Power Perspectives

KRSM radio’s Andrea Pierre talks community, culture, and why hyperlocal radio matters.

Words by Isabelle Wattenberg

Andrea Pierre’s title of station manager for KRSM 98.9 FM is shorthand for lead fundraiser, grant writer, program organizer, and, occasionally, tech support. Somehow she also finds time to run her own bi-weekly show, Power Perspectives, where she and co-host ShaVunda Brown discuss community news, culture, and life, spiked with playlists that follow a specific vision.

“You don’t often see two Black women hosting a show here, and I wanted it to be something that really included what we were doing in our neighborhoods and things that were relevant to us,” she says. “At KRSM, we don’t have the resources to put on an everyday show, but I wanted something as close as possible.” She explains the music interludes aim to “reflect [what you might hear] walking down the street in Minneapolis, like Chicago Ave. We wanted it to be ‘radio for all’ that way.”

KRSM operates out of the Phillips neighborhood, centering the South Minneapolis community—and its underrepresented stories and people in particular—in its coverage. Pierre explains that promoting ‘Radio For All’ encompasses everything from hyperlocal coverage of often-overlooked stories to station operation accessibility (the mostly volunteer-run station welcomes those with little to no media experience) to highlighting new-to-the-biz musicians.

“As an artist, learning to be an artist and making money is something you need a mentor for,” she says. “I want this to be a space where people can come in and ask those questions. I want people to have those spaces to share their music, to share their sounds. I really find power in seeing who’s not at the table and seeking them out. I’ve been a person that’s not had a seat at the table.”

Pierre grew up in what she says she considers “the golden age of hip hop,” amid a musical family (her uncle taught steel drum and both siblings play music) and strong radio hosts—Janice Lane-Ewart, Delilah, and multiple DJs at KMOJ—to model.

“Music is a great way to talk and to speak to people. It’s a unifier,” she says. “That’s what you see even when we’re talking about Black music: We’ll see kids from different countries all over the world emulating Black music because it spoke to them and they identified with it, and it’s a beautiful thing.”

KRSM boasts a long list of notable artists who have been with KRSM since its inception, among them Talia Knight, Medium Zach, and The Lioness. 

“I feel like we’re so connected to communities in a really authentic, grassroots way that we get a lot of artists on,” Pierre says. And she doesn’t really think about how KRSM fits into the larger radio scene: She focuses on the here and now of her neighborhood and finding partners—among them BLCK Press and MLatino Media—that are also doing essential work within and for their communities. 

“We just really love being in community, providing the vibes—we just really want to stay committed to giving a platform for those historically underrepresented voices,” Pierre says. 

Pierre says she envisions a not-too-distant future where the station’s physical space reflects its strong programming. They currently rent office space in the Phillips Community Center, but she hopes funding will one day support the move to a space that accommodates all abilities and offers amenities for youth programming and live recordings.

“That’s what I’d like to see us grow—into where it’s true radio for all and there are no barriers,” she says. “The only barriers are what’s in your head stopping you. We’re here.”

Pierre’s Playlist of the Day:

Robert Glasper – Black Radio III

Miley Cyrus – ‘Flowers’

Beyonce – Renaissance (“Beyonce was robbed”)

Anderson.Paak and Cordae – “Two Tens”

Haitus Kaiyote

Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life