After a rough spring that saw its most popular DJ quit and its program director depart amid gender inequity claims, 89.3 the Current is starting the summer on a more upbeat note.
After its annual Rock the Garden festival returned strong last weekend, the Current announced Tuesday that longtime utility-player staffer Lindsay Kimball will fill its program director seat. Two other women also were named to new roles on the team.
Currently the director of membership at the Minnesota Public Radio-run rock station, Kimball joined the Current as an intern soon after the station's inception in 2005. She has also served — and was arguably underutilized — as a back-up jockey on air for many years.
Kimball takes over the role held for 12 years by Jim McGuinn, whose departure April 21 was announced just minutes after flagship DJ Mary Lucia hosted her last shift. Before the final show, Lucia had cited a struggle for "equity and fair treatment of all of my sisters at the station" as a reason for her abrupt resignation.
While Tuesday's announcement made no reference to that disruptive backstory, Kimball made it clear in an e-mail to the Star Tribune that she's hoping to bring positive change to the Current.
"I can't speak to Mary's perspective, but I can speak to what's important to me: Equity, inclusion, diversity and access are front and center in my work — from our day-to-day lens of what we play and what artists we highlight to our long-term strategies," she said.
Among her immediate logistical duties, Kimball said her first big job is to find a permanent replacement for Lucia: "We need to hire a key on-air host for afternoon drive, and developing that relationship with the audience takes time," she added.
Kimball will work with managing director David Safar and music director Jade Tittle — also longtime vets and on-air personalities at the Current — in the leadership roles at the station. They will oversee several new hires, including recently named nighttime host Ayisha Jaffer and two new positions announced Tuesday.
Jesse Wiza, who's worked behind the scenes there since 2017, was promoted to assistant program director. Also, former MyTalk and ESPN 1500 producer Rachel Frances was newly hired as the associate producer of the Current's morning show with host Jill Riley.
"I'm really excited to work with a team that I've known for years, and to get to know the new folks," Kimball said.