Thursday, January 15, 2009

Losing a loved (Indie 103 point) one

Anyone that truly knows me knows that I'm an alternative music geek. I love it and can't get enough of it. Maybe that makes me a bit of a junkie instead. Whatever the case is, as physical radio stations go, alternative radio's track record in the area of longevity sucks. A five-year lifespan is considered a millenium because music trends are always evolving and the stations often times are stuck in whatever sub-niche of alternative music they began their life as and can no longer grow which leads to their demise. Oh, yeah, and the fact that alternative music tends to attract a younger and less affluent demographic makes it tougher to sell advertising makes it hard for even the most devoted corporation to stick to the format.

Enough boring tech insider speak. Whatever the case is, I've been a fan of more than a few alternative radio stations that met a rather untimely end.

The first I truly grew attached to was The Spy (KSYY) from, of all places, Oklahoma City. I think this one lasted about two years, maybe fewer. From there I grew to love bands like The Postal Service, Frou Frou and The New Pornographers. I still have songs from these relatively unknown greats on my iPod in somewhat heavy rotation.

Before that was 97X (WOXY) from Oxford, Ohio (near Cincinatti). I had listened to that gem of a station since the late 90s. It played all kinds of obscure shit and it had loyal owners, loyal talent and tons of loyal fans. However, when money too big to ignore came calling, the owners took it. They realized that a mom & pop operation had no place and would be unable to compete in today's world. I stayed up late on their last night on the air listening to their online stream as the DJ played their last song (which was its first too) by U2 - Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

More recently and definitely more local was the loss of the longest running alternative station Minneapolis, The Twin Cities and Minnesota had seen. Drive 105 was what it was. It was weak both in power and music but if you could plow through the dreck it wasn't half bad. It served its purpose for the corporate overlords at ABC and they did play some local music. The last song played - Say it Ain't So by Weezer, is a definite must hear on my iPod.

Then there's the latest victim to fall due to the alternative radio curse.

Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles was amazing. It never should have lasted for the just over five years it did. It had everything against it that one could imagine. Ownership, signal and a huge and well-known competitor. Even with the deck stacked against them they survived. Indie quickly became the hip station for celebrities. Zach Braff, in advance of his Garden State movie, took over for an entire day and played his favorites as he interviewed artists and actors from his movie. Henry Rollins, Dave Navarro, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Rob Zombie all had specialty shows on the station. The hot as hell Suicide Girls had a late-night advice show and the music was very indie. Early on, the mohawk-clad TK would play a Frank Sinatra track each afternoon. Yeah, they were that cool. The new music, though, set trends. Songs they played first would often times break across the country months later and be huge. They seemed to have a knack to find music that would be the next cool thing. Oh, not to mention that they were playing some cool new Prince tracks. Why'd you leave us Indie? Oh well, I'll have to add My Way to my iPod because that seems to be the eventual only place for decent and adventurous music.

Then today, at Noon central time, it ended. I caught the last hour or so with the airstaff saying their goodbyes and staying in good humor while doing so. Then came My Way by Frank Sinatra. The personalities are gone. Replaced by a Mexican music jukebox format. Thank God for streaming because for the time being Indie 103.1 lives on in its online format so catch this gem while you can. (more info here and here)

And if music is your thing, check out MinnPics because from time to time I'll feature something relevant to the Minnesota music scene.


snowelf said...

aww... I know how much you love music too, Sornie.
That's sad news.


Paul said...

Drive 105 was crap. Rev 105 was the big one in Minneapolis (1994-1997). They still have a CD ("Rev 105 Radio Archive") if you can find it.

It's a shame Los Angeles now has nothing but KROQ, which is "world famous" but has yet to introduce me to one band I haven't heard of. Hopefully, Indie 103 will live on with all its great shows online.