BY KAHLA STATEMA | the Statesman KUMD 103.3 FM has been Duluth’s leading alternative radio station for the past 59 years. The station plays a variety of genres, from local music to hip-hop, indie rock, reggae, country and more.
Since 2005, the Current 89.3 FM has broadcasted out of the Twin Cities, providing the metro population with authentic new music that ranges from local artists like Lizzo to legends like David Bowie.
Starting on Monday, Feb. 1, the Current will also be broadcasting in Duluth on 90.9 FM, bringing a new variety station to music lovers in the Northland.
“We’ll be providing an opportunity to Duluth musician’s to be heard in the Twin Cities,” Patty Mester, Minnesota Public Radio’s (MPR) Duluth Regional Manager, said.
This decision didn’t come as much of a surprise. Duluthians have been talking about the Current coming to Duluth for the past seven years.
Duluth is the home of artists like Trampled by Turtles, Sarah Krueger, Charlie Parr and Low. Every spring the Homegrown Music Festival takes place for an entire week in Duluth, showcasing the local music scene.
“Is there a need for two stations to play similar music in Duluth? I think there is. We can’t serve everyone,” Vicki Jacoba, KUMD’s station manager, said.
Although there are some similarities between KUMD and the Current, the two stations are more different than they are the same.
“I think they’ll compliment each other rather than compete with each other,” Mester said.
While the Current’s audience is marketed for anyone to listen to, KUMD has their focus on students at UMD.
“KUMD’s the Basement is by students for students. It’s a college radio station,” Jacoba said. “Some viewers will probably leave and then they’ll come back. That’s just how it is.”
“The Current has always had a special relationship with Duluth – its vibrant music scene and the community of music-loving fans,” Jim McGuinn, program director for the Current, said in a news release on Wednesday, Jan. 20.
“Duluth is at the center of northern Minnesota’s burgeoning music scene and we want to support what makes the music community thrive – whether it means giving a band their first spin on the radio, promoting their first gig or helping spread the word for their first tour.”
The Current 90.9 FM in Duluth will be the same programming as the Current 89.3 FM in St. Paul. Unlike KUMD, it is not specifically tailored to Duluth.
“We have the same needs we had before they came, which is to serve our community,” Jacoba said.
According to Jacoba, the Current tends to repeat some of their music while KUMD likes to keep a constant cycle of new music coming in and out of the station.
“We’ll be sharing the audience,” Jacoba said. “We’re not worried about it, but we’re not ignoring it either. Competition is good for everyone.”