Paul From Minneapolis

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Help Support Adam Ant

There is a new radio station in the Twin Cities, and a splash it is generating. It is a formerly classical station, 89.3 WCAL that was (was) owned by quaint little St. Olaf College in Northfield, 40 miles south of here in the fields but legal possessor of a strong radio signal for some reason. St. Olaf is the other quaint college in Northfield besides Wellstone’s Carleton. Northfield itself is also quaint, of course. It really has no choice.

WCAL was founded in the way-back-when and was the state’s very first public radio station, and has recently been treasured as a more broad-ranging (say classical enthusiasts) alternative to the behemoth 91.1, KSJN, flagship of the mighty MPR, Minnesota Public Radio, birthplace of Garrison Keillor or was it the other way around. WCAL was not part of MPR.

Guess who bought it? MPR. Guess who was mad? Almost everybody. Ignoring sentiment MPR changed the format, arranging for themselves a monopoly in the classical music field (I’ll hold on a second as you call to increase your MPR pledge). And the new format? “The Current.” Hip modern and world and roots and jazz and the right kind of country music, and local, oh boy local, 50,000 CD’s instead of the eleven at the typical alternative/AOR place, something like that, a veritable iPod. Which of course is one potential problem, say some, since don’t we all have one of those little things?

No. And plus almost none of us will get around to actually filling the things for a while, a long while, and now maybe never since there is a veritable one available for nothing at all as long as we don’t mind being a dreaded Free Rider. (That’s micro-econ.)

So anyway, this is simply a tremendous idea from the point of view of the anarchist scene and the former staff members of at least one failed commercial station of the past decade, and in fact it might be a great idea for other reasons, too. And that says to me: why is this inherently non-profit, and government supported? I can’t see anything more than the lack of commercials. But if it’s a tremendous idea with an audience sure to be the sharpest folk around, and by the look of the staff I’m sure that’s their expectation, why couldn’t some station just make money with ads, only make them good ads? I like good radio ads. Stiller and Meara used to do radio ads.

(Only no fast talking. Just getting away from superfastfuckingtalking at the end of radio commercials would be enough to justify public subsidy in the billions of quintillions.)

Will there be a political angle that emerges from a group that simply has to – call me insane – include some Daily Kos dwellers? MPR will keep them in check, I suspect. Although one slogan they evidently have is “The left side of the dial,” and a web posting promises an interesting version of the news. Tariq Ali discussing alt-country and its role in marshalling resistance to hegemony? Yes, sure, why not. And these are people, staff and fans, who love a sense of mission. It is their mission, for example, to promote local music.

So anyway, I’ve listened for a day and most local music kind of sucks. Floaty melodies is one main problem. I have MPR to thank for that knowledge. (Actually I knew it already.) Nick Cave has a nice new song though.