Eighteen months later, The Current is the local ratings success story.
In April, the station topped its nearest commercial sound-alike, Cities 97. By June, that 1.5 had nearly tripled to 4.3, good for ninth overall. Among 25-to-54-year-olds — precisely the younger listeners MPR coveted when when it opened the station in 2005 — The Current ranks fifth, eclipsing JACK-FM, 93X, KOOL108 and bearing down on longtime powerhouse KDWB. Among 18-to-34-year-olds, the station is sixth.
What’s gotten into the scenesters? Theories include consistent (but not too consistent) programming, a relatively obscure band’s Grammy and even crappy seasons by Brett Favre and Joe Mauer.
Inside MPR’s decidedly non-scruffy walls, program director Jim McGuinn’s office is charmingly archaic: magazines, tour posters, an acoustic guitar and a boom box. A musician and veteran of public and commercial radio, the lanky, T-shirted McGuinn is steely-eyed about the business, but retains a puppy-dog enthusiasm for the music.
As one fan told me, “I think Jim McGuinn has been an extremely positive influence on the station. He's reduced the sad-bastard piano ballads by at least 65 percent since 2007-08.”
The Current was designed to be “more taste-based and hunch-based,” according to former MPR exec Sarah Lutman. From the beginning, the station’s tastemaking was potent enough to pack local clubs and alter sales charts, a phenomenon City Pages music critic Andrea Swensson dubbed “The Current Effect.”
But even though the station was fulfilling its mission to, in Lutman's words, “be a music service that has a very, very strong community focus and an energizing effect on the civic engagement of the next generation,” its ratings still sucked.
McGuinn hit town after the Current’s playlist underwent a major upheaval — from an “antiformat” where DJs literally brought in favorite CDs from their collections, to a tighter, consultant-advised format that caused one part-time host to quit over the moroseness.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Non-Com KCMP Ratings Soar In Twin Cities
From David Brauer, minnpost,com
Posted by Tom Benson at 12:07 AM