KTWH Progresses Toward Full Power Status

 By Steve Fernlund

Two Harbors Community Radio (THCR), the non-profit owner of KTWH-LP (Low Power) took action in
2021 to become KTWH-FM, a full powered community radio station. The Federal Communication System (FCC) required THCR to make an application for a new license as a full-service Non Commercial Educational (NCE) station. 

The application process is complex and extensive and requires the services of a professional engineer to prove the viability of the station’s plans. From start to finish the application process took a full year. The costs of this process were partially offset with a grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation of Duluth.

In March of 2022 the FCC granted approval to THCR to take over the full-power FM frequency 88.3 provided that within three years, by April of 2025, they go live on the air as KTWH-FM. Currently KTWH-LP broadcasts at frequency 99.5.

Since that approval, THCR has continued to retain a professional engineer as data is gathered to assist in acquisition of a tower site, antennas, and transmitters to broadcast at 20,000 watts, expanding its coverage from its current ten mile radius around Two Harbors to include the north shore as far east as Silver Bay and the south shore Wisconsin communities.

“Very few low power NCE stations go to full power,” said Chris Belfield, board member of THCR and Chair of its Publicity and Public Relations Committee. Not only is the application process more complex than for a low power license, but the cost of building and operating a full power station is significantly higher. The board of directors of THCR is working with a budget estimate of about $200,000 to complete its full power project.

“We are actively pursuing fund raising efforts and grants,” Belfield said. The upcoming Cabin Fever Reliever is but one avenue for raising money. Like all public and community radio stations, fundraising is a full time occupation.

According to the KTWH website, the Full Power project has a goal to “expand coverage to additional communities, in the process inviting new audience members to join the team of over 50 volunteers.” 

In addition to funding, Belfield said that they are looking for volunteers to provide ideas for on-air programming, on-air talent, and construction of the new station. “We’d love to have an experienced radio engineer volunteer to assist us,” Belfield says.

THCR plans to leverage its resources by exchanging and sharing programming content with other community radio stations in Minnesota and other parts of the US. 

Becoming a full power broadcaster, KTWH will remain a volunteer, listener supported platform.

To volunteer or donate to the effort visit www.ktwh.org, call the station at 218-595-6195, or mail a check to Two Harbors Community Radio, P.O. Box 622, Two Harbors, MN 55616