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Community Conversations

  • 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursday 7-8pm

On the first Thursday of every month from 7-8 p.m. WTIP hosts a live interactive conversation on an issue of community importance. Guests are invited into the studio and listeners are invited to call in or email with questions, comments, and concerns. This participatory program is designed to give everyone a voice in the discussion of public affairs issues that shape our community. To participate in the conversation call 218-387-1070 or email us at


What's On:

First Thursday Community Conversation for March: a 1% sales tax update

March1percent.mp3109.32 MB

On November 3rd 2009, Cook County voters overwhelmingly approved a 1% local option sales tax. The revenue is to be used for a number of construction projects, among them community centers, public recreation areas and improvements to the Grand Marais Public Library. Collection of the tax began in April of 2010 and expenditures are already being committed. So where do we stand today?

In the studio March 3 were four people deeply involved in 1% sales tax issues. Braidy Powers is Cook County Auditor-Treasurer and as such keeps his eye on sales tax collection and spending. Grand Marais Librarian Linda Chappell, who, with her library board have been dealing with the library expansion for many months. West End Commissioner Bruce Martinson, familiar with the Birch Grove recreation project and soon-to-be Treasurer of the Joint Economic Development Authority, managers of Superior National Golf Course. And West Grand Marais area Commissioner Sue Hakes, who chairs the Community Center Steering Committee.

WTIP’s Jay Andersen was moderator with Carah Thomas engineering.


Third Thursday Community Conversation with Sue Futterer

FebFutterer.mp3109.73 MB

Untold thousands of Minnesotans are vulnerable. They may need assistance with medical issues, food, child care and support, assistance with aging, with disabilities and much more. Cook County is no exception. It’s one of our largest local government responsibilities. The budget is big and the programs are many and complex. Sue Futterer is Director of Cook County Public Health and Human Services. She joined us on Feb. 17 to discuss the physical, financial and emotional challenges of providing social services programs to our local residents. We invite you to join in the conversation with questions and comments.


Bullying: a high school point of view

Bully_020311.mp3107.67 MB

Bullying has been around as long as students have been in schools. Is it getting better? Worse? What’s the bullying situation here in Cook County? How do our young people view the situation? Is it a problem or just a part of growing up? "Bullying: a high school point of view" was broadcast Feb 3, 2011.


Youth speak out on bullying

BullyMixOne.mp34.3 MB
BullyMixTwo.mp34.81 MB
BullyMixThree.mp33.69 MB
BullyMixFour.mp33.85 MB

On February 3rd, WTIP’s First Thursday Community Conversation will deal with bullying. Some of the participants in the program are high school students enrolled in WTIPs “Engaging Youth Through Radio” project at Cook County Schools. In preparation for the February 3rd broadcast, students recorded some of their thoughts on bullying.

Here are Gabe Bethke and Cece Olsen (4.3MB):

Here are Kayla Stacy and Sebastian Schnobrich (4.81MB):

Here are Hayden Goettl and Erik Peterson (3.69MB):

Here are Danny Lunde and Molly Zafft (3.85MB):


First Thursday, Dec 2 -- Moving to broadband: a Cook County update

SecondBroadband.mp3115.13 MB
Broadband. Fiber Optic. High Speed internet. Whatever you call it, the ultra-high speed communication tool is in Cook County’s future – probably within the next couple of years. What projects are currently in the works? What will they provide? Who will deliver the service? Who will get it and how much will it cost? “Moving to broadband: a Cook County update” -- First Thursday Community Conversation for December 2.


WTIP explores ISD166 levy referendum on First Thursday

FirstThursRef.mp3110.33 MB
Join WTIP’s Jay Andersen, Barbara Jean Johnson and members of Cook County Schools’ administration, staff and board as they discuss “Funding ISD166: An In-depth Look at the Operating Levy Referendum.” ISD 166 has faced many budget challenges in the last several years and despite restructuring, layoffs and a number of belt-tightening measures, the Cook County School Board will turn to the public for help maintaining the school’s operations. The discussion covers a variety of issues related to the referendum and funding for public education.


Envisioning the Fiber Optic Future in Cook County – First Thursday for Aug. 5

BroadbandFinalMixdown.mp3111.57 MB

The Blandin Foundation has awarded Cook County’s Fiber Optic Network Commission $100,000 to serve as a Demonstration Community in its Intelligent Rural Communities program. As a result, the Fiber Optic Network Commission -- known as FON – is asking the community for broadband project ideas. WTIPs First Thursday Community Conversation is Envisioning the Fiber Optic Future in Cook County.


First Thursday broadcast deals with suicide

SuicideFinalMixdown.mp3108.91 MB
On May 6, WTIPs First Thursday Community Conversation dealt with suicide. Guests Jerry Lilja, therapist and supervisor at the Human Development Center in Grand Marais and Grace Bushard, the county’s Social Services supervisor suggested resources for help. Those and others are listed here.
Cook County resources
North Shore Hospital emergency room. 387-3040
Human Development Center. 387-9444
HDC-24 hour crisis line. 1-800-634-8775
Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. 387-2330
Grand Portage Human Services. 475-2453
Cook County Public Health and Human Services. 387-3620
County Law Enforcement Center. 387-3030
Grand Portage Health Services. 475-2235
Always consider using local clergy as a resource.
National resources
National Life Line. 1-800-273-8255


Deconstructing Racism on WTIP's First Thursday program

UndoingRacism_1Thursday_20100401.mp375.15 MB

Join Jay Andersen and Barbara Jean Johnson from WTIP North Shore Community Radio for "Deconstructing Racism in the Community and the Culture." In this one hour program, they talk with in-studio guests Bob Carter, John Morrin and Bea Sorenson, participants in the "Undoing Racism" workshops, about the causes, history and ways to deconstruct racism in our culture.

Airdate: April 1, 2010


Cook County Schools ISD 166 on First Thursday

ISD166_20100304.mp382.4 MB
Part2_ISD166.mp389.88 MB

WTIP’s First Thursday Community Conversations program took a close look at the financial situation and future of the Cook County Independent School District 166. The district is moving ahead with an operating referendum to go before the voters this fall and is also facing declining enrollment, state-aid payment off-sets, staff reductions and program cuts, as well as a serious consideration of a four-day school week in 2011. Superintendent Beth Schwarz, parent and Academic Committee member Jeff Kern, and School Board Chair Bill Huggins were in the studio to talk about the issues and take questions from the community.