May 5, 2014

By the end of the year, organizers of a new nonprofit, low-power FM radio station hope to be broadcasting Christian music and "family-friendly" local programming to Carroll listeners at 102.1 KFIM.

The nonprofit, christened the Carroll Impact Educational Association, is directed by Ron Cheney, Todd Tidgren, Marchelle Kots, Jeff Grote and John McLaughlin. Wes Treadway will be station manager.

Carroll Broadcasting Co. is donating part of its KKRL tower space, and Adam Schweers is donating a room for a studio in his new Computer Concepts building located at the corner of Court and Main streets.

But before the station can start broadcasting, it must raise about $30,000 in start-up funds to purchase and install the necessary equipment, said Treadway. He estimates it will cost between $10,000 and $12,000 per year to run, plus roughly $500 per month to carry the Salem Music Network's "Today's Christian Music" programming.

Because the local station is nonprofit, there will be no employees or deejays - Treadway will be donating his time. The local programming - required by the Federal Communications Commission for any individual or group running a low-power station - will include local weather and announcements. Treadway also hopes to involve local churches, inviting pastors to record short messages and churches to pledge financial support monthly or annually to keep the station on air. Though the station cannot advertise, it can underwrite programs, recognizing local companies or organizations that pay for hours of programming.

The Salem Music Network is broadcast out of Nashville, Tenn. The "Today's Christian Music" program is currently available online at - giving Carroll residents a chance to preview the range of contemporary music before donating to the project. The network is associated with CCM Magazine and is very similar to K-LOVE, said Treadway.

"We wanted something with Christian music, but also something professional," Treadway said, emphasizing that he has no intention to leave his position as station manager at Carroll Broadcasting.

Treadway said he doesn't have time to completely program a second station, but often local all-volunteer efforts can sound "cheesy" - a description he hopes to avoid for the new station.

"We want to put our best foot forward," he said.

Treadway has considered trying to start a local Christian music radio station for more than a decade.

"It's the biggest thing I've heard from people over the years when they find out I'm Christian," he said.

But his focus was to start a second full-power radio station - a goal that was cost-prohibitive. A low-power station has less range - it will cover Carroll, and possibly extend to Manning or Coon Rapids - but is cheaper to start and operate, he said.

It was actually Cheney who suggested starting a low-power station. On a Carribbean cruise two years ago, he and his wife, Carla, met a man who worked with low-power stations and knew the Federal Communications Commission would be opening the application window for such stations in 2013 - the first time, and possibly last time, this century. Cheney credits divine intervention.

Treadway suspects that the opening for low-power stations has been closed off due to increased population density in urban areas - there simply aren't many frequencies left, and organizations in those areas sometimes fight for a single frequency.

Luckily, high density is not a problem for Carroll, Treadway said - he had multiple frequencies from which to choose when the FCC approved the station application in January. The organizers have until August 2015 to get the station on-air.

Schweers said he gets to wear all his hats - as Carroll resident, mayor and business owner - as he promotes the station.

"A lot of our families have been looking for something more upbeat that you normally only get through Sirius (satellite) radio," Schweers said.

His purchase of his new building was not yet complete when Treadway called to see who might have space available for the small studio. Schweers saw the request as an opportunity to provide "another service to the community."

"It's a neat thing they're trying to do, bringing a Christian music station to town," he said.