88Nine Radio Milwaukee (WYMS-88.9FM) received a $ 450,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to launch a new alternative urban channel to reach young and multicultural audiences via live and digital streaming platforms, a the station announced on Tuesday.
“Radio Milwaukee is excited to bring the Urban Alternative public radio format to Milwaukee,” said Executive Director Kevin Sucher. “We are thrilled to be a part of this national effort to raise black voices and celebrate Milwaukee’s unique culture. Through this new platform, Radio Milwaukee will amplify untold stories, champion local talent, and create a space for celebration and creativity. ”
Radio Milwaukee’s Urban Alternative will provide an eclectic radio experience, celebrating the full spectrum of black music and the power of public radio. The Urbaine Alternative channel will have a terrestrial presence on 88.9FM from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on weekdays and from 12 p.m. to 3 a.m. on weekends; and will also be present 24 hours a day on WYMS ‘HD2 channel. The station’s all-Milwaukee music channel, 414Music.FM, will upgrade to HD3. In addition, Urban Alternative will focus on a multiplatform digital approach online, on smart speakers and via a mobile app to achieve the greatest accessibility for its audience.
The channel will be Milwaukee’s first black-centric public non-commercial radio station. Station Manager Jordan Lee will oversee the collaboration between the existing 88.9FM station, which will continue with its current format, and the new Urban Alternative channel. Lee was originally recruited to join Radio Milwaukee after his years of producing events and music in the Milwaukee hip-hop community. In 2009, he incorporated this community into the programming of stations such as 414 Live, 414Music.FM and the Radio Milwaukee Music Awards. He led the programming of 88.9FM as director from 2015 until January 2021, when he was promoted to station director.
Radio Milwaukee’s Urban Alternative channel is slated to launch in June 2022. The station will be hiring for the Urban Alternative program director and other positions in the coming months.
Since 2015, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has invested in the development of the Urban Alternative format across the country. Urban Alternative from Radio Milwaukee joins Chicago stations; Denver; Houston; Norfolk, Virginia; Minneapolis and Jackson, Mississippi in the effort to bring public radio to young, multicultural audiences.
Lee and Radio Milwaukee’s director of digital strategy and innovation, Tarik Moody, consulted on the development of other alternative urban stations across the country. Moody’s syndicated program “Rhythm Lab Radio”, broadcast on Radio Milwaukee since its inception, has also pioneered Urban Alternative sound nationwide.
“The new channel is an opportunity to showcase artists and sounds from across the black music spectrum that have not received commercial radio support,” Moody said. “The lineup will pay tribute to the musicians who helped pave the way for today’s generation of talented artists.
Radio Milwaukee’s Urban Alternative channel aims to positively impact Milwaukee by attracting and retaining young black talent, thereby increasing the city’s millennial population. As Radio Milwaukee has done over its 14 year history, the channel will inspire listeners to become more involved in their community, increasing empathy and engagement. Radio Milwaukee intends Urban Alternative to change the perception of Milwaukee nationally by committing to better serve black residents of Milwaukee.