KMOJ’s Freddie Bell is a game-changing, award-winning host and general manager at KMOJ, a community-oriented radio station geared toward a predominately African-American audience. He currently co-hosts “The Morning Show with Freddie Bell and Chantel Sings” on weekdays. On the weekends, he hosts “The Freddie Bell Show,” which is syndicated on about 20 stations nationally. Bell also hosts “New Beginnings,” a radio show aimed toward baby boomers and those who care for them.
Before joining KMOJ in 2014, Bell hosted “Radio’s Solid Gold Soul,” an award-winning CBS radio show based in Edina.
“Some say that I manage generally,” Bell said with a laugh, when asked about his job, “but [my job] covers all aspects of the station.”
Despite all of his accomplishments, the radio mogul didn’t initially set out to be a broadcaster. In fact, the Kansas City, Missouri, native grew up watching the local ABC-TV News affiliate where a single, older white gentleman named Charles Gray would sit behind a desk and deliver the news of the day.
“It was the most boring thing I could ever imagine watching,” Bell said. “I could not understand why my parents wanted to watch this boring man on television.”
Fast-forward to college, when Bell attended Creighton University for undergrad. He was originally a health care major. One day, he was exploring the campus when he spotted a young man standing outside the college radio studio, at the bottom of the staircase, welcoming people.
“I thought, ‘What is a radio studio doing on a college campus?’” Bell said. “[The young man] replied, ‘Well, this is a discipline that is taught at the university.’”
Bell changed his major to journalism, though he didn’t necessarily expect to find himself working in radio one day.
Bell initially worked for KETV, an ABC News affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska. Around the same time, he had the opportunity to work at a commercial radio enterprise. Working in TV news and radio at the same time wasn’t common at the time. “In those days, you didn’t mix radio and broadcast,” Bell said.
In 1994, Bell was the general manager at the Twin Cities Totally Gospel Radio Network and CBS-AM 950’s “Solid Gold Soul.” The show was eventually pulled only to be brought back a couple of weeks later after listeners complained.
During this time, he was also volunteering at KMOJ. Bell didn’t officially join the team until the summer of 2014. He was invited to host the radio show’s morning program. He took over as the station’s general manager two years later.
KMOJ has recently signed on to be a part of a conference called Truth and Transformation: Changing Racial Narratives in Media. The two-day, statewide media conference, which takes place in spring 2019, aims to change negative racial narratives in the media.
“It aligns very well when you think about it,” Bell said when asked about the project and how it meshes with KMOJ’s mission. “It positions KMOJ as we already are: subject matter experts when it comes to talking about the issues that directly impact the lives of the people who we serve.”
Bell is truly a jack-of-all-trades. His work in broadcasting and radio amplifies the voices of African-Americans in Minnesota. What’s next for Freddie Bell?
“I don’t know what the crystal ball says, but I’m not as much concerned about the next phase as I am with the work that I’m trying to do today,” he said.