I forget how I found The Current. It was 3 or 4 years ago I think, possibly just in a random directory of internet radio, possibly built into my Squeezebox. And for a long time you would have seen it show up in my online listening profile as I played it through the squeezebox and it scrobbled.
But I realised recently that since I now listen through a non-scrobbling device, The Current is one part of my listening habits which just isn’t reflected in my online music profile these days. So here’s a quick post to reflect my love of this quirky, independent-minded, great-music-playing station.
What is the Current and why should I care?
The Current is good music.
They’re a radio station based in Minnesota, part of Minnesota Public Radio – which means that despite having no links or particular interest in Minnesota (at least to begin with), I’ve ended up learning far more than I ever expected to about the Twin Cities, traffic, weather, local shops and life in St. Paul.
I tend to listen when I’m in the kitchen in the morning, when it’s still the middle of the night there, or in the afternoon when I catch their morning shows. And I partly enjoy it for how it transports me to somewhere more light-hearted and exotic than gloomy London, especially in the winter months. At least, I imagine it to be exotic.
Popular among Minnesotans (and also me)
On my honeymoon my wife and I attended a traditional touristy luau. And as we got chatting to the couple next to us, it emerged they were themselves from Minnesota. I immediately burst into an enthusiastic endorsement of The Current and was delighted to find they were listeners themselves!
I learned that 100% of Minnesotans listen to the Current – and they learned that the station’s claims that people round the world listen to their internet streams were not imagined.
Why I listen, and why you should too
- The Current plays great music. Rock and indie stuff mostly, and a mix of old and new (depending on the show). If you didn’t click the link at the top of this post and aren’t listening for yourself right now, here’s a text version to convince you. The common thread seems to be that they play really good music, and they do not play crap music. I am in favour of this innovative approach to music programming.
- They also sometimes do a cool “blocks” show play 5 songs in a row by a series of artists. They have advertising but it’s not too repetitive or obnoxious.
- I hate the radio. It turns out though that I mostly hate British radio. After plunging into it with enthusiasm in my teenage years and discovering loads of good music via Capital and then XFM and Radio One, I grew to earnestly hate the faux-cheery Brit DJ voice, and the obnoxious personalities many of the DJs adopt. I can’t stand listening to most radio presenters, and I doubly-can’t-stand the repetitive boring radio advertising.
- But it turns out that, either through having better accents, the appealing virtue of being foreign, or simply because they are excellent at what they do, I have no such issues with the presenters on The Current. I could listen to the chitter chatter on The Current all day long (and sometimes I do)
- Although there are interspersed adverts, the advertisers are local – making the promotion far more meaningful than international brands splashing their name everywhere. And more importantly, get this: the advert spots are read live each time by the presenters instead of being irritating pre-recorded clips played ad infinitum! So much better.
- It is free and it is excellent, and it deserves to be more widely known.
So there it is. If you like good music, check out The Current some time, and like me, enjoy pretending you’re a Minnesotan. A Minnesotan with great taste in music.
P.S. They have just started their annual member drive for donations. It’s listener-supported public radio, so donations are important.
This is a good and a bad thing for you, as a potential new listener. Bad, because they’re immediately asking you for money. This is not the usual manner of The Current! But also good, because you will hear about all the great things the station does, and see just how courteously and creatively they go about something as commercial as asking for money.
I just donated. Once you’ve listened and begun to appreciate the station’s unique excellence, perhaps you will too.