Sunday, March 2, 2008

Minnesota Public Radio Station Emphasizes Indie Music

I have to be honest, I'm generally a college radio loyalist and don't spend much time listening to commercial or public radio. Yet I'm starting to realize that I may be missing out on some stations that are experimenting a bit more than I would expect.

The March/April issue of Utne Reader includes a profile of the relatively new Minneapolis/St. Paul public radio station KCMP 89.3 FM The Current, emphasizing its focus on indie music, something that isn't always a staple of public radio. The station actually had its beginnings as college radio station WCAL at St. Olaf College (a founding member of NPR that played mostly classical music in its final years), but was sold to Minnesota Public Radio in 2004 and relaunched as The Current in 2005. According to the article "Really Fresh Air":

"The freedom of DJs to program their own sets, song for song, is the clearest difference between the Current and its commercial-radio counterparts. As corporate-controlled stations of all formats have increasingly automated or templated their programming, the role of professional disc jockeys in sharing and promoting a sincere love for music has audibly diminished. By restoring a measure of faith in the DJ-as-passionate-tastemaker, the Current has attracted a new wave of listeners (and, ideally, paying members) to noncommercial radio."

Program Director Steve Nelson is quoted, saying:

"'Our aim is to play the best new music alongside that music’s roots and influences,' Nelson says, which nails it well enough, particularly if you appreciate the aesthetic kinship between Gram Parsons and Ryan Adams, Nina Simone and Feist, Public Enemy and TV on the Radio. 'It’s a little different from having your iPod on "shuffle," ' Nelson adds. 'We’re trying to be thoughtful about what we play. We’re all music lovers here.'"

It's refreshing to hear that there are some public stations with music philosophies similar to indie-minded college stations, but somewhat bittersweet in that its beginnings are linked to the demise of yet another college station.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You might be interested to know that the WCAL issue continues in the courts in 2008 -- four years after the "sale". You can find out more information about the WCAL story and SaveWCAL's efforts at