A new radio station that is literally a homegrown operation hits the airwaves Friday around Minneapolis.

The KRSM Southside Media Project (98.9 FM) will air 24/7 from the Phillips neighborhood in south Minneapolis with a 3- to 5-mile broadcast range and programming centered on minority communities, particularly American Indian and Spanish-speaking residents.

An idea that grew out of meetings between community leaders eight years ago, the station was finally made possible via the Community Media Initiative by Pillsbury United Communities and the FCC’s Low Power FM (LPFM) initiative. It can also be streamed online at KRSMradio.org.

The station’s manager and its only paid employee, Brendan Kelly, is well-known in the hip-hop community as BK-One, a former DJ for rap star Brother Ali and alum from the Rhymesayers Entertainment camp. He helped recruit dozens of community representatives and aspiring broadcasters from the area to create a station that he said “is literally like a walk through the neighborhood.”

KRSM will broadcast via a small new radio tower from the Waite House community center, 2323 11th Av. S., a hub for after-school programs and informal education programs.

“We think the smaller [broadcasting] range is empowering, not limiting, because it means we can zero in on exactly who we’re trying to reach and represent,” said Kelly, a South Sider who took to broadcasting 20 years ago at the University of Minnesota’s student station Radio K.

Of course, even one small section of south Minneapolis includes residents from dozens of countries and a number of ethnic and religious backgrounds, the kind of diversity the station intends to represent, Kelly said.

One of the area’s core communities is the Little Earth housing division for American Indians, whose members were heavily involved in the creation of KRSM and will host seven shows at first, covering music, news, cooking and healthy living — by far the most programming for indigenous listeners on the local radio dial.

Kelly also said the station would air the first local Haitian show and programs in six different languages, and will aim for an equal number of men and women broadcasters. He said he hopes the station will immediately set itself apart from even KFAI-FM (90.3 and 106.7 FM), a mainstay of diverse community radio since 1978. Like KFAI, the new station will balance music and talk programming.

“There will certainly be similarities with KFAI,” Kelly said, “but in our view we’ll be complementing and not competing with what they do. We think there should be way more radio stations like this around the country.”

The LPFM initiative covering stations such as KRSM was created in January 2000, part of an FCC effort to balance corporate monopolization of the country’s FM dials.

 

@ChrisRstrib