by Doug MacRostie
A cool thing happened a couple weeks ago. Centerstage MN, KAXE's program showcasing the talents of MN musicians, was added to the regular Saturday night line-up of KSRQ, Pioneer 90.1 in Thief River Falls (at the peak tune-in time of 11pm). This is exciting news and a big deal for the artist and musicians who are featured. The purpose of the show is to highlight the talent of local musicians - with this expansion, these voices are now reaching a broader audience of ears. And other pieces like interviews on RealGoodWords and commentary by Aaron Brown and Michael Goldberg have also been picked up and aired on other stations including KVSC in St. Cloud and WTIP in Grand Marais. This explosion of shared content was not by accident...
In a previous blog, I made reference to an email conversation with Todd Melby as a "Statewide Organization." I found out he actually reads my blogs when he sent me an email that said, "I'm really just one guy, in a tiny office, in south Minneapolis." To fill in the story a little bit, Todd Melby works for the AMPERS Network, 12 small independent radio stations that do specific programming that focuses on the communities they serve. KAXE, along with the rest of AMPERS, are NOT affiliated with Minesota Puplic Rdio (they don't even bother to try to be as hyper-local as we are every day :D).
Maybe I should back up a little further...
Remember the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment, approved by voters in November 2008, which added a provision to Minnesota’s constitution that provides for an increase in the sales tax to support outdoor heritage, clean water, parks and trails, as well as arts, history and cultural heritage. KAXE and the other stations of AMPERS are part of the "arts, history and culture" side of that amendment - and it has had a big impact. Part of the deal is creating a place for stations to share content, and direct result of that is the previously mentioned airing of Centerstage MN on KSRQ. There have been over 40 pieces shared between AMPERS already.
Other than the excitement of other stations carrying the content we produce at Northern Community Radio, KAXE has also benefited by receiving content: regular nature pieces from WTIP have been used on the Morning Show and as part of Phenology Plus. Same with Native programming. We got an hour long special from KBEM, "Battle of the Big Bands" featuring local (Twin Cities) musicians playing original material...for 'free' thanks to the MN Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The best thing about this is it's all locally produced and enhances the experience for our listeners. And, we are still in the very early stages!
Which brings me back to that one guy in a tiny office in south Minneapolis... Todd I think his name is. His job is to get all us proudly independent stations (like, WAY proudly independent) to work together by saying, "Please get your content loaded, damn it. And air content from other stations, damn it. Thanks for all your work!" (I'm paraphrasing months of emails...it's w/o the "damn it" - it IS public radio, after all). Hopefully, Centerstage MN will get picked up by more stations because it is a great way to further enhance and celebrate the countless talented MN musicians - and it's made possible with support from the MN Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund!
A perfect example of this is Sela Oveson, an amazing and unique singer/songwriter from Orr, MN who was a wonderful surprise when I had her in-studio. That interview was then also aired on KFAI in the Twin Cities and KSRQ in Thief River Falls. She is one of the brightest stars discovered on Centerstage MN, and it's great to have her talent shared all over Minnesota...just watch this video and you'll see what I mean:
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