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Minnesota Public Radio
MPR logo.png
Type Public radio network
Country  United States
First air date January 1967
Availability Global
Founded American Public Media Group
Key people Bill Kling, President
Launch date 1967
Former names Saint John's University Broadcasting
Minnesota Educational Radio
Affiliation National Public Radio
Public Radio International
American Public Media
Official Website

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is one of the premier public radio stations producing programming for radio, Internet and face-to-face audiences in the United States. With its three services, News & Information, Classical Music and The Current, MPR operates a 37-station regional radio network in the upper Midwest serving a regional population of 5 million people. MPR has 94,000 members and more than 800,000 listeners each week, the largest audience of any regional public radio network.

Minnesota Public Radio has won more than 875 journalism awards, including the Peabody Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award from both the RTNDA and the CPB, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton Award.

Minnesota Public Radio, operating as American Public Media, is the nation's second-largest producer and distributor of national public radio programs, reaching 14.6 million listeners nationwide each week. It is the largest producer and distributor of classical music programming in the country.

Minnesota Public Radio's 998-seat Fitzgerald Theater and 100-seat UBS Forum provide a venue for live remote broadcasts, discussion forums, political debates, cultural programming and more.

As of 1999 the company operates on $32 million dollar a year with 30 stations in 6 states, and it has a $110 million endowment.[1]



Minnesota Public Radio originally offered a mix of news radio and music programming on a single service. Beginning in 1980, MPR's programming split in two, forming separate news and classical music services (although one station in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan still carries a combination of those two services). The 2005 acquisition of WCAL in Northfield, Minnesota, which covers the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, provided the opportunity to launch another music service, The Current.


News and information

MPR's news and information service includes a mix of locally-produced programs and national/international shows.

The MPR newsroom has garnered international acclaim, most recently earning the inaugural Knight News Innovation EPpy Award in 2008. MPR's newsroom is known for its Public Insight Network, a database of citizen sources who contribute their expertise on a wide array of topics. The Public Insight Network grew to 20,000 regional members in 2007, and has been recognized as a potential antidote to the challenges currently facing commercial news outlets, such as lack of diversity amongst journalistic staff.

As of 2008, 27 transmitters carry MPR's News and Information service. The Twin Cities flagship station for news and information is KNOW 91.1 FM.


MPR NewsQ is a non-profit news website created by the individuals at Minnesota Public Radio. This online news source covers issues that affect the state and provides Minnesotans with high-quality journalism that dives deep into politics, business, education, health, environment and the economy. MPR NewsQ offers headline news, video, blogs, audio and multiple ways for readers to become involved in the news-making process. MPR NewsQ is Minnesota’s online source for news that matters.

Classical music

Like its news and information service, MPR's classical music service is distributed via a statewide network of 37 stations. MPR's classical music library consists of over 50,000 compact discs.

MPR's classical music service features several online initiatives, such as the popular "Classical Love Notes," which allow listeners to send romantic classical music selected by MPR on-air hosts to their loved ones.

In the fall of 2006, MPR's classical music service reached an all-time listener high with over 375,000 weekly listeners.

There are 27 transmitters broadcasting the classical music service, including one station in Sun Valley, Idaho. The network's flagship station is KSJN 99.5 FM in the Twin Cities.

The Current

MPR's third service, 89.3 The Current, debuted on January 24, 2005, and airs a free-form eclectic music format.

While The Current's on-air hosts select much of the music that is played, listeners are invited to select 100% of the day's music playlist during a weekly program known as Radio Free Current.

Several people on The Current's initial staff are well known in the area for previous work at stations that highlight music from Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Many of the staffers and on-air personalities came from other similar stations, such as the University of Minnesota's KUOM, community-oriented KFAI, and commercial alternative rock outlets REV 105 and Cincinnati, Ohio's

Programming on The Current is mostly locally-produced, including Musicheads with Bill DeVille. The Current also airs nationally-produced shows such as Sound Opinions with Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot and American Routes with Nick Spitzer. In July 2007, The Current created a one-hour program of music hosted by Mark Wheat called "The Current Rotation." The program airs exclusively on WNYE 91.5 FM in New York.[2]

The Current is carried on four transmitters, serving a majority of the state's population. The main transmitter is KCMP 89.3 FM, licensed to Northfield on the southeastern periphery of the Twin Cities, though the signal covers most of the metro area. A lower-power station, KMSE on 88.7 FM, serves Rochester and southeastern Minnesota, and KCMP translators serve Hinckley, Minnesota on 97.5 FM, and Mankato, Minnesota on 95.3 FM.[3] In addition, the station is broadcast on a HD Radio sideband channel to listeners of KPCC in Los Angeles. The Current also streams online at in a variety of formats.

Additional services

Subsidiary Communications Authority (SCA's) are used to transmit a Minnesota version of the Radio Talking Book Network to disabled listeners around the state, in cooperation with Minnesota State Services for the Blind. MPR also serves as the radio backbone for the radio portion of the state's Emergency Broadcasting System, and as the backbone for the state's AMBER Alert System.

Plans are in place to add the digital HD Radio system across all of MPR's transmitters, with rollout likely to happen in 2005. Special receivers are required to decode these broadcasts. They will enable the main channel on each frequency to be broadcast with digital quality and to reduce the multipath interference that sometimes affects FM analog broadcasting. This move will also make additional digital channels possible.


Minnesota Public Radio regional programs:


American Public Media programs heard on Minnesota Public Radio:


Other programs heard on Minnesota Public Radio:


Founded in January 1967, Minnesota Public Radio began as a single signal station broadcasting out of Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. The Director of Broadcasting for the station was William H. Kling, a graduate of Saint John's. Forty-one years later, Kling remains the president and CEO of MPR.[1] The station went through a series a name changes, first becoming Saint John's University Broadcasting, then Minnesota Educational Radio, and finally Minnesota Public Radio.[4]

In 1969 and 1970, MPR assisted in the formation of National Public Radio as a founding member of the organization.

In 1974, MPR began live broadcasting of Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, one of the best-known programs on public radio.

In 1980, MPR originated the Peabody Award-winning show, Saint Paul Sunday, which went national via syndication in 1981.

In 1983, MPR assisted in the formation of American Public Radio (now known as Public Radio International).

In 1991, MPR began offering a full-time classical music service after purchasing WLOL (99.5 FM) in the Twin Cities.

In 2000, MPR acquired Marketplace Productions, which produces Marketplace, "Marketplace Morning Report" and "Marketplace Money" from studios in Los Angeles, in association with the University of Southern California. Also in 2000, MPR founded Southern California Public Radio, which entered into a public service operating agreement with Pasadena City College for the operation of KPCC in Pasadena, California.

In 2004, MPR announced it would buy the classical music station operated by St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. WCAL (89.3 FM) (and a repeater station, KMSE near Rochester), were sold in a deal valued at $10.5 million, which was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 2004.

In 2005, WCAL was transformed into MPR's third service, 89.3 The Current.

In 2008, a WCAL advocate group took St. Olaf College to court for breach of trust for selling the radio station. (A June 2008 judge's opinion described the station as a charitable trust and not the college's property to freely dispose with. [1])) MPR's General Counsel and three attorneys took part in the proceedings.[2]) The case is ongoing.

Today, MPR serves a regional audience of 850,000 listeners through 37 stations presenting three broadcast network services.


Minnesota Public Radio is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization and relies on contributions from listeners, foundations, educational partners and corporations for its general operations. It also receives support through underwriting on the air and on the Web.

Listener contributions, corporations, foundations and educational partners account for approximately 60 percent of MPR’s total budget. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (8 percent). The State of Minnesota provides modest capital grants to upgrade infrastructure and equipment in greater Minnesota, but does not provide operating funding to the organization. MPR also receives operating funding through the sale of on-air and online underwriting.

Like other large nonprofit organizations with similar business models, additional funding for MPR comes from the for-profit Greenspring Media, a subsidiary of the parent nonprofit American Public Media Group (APMG), through sales of the magazine Minnesota Monthly and other ventures. APMG also owns and operates the Lake Wobegon USA store at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. and the Pretty Good Goods catalog. The for-profit Rivertown Trading Company, once a subsidiary of MPR’s parent company, was sold in 1998 for $124 million. Profits went toward creating MPR’s endowment, a percentage of which contributes to MPR's overall annual budget.

Broadcast coverage

Minnesota Public Radio broadcasts on 37 stations that serve Minnesota and its neighboring communities and 26 translators providing additional local coverage. Stations are located in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, and Idaho.

Most areas are served by both a classical music station and a news and information station. One location is covered by a single station that combines both services. Two locations are served by a classical music station, a news and information station, and The Current.

MPR's newest service, The Current, is currently only available in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Hinckley.

Minnesota Public Radio also broadcasts all three of its services—News, Classical and The Current—on HD Radio in several communities throughout the state of Minnesota. In the Twin Cities, MPR multicasts Classical 24, BBC News and More, a Spanish language service from Radio Netherlands called Ahora, and Wonderground Radio, a service specifically geared towards children.

Market Frequency/Call sign Power (Class) Service
Albert Lea 103.9 K280EB (KGAC) 10W (D) Classical
Alexandria 90.9 K215BL (KSJR) 18 (D) Classical
Appleton 88.5 KNCM 34,000 (C2) News
91.3 KRSU 75,000 (C) Classical
Austin 90.1 KNSE 6,000 (A) News
103.3 K277AD (KLSE) 100 (D) Classical
Bemidji 91.3 KNBJ 65,000 (C1) News
88.5 KCRB 83,000 (C1) Classical
Brainerd 88.3 KBPN 5,000 (C3) News
90.7 KBPR 34,000 (C1) Classical
Decorah, IA 88.7 KLNI 100 (A) News
89.5 KLCD 100 (A) Classical
Duluth-Superior 100.5 WSCN 97,000 (C1) News
92.9 WSCD-FM 70,000 (C1) Classical
Ely 101.7 W269AC (WSCN) 31 (D) News
89.5 K208CR (WIRR) 23 (D) Classical
Fargo-Moorhead 90.3 KCCD 100,000 (C1) News
91.1 KCCM-FM 67,000 (C1) Classical
Fergus Falls 91.5 KNWF 2,700 (A) News
89.7 KCMF 2,700 (A) Classical
Grand Forks-Thief River Falls 102.7 KNTN 100,000 (C1) News
91.5 KQMN 84,000 (C1) Classical
Grand Marais 89.7 WLSN 6,000 (C3) News
88.7 WMLS 6,000 (C3) Classical
Grand Rapids 107.3 K297AD (WSCN) 250 (D) News
104.1 K281AB (KCRB) 250 (D) Classical
Hibbing-Virginia 92.5 WIRN 26,000 (C2) News
90.9 WIRR 21,000 (C2) Classical
Hinckley 93.1 W226AY (WSCN)
106.5 W293AV (KNOW)
55 (D) News
104.5 K283AN (KSJN) 55 (D) Classical
97.5 W248AS (KCMP) 55 (D) The Current
Houghton, MI 91.1 WGGL-FM 100,000 (C1) Mixed news/classical
92.7 W224AO (WGGL) 20 (D) Mixed news/classical
International Falls 88.1 K201CN (KNBJ) 7 (D) News
97.7 K249BK (KCRB) 8 (D) Classical
La Crosse-La Crescent 91.1 KXLC 230 (A) News
88.1 K201BW (KLSE) 18 (D) Classical
Mankato-St. Peter 91.5 KNGA 8,500 (C2) News
90.5 KGAC 75,000 (C1) Classical
95.3 K237EX (KCMP) 5 (D) The Current
93.5 K228XN (KCMP) 60 (D) The Current
Minneapolis-St. Paul 91.1 KNOW 100,000 (C) News
99.5 KSJN 100,000 (C) Classical
89.3 KCMP 100,000 (C1) The Current
Owatonna 103.9 K280EC (KNGA) 205 (D) News
105.7 K289AE (KGAC) 170 (D) Classical
Rochester 90.7 KZSE 1,100 (C3) News
91.7 KLSE 94,000 (C1) Classical
88.7 KMSE 250 (A) The Current
Roseau 103.5 KRXW 48,000 (C2) News
100.7 K264AR (KQMN) 37 (D) Classical
St. Cloud-Collegeville 88.9 KNSR 100,000 (C1) News
90.1 KSJR-FM 100,000 (C1) Classical
Sioux Falls, SD 89.1 KAUR 680 (A) News
88.1 KRSD 2,000 (A) Classical
Sun Valley, ID 91.9 KWRV 100 (A) Classical
Winona 107.3 K297AH (KZSE) 95 (D) News
101.9 K270AB (KLSE) 8 (D) Classical
Worthington-Marshall 91.7 KNSW 99,000 (C1) News
89.3 KRSW 100,000 (C1) Classical

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b "The Business of National Public Radio". New York Times. April 5, 1999. Retrieved 2009-01-24. "Begun in 1966 by William H. Kling at a small, troubled college station, the St. Paul-based organization is now a $32 million, six-state media empire of 30 stations with a $110 million endowment."  
  2. ^ MPR: Programs: The Current Rotation with Mark Wheat
  3. ^
  4. ^ Founding Minnesota Public Radio — Saint John's of Collegeville


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