Volunteering can fill many needs: from helping out a neighbor, working for a local library or nursing home, to efforts that impact the whole community. Fran Kaliher’s volunteer work over the past seven years provides an example of the latter.

As a volunteer, Fran helped found Two Harbors Community Radio, KTWH, with Leo Babeu. Since its inception in 2012, Fran has gone from knowing little about broadcasting, to becoming one of the core editors, producers, hosts, trainers and visionaries guiding the growth of radio communication in our community.

Fran and Leo started the radio station at critical time in Two Harbors’ development. According to Leo:

“Fran knew that Two Harbors had struggled to establish its identity during this period of economic and social transition from a railroad town to a place with a diversified economy and many socioeconomic challenges. She understood that a locally controlled medium could help spark the community conversations needed to strengthen our sense of a shared stake in the future.

Knowing that we are often the ones we've been waiting for, Fran took it upon herself to approach every possible ally in exploring how to make community radio happen here. She was often out of her element in taking on a salesperson role and the technical side of starting a radio station, but she succeeded, leading by example much of the time with persistence and constant work to sort out priorities with a growing team of supporters.

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Fran's commitment to community service feels like an intrinsic value she must have adopted early on in life.”

Fran has truly enjoyed the many hours she has spent at the radio station. Records kept by RSVP show that Fran has put in close to 7,000 hours at the station since 2012. She hosts the "Saturday Morning Mix" show and helps out with producing the "New Beat Farm" on Friday afternoons. Fran is also one of the main trainers of new volunteers.

Her work at the station has brought many gifts Fran’s way. She has enjoyed making new relationships in the community, meeting new people and seeing the growth in skills that people develop. Fran continues to feel that the radio station is essential to open communication in our area.

The ability to broadcast community events such as Heritage Days, Winter Frolic, Shipping News, high school programming, local music, community news alerts and emergency broadcasts are critical in letting locals and visitors know who we are, and the diversity of our interests and backgrounds.

Leo Babeau, left, and Fran Kaliher started KTWH in Two Harbors. (Photo courtesy of AEOA)
Leo Babeau, left, and Fran Kaliher started KTWH in Two Harbors. (Photo courtesy of AEOA)

As of the end of August, Fran will be stepping back from the radio station for an indefinite leave, “to get back to neglected parts of my life," as she says. But, she hasn’t ruled out returning at some future time.

Meanwhile, she would love to see new volunteers come and fill the void that will exist with her departure. Just as when Fran started, new volunteers do not need to have broadcasting background. Many skills are welcome and relevant: people who have a comfort with technology; those who like working with others; people who are committed to sharing the changes and uniqueness of our communities; people who have administrative skills; and in general, people who are willing to learn.

Volunteer opportunities range from being as simple as announcing upcoming events and weather at the end of pre-recorded shows, to helping out with downloading of outside programs, to being a roving reporter out in the community with a microphone and recorder, to thanking contributors, to editing and producing shows.

If you are interested in volunteering at KTWH and finding out more about opportunities, call Leo or Mychele at 218-595-6195.