WTIP Celebrates 20 Years on the Air
Grand Marais, Minn. Feb. 23, 2018—The North Shore’s first local radio station celebrates its 20th birthday this year. WTIP was conceived around a kitchen table by a small group of citizens with visions of a local radio station serving the local community. The first broadcast was Apr. 29, 1998; the first schedule consisted of a few hours of locally-produced programming a day, airing KUMD’s (Duluth) signal the rest of the day…and playing music from a CD changer overnight. The studios were housed in two small windowless rooms in the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.
Since then, WTIP has grown to become the trusted source for news, information and entertainment for the North Shore, with a staff of ten including three full-time news reporters, its own building, and a budget of $550,000. The station now originates all programming locally with the help of 50 volunteers, and listeners tune in from all over the world through WTIP’s stream at www.wtip.org.
WTIP has garnered numerous awards and recognition both inside and outside the industry. Executive director Debbie Benedict, who’s led the station for 17 years, served as president of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for 4 years. Under her leadership, the station was able to gain significant funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in order to expand its services. CPB’s former vice president of radio, Bruce Theriault, called WTIP the poster child for community radio. WTIP is part of the AMPERS network of 18 public radio stations across Minnesota, whose cooperative fundraising and program-sharing model has been part of WTIP’s ability to grow and thrive.
With over 1,200 members today, WTIP is an integral part of connecting people and building community along the North Shore. We invite you to do a story on “the little station that could” during this birthday year. Archival photos are available, as well as interview possibilities with Debbie Benedict, executive director; Dave TerSteeg, board president; and a number of founders of the station. –END
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