BEST RADIO STATION Minneapolis 2003 - KFAI-FM 90.3/FM 106.7
1808 Riverside Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55454
What hour provides the real test of mettle for any great radio station? Try the after bar-time/before drive-time gutter, when most radio goes on pre-taped autopilot to accompany your booty call, trip to Perkins, or third shift at the nursing home. Only KFAI would be busy sequencing "On Top of Spaghetti" (an old grade-school knockoff of "On Top of Old Smokey") with a Christian version of the same tune by '70s child impersonator Little Marcy ("I'm Glad I'm a Christian"), followed by (why not?) Little Eva singing "Some Kind of Wonderful," then a version of the same song by Eva's sister, Idalia Boyd (again, why not?). The stream of weirdness keeps coming on KFAI, and that's the point: sheer freedom for its on-air, moment-by-moment programmers. In its long stretches of music (from every genre imaginable), "the radio nation without borders" prizes something that seems lost even on other non-commercial stations: the art of juxtaposition. And in its shorter stretches of talk, the station is similarly eclectic, singular in both its ethnic scope (Somali, Hmong, and, um, French) and political breadth (Disabled and Proud, Focus on Africa, Latino USA). This is individuality and eccentricity as community--which is to say, what democracy sounds like.