Duluth radio station changes name as public media outlets merge

Duluth’s KUMD-FM has changed its call letters to WDSE and is now calling itself "The North 103.3 FM" after a public media merger was completed.

The Duluth Superior Area Educational Television Corporation, which owns PBS station WDSE-TV, purchased the radio station from the University of Minnesota Board of Regents for $175,000. The transaction, first proposed nearly two years ago, received federal approval earlier this year and closed Wednesday, Dec. 1.

The merger creates the only combined public radio and TV operation in Minnesota.

WDSE issued a statement saying that there will be "no immediate changes" to the station’s programming and format. The radio station has been on the air since the 1950s and is known for its a broad mix of Adult Alternative and Folk music during the day and programming created by community members and UMD students in the evening.

Most of the staff chose to remain with the station, though longtime morning host Lisa Johnson’s last day was Tuesday.

A news release quoted UMD Chancellor Lendley Black as saying that he believes WDSE is better positioned to advance public radio in Duluth than UMD. The station plans to continue to offer opportunities to UMD students in both radio and TV.

Patty Mester, WDSE’s president and general manager, said the combination provides "an opportunity for deeper connections to tell even more compelling stories that reflect our diverse and unique communities."

"Together we will provide our region a complete, trusted public media experience, unique to any other media offering in the Northland," she said.

Both the radio and the TV station have been known for their involvement in the local music scene as well as local public affairs programming.

The station competes with an unusually large number of public radio signals for a community the size of the Twin Ports, which is also served by multiple statewide networks from Minnesota and Wisconsin.