Radio K will turn out innovative radio, despite competition

Be prepared for even bigger things from Radio K this year, even on the FM dial.

Adri Mehra’s recent column “Public pop radio comes to the town” failed to recognize that the remarkable 11-year success of Radio K – an eclectic, non-commercial, listener-supported and student-run station – is just as newsworthy as the launch of KCMP, the new “alternative” station backed by the million-dollar Minnesota Public Radio network.

Radio K has outlived two commercial competitors with similar formats. That KCMP’s playlist has obviously been programmed, in large part, to emulate the eclectic and adventurous format of Radio K, shows that Radio K is doing something truly remarkable in the land of bland commercial stations and monopolistic media networks.

Radio K is the University’s own radio station, and any University student can become a part of the volunteer staff. Radio K’s trademark mix of fresh and interesting music is a direct result of this volunteer dedication and listener involvement. When listeners call the station to make a request, they speak directly to the DJ. The DJ has access to a staggering amount of CDs and records, from hand-delivered demos by new local bands to out-of-print albums from obscure record labels. New albums are added to the collection weekly.

Additionally, Radio K listeners enjoy at least one (and usually more) live performance from local and national acts, broadcast from Studio K each week. This interplay between DJs, listeners and artists gives Radio K’s airwaves a sense of nonreplicable adventure and discovery. After all, for real music fans, the excitement of radio is being exposed to the unfamiliar and realizing the pleasure of the unexpected.

Radio K has built a positive and strong reputation in this community for more than just playing a diverse mix of hip-hop, indie rock, electronica, country, punk, international and experimental music. Volunteers at the station are incredibly committed to giving back to the community that so generously supports Radio K. This commitment is evident in Radio K’s work with the local music community: Every week the station sponsors several shows and helps bands to get exposure through events such as the recent Best New Bands Night at First Avenue two weeks ago. Radio K also holds annual fund-raising concerts for local charities such as Hip-Hop for the Homeless and Punk for People.

This enthusiastic and dedicated spirit is also what keeps Radio K constantly evolving. So far this month alone, Radio K has added four new specialty shows – focused on alternative country, instrumental rock, Goth and industrial, and news programming – in addition to the station’s seven other successful specialty shows. Radio K also plans on presenting a special series of concerts to celebrate the birth of these new shows. But the biggest news is definitely the pending expansion of Radio K’s FM signal, which will allow the Twin Cities’ original rock ‘n’ roll (and hip-hop, and electronica, and international) music station to broadcast loud and clear day and night.

So, be prepared for even bigger things from the K this year. And when you see the giant, purple K walking around campus this semester, come say hi and ask how you can help out. Radio K always needs and welcomes volunteers year-round, no matter how much time they can commit. Be one of more than 100 students who selects the music, records the bands, and makes a difference in the local music community. This is your campus, and your station.

Alison Stolpa is a University student and programming assistant at Radio K. Please send comments to [email protected]