The little station that could': Grand Marais-based WTIP celebrates 20th year on air
Mar 25, 2018 05:35AM
● By Editor
By Christa Lawler of The Duluth News Tribune - March 25, 2018
GRAND MARAIS — Pledges that trickled in during the North Shore News Hour were celebrated with a mix of musical instruments and noisemakers. Rhonda Silence, a longtime journalist, played a rainbow xylophone with her pen; co-host Joe Friedrichs, the radio station's news director, had his own collection of horns, tambourines, clappers at the ready.
The news was light: Road construction on Hwy. 61, Silence referenced the station's website, followed by a pre-recorded interview with mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux.
"You never know what story is going to come up next," said Friedrichs, who then coaxed this not-so-reluctant features reporter on air for a brief interview. "We don't always throw people under the bus and say you've got eight minutes (to prepare)," he added.
The mood was light at 90.7-FM WTIP HQ, located in Uptown Grand Marais, as they say. A steady stream of staff, volunteers, donors and performers were in and out at the AMPERS-approved public radio station during an early March membership drive to raise $20,000 — which they exceeded by $35.
WTIP, which has a reach that extends from Two Harbors to Thunder Bay to the Gunflint Trail and across Lake Superior to Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula, celebrates its 20th birthday in April. It has grown from a kitchen-table inkling to a news-entertainment source that airs 24 hours a day — with nine to 10 hours of original, local programming — 10 staff members and 50 volunteers. It is also streaming at WTIP.org.
"A group of community members thought it was important," said Deb Benedict, the station's executive director for the past 17 years — though she's eyeing a retirement plan that would keep her in an advisory position for about a year. "We were an isolated, remote community. Our original intent was to connect remote areas with other places."
Rhonda Silence at WTIP in Grand Marais. (Bob King / [email protected])
To read more of this story and see more photos, go to this link on the Duluth News Tribune website.