Pohlad-owned Go Media dials into rap/hip-hop radio with Go 95.3

Peter Parker, the new music director at Go 95.3

Peter Parker, the new music director at Go 95.3

Go 95.3 FM, a new Twin Cities radio station focused on contemporary hip-hop, will go live Tuesday. An extension of Go 96.3 FM — the station unveiled last year to focus on modern alternative, Twin games — Go 95.3 will be the first of its kind since B96 went pop in 2010. Go 96.3, news aggregator BringMeTheNews, and Go 95.3 fall under the Go Media banner of Pohlad Cos.

Go 95.3 will tout an all-rap playlist that focuses simultaneously on a hit-driven rhythmic radio format (i.e. Drake, The Weeknd, Rihanna, Rick Ross, etc) and an indie/local angle (including national indie acts like Vince Staples, Action Bronson, and Chance the Rapper, plus Twin Cities acts like Atmosphere and Allan Kingdom). Purchased by Go Media — formerly known as Northern Lights Broadcasting — for $8 million last year, Christian station Praise FM currently holds the KNOF (95.3) frequency.

In the past 12 months, three all-rap radio stations launched in a market suffering from a dearth of hip-hop on the airwaves. Go 95.3 distinguishes itself by spotlighting music released in the last decade, while 105 the Vibe and Hot 102.5 spin throwback rap/R&B hits. But the strongest sign of the station's potential for longevity is the involvement of the chief music director, Mr. Peter Parker. 

Parker, who was known for integrating interviews and freestyles with local hip-hop legends like Brother Ali and Doomtree while DJ'ing for B96, recently returned to the Twin Cities to help build Go 95.3's playlist. Having worked in D.C. and Cleveland after B96 changed formats, he will serve as music director as well as drive-time DJ at the new station, which launches 3 p.m. Tuesday with a string of 10,000 uninterrupted songs. 

We caught up with Parker to talk about Go 95.3 and his role in its execution.

City Pages: Tell me about Go 95.3's format.

Peter Parker: If you look at the technical side of things, you've got urban radio, you've got rhythmic radio, adult contemporary radio ... you've got different categories of radio. Most of the time, rhythmic stations lean urban, so they'll play your The Weeknd's and Rihanna's and the kinda sing-y, poppy rap songs, then they'll play the harder stuff, like Future or Jadakiss.

Where we're changing the game kind of is, we're a traditional rhythmic stations, but we're leaning backpack, boom-bap, indie hip-hop. So we're going to be playing local music once or twice an hour, we're going to be playing artists like Chance the Rapper, Action Bronson, Mac Miller, Schoolboy Q, Vince Staples, but we're also playing Rihanna, Drake, Rick Ross, The Weeknd .... We're playing a little Bieber, a little Selena Gomez, a little Jason Derulo, but then we're playing all this quality, top-shelf indie stuff.

Nobody's ever done it. Chance the Rapper gets 4,000 people at Myth when he came here last time. But Chance isn't on any of the charts because he's an independent artist that doesn't have the major labels banging on the radio station doors, forcing DJs, or sometimes paying DJs, to pay records. We're kind of saying, because we're an independent, locally owned business, we have the novelty of actually playing what the people want.

CP: How did you get involved in the station?

PP: They reached out to me. Sam [Elliot Gagliardi, president of Go Media] called me and was like, "Hey, I got something you might be interested in," and it was right up my alley. I'm the music director of this station, I'm the afternoon drive personality, [and] I'm the mix show coordinator, so I get to kind of use my experience from all these different markets that I've worked in, and to kind of bring it back to where it started is the best-case scenario for me. It's a blessing.

I'm pinching myself every day. It's exciting for me to return to the airwaves on Tuesday and just kind of give them want they want. Instead of fumbling with national music, we've had two and a half months to craft the sound for this market, and I just can't be more excited to get on the air on Tuesday.

CP: This market has had trouble with contemporary rap stations. Do you think the new format will help Go 95.3 survive?

PP: I wanted the station to be authentic without turning people off. I could play an Atmosphere, I could play a Brother Ali, but I may come back with something a little more familiar. You know, we're trying to reach the masses with this. This isn't a niche thing. We're going to be competing in the marketplace. You know they'll be one song away from a song they'll like.

If an Allan Kingdom song comes on, and it's a little leftfield, we're gonna have image work around that that says, "Hey, this is local homegrown sound right here; this guy's a Grammy-nominated artist." I mean we're playing stuff like Aesop Rock, Dilated Peoples, we're playing some dope shit. It's kind of like double-dutch — you're jumping in and jumping out.

Action Bronson, Drake, Rihanna, it all kind of should be in the same family, but you've got a lot of older people in these stations running stuff, following protocol. We've broken all of that, and it's 100 percent attention to detail. How is this going to sound for everybody? Soundset has influenced us — 40,000 kids can't be wrong, bruh.

None of the big boys have played an Action Bronson record on the radio, and he had 4,000 people at the Cabooze last year. It's going to be an interesting, special station. There's more millennials in America than any other generation, so we listen to music differently, we interact with each other differently. This station and this formatting will reflect exactly what's happening today.