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Two Harbors Takes to the Airwaves

The radio news they could hear wasn't the news they needed, so residents of this remote Minnesota town created KTWN-FM

The notion for a community radio station came to Fran Kaliher in 2012, on the day a flash flood overwhelmed Two Harbors, Minnesota (population 3,700). "Every way I tried to drive into town was impassable,” she recalls. "That's when I thought, 'We need to have a radio station so people could find out what’s happening.'"

Kaliher shared her idea with folks around town, including Leo Babeu, who had worked in radio when he was younger. Their creation, Two Harbors Community Radio (at KTWH 99.5 FM), has a broadcast radius of up to 10 miles.

Two Harbors, Minnesota

Photo courtesy KTWH

Fran Kaliher (third from left) and Leo Babeu (third from right) founded KTWH.

Four dozen volunteers and two part- timers work out of a crowded three-room studio behind a Vietnamese restaurant. The broadcast schedule ranges from Linda Lee's polka show to Baroque music to discussions about veterans’ issues to steel guitar music to "The Flip Side," on which both sides of hit 45-rpm records are spun.

KTWH can also broadcast from remote locations in town, allowing live coverage of the Heritage Days parade in July and high school hockey, basketball and football. Since the station streams over the internet, snowbirds wintering down south can follow their grandkids' games.

So what does the community think of this eclectic hot dish of radio programming?

Kaliher, whose station bio describes her as "just old enough to have known life before television," is proud to share: "Well, we exceeded our expectations on the first community pledge drive." Adds Babeu, "We're going to ask for more next time."

This article was adapted from the "Inspire Community Engagement" chapter of the 2018 edition of Where We Live: Communities for All Ages — 100+ Inspiring Ideas From America's Local Leaders (2018 edition). Download or order your free copy.

Article by Jay Walljasper | Page published March 2019

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