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98.5 HD3 The MEL been nominated for the 2024 Christian Music Broadcasters (CMB) University Station of the Year!  The video above gives a little glimpse of what goes beyond what you might hear at! 98.5 HD3 The MEL operates as a fully student-run radio station at the University of Northwestern- St. Paul ( in Minnesota. Students interested in radio are required to take four semesters of the MEL radio workshop (class). There are no full-time positions offered, but students fulfill various staff roles. Students need to perform a two-hour live show and a two-hour voicetrack shift once per week. The MEL also consists of three other workshops: Film, PR and TV News. They all work collaboratively to create the content that’s heard on The MEL, The Five16 Film Festival and MEL social media accounts. 

The unified brand of the MEL provides the opportunity to think more like a professional- not as students.  As they gain valuable hands-on experience and improve their media-oriented skills, they earn various internships with Northwestern Media, KTIS and Faith 900. The MEL encourages all to work collaboratively and creatively. To enter into a spirit of life-long learning. To explore and experiment. To take risks. To serve the audience. To share the gravity and gladness of God. And to never fear making mistakes! Please Fail Magnificently often. We definitely are not perfect, but we rely and trust in the one who is. 


While The MEL targets 18-49 adults and the UNW campus through a rather eclectic mix of Christian alternative, pop, and hip-hop music, the main goal of the MEL focuses on these four words:  Pursue Christ. Pursue Craft. This larger vision prepares them with a larger Kingdom perspective. So, the MEL is more than just a radio station! It’s a Christ-centered media platform designed to prepare young professionals for the marketplace.  The MEL stands for the Media Entertainment Lab! The experiential learning engages the community through a variety of activities and events. Some of these events have included promoting and broadcasting live from a variety events including the Five16 Film Festival, Homecoming, and various student club events. The Mel hosted two original impactful events: The Mel Conference and the Five16 Film Festival.

FIVE16 Film Festival

The Five16 Film Festival happens every April and has become the premiere on-campus event. More than 1300 students pack our Knight Performance Hall to see what our MEL film students have created. Nearly 1400 people pack the Performance Hall to view the films. The Five16 Film Festival derives its name from Matthew 5:16 which says “let your shine before others so all will see your good works.” 

The MEL broadcasts live from the red carpet and then hosts an after-party, plus an After-After Party! We interview student film makers, alumni, and other local media creators. We also give away various prizes through on-air games and other off-air fun. This is a great opportunity for The MEL radio students to shine the spotlight on our fellow creative filmmakers and help build more community on-campus. It’s an amazing event! 

A panel of media professionals, featuring many alumni, juried the films and awarded special trophies. Awards given include Best Drama, Comedy, Documentary, Actor and Audience Favorite. Camera company Canon sponsored the Cinematography award and delivered the winning filmmaker a brand new HD 4K camera!!   

Online content supported the event through several Behind the Scenes interviews with student filmmakers. The videos were made available through various social media platforms.


The MEL Conference

The Mel Conference fosters creativity, diligence, and practice in any creative field. Various Alumni and other media-oriented professionals spoke at the free event. Invitations were also sent to local high schools inviting prospective students to join in the activities. Alumni speakers have included KTIS personality Andy Youso, Northwestern Media Director of Marketing, Carl Bliss, US Bank Social Media Director, Laura Livingood and James Beard nominated Chef Karyn Tomlinson. 

Community Impact

During Homecoming the MEL interviewed various alumni, created special on-air playlists to celebrate each decade of graduates, and gave away special homecoming merchandise. We also sponsored the annual Sunburst Music Festival held on campus. The Mel emceed the event, helped promote community, and created campus connections. We broadcasted on site during UNW’s Grandparent’s Day, and helped welcome new students with New Student Days. We also promoted a local Christian music through a weekly original program called Musical Hotdish.

Kingdom Impact

The MEL greatly benefits the Christian media industry. It’s rooted in a robust partnership with the Northwestern Media Network. Students at The MEL learn on the same media technology and equipment found throughout Northwestern Media. As students gain experience, opportunities abound at Northwestern Media, which is housed on the second floor. Each year more than a dozen students are offered some type of internship in various departments such as Programming, PR/Marketing, and engineering. Perhaps the most beneficial opportunity for upper-level MEL Students is the focused training they receive while performing weekend voice-tracking shifts with one of our NWM stations in places like Waterloo, Des Moines, Sioux Falls, Duluth, Fargo and Madison. So not only do we say, “Pursue Christ and pursue craft”, we also say, “Get upstairs! “

More than 50 MEL Alumni have specifically gone onto work with CMB and other Christian media industries include Adam Hannan (Life 88.5), Matt Pelishek (KAXL), Andy Youso (KTIS), Josh Svendsen (Spirit 92), Dave Wonders (The Pulse), Aaron Pearson (The Pulse), Mike Lanser (89Q), Aaron Trost (KSLT), Rylie Karges (KFNW), Keegan Goldfarb (KTIS), Kristina Winger (KTIS), Marissa Biancardi (Northwestern Media/NWM), Carl Bliss (NWM), Wes Halula (NWM), Dallas Jenkins (The Chosen), Elizabeth Niezgocki (NWM), Maggie Noble (NWM), Aaron Wellman (Faith Radio), Ryan “Goose” Nissley (Life 96.5), Amanda Brooks (Spirit FM/MO), Andrew DeVall (President/Q Media, Minnesota Broadcasters Board), Mat Reynolds (Family Radio), Derek Murphy (Life 102.5), Kim Sanders (Faith Radio), Ryan Mitchell (Faith Radio), Adam Rozanas (TWR), Nicole Koester (Intergrity), Aaron McIntyre (Veritas), Wyatt Morrel (Faith Radio), Bryan Gullikson (KTIS), Nat Becker (KTIS), Ben Paulson (NWM), Nate Grizzle (KDNW), Mike Chermak (NWM), Sam Holmgren (Mission radio/Philippines), Bryce Bennyhoff (WBGL), Alex Whitworth (Teen Challenge), Tim Johnson (KFNW), Laura Livingood (KFNW), Aaron White (KTIS), Grace Reif (Faith Radio), Ben Wilson (Eagle Brook Church Films/EBCF) Ryan Hall (EBCF), Krista Koester (EBCF) and Manny Moore (haha).  By the way, some of those names above have been instrumental in helping their ministries win their own Station of the Year Awards.

Dozens of other alumni have worked in other media working for companies like Hubbard Broadcasting, The Fallon Agency, Star Publications and various Church Media production positions. Some notables: Jodi Whitworth (WHO-TV), Pat Laeger (KS95/Director of Digital), BrittLaeger (Brandography Agency) Samara Ehlke (Air, The Resident), Ross Fleming (Marvel Films), and Carson Mitthleman (Abbot Elementary). Chenue Her became the first Hmong anchor in the United States and was awarded an Emmy for his work in Des Moines. 

To celebrate our alumni, The MEL began creating Alumni trading cards! (You can see them at the top of the page in the thumbnail of the video)

The MEL Moves from HD4 to HD3!

The biggest change for the MEL occurred in October when the station moved from broadcasting on HD4 to HD3. The MEL immediately made an impact by showing up in the ratings for the first time. According to Nielsen, the MEL pulled a .1 share 6+ and generated a CUME of over 20,000 weekly listeners in the early December (pre-christmas)! That’s nearly TRIPLE the CUME from the previous months.

Digital/Social? 6.5 MILLION Views!!!???

The MEL actively posts on various social media platforms (Instagram, Tiktok and to promote various local events and other activities. Video students create films and other short form content marketing that relate to student life at the MEL. 

One particular project generated some rather significant buzz. Near the end of the Fall 2023 semester, PR professor Wendi Marshall offered the following to her PR Principles and Social Media Strategies class: No final exam for the student who collects the most views for a TikTok branding the MEL.  This opportunity intrigued sophomore Noelle Rogers, a Public Relations major. So she created a video with her “help me get out of my final exam” plea. And it ended up generating more than 6.5 Million views. 

Sophomore Noelle Rogers needed her video to have the most online views in the class to get out of her PR final. It generated more than 6 million views! No final for her!

Listener Testimonies

The move to HD3 increased the visibility of the MEL and listeners are enjoying the station! Pastor DM writes: “The MEL is refreshing because it is the kind of music that I am willing to share with my unchurched friends.  It’s not all only for the worshipper, but much of it is for the person living the real life.  Take NF for example.  That guy is living in the grit of life, like most of us.  He’s not skating, he’s crawling.  He is the artist that I can imagine can only eek out the prayer: “C’mon God!” sometimes.  And that is where I try to hit people with my sermons.”

Mental Health Specialist MM says: “I appreciate that the MEL plays music that engages and expresses emotions. Lyrics of NF, Judah, Tina Boonstra, and Colony House all have been great outlets for my emotions. Your station has a favorite go-to as it promotes giving permission to having feelings”.

ML says he discovered that KTIS has three HD stations when he bought a newer car. Since then, he’s “been glued to the MEL. Growing up listening to college radio, I loved the variety that each host would bring to their 2-3 hour set. I do like a WIDE variety…We are so blessed to have great artists who feel called to share their gifts with the world.