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Of Woods And Words: Raised On Radio


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When my brother and I were very little, our family lived briefly on the edge of the Minnesota prairie. We didn’t have a T.V.  As a result, the only thing we looked forward to more than visits from the bookmobile were Saturday mornings. That’s because every Saturday morning the local community radio station broadcast two children’s radio programs.
The shows came on pretty early on those Saturday mornings: maybe about 6 a.m. It was rare for my brother and I to be up and about at that early hour, so my father faithfully taped the two half-hour shows. Over breakfast a few hours later, we listened to the taped shows.
But, when I was six, my family moved back to my mother’s hometown of Grand Marais. Everyone was a lot happier along the shores of Lake Superior. None of us missed the prairie. However, our Saturday mornings got a lot quieter. We still didn’t own a T.V. Now we also didn’t have a community radio station to tune in to.  The radio show We Like Kids! from Juneau, Alaska no longer followed Vera Deara’s  half-hour of stories at 6 in the morning. There were no tapes to listen to while my brother and I attempted to eat an entire box of cereal in search of the hidden toy inside the box.
Of course we missed having a community radio station. Luckily for us, in the spring of 1992, a dedicated group of volunteers started working to bring radio to Cook County. They held fundraisers, formed partnerships, applied for grants, and marched in almost every parade, big or small, that Grand Marais hosted. By the time all the money was raised to bring community radio to the area, this group of volunteers had the Grand Marais parade circuit down pat. They knew you were meant to parade around the city block designated for parades in downtown Grand Marais twice in the Christmas and Fourth of July parades.
When WTIP began broadcasting in April 1998, my brother and I had outgrown children’s radio programs. But we hadn’t outgrown radio. In WTIP we found volunteer opportunities, internships, and career exploration. We heard new voices and music, kept up on weather and news and became avid listeners of “Small Change.”
Today at the cabin, our radio dial floats between WTIP, MPR, and the CBC. But when I’m driving home, be it from travels, or just a trip to the Twin Cities, it is only when my car radio picks up WTIP that I truly feel I’m home.  Around Two Harbors, when I start to get those first scratchy transmissions from Grand Marais, I know there’s not too much road left to travel that day.
I had a thought a couple months ago, back when WTIP was turning 12 years old. I realized that in the listening range of WTIP, there is an entire generation who has always had a community radio station to tune into. For any community member age 12 or younger, and to be fair, probably a littler older too, there simply hasn’t been a time when they can’t remember there not being WTIP. Maybe some members of this generation spend their weeks looking forward to listening to Rose’s Saturday Morning Story.
If you don’t want your kids to remember a time without community radio, if you spend your weekends looking forward to Saturday morning radio, if it’s the sound of WTIP that signals your homecoming, well, now’s the time to give WTIP your show of support. With your gift of time or funds, we can ensure that WTIP is around to provide entertainment for many, many Saturday mornings to come. Just call 387-1070 or 1-800-473-9847.
Air Date: July 8, 2010