Minnesota Public Radio to Thank Listeners as It Celebrates 50 Years

Jan 4, 2017

Press contact: Jen Keavy, 651-290-1271

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) will mark its first half century of public service with a full year of new conversations, broadcast programming and special events on air, online and in person for audiences from Dilworth to Duluth, from Warroad to Worthington and points in between.

Since its beginning as a college radio station at St. John's University, MPR has grown to a 45-station regional network of three distinct services - MPR News, Classical MPR and The Current - as well as a national producer and distributor of radio programs, podcasts and streaming services, serving one million Minnesotans and more than 20 million listeners a week nationwide.

"This 50th anniversary year is a unique opportunity for us to reflect and express our great gratitude to our listeners and the people of this state for what they have helped us build," said Jon McTaggart, president and CEO of Minnesota Public Radio. "While a lot has changed over the past 50 years, our mission remains the same, and we will celebrate this monumental year honoring all the ways that we serve our audiences and strengthen our communities every day--enriching minds, expanding perspectives and nourishing spirits."

MPR 50th Anniversary Programming
On the 50th anniversary of its first broadcast, Sunday, January 22, 2017, MPR will kick off the yearlong celebration with special programming: MPR News will share history-making news highlights and put them in the context of today's news; Classical MPR will open its archives and feature some of the most memorable classical concert broadcasts; and The Current will take a look back at 50 songs that shaped contemporary music over the last half century.

The Current also will air special features leading up to the official anniversary. The year 1967 was a momentous one in the history of contemporary music and The Current will celebrate that history with a 1967-themed Time Machine Tuesday on Tuesday, January 17. On Friday, January 20, The Current will debut a special song, written by local indie singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith to honor MPR's 50th anniversary. Recorded at MPR's Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser studio, the song features a Minnesota all-star backing band, including Chastity Brown, PaviElle, Devon Gray, Chris Koza, John Munson and several others. Messersmith also will perform the song at The Current's 12th Birthday Party one week later on January 27.

Throughout 2017, MPR News will air "50 Moments from the MPR News Archive." The segments will air on Morning Edition (4 a.m.- 9 a.m.) and All Things Considered (3 p.m.-6:30 p.m.) and will reflect the wide range of stories and people MPR News has covered over the years. Classical MPR will share historic live performances recorded throughout Minnesota for the last five decades. The series, "Minnesota Encores," will air on the fourth Monday of every month throughout 2017. The first program will air on Monday, January 23, 8 p.m., and will feature the Minnesota Orchestra's dedication concert of Orchestra Hall from 1974. Additional special programming will air during the year. Specific broadcast times and information will be updated at MPR50.org.

MPR Days Across the State and an MPR HQ Open House As a thank you to its audience of one million regional listeners and more than 130,000 members, MPR will host events across the state over the course of the year, including MPR Days in Collegeville, Mankato, Ely and Moorhead as well as an open house at MPR headquarters and The Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. Additionally, MPR services will continue to travel the state bringing such programs as Bring the Sing, The Current Goes To and MPR Connects to communities around the region.

Every Minnesotan's story matters and MPR wants to hear it. In the fall, MPR will welcome StoryCorps to the state, to capture Minnesotans' stories and voices as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. Some of these conversations will be featured on MPR News' website and airwaves, supporting StoryCorps' mission to preserve and share humanity's stories in order to build connections between people and to create a more just and compassionate world. Since its founding in 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 60,000 interviews from more than 100,000 participants from across the country. It is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind.

Films at the Fitz
Everyone's favorite old movie house, The Fitzgerald Theater, is celebrating MPR's 50th Anniversary with five films from the past five decades. Named the "Best Thing to Do for Free in the Twin Cities" by City Pages, this winter's "Films at the Fitz" screenings include "Groundhog Day," "West Side Story," "Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory," "Back to the Future," and "The Royal Tenenbaums," with performances by local bands at each event. Tickets are free, but registration is required and will be available beginning Thursday, January 19.

Classical MPR's 50th Anniversary Concert: Featuring the Minnesota Debut of the Eric Whitacre Singers
On Thursday, March 9, Classical MPR presents the Minnesota debut of The Eric Whitacre Singers in a special celebratory concert at the Cathedral of St. Paul. Whitacre, one of classical music's most creative forces and distinguished choral music conductors of our time, has promised something special for MPR's 50th at this signature event, which is sure to be an evening to remember.

The Magnetic Fields: "50 Song Memoir" Tour
The Current presents the return of Magnetic Fields on their "50 Song Memoir" Tour, a special two-night show at The Fitzgerald Theater on April 22 and 23. "50 Song Memoir" is the new album from songwriter Stephin Merritt's beloved recording project, the Magnetic Fields. Each song in Merritt's musical journey represents a year in the singer-songwriter's life. Sonically wide-ranging and musically adventurous, the songs feature non-fiction lyrics that mix autobiography with documentary to create a unique portrait of Merritt's life.

A Special Concert to Celebrate MPR's 50th Presented by the Minnesota Orchestra
In recognition of the two organizations' deep and longstanding relationship, the Minnesota Orchestra will present a special concert as part of its 2017-18 Classical season conducted by Music Director Osmo Vanska in celebration of MPR's 50th anniversary. The concert will be held at Orchestra Hall on Saturday, November 11, and will be broadcast statewide on the Classical MPR network. Tickets go on sale to Minnesota Orchestra subscribers this spring, and MPR members will be offered a special ticket pre-sale in July.

During the year, pop-up performances by artists and musicians featured on Classical MPR and The Current will take place statewide. Additional plans include a gala celebration, an expanded presence at the Minnesota State Fair, collaborative projects with Little Free Library, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, and The Minneapolis Foundation, as well as a live taping of BBC Newshour Extra at Augsburg College. More programs and partnerships are in development and will be updated at MPR50.org.

MPR will rollout special digital features at MPR50.org throughout the year, including an interactive historical timeline, audio clips and photos from the MPR Archive, a "Humans of MPR" series, a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life of MPR and a virtual tour of MPR's headquarters. Listeners are encouraged to share their MPR story at MPR50.org or on social media channels with the hashtag #MPR50.

To commemorate the milestone year, MPR will publish an anniversary book, featuring extensive interviews and research conducted by noted author Jack El-Hai, and including captivating images from its archives alongside first-person essays from collaborators and colleagues from public media, the arts and the corporate community.

Additional live events, broadcast programming and opportunities to participate will be announced throughout the year.

Visit MPR50.org for a complete list of events and activities. Ticket information for all events also available at MPR50.org.