Barb Abney is looking for a job again. The popular Twin Cities radio DJ, who was dropped by 89.3 the Current in January 2015 and then hired two weeks later by rival upstart Go 96.3, announced Thursday morning that she had lost her post as midday host for the Pohlad-owned modern-rock station.
“Here we go again,” she said in her Facebook announcement. Reached after the news broke, Abney said, “This time I’m shocked but not devastated.”
Her firing comes after she organized and hosted an all-local promotional show for the station last Friday at First Avenue with Communist Daughter, Murder Shoes and others. Booked relatively last-minute by default, the show drew only a few hundred people, but Abney nonetheless saw it as a high note to end on.
“I was thrilled for the opportunity; I will remember it, forever,” said Abney, who made a point of promoting local bands on the air during her 1½-year stint at the station.
“I’m very proud of the local music coverage I brought to their airwaves. I’d like to think that I taught new people to pay attention to the stuff in their own backyard.”
Unlike the Current and Go’s new sister station, Go 95.3 — which is off to a respectable start in the ratings with a contemporary hip-hop format, including a heavy dosage of Minnesotans — Go 96.3 has had a harder time making local music fit its format.
Go Media brand manager Chris Rahn said the decision to let Abney go was based on numbers: “The ratings within her [time slot] were consistently not meeting the expectations of the radio station.”
Go 96.3 has struggled to gain traction in general, consistently falling behind both the Current and iHeartRadio-owned Cities 97. Compounding its difficulties, Go 96.3 doubles as the broadcaster for Minnesota Twins games. The team’s dismal season is also a drag on the station’s ratings.
Another Go 96.3 staffer in the promotions department was also let go Thursday. Rahn, however, denied rumors that more changes could be afoot, including adjustments to the music format.
“We are 100 percent committed to our modern alternative music position,” Rahn said. “Therefore, we are restructuring our promotions department to better reflect that strategy. It is always hard to make these decisions.”
A native of the Cincinnati area, Abney came to the Current in 2006 with a background in commercial FM radio, having worked at Cincinnati alt-rock station WOXY.
When the Current dropped her, loyal listeners reacted passionately. They did so again Thursday. There were hundreds of comments on her personal Facebook page soon after she posted the news, including one listener’s response, “I say we make our own radio station.”
Showing lightheartedness over the deja-vu scenario, Abney posted to her followers: “Will be happily accepting brunch and dinner offers again.”
Star Tribune arts editor Tim Campbell contributed to this report