Why Twin Cities Radio Needs KFAI

Categories: Radio
Photos furnished by Toki Wright
Toki Wright (left) with Shade 45's Sway Calloway.

Toki Wright is a rapper, community organizer, educator, and host of Soul Tools Radio on KFAI. He and collaborator Big Cats released Pangaea earlier this year.

In late November, Minnesota Public Radio ran a story declaring "KFAI could run out of money next year." The word was out.

It's true that if the community-run station (90.3 FM in Minneapolis and 106.7 FM in St. Paul) doesn't meet its more than $100,000 deficit it is in danger of closing its doors in 2015. What exactly would be lost?

Rather than hiding under the radio console as a depressing theme song is cued up, this is an opportunity to tell KFAI's unique story. It's the story of radio waves providing a lifeline. It's a story of our community's diverse and underrepresented voices that can't afford to not be heard.

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Why BOB 106.1 is the best Twin Cities country radio station

Categories: Radio
Photo by Steve Cohen
Loretta Lynn is one of the many amazing aspects of BOB.

It will surprise no one who knows me that my Buick's radio presets are all country stations -- with the exception of KOOL 108. The Current? Yeah, no. KDWB? Only on occasion. Country is my preferred genre, and one station always rises above the others.

That's BOB 106.1. It's an elusive station, with fair reception in most parts of the metro. (It comes in great in central Minnesota!) I can never dial it up on my regular kitchen radio. So why am I so addicted to a radio station that sometimes leaves me high and dry? Here are a few reasons.

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Now That's What I Call Music! has 50 (!) installments

Categories: Pop Culture, Radio

Now! That's What I Call Music!
The Now That's What I Call Music! series hit a landmark last month with the release of its 50th compilation. That's right, the quarterly collection of today's top hits has been going on for over 15 years worth of yesterdays, making for an interesting time capsule and documentation of what was happening in popular music. But with the music industry having so many well documented issues, why is it that Now has managed to not only stay afloat, but flourish?

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ALT 93.3 could be the greatest thing to happen to radio since John Peel

Categories: Radio
Columbia Records
Yet another station stuffing Foster the People down our throats.

The Black Keys. Coldplay. Kings of Leon. Imagine Dragons. The Lumineers. Does this sound like the headlining stage of a cruise ship plummeting through a Disney movie portal into hell? Perhaps. However, what those names actually represent in this case could be far more alarming. These are all bands mentioned alongside the announcement for the new Clear Channel station, ALT 93.3, a new outlet devoted to flooding your speakers with salty, lukewarm -- and for a limited time, commercial-free -- diarrhea. Or as it is more commonly known as, "Adult Alternative."

Upon the announcement of the station, Clear Channel's marketing president, Michael Crusham (who is most certainly crushing it when it comes to creating a homogenized radioscape for white people) had a pretty choice quote: "There is a big appetite for the kind of music that ALT will play. We are going to have fun feeding the Twin Cities with their kind of music."

See also:
Say hello to ALT 93.3, Clear Channel's newest Twin Cities alternative rock radio station

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Say hello to ALT 93.3, Clear Channel's newest Twin Cities alternative rock radio station

Categories: Radio
Via Alt 93.3's Twitter

Imagine a world where Beck, Passion Pit, Coldplay, 311, Alien Ant Farm, Mumford & Sons, and Green Day (post-Dookie) are played on repeat all day.

Finally, a place where dingbat radio DJs can be free to spend 15 minutes discussing the finer points of "Sex on Fire" and how Paramore's Haylie Williams remains the most bangable redhead on the planet. Everyone who missed 93.7 the Edge more than REV 105 is so ecstatic right now.

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An oral history of 89.3 the Current's in-studio performances

Categories: Radio
Photo by Nate Ryan, courtesy of MPR
One oft-overlooked aspect of 89.3 the Current is that it has access to one of the best recording studios in the region. Since the station began in 2005, Minnesota Public Radio's Studio M and Studio P (technical specs here) have hosted between 1,400 and 1,500 sessions with local and national talent like Phoenix, Lana Del Rey, Adele, Miguel, Broken Social Scene, and so many more that can be found in the in-studio archives.

With the insights of technical director Michael DeMark, who oversees most of them, and the stories of other present and past staff, here's an oral history of the in-studios at the Current.

See Also: 89.3 the Current: An Oral History

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An oral history of 89.3 the Current's The Morning Show

Categories: Radio
photo of Riley courtesy MPR, photo of Seel by Nate Ryan
The faces behind your morning radio.
The day's early hours can be make-or-break for radio. When sleepy commuters roll out of their beds and into their cars, many stations try to connect via a bawdy, prank phone-calling, zoo-style show. But at 89.3 the Current, The Morning Show co-hosts Steve Seel and Jill Riley have created a subtler model.

The duo didn't always helm the 6 a.m. shift. From the station's start in 2005 until the end of 2008, 89.3 was home to Minnesota Public Radio's well-loved, long-running version of The Morning Show, anchored by Dale Connelly and Tom Keith, who went by his alter-ego Jim Ed Poole on the radio. When Keith retired at the end of 2008, the Current was faced with creating a morning show of its own -- something to draw in listeners, set the tone for the day, and reflect an identity the station was still growing into.

In an extra segment of this week's cover story on the Current, here's an additional set of stories about how the station got its mornings, told by the people behind them.

See Also:
Radio Heads: The oral history of 89.3 the Current
An oral history of Rock the Garden
Oral History of 89.3 the Current: Minnesota music community says thanks

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Oral History of 89.3 the Current: Minnesota music community says thanks

Categories: Radio
Brother Ali photo by Marshall Franklin; Caroline Smith photo by Mark N. Kartarik

This week, 89.3 the Current begins its 10th year on the air. Not only has the station been a score for Twin Cities music fans, but local musicians, labels, publicists, and every part of the ecosystem have been positively affected too. While preparing this week's cover story, 89.3 the Current: An oral history, we were left with a lot of extra material that was fascinating, but we couldn't squeeze it in. Over this week, we'll try to remedy that.

Today, we have testimonials from artists like Brother Ali, Jeremy Messersmith, Caroline Smith, Dan Wilson, Chan Poling, Lizzo, Lazerbeak, Low's Alan Sparhawk, John Munson, Rhymesayers CEO Siddiq, and so many more. And though former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak isn't technically a musician, he'd done enough stage-diving to be included here.

See Also: 89.3 the Current: An oral history

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Radio K up for four CMJ College Radio awards, including Station of the Year


Music fans in the Twin Cities area are blessed with a plethora of great radio stations to choose from. No matter what your tastes or preferences are, you can typically find a spot on the local dial that is playing something you like. Radio K is definitely one of the best radio options in the area, for not only discovering new music, but hearing deeper album cuts from bands that you already love, as well as terrific in-studio sessions that we frequently focus on in Local Frames.

National music fans are taking notice of Radio K's stellar efforts as well, as the University of Minnesota's student-run radio station has just been nominated for four CMJ College Radio Awards, including the coveted Station of the Year award.

See Also:
Best Radio Station - Radio K

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Talk back at 89.3 the Current at their second music meeting

Categories: Radio
Photo by Nate Ryan
Unlike our gridlocked national bureaucratic bodies, effecting change on the local airwaves can be as simple as buying pint at Amsterdam Bar & Hall and having the liquid courage to speak up.

The second running of 89.3 the Current's Music Meeting happens tonight in St. Paul, and it's an opportunity to express feedback directly to the people feeding us music when we're stuck in traffic, at our desks, or getting our freak on with Mark Wheat every Friday.

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