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Hyper-local radio station amplifying voices in Saint Paul

In Communities that KARE, a nonprofit lifts voices in the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods of Saint Paul. Now Frogtown Tuned-In needs your help.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — WFNU 94.1 FM in St. Paul is the home of rising radio stars who share news and music from the neighborhoods where they live and work. 

"We decided that it was best to tell our story ourselves rather than have someone else tell the story for us," said Philip Gracia, co-director of WFNU. The station is low-power, meaning it broadcasts within five miles of University and Dale avenues. 

The content is hyper-focused, lifting typically marginalized voices. "A lot of times, stories are told about Frogtown or Rondo in a negative light. And it's great to have people from the community telling their own stories in a way that makes sense to them," explained Katey Decelle, co-director of WFNU. 

There are 60 shows on the air, including every type of music and talk shows, political shows and art shows.

The nonprofit Frogtown Tuned-In operates the station. Volunteers train community talent in engineering, DJing, and broadcasting. "What's really cool, too, is you might hear your neighbor down the street who has a show," enthused Decelle. 

WFNU is still building. Four years ago, the station started recording on a folding table with a laptop and two microphones on internet radio. The station moved to an old janitor's office in a church until it found its current home at a local hotel.

There are goals to grow grassroots programming. "I'd like to grow out a citizen journalism program to get more youth and young people involved in what's going on at the capitol, what's going on in our neighborhood," said Decelle. 

Frogtown Tuned-In needs your help to take the next steps. The nonprofit is looking to raise $22,000 by the end of the year. That's to cover six months of expenses and to help the station reach old and new audiences. 

"People will say, 'Hey, I didn't know Frogtown had a radio station,' which is always great, [and] 'Oh, I love that station!" said Gracia. It's a sentiment that both Gracia and Decelle can agree on. "I'm very invested in this community; I've lived here my whole life," said Decelle. Gracia added, "My heart belongs to Frogtown." 

There's a fundraising event on Monday, Nov. 14th, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at DeGidio's Restaurant and Bar in Saint Paul. Tickets are $25, including a buffet dinner. There's also a silent auction, music, and awards for programmers and partners, along with a cash bar.

You can get tickets at wfnu.org or frogtowntunedin.org.

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