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Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), is a public radio network for the state of Minnesota. With its three services, News & Information, YourClassical MPR and The Current, MPR operates a 46-station regional radio network in the upper Midwest.

MPR has won more than 875 journalism awards, including the Peabody Award, both the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting award of the same name, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton Award. As of September 2011, MPR was equal with WNYC for most listener support for a public radio network, and had the highest level of recurring monthly donors of any public radio network in the United States.

MPR also produces and distributes national public radio programming via its subsidiary American Public Media, which is the second-largest producer of public radio programming in the United States, and largest producer and distributor of classical music programming.

Source: Wikipedia, accessed on 1/15/2024.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), is a public radio network for the state of Minnesota. With its three services, News & Information, YourClassical MPR and The Current, MPR operates a 46-station regional radio network in the upper Midwest.

MPR has won more than 875 journalism awards, including the Peabody Award, both the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting award of the same name, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton Award. As of September 2011, MPR was equal with WNYC for most listener support for a public radio network, and had the highest level of recurring monthly donors of any public radio network in the United States.

MPR also produces and distributes national public radio programming via its subsidiary American Public Media, which is the second-largest producer of public radio programming in the United States, and largest producer and distributor of classical music programming.

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Minnesota Public Radio began on January 22, 1967, when KSJR-FM first signed on from the campus of Saint John’s University in Collegeville, just outside St. Cloud. Colman Barry, then president of Saint John’s, saw promise in the then-relatively-new technology of FM radio, and believed radio was an appropriate extension of Saint John’s cultural and artistic functions to the broader community. He hired a 23-year-old graduate of St. John’s, William H. Kling, as director of broadcasting.

 

It soon became apparent that St. Cloud and surrounding Stearns County did not have enough listeners for the station to be viable, so Kling more than tripled KSJR’s power in hopes of reaching the Twin Cities. However, it only provided grade B coverage to Minneapolis and the western portion of the metro, and completely missed St. Paul and the east. Realizing that the station needed to cover the Twin Cities to have a realistic chance of survival, St. John’s started KSJN, a low-powered repeater station for the Twin Cities, in 1968. The operation was awash in debt, and by 1969, St. John’s realized it did not have the adequate financial or personnel resources to operate a full-fledged noncommercial radio station. With Barry’s support, Saint John’s transferred KSJR/KSJN’s assets to a community corporation, St. John’s University Broadcasting. This corporation later changed its name to Minnesota Educational Radio, and finally Minnesota Public Radio. Kling led MPR as president and CEO for 44 years, before retiring in 2011.

 

MPR was a charter member of National Public Radio in 1971, and had helped lay the groundwork for forming that organization during 1969 and 1970. In 1971, the network moved its operations from Collegeville to St. Paul, funded in part with a news programming “demonstration” grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. New studios were built and KSJN became the flagship station. During the 1970s, additional stations were added and the network expanded across Minnesota. It was during this period KSJN’s news department won numerous regional and national awards and became one of the region’s most highly-regarded news operations.

 

In 1974, MPR began live broadcasting of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, one of the best-known programs on public radio, from the Park Square Theatre in Saint Paul. In the early days of the program, members of the production staff were said to have to work hard to fill the theatre seats, sometimes bringing in radio station staff and urging passersby to come into the theatre from the street outside. In 1980, MPR originated the Peabody Award-winning show, Saint Paul Sunday, which went national via syndication in 1981.

 

MPR assisted in 1983 with the formation of American Public Radio – now known as Public Radio International, which merged with Public Radio Exchange in 2019.

 

Originally, MPR played a mix of classical music and NPR news/talk programming. However, as NPR expanded its offerings, Kling made plans to split MPR into separate classical and news/talk networks. MPR sought to buy a second FM frequency in the Twin Cities from the late 1970s onward. As a fallback, in 1980 it bought WLOL (AM 1330), one of the oldest stations in Minnesota, and changed its calls to KSJN (AM), a simulcast of KSJN-FM. In 1989, AM 1330 changed its calls to KNOW and began airing an expanded lineup of NPR programming. In 1991, MPR bought WLOL-FM, AM 1330’s former FM sister, allowing it to finally split its services into two networks. The KNOW call letters and intellectual unit, including the NPR news and talk format, moved to KSJN’s old frequency of 91.1. The KSJN calls moved to WLOL-FM’s former frequency of 99.5, which began playing classical music full-time.

 

MPR acquired Marketplace Productions, which produces Marketplace, “Marketplace Morning Report” and “Marketplace Money” from studios in Los Angeles, in association with the University of Southern California, in 2000. That same year, MPR founded Southern California Public Radio, which entered into a public service operating agreement with Pasadena City College to run KPCC in Pasadena, California. In 2004, MPR began distributing its own shows through American Public Media, leaving PRI; APM was the third radio network in the U.S. to have received founding support from MPR, probably an unmatched record for an American radio station or network.

 

In 2004, MPR announced it would buy WCAL (89.3 FM), the classical music station operated by St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. WCAL (and a repeater station, KMSE in Rochester), were sold in a deal valued at $10.5 million, which was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 2004. The next year, following the acquisition by MPR, WCAL changed its call letters to KCMP and was transformed into MPR’s third service, “The Current”.

 

In 2008, a WCAL advocacy group took St. Olaf College to court for breach of trust in selling the radio station. (A June 2008 judge’s opinion described the station as a charitable trust and therefore, not the college’s property to freely dispose of. MPR’s General Counsel and three attorneys took part in the proceedings. However, a 2009 court found in favor of MPR due to its ruling that the statute of limitations on the matter had expired, nullifying the advocacy group’s standing.)

 

Today, MPR serves a regional audience of one million listeners through 43 stations presenting three broadcast network services.

 

Original materials from Minnesota Public Radio have been contributed to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.

Privacy Policies

Minnesota Public Radio is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization and relies on contributions from listeners, foundations, educational partners and corporations for its general operations. It also receives support through underwriting on the air and on the Web.

Listener contributions, corporations, foundations and educational partners account for approximately 60 percent of MPR’s total budget. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The State of Minnesota provides modest capital grants to upgrade infrastructure and equipment in greater Minnesota, but does not provide operating funding to the organization. MPR also receives operating funding through the sale of on-air and online underwriting.

The for-profit Rivertown Trading Company, once a subsidiary of MPR’s parent company, was sold in 1998 for $124 million. Profits went toward creating MPR’s endowment, a percentage of which contributes to MPR’s overall annual budget.

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Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) is a public radio network for the state of Minnesota. With its three services, News & Information, YourClassical MPR and The Current, MPR operates a 46-station regional radio network in the upper Midwest. Last updated from Wikipedia 2024-05-12T20:13:58Z.
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Founded
Ownership
Annual Revenue
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Headquarters
1985
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$1.5B (2022)
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Saint Paul, MN
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