Pioneers Heading West: East Grand Forks remote studio opening soon

by markjohnson on March 27, 2012

A new studio at Northland Community and Technical College’s East Grand Forks Campus is the centerpiece of Pioneer 90.1’s spring pledge drive. “Pioneers Heading West” is the theme of the drive that runs March 30 through April 6. The independent public radio station’s headquarters will remain in Thief River Falls, where the station first went on the air 40 years ago, but the remote studio in East Grand Forks will open the station to involvement from students and staff on Northland’s East Grand Forks Campus.

Plans are for the station’s morning program hosted by station manager Mark Johnson to be broadcast from Thief River Falls, with the afternoon program originating from East Grand Forks with host Ron West. The rest of the program schedule is made up of student hosts from both campuses, volunteer-hosted programs, and syndicated programming.

The pledge drive kicks off Friday, March 30 with a live concert by the band Little Winter at 2PM. It wraps up Friday, April 6 with a Battle of the Bands at 7PM. Both events are at the Northland Community and Technical College Theater in Thief River Falls. Submissions for the Battle of the Bands are being taken through March 29 at Bands are asked to submit a description of their band and a performance mp3 to

The on-air fund raiser gives fans of Pioneer 90.1 programs a chance to show their support. “The ratings we get tell us how many total listeners we have, but we get a better picture of how much support individual shows have based on the contributions they receive. You know someone really likes a show when they stop in out of the blue with a check for the station. That happens sometimes,” Johnson said.

During pledge week, the station will go on “shuffle” mode, with listeners able to request any song, no matter the genre. “We’ll go to great lengths to play anything that week. We’re going to have fun with this,” Johnson said. The station will also feature community guests to help with the fundraising. “Anybody with a song to sing or a story to tell should stop by. We’ll put them on the air,” Johnson said.

Listeners can contribute any time with a credit or debit card at

Pioneer 90.1 recently added HD Digital multicasting that allows it to broadcast two additional, over-the-air side channels that can be picked up by a digital receiver and online.  The HD-2 channel, “Northern Air,” carries an original mix of Minnesota music and programming featuring Minnesota culture. Pioneer 90.1 HD-3 is a blend of oldies from the 50s through the 70s.

Pioneer 90.1 is a member of Ampers, a group of 14 diverse public radio stations located in communities across Minnesota.


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