Like the Minnesota Twins’ starting-pitching rotation in recent seasons, the Pohlad family’s Northern Lights Broadcasting has had trouble finding a formula that sticks on the 96.3 FM frequency. On Monday, the company debuted the station’s third different music format in five years.
After three years of playing mainstream middle-age rock as K-TWIN, the station has been renamed Go 96.3 FM with a playlist that skews to younger rock audiences and falls somewhere between Cities 97 and 89.3 the Current among local formats.
In addition to the Twins game broadcasts — which will remain the station’s centerpiece, the station announced a more modern mix that will include Walk the Moon, Glass Animals, Beck, Arctic Monkeys, Hozier, the Roots and Twin Cities rapper Lizzo.
The first track spun after the 3 p.m. changeover was “Long Way Down” by laptop pop artist Robert DeLong, soon followed by modern alt-rockers Cage the Elephant, ’90s hip-hop stars Arrested Development and hipster rock god Jack White.
No on-air personalities or commercials will be heard on the station during January. However, come February there will be DJs and a new schedule, said Joe Pohlad, executive vice president of Northern Lights Broadcasting.
K-TWIN “did not have enough of an identity musically,” admitted Pohlad, grandson of late Twins owner Carl Pohlad. “Go 96.3 is going to be different.”
Those words may ring bogus to frequent dial spinners since, say, Walk the Moon and Hozier are already played on three or four Twin Cities FM stations. But Pohlad stressed that the catalog will run deep at the station, with 10,000-plus songs already lined up. He also promised to put more Minnesota music in steady rotation and occasional hip-hop songs.
“Really, it will be more up to the on-air personalities to choose what they play,” he said, naming another way Go 96.3 will differ from most of its competitors.
The old K-TWIN format went off the air on New Year’s Eve, ending with two fitting farewell tunes by local bands, High on Stress’ “Leaving Minneapolis” and Semisonic’s “Closing Time.”
The station last made a format change just after New Year’s Day in 2012, when it debuted K-TWIN’s middle-of-the-road mix of ’70s to ’90s rock staples by U2 and Fleetwood Mac and new tracks by Imagine Dragons and Foo Fighters