Flipping the Record

THIS DAMPEST OF Aprils was a good month for Radio K. Not only did the University of Minnesota's nationally acclaimed campus station (KUOM-770 AM) meet its "Powersurge" fundraising goal of $30,000, but it easily surpassed it by more than ten grand.

This "bonus" comes at a time when every dollar counts: Governor Mind's new budget, which calls for a general phasing out of all state funding for public broadcasting, is still pending approval in the legislature. Radio K gets 12 percent (or about $60,000) of its funds from state grants, and that money helps the station leverage federal grants. (In case you wanted to write the Guv a polite letter of protest, his address is simply Governor Jesse Ventura, State Capitol, St. Paul, MN 55155.)

The fundraiser's biggest three-hour boost ($3,500) came as Powersurge '99 was winding down during the April 9 airing of the weekly program Off the Record. This local music show, which features in-studio performances and scene news, has been hosted (with a shifting cast of cohosts) since 1993 by my friend and City Pages contributor Simon Peter Groebner. Off the Record doesn't get much play in these pages, for obvious reasons, but allow me a brief note of tribute. As conceived by Groebner and other Radio K founders, Off the Record sought to place the live local-music experience into the national indie-pop lexicon of its listeners. The degree to which it succeeded can be measured in part by the substantial amount of local music Radio K now plays.

Hence the contents of Radio K's new CD Stuck on AM 2: Live Performances on 770 Radio K. A sequel to 1996's essential two-disc Stuck on AM set, this slab is leaner but no less eye-opening than the original. While the performers vary in style, the station's compilers seem to have dug up the most heartfelt, naked cut from each act's on-air set. Atmosphere's Slug has never sounded less guarded or more fluid than on a straight-to-tape version of "The Abusing of the Rib," his survey of a loved one's romantic damage and his hopes for repair. Along these same lines, cuts by the Spring Collection, Eyedea, Lily Liver, and Koerner, Ray and Glover are nearly as exciting.

The reason I mention Off the Record is that Groebner's last "official" broadcast as host aired last Friday, April 23. He will be staying, though, to oversee its transition to new hosts, and he may come back to do a special farewell episode with the Hang Ups, his first guests in 1993. Their new album will be out soon.) He'll be leaving to focus on his new job, editor in chief of Fate Magazine, the largest periodical in America chronicling the culture of the occult and paranormal. "I guess it's time for me to break off and be an anonymous fan, at least for a little while," he says.


Off the Record can be heard Fridays from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

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