The Twin Cities' first black radio station just a got power boost.
KMOJ-FM (89.9 FM) will soon be able to expand its coverage area and more than double its potential listeners from about 600,000 to 1.7 million.
The station announced Wednesday that the Federal Communications Commission approved its request to increase its signal strength from 1,000 to 1,400 watts. It also will raise the height of its antenna.
The changes will allow the Minneapolis-based station to reach listeners as far-flung as Hudson, Lino Lakes and Burnsville.
"Our focus now is the Twin Cities," said station general manager Kelvin Quarles. "But we just have not been able, due to lack of coverage, to really, really service the Twin Cities like we want. ... Now we'll be able to deliver our message to folks in St. Paul and Woodbury and other suburban areas that we haven't been able to reach."
The station will also switch to high-definition broadcasting after the improvements are scheduled to be completed in fall 2009.
The changes bode well for a station that has overcome numerous troubles during its 30-year history, including signal problems and management crises. In 2007, the station was homeless for a time after being forced to move from a building that was falling apart.
The station, which has been in a temporary location in Minneapolis' Uptown area, will return to its roots in north Minneapolis in a newly renovated building by fall 2009.
"As a community station, it gets us back into the heart of where our core listeners are," Quarles said.
The next task for the noncommercial radio station will be to raise about $200,000 to purchase new equipment, he said.
MARY LYNN SMITH