|Type||Public radio network|
|Headquarters||St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.|
|Affiliations||National Public Radio|
American Public Media
Public Radio Exchange
|Owner||American Public Media Group|
|Duchesne Drew, President|
|Saint John's University Broadcasting|
Minnesota Educational Radio
Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), is a public radio network for the state of Minnesota. With its three services, News & Information, YourClassical MPR and The Current, MPR operates a 46-station regional radio network in the upper Midwest.
MPR has won more than 875 journalism awards, including the Peabody Award, both the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting award of the same name, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton Award. As of September 2011, MPR was equal with WNYC for most listener support for a public radio network, and had the highest level of recurring monthly donors of any public radio network in the United States.
MPR also produces and distributes national public radio programming via its subsidiary American Public Media, which is the second-largest producer of public radio programming in the United States, and largest producer and distributor of classical music programming.
Minnesota Public Radio began on January 22, 1967, when KSJR-FM first signed on from the campus of Saint John's University in Collegeville, just outside St. Cloud. Colman Barry, then president of Saint John's, saw promise in the then-relatively-new technology of FM radio, and believed radio was an appropriate extension of Saint John's cultural and artistic functions to the broader community. He hired a 23-year-old graduate of St. John's, William H. Kling, as director of broadcasting.
It soon became apparent that St. Cloud and surrounding Stearns County did not have enough listeners for the station to be viable, so Kling more than tripled KSJR's power in hopes of reaching the Twin Cities. However, it only provided grade B coverage to Minneapolis and the western portion of the metro, and completely missed St. Paul and the east. Realizing that the station needed to cover the Twin Cities to have a realistic chance of survival, St. John's started KSJN, a low-powered repeater station for the Twin Cities, in 1968. The operation was awash in debt, and by 1969, St. John's realized it did not have the adequate financial or personnel resources to operate a full-fledged noncommercial radio station. With Barry's support, Saint John's transferred KSJR/KSJN's assets to a community corporation, St. John's University Broadcasting. This corporation later changed its name to Minnesota Educational Radio, and finally Minnesota Public Radio. Kling led MPR as president and CEO for 44 years, before retiring in 2011.
MPR was a charter member of National Public Radio in 1971, and had helped lay the groundwork for forming that organization during 1969 and 1970. In 1971, the network moved its operations from Collegeville to St. Paul, funded in part with a news programming "demonstration" grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. New studios were built and KSJN became the flagship station. During the 1970s, additional stations were added and the network expanded across Minnesota. It was during this period KSJN's news department won numerous regional and national awards and became one of the region's most highly-regarded news operations.
In 1974, MPR began live broadcasting of Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, one of the best-known programs on public radio, from the Park Square Theatre in Saint Paul. In the early days of the program, members of the production staff were said to have to work hard to fill the theatre seats, sometimes bringing in radio station staff and urging passersby to come into the theatre from the street outside. In 1980, MPR originated the Peabody Award-winning show, Saint Paul Sunday, which went national via syndication in 1981.
MPR assisted in 1983 with the formation of American Public Radio - now known as Public Radio International, which merged with Public Radio Exchange in 2019.
Originally, MPR played a mix of classical music and NPR news/talk programming. However, as NPR expanded its offerings, Kling made plans to split MPR into separate classical and news/talk networks. MPR sought to buy a second FM frequency in the Twin Cities from the late 1970s onward. As a fallback, in 1980 it bought WLOL (AM 1330), one of the oldest stations in Minnesota, and changed its calls to KSJN (AM), a simulcast of KSJN-FM. In 1989, AM 1330 changed its calls to KNOW and began airing an expanded lineup of NPR programming. In 1991, MPR bought WLOL-FM, AM 1330's former FM sister, allowing it to finally split its services into two networks. The KNOW call letters and intellectual unit, including the NPR news and talk format, moved to KSJN's old frequency of 91.1. The KSJN calls moved to WLOL-FM's former frequency of 99.5, which began playing classical music full-time.
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, in 2000. That same year, MPR founded Southern California Public Radio, which entered into a public service operating agreement with Pasadena City College to run KPCC in Pasadena, California. In 2004, MPR began distributing its own shows through American Public Media, leaving PRI; APM was the third radio network in the U.S. to have received founding support from MPR, probably an unmatched record for an American radio station or network.
In 2004, MPR announced it would buy WCAL (89.3 FM), the classical music station operated by St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. WCAL (and a repeater station, KMSE in Rochester), were sold in a deal valued at $10.5 million, which was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 2004. The next year, following the acquisition by MPR, WCAL changed its call letters to KCMP and was transformed into MPR's third service, "The Current".
In 2008, a WCAL advocacy group took St. Olaf College to court for breach of trust in selling the radio station. (A June 2008 judge's opinion described the station as a charitable trust and therefore, not the college's property to freely dispose of.  MPR's General Counsel and three attorneys took part in the proceedings. However, a 2009 court found in favor of MPR due to its ruling that the statute of limitations on the matter had expired, nullifying the advocacy group's standing.)
Today, MPR serves a regional audience of one million listeners through 43 stations presenting three broadcast network services.
With the addition of later stations, MPR originally offered a mix of classical music and NPR news/talk programming on a single service. Beginning in 1991, 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 and Rochester areas, provided the opportunity to launch another music service, "The Current." This third service has gradually expanded to most of southern eastern Minnesota.
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 140,000 sources in 2011 and partners with other news media, journalism schools, foundations and community groups.
As of 2022, 24 full power stations carry MPR's News and Information service and various translator signals around the state offer additional coverage.
MPRNews.org is a non-profit news website maintained by MPR. This online news source covers issues that affect the state including politics, business, education, health, environment and the economy. MPR News offers headline news, video, blogs, audio and multiple ways for readers to become involved in the news-making process.
MPR's classical music network is carried on 18 full power stations and various translators offer additional coverage. The flagship station is KSJN (99.5 FM) in the Twin Cities. In April 2021, the station rebranded as YourClassical MPR, aligning it with the umbrella branding used for American Public Media's digital classical music platforms and nationally-distributed programming. Most of the network's schedule is a simulcast of APM's Classical 24 network, although a statewide morning show airs Monday-Friday, an afternoon drive request show airs Friday and the network airs various specials and live broadcasts. The HD 2 signal of KSJN-FM offers a 24 hour feed of the Classical 24 network.
On September 10, 2020, Garrett McQueen, the host of Classical 24's Music Through the Night, and MPR's only African-American classical music host, was terminated by American Public Media for "not following programming guidelines." According to McQueen, he was "given two warnings – one of which was about his need to improve communication and the other warning was for switching out scheduled music to play pieces he felt were more appropriate to the moment and more diverse."
MPR's third service, The Current, debuted on January 24, 2005, and airs an adult album alternative format.
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 WOXY.com.
Programming on The Current is mostly locally produced. The flagship station 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 (88.7 FM), serves Rochester and southeastern Minnesota, KZIO (104.3 FM) serves the Duluth area, and translators offer additional coverage in other parts of the state. The service is also carried as an HD service on several of MPR's full power stations. KPCC, the NPR affiliate in Los Angeles operated by MPR's parent company, APM, carries The Current on its HD 2 signal. The Current also streams online in a variety of formats.
Minnesota Public Radio also programs several other music services, all available online, with a few offered on HD Radio in the Twin Cities area.
Carbon Sound is the newest MPR service, focused on R&B music and Black artists. In addition to streaming online, it is available on the HD 2 subchannel of KCMP in the Twin Cities.
Local Current is a service programmed by the staff of The Current, and features music from Minnesota artists. The service streams online.
Purple Current is an R&B and Hip-Hop service inspired by Prince.
Rock The Cradle is also programmed by personnel at The Current, and airs a variation of their AAA format, with music geared toward children and parents. It is available via a separate webstream.
Radio Heartland features an eclectic mix of acoustic, Americana and roots music. The service can be found on the HD2 subchannel of KNOW-FM and also via a separate webcast. KNOW-FM also features an HD3 subchannel consisting of programming from NPR and the BBC World Service. The signal carries additional hours of Morning Edition and All Things Considered not available on KNOW's main signal. Several other NPR and APM shows air on the service.
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 Alert System, and as the backbone for the state's AMBER Alert System.
MPR owns WGGL, the NPR affiliate serving Houghton, Michigan. The station airs a combination of NPR News, BBC World Service and Classical 24 programming. While MPR supplies weather updates, local MPR programming and news updates are not aired on the station. KWRV in Sun Valley, Idaho, is also owned by MPR and airs a 24-hour classical music format, supplied by APM's Classical 24. 5-minute NPR news updates are inserted during the morning and afternoon drives. Like the station in Michigan, MPR airs local weather to KWRV, but the station strictly airs national programming.
Minnesota Public Radio regional programs:
American Public Media programs heard on Minnesota Public Radio:
Other programs heard on Minnesota Public Radio:
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. 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.
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.
Minnesota Public Radio broadcasts on several dozen stations that serve Minnesota and its neighboring communities and various translators providing additional local coverage. Stations are located in Minnesota, South Dakota (Brookings and Sioux Falls), Michigan (Houghton), Iowa (Decorah), and Idaho (Sun Valley). MPR also operates KPCC in Pasadena, California.
Most areas are served by both a classical music station and a news and information station. Duluth and Rochester are served by a classical music station, a news and information station, and The Current.
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, an additional news service and Purple Current.
Public Insight Network
Public Insight Network (PIN) a newsgathering and networking initiative founded by MPR, was created by American Public Media in 2003. Through the PIN initiative, a community of citizens were able to consign their insights, personal experiences, and first-hand knowledge to journalists they trusted. This shared knowledge could then be included in printed materials, broadcast on live news, or shared on the Internet. PIN contributed to national shows such as Marketplace.
- Independent Public Radio (another public radio network in Minnesota, known as AMPERS)
- Peabody Awards for MPR. Retrieved September 2014.
- "Workform: Peabody Awards Collection Archives". dbs.galib.uga.edu.
- Arganbright, Valerie (September 2011). "Plugged In: You Create a Legacy Member Letter" (PDF). Minnesota Monthly. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- American Public Media website
- Profile of Colman Barry at MPR's 50th anniversary site
- Adelson, Andrea (April 5, 1999). "The Business of National Public Radio". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
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.
- Founding Minnesota Public Radio — Saint John's of Collegeville Archived June 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- Van Denburg, Hart (September 10, 2010). "Bill Kling retires: Live blogging". City Pages. Archived from the original on January 20, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
- "MPR to rep its own shows, mainstays of PRI catalog | Current". Retrieved March 11, 2019.
- "Minnesota Public Radio". americanarchive.org. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
- Minnesota Public Radio Receives First Knight Innovation EPpy Award. Archived June 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. May 24, 2007.
- "Minnesota Public Radio, American Public Media Unite Regional, National Classical Brands Under 'YourClassical' Brand". All Access. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
- "American Public Media Combines Classical MPR And National Programming Under YourClassical Brand". RadioInsight. April 19, 2021. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
- "MPR's only Black classical host Garrett McQueen fired after being taken off air". MPR News. September 10, 2020. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
- Wyllie, Julian (September 11, 2020). "Garrett McQueen exits Classical 24 after disagreements over changing playlists". Current. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
- "The Current – Great Music Lives Here". minnesota.publicradio.org.
- Abraham, John (August 21, 2014). "Scientist in focus – meteorologist and climate communicator Paul Huttner". The Guardian. Retrieved April 22, 2023.
- "Minnesota Public Radio Airing Weekly 'Climate Cast' Program". Yale Climate Connection. February 6, 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2023.
- Minnesota Public Radio (August 6, 2014). "Regional network map with coverage areas" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 18, 2015. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
- "Public Insight Network". American Public Media. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
- Minnesota Public Radio Web site, including history and list of stations
- Terry Fiedler and Deborah Caulfield Rybak (October 24, 2004). MPR chief 'sings his own song' in creating a national powerhouse. Star Tribune. Retrieved November 18, 2004.
- MPRNewsQ – Online news service launched in 2009.