Minnesota Twins phase out local music programming, amp up Top 40 hits

Minnesota Twins phase out local music programming, amp up Top 40 hits
Photo by Andrea Swensson

With the first month of the Twins season completed, Minnesota baseball fans may have noticed something a little different about this year's home games: The music. That's because longtime music director Kevin Dutcher, who was with the team from 2000 up until last year's inaugural season in the new stadium, has been removed from his post and replaced by 96.3 NOW programming assistant Dan Edwards.

As Chris Riemenschneider at the Star Tribune points out, 96.3 NOW is owned by the Pohlad family, who also owns the Twins, so the new hire was likely business-related. But what does that mean for music fans?

For starters, we can forget about any local music programming in the stadium. Last season, Dutcher kicked off every game by spinning a song by a Minnesota band and displaying the band's name on the big screen. That tradition has been quietly phased out, only to be replaced by pregame "club mixes" by some of Edwards' DJ friends from 96.3 NOW. Additionally, the music played between innings and while the home players walk up to bat have taken a turn toward the mainstream.

In other words, if you feel like you're hearing the same batch of songs being played every game -- well, it's because you are.

Though it isn't entirely his decision, the music director does help each player to select their walk-up music. Some players, like Jim Thome, leave the decision up to Edwards, while others are more hands-on in the selection process. Here is a sampling of the Twins' walk-up music this season, which Edwards provided to our sports blogger, Peter Schilling, at the beginning of the season:

Denard Span CF: "Hustle Hard" by Ace Hood/"Not A Star" by Rick Ross
Tsuyoshi Nishioka 2B: "Spitfire" by The Prodigy
Joe Mauer C: "What You Know" by T.I.
Justin Morneau 1B: "Highway to Hell", "Stormy May Day", and "Ain't Noise Pollution", all by AC/DC
Jim Thome DH: The theme 300
Michael Cuddyer RF: "Til I Collapse" by Eminem/"H.A.M." by Kanye West and Jay Z/"One More Road to Cross" by DMX
Jason Kubel LF: "Brass Monkey" by the Beastie Boys/"Bleed it Out" by Linkin Park
Danny Valencia 3B: "All of the Lights" by Kanye West and Rihanna/"Over" by Drake
Alexi Casilla: "Si No Le Contesto" by Plan B
Delmon Young OF: >Poppin" by Ludacris (actually "Pussy Poppin", but you can bet those lines won't be heard in the ballpark)/"Racks" by YC
Matt Tolbert IF: "Ghosts N Stuff" by Deadmau5
Jason Repko IF: A guitar rift by his father
Drew Buterra C: "The Show Goes On" by Lupe Fiasco

As for the music played between innings, Edwards seems to rely on the same limited set of Auto-Tuned pop hits that are in heavy rotation at 96.3 NOW, plus the recurring snippet of the Mr. C the Slide Man song "Cha-Cha Slide" that robotically insists "Everybody clap your hands." In other words, no more local music (like the Atmosphere and Hold Steady songs Dutcher would spin to rally the crowd last season), no indie music, no rock 'n' roll, no oldies. No variety, whatsoever.

So what's the big deal? Well, this switch toward Top 40 music programming goes against the grain of every other element of Target Field. The concession stands are decidedly Minnesota-oriented, and the limestone walls of the stadium were mined from Kasota, Minnesota -- symbolizing the stadium's commitment to honoring the cultural and geographical heritage of our state. Taking away the local music element seems like a slap in the face for anyone who cares about the complete experience of a baseball game, smells and sights and sounds included.

As of today, requests to interview Edwards about the changes to the Twins music programming have gone unanswered. So to acquaint ourselves with the new music director, we perused his Twitter feed for some of his musings on the music in his life. Here are a few examples: 

Kesha amazes me. "Blow" is #3 in America right now, on the way to #1...and is a repeat of her last 3 records.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

On my way to the park blasting LMFAO...perfect way to start a day!less than a minute ago via Twitter for Android Favorite Retweet Reply

Looking at music research right is so strong and so diverse right now. LOVE it! Usher, Kanye, Britney, Enrique, Cee Lo awesome!less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

To be fair, this isn't a criticism of Edwards specifically. After all, he didn't hire himself. And who knows, maybe there is a chance that he could expand the playlist a bit as he adjusts to his new position. But at this point in time, a pleasant sunny afternoon spent taking in baseball will be accompanied by blaring club hits, and something about that just doesn't seem quite right. 

What do you think? Does the music played at Target Field affect your enjoyment of the game? Or is music just background noise for most people at the game?

UPDATE: I spoke with the Minnesota Twins VP of Marketing Patrick Klinger about these changes, read our discussion here.

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