BEMIDJI -- Each episode of the Great Northern Radio Show represents months of preparation for producer and host Aaron Brown, even if the show only lasts an hour or two in the homes and vehicles of his listeners.

Brown will host The Great Northern Radio show at BSU’s Bangsberg Hall on Saturday, March 3, bringing together a slew of crew members, musicians and local guests. This will be the fourth time Brown has brought the show to Bemidji over the six years he’s hosted. It will air live on 90.5 KBXE in Bagley and Bemidji.

“I start to think of ideas months before,” Brown said, comparing the show to making an album. “The whole process takes a long time.”

Brown began preparing for the upcoming show in Bemidji just after the new year. Depending on funding, he will produce and host three to five shows a year, which can take anywhere from 25 to 40 people to produce.

Brown starts preparing by combing the local news stories and social media groups to get the pulse of the community. From that point, it becomes a process of weaving it all into the variety-show format. To visualize how much time each sketch or song will get, he’ll draw circles on paper and divide it up like a pie.  

“I try to make sure there’s a surprise around the corner: You wouldn’t expect that song there; you wouldn’t expect that joke there,” Brown said. “I try to keep a theme so that people walk away feeling something -- usually I’m trying to think about what’s special about northern Minnesota.”

Some of the local guests to appear on the show will be a Red Lake student who won a history contest, BSU students and Beltrami County Historical Society Executive Director Gary Rozman. Brown enjoys hosting a historians on the show to have a factual baseline from which many of the stories and jokes can be made.

In spite of the time spent selecting the guests and researching the community, there can be a hint of adrenaline when the time comes to actually record the show. After rolling into town, Brown will meet with the other cast members and special guests the morning of the show, some of whom he hasn’t had much contact with other than a phone call.

“The intensity of this is that we don’t sit down and meet everybody face to face until Saturday morning first thing,” Brown said. “We go live whether we’re ready or not.”

They’ll do a run-through mere hours before turning on the red recording light and going live.

The show is not set in stone, even though it goes through months of planning. Once it goes live, for example, slight renovations may need to be made if the program goes short or  too long.

Other alterations might be made during the read-through beforehand, when all the research and planning comes together into the actual show.

“Sometimes we learn things aren’t funny in the run-through,” Brown said. “Sometimes my jokes need rescuing.”

If You Go:

What: The Great Northern Radio Show

When: 5 p.m. Saturday, March 3. (Audience must be in their seats by 4:30 p.m.)

Where: BSU Thompson Recital Hall.

Cost: $10 for adults, free for children and college students with ID

If You Don’t Go: The show will air live on 90.5 KBXE in Bagley and Bemidji.