James “J.R.” Ronan hosts “The Open Road” Thursdays at 7 p.m. (Photo by Julie Berg-Raymond)
James “J.R.” Ronan hosts “The Open Road” Thursdays at 7 p.m. (Photo by Julie Berg-Raymond)
The great Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen, once said "a community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm."

If Ibsen were here today and writing this story, though, he might be tempted to rephrase - and suggest that, for a community to thrive, everyone ought to be prepared to take ... the mic.

"The mic" being short for microphone; the community in question being the 89.1 KPVL ("The Blend") listening area of Northeast Iowa (and, on a clear day, parts of Southeast Minnesota); and the point being that everyone is invited, indeed encouraged, to become an active participant in the life of this independent, non-commercial community radio station.

This week features at least two opportunities for participating. The station is holding an on-air pledge drive Monday, Oct. 11 through Sunday, Oct. 17 -- KPVL radio personalities are taking turns at the microphone, and taking pledges from callers who want to become members and in other ways support the station. And Saturday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m., KPVL is hosting a "Membership Soiree" - featuring live music and theatre plus a silent auction - at the Elks Lodge in Decorah. All ages are welcome.

The event features a line-up of local talent: Mike McAbee, Michelle Lynn, Maritza, The New Minowa Players and Tom Misseldine. Oneota Community Food Co-op is providing refreshments for attendees. There is no cover charge, but donations are welcome.

Tuning in

At 3,000 watts, KPVL serves a five-county area - though the signal is a little hit and miss in Decorah, at present.

"We're so far down in the valley," KPVL board member Dave Usgaard explains. He says plans are under way for installing an amplifier in town that will boost its local signal. One aim of the pledge drive this week, is to pay for that improvement.

For the complete story and additional photos, pick up Decorah Newspapers at one of the many convenient locations throughout Decorah and Winneshiek County. Or, for 34 cents an issue, subscribe to Decorah Newspapers by calling (563) 382-4221. Or, visit the radio's Web site at www.891theblend.org.