New radio station comes to Twin Cities

by Justin Costley

University students surfing their radio dials for artists like Janet Jackson, Kid Rock or Bob Marley will have a new major rhythm and blues radio station to tune into this spring.
A black ownership group confirmed plans to pay $20 million to purchase 96.3 KARP-FM in Glencoe, Minn. The 100,000-watt station, which will broadcast its urban/contemporary programming across the Twin Cities, will offer a voice for minorities, owners say.
Leading the group are Thomas Ross, founder of Kandu Communications in Minneapolis, and Ross Love, head of Cincinnati-based Blue Chip Broadcasting.
“There was a big void for urban/contemporary music,” Ross said. “I think we will be able to compete very well.”
The station is the first foray into the radio business for Ross and Kandu Communications, but Blue Chip, the nation’s second-largest African-American broadcasting company, owns 16 stations in Ohio and Kentucky.
Although the Federal Communications Commission won’t approve the sale for three to four months, Ross said he hopes to move into a new Twin Cities-area studio and begin broadcasting by March.
The enterprise is the culmination of a 10-year process for Ross, who said the deal has put smiles on many peoples’ faces throughout the community.
“Urban/contemporary music crosses all cultural lines and communities, and when you go out to the night club dancing, that is primarily what you are dancing to,” Ross said.
With this station, Ross and his partners hope to inspire and provide ownership and entertainment opportunities for minorities.
“This is really the first vehicle that could bring wealth into our community and be utilized to support other economic development,” Ross said.
State Rep. Gregory Gray, DFL-Minneapolis, said the station represents a new venture into African-American ownership in Minnesota.
“For a long time, we have been shut out of the commercial communications market,” Gray said. “Unless you have access to the airwaves, or some vehicle to get your perspective on the world out, you’re ignored. This is a rare opportunity for a different perspective on the world.”
Travis Lee, a radio personality at KMOJ — a low wattage, nonprofit R&B station — said KARP will enrich the community by providing a new genre of music for a broad audience, as well as opportunities for disc jockeys of color.
“Good talent will be able to find a spot at that station,” Lee said. “I’ve lived in Minnesota for 16 or 17 years, and I still have to convince people that there are more black folks in Minnesota than just Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Prince and Kirby Puckett,” he said.
“I think you’ll be a real complete city now because you’ll have this choice.”

Justin Costley covers business and welcomes comments at jcostle[email protected]. He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3237.