BEST NEW RADIO STATION (1999)
These days it seems that the concept of locally programmed radio has headed the same way as the independent newspaper. Most commercial broadcasting either comes over a satellite, or is decided down to the last reverb-laden promo by certifiably soulless executives in offices far away--or perhaps by the kind of modular programming robot imagined on an episode of The Simpsons a few years back. It almost goes without saying, then, that there wasn't a lot of competition in this category. Radio Rey is a four-person Spanish-language station that operates out of a supermercado in St. Paul. Their broadcast hours are limited--the signal goes up and down with the sun, seven days a week--and they, too, pull down a satellite signal for their morning show. What happens during the rest of the hours is a genuine broadcasting anomaly: sponsor-created programming blocks, community news, Mexican music, and endless request-based music shows. There's pretty much only one DJ, Miguel Sanchez, who works the mic from a booth with a nice view of the produce aisle. Until radio rebels put 100-watt transmitters on every apartment building in the metro, it's stations like Radio Rey that represent the greatest reminder of this medium's potential.