Bill Kling conquered Minnesota radio, but can he save NPR?

Republicans suggest government can't afford nonprofit radio

Bill Kling emerges from the crowd, his stark white hair instantly attracting the eyes of the audience. He occupies the podium with the practiced confidence of a Fortune 500 CEO.

As he often does, Kling recites a quote from Thomas Jefferson to highlight the importance of his mission: "When the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their government."

It's vintage Kling—his personal ambition dressed up in populism—and the audience hangs on his every word.

Bill Kling
courtesy of American Public Media
Bill Kling
Even as a young entrepreneur, Kling was a visionary of the industry
courtesy of American Public Media
Even as a young entrepreneur, Kling was a visionary of the industry
Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion was key to Kling's commercial success
courtesy of American Public Media
Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion was key to Kling's commercial success
Father Colman Barry asked Kling to help him start a central Minnesota station
courtesy of American Public Media
Father Colman Barry asked Kling to help him start a central Minnesota station
Gary Eichten and Bob Potter would find long careers in what began as a humble radio station
courtesy of American Public Media
Gary Eichten and Bob Potter would find long careers in what began as a humble radio station

After he concludes his speech, Kling prepares to step away. But he lingers a moment, as if he has forgotten something. An impish grin flits across his face, and Kling leans into the mic for one last utterance.

"Go out there and flash those signs," Kling says. "And give them hell!"

To hear Kling tell it, the fate of public radio itself is at stake. With "austerity" being the watchword of the day, Republicans suggest that taxpayer funding for nonprofit broadcasts is an expense the government can no longer afford.

That poses a direct threat to the fiefdom Kling has spent the last four decades building, and he's not giving it up without a fight.

After he retires on July 1, Kling plans to take his show on the road and use his influence to build up public radio stations across America. Other than MPR, he's eyeing Chicago's WBEZ, New York's WYNC, and KPCC in southern California. Ultimately, Kling hopes to take on all the top public radio markets in the country.

In an industry driven by soft-talkers and small community stations, Kling has always treated Minnesota Public Radio like big business. He's credited with inventing the notion of "Social Purpose Capitalism"—the idea that a nonprofit should be steered with a capitalist's eye.

"There was behavior and a mindset that looks more like Microsoft or Cisco than it does like your typical community arts organization," says James Phills, who teaches a case study on Kling at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. "There were people who viewed it as kind of unseemly."

Much of this success came from creating private companies to partner with MPR. While most public radio stations rely solely on federal funding and member drives, Kling bankrolled MPR's growth with tens of millions in revenue generated by his private companies.

This unusual strategy has stirred up no small controversy. In the 45 years since Kling started his station, he has battled politicians, competing radio stations, and the state attorney general. He's never shrunk from the challenge—to the contrary, he seems to relish the fight.

"Whenever there's a conflict, I'd much rather be on his side of the battle, because he is tenacious and single-minded," says George Latimer, former mayor of St. Paul. "He's got sharp elbows. He's not afraid of taking on anybody or anything if he feels whatever it is gets in the way of the mission of MPR."

   

TOWARD THE END of his senior year in college, Kling was still unsure of his next move. He knew he wanted to go to grad school, but was torn between business and communications.

This changed after a meeting with Colman Barry, a crew-cut monk. Barry was intrigued by Kling's lifelong fascination with radios and his work as the manager of St. John's University's student-run station. So he made Kling an enticing offer: If he chose communications, St. John's would pay his tuition—on the condition he come back upon graduation and start a radio station.

The offer sold Kling. He shipped off to Boston University to learn the radio trade.

By the time Kling returned, Barry had mounted a campus-wide campaign to start the radio station, called KSJR, or Minnesota Education Radio.

"The idea was that you would have music and educational programs," recalls Father Hilary Thimmesh, the academic dean at the time. "I remember the president giving a pitch about how it would benefit Stearns County dairy farmers, as they would go out to do their chores to the sounds of Mozart or Beethoven or whatever."

Barry didn't skimp on the expenses. On St. John's dime, he renovated the vacant third floor of an old campus building, re-paneling the old walls with handsome woodwork that almost covered up the lingering smell of formaldehyde. He filled the station with top-of-the-line equipment, some custom-engineered specifically for the school.

Kling was 26 when the station went on the air in 1967, but he appeared unimpressed with the counterculture movement of the time. He was a suit-and-tie man, hair always greased into a careful part, and carried the seriousness of someone much older.

Employees remember him as a taskmaster who pressed them into 60-hour work weeks just to keep up. The hard time paid off: KSJR was an instant hit with its central Minnesota audience.

But it wasn't until Kling met Garrison Keillor that he found a persona large enough to fulfill his grand ambition.

  

TODAY, GARRISON KEILLOR is one of the most identifiable voices in radio. Though his show is about a parochial central Minnesota town called Lake Wobegon, he has captured the imagination of a worldwide audience, even inspiring a Hollywood film.

On a May morning, Keillor calls to apologize for missing a phone interview scheduled for the day before. He was at a matinee performance of a play in New York, he explains, then made a spur-of-the-moment decision to catch a showing of the new Kristin Wiig comedy Bridesmaids.

"Which was..." Keillor says, pausing as if trying to find the words to describe a fine wine. "...Fantastic."

Back in 1969, Keillor wasn't even interested in radio. He fancied himself an author, waiting eagerly for the inspiration to write the great American novel.

Keillor was also the father to a newborn son, however, and in need of a full-time job to pay the bills. He'd heard the rumors about Kling's demanding nature, but applied anyway for the morning shift at KSJR.

Keillor looked the polar opposite of Kling. He showed up to the interview with shaggy hair, a long beard, and jeans. He was shocked at the serious, be-suited man of the same age on the other side of the desk.

But Keillor got the job, mostly because he was willing to show up at 6 a.m.

If he was put off by Kling's serious demeanor, Keillor was nonetheless impressed by his radio chops.

"He had a love of old radio; he listened to the same shows I had listened to in the waning years of the so-called golden age," says Keillor. "To him this was a noble thing, and a noble enterprise."

Kling and Keillor never had much of a personal relationship—to this day, Keillor professes ignorance about his boss's tastes in music and politics—but the two made a formidable team. Kling was a visionary of the radio industry, while Keillor had a natural talent for storytelling and entertaining.

"I can't ever recall a time where I ever thought he was bullshitting me or trying to impress me," Keillor says of Kling. "It's kind of an unusual thing in that world."

  

AROUND THE TIME A Prairie Home Companion was beginning to become popular in Minnesota, a man named Rich McClear was getting ready to launch his own public radio station in the small mining and timber community of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

McClear was a young, dark-haired man with a beard and a progressive idea: Instead of playing classical music or educational programs, his station would mirror the community it served. In Grand Rapids, this meant polka music, programs about Finnish culture, and letting the town's poets recite their work on the air.

McClear didn't have much financial backing, so it would be a humbler operation. He called it Minnesota Public Radio.

This name did not sit well with Kling. Soon after going on the air, McClear began receiving letters from Kling's lawyers claiming he'd committed copyright infringement because KSJR had once referred to the station as "Minnesota's public radio" in a programming guide, he says. Kling told a new governor's task force on public radio that McClear's station wasn't financially viable and shouldn't be allowed to share federal funds.

"Before we went on the air, we spent a lot of time preoccupied with Minnesota Public Radio, with Bill Kling," says McClear. "A lot of time looking over our shoulder."

McClear ran in some of the same circles as Kling. When they bumped into each other, Kling would try to convince him to change the name of his station.

"You're a community radio station," McClear remembers Kling telling him. "Why don't you call yourself 'something community radio'?"

Other broadcasters eventually began protesting along with Kling, complaining that "Minnesota Public Radio" should be a moniker all public radio stations in the state could use. The criticism eventually persuaded McClear to give up the title and change his station name to Northern Community Radio.

Three months later, Kling trademarked "Minnesota Public Radio" and changed the name of his company. McClear had been hoodwinked

"I wish I wouldn't have dropped the trademark," McClear says, still smarting. "We could have sold it."

McClear wasn't the only one trying to fend off Kling's growing influence. Another station, named Fresh Air and later called KFAI, was trying to break into the public radio world on a 10-watt frequency.

When Kling found out Fresh Air had applied for a license, he petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to deny it. The complaint was twofold: Fresh Air's signal could interfere with Kling's, and Fresh Air didn't have enough money to sustain the station.

"Once this petition to deny was filed, pretty much the community support drifted away, because it was going to be a long battle," recalls Jeremy Nichols, who was on the Fresh Air board of directors at the time.

The legal arguments went on for three years, until the FCC finally sided with Fresh Air. When Kling found out, he was outraged. He threatened to appeal the FCC's decision and more.

"If we are denied relief again, we will consider an appeal to the Court of Appeals in Washington," warned Kling in a letter. "This matter is so important to the viability of public radio networks, both ours and others throughout the country, that we would be remiss in not pursuing the matter to a final determination."

  

THE FIRST TESTAMENT to A Prairie Home Companion's enormous fan base came in 1981 and involved a made-up product called Powdermilk Biscuits.

During one of his live shows, Keillor offered listeners a free poster advertising the fake sponsor. All they had to do was write in.

His studio was quickly inundated with about 50,000 requests.

MPR was overwhelmed by the demand. Filling all those orders would be a huge hit to the pocketbook.

Then one of the producers had an idea: The backs of the posters could be used to advertise T-shirts that would be sold for a profit.

The response went beyond anything they could have imagined; MPR actually ended up making around $15,000.

Recognizing a market, MPR started Rivertown Trading Company, a mail-in catalog. Keillor was a marketable commodity, and MPR was going to reap the rewards.

The early-1980s technology had put a glass ceiling on Keillor's audience; he was bound to MPR's Minnesota airwaves.

A few years later, satellite technology began to emerge and Kling saw an opportunity to bring Keillor to a national stage.

In 1983, Kling met Frank Mankeiwicz in a Phoenix hotel room after an NPR conference. Mankeiwicz was the brash president of NPR, and was feverishly trying to survive President Ronald Reagan's massive cuts to federal funding.

Kling, a founding board member of NPR, pitched an idea: Using satellite technology, NPR could expand its repertoire by syndicating programs from public radio stations around the country.

Mankeiwicz's answer was a swift and resounding, "No."

After the meeting, Kling and his business associates rallied by the hotel pool to discuss their options.

NPR had a monopoly on the national airwaves, meaning they got all the federal funding. To produce new programming would mean creating a separate entity that would directly compete with NPR.

Later that year, Kling launched American Public Radio—later renamed Public Radio International—NPR's first serious competitor.

When Kling left NPR, it was not on friendly terms, says Mankeiwicz. It also wasn't surprising.

"Bill's a tough businessman," says Mankeiwicz. "He's ambitious. He wanted to be a leader of public radio."

  

KEILLOR WASN'T THE only one benefiting from the success of A Prairie Home Companion, which had become popular with a national audience.

Rivertown turned into a multimillion-dollar, for-profit business. Kling also started publishing a magazine called Minnesota Monthly under the umbrella of Greenspring Company, MPR's for-profit partner. Kling was no longer just the CEO of MPR—he was in charge of a commercial enterprise worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

This put Kling and MPR in an unusal position. Greenspring paid millions a year to the radio nonprofits through royalties, charitable donations, and dividends, but MPR still received several million in federal funding from taxpayers. And because MPR was a nonprofit, it retained tax-exempt status.

This magnitude of commercial success for a nonprofit starting a private company was unprecedented, explains Stanford Business School's James Phills.

"The reality is that a lot of those businesses don't actually make money," says Phills. "Minnesota Public Radio, and its earned-income, was really remarkable in terms of being successful as a business."

The fact that Kling was running the whole show was bound to stir up controversy, says Phills. "It's more likely to raise eyebrows than if Greenspring had completely different people that were in fact not playing roles in both organizations."

  

SOON AFTER MATT Entenza, a towering, long-faced attorney, was elected to a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1994, he made an enemy in Bill Kling.

Entenza proposed forcing nonprofit CEOs to disclose their salaries, even those made in partnering for-profit companies.

Though Entenza was only 34 and a freshman legislator, he was familiar with the subject matter. He'd spent the last five years as Minnesota's assistant attorney general, unraveling charity fraud cases and complicated white-collar crimes.

Entenza expected opposition. Minnesota is headquarters to many healthcare companies, and that meant plenty of high-powered executives would rather keep their books private.

But to Entenza's surprise, only one man opposed him: Kling.

As the law stood, Kling didn't have to disclose his salary with Greenspring. As far as the public knew, he was making only $75,000 a year, his relatively meager public salary with MPR. Entenza's bill would force Kling to reveal his private salary, which was much, much higher.

Kling sent MPR's team of lobbyists to defend against Entenza. The radio owner also went on the air to enjoin listeners to oppose the bill, arguing that the law would give his business competitors an unfair advantage.

Entenza was deluged with complaints from pissed-off MPR listeners.

"What I saw were members of the public who thought they were opposing a bill that Kling was arguing would hurt the ability of MPR's business to function effectively," says Entenza. "The reality was, it wasn't about that; it was about keeping his salary private."

Kling's relentless opposition made Entenza suspicious. He figured that if Kling would go to such extremes, he must have something to hide. This and other issues inspired Entenza to file a complaint against Kling with the state attorney general.

The AG took the case, and began an investigation. When the press got wind of it, the story was splashed on the front page and roused even more questions from the public.

"I'm sorry, but you can't call yourself a public radio station and act like you're a private one," says former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer. "It's kind of like a candidate refusing to share his income taxes. It ain't gonna work."

When the bill finally passed in 1997, Kling was forced to disclose to the public that he was raking in $526,945, making him the highest-paid CEO of any nonprofit arts and cultural organization in the Twin Cities. Keillor's salary wasn't far behind, at $368,000.

The attorney general's investigation found nothing illegal about Kling's business, though there was some blurring of the lines. The AG made a few stipulations going forward, including mandating that MPR hire an independent analyst to monitor its salaries.

That year, Kling sold Rivertown to Target Corp. for $120 million, personally pocketing $2.6 million.

Though Entenza had technically won the battle with Kling, he was left with a permanent black mark on his career in the eyes of MPR listeners. When he ran for governor more than a decade later, people would often tell him that they refused to vote for him because of what he did to MPR.

"I just don't think a nonprofit, particularly a nonprofit broadcaster, should become a bully pulpit for someone," says Entenza. "And that's what it's been for Kling."

  

A FEW YEARS after selling Rivertown, Kling was thinking about retirement. It had been a fun ride, he told a committee of the board of directors, but it might be time to let someone else take the reins.

The board wasn't ready to let Kling go. Instead, board members convinced Kling to sign a five-year contract—the first one he had signed since starting the station.

The board had good reason to keep Kling around. He had just bought Marketplace, a popular business and economics show that was an instant hit with MPR listeners. He'd also bought a college station in Pasadena, California, meaning Kling's empire now had a West Coast franchise.

In 2004, Kling helped start American Public Media, a new parent company to MPR. With APM, Kling continued conquering the public radio map. APM bought Classical South Florida in Miami. Kling expanded MPR, which now owns 42 stations. Today, APM is the second-largest public radio company in the country, next to NPR.

APM set a new national standard for quality public radio, says Ken Doctor, a media analyst for Newsonomics. It also completely restructured the marketplace for how national programming was produced and sold.

"He proved out the model, and now NPR, through skillful use of technology and similar syndication model, could work," Doctor says of Kling. "In so doing, he's opened eyes."

  

THE HEADQUARTERS OF MPR in downtown St. Paul is a massive piece of architecture, taking up an entire city block. One needs a security badge just to get past the front desk.

On a Tuesday morning, Kling ruminates in his second-story corner office, sunk into a black leather chair.

Though Kling is retiring on July 1, he isn't walking away from his lifelong pursuit. He plans to employ his influence to raise $5 million a year for five years, which will be used by four public radio stations to hire more reporters. Another $5 million per year will be donated to the greater public radio system.

He believes MPR's current newsroom staff of 86 needs to double.

"You can have all the blogs, all the Huffington Posts, and Twitter feeds, and any other way of distributing content," Kling says. "But if you don't have the content, none of it's worth anything. That comes from reporters, which I believe we have to step up."

When talk turns to the many criticisms of his style, Kling doesn't flinch. Most recently, he's been on MPR advocating against a congressional bill that would cut federal funding to public radio. Some say Kling overstated the threat to bring in more donations. He was also criticized for using his taxpayer-funded radio station to push a political message.

Kling defends himself by saying that only 6 percent of MPR's budget is paid for by taxpayers.

"I promise you that we don't use any of that 6 percent to record what I put on the air," he says.

Kling doesn't deny that he's flexed MPR's muscles when someone or something has threatened his business.

"We've had a policy since we started of telling our constituents what they need to know," Kling says. "And I could write them a letter, but it would cost a whole lot more money than if I put it on the air."

As for his controversial business model, Kling argues it's been for the greater good. Without the money from Greenspring, MPR wouldn't have been able to grow into what it is today.

"There's always critics," Kling says dryly.

For Kling, what's good for MPR has always come above all else, and he makes no apologies.

"I am a harsh competitor," he says. "I have wanted Minnesota to have the best service in the country, and I hope we do. Nobody else has the reach that we have." 

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21 comments
Kristin Carlson
Kristin Carlson

Here is the article I was talking about for MPR. #MLSu2011

Willie McManus
Willie McManus

The real story here is that all this has been known for years, and reporters at City Pages and every other news outlet in Minnesota have been too chickenshit to call out that the emperor had no clothes. Pitiful.

Commonmandan
Commonmandan

There is absolutely no justification for United States taxpayer support of any public broadcast network. Right now, I'm listening to Dutch classical music radio on the internet for FREE! Klingon has duped a lot of sheeple, like the planted lapdog that just posted.

Afroblueeyes
Afroblueeyes

Who do you think pays for the Dutch station you are enjoying? The Dutch taxpayer. You can also enjoy a variety of other music, all downloaded for "free" from the internet - this is commonly known as "piracy". These things cost money, and if you read my comment below, Common Man Dan, you'd understand that it's a complex issue - and that I don't necessarily approve of the means used to build our nation's public radio netowrks. It's complex and hard to demonize a single individual. I too don't think the US taxpayer should pay for pubic radio - listeners should. But with less than 10% of listeners contributing, it's essentially given freely to pirates like you.

Commanmandan
Commanmandan

Dear Laptop Afroblueeyes, an obvious Klingon boot licker: There are several issues here. Let the Dutch pay for it. It's on the web. If the Dutch music source didn't like it, they are free to boot a no-access in their server. I don't mind at all the Dutch providing this service. What I do mind is a greedy gorgon like Bill Kling wanting to take it all and kick off or buy off any competition.

Nice thing about the Dutch, they don't pretend to grovel for money when they already have it all. Nor do they have fruity voiced announcers telling people what they will play and what they have heard. What we do hear is a manly-sounding Dutch chap from time to time doing at ID. And instead of blithering about the music, they play excerpts from longer classical music works. And it is all on a sequential list.

You can't get it through your pointy head that Klingon is a pirate. He wants it all. He wants to be a nation onto himself. He has a phony non-profit organization. That is really for-profit. He wants to not just provide the ONLY classical music service across the country, he also wants his very own news and so-called pubic affair networks.

Now report back to Klingon, so he can pat you on your head. In fact, you may very well be Klingon.

If anyone else is out there reading this, then I urge you to write the FCC and question whether Klingy ding dong should have any of his stations licenses renewed because he is unfair competition. Restriction of free trade is the overriding issue here.

Otherwise just be sheeple, like Klingon's yes-person here.

Afroblueeyes
Afroblueeyes

You should cut back on the pharmaceutical cocktails - maybe get yourself a little closer to working out those daddy issues, angry man.

Wordsmythe
Wordsmythe

LAL! Just happened to read the cover-your-ass letter full of NON-standard English phrasing. Pathetic fruitcake.

U showdlern2rite gud lern2use COMMAS and not half-assed dashes.

Afroblueeyes
Afroblueeyes

You really enjoy yourself, eh Dan? It's too bad your reading skills don't quite match your incredible pun and insult abilities. If they did, you might see that we actually agree about the nature of Kling - but unfortunately you don't recognize that any point on Kling is moot. He's a shit. Nobody likes to work for him. He's done terrible things to little radio stations that couldn't . . . all irrelevant. Public radio stations can't survive in this country. They are a dying breed and have been sucking air since 1980 - 14 years after they were created. A few small exceptions aside, 1000s of public radio stations have come and gone. Some interesting, some cutting edge, some shitty and sloppy - all dead or dying. It's an industry fraught with dysfunction. Kling doesn't deserve to be lionized nor demonized - this journalist & City Pages owe it to the reader to discuss the entire issue. Instead, what we have is a cry baby issue about a bad bad man, who did bad bad things, and waaaaaaa - it's all so bad. (except that millions of listeners are happy, and the entity is able, despite all the odds, to thrive). MPR Classical sucks ass. Listen to KANU/KPR - it crushes all classical stations in the country - might even surpass the Dutch (whom I worship for their government and culture). Point is: you. don't. get. it. A complex issue deserves complex coverage - and this article is a simple minded exercise in whining about the past, saying nothing about the present, and gives the public not a shred of information about their power to influence and be involved in the future. By all means, enjoy your music - reading, thinking and writing are not your forte.

Afroblueeyes
Afroblueeyes

Dear Andy - I have to remain anonymous because I am an employee of MPR - but I have some serious issues with this article of yours. In no way do I wish to argue with your condemnations of Kling's business practices - in fact, I'm sure it's all considerably 'worse' than you suggest. However . . .

The subheading to the headline reads " . . . but can he save NPR?" This is probably your editor's fault - but what happened? The article has nothing to do with NPR - Bill Kling has nothing to do with NPR - NPR doesn't need saving. Why is that there? That's merely the first of many indications that you (City Pages) do not understand the nature and organizing principles of public radio ( I don't mean that as an insult, just a point of fact). It's also an indication that the content is merely written to evoke ire - it's not about informing your readers of some issue that needs to be addressed - it's about past issues that everyone who cares already knows about.

I've worked at stations all across the country for 26 years. Unless supported by a university, public radio stations survive by the skin of their teeth - if at all - everywhere. Conglomerates like MPR are the only known way to make a flimsy infrastructure healthy. A sad but true fact that would do a great service to the article and perhaps might form an "issue" to organize the rest of your thoughts around. Again, you really don't know enough about the industry to form and assert/infer the opinions that you do. It's really disturbing that you would simply talk smack for however many words just to suck readers into the rag.

Lastly, the article doesn't even whisper the words "The Current". A gift of extraordinary proportions that has everything to do with your readership, the music scene of this city, and Bill Kling's greed. Like I say, I wouldn't argue with analyzing and decrying the means, but the end result is something that deserves respect, if not merely mention. And it continues to give and grow - The Current Local, Radio Heartland, Classical 24 . . . these things would not be possible without a savvy, aggressive business-minded ethos. Kling beat the system and we've all benefitted madly. Sure he profited personally - but the profit we share as a community (which now spreads all over the world via the web) certainly validates a certain level of consideration. MPR was made possible by a combination of member need/support and visionary business people. It ain't perfect, but it's absolutely the best network of stations in the country.

Sincerely - Anonymous

Kennedyland
Kennedyland

Once again I find the unlimited praise for MPR to be like the applause at any performance in Minnesota - always a standing ovation no matter what the quality of the program may actually be. "The Current" is good, however, it's pretty tame. One half hour of WCAL aka Fresh Air Radio at 90.3 FM shows far more imagination, daring, and over the edge programming than any six hours of "The Current". While "The Current" claims to be cutting edge, it's very tame and safe. If MPR is in it to just keep going on and play it safe, then it has succeeded. However, MPR is not anywhere near high quality and forward thinking music. "The Current" is indeed current, but it's not anything other than that.

Afroblueeyes
Afroblueeyes

Certainly there are far "better" stations than the Current peppered all over the country. But there are very few major cities, let alone entire states, that enjoy this quality of programming with the strength of signal and no commercials. Chicagoland, Denver, Milwaukee, NYC - great cities with nothing like The Current (WFUV in NYC is amazeballs, but its signal doesn't even reach Brooklyn!). It's a difficult thing pleasing a wide swath of people, but in its tameness MPR reaches & rocks millions - and its support of local musicians is undeniably awesome. I don't disagree with your tastes, but I think this City Pages writer ought to recognize the millions that do.

Deepthinker
Deepthinker

Oh yes! Speaking of an OUTSTANDING classical music network, there is WCPE, originating in Wake Forest North Carolina. It came be accessed via tunein on the internet. I listened to a Brit there do his classical gig this morning. Music choices there leaves Klingdom's mediocre ticky tacky tinhorn network in the dust. And guess what? It can be rebroadcast simply by registering. So if a local TRULY non-commercial station anywhere wanted to run their feed, just register. No fee.

Would be great for a neighborhood radio station. Or even a regular FCC licensed station here. And it just turns out that a new AM here has applied for a construction permit and is thinking about classical music programming. A TRUE community station.

Wouldn't that give Kling a panicky pain in the ass! :)

Samwst56
Samwst56

ROFL! Hey sleazylag00ny, don't be shy. Don't hold back. Tell how you really feel about BK/MPR. HA! I think you are technically correct in your assessment of Just Plain Bill's empire and maybe even his character. One flaw though. I think the feds gave MPR 6 percent. Maybe it was State of MN and feds. Anyway, it's a convoluted path that Kling travels. He is typical of a lot of big biz guys. He manages, so far, to stay within the law. But not in the spirit of the law. I'd laugh like crazy if the feds pulled a surprise visit to the MPR fortress and asked to see the books: both the nonprofit and the for profit books. He has something called Greenspring as the biz side of the house. Sorta sounds like Greenspan, another shifty guy. Regarding MPR ownership just here in the Tin Twitties, on the FM side, it's KCMP 89.3, which was the ill-fated WCAL that Kling grabbed when the St Olaf trustees were short of cash. It's a shame, all right. Far as I can recall it was the only other classical music source. And it had Scandinavian oriented shows, too. Now it's pretty unlistenable. Like grade school kids playing radio disc jockeys. Next MPR is KNOW news at 91.1. Then 99.5 KSJN itself. Used to be home of WLOL-FM, the first for-profit 100 percent classical music station. Irony? Methinkx not! Then I recall that an owner donated 1400 AM to MPR. It became WMNN. It gets really cloudy now for me. Takes a crooked bookkeeper to keep up with MPR's winding patchs. Oy gevalt! Somewhere along the line MPR sold one of their news or public affairs entities for $10 million. And so, that goes into the other set of book. Wonder how many sets of books Bill Kling has. Reminds me of an old say, "Uneasy rests of the head that wears the crown."

If the whole MPR legendary empire can be summed up in one word, it would be "greed." And sleazylag00ny brought up the FCC. Makes me wonder why they don't investigate MPR? Humm?

Well now, time for a bottle of beer and some munchies, whilst I tune in an internet classical music station. There really is no reason at all to even listen to KSJN or their news stations. There are a great many sources of classical music stations on the web that don't cry poor and ask for money. And lots of news sources on the web, too.

Mark Jeffries
Mark Jeffries

Proud to be a raging homophobe, wingnut teabagger moron Bachmann lover?

And what's your opinion of African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, Jews and non-submissive women--as if we didn't already know? And how big is your shrine to your idol Adolf Hitler?

Sleazylagoon
Sleazylagoon

Klingon is a robber baron asshole that should not be granted any license to be on the air. He is a FOR-PROFIT organization. Let him buy ads and see how fucking hard it is to make a living as a REAL broadcaster. He is the octopus of radio.

Big Ole in Alex
Big Ole in Alex

How did the writer manage to avoid mentioning the WCAL debacle? It's the definitive example of MPR's ruthless empire building.

Sleazylagoon
Sleazylagoon

Right on, Big Ole! He bought out WCAL with his vast "non-profit" war chest and killed their classical music format with the most UN-listenable music format in the world. The limp-wrists amateurs they hire pick whatever record they want with total disregard to what few listeners they have. WCAL was his only local competition. It has a very long history of classical music as its main format. Before that he bad-mouthed KTWN, which was the last commercial classical music station in this area. He coveted the Chicago Symphony concerts that KTWN ran. Klingdon should NOT even be licensed by the FCC. If all of us who see this octopus for what he is and wrote the FCC about yanking his license to broadcast because he is operating under false pretenses as a "non-commercial" broadcast "service, he would be off the air. It would take a large show of force. Fifty to 100 signed letters would do it. Why? Because the FCC will not put up with frauds. He buys radio stations and FM repeaters with his huge war chest. He forces out competition. Just go up and own the radio dials here in Minneapolis and St Paul. He owns the MOST radio stations, locally. As for his lapdog Gary Keillor, let his slimeball go out and make it on his own. He fucking can't because he has a very small audience. No real radio network would take him. You couldn't see enough time. Keillor got rich and arrogant off of MPR. Let him work hard for a living like the rest of us. In general, there should be NO PUBLIC FUNDING OF ANY BROADCAST SERVICE in this country. That goes for MPR, NPR, PBS and any other alphabet soup so-called "public broadcast system." You want classical music? It's all over the internet for FREE! And no limp-wrist pansy fag telling you what you heard and the weather forecast.

Kennedyland
Kennedyland

Like the rest of Minnesota I appreciate Minnesota Public Radio, however, unlike others who live in Minnesota, I think it is far from wonderful. The constant talk about how grateful we should be for the "service" MPR provides tends to mask some realities. First of all, the station is more into promoting its own APR programming than giving the Minnesota public the best of what is available on public radio. As I've driven around the country I've heard some wonderful programs on a wide variety of subjects that most people in MInnesota have no idea are being broadcast. There is a rich variety of programs out there that MPR is ignoring in favor of it's own profits. This brings me to my second point. MPR is getting blind by it's own hubris. Rather than offer a wide variety of shows on the weekends it simply repeats the Saturday programming on Sunday. And, let's face it, Car Talk, Prairie Home Companion, and the Splendid Table could be reruns from 10 years ago they have grown so complacent and unimaginative. Mixing up the order is no excuse for avoiding trying programs that are different. I like what I hear from MPR, but I'm not under any illusions that it is the best it can be. Minnesota is the test market for APR and the huge profits they make off of the state ignorance of what else is being offered to America. It's smoke and mirrors. Yes, it's good smoke and mirrors, but it's not what it could and should be.

Dan Hendricks
Dan Hendricks

You misspelled Cisco in the article as Sysco, he wasn't talking about the foodservice company.

Sparky
Sparky

BIll Kling is one of the few people left in Public Broadcasting that 'gets it'. He knows, and has proven, that given unique, original programming that serves a clear public purpose other than to 'bash the opposition', funding will come, talent will come, and most importantly, listeners & viewers will come and stay.

His personal challenge is to stay in place and in charge to deflect the poseurs who are riding the coattails of the successes that built up 1970-1995. This is the core challenge of public broadcasting today. It's not the political attacks, it's not the attacks on funding, it's not the competition from commercial niche cable channels and web/pod casting; it's the rot and leaching from within that is turning public radio and television into personal playpens for the entitled instead of what it once was.

 
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