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Dave Olson, Published January 01 2013

Ken’s FM takes to airwaves at 89.1

FARGO – When Ken’s FM 89.1 went on the air Monday, it was the culmination of 14 years of effort.

But the public radio station’s future remains fuzzy.

Under its construction permit, KNNZ FM has until April to grow its current 200-foot-tall broadcasting tower to 300 feet, said Ken Bartz, the force behind the station that has had a streaming presence on the Internet for several years.

Bartz said he began working more than a decade ago to get the station on the air, but the project did not gain traction until 2010, when the station was granted a construction permit for a public radio station near Barnesville, Minn.

“That’s when everything started to roll,” said Bartz, who added the station has gotten as far as it has thanks to a loan provided by family members.

Adding another 100 feet to the station’s tower and boosting its power from the current 15,000 watts to the 100,000 watts allowed by the construction permit could take $40,000, according to Bartz.

He said he hopes to raise the money through sponsorships, underwriters and memberships similar to the way other public/noncommercial radio stations are supported.

Right now, KNNZ’s signal is “kinda thin,” according to Bartz, who advised the best way to hear it is over a car’s radio, though he said it can be picked up by some home radios.

The station has a staff of three and operates remotely from the basement of Bartz’s Fargo home.

Bartz defined the station’s playlist as adult modern rock; “It’s not your junior high-heavy metal stuff and it’s not your Top 40 fluff. It’s a mix.”

A fundraiser for the station is set for Friday at Jerry’s Bar, 1500 11th St. N., in Moorhead..

The cost is $10 per person to attend the spaghetti feed and benefit show, which will feature a number of local bands.

The spaghetti feed starts at 5 p.m., with acts and the benefit show beginning at 8 p.m.

Bartz said one of the goals of the station is to provide a platform to showcase local musical talent.

Bartz can be reached at knnzfm@qwestoffice.net or (701) 237-3006.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

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