FY 2019 CPB Local Content & Services Report
1. Describe your overall goals and approach to address identified community issues, needs, and interests through your station’s vital local services, such as multiplatform long and short-form content, digital and in-person engagement, education services, community information, partnership support, and other activities, and audiences you reached or new audiences you engaged.
The goal of Pioneer 90.1 KSRQ is to bring together the people of northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota through radio programs and live events that would otherwise not be available in the rural areas we serve. KSRQ works with volunteer hosts who bring a diversity of music, interests, and ideas to the airwaves. The station also offers a platform for non-profits and artists to share their stories in conversation.
In the ten years since KSRQ has operated as a community radio station (after beginning as a training lab for broadcasting students in 1972), the station has worked to understand and meet the needs of its listeners and expand its impact through digital platforms, community partnerships, and live events.
KSRQ actively assesses the composition of its audience through market information provided by Radio Research Consortium. KSRQ’s main studio is located in a northwest Minnesota community of 10,000 residents. The station also has listeners in the metro area of Grand Forks, North Dakota and in small towns on both sides of the border. Programs of regional interest are produced at Northland Community and Technical College campuses in Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks, Minnesota.
To gauge listener interest, KSRQ uses these metrics:
• Web traffic
• Unique website visitors
• Online streaming metrics
• Arbitron listener estimates
• Listener feedback through electronic media and personal interactions at live events
A large portion of KSRQ’s broadcast schedule (approximately 93 hours a week) is locally-hosted by staff and volunteers. 16 of those original programs are made available for on-demand listening on KSRQ’s website via Radio Free America. Recent updates to the station’s website have made it easier for listeners to quickly access archived content.
Programs are also archived at www.radionorthland.org and www.soundcloud.com. KSRQ’s Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage projects are posted to Public Radio Exchange and shared with other public stations in the state.
KSRQ partners with local and regional non-profit organizations in northwestern Minnesota to share the work they do in their communities. The “Community Voices” series includes interviews with artists and grantees from the Northwest Minnesota Regional Arts Council; interviews with Visit Thief River Falls (Visitors Bureau) staff; interviews with staff and volunteers at the East Grand Forks Campbell Library; interviews with presenters at the Thief River Falls Public Library; monthly interviews with Altru Clinic’s Safe Kids program; weekly talks with staff from the North Dakota Museum of Art; interviews with Marshall County Fair performers, and interviews with the Pennington County 4-H club and the Marshall County 4-H club.
KSRQ collaborated with several local organizations to create a series of segments capturing local history, including the Sons of Norway Snorre Lodge for Norwegian Heritage Week, the Pennington County Historical Society for a live broadcast from the “Village Arts” festival that featured student performers, and the Marshall County Historical Society for a series of on-location interviews.
To increase awareness and involvement, KSRQ broadcasts live from community events such as the mayor’s State of the City address, Thief River Falls Community Expo, Middle River GooseFest, RiverFest, Village Arts Festival, and the Minnesota State Fair.
KSRQ has partnered with the Thief River Falls Area Community Theater to produce a monthly series of radio plays that include actors of all ages, and casts ranging in size from 3 to 20 performers. One of the plays featured high school students in a drama about drinking, social media and peer pressure.
While most of KSRQ’s volunteers produce their programs live in-studio, several find it preferable to record shows at home and transfer them (live or recorded) to the studio via the internet for later broadcast. This has saved resources for hosts who would have otherwise needed to drive an hour each week to participate in community radio. It has also made it possible for one of our hosts to contribute a program from his home in Michigan. The flexibility afforded by this technology has allowed KSRQ to grow its base of volunteers (and listeners) despite the challenging winter weather and long drives faced by everyone in northern Minnesota.
KSRQ remains the only radio station in northwest Minnesota to multicast using HD Digital Radio. Two additional stations have allowed KSRQ to expand popular programs to their own dedicated channels, reaching new audiences as a result. The Pioneer PolkaCast, KSRQ HD-2, generated 84,772 online listening sessions from an average 1,439 monthly listeners in the past year. Pageviews for PolkaCast topped all pages on KSRQ’s website. The channel preserves historical recordings (many from vinyl records) reflecting Minnesota’s German, Czech, and Scandinavian traditions.
KSRQ has received feedback and pledge support from listeners in several states who are happy to reconnect with this music on their internet radios, computers, phones and other devices. KSRQ HD-2 is well-received over the air in our region by listeners who lack internet access. Several nursing homes have HD radios tuned to PolkaCast.
2. Describe key initiatives and the variety of partners with whom you collaborated, including other public media outlets, community nonprofits, government agencies, educational institutions, the business community, teachers and parents, etc. This will illustrate the many ways you’re connected across the community and engaged with other important organizations in the area.
KSRQ partnered with the Northwest Minnesota Regional Arts Council to highlight the work of area artists in a series of weekly interviews. The segments were shared with the arts council, which posted them on their website in podcast form. This collaboration was featured at the National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Seattle, WA.
Eight episodes of Radio Readers’ Theater were produced by KSRQ in collaboration with the Thief River Falls Area Community Theater. The group was looking for a way to expand its activities outside its traditional summer theater season. They found radio plays to be an effective way to recruit new actors, perform material that would be challenging to do on-stage, and promote their activities to the broader community.
KSRQ collaborated with Visit Thief River Falls (Visitors Bureau) on a series of monthly interviews featuring events of interest to tourists.
East Grand Forks Campbell Library’s director and volunteers appeared on KSRQ each week to talk about new materials, guest speakers, and library events.
Presenters at the Thief River Falls Public Library were guests on KSRQ.
The coordinator of the Safe Kids program at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks was a monthly guest, offering seasonal safety advice for parents.
KSRQ partnered with Northland Community & Technical College faculty on a series of segments for small business owners. The college also hosted the annual Thief River Falls State of the City address, which was broadcast on KSRQ. Student athletes were featured on a weekly “Sports Spotlight” series.
The director of the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks appeared weekly on KSRQ to preview new installations and talk about concerts.
Challenger Elementary School students wrote and recorded holiday greetings that were broadcast on KSRQ.
KSRQ worked with the City of Thief River Falls to broadcast live from the Community Expo, including interviews with staff from the public works department, community education, the US Census, parks and recreation, and the Community Foundation.
KSRQ featured interviews with Marshall County Fair performers and exhibitors.
In a live broadcast from the Minnesota State Fair, KSRQ interviewed Pennington and Marshall County 4-H students and directors.
KSRQ partnered with the Thief River Falls Chamber of Commerce to present RiverFest, the largest summer event in the community. KSRQ contributed funds to bring in a musical act and broadcast live from the event.
KSRQ teamed with members of the Minnesota Association of Songwriters to produce “Minnesota HomeBrew,” which featured approximately 400 original compositions throughout the year.
Through its association with Northland Community and Technical College, KSRQ made it possible for the Sons of Norway Snorre Lodge to hold events for its Norwegian Heritage Festival at the college theater. KSRQ interviewed an event organizer before the weeklong celebration.
In partnership with the Pennington County Historical Society, KSRQ broadcast from the Village arts Festival, featuring conversations with area artists, along with student actors and singers.
KSRQ produced on-site interviews with Marshall County Historical Society staff to create a series of segments about items on display at the museum and their significance to area history.
KSRQ collaborated with music educators at Northland Community and Technical College, Win-E-Mac School, Red Lake Falls Lafayette High School, Lancaster Public School, Thief River Falls Lincoln High School, Marshall County Central High School, Tri-County Karlstad High School, and Warren-Alvarado-Oslo Schools to broadcast band and choir concerts.
3. What impact did your key initiatives and partnerships have in your community? Describe any known measurable impact, such as increased awareness, learning or understanding about particular issues. Describe indicators of success, such as connecting people to needed resources or strengthening conversational ties across diverse neighborhoods. Did a partner see an increase in requests for related resources? Please include direct feedback from a partner(s) or from a person(s) served.
In June 2019, KSRQ was awarded Station of the Year honors by Ampers, an 18-station network of public and educational radio stations in Minnesota.
KSRQ’s arts-focused programs provided area musicians a platform to showcase their original songs:
“Thanks for all that you do to support MN Music! Grateful.” -(Name withheld), musician featured on “Minnesota HomeBrew.”
“Listening to my music on your radio station was a dream come true for me. I thank you and I thank Carl for that moment.” -(Name withheld)
“We can’t imagine where we would be without Pioneer 90.1. Being on this station has shaped us as people and given us a whole new appreciation for music in general. Thank you for taking a chance on two teenage girls. You’ve played such a gigantic role in our journey thus far.” -Kendra & Kansas Jensen, “Gypsy Outlaw Radio Show” hosts
“Thank you so much for playing my humble little song last Thursday evening. I was thrilled you did that and also know I have a long way to go to measure up to the artists you feature. I look forward to continuing with songwriting! Your encouragement means so much!” -(Name withheld), appeared on the program “Minnesota HomeBrew.”
“Thanks again for another great show. It’s always good to hear the talent from around the state, and you do a terrific job of supporting the art of singing /songwriting for all of us. Thanks for all you do!” -(Name withheld), featured on “Minnesota HomeBrew.”
KSRQ’s partnership with community non-profits is reflected in the following comments from event organizers:
“I just want to thank you all for an incredible experience last night recording “Libby Pearce Drinks.” I have been convinced ever since I first read this script that this would make a wonderful radio show. I think it’s going to be even better than I imagined, thanks to all of you for digging in and using your talents to make it happen. I am excited, too, about the interview following and what you had to say about the issues highlighted in the show and how they relate to your own everyday experiences.” -Jane Anderson, Director, Thief River Falls Area Community Theater
“Working with Pioneer 90.1 [KSRQ] is an example of a successful partnership that promotes the arts and serves our communities and region.” -Kristin Eggerling, Marketing Specialist, Northwest Minnesota Arts Council
“Pioneer 90.1 is a big part of our planning for Norwegian Heritage Week. The director always interviews a board member to promote the festivities and has interviewed performers via phone ahead of the event. Each year one or more of our concerts/speakers is held at the college auditorium. 90.1 FM sponsors this, enabling us to hold our event at the Northland Community and Technical College auditorium free of charge. 90.1 is always willing to help create radio ads or in videotaping.” -Jan Strandlie, Norwegian Heritage Week Coordinator
The traditional Czech, Polish, German, and Scandinavian music preserved and presented on KSRQ HD-2 is the focus of many listener comments. Many of these listeners are out of state, listening online:
“Great job by the Pioneer PolkaCast DJ’s.” -(Listener name withheld)
“Just found your PolkaCast 2-3 weeks ago. We like it! We have danced to many of the bands. We have driven many times a hundred miles or more for polka fests, sometimes for only one dance. We have danced several times to your local Middle River band, Cathy Erickson.” -(Listener name withheld)
“I love listening to Pioneer PolkaCast. A great team and happy music.” -KSRQ HD-2 listener
As home to Arctic Cat Snowmobiles, the industry and its history are important to the people of Thief River Falls and the surrounding communities. KSRQ produced a documentary on the making of the 1972 film “It Ain’t Easy,” which was filmed in the area using Arctic Cat machines:
“I was totally blown away. I thought the piece did a great job as an oral history while being both thoughtful and compelling.” -(Name withheld), commenting on the program “Premiere ‘72.”
4. Please describe any efforts (e.g. programming, production, engagement activities) you have made to investigate and/or meet the needs of minority and other diverse audiences (including, but not limited to, new immigrants, people for whom English is a second language and illiterate adults) during Fiscal Year 2019, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2020. If you regularly broadcast in a language other than English, please note the language broadcast.
KSRQ airs an Hispanic music and culture program for one hour each week. A portion of that program is in Spanish.
Maria Arguenta talked about artistic expressions for Latino students in the Crookston public schools through an exhibition called “Fresh Voices” in East Grand Forks. Maria was featured on “Community Voices.”
KSRQ airs Minnesota Native News, a weekly newscast produced by Ampers, dealing with issues important to Minnesota’s Native American community.
In August 2019, KSRQ broadcast a live episode of “Native Lights Podcast,” produced by Ampers, live from the Minnesota State Fair. One segment of the 2-hour broadcast featured Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, a citizen of the White Earth Nation and only the second Native American woman to ever be elected to statewide executive office in U.S. history.
Later in FY20, KSRQ plans to broadcast additional episodes of the Northern Lights podcast, featuring the firsthand experiences of indigenous Minnesotans of all generations.
To honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, KSRQ broadcast the documentary “Dr. King’s Last March.” The program used a mix of archival tape, oral histories and contemporary interviews to paint a picture of what may have been the most difficult year of Dr. King’s life.
5. Please assess the impact that your CPB funding had on your ability to serve your community. What were you able to do with your grant that you wouldn’t be able to do if you didn’t receive it?
KSRQ began as a training lab for students, until the college’s broadcasting program was discontinued in 2007. The CPB grant saved the station from closure and allowed it to start the transition to the successful community station is it today.
Since it was admitted into the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Community Service Grant program ten years ago, KSRQ has recruited community volunteers who create programming that has become very valued in our region. Each host brings new listeners to the station, along with a greater sense of community. CPB funding allows for training and scheduling of volunteers, and the marketing of volunteer shows through the website, social media and print media.
CPB funding has also allowed the station to bring quality national programs such as “Beat Latino” and “American Routes” to listeners in our area.
KSRQ has cultivated a growing audience through a carefully-considered mix of programming tailored to our region, with an emphasis on increasing the number of local voices heard on the air.
KSRQ also uses CPB funding to serve its listeners a mix of independent music not heard elsewhere in our region. KSRQ strives to make its music playlist as inclusive as possible. The station has set a goal of increasing to 50 percent the number of female artists in its playlist by the end of 2020.
CPB funding allows KSRQ to employ a full-time station manager who oversees the station’s underwriting and grant maintenance. We are happy to say that KSRQ’s community of listener supporters grows each year, and now includes many listeners from outside our FM broadcast coverage area.
KSRQ is looking to the future of community radio by offering additional programming on HD radio and streaming stations; exploring the possibility of hosting a local podcasting workshop; working with volunteers to create and submit programming from home; and investigating locations for additional studios in our area.
The past decade has been one of exciting growth at KSRQ. CPB grants have been essential to these changes. The staff and volunteers are immensely grateful to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for its support of KSRQ.