Tuning in to the station formerly known as K-TWIN during the first few days of 2015 was like listening to a calm lady dalek counting down to a relaunch shrouded in mystery. Then, at 3 pm Monday, the robocounter stepped aside and Go 96.3 went live as a pre-taped announcer promised, "A sound that is local, with truly local connections," before launching a month-long marathon of commercial-free, disc jockey-free music.
The new signal came with a new website that boasts an interesting feature. Thanks to a dynamic playlist, listeners can visit the site and leave comments, or they can hover over each song on the list and vote on it, letting 96.3's programmers know what works and what doesn't in real time. Those votes will help tailor future playlists to the listeners' collective tastes, and the Pandora-esque nature of the website hints at one of the new station's more tech-savvy approaches to survival in the modern broadcast industry. The site's companion app, which mirrors the online playlist while it streams audio and can conceivably collate relevant listener data, hints at another.
Listeners took advantage of the site's tech, posting directly to the online comments and via their own social media pages to weigh in with both pro- and con- comments about the station's new format:
With the interactive playlist, there's always a chance that pranksters could try and upvote 96.3 into an All Fallout Boy, All the Time format, but the humans on the other end of the algorithm would presumably diffuse that effort. While the voting system will definitely influence the station's programming, the extent of that influence remains to be seen. A lot remains to be seen about this station and its bid for commercial success in a market that historically kills alt rock radio. Its future is uncertain on almost all counts except for maybe one: Right now, Go 96.3 is more of a new tech startup than a new broadcaster, but it is poised to become the most popular modern rock station in the Twin Cities. During pledge drives, anyway.
Guante releases free album, video
Twin Cities hip hop artist Guante released a free/name-your-price collection of new music, remixes and spoken word performances, along with a new video, on January 1st. The 22-track 'A Love Song, A Death Rattle, A Battle Cry' features guest appearances by deM atlaS, Chastity Brown, Kristoff Krane, Big Cats, Claire de Lune, Haley Bonar and Lydia Liza, with cover art by Rogue Citizen. It serves as a showcase of his distinct blend of progressive politics, gallows humor, and storytelling prowess. The title, says Guante, is about creating work that functions on three levels: human, creative and meaningful.
"Connected to real emotions," he adds, "a little bit weird, always seeking to build something."
On his blog, Guante also writes, "If you don't know much about me or my work, it's the perfect place to start. If you've been following me, there are a few surprises." He also noted that the album is a chance to showcase some of his best work, and that his lack of traditional touring can otherwise get in the way of having something to sell that captures what he's made.
Mark Mallman has music instead of blood
Guante wasn't the only outspoken local artist to drop a new video for the new year. Mallman released a live video for 'The Man With Music Instead of Blood' as a treat for his fans and a glimpse at his eccentric stage shows.
Shot by Ian Rans, Mike Minehart and Owen Brafford at the Cedar Cultural Center in December, the video condenses much of the energy of a full Mark Mallman set into about five minutes: He climbs and jumps around his keyboard, dances all over the stage, takes off his glasses and stares down some unsuspecting audience member, plays a crazy piano solo and lyrically hints at his own supernatural origins. You know, standard Mallman stuff.
Three other videos from the Cedar have turned up on Mallman's Youtube channel since the show. 'Invincible Criminal' with Sean Anonymous and 'Tell It to the Judge' went up in late December, and 'Double Silhouette' joined 'The Man With Music Instead of Blood' online January 1st.