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What about the Current in Duluth??!!

The MPR website recently announced a new expansion of the Current station to St. Peter. Not that I don’t love some of the stations we have around here, but it really makes me feel even further from the cultural scene to not have access to all three MPR stations. As a yearly supporter of MPR it doesn’t seem fair. If there’s anyone out there who agrees, please join me in writing to MPR to let them know how we feel.

30 Comments

Barrett Chase

about 10 years ago

Approximately 39 months ago, I was told by someone who worked at MPR that we'd probably have the Current in Duluth "in about 18 months." I think the issue has something to do with the transmitters here, as in they aren't good enough.

I would very much like it if we had the Current here in Duluth. I for one have been waiting for years.

baci

about 10 years ago

I agree! Frankly with such a vibrant music community here, we should be a great candidate for such a service. I think it's about the number of "on air" stations around here. Thankfully red rock and clearchannel have the dial pretty well sowed up. My favorite station is WNXR from Iron River, 107.3fm

maryanne

about 10 years ago

I too am a lover of the Current. My current stereo is my computer so I listen to it streaming. I was amazed to find Duluth so lacking in radio diversity. I wish KUMD would model after KVSC based of St cloud state. They are a college radio that belongs to the community, you don't have to be a student to be a part. They have more diverse programming. KUMD is agreat service but I see much room for potential....

MJ

about 10 years ago

It would be fantastic to be able to listen to The Current in the car, and not just online.  I've written MPR about it in the past, but never received a useful answer back.  My family also likes MPR's Wonderground Radio, but I believe that's only on HD, even in the Cities.

jay

about 10 years ago

For the record, KUMD is college radio that belongs to the community.  They had tables at the Park Point Art Fair and Reggae Festival.  you do not have to be a student to be a part of it - Starfire hosts a show on their weekly, I am part of the saturday afternoon blues contingent and none of us are students.  Students may fill in more often because they are close, but generally it is community volunteers on the air.  From KUMD's website - 

KUMD is YOUR radio station, powered by volunteers.

Interested in making radio? Attending community events and concerts? Do you love music? Are you a font of community information?
Learn about volunteering at KUMD, Duluth's public radio station.

Volunteer orientation is the first Monday of every month; next session is August 3rd at 6pm. Find contact information and directions to the station HERE or call the station at 726-7181.

Mo

about 10 years ago

I feel the same way. Despite being a broke college student, I have been donating to MPR for years. I have stopped lately, though, because I keep waiting for the current. I know I can listen online, and I do, but that doesn't help when I am in the car, out for a walk, etc. I know NOT donating probably isn't going to get the station here any sooner, but I don't know what else to do. I am tired of MPR pretty much ignoring the outstate area. 

KUMD is okay, but KGLT in Bozeman was the best college station. I miss it.

adam

about 10 years ago

Whatever happened to "What's wrong with a little hip-hop in the afternoon?"

Mickey

about 10 years ago

As the former station manager of the Gustavus college radio station (KGSM), this makes me a little sad. Don't get me wrong; I love the Current dearly. We just had very little pull with the potential student listeners back then, and this is another reason to keep their student radio from emerging from the basement, figuratively and literally.

wildgoose

about 10 years ago

My educated guess is that a combination of unique geography, the fact there is such saturation of public radio in this market, and (possibly) at bit of a parochial attitude toward Duluth as a "back water" are all elements that are slowing down MPR in getting an independent signal for "the current" here for now.  But those things are only slowing them down.  It is coming, I have no doubt about that.  

--

I have been a community and public radio lover my entire life.  Mainly as an obsessive listener, but also on the other side of the tower.  When I went to college, the tour was over as soon as I learned I had a shot at being a "college radio DJ," and within weeks of my freshman year when I did get my own show, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  Then I did my internship at Minnesota Public Radio in Collegeville.  After I graduated I volunteered at KVSC over 2 summers and I loved it.  After a little while I went up to KAXE, Northern Community Radio for about a year where they actually PAID me to do radio. Along the way I did some volunteering at WNCB which is a Christian broadcaster in Duluth that has morphed into an all professionally staffed, much slicker outfit, WJRF.   After all of that I did some work as a volunteer program host and long form producer for KUMD.  Soon after I did some underwriting with the station for one of my businesses, too.  But I quickly became disillusioned with KUMD at the same time, mainly because of what I saw as too much rigidity in their programming.  This is despite some great live music with John Z, and a lot of other hopeful glimmers, such as the women's show and a solidly local morning show. But still, I gave up on them.  And I am not the only one, notably, about that same time the station's news director left to go to ... Minnesota Public Radio.   

So my public radio credentials are fairly solid, I'd say.  (and a bit dusty, you might add, as I have been out of it completely now for nigh on 10 years). 

Anyway ... now fast forward, there have been major personnel changes at KUMD.  And since then they are doing a great deal more outreach to the community and the station is engaging students in more than just the late late late night radio ghetto and music-only programming.  Starfire's shows are a great and an important step in the right direction.  He's got me thinking about volunteering again, for example, and maybe others will too if we can do more than just "blues and things" or covering station breaks for the (3 Hour?) World Cafe.  

As for "the Current" as far as I know it is available now or will be soon on HD radio in this area, it is already in multiple markets and they are intending to blanket the state with it.  I think that if they get their own independent signal here like in the Twin Cities and Rochester then KUMD, and all local radio, even commercial stations are going to have a real problem holding on to listeners.  Well, a certian kind of attractive listeners anyway, young professionals, gen X'ers and other music loving, hipster type folks with kids on the way or kids at home and (most importantly) moderate to high education and income levels. 

The trick on radio and newspapers and all media actually is going to be covering LOCAL community and engaging people at a micro rather than macro level.  Media consolidation means that smaller outfits can't compete on certain economies of scale.  But they can't do the smaller, interpersonal stuff as well.  For example, MPR will never match someone like Starfire's knowledge of local live music and arts. The more of that type of programming that KUMD fosters, the more likely they are to survive this coming storm.  

And other posters are right, they could learn a lot from KVSC, but I'll add KAXE to the list too and even their own spawn, WTIP in Grand Marais a great community radio station.  

But I have already said to much, I'm sure. Apologies for length, once I get going it's really hard to stop me, especially on a subject as close to my heart as radio.

Nobody

about 10 years ago

I heard an interesting ad when I was driving up I-35 from Minneapolis to visit home in Duluth last weekend (I live out of state): the Brewhouse sponsors some programming on 89.3.

Mary

about 10 years ago

Mo:  I loved KGLT, too, when I lived out there.  Great station, so much variety!

Bad Cat!

about 10 years ago

I love the Current, and always listen when I'm visiting MSP, but would LOVE to have it up here.
I've asked them several times if they'd consider moving it up here (standard or HD radio) and they just say "no". Bah!

As for KUMD - I'd love to see the station succeed and be my main radio station. However, KUMD insists on keeping it's main audience (older adults, blues lovers, etc.) instead of focusing on new/alternative/college radio.
I don't think it's too much to ask for a college radio station to play college music while the sun is shining...

Jacob

about 10 years ago

The Current is one of the things I miss most about living in the Twin Cities.  Pretty much the only thing, really, excepting friends and family who are there.

Swan

about 10 years ago

Three years ago I moved back to Minnesota and was driving through the Twin Cities and stumbled upon the Current. Perhaps it was my delirium after 20 hours of driving, but I was blown away and the new station and it made feel at home. On good days I can pick up the Rochester relay of the Current during my drive into Winona and I listen several hours a day online at work. 

Duluth needs the Current.

The Big E

about 10 years ago

KUMD is one of the two stations I know and listen to.  That said, Bad Cat captured pretty well my basic reaction to it over the years.  I'll listen to random old blues with interest sometimes, but good grief--it used to sound like they'd raided Alan Lomax's discard bin or something.  

I've noticed the programming getting better since the big shakeup, though I think they still have some ground to cover.  [Of course I don't want to listen to college radio any more--I want to listen to college radio  from about 20 years ago.]

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

My comment is a bit digressive, but when has that ever stopped anyone on the Internet? So here it goes:

It occurred to me today that there is some value to crappy commercial Top 40 radio. I've noticed that not listening to it has ruined my appreciation of "Weird Al" Yankovic. For a few years now he's been doing parodies that don't seem like parodies to me because I'm completely unfamiliar with the source song.

Barrett Chase

about 10 years ago

FYI Paul: One of Weird Al's recent singles, Craigslist, is a Doors parody. Well, it's not a parody of any particular Doors song, but of all Doors songs in general. So he's still keeping his original fans (who started listening to him at age 13 and are now geriatric) in mind.

The Big E

about 10 years ago

Paul, I've had the same problem.  It might have happened solely with advancing age, but my complete isolation from commercial radio has certainly rendered Weird Al's more recent work less comprehensible.  Well, not less than "Albuquerque."  But most of the other stuff.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

I can tell the difference between Britany Spears, Jessica Simpson, Mariah Carey, et. al. when I see photos or TV clips, but I can't name a single song by any of them, and if I heard a montage I could maybe pick out which songs are Mariah Carey.

Tim K

about 10 years ago

Britany who?

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

Exactly.

To even further hijack this thread, I'll thank Barrett for the "Craigslist" link and note that when Weird Al tries to look like Jim Morrison he kind of ends up looking more like Rob Linnemann. (I mean, not A LOT like Rob Linnemann, but more like Rob Linnemann than Jim Morrison.)

But yeah, the Current in Duluth would be nice.

mevdev

about 10 years ago

I think it is too far north to grow currants.

Tim K

about 10 years ago

Untrue Mevdev! I've been growing both red and black currants for the last 10 years!

Barrett Chase

about 10 years ago

There was a currant bush at my family's cabin when I was growing up. Since we had no electricity, we'd always joke that when the batteries ran out in the radio, we'd have to hook it up to the currant bush. (Git it? Huh? Git it? ... nudge nudge)

If only we'd been able to tune that radio to 89.3.

zra

about 10 years ago

dittos on the Current...what's a guy gotta do to get a little more variety (outside KUMD and KUWS, and the obligatory MPR/WPR...) in this town, really?

The three aforementioned are great! I've recently rediscovered UWS and UMD chiefly as a counterpoint to a gross overabundance of Metallica and 94X at work...but they definitely have their program limitations with regard to content.

Can we like, petition somebody...or something?

wildgoose

about 10 years ago

It's Britney, by the way, further illustrating your point.

Bob

about 10 years ago

I can appreciate all the love for The Current, people, but you can listen on the Internet. And the average commute in Duluth (especially YOU, college students) is, on average, next to nothing.

Bad Cat!

about 10 years ago

I don't have access to the Current via internet in my car, or at my work (two places I most want it).

zra

about 10 years ago

i can't listen to the Current in the car, either...chiefly because doing so would surely violate any number of traffic laws pertaining to inattentive and/or reckless driving. lack of net access does have a lot to do with it, too.

had i an iphone (or another similar gadget), things might be a bit different.

Barrett Chase

about 10 years ago

Also, I think a lot of people do things other than sit in front of a computer and commute to and from work. 

I have an Airport Express, so I can stream the Current (or any other internet radio station, or my own music library) onto the stereo system for when I'm in the kitchen or whatever, but people shouldn't have to invest in technology to listen to a public radio station. And of course, that does nothing for your car. 

I know a lot of people who live in outlying areas such as Esko, Two Harbors, and even Solon Springs, who commute to work in Duluth everyday. Not everyone lives 10 minutes from their job. It's nothing I'd want for myself, but these people do exist in droves.

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