You don’t have to have a “radio voice,” or even experience, to volunteer at Northland Community & Technical College’s radio station, Pioneer 90.1. In fact, you may not even need to be at the studio. Some of the radio station’s most popular programming is created by community volunteers, and the station’s manager is encouraging more people to get involved.
Cathy Erickson, Philip McKenzie, Pat Ledin-Dunning, and David “Burns” Chrzanowski are volunteers who commit multiple hours to the station every week. Each creates their own programs, pre-recorded or live, at the station’s Northland studios. But station manager Mark Johnson said there are less time-consuming ways for people to lend their voices, which don’t involve travelling to the radio station. All it takes is a volunteer’s home internet access, a computer, iPad, or even a smartphone.
Pioneer 90.1 station manager Mark Johnson said, "With smartphones, everyone has a recording studio in their pocket." The station will lend professional microphones to volunteers who would like to record programs at home, and send them to the station by email or an online file transfer website like Dropbox. Programs can be any length – from multiple hours to less than a minute.
“We’d like people to share what they are passionate about,” Johnson continued. "For someone with a large collection of music, maybe it’s a couple hour music show. But we’d also like to have shorter spoken-word pieces on things like the outdoors, health, the arts, hobbies, sports, collectibles, books, cooking, or just about anything. Even something as simple as a weather almanac and reading the forecast. We just want to get more local voices on the air.”
The technology is as simple as plugging a mic into a USB connection on a computer, or a charging port on a phone or tablet. The station will than work with volunteers on how to record, save the file, and upload it to the radio station for broadcast.
“Technology has made it so a radio station doesn’t need to be confined to a studio anymore. We want the whole community to be our studio!” Johnson said.
Pioneer 90.1 has multiple outlets for volunteers’ programming to be heard. In addition to its main FM frequency which can be heard in a 60 mile radius from Thief River Falls, MN, the station also operates two digital stations (HD-2 PolkaCast & HD-3 Neon 90) which can be heard over the air with an HD radio. A volunteer from Michigan will soon debut a show called the North Star Polka Show, which will be produced in his home and aired on the PolkaCast. Neon 90 plays “oldies” from artists like Buddy Holly, Elvis, the Supremes, Neil Diamond, and the Four Seasons. In contrast to other classic hits stations that have moved toward 70s and 80s songs, Neon 90 still features pop and rock music from the 50s and 60s.
All three of the stations stream live on the internet, and phone apps like TuneIn. Johnson said spoken- word programming from volunteers will also be available on-demand at www.radionorthland.org.
“We know that winters are long and people are busy, so volunteering from home is ideal for a lot of people,” Johnson said. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Mark Johnson at 218-683-8587 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northland Community and Technical College (NCTC) is a comprehensive college with campuses in Thief River Falls, MN, and East Grand Forks, MN. NCTC also has an aerospace site in Thief River Falls, MN, and a satellite site in Roseau, MN. NCTC offers certificates, diplomas, transfer courses, two-year degrees (A.A.S., A.S., A.A.) in more than 80 areas of study, workforce training and education programs. NCTC is a member of Minnesota State, the fourth-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. NCTC is an affirmative action, equal opportunity educator and employer. For more information about Northland Community & Technical College, visit www.northlandcollege.edu or call 1.800.959.6282.