Years ago, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) first aired in Collegeville at a St. John’s recording studio. Only here for a two-day visit, MPR decided to come home to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
During these two days, a variety of events were held at CSB/SJU for the anniversary
On Tuesday, April 25, representatives from the radio station’s three regional services—MPR News, Classical MPR and The Current—broadcasted live at Brother Willie’s Pub. Various faculty and staff were offered the chance to guest speak as well as display their musical talent on air.
Richard Bresnahan, an Artist-in-Residence at the St. John’s Pottery studio, talked with Classical MPR’s Allison Young about classical music and art-making. In addition, he gave context to what it was like to have classical music play through the radio at this time.
Bresnahan spoke to The Record about the excitement of what it was like to have FM radio as a resident of Stearn’s County during the beginnings of MPR. He also addressed technological advancements that have occurred over the last 50 years in radio.
“Now, we are so used to these advancements as well as this plethora of the technologies, that we don’t realize how radical it was to have FM radio,” Bresnahan said. “If you were on Interstate 94 and went past Fergus Falls, there was no radio stations at all, you were in the dead zone.”
Garrison Keillor, best known for his show “A Prairie Home Companion” and for being one of MPR’s earliest radio show hosts when the station was known as KSJR-FM in Collegeville, spoke at CSB on Tuesday night. Specifically, he addressed his gratitude for previous time spent on campus to audience members.
On Wednesday, April 26, Phillip Schultz, the assistant director of VocalEssence and hired representative of MPR, helped organize the Bring the Sing event on campus. The event was held at SJU’s Abbey Church and offered guests an opportunity to sing along with one another.
SJU music professor Axel Theimer stated that choirs from CSB and SJU collaborated with MPR to assemble a core group of singers that helped lead the sing-along. The songs were chosen to be palatable for all.
Theimer also stated that, as compared to previous Bring the Sing events hosted in Minnesota by MPR, CSB/SJU had to opportunity to display its talent.
“In order to give it a little bit more personal note, our choirs had the opportunity to sing one piece by ourselves for all the people who were participating,” Theimer said. “However, the overall idea was that this was not a concert, this was really a time to get together.”
CSB sophomore and Women’s Choir member, Elizabeth Berning, said that the purpose of the event was to
create a welcoming atmosphere.
“Singing brings a community together, whether it’s for healing, celebration or just for fun,” Berning said.
MPR’s connection to CSB/SJU has also affected the current campus radio station KJNB.
Nick Kazmierczak, SJU sophomore and General Manager of KJNB, CSB/SJU’s campus radio station, stated that he had met with MPR representatives Kristi Booth and Gary Osberg previously. During these interactions, Kazmierczak said the two received him warmly and gave him advice.
Because Kazmierczak stated that KJNB was currently working on reinventing itself, Osberg helped address advertisement strategies used to encourage listeners that students may notice on campus now.
Kazmierczak also said that KJNB has a lot in store aside from a potential new tagline and logo.
“This whole semester we have been trying to do a complete facelift of the station and make it something that’s popular, what you would expect a college radio station to be,” Kazmierczak said. “We hope to play music that is upbeat and possibly something that may not be as well-known but nonetheless something you would want to turn on and hear.”
Kazmierczak also said MPR’s presence on campus impacts not only the radio station, but also the institutions.
“I think it’s probably one of the greatest exposures that this campus could have because MPR has such a wide base of listeners and they are incredibly successful in a medium of media that is perceived to be not as relevant as it used to be,” Kazmierczak said. “Personally, I think radio is coming back.”