A reception was held May 5 in the lobby of Ritsche Auditorium to thank Mike and Karel ’78 Helgeson for giving back to St. Cloud State University through their gift of more than $100,000 to KVSC. The gift is the radio station’s largest in its over 50-year history.
“Thanks to the Helgesons’ support, the technology and infrastructure needed to keep ‘Your Sound Alternative’’s signal quality strong and studio production capabilities stable have been secured for now, and long into the future,” said station manager Jo McMullen ’91.
She said the first major project was completed last fall, which was replacing the antenna and feedline at the transmitter site — a system that was about 30 years old and was experiencing wear and tear after exposure to the weather elements on the radio tower. Mike and Karel also supported upgrades to the Forum studio, a place where campus and community literally meet, McMullen said.
“This studio is home to student audio productions, interviews with newsmakers from our community and also the production home of St. Cloud Somali Radio. It was equipped with outdated equipment that literally failed last year, and the studio had to be closed down,” she said. “The Helgeson support for this studio is the reason it was re-built and is now back online.”
Additionally, the Helgesons’ support provided for upgrades to the multi-track studio, where five bands performed for the “Monday Night Live” live music show this spring on KVSC and UTVS, and where the university’s partnership with GREAT Theatre had the entire cast and crew safely record a local radio theater production that KVSC sponsored last month.
The Helgesons’ support also resulted in an opportunity to receive matching funds from a competitive program with Minnesota State.
“We applied for a leveraged equipment grant and were selected to receive an additional $23,500 to replace what my colleague Jim Gray calls the ‘digital brain’ of the station,” McMullen said. “This is the system that shares real-time audio between studios, is the audio back-up system for the station and allows content producers to have stable audio production platforms in all five studios.”
For the Helgesons, family ties and a unique connection to St. Cloud State sparked the support for KVSC.
“We do like supporting our local community, and St. Cloud State is a great resource,” Mike said. “My grandmother got her degree, an uncle, and Karel got her art degree from St. Cloud State. We have that personal family connection.”
Along with those family ties, one of the Helgesons’ sons, Erik, spent many hours at KVSC — the student-run public radio station licensed to SCSU with a listening radius of about 70 miles. Erik volunteered at KVSC in high school, working on reggae and world music shows.
KVSC gave Erik an introduction to media and helped develop his interest in radio and production. Later attending Augsburg College and the Institute of Production and Recording, he is still involved in media as an executive producer on different films, including the 2019 movie “Tuscaloosa” — filmed entirely in Minnesota with a mostly local crew.
“What he experienced at KVSC had an impact on the rest of his life,” Karel said.
“You know the radio station is well-operated and the funds going there are used very effectively,” Mike said. “It’s about allowing them the ability to have the right equipment and infrastructure so KVSC can stay on the air.”
The Helgesons said the station and SCSU provide individuals with great life experiences — including themselves as loyal KVSC listeners.
With their most recent gift, the Helgesons as well as many others will have the opportunity to listen to and enjoy KVSC for years to come.
“We feel that if we have the opportunity to give back, that it’s important to do that,” Mike said. “We want to support our local community and help make it a better place for future generations.”