of snow about every other day for about the next 10 days. After that, it looks like the overall weather pattern will become somewhat less snowy, but the temperature will probably be good for skiing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Comfort Reading

One of the things I do at KAXE is pick out the selections for the KAXE Book of the Month Club (you can be in this by pledging your yearly support at our 1 dollar a day/$365 year level)....I was talking with one of the members the other day and asked her what she was looking for in a book right now. "Something light!" I totally knew what she meant.... she described it as needing a "comfort" book and that she goes thru periods where she also needs her reading that is good for her/"vegetable" reading....

When it comes to my own reading, a lot of times that's exactly what I'm looking for - a very delicate balance between light reading and something engrossing....not a harelquin romance exactly, but something that I will get absorbed in and finish quickly.

The cool thing was that I had the perfect book for our KAXE Bookclub member - because I recently interviewed author Jennie Shortridge for Realgoodwords. I'd really liked her book "Eating Heaven" which was the story of a plus-sized food writer who has takes care of her ailing uncle Benny. In becoming a caregiver she comes to realize she needs to learn to care for herself and find what she wants out of life.

But back to the new novel by Jennie Shortridge that I passed on - "Love and Biology at the End of the Universe". This is the story of Mira Serafino - a biology teacher who works hard to appear to be perfect - at work, with her husband, with her daughter and father....when one element isn't quite what she envisions, she packs her bags and hits the road to find a new life. One reviewer wrote:

"Shortridge has tapped into what may be everybody's fantasy at some point or other: if you weren't saddled with the consequences of the decisions you've made over the years, who would you be now?"

You can hear my conversation with Jennie Shortridge at the Realgoodwords archive
or you can hear it Sunday morning at 9am, streaming live audio at

Let me know if you know what I mean about needing "comfort" books - got any recommendations?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Crustless Cranberry Pie

By Jennifer Poenix

On KAXE's morning show today, I mentioned to Maggie Montgomery that I made a crustless cranberry pie last night. I've never had cranberry pie before, but I came across the recipe online and it sounded like the perfect dessert for Christmas Eve.

Here's the link to the recipe:

We'll see what it tastes like.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Music from the Lab Rats – Santa Jingles!!!

by Doug MacRostie

Back in Jan 08 I declared this to be The Year of the Drum and I tried to put a new drum-song on myspace each month, which I did through April I think…

Getting married and having Baby on the way (so, instead of banging drums I was…well, you get the idea…its still The Year of the Drum imho ;D) has shifted where a lot of my free-time focus goes. So, it is with GREAT pleasure that I share with you the latest recording from the Lab Rats.

It's called Santa Jingles (as named by Amy) and it's notable for a few reasons.

  1. This is the first recording with the latest addition to the Lab Rats, my sister-in-law Amy Mourer. She brings a great energy to the process – she has the life and excitement of a child trapped in an adults body. In the recording, her and I are pounding on the trap set – for the production, I would tweak around with different effects until it got her approval.
  2. It's the first recording at the new Macedelic Studios in Alvwood, MN. W00t!

Enjoy at

So happy holidays and all that jazz – I hope you enjoy the tune and as always, ROCK ON!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Border News Roundup - News from NE Minnesota

Every Friday morning at 7:20 we check in with Marshall Helmberger from the TimberJay newspaper in North Eastern Minnesota. Marshall and his staff were watching the minute by minute changes online of the Coleman-Franken recount... check out the up to date information from the Star Tribune.

Marshall also talked with us about the final closing of the Ainsworth plants in Cook, Grand Rapids and Bemidji. They have been closed for awhile but especially for the town of Cook, Ainsworth really made it a vibrant community. Now, even if it reopens, there are no job guarantees.

One of the stories Marshall has been following closely is Governor Pawlenty's budget cuts. Almost certainly will be cuts to LGA, local government aid. Marshall said the question is not IF there will be LGA cuts but how big they will be. He told us how a town like Ely is really impacted by these cuts.... Ely was supposed to get an increase in LGA this year and had levy limits imposted. That money they were counting on is in jeopardy now. Many cities fact this too - payments they thought they would be receiving on December 26th may not be forthcoming. Stay tuned for more on what exactly the Governor is proposing. Marshall mentioned that the League of Minnesota Cities lists information on the LGA cuts and how cities and towns will be coming. Click here for more information.

And, as always, give us your thoughts on these topics!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tonight on Centerstage MN - soft voices and LOUD guitars :D

by Doug MacRostie

Tonight on Centerstage MN my guest is Alia Farah - we'll be talking about her CD Playground, a well crafted and written piece of musical work she recorded in various living rooms (read my previous blog for a little more info on Alia). Her songs tickle the ear, if you haven't heard her - I hope you'll tune in and enjoy!

Other featured music will be:
The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank - from Holyoke, their new EP is a fun twist on the "usual" HNoUF sound
Nikki & the Ruemates - out of Minneapolis, they've got 3-part harmonies and mix styles ranging from acoustic blues rock to psychedelic folk.
Charlie Parr - from Duluth, Charlie's latest CD "Roustabout" is a great listen (and he'll be on to talk about it sometime soon)
Sick of Sarah - a 5-piece rock-pop group out of Minneapolis, all ladies, none-of-which are named Sarah...
Preemptive Strike - Out of Floodwood, MN these guys are somewhere between Pantera and AC/DC - mad guitars, pounding drums and sinister lyrics - muahahahaha!!!
The Tisdales - their CD "Bakers Dozen" will be in my top 10 of the year - an excellent CD that rocks all the way through.

I hope you can tune in and enjoy! We stream live online at, or listen on the radio at 91.7fm in the Grand Rapids area, 105.3 in Bemidji and 89.9 in Brainerd. Centerstage Minnesota is every Thursday Evening and Sunday Morning at 6.

If you have suggestions for CSMN, please send me an email, mac@kaxe.og
Read more about MN music at my blog:

Local Food: Winter Advice from Growers

by Maggie Montgomery

Last year, as part of our local food diet, Dennis and I built a tomato house out of 16’ cattle panels covered with plastic. It was part “hoop house,” but not as tall and wide as a real hoop house, and part “chicken coop,” based on a design of Jane Grimsbo Jewett’s (but lacking the chickens, of course). We grew a bumper crop of tomatoes in there, without the blight we normally get in the garden.

We wondered what to grow there in Year Two. Would it be safe to grow tomatoes again, or should we rotate the crop? Dennis was also interested in trying to grow early greens, and possibly some melons.

Two KAXE members offered some advice that I will pass along:

Jeanine said she grows 6 or 8 hills of melons in her “hoop house.” She recommends heavy mulching and these varieties:

Minnesota Midget cantaloupe
French Orange French cantaloupes from Nichols Garden Nursery in Oregon
Edonis French cantaloupes from Johnny’s
Watermelon: Sugar Baby, Starlight, Small Russian

Joel Rosen suggested growing cucumbers, melons, basil, pole beans and eggplant. He also said we could probably grow tomatoes there again if we want to!

He told us lettuce and other greens would take almost twice as long to mature if transplanted early into the tomato house, and this might delay planting the tomatoes afterward. He suggested planting Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan), broccoli rabe (or rapini), mustard greens, baby bok choy and tatsoi.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Windchill and cars

by Dan Houg, pompous Engineer

Following a Windchill discussion at a staff meeting, I was told I should go blog about it. It's our polite way of telling each other to shut up. The windchill (correctly pronounced "Windshield" or "Winchell" around here) makes absolutely no difference to how your car starts-- if it is -10F outside your engine will get to -10F but not any colder, even if the Windchill figure is -45F. What Windshield DOES affect on a car is how fast the engine cools off, like standing outside after an argument.

It’s like Ani DiFranco, but from Tamarack, MN...

by Doug MacRostie

Coming up tomorrow night on Centerstage Minnesota (Thursday nights at 6pm on 91.7 KAXE, I'll be talking with singer songwriter Alia Farah.

Originally from Tamarack, MN, she now operates out of Portland, OR and has a very intimate and creative style of writing lyrics and music. Her album "Playgound" has a lot of great songs on it - they make me think of Ani DiFranco - that open "roomy" kind of recording (where you can hear every breath, tap and strum), clever and dancing lyrics and unique melodies that really give each song a personality of its own - I'll be talking with her about that album, and what she is doing now in Portland.

She'll be performing at The Beanery Internet Cafe in Aitkin this Friday night, so, catch her if you can!

I still have to figure out what other music will be featured tomorrow night....

NEXT week on Centerstage MN (Christmas Day) I'll rebroadcasting the hour long special with Sam Miltich about his CD "Just You, Just Me" with the Clearwater Hot Club featuring Dave Karr - great stuff!!!

On New Years day - I'll playing my favorite songs from MN in 08!!! Obviously, I think they're some catchy tunes. AND, I'll announcing my top Albums of the Year, MN Albums of the Year, MN Songs of the Year and Honorable Mentions (of the year...), so stay tuned!!!!

Rock on!

What's Great in 2008

By Jennifer Poenix

It's been an interesting year, to say the least. If you are Minnesotan, you know what I mean by "interesting." There was a historic election, multiple "crises," plus an ongoing war. Music always helps things seem better, so what were your favorite songs and/or albums in 2008?

KAXE would like to compile a big list of what our listeners found to be the best of the year. It doesn't even have to be from 2008. Maybe you discovered an artist you'd never heard before. Maybe the album came out in late 2007 and you just found out about it.

Some of my favorites this year (just to get your wheels turning):

Vampire Weekend
: Vampire Weekend
TV on the Radio: Dear Science
Death Cab for Cutie: Narrow Stairs, especially "I Will Possess Your Heart."
Delta Spirit: Ode to Sunshine
Michael Franti & Spearhead: All Rebel Rockers
Mason Jennings: In the Ever

I'm sure there's tons more I'm forgetting about, so please let us know your favorites by either leaving a comment on this blog or sending an e-mail to Your may also leave a message on our new Talkback Line: (218) 999-9876.

Tom Cobb and Heidi Holtan will be ringing in the new year with a special On the River on December 31 from 10pm-1am. Your favorites of the year will be played throughout the show.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shop, Shop, Shop at KAXE!

By Stephanie Rose

It’s time to shop, folks. Most years, I get all wacky and go overboard during these holidays. But this year I’m simplifying, and I vote for you to simplify, too! And here’s how KAXE can help.

If you’re reading this, you probably dig KAXE a lot, which means your loved ones probably dig it, too – at least peripherally [is that an oxymoron?] – so they would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a KAXE gift. We have T-shirts, sweatshirts, water bottles, coffee mugs, tote bags, CDs [though we can’t sell those, legally], aprons, books, and more. It’s a win-win [excuse the, um, cliché] because it solves your gift-giving dilemma AND gives your radio station added exposure when your friends and loved ones sport the logo.

Stop in anytime during business hours, and any of our personal shoppers can help you choose just the right thing!

Snow Envy

by Maggie Montgomery

I have had the pleasure of commuting 60 miles to KAXE from my home in East Nary for the past 13+ years. There’s some guilt associated with using the gas, of course, and more than 2 hours on the road every day really eats into my personal time. Also, Highway 2 can be kind of scary when driving conditions are bad!

But the drive through the Chippewa National Forest is usually pleasant, and I get to devote a lot of attention to listening to KAXE! Commuting in northern Minnesota isn’t like a city commute at all: I know the highway well, get to see wildlife, and it’s (usually) much less stressful.

Going from Point A to a Point B 60 miles away also allows me to make some comparisons. Today it was the snow.

Yes, there is snow on the ground this morning in East Nary, maybe 2 inches of it. We have been patiently waiting for it to add up to something ski-able. This fall Dennis and I took to the trails around our house, like we usually do, with anvil-headed pruners and a scythe. Clip, clip…down with the shoots sprouting from the roots of trees in the trail. WHACK!…those wild raspberries! They grow like weeds!

If we had the snow in East Nary today that there is in Grand Rapids, I could ski. But it didn’t happen. I have to wait longer. I’m jealous!

How’s the snow in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Are you on facebook?

By Jennifer Poenix

I imagine if you’re reading this blog that you are somewhat internet savvy. You’ve probably heard of Facebook, which is a “social networking site.” That’s a funny term right there. “Social networking.” I suppose people have always “social networked,” it was never called that. I still don’t call it that. Who does? “Oh yeah, I’ve just been social networking with some folks and they said it’s going to snow.” I don’t think so.

Anyhow, Facebook is a place where people who are already friends “friend request” each other until pretty soon you are “friends” with that guy you sat by in math class in like 10th grade, but really didn’t know all that well.

This is sounding weird, right? It’s not so much once you get into it. I mean, yeah, some of it is a bit strange, especially at first. Then you discover people you haven’t heard from in a long time, and sometimes it’s really cool to see what they’ve been up to and be able to reconnect.

There are also groups to join on Facebook. People mostly join groups to show their support for something and to find people who share a common interest. KAXE has a group, started by Scott’s daughter, Adele. It’s called KAXE: A Rare Medium Well Done. As of right now, there are 108 members of the group. If you already do the Facebook thing, I invite you to check it out. Just search for KAXE and you’ll find it. If you are not on Facebook, it may be your thing or it may not. The downside is that you actually have to create an account (it’s totally free) to see if you like it. If you are interested, go to

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Managing Editor for KAXE Community Journalism Project

Starting this Friday, and for the next 9 months, there will be a new face around KAXE. Katie Carter will lead KAXE’s Community Supported Journalism project as Managing Editor of Northern Community Internet. She will work with Scott Hall, Heidi Holtan, many freelance and community journalists, and community journalism clubs from around our region, to produce four, eight-week series for community websites and radio.

The first series will start in January, in conjunction with the rollout of the community websites. In the next few weeks Katie will solicit input about issues important to our area. She will work with journalists to identify stories. They will decide how to present the stories on the community websites and on the radio. The community websites will allow a fresh and different presentation for the stories, extra resources for users, photos, video, and lots of interaction. I hope you check it out!

Journalism is undergoing a transition in our country and in the world. Newspapers are giving way to online news sources. So at the core of KAXE’s Community Supported Journalism project is a question: Will people pay directly for news that is important to them?

If the stories are important to you, we hope you will support the project financially. If that happens, the project may be able to continue after this first 9 months.

Back to Katie: Katie Carter recently completed her MA in English at Bemidji State University. In her school career she majored in English, Psychology and Education. She has worked as a freelance journalist, writer and English teacher. She also served as managing editor and assistant editor for several publications. She brings high energy and enthusiasm to the community journalism project! Please make her welcome!

KAXE received a Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant to help start the Community Supported Journalism project. That project is part of a larger project to develop community websites in northern Minnesota. That larger project receives funding from the Blandin Foundation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sunny Days Indeed

By Jennifer Poenix

This Saturday on Between You and Me, the topic is TV shows. I watched a lot of TV when I was growing up. A lot of TV. Do I regret this? Not really, although I suppose I could have been doing things that were far more constructive. Like what, I don’t know.

If I had to list a favorite show of all-time, it would be Sesame Street. That show meant everything to me when I was small. It’s not as good as it used to be though. It’s much less focused on letters and numbers these days. My son Zane knows the characters from books and other various items I have handed down to him. I’m not sure he watches the show at daycare, but I’ll let him watch it very occasionally at home. We watch old episodes and clips on DVD: Sesame Street Old School, Volume 1. (Here’s hoping that Santa brings Volume 2.)

One time, I was absolutely convinced that Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, etc were coming to my house for supper. I have no idea where I got this notion from, but there it was. I started pulling extra chairs up to the dining room table. I kept looking out the window, waiting for them to arrive. My mom thought I was just playing, so she played along with me. She started putting food on the table. “Wait!” I yelled. “They’re not here yet!” It was then that she told me that they weren’t really coming to our house. It was just in my imagination. I sobbed through the rest of supper.

I don’t watch very much television anymore, and I'm more than ok with that. We live where there is no cable and I cannot justify paying for satellite. We have an antenna outside and it currently picks up 3-4 stations, depending on where it is pointed. We’ll see what happens when the FCC requires stations to go digital in February. I watch The Amazing Race and The Office regularly and that’s about it. Besides Sesame Street.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Greatest Artists in the World

By Stephanie Rose

Some of KAXE’s staff and volunteers are going to decorate a wreath for the MacRostie Art Center’s annual wreath auction, slated for Saturday, December 6th.

That sweet Amanda Lamppa at the MacRostie has recruited the “greatest artists in the world” [in the words of Derek Rolle] to decorate these wreaths. KAXE’s team [so far] includes Sarah Bignall, Jennifer Poenix, Penny Holcomb, and Stephanie Rose.

You can join the decorating team, or help by going to the MacRostie Art Center in downtown Grand Rapids on Saturday and bidding on the wreaths [proceeds benefit the MAC].

It’s a silent auction, you know [write your bids on a piece of paper near the wreath you desire], so last year I accidentally got three wreaths because there was a gigantic blizzard and lots of folks stayed safely at home. But my house looked fantastic with my three wreaths [until mid-April, when one started to look sort of a little ragged]! Hope to see you all on Saturday at the MAC.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Time to Give Thanks

By Jennifer Poenix

There is much to be thankful for at KAXE. Our members and volunteers immediately come to mind.

Since I started working here over two years ago, I’ve met a whole cast of characters that support KAXE, not only with their membership, but also with their time, contributions of programming, food, and so much more. I'm thankful for all of you.

I'm also thankful for the beautiful surroundings of my workplace. We have a view of the Mississippi River complete with Bill the eagle, many other birds, and sometimes even a fox, otter, or raccoon.

Wishing a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Piroque/Pirogue on Between You and Me last week...

On last week's Between You and Me we talked about holiday gift ideas - especially unique and inexpensive gifts.

Don from Suomi called in to tell us about piroques.... how you can go online, find the plans and get a kit...see here for more info.

What is a pirogue?
{pee roe} a cajun canoe, originally made from a dugout cypress log, usually flat on the bottom and pointed at both ends.

Thanks to Bonnie the Plant lady for sending links and information about the piroques....check here for information about Lousiana Piroque seeds!

As for the spelling, I've seen it both ways - pirogue or piroque.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dinner-Rama at Jack and Cindy Shelton's

Jack and Cindy Shelton can really throw a party! That’s just what they did last Saturday night, to honor 25 years of Phenology on KAXE. More than 20 people were there, including a visitor who could only speak Russian and a plethora of KAXE friends and supporters.

Jack served 2 kinds of chili - a vegetarian variety and a rich, meaty one with chunks of beef and pork that he had cooked for two days! He also made homemade pita bread and hummus with olives and tomatoes as an appetizer, and Cindy baked several pans of corn bread. Jack and Cindy provided beer and wine and non-alcoholic alternatives.

During the party we checked in with the special “Phenology Meets Green Cheese” show that was live on KAXE. John Latimer asked our Russian guest how to say “deer guts” in Russian. This caused a good deal of confusion! The photo is of Jack Shelton and KAXE engineeer Dan Houg talking to John Latimer, Julie Crabb and Heidi Holtan from the party.

The dinner ended with beautiful carrot cake, and Jack asked for donations for the 25th anniversary of Phenology project. The $565 contributed by Jack and Cindy’s guests will go into the fund to honor John Latimer by supporting Phenology activities in the future.

More dinner-ramas will be held this weekend and into the new year. All of us at KAXE appreciate Jack and Cindy’s work and that of the other dinner-rama hosts! Thank you!

Here is a link to photos of the party.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Popcorn hits the spot

By Jennifer Poenix

Scott Hall just made popcorn, which in turn, has made my day. It also gave me something to blog about (see previous blog). He makes it on the stove, which I haven’t seen anybody do for a long time.

First, you need to heat the oil until it’s starting to spatter. Then, add the kernels until they are bathed in oil (bathed, not swimming). Get them nice and surrounded. Put the lid on the pot, and soon you will have delicious popcorn.

Growing up, my dad made popcorn nearly every night. He made it on the stove when I was real young, but then he got an air popper and never looked back. I hardly ever eat popcorn anymore. Once in awhile, I’ll buy the microwave stuff, but it just does not compare. I think I’ll try making it on the stove at home some night soon. It may be a disaster, but at least I’ll have tried.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to clean my keyboard…and see if there’s anymore popcorn in the kitchen.

Thank you Scott!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I won't have dishpan hands today!

By Jennifer Poenix

If you receive KAXE’s weekly e-mail newsletter, “The Buzz,” you may know that all KAXE staff members are supposed to blog every week or else they have to clean our kitchen. Trust me, it can be a big job. (see photo of Heidi, who is a very good blogger)

We have a staff meeting every Thursday morning at 9:30, and we’re supposed to report on what we blogged about. If you haven't blogged, you are in charge of cleaning up after the meeting. So, usually at about 9:00 each Thursday morning, there is a flurry of blog activity going on around these parts, even though we were each supposed to take a specific day of the week to do our blogging.

But sometimes, it’s really hard figuring out what to blog about. I don’t even know how many folks are actually reading. Obviously, you are, so thank you. What would you like to read about in this blog? Are there things about KAXE that you would like to know more about? Are you looking for information, entertainment, or something else?

Let us know. You can leave a comment on this blog if you wish. Even if you don’t have any suggestions, it would be nice to know if you regularly check this blog or the other blogs found at Thanks!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We're Having Some [more] Parties!

By Stephanie Rose

On Saturday, November 15, starting at 7:00 p.m., it’s the clash of the mail carriers on KAXE! It’s Godzilla meets King Kong! It’s Phenology meets Green Cheese! What?!

That’s right. Here’s the deal: On the air, two of KAXE’s most popular shows … will … MEET. Green Cheese with Julie Crabb and Phenology with John Latimer will combine for one spectacular night only. AND, folks all over KAXE’s listening area are hosting “Dinnerama” dinner parties in an effort to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Phenology, and to generate support for the Phenology Fund we’re trying to grow. This fund will, among other things, pay for classroom materials for the students that participate in Phenology, and help support John Latimer’s outreach efforts.

Maybe you’re invited to a Dinnerama Party. Maybe you’re hosting your own. If not, stop by KAXE’s studios between about 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night. Staff and volunteers are planning to make a variety of soups and breads, and the programming will be scintillating! AND, if you pledge $250 or more to the Phenology Fund, you can get a hand lens and a Phenology T-shirt! We hope to see and/or hear from you Saturday night.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Greener Membership

By Jennifer Poenix (KAXE's member services manager)

Other public radio stations throughout the country have sustaining membership programs. These are programs that allow people to keep their membership going year after year, without ever having to renew. Typically, members make a monthly donation either through their bank account or with a credit card. Stations send just one letter a year to verify that the member wants to continue their membership, and sometimes to offer a thank-you gift.

KAXE has had a small group of sustainers for several years now, but they've never really been acknowledged as such. We have now made a few changes as to how we process both automatic bank withdrawals and monthly credit card payments that will really streamline the process.

What I really like about this type of membership is that is has the potential to save a ton of paper. Right now, I send renewal letters each month to those members who are due to renew in the current month, the next month, as well as those who were due to renew the previous month. I also mail statements to those who have already pledged. Each of these letters consists of a half-sheet of letterhead, a return envelope, and an outside envelope. Then 42 cents postage is applied to each one.

Of course, these letters are a good thing because they bring in money to support KAXE. However, if more people decided to become sustaining members, or "Green Members" as I think they should be called, there would be steady support of KAXE with less paper being used. It seems win-win to me.

We're just getting this off the ground at KAXE, but if you would like more information, please contact me. My e-mail address is, or you can call 218-326-1234, or even comment on this blog post.

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

By Stephanie Rose
Things are in an uproar around here. There’s tension you could cut with a knife. And shouting matches erupt at every turn! We all worked together on KAXE’s recent fundraiser, of course. But now, with the big election upon us, all semblance of solidarity has vanished. No, not that election. The Puppy/Kitty election! You can vote here, but hurry. Only six hours until the poll closes.
In Tom Cobb’s class at Remer School, Puppies won resoundingly, 62 to 38 percent. But the Puppies now trail slightly at The Northern Observer.
Jennifer Poenix’s young son, Zane, recently christened a new kitten “Butter,” which, in itself, almost makes a person want to vote Kitty. “Their other cat is a tool,” explained Jennifer. “He keeps spilling his water.” Jennifer’s family has dog and cats, so I think she could go either way. At press [bloggy press] time, John and Maggie and I are on the Puppies’ side. Penny and Heidi stand firmly behind Kitties. And Mark Tarner? He votes unequivocally Hedgehog, of course. Stay tuned to 91.7 KAXE for the latest.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

High Bongo tonight

Tune in tonight at 6, or join us at KAXE for High Bongo, performing live on Centerstage Minnesota.

High Bongo is KC Johnson and Pat Downing. They are a great duo, and Pat is sure to tell a good story or two.

This performance is free and open to everyone. There won't be member checks at the door, but we hope you either are already a member of KAXE or that you will become one soon. KAXE depends on its members to keep going strong.

You know the numbers: 218-326-1234 or 800-662-5799.

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What is Real?

By Jennifer Poenix

Today is day 3 of the "Northern Observer" fundraiser on KAXE. Thank you to everyone who has pledged!

There's been a lot of stories floating around about KAXE's volunteers and staff both on the air and here. Maybe some of them are real, maybe some of them are not. (Just so you know, I did not throw away any Beatles records.)

Other KAXE fundraisers have included things that people have wondered about. Did Heidi really walk across the Mississippi River on a tightrope? Did Dan and Maggie really visit Pluto two years ago? Did Rev Dave and Doug MacRostie really shoot my son out of a cannon?

These things are fun to imagine, but when you get down to it, KAXE is as real as it gets. When you listen to KAXE, you know that there are real people behind it. Real people who put a lot of thought into the music you hear. Real people who cheer everytime someone makes a pledge to support this radio station. Real people who work hard to ensure you are getting authentic local radio every day of the year.

If you believe in real radio, do your part to support it, and become a member of KAXE. You can pledge online or call (218) 326-1234 or 800-662-5799.

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy Jim Columbus Day!

By Jennifer Poenix

This morning may not have been Columbus Day to you, but here at KAXE, it was Jim Columbus Day. So, we celebrated the best way we know how: with food. (See, I just can’t not blog about food.)

Cooks John Bauer, Heidi Holtan, and Penny Holcomb were busy in the KAXE kitchen when I arrived with my son Zane at 7:30 this morning. Maggie and Dan had already cooked up a storm yesterday afternoon. I brought fruit salad (yes, that fruit salad). We also had pancakes, two kinds of sausage, two kinds of egg bake, plus milk, coffee, and juice.

The guest of honor, Jim Columbus, arrived with 7 of his coworkers just as the first pancakes were coming off the griddle.

If you don’t know who Jim Columbus is, I will tell you. Jim works for the city of Grand Rapids, in the public works department. Jim and his crew are very devoted to KAXE. They listen to KAXE when they’re driving their snow plows and even communicate to one another about things they hear on their CB radios.

Ever since KAXE moved to our building on the Mississippi River, Jim and the guys have been very helpful. KAXE is spelled out in bricks on the sidewalk out front thanks to them. They brought us a lot of mulch when we put our rain garden in this summer. Then, when there was leftover mulch, they placed it around all the spruce trees we have. They make sure the fine details are taken care of when we have an event, like the 91.7 KAXE Mississippi River Festival.

In late August, KAXE was without water for three weeks. The details as to why are now fuzzy, but I do know that this was not Jim Columbus related. It was the other guys. When multi-daily trips to the Grand Rapids Area Library for water got to be too much, who was the person who helped us out? That’s right. Jim Columbus.

Thank you Jim Columbus and to your mighty crew for all you have done for KAXE!

"Just think," Jim said this morning, "if my last name was Carlson, none of this would be taking place." Not true, Jim. We think you're a great guy whatever your last name is.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Officer Jon Baker on CHiPs

By Stephanie Rose

I’m sure if you’re reading this blog [and/or you know what blogging means] you’ve heard of the social networking website, Facebook. Several of KAXE’s staff and volunteers have Facebook pages, and there’s even a KAXE group on Facebook.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Larry Wilcox has a Facebook page. Before I could stop myself, I invited him to be my Facebook friend! And he accepted! I immediately called everyone in my immediate family [it’s just mum, dad, and baby seester]: “Larry Wilcox is my friend! And he said happy birthday to me!” Everyone congratulated me a lot. It was an enormous achievement for me. Also, it doesn’t take too much to make Stephanie’s family proud.

Some history on Larry Wilcox: He grew up in Rawlins, Wyoming, just like I did, and graduated from Rawlins High School, just like I did, and he starred as Officer Jon Baker on the greatest TV show ever, CHiPs, which I faithfully watched with my dad [who is still enjoying his own illustrious career in law enforcement] when I was a little girl!

Almost 30 years later, at my Rotary Club meeting yesterday, I said, “You guys. Larry Wilcox from CHiPs is my Facebook friend!” Jaws dropped. My friend Jeff Borg said, “No way!”
“Way,” I said. “Officer John Baker. From CHiPs.”
Someone else said, “What? Erik Estrada?”
“No!” I snapped. “The other guy! Not Ponch. Jon! Larry Wilcox! We went to the same high school! He’s older than I am, though.”
All the Rotarians at my table were pretty impressed. Especially when Jeff asked how Jon – I mean Larry – I mean Jon – turned out to become a highway patrolman after Rawlins High School, and I explained that my dad had generously pulled some strings for him, leaving out the detail that Larry Wilcox is an actor who played a highway patrolman. That’s just excruciating minutiae.

After Rotary, back at KAXE, I said, “You guys. Remember that show, CHiPs?”
Heidi Holtan said, “No way! We were just talking about CHiPs this morning! Erik Estrada?”
“No! The other guy! Larry Wilcox” I yelled. “He is my Facebook friend!”
“Whoah! The Larry Wilcox?!” Heidi was so overcome by sheer amazement that she had to sit down quickly. “How’d you get him to be your friend?”

Hurray for Facebook. Hurray for high school [check out Heidi Holtan’s Between You and Me on Saturday morning at 10:00 on KAXE, by the way]. And hurray for Larry Wilcox!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

This blog is about food...

By Jennifer Poenix

So, here I am, talking about food again.

I have a sign-up sheet at my desk for anyone who feels like bringing food during our fall fundraiser, which is coming up October 20-31. Right now, it's blank because I just put it up.

Fundraisers are a great time at KAXE and one of the reasons is the food. Most days around 11AM, various staff members peer over me to look at the sign-up sheet, wondering who is bringing lunch. Of course, KAXE's staff is very capable of eating on their own both during a fundraiser and when it's not a fundraiser. However, it's so nice to know that there is food waiting in the kitchen when everybody has been busy gonging in pledges and adding up totals. There's a good feeling that goes on when we all get together and eat when it's fundraiser time. If you bring food, you get to be part of that. Even if you don't bring food, you are welcome to drop by and eat with us.

I know that a lot of folks don't live near enough to drop by or bring food. That's fine. We understand completely. We hope you feel like you're part of things by listening to KAXE.

If you are able to bring food, that would be great! It doesn't have to be fancy. We aren't too hard to please (just remember to provide a meatless alternative if you're bringing a meal). It can be homemade, from a take-out place, or even snacks. Really, any kind of food that shows up here will be greatly appreciated!

We are also in need of folks to answer the phone to take pledges. The times we need people most include early mornings, evenings, and the weekend (October 25 and 26), especially during Green Cheese from 7-9PM on Saturday.

If you can help with either food or phones, please contact me by either email: or phone 218-326-1234 or 800-662-5799.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Minnesota Grown is Still Hot, Hot, HOT!

By Stephanie Rose

We just got a nice letter from the folks at the Minnesota Grown program, thanking us for being a top distributor of their Minnesota Grown Directory. We were really pleased to help the 675 participating producers spread the word about their goods, beginning early this spring.

KAXE and Minnesota Grown were proud to be able to partner with Goods from the Woods Up North Marketplace, Grand Rapids Farmers’ Market, Lakes Area Growers’ Market, Lavalier’s Berry Patch, North Country Farmers’ Market, Uncle Joe’s Berry Patch, and others, to help connect our listeners to locally grown products.

And Maggie and Scott chat with local food producers at around 7:10 every Wednesday morning – all year – about all sorts of delicious ideas about things that were produced around our neighborhood.

Now, even with summer winding down, these Directories are still very relevant. Remember that the Directory includes orchards, Christmas [wait – let’s not think about that yet] tree farms, meat providers, wineries, and more. If you’d like a copy – or extra copies – of this important Directory, just let me know.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Performers Sparkle at First Friday Coffeehouse in Bemidji

by Maggie Montgomery

The Northwoods Folk Collective’s First Friday Coffeehouse is back, in a new location at the Mask and Rose Theater in the Masonic Temple across from the Bemidji Community Arts Center on Bemidji Avenue. Last Friday October 3rd was the second coffeehouse of the season.

The new space is a strange mix of art, theater and freemasonry, but somehow it all comes together to feel warm and welcoming. Two rows of chairs covered in red velveteen—with some larger chairs in the center of each row (are they thrones?)—line the sides of the main hall. Some coffeehouse attendees sit in these soft seats. Others prefer the folding chairs directly in front of the small stage. Individuals pay a $2 admission; $5 for families. The Folk Collective splits the fee with the Mask and Rose Theater in return for use of the space.

Drew Warne-Jacobsen provides the sound system. He offers the performers videos of their performances for a small fee. The acts last Friday included poetry and prose with a large dose of music. Some performers traveled from as far away as Longville and International Falls. Their ages varied widely.

One of the strengths of the Folk Collective Coffeehouses is that audiences and performers come together in a respectful space. Performing at the First Friday Coffeehouse isn’t like seeing an act in a bar. People really listen! Last Friday night even the most experienced performers seemed a little unnerved by the audience’s attentiveness.

Dennis Montgomery has been the master of ceremonies for the first two coffeehouses. He’s in charge of musician sign-up (at 6:30 on coffeehouse night). “People have various theories about how to assign performance times. I just think about what goes together; what will flow for the audience.”
Here is a link to photos of the performers and an art show upstairs from the open stage. The next Northwoods Folk Collective First Friday Coffeehouse is November 7th. The music starts at 7:30.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What's a Dinner-Rama???

It’s a dinner--of any type--at your house or a community center.

Give your dinner a good name and invite some guests. On November 15th you and your friends sit down (or…maybe you float in a hot tub—that’s entirely up to you!) for a fabulous meal.

You can all play a special, all-nature version of Green Cheese trivia on KAXE, then pass the hat for phenology. You can call sometime during the Green Cheese program to tell us about your meal and report the fundraising total for your Dinner-Rama.

Then we celebrate…HOORAY!

You can cook the dinner yourself, you can plan a Dinner-Rama with another friend, or it could be a potluck. That's up to you. It’s fun!

About 6 years ago KAXE members held Dinner-Ramas to raise funds for KAXE’s new building. Here are some of the themes from the 2002 event:

Breakfast Bash Dinner-Rama
Roadkill Chili Hillbilly Dinner-Rama
KAXE Soup Kitchen
“Gypsies, Tramps at Steve’s” Czechoslovakian Dinner-Rama
Authentic Local Slow Meal Dinner-Rama
Hot Tubs and Martinis Dinner-Rama
Sauna, Suds, Soup, Salad
Guthrie Community Center Potluck Dinner-Rama
Greek Gourmet Club
Known Only Locally “Thanksgiving for KAXE” Dinner-Rama
Soup, Sourdough, Salad, Suds and Sparkly Dinner-Rama
Hibbing's Famous Sons and Daughters Italian Dinner-Rama
East Indian Dinner-Rama
Dinner-Rama at the Screaming Pines
Polka Palace Dinner-Rama
Brainerd Area DNR Employees’ Fish and Game Dinner-Rama
Hot fudge ice cream brownie-Ramas

On November 15th, 91.7 KAXE is holding this Dinner-Rama to celebrate and support the 25th Anniversary of the Phenology program. We’re raising $25,000 to help KAXE’s phenology activities—teaching phenology in 12 classrooms across our region, building the rain garden and martin house at KAXE, helping pay travel so John Latimer can speak to more community groups, and buying phenology promotional materials.

We believe it is good for our children to spend time outdoors observing nature. We also believe that all the people who comprise the phenology network--who participate in and contribute their observations to the Phenology Show--are providing a great service to all of us. What better way to celebrate the 25th anniversary than to do something to keep the Phenology Network strong?

If you can help by hosting a dinner, or if you’d like to find a dinner to attend, please call us: 218/326-1234

GQ bookends

Available for speaking/modeling engagements. Have your people contact their people. Or call, that will work too.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

StoryCorps in a nutshell

There is really not a nut big enough to decribe our experience with StoryCorps. They pulled into town, parked the Airstream trailer, and became a part of our lives.

They biked, hiked, swam, laughed, ate, boated, were on the radio and most importantly, LISTENED to what we, as Northern Minnesotans, had to say.

A portion of the recordings done in Grand Rapids were given to KAXE - so in the weeks and months ahead you will hear the intimate stories that people told, under the comfortable lights of the StoryCorps booth. People talked about wild ricing, raising children, losing family members, jobs, heartbreaks, achievements... you name it, we talked about it!

Thanks so much to Sara, Alex, Sasha, Naomi and Carl for being a part of our lives, and listening to our stories. These will all be sent on to the National Archives at the Library of Congress as a record of what it is like to live here at this time.

Check out the StoryCorps facilitator blog to see what they thought of us!

KAXE - A Community's Radio Station
The Ham Shack
Rainbow Ranch
The Phenology Guy
Bob Dylan's English Teacher
Minnesota Nice

The booth moved to Peoria, Illinois last week and our loss is their gain. We miss you guys! Come back anytime!

If you had a chance to be a part of StoryCorps while they were here, let us know what you thought...and let us know if you think KAXE should carry on the tradition of StoryCorps in the future...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Underwriting on KAXE is Easy and Fun!

By Stephanie Rose

They [the ubiquitous they, you know?] are saying that times are tough out there. When things are tight, keep in mind that KAXE is prit-near the greatest value around!

As you know, underwriting on 91.7 KAXE identifies your business, services, and products as supporting independent community radio. Your underwriting announcements can reach so much further than commercial advertising. KAXE’s listeners tune into the station because they want to hear the top-quality music and diverse programming. And they want to hear what you have to offer! And they really, really want to support the folks who support KAXE!

Underwriting puts your business in the spotlight with strong, well-defined market segment of community radio listeners.

Underwriting increases positive awareness of your business within Grand Rapids, Bemidji, Brainerd, and their surrounding areas. KAXE’s signal covers about a 100-mile radius!

And we have options, folks! You can position your announcements during programs that appeal to the market segment that you are trying to reach. You can identify your business with a particular style of music or personality found only on 91.7 KAXE. And we can rotate several different messages so that folks can discover everything your business has to offer. And we’re here to help you figure out the best way to spread the word.

KAXE’s typical listeners are college graduates ages 35 and older. Community and public radio listeners are 88 percent more likely to buy products and services from companies that support community and public radio. A recent underwriting study by NPR and Jacobs Media showed that 95 percent of listener respondents had taken action as a result of hearing sponsor credits. Eighty percent have a higher opinion of companies that support public radio, and 75 percent would prefer doing business with such sponsors! These are great big, solid numbers to have on your side – especially when people are thinking about a little bit of belt-tightening.

If you, or your sister-in-law, or your next-door neighbors are trying to spread the word about what your business has to offer, call us! KAXE wants to help.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Potlucks are Good

By Jennifer Poenix

On Saturday night, some KAXE staff and friends gathered together to say goodbye to the StoryCorps facilitators that were here for four weeks. We had a potluck dinner at KAXE's studios.

We had a great assortment of food including venison curry, Mad Dog pizza, peach pie, and lots more. I brought a fruit salad, consisting of pineapple, green grapes, apples, bananas, and oranges mixed with peach pie filling. It's the easiest fruit salad ever (well, not if you mix a can of fruit cocktail with Cool Whip). You can use whatever fruit you want and it turns out great.

Men have a whole different way of looking at potlucks. Right before we left for the potluck Saturday night, my husband Jeff* asked me, "So, are we bringing anything?" Yes, we are. We're bringing fruit salad. It's a potluck. Sunday afternoon, I got the leftover fruit salad out of the fridge to eat with lunch. "How did we get this?" Jeff excitedly asked. "Um..I made it for the potluck," I replied. "Oh, you brought this? This was really good!"

I like potlucks because you never know what you're going to get. I guess you could say life is like a potluck. If I could choose my last meal on Earth, I would choose potluck.

*seen on the left in this photo from the 2007 Green Cheese picnic. He didn't know what we brought to that one either. Root beer cake. We brought root beer cake, which wasn't as yummy as it sounds.

AMPERS—A Brief History and a New Subsidiary

By Maggie Montgomery

The man in that photo is Jim Gullickson. “Gully” is president of AMPERS (which also calls itself “Independent Public Radio”) and general manager of KMSU in Mankato.

91.7 KAXE is one of 12 member stations of AMPERS, the Association of MN Public Educational Radio Stations. One of KAXE’s founders, Rich McClear, was one of the organization’s original board members.

According to a personal history of AMPERS written by founding member and current manager of the University of MN’s Radio K in the Twin Cities, Andy Marlow, the AMPERS stations originally came together to address issues related to unfair distribution of NTIA money in Minnesota. In the early ‘70s, the MN Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) was channeling all federal funds for public radio infrastructure improvements to MPR (then called MER—Minnesota Educational Radio) and Twin Cities Public Television (TCPT).

Several other stations statewide were pulled together as an advisory board to the HECB in an attempt to address this inequity, but the effort eventually failed because MER and TCPT refused to participate.

The group continued to meet in order to address MER’s monopoly on NTIA funds for radio in MN. Eventually the group found other common interests, formalized, and became AMPERS.

Andy’s history addresses an interesting facet of Northern Community Radio’s history: “Early on, we worked hard to differentiate ourselves from Minnesota Public Radio. Few people knew we existed as an organization. There was a lot of anger at MPR's behavior, particularly attempts to take over some of our stations by MPR (those included KUOM, KUMD, KMSU and others), MPR's efforts to prevent KAXE and KFAI from being licensed, and MPR's devious "theft" of the name Minnesota Public Radio from Rich McClear's effort to establish a station in Grand Rapids. The not-for-profit corporation created by McClear and his community supporters was originally incorporated as Minnesota Public Radio. Bill Kling of Minnesota Educational Radio and Marion Watson of KUOM convinced McClear to give up the name so it could be used generically by all public stations in Minnesota. McClear changed the name of the corporation to Northern Community Radio. Less than three months later, Kling changed to name Minnesota Educational Radio to Minnesota Public Radio.”

Andy, who is retiring from Radio K in early 2009, described several phases in AMPERS history. He does not describe the most recent phase—AMPERS has changed its name to Independent Public Radio. The stations are working together on a joint underwriting project that has led to the formation of a for-profit subsidiary called Independent Community Media, or ICM.

ICM was envisioned as a marketing and ad agency run for the benefit of AMPERS/IPR stations. It was formed because IPR’s joint underwriting ventures were so strong that they jeopardized the organization’s nonprofit status. Through ICM, potential underwriters can contract with any AMPERS/IPR station or stations. ICM can also make ad placements for other media. At the end of the year, all profits are distributed to the AMPERS/IPR stations. Jim Lowe is the vice president of statewide underwriting for ICM. If your business is interested in marketing through ICM, his phone number is 651/293-0077.

The concept is brand new! All of the AMPERS/IPR member stations will be monitoring ICM to see how the concept works in the coming months.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Let's hear it for radio! by Linda Johnson

Again. Let's hear it for radio. KAXE radio! Butt-widening staring at blinding computer screens not required.

Radio allows, perhaps even promotes multi-sensing and accomplishment. Wood stacked. Dishes washed. Chickens fed. Diapers changed. Seeds planted. Weeds pulled. Trees pruned. Gutters cleared. Weights lifted. Checkbooks balanced--well, maybe a stretch. Vegetables canned. Supper prepped. Floors swept. Children tickled. Fences mended. Sweaters knitted. Dances danced. Gifts wrapped. Apples peeled. Cookies baked. Dogs scratched. Bread kneaded. Cards played. Snow shoveled.

Life. Body, mind, spirit. Stimulated. Experienced. Not a comatose stare. I choose to listen to nature, silence, or radio at will. And move. Ooops! Gotta go. Linda n Beej

Turn Off The News! by Michael Goldberg

A lot of people are walking around shocked by the election polling news, as reported this morning 9/19 by NPR, feeling worse and more scared by the day. But here's the thing about these polls that are called "news":
To be polled, you have to answer your land line phone. Only about half of people in their 20's even have one.
To qualify as a respondent, you have to be a "likely voter", which pollsters have always determined in the past as people who've voted before. They're trying to adjust their technique, but at best they're really just experimenting.
Over-all, the daily polling only means that, as of that day or hour, about everyone who voted for Bush favors McCain, and everyone who voted for Kerry favors Obama as our first community organizer President.

The Obama campaign is going to own the ground on Election Day. In most cities in America, people are riding buses part of each day with registration cards, signing people up. Not only the on-line, but the phone banking and door knocking is going great, and is highly organized, often under the local supervision of experienced organizers who have been at key locations for 5 - 18 months. There's no way the pollsters nor the pundits can keep up.

They might be missing the story, too. Retailers are selling baby onesies with slogans on them like My Momma's for Obama and Barak-a-bye Baby. A Mommy group I know of lined up their babies, each in his'her own Obama-ware, and took a photo, so those children would grow up knowing they'd been part of the 2008 election. Imagine anyone having done that in any past presidential election. And who buys onesies? People young enough to have babies in diapers. And of course young people, like African Americans and the poor, have had the lowest voting rates.

In the 2000 election, 76% of the eligible population was registered, and of those, two-thirds, or 51.3% of the total, showed up or were allowed to vote at the polls. It was close. So in 2004, registration went up to 79%, and turn out was 69% of those -- the newly registered voted. Still only represented 55.3% of the total.

So here's my advice for the next few weeks. QUIT FOLLOWING THE POLLS, and in fact, turn off the news when that's what's on. Instead, spend time with young adults. Show up every day, and then again on Election Day. And then, keep showing up every day. It's not like President Obama is going to make things OK. Like he says, it's not about him -- it's about us.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sustaining Phenology

By Stephanie Rose

Phenology n. The scientific study of periodic biological phenomena, such as flowering, breeding, and migration, in relation to climatic conditions.

On Tuesday night, folks at KAXE kicked off a year-long celebration of the Phenology [that’s the study of biological and rhythmic events of nature as they relate to climate] Show’s 25th Anniversary. Lots of very nice people came to enjoy snacks, an enormous cake, and a live Phenology Plus show at 6:00, hosted by John Latimer and lots of his friends. “Time flies,” said Latimer. “It feels like I’ve only been doing this for 18 or 19 years!”

Some highlights of the evening for me included hugs from young Zane Poenix, watching volunteer DJ the DJ distribute name tags to our guests [the catch: most people didn’t use their actual names], Connie Vincent’s delicious [hot, hot, hot!] pistachio-habanero wraps
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, and, of course, visiting with lots of Phenology fans the whole time. Phenology has touched lots and lots of lives over its 25 years.

To help sustain and advance the Phenology program in honor of its 25th anniversary, we’re trying to raise $25,000. The funds we raise will go toward KAXE’s purple martin house and rain garden, supplies for Phenology’s 12 classrooms, and help with more outreach programs. If KAXE’s Phenology has touched your life, we hope you’ll consider contributing to the Phenology Fund. $25, $250, $1,000 or any amount that you choose would be lots of help, and really appreciated by many, many people. There are pledge forms here, or you can call to find out more.

We’ll help keep Phenology near the front of your mind by having more celebrations all through this year. And don’t miss The Phenology Show Tuesday mornings starting at 6:50 and Phenology Plus Tuesday evenings at 6:00.

Yeah Yeah Yeah

By Jennifer Poenix

I’m 27, and I like the Beatles. If you have heard me host "On the River" on KAXE, you have probably heard a Beatles tune or two.

“But Jennifer,” you may be saying, “you weren’t even born yet when the Beatles were a band. You didn’t experience them in the 60’s.” Yeah, I’ve heard that before.

When I was young, I didn’t know that the Beatles had been one of the most popular bands of all time (if not the most). I just liked their songs.

When I was in 9th grade, The Beatles Anthology aired on ABC in three parts. (They promoted it by calling themselves “A Beatles C.”) I was mesmerized and turned into a total Beatles geek. I bought books, t-shirts, and scoured antique stores for records or any other collectibles I could find. I wrote discographies in a Mead 5-Star notebook. I was constantly doodling the Beatles drum in school. I quoted A Hard Day’s Night.

As I approached high school graduation, my aunt asked me where I would go if I could go anywhere in the world. My immediate answer? Liverpool. Little did I know that she was actually planning to take me there! We went, and it was amazing.

My son Zane is almost two, and while I haven’t exactly forced the Beatles on him, he does say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” quite a bit, and I’ve also taught him how to shake his head and say “wooooo!” It just goes to show that even though a person might not have been around when Beatlemania was prevalent, they can still be a fan.

How Can KAXE Serve Hibbing Better?

By Maggie Montgomery

Aaron Brown (in the photo) was one of 9 KAXE members and listeners that attended a dinner meeting at Zimmie’s restaurant Monday night to talk about how 91.7 KAXE could be more of a hometown radio station to people in Hibbing.

Others in attendance were Tom Vucetich, Al Lipke, Joe and Sue Gnoza, Lucy Vitale, Mike Ricci, Jean Winter and Joann Mulonovich. Scott Hall, Stephanie Rose and I got to be part of a lively and fun discussion!

Here are a few things we learned:

Hibbing has not had a locally originating radio station—at least not for many years.

There was interest in a satellite KAXE studio to serve people in Hibbing.

It’s really hard to get through to Green Cheese (trivia). The phone lines are always too busy.

Those in attendance were not necessarily enamored of the Binary Boys but were impressed to learn the show was produced locally.

Hibbing Community College Theater would like to partner with KAXE for some events. There may be other partnership opportunities in Hibbing also (the Hibbing public library, Mesabe Concert Assn, Silica Fire Department).

KAXE might be viewed as elitist or inaccessible on the Range.

In spite of the fact that KAXE sees itself as a regional radio station, it is hard to portray it in Hibbing as other than a Grand Rapids station. One reason is the largest number of underwriting and other announcements are about Grand Rapids, followed by Bemidji. Another is the divide between being on or off the Range.

The outstanding work of KAXE’s music volunteers is appreciated (Volunteer of the Year Rev Dave was especially singled out for praise).

People in Hibbing don’t know KAXE is out there. Many think KAXE is part of MPR.

There is interest in more news and cultural information from Hibbing, including food. The group supplied Scott Hall with many leads for interviews.

Tonight some members of KAXE’s staff will head to Virginia to meet with another group of KAXE listeners. More on that meeting later!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hooked on Chickens? by Linda Johnson

Elna, head low, moving slow...thought she might be the one who laid the first egg. Gotta be a bit uncomfortable. Or maybe she was in shock. And awe from the experience. Then I saw a blond hair sticking out of her mouth. But no. A monofilament fishing line. Oofda. Did she swallow a hook? A jig? Lead sinker? Leader? Hoola popper?

My inner EMT kicked in. Gather: needle nose pliers, flashlight, popsicle stick, rubbing alcohol, Q-Tips, hand lense, plastic, masking tape. Carefully slide a plastic "gown" on her. Mere minute fussing. Cinch gently. Secure, mummifying her with masking tape. Only head and tail feathers free.

C'mon, now sweety, open up. Pry. Squint. Flashlight. Struggle. See nothing but line. Pliers pull. Snap. What's down there? Happens to loons. A lot. Only without the mummy stuff.

Demummified her outside after tatooing her inner legs with a permanent marker to distinquish her easily from Esther, Rose, and Eula.

Three weeks hence, Elna is gabby and perky as if she'd just had a beak job.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Walking in the GASF

By Jennifer Poenix

If it's nice enough outside, my family and I go for a walk after supper most nights. We often end up on the River Road ski trails in the Golden Anniversary State Forest. Thanks to Boomer the Groomer for making the trails passable after the grass got too high.

So, it's me, my husband Jeff, son Zane, and dog Cooper on the trail. Cooper likes being able to run through the woods without his leash. If we decide to keep our walk shorter by staying out of the state forest, he tries to take us there anyway. Zane seems to enjoy riding in his stroller, even if the ride is a bit bumpy.

Jeff and I have found a few treats that the woods have to offer. The blackberries have become ripe in the last week or so. We haven't remembered to bring a container to carry them home in yet, but they are nice treat to find as we walk. The last time we walked, Jeff also found hazelnuts. He has a really good eye for them. He told me that he sees the plants all along our route. I have no idea what to look for. Yet, anyway. I tasted my first hazelnuts a few days ago. Not too bad, but not that great either.

There's all kinds of treasure to find in northern Minnesota's woods, if you just know what to look for. I don't know if I'm supposed to tell you yet, but KAXE's fall fundraiser is going to be all about the things you observe in your life, whether they are nature related or not. It's scheduled for October 20-31, and, like all of KAXE's fundraisers, we'll aim to make it fun.

So, keep your eyes (and your ears) open. You never know what you might find.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Community Supported Journalism

by Maggie Montgomery

I have a question for you: Are you willing to pay for in-depth coverage of a public affairs or news story on the Internet and on 91.7 KAXE?

Are you willing to donate some money to support this coverage in addition to your current KAXE membership pledge?

How much would you be willing to pay for, say, a multi-week series of stories about the challenges of heating a home in northern Minnesota this winter? Or for a series about how we might fund public education in the future?

The way we consume, participate in, and pay for media is changing. News organizations across the country are looking for financial models that will keep journalism strong in an era of declining newspaper readership and declining use of traditional media, especially among young people.

KAXE, with help from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s (CPB) Public Media Innovation project, will be testing a new model for news and information programming on public radio stations and their websites in the coming year. Our idea is called Community Supported Journalism.

We’re trying to learn whether people and businesses will support specific, community-based newsgathering and pubic affairs efforts.

KAXE will be working with citizens, community journalists and citizen journalists in communities across our region to determine what stories really matter to us. Then we’ll use Northern Community Radio’s new website,, and 91.7 KAXE to bring these stories to you.

And then we’ll ask you to help us pay for them.

Your donations will pay journalists for their work and help pay an editor to work with KAXE’s staff to pull it all together.

Back in 1976, when KAXE first started, nobody knew for sure whether people would support a community radio station in rural northern Minnesota. We’re not sure if Community Supported Journalism will work either, but we’re going to try.

If you’d like to help, or if you’d like to donate to this effort, let us know!