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BEST NEW RADIO STATION Minneapolis 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.

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