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Broadcast area Minneapolis, Minnesota
Branding Jazz 88
Frequency 88.5 FM (MHz)
First air date 1970
Format Jazz
ERP 2,150 watts
Class A
Callsign meaning Board of Education Minneapolis
Owner Minneapolis Public Schools
Webcast Listen Live

KBEM-FM (88.5 FM, colloquially known as Jazz 88) is a Minneapolis, Minnesota public radio station broadcasting a jazz format. The station is operated by Minneapolis public school system and has also been known since the mid-1990s as a partner with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT), providing traffic congestion reports for commuters in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. KBEM is part of Minnesota's Independent Public Radio network, formerly known as AMPERS.


KBEM first took to the air in October 1970. Its broadcast studios were originally in the former Vocational High School in downtown Minneapolis (since converted to an office building in which KLBB/KLBP now operate) and has, since 1984, been located at North Community High School. The current jazz format began in 1985. Students still use the station during the day to make news reports and other programming, such as school board meetings, is also carried.

Graduates of KBEM's broadcast instructional program have gone on to work at WCCO, KQRS-FM, KFAI, Minnesota Public Radio, KPCC in Los Angeles, KQED in San Francisco, Sirius Satellite Radio, XM Satellite Radio, WHYI in Miami, WWZZ in Washington, D.C., KDWB, KTCZ, KHMX in Houston and other media such as the Star Tribune.

Minnesota Public Radio had attempted to purchase the station back in 1979 as part of an attempt to split the growing network into classical music and talk radio components, but the deal eventually fell through. Instead, the organization acquired WLOL 1330 AM in 1980. A decade later, they finally made the split in the Twin Cities region with the purchase of WLOL 99.5 FM (now KSJN). It is unlikely that MPR would make another move to acquire KBEM anytime soon, as the group currently owns three stations in the region that have much more broadcasting power (KBEM is only licensed to broadcast 2,150 watts, while the three MPR stations are 100,000 watt outlets).

In late 2004, it was announced that Mn/DOT would be cutting their funding of the station as a cost-saving measure. This funding amounted to US$418,000 per year at the time of cancellation, although the current contract extends until March 2005. The money accounted for roughly half of the station's budget, so KBEM launched an emergency fundraising drive. By January 2005, the drive had gathered $45,000 from the public toward a goal of $138,000 to cover the station until the end of its fiscal year (mid-2005). The school system hopes to roughly double membership from 4,000 to 8,000.

In a surprise move, Clear Channel Communications donated $25,000 to the station in January and began to run fundraising announcements on the company's area stations, including Cities 97 (KTCZ) and their former smooth jazz outlet, KJZI (now KTLK). KBEM is currently the only all-jazz station in the Twin Cities.

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