Monday, January 31, 2011

How To Understate Excitement

Here is Steve Downing's thoughts on 90.5 KBXE, the new radio station we’re building to secure and enhance the service of KAXE and Northern Community Radio in Bagley, Bemidji, Puposki, Erskine, Clearbrook, Buzzle Lake and beyond.

You can listen here:
Guido on KBXE

I’ve been involved for just over a year now with the 90.5 KBXE project. I have to admit: the learning curve from the start was steep, and not strictly because I didn’t know Thing One about building a new radio station, although that certainly complicated the issue. My real problem was that I knew virtually nothing about Bemidji, or Bagley, or any of the many other communities KBXE will be serving. Growing up, roadtrips for my family always meant Duluth, which had been my parents’ orientation when they were kids, or the Twin Cities, where they’d both gone to college. I’d just never spent any time in Bemidji. I was deprived. I was. I say that without a whiff of facetiousness.

I’m a huge new fan of Bemidji. It took about five minutes. And everyone who knows me well, the folks I see day after day, have all heard me raving about Bemidji and Bagley and Shevlin and Debs and Clearbrook and so on. As I make connections over there now, with people, with businesses, organizations, causes, I’m reminded at every point what a terrific community, community of communities, we are dealing with here, and this is a very, very good feeling.

One of my first KBXE projects was Bemidji’s 2009 Night We Light Parade, and I was honestly surprised at the reception we got as we walked along the parade route beside our float. The friendliness, the vibe, was practically palpable, something in the air, and I don’t think it had anything to do with the candy we were handing out. This was the case, too, a few miles farther west, as we planned our involvement in the 2010 Clearwater County Fair in Bagley. The people at City Hall, the courthouse, the fair board: everyone, everyone, was nothing but welcoming and helpful and fun to work with. I talked at length about this on my January Arts Round-up.
Saturday afternoon, August 7th, at the Clearwater County Fair, The Brothers Burn Mountain performed at the KBXE booth, and that’s one of my signature memories of the whole year. It was late afternoon. There was a lull over at the racetrack. Fairgoers were between things, milling around on the concourse, and when The Brothers Burn Mountain finished their set and moved into an improv percussion jam, the KBXE booth was in every way center stage. We had everyone’s attention, and no one was having a bad time. I still grin involuntarily every time I conjure up that scene, that physical ground-thumping sound.

That is a perfect indicator-predictor of what KBXE and our circle, our circles and circles, of friends, old and new friends, will be doing in the neighborhood, from Red Lake to Naytawaush, Cass Lake to Fosston---Bemidji, Bagley and beyond: bringing people together, in grass-roots common-ground settings, often to listen to music but sometimes for other community-building reasons, too. As we say, KBXE will be a community gathering-place, in the air, on the ground, on the web. Northern Community Radio has been doing this for almost 35 years: connecting people to each other, to the northland, to the universe. This is what we do.

KBXE will be an all-purpose partner, so in addition to improving what we call quality-of-life we’ll also be impacting commerce, impacting local economies. Here’s a for-instance: last July, at the 6th Annual 91.7 KAXE Mississippi River Music Festival, somewhere between three and four hundred people showed up, many of them from out-of-town, and we know that altogether those folks dropped well over $12,000 into local cash registers (festival ticket-revenue not included). This was for gas, lodging, shopping, dinner and drinks, you get the picture. One time, one day. There are obvious multiplier effects, of course, depending on what other events get onto the calendar. KBXE will be doing this sort of business.

So, understatement of the day: this is exciting. It’s exciting for our new coverage area; it’s exciting for our entire coverage area. Northern Community Radio, good as it is and has been, is about to enhance its sound, its member and volunteer and underwriting bases, its product, its service to mission, its human and natural resources. Everything. We’ll need lots of help, your help, to make this happen. Your time. Your talents. Your treasure. Come see us at the Blue Ox in Bemidji, Saturday, February 5th, 6 pm. Come for the fun. There’ll be plenty of that, guaranteed. But come and make a pledge, too. You can spread it out over three or more years, while you and we all spread the love about 90.5 KBXE.

By Steve Downing, aka Guido
Northern Community Radio

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

amazing that in these dark days for public broadcasting, kaxe is not only going strong but expanding. a real testament to the quality and dedication of the station's staff and volunteers (and to the good taste of northlanders!)