January 27, 2024

All A'Twitter

So far, I'm loving MPR's new indie-rock, anti-format station, 89.3, The Current. On their first evening on the air, I delighted in an in-studio performance by new favorite local band Spaghetti Western.

Yet, I can't help but chuckle at the shifting positions MPR seems to take depending on the culture debate du jour. During the election, MPR was considered a media maverick, a sedated, rational alternative to the ideology of Fox and the pandering of the major networks.

But with The Current positioning itself, as some suggest, in direct competition with the old-skool jalopy that is Radio K, it's suddenly become the corporate antichrist.

Now, I love Radio K. I love the weekend mornings I've spent listening to its rather static-y broadcasts. There's something archetypically Minneapolitan about a Sunday morning in the middle of winter with Radio K on in the background. It's also rather untouchable--no one would dare speak out against it for what it's done for local music and indie music locally.

So, naturally, The Current moves in and taps some of Radio K's talent and suddenly it's likened to the government or Clear Channel, like in this editorial in the Minnesota Daily yesterday.

Indie and college rock fans, traditionally virulently opposed to all things government, rejoiced in the prospect of artists such as Lucinda Williams and The Postal Service finally getting some high-band airplay.
First of all, MPR is part of a larger company, American Public Media Group, which is a national non-profit company. It doesn't get any money from the government. Neither is NPR funded by the government in any way, except through federally-funded grants with NPR competes for along with other organizations. Radio K on the other hand, is supported in part through the University and University student fees.

Perhaps the origins of this fear come down to a question of format...if indie music stays indie when it's played on Radio K, does it somehow change when it's played on MPR? Is there an anxiety about access at work here? Does it have to do with the fact that I'd get a metallic taste on my tongue each time I heard Modest Mouse on Drive 105?

I also like how local radio personalities such as Mark Wheat and Steve Nelson are characterized as mere pawns in these radio wars, "stolen" from Radio K by MPR. Does it occur to anyone that maybe these guys would like to make an extra few thousand dollars a year, or move up in the radio biz (these opportunities to advance, I imagine, are few and far between in radio)? Here's one from the 89.3 blog:

Nice work, MPR.

I don't begrudge Mark's decision to make a career move. Best of luck to him.

But one might think that, after all of the terrible press MPR has received for taking over WCAL, that they might take a breather before moving on and gutting another small, independent station.

As a long time listener of KUOM (and KBEM, KFAI, KNOW, etc.), I trust that Radio K will be OK, and WCMP will just be a watered down version of it. But MPR's moves in putting together this station seem down right predatory. How do we put together a new station? By headhunting, throwing our huge resources at the problem, smaller stations be damned.

Don't expect any donations from me down the road, and I'm going to sit my parents down (long time donors) and let them know how much their dollars are helping the choices on the public radio dial.


I personally think Radio K is going to be just fine. And not just because it's got a solid congregation of dedicated fans in the area. There is always going to be music out there that 89.3 won't play and Radio K will. And there's no such thing as too much exposure for our local music scene. Really, though, I just wrote this try out some new formatting for my [BLOCKQUOTE] styles.

See also: eagleton on islamist murder; 89.3 faces; an autobiography told in hair styles; crispin glover asks a lot of rhetorical questions.

Posted by Jason at January 27, 2024 12:51 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?