FARGO – Ten years ago Kim Rensch – in search of something uplifting – tuned into local Christian radio station Life 97.9 FM.

“I listened to other radio stations, but was discouraged by some messages,” admits Rensch. “A DJ commented that he had seen Christmas lights come on early and wanted to photograph people turning their lights on before Christmas.”

Her mother was battling cancer, and Rensch was groping for Christmas and had asked her husband, earlier than expected, to help decorate their house. “It just rubbed me the wrong way,” she said of the on-air commentary.

So when she came across a radio station that promised nothing but music and positive messages, Rensch was relieved and ready.

“They are really what they say – positive and uplifting – from the advertisements they broadcast to the messages and their on-air personalities,” Rensch said.

Soon after, her husband had joined her, and to this day they listen to the station together while driving in cars, on rides through their app, and even while camping. “It’s a way to carry worship with us. “

Tim and Kim Rensch seen in July 2020 in downtown Fargo. Photo courtesy of Tiffany Olsen Photography / Special for the Forum

Life 97.9 (KFNW) shines in a special way this time of year, according to Jarrett Stevens, program director. “Being a Christian ministry here in the community is a lot like our vacation, remembering the birth of Jesus, and just the hope that came to earth when he was born.”

But this year the sparks are a little brighter with new office space at 6120 53rd Ave. S., Fargo, making it the new station’s first Christmas was adorned with Christmas lights and decorations.

“There have been a lot of changes for us over the past six months, moving from our old building to this new space, but it was such a joy to see how God worked it all out,” Stevens says.

KFNW’s new building is seen on Thursday, December 2, 2021 in South Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

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Doug Smith, station manager, says staff started moving in May.

“Our previous building had roof leaks and other issues. We knew we had to eventually sell this location. But the value of the land would not have been sufficient to buy or build a new house (for the station), ”he says.

After he began talks about a fundraising campaign to begin raising money for this effort, Smith said, a realtor representing a local group that wanted to buy the property reached out, offering double the value of the property.

They gladly agreed and the payment covered the cost of purchasing the new building, renovating it for the radio, and purchasing new land for their towers, which were previously located in Kindred, Dakota. from the North, and have now been relocated to Fargo.

“We were able to do all of this without a special fundraiser,” says Smith. “We see this as an incredible blessing and provision from God. “

The renovations lasted throughout last winter and into the spring. “It was basically a metal warehouse,” says Smith.

But in order for it to be ready to air, along with offices, two of the existing offices needed a major renovation to include the wiring and other equipment needed to be designated as studios.

“There is now an office and workshop for our engineer, and what we call our rack room, which includes six metal racks filled with broadcast equipment, transmitters and a variety of computers that help us. to bring what we do in our studios into the air, ”he says, accompanied by a new director of listeners engagement.

A state-of-the-art server room is part of KFNW’s new location in South Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

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While most audiences won’t see the new space, Stevens says, he hopes he feels it, in a way, and recognizes the ongoing commitment it represents.

“There is a kind of freshness that goes with you every time you move to a new space, and that has also benefited us creatively. “

With help from the community, Stevens guides what happens on air throughout the year, but more importantly now the station is focused on Christmas so listeners can truly enjoy the season.

“We will continue to ramp up our Christmas music until Christmas about a week before,” he says, noting that the resort’s relationship with the Sertoma Club creates a beautiful combination of Christmas lights at Lindenwood Park in Fargo with Christmas music offered via 97.9 FM, so people can tune in while they drive near the traffic lights.

But it’s really the message behind the music that delivers the real gift.

“We know there are a lot of unknowns, injuries and frustrations. (Our world has) been really tested over the last couple of years, ”Stevens said. “If there is one thing people are looking for, it is peace and to be encouraged and uplifted. “

A new building also means new offices for KFNW in South Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

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Smith agrees, saying that behind-the-scenes things like a new office space, while important, are ultimately secondary to the message sent over the airwaves, and that inspiring people to serve has was another important aspect of their ministry.

To that end, the station’s new Christmas Greetings will feature $ 500 gift cards, donated by Bell Bank, to three people chosen at random from the community and nominated by listeners on the first three Fridays in December.

Other efforts include the Valley’s largest baby shower in January to benefit the Women’s Care Center, as well as lamps, bulbs and religious decorations donated by listeners for Down Home, which helps families get out of the house. roaming, and collecting socks for the Salvation Army Hands and Feet initiative.

KFNW has served the Red River Valley since 1955. Life 97.9 is part of Northwestern University’s Northwestern Media Network based in St. Paul, Minn., And their radio signals reach over 1.25 million listeners each week. .

Smith, who will be retiring soon after 45 years on the radio, says the new building project has given him a grateful sense of closure, and that he has a positive record of his nearly four years at Fargo.

“Everyone kind of has that stereotype of Fargo in their heads,” he said of his move from Waterloo, Iowa, with his wife, Margie, in 2018. “Reality is nothing. tel. It’s an amazing city that is growing every day, and being a part of this vital and growing community has been a real pleasure. “

He has also found a vibrant and growing faith community, he says, adding, “We are delighted to play a role in this area as a radio station.

Smith points out that the station aims to appeal to people of all religious backgrounds, and while individual churches have their distinctive messages, “as a radio ministry we try to fill in the gaps to focus on the main things.” , like God’s love for us, and ours for him, as well as his forgiveness, his redemption and our service to others. “Whatever your personal tradition, you can see God at work in all of these things. “

Rensch says that no matter what they’re going through personally, KFNW’s DJs are “relentlessly positive” and challenge those looking for the same to “tune in during the Christmas season and stay in January,” to “fill your pockets. ears and heart with positive messages.


Kim Rensch (left) poses with Jarrett Stevens, Program Manager for Life 97.9, after winning a $ 1,000 shopping mall gift card with a cartoon for completing a listeners survey. She ended up using it to shop for the YWCA effort and Golden Drive Homeless Kids. Special at the Forum

Despite the challenges we all face in life, says Stevens, “if you can get some breathing space and fill the reservoir with hope, you can face the rest of your day.”

He adds: “We want to be a place of hope, where people can come and not worry about hearing something controversial; a place where we can strengthen, encourage, share the hope of Christ and let them know that they are loved, important and welcomed – and that we walk here with them through all of these difficult things as well.

Salonen, wife and mother of five, works as a freelance writer and speaker at Fargo. Email him at [email protected] and check out more of his work on Peace Garden Passage, http://roxanesalonen.com/.