Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's So Exciting About KBXE?

If you look carefully at those distinctive green KAXE bumper stickers, you might notice something different…on some of those stickers the “A” in KAXE has been replaced with a “B.” You are seeing the very first bumper stickers for Northern Community Radio’s new station that will serve Bagley, the Bemidji area, and points west: KBXE!

90.5 KBXE has to be on the air by March 23, 2012! Building a new radio station is a whirlwind of problems to solve and opportunities to seize, but collaborating with folks from Bemidji and Bagley has been a lot of fun. KAXE members from the “western fringe” are sharing their creativity, knowledge of the area, and professional expertise. Committees are hard at work, progress is being made in the search for studio and tower space, and we’re figuring out how we might raise a pile of money in tough economic times. Fashionable folks across northern Minnesota are sporting enigmatic green buttons on their shirts and coats that ask, “What is KBXE?”

There are lots of reasons for excitement! One of those reasons is that KBXE will be founded in 2011 or 2012, and it will have the benefit of everything we’ve managed to learn at KAXE over the past 33 years—all those mistakes and triumphs that have taught us important lessons about being an authentic local radio station for northern Minnesota.

KAXE was founded in 1976, and there will always be a lot of 1976 in KAXE. As much as we pride ourselves on KAXE’s good reputation and its contributions to the wider world of community and public radio, the inertia of the past sometimes makes it hard for us to adopt new ideas and methods. With KBXE we can create an innovative and thoroughly modern version of our medium. KBXE will reach out to new people. KBXE will develop its own quirks, its own attitude, new programs and sensibilities.

Here’s another exciting thing: At the first KBXE community meeting in August, people clearly said they hoped we would build in the ability to pass a signal back and forth between KAXE and KBXE. Sometimes KBXE’s program would be on both stations and sometimes KAXE’s program would be on both stations, and sometimes each station would operate independently, broadcasting separate programs.

A relationship like this between stations is fairly unusual in broadcasting. A more normal model is for a lead station to broadcast to one or more repeaters without give and take, except maybe for the occasional remote studio interview.

This way of passing the signal back and forth has the potential to bring about some positive consequences. In northeastern and north central MN, KAXE has helped create a sense of neighborliness and belonging. That’s our mission. We call it “building community.” The relationship between KAXE and KBXE may help create an even larger sense of neighborliness—a sense of “northern Minnesota-ness”—that stretches across the whole top part of the state!

In the overall world of radio, community stations are fairly rare. There are only a handful of community-licensed stations in Minnesota. KBXE and KAXE together will help us bring out the best of the culture of our region and show it off as few other media organizations can. What we are building here is going to take a lot of work, but it will be a wonderful asset!

I hope you are all as jazzed about this as I am! Call us if you’d like to help with this project, or if you want one of those new KBXE bumper stickers or a fashionable “What is KBXE?” button: 800/662-5799 or 218/326-1234.

Stay tuned. There will be more reports as things develop…

-Maggie Montgomery

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