Two Harbors Community Radio (THCR) KTWH 99.5 FM celebrated six years of being on the air last September. This seventh year will prove to be an exciting year of expansion, growth and new opportunities for this small, local radio station. Ten months ago, the board of directors explored moving from the current output as a Low Power (LP) station to a Full Power (FP) local station. Currently, the 100 watts only reaches a 10-to-12-mile radius from the transmitter point located on the west end of Two Harbors in Lake County.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) periodically opens a short window of time for existing stations to change status or new parties to apply for licensure. The THCR board, with consultation from technicians and engineers, concluded it was a matter of survival to apply for the change of status. The open period for new stations to apply could potentially take KTWH off the dial with the current LP status. Although the application for the upgrade was not a guarantee, it was in the best interest of the station to pursue this option. In early February, the FCC acknowledged receipt of the application. Shortly after, KTWH received approval, granting a 36-month license for construction. THCR board of director co-chair, Chris Belfield, is thrilled this process can officially begin, stating, “The expansion from LP to FP enables us to explore more opportunities to better serve our listeners along the North Shore.”
With these opportunities comes a deeper look into how to best serve the public. A three-year strategic plan will be put into place, a key component being the involvement, input and new perspective from community members. Belfield adds “we have a seven-year history of being a credible contributor to this community and we are looking forward to this new adventure.”
In 2013 THCR began with a modest group of a dozen committed local residents and over the years has grown to nearly 110 volunteers lending their talents, support and energy to the station. KTWH provides 100 hours of programming throughout its weekly schedule. Such an aggressive schedule is a huge undertaking for a low power, community-based, non-profit station, and makes it quite unique within the industry. A community-based approach to programming boast over 50 hours of locally-produced shows and all hosts are volunteers. Over the years, programs have focused on environmental issues, veterans affairs, cooking, storytelling, interviews with local city leaders and a consistent weekday morning show lineup. Music-based programs range from Nordic roots to jazz to bluegrass and Friday’s feature live in-studio performances from a variety of local artists. Since the inception of this station, a key guiding principal has been inclusion and intergeneration accessibility. Youth Radio began in 2016 providing students with hands-on learning, both in front of and behind the microphone, and the Northshore Community School partnership came on board almost five years ago, providing weekly phenology reports from fifth-grade reporters.
The organization’s budget is supported through a combination of grants, donors, underwriting and fundraising efforts. A premier annual event is the Cabin Fever Reliever Variety Show which had been canceled since 2020 but is making a comeback this year. Historically, the event has been held off site at different staging venues with tickets sales, a silent auction and concessions providing the revenue. To accommodate the uncertain times and the safety of the public, this year’s fundraiser will be more of a telethon format.
“It will be a hybrid event, airing live from the KTWH studios and simultaneously streaming from our YouTube Channel,” says event coordinator volunteer Kim Leon.
The entertainment lineup includes North Shore musical legend, Charlie Parr, Virginia (Minn.) resident Nathan Frazer, Two Harbors singer Tracy Parks, poet Bob Mahanan, ventriloquist Jeremy Lepak, the Two Harbors Ukulele Group and more. A highlight not to be missed, according to Leon, is Steve Solkela Sauna Sessions, featuring “four guys singing opera in Steven’s Sauna.” The 2022 Cabin Fever Reliever is Sunday, April 24 from 3-5 p.m. and can be heard on KTWH 99.5 FM, streaming at ktwh.org and on the KTWH YouTube channel.
For more information on the Two Harbors Community Radio, visit: facebook.com/ktwh.org.