By Charles Hallman
The Association of Minnesota Public Educational Radio Stations (Ampers) recently honored KMOJ-FM Program Director Candice Breedlove as “Broadcaster of the Year” at its recent annual awards ceremony. The area’s oldest Black radio station is a member of a group of 15 noncommercial radio stations in Minnesota that produce a variety of programs, documentaries and musical specials on Minnesota’s arts, historical and cultural heritage.
“Disbelief” was her initial reaction when her name was called, Breedlove told the MSR in a recent interview after receiving her award. It was the first time she has received any form of broadcasting-related award. “It was unexpected — it was a surprise.”
“Being a part of Ampers is a big deal” for KMOJ, continued Breedlove. “Being the only Black station within Ampers and being recognized by [them] made me feel really good.”
“She never takes herself too seriously,” KMOJ General Manager Kelvin Quarles said about Breedlove, who joined the station six years ago as an unpaid volunteer. He wrote in his nomination letter to Ampers, “She has gone from an unpaid volunteer to one of the most important people at the station. Her leadership, dedication and attention for detail have been invaluable to KMOJ Radio and the community it serves.”
The Oklahoma-born Breedlove originally came to Minnesota “for the music… I started out wanting to be a world-famous singer,” she recalled. “But I had to get a real job and stop playing around.” She eventually became a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier.
While on vacation in August 2006, she came to the radio station: “I sat in on the morning show,” said Breedlove.
Not soon after, Breedlove resigned from her mail-delivering job and began at the station “working for free” as a morning co-host, she joked.
Breedlove later was assigned the midday slot, and her on-air presence garnered the station’s highest ratings for any program at the time. In 2009, Breedlove was promoted to assistant program director and given such responsibilities as training on-air personalities, music scheduling, and working with programming and promotions while maintaining her daily show as well.
A year later, Breedlove was promoted to her present position and was the lead person in KMOJ’s power increase from 745 watts to its current 6,200 watts. Also, the station has seen its overall ratings grow as well under her watch.
“I’m basically responsible for what you hear” on the air at KMOJ, said Breedlove, who is the area’s only Black female program director. “I’m making sure that the content is how it is supposed to be and that we are following FCC guidelines.
“The audience has grown,” she noted proudly.
“We are extremely proud of her,” said Quarles of Breedlove. “Her progression is exactly [what] the model of KMOJ/Center for Communication and Development (CCD) is all about. We are supposed to bring people in and teach them the business of communication. For her to get an honor from her peers, from people who [know] what qualities to look for, it is really refreshing to know that she won the award.”
“One of the qualities I’ve seen in her is her ability to listen and to learn,” said Quarles of Breedlove, who also is the station’s chief operator, and is responsible for ensuring that KMOJ is in compliance with FCC rules and regulations.
As a female program director — a position mostly held by males — “The biggest challenge for female program directors is sometimes you have situations where male announcers don’t want to take directions from a female,” explained Quarles, a nearly 30-year veteran broadcaster. “Females have to be a little bit stronger mentally and a little bit more tactful to get the job accomplished.”
On the contrary, he has watched Breedlove “listen to the people who’ve done this before” as she progresses as a broadcaster, continued Quarles. “I help her a lot, and a consultant named George Cook [helps as well]. She monitors a lot of the publications in the industry, and follows a lot of stations and markets that have similar audiences, and tailors [what she learns] to Minnesota.”
“I have had a lot of training,” added Breedlove, who quickly credits Quarles and Cook among others in helping her grow as a broadcaster.
Breedlove wants to keep growing in broadcasting: “I eventually want to move to a commercial market in a nice country town in the South, and still be a program director,” she said with a smile. “I’m cool as just a program director.”
“You just hope the best for her,” Quarles concluded. “We want our people…to get better every day, and move on.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.