ST. PAUL — Brandishing shotguns and semiautomatic rifles, staff at public radio station The Current took five NPR members hostage on Wednesday night, barricading themselves inside the station’s downtown St. Paul studio and demanding that their fundraising goals be met.
“We’ve got five innocent civilians right here in the studio,” disk jockey Mark Wheat’s words spilled out in a distressed frenzy over the airwaves of The Current that night. “And if we don’t get 30 listeners to join in the next hour, we are gonna have to take drastic measures”. Not since Garrison Keillor had Minnesota felt such raw desperation from a public radio host.
The ransom tactics came as a last minute effort on the ninth and final day of the station’s spring member drive, when Mary Lucia pulled the hostages into a windowless white van near Powderhorn Park.
“By the next time you hear my voice, I better see two grand from new members,” said Wheat. “I’m gonna play three Lizzo songs. Three. There will not be a fourth.”
At the time of reporting, The Current was still 478 members away from hitting their spring membership goal.