The Current Receives CPB Grant to Accelerate Urban Alternative Format in Minnesota

Sep 14, 2021

Partnership with KMOJ will explore new format for the next generation of music fans

St. PAUL, Minn., Sept. 14, 2021 – The Current, Minnesota Public Radio’s adult album alternative (AAA) station, has been named a recipient of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s (CPB) 2021 Urban Alternative format grant. The news was announced today at the Public Radio Program Directors Association annual conference.

CPB’s Urban Alternative grant will provide resources to support The Current’s expansion into a new format to serve more of Minnesota’s younger and more diverse music fans. The expansion will include a partnership with KMOJ and The ICE, Minneapolis’ go-to urban adult contemporary station and stream. The Current will build on the success of its Purple Current stream, which was established in 2018 as a source for funk, soul, R&B, and hip hop music, celebrating the Minneapolis Sound following the death of Prince.

The $400,000 grant, with additional contributions from MPR, will allow The Current to transform the Purple Current into a standalone urban alternative stream. This will also carry over to The Current’s FM airwaves, with dedicated crossover programming across multiple dayparts, hosted by new talent. The Current and KMOJ will work closely on content sharing, developing new talent and building social media capacity between the two stations.

The Current, along with Radio Milwaukee and WJSU at Jackson State University in Mississippi, received 2021 grants from CPB to develop the Urban Alternative format for the rising generation of public radio listeners, connecting diverse audiences through music discovery and community engagement. Previous CPB grantees include Texas Southern University’s KTSU (Houston); Norfolk State University’s WNSB (Norfolk, VA); Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Network’s THE DROP (Denver), and Chicago Public Radio’s Vocalo.

“Our public media mission calls on us to serve all Minnesotans, and we recognized an opportunity to provide a service that better represents the diverse music tastes in our region,” said Duchesne Drew, President of Minnesota Public Radio. “We’re pleased to be part of this movement in public media to better connect with the younger generation of listeners and to provide a platform that engages them with their local music scene.”

With recent changes in the local music market, The Current identified a significant need for a new music source in the Twin Cities with a focus on new and local hip hop and R&B. Station leadership also saw a significant opportunity to reach local diverse communities and music fans ages 18-44, both growing populations in the region.

“We’re excited to be working closely with The Current on this exploration of a new service for our community,” said Freddie Bell, General Manager of KMOJ. “CPB’s meaningful support will help us launch the process to bring this standalone stream and all its components to life, all to the benefit of our listeners.”

The Current will hire additional talent to support this new endeavor, including an on-air host, content director and host, and community engagement manager. These new roles will be critical to the founding of The Current’s new stream and will collaborate closely with KMOJ.  

“We’re honored to have this opportunity to connect with and better serve a more diverse audience,” said David Safar, Managing Director of The Current. “We know this project will only be successful with strong partnership of music leaders in our community, especially KMOJ, and we hope this is a first step in much more community collaboration to serve our audiences.”

The Current’s urban alternative stream is expected to launch by mid-2022, with an announcement regarding the name and brand to come prior to launch. Once launched, the new brand and its team will build partnerships with local non-profits, festivals, music venues and more, and will regularly be a part of community events and sponsorships.


About The Current
The Current is an all-music, noncommercial, member-supported station from Minnesota Public Radio®. Since it began broadcasting in 2005, the award-winning station has grown into a far-reaching community, boasting members and online listeners from around the world. From local to legendary, indie to influential, The Current plays the best new music next to the artists you already love. Part of The Current’s mission is to champion emerging artists, support civic and cultural organizations, and give a platform to important voices that shape our community and make the Twin Cities a great place to live. Learn more and listen at

About KMOJ
The Center for Communication and Development (CCD) KMOJ's vision is to provide Communities of Color with information and education through the vehicle of mass communication which includes: computer/internet, television, radio, and print journalism. CCD/KMOJ's mission is to: “Teach Communities of Color media skills that help reinstate the positive affirmative Black image.” KMOJ’s philosophy is that a process of education, collaboration, and grounding in culture, can elevate the quality of life in the community. The organization understands the significance of its role as a media resource for the community. KMOJ also recognizes this role must be nurtured and expanded to support and inform the community with knowledge and information.

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebook and LinkedIn and subscribe for other updates.