One of the last of 89.3 the Current’s original DJs is saying goodbye to the station. Or maybe it’s “cheerio!”
Mark Wheat, the resident Brit at Minnesota Public Radio’s alternative music station, announced Tuesday that he has left the station for good to pursue other interests. His last on-air shift was his usual 6-10 p.m. weeknight slot on Friday, when he left to go on vacation.
MPR recently began offering buyouts and furloughing some of its employees as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic set in, but it’s not clear if Wheat’s decision is related to those cuts.
“After trying to balance other personal and professional goals with my MPR career for the last few years, I’ve decided, given the times we’re in, to take the plunge and follow my dreams,” Wheat said in a statement posted on the Current’s website.
“The company has been extremely supportive during this period of transition, and we agreed on all the logistics and timing. Sorry about the abrupt departure from the airwaves.”
Wheat was one of the first DJs – along with remaining o.g.’s Mary Lucia, Jill Riley and Bill DeVille – to be there when the Current first hit the airwaves in January 2005. He came to the station after about a decade serving as advisor at University of Minnesota student station Radio K (KUOM), where he built up a lot of goodwill within the Twin Cities music community.
The Current’s managing director David Safar, also a Radio K alumnus, added to Wheat’s statement, “We will miss his voice in the evenings and his passion for the music.”
“He has been a champion of Minnesota music for decades, a musical companion to countless listeners, and a friend and mentor. Please join me in thanking Mark for 15 years at the Current as we wish him the best on the next chapter of his journey.”
No word yet on what Wheat’s post-MPR plans are. Let’s hope it still involves hearing his Cambridge, England-inflected pronunciations of “contribute” and “Messersmith.”