Times: “New local FM station fills KBEK void”

By Kirsten Faurie — As seen in the Kanabec County Times, April 17, 2014:

Keith Thelen, owner of Kanabec Systems, announced Friday his intent to open and operate a not-for-profit radio station: KCIZ-FM 103.5, covering the Mora, Ogilvie, and Braham area, as well as possible fringe coverage to Pine City and Cambridge.

Thelen said he began the process of obtaining a broadcast license from the FCC seven years ago. The FCC approved Thelen’s application this January.

Thelen hadn’t planned on announcing the new station until mid-summer with the intent to air their first broadcast in August. However, since Mora-based radio station KBEK 95.5 FM stopped broadcasting April 1, Thelen decided to accelerate their schedule.

“After the loss of our county’s only other radio station, we decided that we needed to let the community know what’s in the works and to reassure them that local radio will continue to exist in our area,” Thelen wrote to the Times.

The station will be owned and operated by the Lakes Media Foundation, an organization currently being formed by Thelen and other community members.

The station itself is in the beginning stages of engineering, equipping, designing, and building the station – the location of which has not yet been finalized.

However, Thelen said he hopes the station could begin broadcast as early as late spring or mid-summer.

Details of the station’s programming will not be revealed until the station’s launch. Thelen, who at one time worked with KBEK, said listeners should not expect a KBEK sound-alike. He said listeners can expect some elements similar to KBEK, like coverage of the local area and a spirit of community service, but should expect a different lineup of on-air personalities and programs.

However, Thelen did share that at least one former KBEK voice will be joining them on the new station: Robin Riley. Riley (also known as “Rockin’ Robin”) worked with KBEK from 1995-2012.

“In both the technical and creative domains, this station and its staff will strive to deliver the utmost in quality. By putting this station on the air, we hope to create something truly unique that our community will enjoy, embrace, and be proud of,” Thelen wrote.

At this time, Thelen said he is seeking sponsorship for the station and has been reaching out to local community leaders for input and to encourage their involvement in the station.

A few minor additions:

• Though the studio location has not yet been finalized (negotiations are ongoing), the transmitter site has been selected with preparations already underway. The station’s technical parameters have already been studied and determined… construction is the remaining hurdle to cross.

• Sponsorship is not currently being sought, but will be once the station’s launch draws nearer. Details on the station’s sustainability plans will be released at that time. (FYI, we do not anticipate soliciting funds from government sources or from individuals.)

What will the format be? If we had a nickel for every time we’ve been asked that question, we’d have… a lot of nickels! The actual details of our format are a surprise, which will be revealed at a time to be announced.

Until then, here’s a few things we can reveal… it will be a mass-appeal music format, presented by local personalities and having a strong emphasis on responsiveness to the local area.

It will not involve syndicated or satellite-fed programming, nor will it air traditional commercial “spots”. Sponsor messages will consume only a few minutes per hour, thus making for a more enjoyable listening experience.

It’s also worth noting that this is a new and independent station. It has no affiliation with any other stations (including KBEK) or any networks (including any public radio organizations, religious broadcasters, etc).

Will you call it “KCIZ” on the air? Only at the top of the hour, as is legally required. Just as KSTP-FM is KS95 and KMNB is BUZ’N 102-9, this station will have a brand separate from its call letters. What will it be? Stay tuned… you’ll find out soon!

We’d also like to curb any speculation regarding the call letters – rest assured, they have no particular significance (other than that they roll off the tongue easily).

Want to know more? Get updates as they happen when you ‘Like’ the Lakes Media Foundation on Facebook.