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Community radio in Two Harbors: FCC says YES!

Members of the Two Harbors Community Radio board were recently authorized by the Federal Communication Commission to start a low power FM radio station in town. The group continues to raise funds and look for a permanent home for the station. Front: Fran Kaliher, Michelle Ronning. Back: Leo Babeu, Jillouise Simonson, Jackie Rennwald, Michelle Miller, Bill Gardner.

Two years of hard work by a dedicated team of volunteers has finally paid off for Two Harbors Community Radio. Last week the group received word from the Federal Communications Commission authorizing it to go forward with plans to operate a non-commercial low power FM radio station to serve the Two Harbors area. In addition to applying for FCC approval and gathering information from expert and amateur radio enthusiasts, the group has been busy raising funds to sustain the operation and seeking public input.

In January the group was granted 501 (c)(3) nonprofit status, making it tax-exempt and permitting financial supporters to make tax deductible donations. Organizers say that over 100 people have become charter supporters through fund raising efforts and last year’s community survey and meetings provided valuable insight into what the public wanted and needed from a community radio station. Still, there is much to do.

“While both the FCC and IRS actions were the result of a lot of work and are celebrated as huge accomplishments, together they mean the work is only now beginning to actually get Two Harbors on the air,” wrote board THCR board member Fran Kaliher in a press release this week, adding that next fall is the soonest the group expects to go live. THCR will broadcast at 99.5 on the radio dial.

The radio project in Two Harbors was made possible through the Local Radio Act of 2010, an effort intended to reserve space on the dial for smaller stations.

“The FCC application window for low power service opened last October for the first, and possibly the last time since 2000, as demand for frequencies has left little space on the radio dial for new stations, local low power stations to serve and be responsive to community needs,” ” Kaliher explained. The new licenses granted under this law are only available to non-profit organizations with an educational mission, government units and tribal entities.”

The group recently set up shop at the Harbor Landing building where it was offered free temporary office space until it can find a permanent home and raise more funds.

“While several possible studio locations are already under consideration, THCR is still open to other suggestions,” according to Kaliher. “Only a small space is needed, and once the county’s fiber optic broadband service is operating in Two Harbors, the studio can be located anywhere on that network.”

For more information about volunteer opportunities, to learn more about THCRs plans or to make a donation, email THCR at, call 834-2247, or stop by their office at the Harbor Landing building. Afternoon office hours will soon be posted on the Two Harbors Community Radio Facebook page, which has already become a popular destination for THCR followers across the country.