2018 CPB Station Activity 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.

As KSRQ contemplates a transition from a college licensee to a community licensee, identifying community interests has become even more important to the growth of the station. KSRQ has begun an 18-month process of outreach to community partners representing education, government, business, arts, public health, and social justice interests. Input from these organizations will guide KSRQ’s future on-air and event programming.  

Along with these efforts, KSRQ continues to actively assess the composition of its audience through market information provided by Radio Research Consortium. Though KSRQ’s main studio is located in a rural northwest Minnesota community of 10,000 residents, we also have listeners in the metro area of Grand Forks, North Dakota and in small towns on both sides of the border within a 60-mile radius. To gauge listener interest and the effectiveness of programming, KSRQ uses these metrics:

Web traffic

Unique website visitors

Online stream Time Spent Listening (TSL)

Arbitron listener estimates

The number of local artists and community organizations who have their work featured on-air

Listener feedback through electronic media and personal interactions at live events

Our goal is to provide quality, relevant programming not heard on other area stations, and to provide access to those in our community who wish to produce original content.

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 is one of 18 community radio stations in Minnesota belonging to Ampers. While each of the Ampers stations creates programming for its local coverage area, the group also works together to share programming, engineering, community service and fundraising resources. KSRQ broadcasts an ongoing daily series called “MN90.” Produced by Ampers and the Minnesota Historical Society, the series consists of vignettes about the history and culture of our state.

KSRQ produces weekly segments with the directors of several area community institutions, with the goal of providing increased awareness of their missions and activities. These include the North Dakota Museum of Art, Northland Community and Technical College’s Sales & Marketing program, Northwest Regional Arts Council, Campbell Library (East Grand Forks), Thief River Falls Public Library, and the Minnesota Association of Songwriters.

In FY18, the station also aired interviews with leaders of the Safe Kids Program at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, Crookston’s “Save the Carnegie” Committee, Grygla Centennial, French Chautauqua Festival, Win-E-Mac School, Fosston Community Library & Arts Association, Thief River Falls Chamber of Commerce, Springboard for the Arts, Visit TRF, Hankinson, ND PolkaFest, Greater Grand Forks Community Theater, Minnesota Music Coalition, Thief River Falls Concert Association, COMPAS Artist Roster, Northland Community & Technical College Athletics, Minnesota State Arts Board, Thief River Falls Parks & Rec, and Thief River Falls Early Childhood Family Education.

KSRQ produced a wide range of community-interest programming in FY18:

The station partnered with the Thief River Falls Chamber of Commerce to present RiverFest, August 4-5, 2017, drawing approximately 2,000 people to hear local and national musicians. KSRQ hosted Roseau, MN-native Kari Nelson’s band “Kari & Billy”. The station also featured interviews with RiverFest performers Confederate Railroad, the One-Anothers (a trio from Grand Forks, ND), and Goodridge, MN high school musicians The Jensen Sisters and Jordynn Johnsrud. RiverFest has become the biggest summer event in Thief River Falls since it was launched in 2009 by KSRQ and a local coffee shop.

Pioneer 90.1 broadcast live from the Education Building at the Minnesota State Fair. Members of the Minnesota Association of Songwriters performed original songs live on-air and discussed their craft with host Carl Unbehaun. Cathy Erickson took requests from listeners, and welcomed accordionist Elwood Oschner and the group Alpensterne to perform live. Kendra and Kansas Jensen, new Pioneer 90.1 student volunteers, debuted their “Gypsy Outlaw Radio Show.” Mick Mickelson of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency discussed the Eco-Challenge, an interactive display on the fairgrounds dealing with water purity, recycling and energy consumption. Mindy Grieling talked about the Hamlin Church Dining Hall, which celebrated its 120th anniversary at the fair. And high school students from Thief River Falls and Newfolden stopped by to discuss 4-H “Arts ln.”

KSRQ aired holiday concerts from several local school bands and choirs – Warren Alvarado Oslo, Lincoln High School TRF Orchestra, Tri-County, Northland Honor Bands & Choirs, Greenbush-Middle River, Lincoln High School TRF Band, Red Lake Falls, and Lincoln High School TRF Choir.

KSRQ broadcast the Thief River Falls State of the City address, held in March at Northland Community & Technical College. Northland president Dr. Dennis Bona spoke about bridge construction that impacted traffic to the campus during the summer season. Dr. Bona introduced Rick Trontvet, DigiKey Vice President of Administration, who spoke about the company’s upcoming expansion project. Craig Kennedy from Textron shared information about one of the area’s largest employers, Arctic Cat. Rob LoveJoy of Sanford Health charted the progress that the healthcare company has made in Thief River Falls.

KSRQ continued its outreach to the community with a live broadcast featuring music from Matt Hodek and the Dakota Dutchmen of Lankin, North Dakota.

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service in Grand Forks join KSRQ for a discussion of each weekday’s weather, including threatening conditions.

KSRQ airs the Workforce Center Jobcast several times each day with a selection of job openings in the area and information on how to get assistance with job searches.

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.

KSRQ received letters of support from the community when it was announced that its licensee was making plans to remove financial support from the station. Some of the comments below related to KSRQ HD-2, the digital service that was made possible by a CPB digital conversion grant in 2009. After noting the popularity of KSRQ’s 9 weekly hours of polka music programming, the station began to use its HD-2 channel to broadcast polka music from Minnesota and other Midwestern performers. It has become one of KSRQ’s most successful projects.

“Dear Legislators:

RE: Grant for 90.1 Radio Station

Please consider how important this station is to the people of N.W. Minnesota and beyond. We are faithful listeners and supporters of this station, which includes the Cathy Erickson Monday night Variety program.

Chris Cuppett’s Saturday morning music is a good sound to wake up to.

Thank you for your attention to this request.


(Listener name withheld)

Newfolden, Minnesota”

“We have been listening to 90.1FM for several months now and absolutely love the variety of music played on the two radio shows hosted by Cathy Erickson on Sunday and Monday nights. We have not missed one time and we find it so much fun to be able to pick out our own requested songs and to enjoy requests by many other listeners, as well.

90.1 FM has created quite a following of our dancing group of friends. The idea of song requests is awesome and in a small community like ours, we pretty much know all the people around and find it interesting to be able to hear their requests, as well. This service is so important to our rural, small town areas!

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks for offering this service and are sincerely hoping that through your funding it will continue long into the future!

Please see that the programming on radio stations such as 90.1 FM will be able to receive the needed grant money to keep our “entertainment” coming into our homes by the dedicated employees and volunteers that have put so much of their own time and effort to set up this programming! Thanks for taking time to consider and thanks for reading my thoughts on this subject.


(Listener Name Withheld)

Thief River Falls, MN”

“I am an 83 year old listener in Alabama via “radionorthland.org.” Nowhere can I find the polka and waltzes presented by your station. You folks do so much to preserve and further music so important to those Americans who have ancestral roots in Germany, Bohemia, Scandinavia, and Switzerland.  No one does the music found on KSRQ.

You can count on my continuing support, too.

(Listener Name Withheld)


“My letter is begging you to continue with the grant so the local radio station can keep broadcasting this good entertainment for so many people, including all the nursing homes and other shut-ins who depend on listening to these good broadcasted programs to their ears each week.  And, the streaming facility lets those who can’t listen at a particular time to ‘catch it’ later…. this polka cast 24/7 every week.

Two faithful listeners,

(Listener Names Withheld)

East Grand Forks, MN”

“I am writing in support of Pioneer Radio 90.1 FM Radio. I have written and spoken with you before, about my avid listening of all of Pioneer Radio/KSRQ’s programming, especially my favorite show, Jazz n’ Stuff, done by Pat Ledin-Dunning. I cannot say enough about how much I praise her show and recommend it to others constantly, believing that it is your very best locally-produced radio offering in Pioneer Radio’s entire lineup. Other jazz aficionados I know in our community eagerly concur with this.

I have lived and worked in the Thief River Falls community for the past eleven years. I know well various faculty and students of NCTC. And I can attest to how intensely-valued Northland KSRQ radio is in our community. I often compare it to local and college radio in the states where I have pastored ever since seminary, from rural Alaska and Minnesota, to Michigan and Wisconsin. All over these places I have seen how essential community radio is across our country’s rural small towns. Pioneer Radio is the best I have ever seen among all the places I have lived in my post-college and seminary years.

I hope for the continued well-being of Pioneer Radio, and I wholeheartedly recommend its support from all possible sources.


Listener Name Withhheld)”

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 2018, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2019. If you regularly broadcast in a language other than English, please note the language broadcast.

KSRQ partnered with Ampers to air a series called “Value Our Traditions.” Native Americans shared their personal experiences and challenges of quitting commercial tobacco and reclaiming sacred tobacco.

KSRQ aired a series called “Keep Moving Forward.” Produced by Ampers and the Minnesota Council on Disabilities. The programs featured firsthand accounts of those living with a disability.

KSRQ airs a regional Hispanic-interest program for one hour each week. A portion of that program is in Spanish. We’re interested in other opportunities to reach and involve this population, including severe weather announcements broadcast in Spanish. New arrivals to our area are most vulnerable to the dangerously cold conditions we face in northern Minnesota each winter.

KSRQ airs Minnesota Native News, a weekly newscast produced by Ampers, dealing with issues important to Minnesota’s Native American community.

Issues related to immigration, race and sexual orientation were often featured on “Q” from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a program that aired every weekday on KSRQ in FY18. “Day 6,” also from the CBC and broadcast Sundays on KSRQ, often covered those topics as well.

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?

CPB grants are essential to the continued operation of KSRQ. CPB funding allows KSRQ to employ a full-time station manager who serves as the station’s primary outreach staff.

National programming supported by KSRQ’s CPB grant in FY18 included Q From the CBC, Day 6, Living on Earth, American Routes, FM Odyssey, On Story, Sound Opinions, Filmspotting, and Into the Music. A majority of these programs are not available on other stations in our rural area.

Since it was admitted into the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Community Service Grant program, KSRQ has grown in every way a small non-commercial station can. The station has more volunteers, more listeners, more local business underwriters, and more individual donors than any time in its 46-year history.

But the station’s future is in jeopardy after failing to meet CPB’s new, higher requirement for Non-Federal Financial Support, which has nearly tripled in recent years.

The station has been able to generate incrementally more revenue each year through state grants, support from Northland Community & Technical College, local business underwriters, and listener contributions, but has not been able to meet the higher benchmark within the two year increase period.

In April of 2018, Northland Community and Technical College announced it would no longer financially support the station effective July 2020, and intends to lease KSRQ’s license to a non-profit community radio group now being established. 

We are hoping this transition to the community radio model will allow the station to more effectively conduct local fundraising, free of certain constraints imposed by being licensed to a state agency.

Though the station began as a training lab for students, NCTC’s broadcast training program was discontinued in 2007. The CPB grant saved the station from closure, and allowed it to start its transition to a community station.

As noted in the responses to the questions above, through the help of CPB’s Community Service Grant program KSRQ now offers valued locally-produced programming, and provides access to those in the community who wish to produce original programs. 

We have spent the last ten years getting to know the people of the communities we serve and creating programming that meets their needs. We’ve come too far to abandon what we’ve built.

As one of our volunteer show hosts said, “I personally know the immense sadness that our listeners would feel if they couldn’t hear the programs again. It would be like a death in the family. I sure hope that doesn’t happen.”

The staff and volunteers are immensely grateful to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for its support of KSRQ.