Last month, longtime Twin Cities radio personality Brian Oake left Cities 97 for an unnamed "opportunity." As of today, that opportunity has a name: new co-host of 89.3 the Current's Morning Show.
The Current announced the new hire Wednesday. Oake will begin 6-10 a.m. Morning Show hosting duties March 7 when co-host Jill Riley returns from maternity leave. City Pages speculated wildly in December that he would land the job.
"I’ve always been a fan [of the Current]; this is my music," Oake tells City Pages. "Earlier this summer [Current program director] Jim [McGuinn] reached out to me. I was not very quick about getting back to him, because I knew that he was going to offer me my dream job and I’d have to leave [former co-host] Keri Noble. Regardless of what people think about the format at Cities 97 and the way that it’s changed, I love Keri Noble – she sort of reinvigorated my passion for radio.”
Oake, a veteran of Radio K and beloved '90s station REV105, brings legit much-nerd cachet and a love for local music to the Current. It's a better fit than at iHeartRadio-owned Cities 97, which continues to specialize in aggressively vanilla alt-rock and pop. Oake spent 15 years at Cities, most recently as co-host of Oake + Noble in the Morning.
“For as long as the Current has been on the air, people have asked both Brian and the station why we weren’t working together," McGuinn says in a press release. "Brian’s on air sensibility matches the music of the Current – curious, wide-ranging, influential, and authentic. Now it’s happening and we’re excited to welcome Brian to Team Current.”
Adds Oake: “It’s hard to describe the exact feeling I’m trying to convey, but I feel like the Current comes closer to exemplifying everything I’ve ever wanted out of radio than any other station I’ve known."
Steve Seel left the Morning Show co-host seat last March for various other roles at MPR. Sean McPherson — the bassist of Heiruspecs and trivia boss at Trivia Mafia — has filled in since. McPherson will still have a home at the Current, according to the press release. Beginning in March, he will serve as host of request show Radio Free Current on Saturdays, among other duties. DJs Jade and McPherson will tend to the a.m. program until March 7.
Oake will hit the Current airwaves starting 2-6 p.m. Fridays to warm up for his new Morning Show gig. So what’s the first song he’ll play? When asked, it’s clear Oake has thought about this ... a lot.
“If I had to, gun to my head, ‘Something I Learned Today’ by Hüsker Dü," he confesses, adding "It’s a long time coming. It’s weird walking around here, looking at stuff and seeing old friends, meeting new people and realizing: I might actually be working somewhere where I can play Hüsker Dü on the air.”
It was a tumultuous 2015 for American Public Media, owner of Minnesota Public Radio and the Current. In July, APM laid off nine employees and canceled Wits, its millennial-geared syndicated variety show. The Current fired DJ Barb Abney, a listener favorite, in January; Local Show host David Campbell, another listener favorite, resigned from the station in October; DJ Mary Lucia, Oake's old colleague from REV 105, returned from a seven-month leave of absence in November after being stalked.
Happier note: The Current will celebrate its 11th anniversary with a two-concert blowout Jan. 22-23 at First Avenue.
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