The Twin Cities’ most prominent hip-hop radio station and its sister pop-rock outlet will soon go off the air — casualties of a decision by the Pohlad family to abandon the radio business.
Go 95.3 and Go 96.3 FM — each attuned to young listeners over the past half-decade — are being sold and will change to new formats after the new year.
“We have decided to exit the radio business,” said Ben Hawn, chief of staff of Pohlad Cos.
Exactly what those new formats will be has not been confirmed, but they will likely be related to Christian music. The stations’ buyer, Educational Media Foundation (EMF), is a Rocklin, Calif.-based nonprofit that runs the contemporary Christian music radio networks K-LOVE and Air1.
Both of the Go stations will go on airing their playlists without on-air talent through December.
“The difficult decision to sell the station has been made,” representatives for the stations posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. “Sometime in early 2021 a new format will be airing on this frequency. … We are incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished and are forever grateful of your support.”
The rock outlet Go 96.3 successfully drew teen listeners with slick, poppy bands such as Twenty-One Pilots and Imagine Dragons.
The hip-hop station Go 95.3 was born under skepticism in 2016 — after the Pohlad Cos. had previously tried a much more formulaic hip-hop format in the decade prior.
Yet Go 95.3 went on to help break acts such as G-Eazy, Travis Scott, Chance the Rapper and the late Mac Miller in the Twin Cities while also embracing local talent such as Atmosphere, Doomtree and Lizzo.
“This has been the most incredible experience of my life,” the station’s flagship DJ Peter Parker (Peter Mazalewski) said when reached for comment Tuesday night.
“We did so much good under pretty weird circumstances with a small signal but a great community,” he said. “I don’t know if we could have done this anywhere else.”
Lizzo’s concert DJ and hype-woman Sophia Eris was also among Go 95.3’s on-air cast, as was veteran turntablist DJ D Mil (David Miller) of St. Paul’s SP Style crew.
“Being from east St. Paul, I can honestly say I am very thankful the way the Twin Cities embraced Go and the afternoon drive with Mr. Peter Parker and myself,” Miller said.
Neither staffer was very surprised by the news. Once WCCO Radio (830 AM) began broadcasting Twins games again in 2018 after a poorly received move to Go 96.3, the Pohlad family — which also own the Twins — began openly shopping the stations.
That quest undoubtedly became more pressing this year during the pandemic with the abbreviated, crowdless baseball season and the nationwide slump in new auto sales, another business the Pohlad family is in.
Go executives did not yet respond to requests for comment, nor did representatives from the stations’ new ownership. The frequencies used to operate as Christian stations before the Pohlads took them over.
The end of Go 95.3 brings back a void in modern hip-hop on the Twin Cities radio dial, though iHeartMedia-owned low-watt station Hot 102.5 has changed to a more modern automated rap playlist, and public stations 89.3 the Current and KMOJ 89.9 spin new rap tracks intermittently.
The demise of both Go stations can be at least partly attributed to the broader decline of FM radio on the whole among younger listeners, who now often turn to YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify and other streaming services to hear new music.