In a concerted effort to bring the voices and concerns of Black Americans to the Twin Cities airwaves — though it’s not clear if any local voices will actually be a part of the mix — international radio conglomerate iHeartMedia launched a news station called the Black Information Network (BIN) this week at 93.3 FM on the radio dial.
Minneapolis/St. Paul is one of 21 markets around the country to get a BIN, described as “the first and only 24/7 national and local all-news audio service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective,” according to a news release from iHeartMedia.
Locally, it takes over the 99-watt FM signal that used to host the playlist-like rock station Alt 93.3. Thus, instead of old 311 songs, listeners will now get the latest 411 — and 911 — on Black issues around the clock.
A sampling of the programming Wednesday included reports on Atlanta police shooting victim Rayshard Brooks, Kentucky’s Senate primary, reparations for slavery and Beyoncé’s upcoming album as well as a lengthy history lesson on the Freedom Riders of the 1960s civil rights movement.
The only locally produced content heard Wednesday was traffic reports from the local iHeartMedia offices, also home to pop station KDWB, rock outlet Cities 97, oldies favorite KOOL-108 and country channel K102 — not exactly a strong representation of racial diversity in the Twin Cities. Requests for more details on how the content might evolve locally were not returned by the company.
An impressive roster of companies have signed on as national sponsors of BIN, including Bank of America, Verizon and Sony Pictures. The network is headed by a Black iHeartMedia executive, Tony Coles, formerly a vice president of programming in Chicago.
The Twin Cities already has its own Black-focused community radio station, KMOJ 89.9 FM, which first hit the airwaves in 1976 and counts iHeartMedia competitor Hubbard Broadcasting as one of its supporting partners.