KFAI Radio Without Boundaries

A very kind reader from the great State of Minnesota sent in a suggestion that I add one of his favorite local radio stations to my Radio page.  This station had already been in my browser’s bookmarks for several years but I had previously rejected it for inclusion here on KoHoSo.us.  After giving it another extensive listen over the past day or so, I decided that it did very much deserve to be listed.  Before I say a few things about the station, let me give the reason that I had previously rejected it.

While taking a look at the program schedule for almost every English-speaking radio station in the world with a “variety” format, I quickly began to notice a pattern for the plethora of them located in the United States of America and Canada.  For my liking, far too many of these non-commercial outlets seemed to be relying upon syndicated programming in order to fill their schedules — mot notably, the far left-wing news programs Democracy Now! and Free Speech Radio News, both coming from Pacifica Radio.  This created a great quandary for me.  Many of these stations were indeed good and unique a large portion of the time.  Yet, I wanted to try very hard to stick with stations that played their own original programming as much as possible and have them sticking to music as much as possible instead of politics.

My thinking on this was especially true for the many stations that now run Democracy Now! twice a day with the rerun coming so much later in the day that the news reported on it is often already out of date.  In addition, it also came along with my own personal bias that has turned against Democracy Now! and much of Pacifica Radio as a whole.  Especially since becoming simulcast on television, I have often seen the “reporting” on Democracy Now! become just as one-sided as something one might see on the Fox News Channel.  While some would call that “balance,” I see it under the old adage of, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”  As for Pacifica as a whole…well, I have become very disenchanted with that organization.  This is especially after having closely observed the battles over the programming direction of one of the stations they own directly, KPFK in Los Angeles, where many good show hosts and volunteers left or were ousted because they did not fit the new stance of complete “political correctness.”

Yes, my Radio page already includes several stations that run these programs and even some directly owned by Pacifica.  As I said before about my list, exceptions were made for stations with other exemplary programming.  Thanks to one of my kind readers, I now see that there should be another one of these exceptions for KFAI, an independent “community/variety” radio station located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In a sense, KFAI is a very typical station of its type for a large city.  It carries the usual assortment of music programs that cover genres not played by commercial stations.  What struck me while again giving KFAI an extended listen is how high quality all of these shows seem to be.  Yet, aside from that, something that makes KFAI special is its wide variety of specific “world music” shows that run every Sunday.  One would be very hard-pressed to find another station — especially a non-commercial FM one — that features entire blocks of programming dedicated to the music of Cambodia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Philippines, and for several other countries and groups.

So…despite my general rule to mostly avoid stations that use syndicated programming, KFAI is highly deserving of a place on my Radio page and I hope those of my readers with eclectic musical tastes will give it a listen.  In addition to it now being permanently listed on my Radio page, clicking on the KFAI logo below will open up its website in a new browser tab or window.

KFAI Radio Without Boundaries

NOTE: KFAI will be rearranging its programming schedule effective as of 12:00 AM CDT, 5:00 AM GMT/UTC on Wednesday, June 30, 2010.  The new program guide is already available through a link mentioning this change on KFAI’s home page.

2 thoughts on “KFAI Radio Without Boundaries

  1. I hope your readers will enjoy this add on to the list. It’s been one of my favorite local stations before Internet radio became available. KFAI has grown from a cracker box with a tiny output frequency and continues to offer a great deal of DJ/ announcer produced and non pre-formatted material. I think it does reflect what Community Radio is about.

    Your comprehensive Radio Chart is very much a useful tool for radio and music aficionados, like me, who enjoy searching different music types and genres. It is easy to use and find and select, depending on what listening mood I’m in. Thanks.

    1. Fred, when you mentioned “cracker box” it reminded me that I almost used a photo of the entrance to KFAI’s studios instead of their logo in my entry. For those that wish to see it, it can be seen on their Wikipedia page. It might be very nice inside now but the back alley look still gives it a kind of “underground radio” appearance, doesn’t it?

      KFAI – Wikipedia

      That is certainly a difference from most other commercial stations that, other than the ones with nice little buildings out by the transmitter, used to display themselves prominently in some well-known office building (unless they were really big — usually paired with a television station — and could have their own broadcasting complex downtown). Some might have missed this very small but significant running gag in the great old television show WKRP in Cincinnati where the station was portrayed as being stuck in the fictional, run-down Flimm Building while their competitors were all in much more prominent and nicer locations (when the exterior was shown, the fictional Flimm Building was actually the home of the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper at the time). These days, especially with commercial outlets that have become part of some conglomerate, most stations have now hidden themselves off in the suburbs in some nondescript cookie-cutter office building (just like their programming) and I think it’s almost like the Wizard of Oz where they do not wish people to ever see the man behind the curtain as to not give away how much of what goes over the air is churned out from afar by some heartless computer. Yet, in an area with as deep of a progressive history as the Twin Cities has where they certainly could have had a big, successful fundraiser to get themselves in another location, KFAI remains in their old digs in what appears to be the heart of the city — maybe not on a street where one might have seen Mary Richards throwing her hat up into the air but still on the pulse of things.

      Fred, I know that you are one that has varied musical tastes and are familiar with quite a few of the, shall we say, less traveled roads on the Information Superhighway where one can refresh one’s thirst for good and unusual music. Thus, your complement about this list deeply appreciated. I am also very glad that you got me to take another look at KFAI so others could enjoy it as much as you do.

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