Magic 1530AM trying to bring urban radio back to the Twin Cities

​Click. Record. Click. Stop. Wait. Repeat. That was the custom of most kids my age back in the late eighties to the mid-nineties, sitting on the floor of your bedroom with the boom box resting on your knees and waiting, sometimes hours, for them to play your jam just so you can record it on a blank cassette and listen to it over and over.

That was our version of iTunes back then. Most of my friends had it tuned to 89.9 KMOJ or 99.5 WLOL, the only two stations who were really playing urban music in the Twin Cities during that era, waiting for that new Master Ace track or Janet Jackson Flyte Tyme radio mix.

On weeknights and weekends, we had a nice stack of blank Memorex tapes ready to tape and record. We made our own mix tapes back then, showing them off the next week in school. Click. Record. Stop. Long gone are those days, and long are the days of kids or adults getting excited about radio.

Satellite radio and the Internet have pretty much brought the dial and frequency to its knees. And especially with news yesterday that 96.3 is changing its format yet again, it seems the magic is gone.


Or is it?

One small AM station is hoping to bring the magic back to a dying urban medium, Magic 1530 AM. The former Latin-fueled format switched to Urban Adult Contemporary in December, with former B96 alum Rodney "Hot Rod" Smith running the station.

1530AM is now housed in the famous former studios of KQRS and 93X, located off Hwy 100 in Golden Valley. The beautiful studio is empty now and long gone are the days of Tom Barnard and the morning crew upsetting the ACLU, and the days of 93X girls wearing bikinis and washing cars in the parking lot.

Rodney's office is filled with crayon drawings from his daughter, which gives it a family charm, and it's going to need this community feel to go up against the popular heavyweights like Pandora and Spotify and current middleweight KMOJ. 

Magic 1530AM trying to bring urban radio back to the Twin Cities
Photo by Lars Larson

 The station will run a Urban AC format which includes everything from Robin Thicke to Zapp and Roger, also mixed in with some soft hip-hop like Heavy D and Drake, so don't expect to hear Wu-Tang anytime soon.

The current wattage is around 10K and the reception range spans from the northwest metro to the south metro with most of the power focused in on Bloomington and Shakopee. For now, Magic is depending on the internet to get its name out, using social media and local DJs like former KMOJ personality Andre "Debonaire" McNeal who is popular with the grown folks crowd.  Known for his promotions company "Bachelor Boy Entertainment," he's been throwing and hosting shows in the Twin Cities for a good 10+ years, he runs the Mid Day Madness from 10-2 Monday through Friday.

Smith has built a solid lineup so far in the few months the station has been running, mixing two syndicate giants like Tom Joyner in the morning and Michael Baisden during the noon rush around the local Debonaire. Magic has found its audience with the popular office friendly crowd blasting out Alicia Keys throughout cubicles nationwide. Some fans as far as Chicago, Houston and even Finland message in requests and congrats interacting through Facebook and Livestream. 

 With the sudden axe of 96.3 Now and KMOJ's multiple personality disorder, Magic has a chance to capitalize on an audience without music in the Twin Cities. Not many radio stations make it in the current market, especially on the AM dial, but Magic is moving in the right direction mixing popular personalities and new joints with forgotten classics (Bobby Brown, SWV anyone?) and a faithful and growing adult audience.

Maybe Magic has enough fairy dust and sparkles to compete and make it.

"Just give us a listen," says Debonaire. "We just want people who really love R&B, people who always asked for something new in this city, to tune in and they will love us. I guarantee it."

I may not bust out the blank cassettes anymore but I can always log on and pretend.


You can listen to KQSP Magic at 1530AM on the dial or online at

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