So far, 2012 has been a year of change. Locally speaking the Twin Cities have two new radio stations. But when I say new, that doesn't mean shit when it comes to radio stations because everything has already been done. That is painfully obvious when it comes to Buz'n 102.9. It's a horrible nickname for the new CBS-owned country music station which replaced the equally horrible Lite-FM on Christmas day. I guess it's all about choice for the country music fans in the cities but now with two big country stations to choose from it seems like people being able to choose from two Walmart stores. They both offer the same crap, the only differences being the employees and location. Maybe one Walmart has a more pleasant person working the deli counter so you choose that one but in the end you can get the same offerings either place so maybe you shop both of them. That's how exciting it is having two country station in the Twin Cities.
The second new radio offering is actually different. Gone is 96.3 Now (formerly hip-hop/R&B as B96) and their slightly more danceable mix of KDWB music and in its place is 96.3 K-TWIN. I first checked out the K-TWIN stream as I did some web design work Sunday evening and was intrigued. The station definitely has a bit of a rock and alternative lean to it but tends to lose me when they throw in an 80s track from Bon Jovi. K-TWIN definitely seems to favor artists like Adele, Kings of Leon and Foster the People while I've also heard Lily Allen, Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers more than a few times.
Today (Wednesday) is the first day with live talent on 96.3 K-TWIN and I have been pleasantly surprised with the new morning show featuring KARE-11's Eric Perkins and Tony Fly with the future addition of Danni Starr. Fly and Starr, of course, were both on the previous incarnations of 96.3 and come with that baggage of a more "urban" lean and I've never been a fan of Tony Fly's performance on 96.3. He was terrible in trying to hold down a morning show when it was B96 and even worse in afternoons when the station became 96.3 Now. I'm not sure it was his grating voice or the schtick he tried to pass off.
Perkins, though, feels genuine right off the bat in his first day as a morning drive personality. Maybe it's because he's a personality people can relate to from his current gig on KARE-11 or maybe it's because Fly and Perkins actually work together well on the radio. I'm not sure when their morning show acually ends but they did recycle the two big interviews (Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman) from earlier in the morning in the 9 o'clock hour which doesn't bode well for the first day. Go big right out of the gate, don't mail it in, guys.
Another thing I'm curious about is the involvement if Rick Kupchella's BringMeTheNews.com. Kupchella was in the studio with Fly and Perkins this morning, BMTN provides the twice an hour news segments during the 96.3 K-TWIN morning show and Eric Perkins is also employed by BMTN as a sports reporter. I smell some sort of deeper involvement beyond the purchasing of BMTN newscasts.
Overall, 96.3 KTWN-FM needs a little polishing (get your website up and running) but it should be able to carve out a niche as it refines its music format somewhat. It's different enough from Cities 97 (because it's actually energetic) and features the more upbeat tracks and artists from 89.3 The Current and it avoids the majority of the music played on KS95 and has, to this point, actually managed to hold true to its statement of playing music not found on the majority of stations in the Twin Cities. Add in Blink-182 playing as I finish writing this and I'll keep listening. 96.3 K-TWIN has the familiar music for me and 89.3 The Current covers the new music. Hopefully they can co-exist.