Leech Lake tribe, Northern Community Radio get grants for new stations

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is a step closer to building a tribally owned radio station. The tribe has been awarded $238,000 from the Department of Commerce National Telecommunications Infrastructure Administration.

The money will be used to purchase studio equipment and a transmitter for radio station KOJB-FM. This will be the first time Leech Lake will have a radio station that will cover the entire reservation.


“We have been working for five years to make this station a reality,” said Brad Walhof, who spearheaded the project for the tribe.

Walhof says the goal is to turn the station into an important tool for preserving the Ojibwe language. There are very few people who speak the language, and most of them are elders.

“We will broadcast programming to preserve the Ojibwe language and culture, as well as programming that will strengthen our ties and friendships with surrounding communities,” he said.

Another northern Minnesota radio station received big money from the NTIA. Northern Community Radio, which operates KAXE-FM in Grand Rapids, was awarded $450,000 from the agency.

Organizers plan to use the money to build radio station KBXE-FM, which will be licensed in Bagley, and serve a large area of northwest Minnesota. The station’s studios and offices will be in downtown Bemidji.

Northern Community Radio will provide local news, weather, sports, music and community and cultural information to the Bemidji and Bagley region.