Northern Community Radio Volunteer Resource Book Last Update: May 2013 Introduction 3-4

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Music Library

If Northern Community Radio can be said to have a “product,” it is programming or “content”. For music programs, the music library is at the heart of creating that product. It is an important resource and is used by on-air programmers to benefit listeners. It is not a lending library. CDs should not be taken home. If you find you have taken a CD home by accident, bring it back as soon as you can.

New CDs have yellow stickers on the spine, and are stored in the new CD shelves for 2-3 months after they are received. The yellow sticker is removed when the CD is put in the main library (if you find a CD in the main library with a yellow sticker, it is probably misfiled). Anthologies are denoted by a blue dot on the spine. Some (but not all) women’s music has a “w” on the spine. CDs are color coded according to genre, and all genres are filed together (there are some exceptions like Minnesota Music, International Folk and Anthologies).

Color codes are as follows:

Red = rock

Green = folk and country, with subsections for Cajun (CJ on the spine), zydeco (ZY on the spine), and bluegrass (BG on the spine)

Orange = world beat, with a subsection for reggae (R on the spine)

Green and orange = international folk

Blue = blues

None = jazz, soundtracks, spoken word (SP on the spine), experimental (EX on the spine), Xmas (marked with an X)

Purple = new age

The music library also contains some vinyl records.

Music is filed alphabetically by last name of artist or first name of group. Please use the English alphabet rather than making up one of your own! The first four letters for filing purposes are on a sticker on the front of the CD.

To file a CD, first look to see if it is new, then check for color, then see if it is an anthology. File alphabetically according to the sticker on the cover. New CDs need not be alphabetized, but do keep them in the proper color section.

You are responsible to put your CDs away after your airshift. A helpful hint to help you put your CDs away: when pulling CDs in the library, pull out the adjoining CD a little bit as a file marker.

The CD carts are for your use, and they are also the places where the music director puts the CDs that are on the playlist that is reported to record companies. You are encouraged to preview and use those CDs, but please do not remove or file the playlist CDs from the cart. The music director is in charge of determining which CDs stay on the cart, and filing them.

Legal Operation of a Radio Station and the FCC


Northern Community Radio’s most valuable assets are its broadcast licenses. Operating the radio station legally is extremely important. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates and enforces broadcasting law in the US, conducts surprise inspections of radio stations. These inspections focus primarily on the following areas:

Transmitter Operation

Your #1 legal responsibility as duty operator of KAXE or KBXE is transmitter operation. If the FCC surprises you with a visit during your airshift, be sure you can take a transmitter reading and know where the readings have to fall in order to be legal.

KAXE’s transmitter is located at a tower in Trout Lake Township, east of Grand Rapids, about 5 miles across country. There is a direct line of sight between the antenna on the tower outside Northern Community Radio’s studios in Grand Rapids and the tower above the transmitter. KAXE uses a 12-bay circularly polarized broadcast antenna. KAXE’s ERP (effective radiated power—a combination of height and transmitter power) is 100,000 watts.

KBXE’s transmitter is located at a tower in Shevlin, about 20 miles west of Bemidji. There is an Internet link from the Bemidji studio to a microwave antenna on the federal building in Bemidji. From there the signal is sent to a receive antenna on the tower. KBXE has a 10-bay directional antenna with an ERP of 50,000 watts.

KAXE and KBXE are connected by Internet codec. There is a backup off-air receive system on KBXE’s tower that can be used if the codecs fail.

We ask you to take regular transmitter readings once per airshift at KAXE. This is done automatically at KBXE. If you need information about how to take readings, there is a sheet of instructions at the back of the operating log clipboard.

Emergency Alert System (EAS):

If the FCC visits you while you’re on the air, the inspector will probably ask you to conduct an EAS test. To send an EAS Required Weekly TEST, simply push the EAS button on the on-air console. As the name of the test implies, we are required to send one EAS test per station weekly. You are not required to make any announcements in conjunction with weekly EAS tests. If you are supposed to send a test, it will be noted on the program rundown. In general, EAS tests are automated at KAXE and KBXE. Logging is performed by the chief operator of the station. The monthly test is on the first Wednesday of the month, and is accompanied by a voice in addition to the regular tones.

There is more information about the EAS in the operating manual in each air studio. Refer to the manual if you have questions.

If you have manually sent an EAS test, log it in the remarks column of the operating log in the air studio with the time and “EAS test sent” written as a remark (KAXE only. KBXE’s operating logs are automated and monitored by the engineer/chief operator).

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is similar to a bucket brigade at a fire, whereby a signal is passed from station to station to alert as many people as possible to an emergency situation. In Minnesota, WCCO originates most EAS tests, and MPR proliferates them. KAXE and KBXE monitor MPR signals for EAS tests. There are monthly and weekly EAS tests. We both receive and send them.

In The Event Of an Actual Emergency: The EAS is automatically activated in the event of a real emergency. In certain situations (like a national emergency), our broadcast facilities may actually be “taken over” by the EAS or we may be asked to sign off the air (confirm the authenticity of anyone making such a request). In general, the EAS does not require any intervention from you.

The EAS is also linked to a National Weather Service radio. In the event of certain weather-related emergencies, the EAS will interrupt your program to broadcast emergency weather information. It won’t bother to interrupt for a tornado watch, but it will for a tornado warning. You won’t hear these broadcasts because you will be monitoring the program you are mixing at the console rather than the sound coming out of a radio, and your studio door will be closed while you are performing an airshift. There is a weather radio in the KAXE air studio that will tell you about weather emergencies, and you can relay that information to listeners yourself, over the air. At KBXE, monitor the weather computer screen for emergency weather information.


Logs provide legal documentation of our programming and operation to the FCC. “Legal Document” is an important term. Because they are legal documents, logging must be done in specific ways. When the FCC visits they will inspect the legal logs. Here are the main points to remember when filling out logs:

Always use blue or black ink in logs, never pencil.

If you make an error, correct it by drawing a single line through the mistake, write correct information above the error, and initial. Mistakes and their corrections should both be legible. Never scribble out a log error or write over a log error.

Don’t forget to sign in and out of logs. Use your full, legal signature (like you would use to sign checks). Sign in at the same time the person ahead of you signs out. Do not leave any time uncovered by an operator (such as sign-out at noon or 1200 and sign-in by the next operator at 1201, which leaves 1 minute not covered).

Use a 24-hour clock for logs (2400 or 0000 is midnight; 0001 is 12:01 a.m., the minute after midnight; 2000 is 8:00 p.m.).

Don’t forget that brackets on the log mean you should write an exact time between them. This is especially true of the legal ID. The brackets for the legal ID are on the left side of the program log page. Write exact time legal IDs are given in the space provided in the brackets [ ].

KAXE has an operating log. KBXE does not.

Do not write questions or notes on logs (for example, don’t write that a particular underwriting card wasn’t found—leave the check-off blank and put a note in the development director’s mailbox). At KAXE, note “off air” or “return to air” if necessary.

The chief operator or his or her designate is required by the FCC to review logs at least weekly. The engineer is Northern Community Radio’s chief operator. At the time of log review, errors may be brought to the attention of the duty operator (that’s you) with the intention of improving logging performance.

If you are unwilling or unable to log properly you may not operate the station and may not be an on-air volunteer.

Underwriting Announcements:

Businesses that give sums of money to Northern Community Radio must be acknowledged on the air so listeners know who is helping to pay for programs. Underwriting is currently Northern Community Radio’s second largest source of income, after listener support.

Public radio stations are limited in what they can broadcast about an underwriter, because underwriting is different from advertising. Underwriting is more about “positioning” or ‘branding” than “advertising,” from a business’s point of view. Nevertheless, many organizations find it worthwhile to underwrite in spite of the limits—because public radio listeners go out of their way to support businesses that support the public station they listen to.

The limitations of permissible underwriting language are potential pitfalls for the unaware and could result in a fine for Northern Community Radio. Illegal announcements include: Price: 7.7% interest available, tickets are $2.50 and $1.50 for students, etc. A call to action: stop by our showroom, let us show you how, accommodating, spoil yourself with… Inducements to buy: six months’ free service, you can buy at a wholesale price, etc. Qualitative or comparative language: a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere, the largest area frame center, producer of fine products, winner of awards for service etc.

Do not change or embellish the wording on any underwriting card. Do not say on the air that you shop at or recommend any business that underwrites. If you have a question about an underwriting card, write a note and put it in the development director’s mailbox or on his or her desk. Don’t write on the program log or on the card.

Public File:

Radio stations are required to keep a public file with specific information required by the FCC. Access to the file is available during normal business hours. People may request copies of public file materials, but may be charged a reasonable fee for copies. KAXE’s public file is in the store room. KBXE’s public file is in the hall closet. Our broadcast licenses are posted in the air studios.

FCC Inspections:

If FCC inspectors show up during your watch, be courteous and call the general manager and engineer or other staff immediately. If they ask you to prove your capacity to operate the radio station, YOU MAY REFER TO THE OPERATING MANUALS IN THE AIR STUDIOS. You may refer to the manual while you conduct any EAS tests or take transmitter readings or perform any other actions requested by the FCC inspector.

Northern Community Radio’s Structure


Board of Directors

General Manager

Program Director

Development Director


Community Access Coordinator

Music Director



Member Services Manager

Audio Archivist

Volunteer and staff music producers

Development associate

Part-time production assistant

Volunteer and staff cultural program producers

Volunteer and AM news and public affairs producers

Northern Community Radio’s Staff

Staff Positions

The staff is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the organization. Northern Community Radio’s board of directors has determined that all board authority and accountability related to staff flows through the general manager (or GM). The general manager acts as the staff’s connection to the board of directors, who are the seat of ownership on behalf of the community. Generally, (paid and volunteer) staff access to the board takes place only through the general manager. While the board establishes topmost organizational policies, implementation and subsidiary policy development is responsibility of the general manager.

Northern Community Radio currently employs nine full-time staff and four part-time staff. Northern Community Radio has no secretary or receptionist, so everyone is expected to share responsibility for phone answering, photocopying, mailing, and other clerical duties. Staff job descriptions include the following:

General Manager: The general manager is chief executive officer for KAXE. The GM is the authorized representative of the corporation in its dealings with the community, state and national organizations and regulators. The general manager oversees the operation of Northern Community Radio and makes sure the organization is accomplishing its mission.

The general manager is responsible for regulatory compliance. He or she supervises and manages the staff and makes employment decisions. The GM is responsible for the overall financial success of Northern Community Radio, and management of its resources and facilities. He or she works closely with the board of directors. The general manager directly supervises management level staff.

Program Director: The program director directly supervises the music director and community access coordinator and, through them, has responsibility for oversight of volunteers. He or she is responsible for the programs and other content produced by Northern Community Radio. The PD makes sure everything broadcast or presented online is of the highest possible quality. His or her job includes scheduling, on-air operations, supervision and feedback for program staff and volunteers, and supervision of the organization’s websites and other online or social media. The PD works with the engineer to manage satellite feeds, audio downloads and automation. He or she also edits audio, develops and maintains program rundowns, and works with the development director to schedule underwriting announcements.

The program director decides what programs are aired on Northern Community Radio and when, and who operates the stations during those programs. The PD develops program guidelines and oversees new program creation. The program director also performs airshifts when necessary, and sets the example of expected performance for volunteers and staff. At the current time, the program director hosts Culturology, Between You and Me and the Morning Show (Fridays).

The program director trains, supervises, and evaluates the performance of program producers, staff and volunteer. He or she is part of the management team and works closely with other supervisory staff.

Music Director: The Music Director schedules volunteers for music shifts and assures programming flow between those volunteers. She or he represents the organization to the music industry, evaluates music for broadcast, manages the music library, and makes sure extra CDs are obtained for CD of the Month members and fundraiser give-aways. He or she serves as a music resource for volunteers and for booking acts for live events. The Music Director produces a program of new music each weekday, Currents.

Development Director: The development director is responsible to promote and raise funds for Northern Community Radio. This includes supervising the member services manager and the underwriting associate, creating underwriting policies, helping coordinate on-air fund drives, concert booking and promotion, community partnerships, capital fund development, underwriting, endowment campaign, major giving, and special events. The development director also has significant community relations responsibilities, and coordinates press releases and promotional announcements. DO NOT change wording on any underwriting cards or the development director will eat you for lunch.

Office Manager: The office manager is purchasing agent for the organization and is responsible for paying the bills, billing businesses for underwriting, and providing proof of performance. She or he manages Northern Community Radio’s benefits and payroll. The officer manager also oversees ticket sales for events, works with the accounting firm and auditor to produce financial statements, and is the organization’s bookkeeper.

Member Services Manager: The member services manager takes care of Northern Community Radio’s members. He or she is in charge of pledges receivable, all membership data, talks to members about their accounts, and mails thank-you gifts after fundraisers. She or he rounds up phone answerers and food for pledge drives. The member services manager also tracks underwriting renewals.

Engineer: The engineer is usually a cantankerous person who thinks he or she knows more about technology than anyone else. Engineers are also known to have no patience, for disdaining work they feel is beneath them, and feeling the solution for every problem is technical. They excel at spending money.

On the other hand, if you find yourself in a technical jam, an engineer may be just the thing. The engineer’s phone number is in the operating manual in the air studio. Use it if you find yourself in a pickle!

Really…don’t hesitate to call Northern Community Radio’s engineer if you are having technical trouble. The engineer has access to the broadcast and computer systems, even from home, and can help you.

Community Access Coordinator: The community access coordinator is executive producer of the Morning Show. He or she directly supervises public affairs staff and volunteers, including co-hosts, associated with the Morning Show.

Producer and Production Assistant: Producers and production assistants perform a variety of duties related to creating programs and carrying them out. They also edit, convert, upload and download station audio, help update Northern Community Radio’s websites and social media sties, and distribute content on those sites, adding blogs, photos and links where needed.


The board of directors decides who Northern Community Radio will serve and directs the staff to create programs to serve the audience it has identified. Programming is the organization’s product and the audience is the beneficiary of that programming. Community volunteers create and perform programs for the audience under the supervision of the professional staff. Audience awareness is important in creating good radio.

The board has defined KAXE’s audience this way:

Northern Community Radio shall deliver a service valued by our audience.  Northern Community Radio must be valued by our listeners, contributors, volunteers, underwriters, and those who participate through social media. The Audience must feel that we are an important part of their daily lives.
1. Our audience includes all of the following:

People who contribute financially and are members

People who listen but do not contribute financially



People who participate through social media
2. Our audience is made up primarily of people who live in northern Minnesota, who are community-based, intellectually curious, and enjoy diverse music and cultures.
3. The majority of our audience is comprised of people between the ages of 25 and 54.Our media content should also seek to attract people who are outside this demographic.
Although this definition may seem limiting, the policy actually is more liberal than most modern radio formats that segment audiences much more. Most radio stations “super-serve” a single audience segment by playing programs that exactly suit their taste. A typical commercial radio audience may be defined as “women, ages 35-44,” and broken down further by demographics. Most radio stations sound more repetitive, less experimental, and more targeted than Northern Community Radio does.

Since the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, commercial stations have been consolidated under fewer corporate owners. One type of content (a format) is generally played all day long. Some formats are PAR (progressive adult radio), oldies, classic rock, modern rock, mix, sports, talk radio, AAA, smooth jazz, real country, etc. Most commercial stations would never consider breaking format, except possibly late at night or on a weekend.

For public radio as a whole, research has determined that most listening and giving is done by listeners with certain personal characteristics. This core segment has been identified as middle-aged (average age 50), possessing a strong sense of civic responsibility and having an average annual household income over $100,000. Seven in 10 have advanced degrees and virtually all have graduated from college. They account for 72% of all listening and over 80% of listener income for public radio nationwide. Fully half of the folks with these personal characteristics who listen to public radio also give to public radio (as opposed to the often-cited “one in 10 people who listen give” statistic used to describe the giving habits of the general public). Public radio’s audience is primarily defined by its educational attainment. Its listeners are leading citizens more than for any other media in the country.

Our board’s definition of Northern Community Radio’s target audience is broader. Even so, and although there may be some differences (we are rural; we are community radio), KAXE and KBXE are public radio stations and their audience is more like that of other public radio stations than it is like any other audience. Northern Community Radio achieves its community-building mission by serving this audience.

To be a good volunteer, it is important to understand how people use radio. Radio is a mere convenience for most listeners, although as an “insider” it may be very important to you. People listen when it makes sense for them to do so. People do not generally tune in for radio programs like they do for TV programs. People watch TV programs; they listen to radio stations. If they don’t hear what they want or expect to hear they switch stations or put on a CD or turn on their iPods. Lifestyles usually don’t allow people to listen to an entire radio program. They usually can only pay attention to part of it.

This means that to serve most of the audience it is best to present integrated programs for most of the broadcast day rather than segment the schedule with specialty programs. Presenting a specialty program at a certain time on a certain day invites listeners to use the radio like TV. Some programs are successful at this, like Green Cheese or Alternative Radio, but these are exceptions to the rule (and these programs must possess the same appeal as the rest of the schedule to be successful). If you are serious about serving a certain audience, it is best to integrate program content intended to serve them throughout the entire schedule so they can hear what they want whenever they tune in. It is easier to change how we present radio than to try to train listeners to use the medium in a way that does not fit their life patterns.

Most radio listening is done in cars during “drive time,” with the second most listening occurring during daytime, often at work. Weekends and evenings are next, then late night/early morning. Whenever you are on the air, there are 500-5,000 people listening. There are more during drive time and less in the wee hours of the morning.

Northern Community Radio’s audience is quite discerning. Listeners have come to expect that they will hear some of the most substantive and creative radio possible on our airwaves. They expect to hear music they like, learn new things, have fun, talk to and hear from other listeners, and have their interest piqued. They want to relate to real people, not “DJ’s” or self-focused individuals or cliques. KAXE and KBXE are like invited guests in many homes, the sound track for people’s lives. Although Northern Community Radio’s listeners are tolerant and loyal, they will eventually turn off the radio if they hear a string of programming that doesn’t appeal to them. The longer people listen, the more likely they will find the radio important enough to become members, and the more successful Northern Community Radio will be in finding the resources to accomplish its mission. In short, programming drives audience drives giving.

Because Northern Community Radio is in the business of dealing with the most valuable commodity of the information age (human attention), we define competition in terms of all the entertainment options that are offered to our audience. We find CDs, books, and walks in the woods to be as much competition for human attention as other radio stations (although we do pay attention to what those stations are doing). To compete for human attention in the information age, we have to be especially good at what we do.

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