KMOJ resurrected in North Minneapolis


The beacon is back on the North Side

KMOJ Radio is asking the community’s patience while they are moving into their new studios. There may be a few disruptions, but it’s for a good cause. North Minneapolis’ community station is finally coming back home.

After having to relocate in the Uptown area three years ago, the area’s only Black noncommercial station finally has returned to its Northside roots.

The station began moving last weekend into its new location at the corner of Penn Avenue and West Broadway, says Station Manager Kelvin Quarles.

“We had a nice run on the South Side, but I think the people will be extremely proud when they walk into the door,” Quarles notes.

As workers were putting on the finishing touches, the station manager talked about being a north anchor of West Broadway’s business corridor.

“This is exciting for me,” says Quarles while he conducts the MSR on an exclusive tour last week.

“This is the beacon of the North Side, and the large percentage of our listeners is over in North Minneapolis. To have the station located here is very beneficial, because what that would allow us to have the opportunity to do is bring in people from the community and train them how to do radio. We are very proud to be back over here.

“It is an exciting time for us,” Quarles continues. “We are now able to present ourselves as a true radio station, because everything is designed the way a radio station should be designed.”

KMOJ Board Chairman Tony Tolliver says the new studios have been uplifting in many ways. “When I first got here, KMOJ was over at 555 Girard, but that building got condemned,” he points out. “What I have seen in the station is a resurrection of the community, the people, and a resurrection of what we deserve in a media outlet. Through the diligent work of the staff and board, things have changed and gotten better, and we’re just getting started.”

KMOJ’s new space includes a main on-air studio along with a backup, two production studios, a community studio and administrative office space.

“We are putting in all new equipment, new furniture, new paint on the walls – everything is updated,” explains Quarles.

“Our music is important for us, but the most important thing is our public affairs programming. We want to make sure that we [also] feed our listeners with information to help them through.”

Until the move is fully completed, which Quarles says should be in the next couple of weeks, they will try to keep disruptions in programming to a minimum. “We [ask] the Twin Cities to bear with us.”

Despite KMOJ’s noncommercial status, “We are a radio station, and we are judged on what they hear,” says Quarles. “This space will allow us to present ourselves on the air, how we give people opportunities to get true stories out, and how we present KMOJ.”

The station’s plans also include a power increase and broadcasting in high definition (HD), along with upgrades to its website. “All of our stuff will be digital. This will give us a little more reach in the metropolitan area,” claims Quarles, adding that the new facilities will be able to expand the station’s true mission – to train people as communicators.

“One of the things we also look forward to is expanding the Center for Communications and Development. We want to train people the right way.”

“This is a great, great thing that is happening here, but it’s no means done,” proclaims Tolliver. “We want this to be the anchor of the community, not just West Broadway. We want people to know this is where their voice is, where they can come to learn and come together.

This is the community station, and we want to keep it that way. That’s what brought us on the air and what will keep us on the air.”

Soon visitors will be able to tour the facilities, predicts Quarles. “We are going to make sure that once we get settled and unpacked and everything is up and going, we’ll make sure that we set up tours for the community to be able to come through and take a look at the space.

Hopefully they will take the same kind of pride in it as we do.

“I think that the majority of people who walk through the doors are going to be prideful in the fact that KMOJ is back on the North Side,” concludes Quarles.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-re