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A Message from the Interim General Manager

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January 27th, 2022

Dear Members, Volunteers, Underwriters, and Listeners of Northern Community Radio,

First, thank you for your continued support of KAXE/KBXE. It’s because of your support that we are the organization we are today. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and tell you about my new role at Northern Community Radio.

Hi, I’m Sarah Bignall. I was born and raised in Grand Rapids. After graduating college, I spent a handful of years living in western Wisconsin and working in St. Paul at a small health and safety call center. After the birth of our second child, my husband I decided to return “home” to raise our family. In addition to my two kids and husband, I have a goofy yellow lab that rounds out my family.

As of January 5th, 2022, the Board of Directors named me Interim General Manager due to the sudden departure of former GM, David Baes.

I started working at KAXE/KBXE in 2015 and was promoted to Director of Operations in 2016. My role has included on-air programming, day-to-day operations, management of staff and coordinating and managing many of our events.

My background has led me to be uniquely suited to this new role: in the non-profit world at the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation managing grants and scholarships, marketing and public relations at one of the large healthcare facilities in the area, and self-employment for many years specializing in grant writing, public relations, event coordination and graphic design.

At the January 24th, 2022 NCR Board meeting, the Board agreed to embark on a two-year plan with the staff to build a stronger future. This includes staff restructuring, a plan for training of the Board of Directors to support and complement the organization, and training for staff on internal workflows and processes.

We have heard from some of you who were nervous about this change, but I want to assure you that we are on very solid ground right now with a strong, committed staff and stable base of funding. Over the past month, the staff and I have been regrouping, planning and prioritizing our work going forward. There is an energy and a re-dedication to serving the community.

Change is good. We are seeing how our work supports the people and communities of northern Minnesota and puts place at the center of all we do. We see new possibilities and we are learning to try new things and go boldly forward to an even better KAXE/KBXE.

There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon that I would like to take a moment to share with you.

  • Morning Show – You will now hear Heidi Holtan, News and Public Affairs Director, on the Morning Show Monday thru Friday. In addition to that, you will also hear: 

    • Music Director, Kari Hedlund, co-host on Thursdays. 
    • John Bauer (despite his recent retirement) will still be co-hosting Fridays and will be working on stories for us about mental health. 
    • The Sports Page has moved to Fridays! 
    • We are investing in a part-time producer to focus on digital content in hopes of growing our membership and podcasts for new streams of revenue. In the coming weeks, you will see Morning Show interviews posted to our website and shared on social media in a more timely and consistent manner. 
  • Phenology – We received a grant from the Legislative-Citizen for MN Resources in partnership with the University of MN and the University of MN Extension to expand John Latimer’s Phenology in the Classroom program. With this grant, we will be: 

    • Growing the number of classrooms participating in the program. John Latimer will host teacher training sessions around the state in March. The interest has been great and we can’t wait to hear what these young people will be observing in nature. 
    • Hiring a part-time producer to help with the project. They will produce more student reports, assist John with training and communicating with teachers as well as overseeing a timely digital presence for Phenology content. 
  • Afternoon News – Katie Carter will be your local host on All Things Considered. We are investing resources to get more local content into the afternoon news. Be on the lookout for more robust community calendars, excerpts from Morning Show interviews, album reviews and more! 
  • More Digital Content – In November of last year, Northern Community Radio was accepted into the Digital Transformation Project from the CPB. We are one of 75 public radio and TV stations across the US selected to participate. This project will not only help us develop stronger workflows to present our content digitally, but also help us develop a plan to generate additional revenue from that work. 
  • Volunteers-   We are excited that more and more volunteers are programming music, and are working hard to recruit more voices to the airwaves.   
  • Events and More! - We are the planning stage of some wonderful events for the spring and summer. Be on the lookout for more information in the weeks to come.  

These are just a few of the continuing and new programs we have in store for the future. What won’t change is our commitment to where we live and a desire to be authentic and truthful in what we present. Thank you for supporting KAXE/KBXE and letting others know about us. We know how rare it is to have independent media in a rural area, and we take our role seriously, day in and day out.
I hope this letter calms any feelings of uncertainty and puts to rest any rumors. If you have any additional questions, my email box is always open – Sbignall@kaxe.org or call 218-326-1234.


Sarah M. Bignall

Interim General Manager – Northern Community Radio

Sarah Bignall was named Interim General Manager is early 2022. Prior to being GM, Sarah started working at KAXE/KBXE in 2015 and was promoted to Director of Operations in 2016. Her duties included on-air programming, day-to-day operations, management of staff and coordinating and managing many of our events.