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Radio secrets revealed

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Years of planning, hundreds of donated hours, countless solder joints – it’s all coming together at KCIZ, a.k.a. “Lakes 103”.

So far, the Lakes Media Foundation – owner of KCIZ, the soon-to-be-launched FM station at 103.5 in the Mora area – has remained mostly quiet about their plans for the future.

You may recall their first announcement, which appeared here back in May. It didn’t say much – other than that a new radio station was coming, that the launch would hopefully take place in August, and that it would be different from anything the area had seen (or heard) before.

That lack of information ended Tuesday as the Foundation cranked out two simultaneous press releases concerning the new station.

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Some of the people behind Lakes 103. Front: on-air personality Robin Riley. Back, left to right: board
members Karen Amundson and Shannon Jackson; director/engineer Keith Thelen.

In the first article, the Foundation recapped a list of major projects that had been completed at the station, introduced a few of the people involved with the project, and took a moment to show off their fancy new studios.

But there was also bad news: despite their volunteers’ non-stop efforts, the odds of wrapping everything up in August are looking rather slim.

“All of us are volunteers,” said Foundation director Keith Thelen. “As much as I want to meet our self-imposed deadline, I also want this process to be enjoyable for all involved… and, quite frankly, at this pace, it’s just not fun anymore.”

Though there have been some minor setbacks, no one is giving up – they just need a little more time.

“I hate to disappoint the community, especially given how much they’ve been pulling for us, and how much anticipation there is out there,” Thelen said. “But I think we all agree that quality is important. This is a facility that we’ll be using every day for many years to come. We don’t want to be running ourselves ragged and taking shortcuts.”

A new launch date was not specifically announced, but details in the article suggest mid-late September as the most likely time.

While the first article covered dates and progress, the second one addressed what the Foundation sees as “a torrent of rumors and misinformation” regarding the upcoming station’s programming.

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To that end, details were finally released about what listeners will hear when they tune in. The station will be called “Lakes 103”, and will also be streamed online at lakes103.org. Its logo consists of the sunrise/sunset and waves design seen above.

Because it is a not-for-profit operation, there will never be any commercials. Listeners will instead hear around two minutes per hour of announcements which will recognize and thank the station’s sponsors, who are expected to be comprised mostly of local businesses. Though donations will be welcomed, pledge drives and the like are not anticipated.

The article spends lots of time reminding us that the station, like the Foundation itself, is completely independent; no other stations, networks, or organizations will be allowed to influence what is played.

[As with the station], the Lakes Media Foundation itself is also independent, and exists separately from any other broadcasters or media organizations. Everyone involved with the Foundation lives and works in the Mora area, and is committed to operating with the community’s best interests in mind.

It’s also worth noting that the Foundation didn’t just fall into the radio game yesterday. Efforts to acquire the station’s license date back to 2006 – which, the article reminds us, means that they’ve had lots of time to think up ways of making this station a good fit for our community.

Of course, one major question remains: what will the format be? Not surprisingly, the Foundation went back to the language it’s been using since day one: “a mass-appeal music format, presented by local personalities and having a strong emphasis on responsiveness to the local area.”

Robin Riley

Robin Riley

With the local radio landscape changing at an accelerated rate this summer (WQPM in Princeton going from country to oldies, WCMP-AM flipping from adult standards to sports talk, and other such changes), it should come as no surprise that the Foundation didn’t tip its hand. The actual playlist will likely remain a mystery up until the station’s launch.

The Lakes 103 talent roster was likewise given only in hints and suggestions. As in the past, ace midday host and former KBEK-er “Rockin’ Robin” Riley was listed as being among the new station’s air staff. She will be joined by four other (as yet unnamed) individuals when the station launches.

Though it wasn’t mentioned in either of the Foundation’s releases, we also couldn’t help but notice that a website for Lakes 103 is now up and running. As of this writing, it contained little more than a front page filled with boilerplate, surrounded by pictures of lilacs and other generic inserts. But judging by the links and menus that have begun to appear, it’s easy to imagine what the final product might look like.

As the big day draws nearer, dala.mn will continue to provide up-to-date information on the return of local radio to the Mora area. Stay tuned!