In Grand Marais, a dedicated group of volunteers came together in 1991 with a vision to establish a community radio station. These individuals worked tirelessly for seven years to raise funds and bring WTIP to life. Through their determination and passion, they successfully erected towers and launched the station’s signal, marking the beginning of a new era in community broadcasting.
Little did they know that their efforts would pave the way for the thriving institution that WTIP has become today. Reflecting on the organization’s growth over the past 25 years, Executive Director Matthew Brown highlighted the ways in which WTIP has been shaped and affected by the northeastern Minnesota community.
“We try to build community by reaching out and listening to everybody,” says Brown. “We bring timely information, news, and weather. A lot of what our listening members say is that they just like the fact that it’s local news and local weather, and along Minnesota’s North Shore we’re the only ones that give that to you on a daily basis through the airwaves. We are pretty proud of the fact that if you live in northeastern Minnesota, we’re the ones to tell you exactly what’s going on every day.”
One of the key elements that make WTIP truly unique is its dedicated team of volunteers. Each week, around 25 volunteers contribute their time and passion to bring diverse programming to the airwaves. These volunteers, hailing from the local community, act as producers, engineers, and hosts, curating a rich tapestry of music and content that resonates with listeners. This collaborative effort ensures that WTIP offers a wide range of programming that reflects the diverse tastes and interests of the community. Whether it’s hosting a show, assisting with technical aspects, or contributing in other capacities, there are numerous opportunities for individuals to get involved.
“All of these volunteers bringing you the music they love are your friends, your workers, your neighbors,” says Brown. “We like to say that if you don’t like the music right now, just wait for a song because it’s going to change. We have so much eclectic music. I like to say that it’s a volunteer-powered radio station because there is no way, without these volunteers, that we would be able to bring you the diverse programming that we do.”
In recent years, WTIP has expanded its reach beyond traditional radio broadcasting to embrace the world of podcasts. The station now hosts several podcasts, including the successful Boundary Waters Podcast. Notably, a group of seventh-graders from Great Expectations School is preparing to launch their own podcast called “Otter Pods,” where they discuss pressing world issues and propose solutions.
Significant technological advancements have shaped WTIP’s operations in the past two and a half decades. Upgrading the transmitter, electrical equipment, and transitioning from analog to digital have been instrumental in maintaining the station’s quality and relevance. The shift from outdated equipment, some of which was already 20 years old at the station’s inception, to state-of-the-art digital systems has allowed WTIP to adapt and thrive in the ever-evolving media landscape.
WTIP has become a beloved fixture in the region throughout its existence. To honor its momentous 25th birthday, WTIP has celebrated with special events and programming throughout the year. The festivities kicked off with a spring membership drive in April, followed by a birthday membership drive in May. The parties continued with a summer membership drive in July, and will culminate with the much-anticipated Radio Waves Music Festival in September. The festival, set to take place Sept. 8-10, promises to be a grand finale for the year-long birthday celebration.
As WTIP looks to the future, the organization is focused on remaining relevant in the face of changing listening habits and emerging technologies. Recognizing the need to attract and engage younger generations, the station is exploring ways to make its content accessible on various devices and platforms. By continuing to emphasize podcasts, on-demand content, and online archives, WTIP is adapting to changing expectations. No matter what else may change, their commitment to community building, local content, and embracing new technologies will be at the heart of its future endeavors.
By reaching out to the station and expressing their interest, community members can actively contribute to the growth and vibrancy of WTIP. To learn more about programs, events, and how you can get involved, visit their website at: wtip.org.