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It was “one of those days” at KAXE. The transmitter was having power issues. Our engineer, Dan Houg, drove up the hill to the tower site in Trout Lake Township and heard a loud chattering noise coming from inside the transmitter cabinet. It was a line voltage “3-phase contactor” going bad.

The type of transmitter KAXE uses isn’t built anymore, so Dan turned to eBay to find a used part. ‘It took 4 or 5 days to arrive, and the whole time I was afraid the place would burn down,’ he said. This was one in a long succession of repairs due to failed parts. Most spares come from a dwindling stockpile bought with the transmitter, but some have to be found online from various sources. We have been lucky, but it’s a risky way to proceed in the future. When Dan isn’t able to find a replacement part, KAXE – and its translators in Brainerd and Ely – will be off the air.

Northern Community Radio’s board and staff have known the transmitter—and the building that houses it—has to be replaced soon.

In preparation for that project, Dan took steps to evaluate the rest of the broadcast plant. The tower manufacturer conducted a structural study, which elicited bad news from their engineer: “The tower…is so far overstressed our program could not calculate the amount of overstress…[It] really needs to be replaced. As it stands, it is at risk of failing.”

This means the entire broadcast plant has to be replaced. It’s a big project with an estimated price tag of $878,978.92. But it has to be done. KAXE’s signal is at risk.

The Department of Commerce program that helped communities build public radio stations (like KAXE and KBXE) and replace failing equipment was defunded by Congress in 2012.


So far, the Blandin Foundation has invited a proposal, we’ve had productive conservations with the IRRRB and, with help from our local legislators and Itasca County, we are applying for State of MN bonding.

Before we can receive funding from any of these resources, they want to be sure that we have the full support of our community.


We need your help to show that we’re able and willing to do our part. The more we can raise, the better start we have!

By February 28, 2018, we need to show the State of MN, the IRRRB and the Blandin Foundation that the community stands behind KAXE.


Together we can can do this!   Contribute Now:



By Mail [Pledge Form Here]

By Phone 800-662-5799